I said I would report back about the Strong Dog Practice for Tall Terriers that we attended this past Sunday. They had quite a group of interested dogs and owners show up, some from as far as California! (They had just been to a terrier specialty.) The practice day was held at the Earth Dog Center in Crosswicks, N.J., and it was put on by the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club. So there were many of these wonderful little/big dogs in attendance. . one mini Bull and five Kerry Blue Terriers, between carol oddi and myself, and one short guy that slipped in, a Border Terrier. I think he was a ‘plant.’ He’d done this before!! No Wheaties? Where were you guys?
We had a blast. There were videos on badgers/hunting/and the various dogs’approaches to going into holes/tunnels to get badgers. There were explanations on how “not stressed” the actual badger was during some of the trials that were being done in Sweden. (The badgers were used as quarry in a fairly safe situation, and tested for stress.) They were found to have more stress going to and from the trial in the vehicle, then being in the badger hole!! These badgers that were being shown, as an example, had been brought up with dogs and, like sheep that are used to dogs herding them, the badgers that were being used for these trials in Sweden had been primed for their ‘job.’ Just a little aside so you know, there were no live ‘badgers’ being used for this practice.
They did a little intro for each dog to test for instinct, which meant they got to be around a hole in the ground and were allowed to drag the “badger,” (dummy wrapped w/raccoon skin and scented) from the beginning of the hole. I had Bailey and her two pups, (now 12 months), with me. I took Bailey out first, and she checked it out and nosed it. It didn’t move, so she was looking at me like I was a bit doddy. “So what do you rrrrreally want????” was the look I got. We moved it a bit, and all of a sudden she perked up. I made it make noises at her, and she had a thought bubble. “I want this thing now!” Eventually she dragged it quite a bit and shook it. When told to leave it, she did do that, except she ran back to check it out again to make sure. It wasn’t going anywhere.
The “badger” weighed 35-50 pounds, depending on how many weighted bags were in it. Buster was into it also. Sephie, the “pillow princess,” ran up to the hole, thinking maybe it was like agility outdoors. “Ahem,” she said,looking at some dead animal thing there, “Harrumph!!” She turned around and looked at us as if to say, “Well, get this out of here now, so I can go in the tunnel!” Needless to say, Ms. Sephie didn’t seem too interested at the moment. This could change. It was a soggy, rainy day, and she doesn’t even go off the deck on days like that. “How tacky to get my paws wet!”
Belle and Max, Carol Oddi’s two Kerries, also passed the intro and dragged the “badger” a bit, and pretty much had the look as if to say, “Okay, what’s next?” The Glens were in heaven. They had a blast and had either done this before or had been practicing with a skin covered dummy before the practice. There were, however, a couple that were slow starters.
Then we went on to the big activity. . . going after the “badger” in the hole! I only took Ms. Blue, because by that time, it was drizzling, and I didn’t want to stand with three dogs getting wet and cranky. One very interested dog was more fun. She got to go maybe 3rd, and was raring to check out the area. She saw that her “badger” was moving into the hole. “WOW!! A live one!!” She went in the hole, and pulled at the quarry and backed out without it. They had an AKC Rep there who was most helpful in suggesting what to do. Once Ms. Blue got the idea that the “badger” needed to come out of the hole, and she was the one to do it… “Wellllllll, okay!!!”
There was a point where she started to dig when she got close to it. Finally, she started yanking at it, and her “Baileybutt” was put into action, and she hauled it out. . .not once . . . not twice.. but, she ended up going into the tunnel many times. Each time after the first “drag out,” she would pull the “badger” out. She had a ball. I thought maybe she would be tired. but no way. She tried again at the end with great results. She was very interested, and watched as each dog disappeared inside the tunnel and “got the badger.” She’s got the idea in a big way, and is not going to forget this any time soon.
The dogs and people were very soggy and muddy by the end of the day, but all were smiling and positive about the experience. The dogs were very interested in the activity. Needless to say, the soggy, strong dogs slept comfortably all the way home, and the bath water was very brown. So, if you get a chance to try this, Bailey gives it all four paws up! Buster gives it all fours paws, and Persephone says, she doesn’t have to go underground until winter. So forget it!