I attended both days of the first BHA-sanctioned event in Oklahoma! On the first day, I brought Willow, my rescued BC, and ran one Instinct, two Novice, and two Open runs. In Novice, she ranked a 1st (out of 7 dogs) and a 2nd (out of 5 dogs), then in Open she also ranked a 1st and a 3rd (out of 8 for both trials)! She passed her Instinct as well, meaning that if this had been a real trial, she would have had her RATI and two legs toward RATN. She can’t run a “4realz” RATO until she’s attained her RATN.
No videos of the first day, unfortunately, but there was a film crew there from KSBI’s Dog Talk program. Once that piece has aired, I’ll link to it on another post. I interviewed and sounded kind of rambly, but hey, I had been insanely sick with a ridiculous norovirus that has been going around just a few days before. I couldn’t stand for too long on Saturday, so thank goodness I wasn’t trying to run agility or anything crazy! My recovery from that stupid thing has been slow and I’m still feeling the effects even though it first hit me a week ago.
When she alerts on a rat, she doesn’t go psychotically crazy like some dogs. She stops and stares with her ears up, mouth mostly closed, and tongue poking out just a weeeeee bit. Once I see that expression, I know she’s found it. I then have to restrain her as the rat is removed from the course as she wants to nip at the tube as it moves. If she accidentally nips a rat wrangler, she gets DQ’d for the run.
This is her alert face . . .
She cracks me up.
I was so proud of her on Saturday! I feel like she’s finally found her sport. She likes doing agility, but anything that gets too cerebral makes her anxiety start to soar. Because Barn Hunt is so instinct-based, she forgets that tons of people are staring at her. I can’t wait for the first trial!
I originally was only going to attend on Saturday, but I later realized that someone I really respect and really wanted to see was only attending on Sunday. In spite of still feeling crappy, I forced myself out of bed again and this time loaded up all three of my dogs so my two little guys could have some fun in RATI. Well uh. They both failed, but they were an absolute hoot and the spectators adored them. I couldn’t stop laughing.
The first one I went in with was Gwen, my Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She thought she was supposed to be doing some obedience work, so she followed me, looking up at me the entire time, then stopped and sat whenever I stopped. I could barely get her to focus on the tubes, she was so focused on me. Ha! The judge laughed and said, “Well, you might have an obedience dog in this one!” Gwen could definitely do novice obedience with a little training.
Here is her adorable confused face.
A friend of mine ran one of her toy fox terriers while I gathered up Kiki, my Japanese Chin. When I entered the ring with Kiki, she started out doing the same thing. The judge grinned again and said, “Hey look, another obedience dog!” I managed to get Kiki to sniff a tube for just a second, then she stopped and looked around, suddenly realizing she was the center of attention. At that point, she put on her crazy chin-face and started zooming around the ring like a maniac, bouncing at the photographer, and basically making a silly fool of herself. The spectators were rolling with laughter.
They had so much fun!
After that, the novice trials began, so I went and grabbed Willow. She was the only one to pass the first novice trial . . . out of 11 dogs . . . and in less than a minute. When she found the rat really quickly, the audience gasped right before I called “Rat!”. I barely noticed them, but the judge did. As soon as Willow’s run was over, she ordered anyone who participated in that collective noise to leave the barn. All but 3 people walked out. HAHAHA. Oops. For her second novice trial, she scored 1st out of 3 dogs.
Here is a video of that second novice run. She started doing that jump-on-everything-instead-of-tunneling at that point. Maaay have to work on that a bit, but dangit, SHE WANTS TO FIND MORE RATS. THERE HAVE TO BE MORE. STUPID HUMANS. RAAAATS.
And then came Open! On her first Open run, she was 1st out of 6 dogs, including some very seasoned barn hunters. I couldn’t be more proud! She did fail her last run as I couldn’t quiiiiiite get her to tunnel in time and she was a bit slow finding the rats. I knew she was tired as she kept lying down and looking at me before we went in. Sometimes I have to remember that she is almost 9 years old and I know I really pushed her hard this weekend. In a real trial setting, she’d probably run half as many times as she did this weekend.
Here is a video of her awesome Open run!
In the future, I may need to learn to quiet down and let her work unless I feel the need to redirect her attention. It’s a learning process for all of us! Also, I was a Big Dork and forgot to leave my keys with the rest of my stuff. I normally walk around with them dangling from my belt loop like some exceptionally nerdy janitor.
In any case, we were both on top of the world this past weekend. I am looking forward to a sanctioned trial and will happily clear my schedule when the first one pops up in Oklahoma.
I am soooo happy to have three super-awesome, super-attentive, and super-silly dogs who adore people and other animals and have pretty fantastic manners in comparison to other dogs I’ve seen. I must be doing something right.
Now, something interesting to note about Willow’s success here. In my previous life, I worked as a trainer in a facility that heavily uses aversive methods. The owner of that facility also trains drug-sniffing dogs, usually sticking to labs and GSDs. I knew Willow had a nose on her back then . . . and this was 6 or 7 years ago . . . and tried time and time again to get him to scent test her. He never did and would always either cancel or find some excuse. I don’t think he believed border collies could do any kind of scent-work or he just thought I was as incompetent as he always told me I was. Joy of a man, that one. Resigning my trainer position there was the best thing I could have ever done for my dogs.
That makes Willow’s success that much sweeter to me in some odd way. I wish we had Barn Hunt here years ago!
Come ON, first sanctioned trial in Oklahoma! WE WILL BE THERE!
Disclaimer: All photos on this post were taken by the talented Linda Earley. Sooooo lucky to have her around!