It has been a busy week around here!! All the puppies but little Sonata have left for their new homes. I had several families coming on Saturday to get their new Poodle pups, however everyone ended up coming during the week, with the last two girls leaving on Friday. Sonata will not leave until the 25th, so what does a dog person do when they have a weekend free? Do something with their dogs of course!! I remembered there was something going on this weekend, but I couldn’t recall exact what. After digging around, I found there was a Coursing Ability Test down in Manor, TX, just outside of Austin. This test a dogs willingness to chase down prey. Originally, coursing was only open to sight hounds, but that has recently changed. Now any breed or mix can be tested to see if they have the instinct needed to enjoy this sport. No prior training is required, you simply show up and see if your dog will ‘chase the bunny’ (3 plastic trash bags tied to a pulled string).
The host club was the Alamo Area Whippet Club, who were offering 3 shows in one weekend. Two on Saturday with two different judges, one on Sunday. If you qualify at all three, you could walk away with a basic coursing title! I can’t say enough nice things about these people. Friendly, inviting, helpful, and encouraging. They were excited to see anyone interested in what they do. Keith was working a 24 hour shift at the hospital, so the kids and I packed up the dogs and heading down to Austin early Saturday morning. Thankfully, the show was day of entry, so I could just show up early and enter my dogs at that time. I spoke to the trial secretary and asked her my entry options. You see, I know my dogs. I brought both Jazz and River, but I had a sneaky suspicion River would not be the LEAST interested. A cat could walk 2 feet from him carrying a dead bird and River would just glance at them in passing, absolutely uninterested. He is a great retriever, but chasing a plastic bag was not likely to be something he would deem worthy of attention. The show secretary suggested I enter both dogs in show one, see if either were keen for the chase, and then enter the rest of the weekend based on those results.
Once registration was complete, a soundness check was preformed to make sure neither dog was lame. They also checked to make sure Jazz was not in season, which would cause a big distraction on the field for male dogs! Both passed and we set up our home base (crates, chairs, etc) in front of the coursing field. At first, I had both dogs out in crates facing the field. However, it was apparent that was not going to work for Jazz. She was going CRAZY watching the dogs run the field. Thankfully the weather was cool, so back in the car crate she went. I took River for a walk and attempted to get him interested in the excitement happening in front of him. He honestly was more interested in my lap, hands, and the toy I brought for a reward. Admitting defeat, we played a small game of fetch while waiting for the small dogs to finish their runs. The only hope for River was to have him watch Jazz and possibly spur his interest. Doubtful, but worth a shot.
Jazz was first up, and after a brief discussion on when and how to release my dog, we were ready to begin. Jazz knew exactly what to do and ran her first lure course like a pro. Not even a small hickup, kept the lure in sight and finished beautifully for her first Coursing Ability title qualification. You need 3 qualifications under 2 different judges to gain a title, so we were 1/3 of the way done! I couldn’t believe she could run as far as she did after being pregnant and whelping a massive litter just 9 weeks prior. I checked her over closely for injury, gave her a toy to carry while we did a cool down walk, let her drink a little water, then crated her while I prepped River. When I came to the line with River, I told the judge I wasn’t sure he would even attempt to chase a bag. She shook the bag, tried to get him interested, but he was only looking at her, not at the bag. They ran the bags up a bit and back, but River just looked at me. Nope, he isn’t a hound, not even a little. I tossed his toy as a reward, which he happily carried back to the car. Retriever, yes. Courser? No. At least he had a fun day with mom, a car ride, and some retrieving.
Back to the secretary I go to enter the second show for Saturday and the one show on Sunday. The kids, dogs, and I decided to take a little walk in the beautiful park while we waited for the second judge to arrive. This show as located at East Metro Park, which has miles of bike / walking trails and one incredible skate park. The kids decided we had to come back tomorrow with skates and scooters for a day of fun after the show. I had to admit, it looked like a ton of fun.
Show two: She lost the lure once but got back on it quickly and with absolute keenness. This isn’t about running perfect, it is about a willingness to chase and desire to keep going. The judge asked me how many runs she had made, I told her only one that morning. She said “OH, well she is a very green dog. This is common in all hounds. If they do not lose it, they will not learn to keep their eyes glued to the lure. She will get it in time, she is very keen. You must keep running this dog!” Qualified!
Today was our last run of the weekend. I made sure Jazz was sound and not sore from the running yesterday. She seemed like her normal self, so once Keith arrived home from work this morning we hit the road. The course was set up across from the skate park, and the kids wasted no time getting geared up for their fun. I checked Jazz in, trotted her around to warm up her muscles, then stretched her out really good. She passed inspection again. We were clear to run. I had Keith video her run. I did not embed this video, because you need to watch it in a larger version to see anything. She is a small dark speck on the video.
JAZZ CA TEST RUN NUMBER 3
Note the barking the entire time around!! She lost the lure in the EXACT same low spot as the day before, but again she found it and continued on. Three runs, three qualifications! Jazz now has her Coursing Ability (CA) title with AKC!!! I’m very proud of my girl. She has found her calling! Several of the hound people said “She runs like an afghan”, which seemed true. I can’t wait to see how much faster she gets once back in condition. Keith plans to take her running, he was excited about her interest and wants her to be able to play this game as safely as possible. That means being in top running condition. I plan to run her often this year with a goal of a CAA title by year’s end (10 qualifying runs). If you live in TX, have a dog over one year of age, and want to come hang out with me and see if your dog will enjoy this fun sport, come on!!! Today they allowed people to run some young dogs for practice. I was kicking myself that I did not bring Lina. I’m guessing Lina will also love the game. Regardless, I want entries to these events to sore, I want more people involved. We need to make it worth while for the hound folk to continue putting on test for us faker hounds!