Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Learning the Rules of "Go to Ground"

The Border Terrier clan was up in Roscoe, IL at earthdog tests for 3 days.

Earthdog was mixture of two things: (1) the progression of trying to get Robbie past some early mistakes in training it years ago and (2) the teaching of little Ghilley in learning the ropes.

Robbie (and Duff before him) were taught at the tests in a manner that was not conducive for them to work rats on their own. They were openly “encouraged” to work the rats with the cover off of the tunnel instead of having them figure it out and let the instinct kick in. Since both my boys are very good “companion event” competitors, they take direction very well. Consequently, they learned that the “deadly stare" was the way to go in hunting unless the cover was removed to prompt them to bark. Trouble is, in AKC earthdog, they need to bark, whine or dig for 60 seconds.

Duff finally picked up one qualifier but, at age 12, it was so late for him in life that he could not finish it off if time. Squeezing his larger frame into an 8-inch tunnel got to be too much to get to the rats in 30 seconds. He would make it there, but it took 35 seconds.

Robbie has been getting closer but it is always a matter of confidence. He really relies on the encouragement that was, unknowingly, solidified in his early earthdog experience. He stared them down on Saturday. Then we played some games and practiced with tunnels & rats on Saturday evening. Good results. He ran in "intro to quarry" and worked the rats, passing that test but it is not a title qualifier. Time for junior's again...more staring and Mom is wanting to sacrifice a goat or anything else that will get him to work.

I actually found a GREAT analogy for earthdog with me I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football when Lucy keeps pulling the football away. Like Charlie Brown, I keep trying (and failing).

Monday comes, I work Ghilley first (as you can run your dogs in any order) to just geek him up some more. Robbie gets to the rats in 8 seconds (through a 30-foot tunnel with 3 90-degree turns). I wait. After 6 seconds he starts barking...hallelujah!....time passes, he stops barking. I know it has not been 60 seconds. They need to work 60 seconds. He worked for 35 seconds and then backed up 2 feet. Charlie Brown ALMOST kicked that football!

Ghilley ran "intro to quarry" on Saturday and passed. It took her 3 seconds to go the ten feet to the rats. Her issue last time was not understanding to go in the tunnel. Junior earthdog comes and after 10 feet, she comes back out and sniffs over the top to find the judge. A VERY common thing. Typically, once your dog passes "intro" (the pre-test), you want to stop doing that so that they know to traverse through a 30-foot tunnel in junior. I snatched her up to try for Sunday.

Sunday, no intro as I had Robbie take her spot (he passes it YEARS ago and then again Sunday). She went in the Junior tunnel and came back out. Fortunately, the earthdog judge, Duane, knows BTs and slammed a spade/shovel at her to discourage her, I redirected her into the tunnel and she went the distance to work but that was an NQ at that point.

Monday comes and Ghilley shoots in like a rocket. Like Robbie, it takes her 8 seconds to get to the rats. Unlike Robbie, she works right away. Everyone can hear her barking, yelling, growling. She is telling the rats all sorts of horrible things. She Q's!!! My first Q since Duff's 1st leg.

Unlike Duff, though, she is 15 months, not 12 years.

We plan to trek to Des Moines, IA in early November to give it a go before waiting until next spring.

I think she is abtly named "She's Got Game".


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