Friday, June 10, 2011

Lure Coursing!

On Wednesday evening, Kennedy and I headed down to Corvallis with our respective dogs to try out a little lure coursing at a practice hosted by the kennel club members down there. As of this year the AKC introduced a Coursing Ability Test that allows any AKC registered dog to enter and obtain these specific titles. I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about lure coursing because I don't. I have some friends with sight hounds who thoroughly enjoy it and it has sounded like a lot of fun. I've held back on trying it out with the dogs because I had some initial reservations. Bess has a REALLY high prey drive. I've mentioned previously that she has caught and killed some wild animals out on hikes. I wasn't entirely sure that it was a good idea to practice something with her that would essentially help to hone those skills. But since I'm game for trying new things with the dogs and this seemed like something that Bess could really let loose and enjoy, I decided to give it a try.

After showing up at Kennedy's house almost a half hour late (it is NEVER a good idea to generalize how long it takes to get anywhere with rush hour Beaverton traffic!), we headed down to Corvallis. We arrived at the practice sight, helped set up, and it was recommended that we take the dogs out and let them watch some of the more experienced dogs run so that they got an idea of what they were supposed to do. I took Heffner out first. He was alert while watching the other dogs run, but otherwise wasn't overly stimulated. I really wasn't sure how he was going to take to this. He does like to chase things, can be called off them, and doesn't have as much pretty drive as Bess. Either way, I thought that he probably would enjoy it in his own way. The boy actually did pretty well!:) I started him out on the "greyhound lure," which is a sort of fake raccoon thing that makes interesting noises and has a tail. Very fun to chase! It was hard to tell from where I was positioned behind him how he took to it, but Kennedy was videoing, and he looked like he enjoyed himself!:)

Next up was Bess. I walked her around and let her stand near where they were running the lure so that she could watch the other dogs run. I was NOT prepared for her reaction on seeing those whippets chase the lure! She went a little nuts! She wanted to GET those crazy dogs and whatever they were chasing! Because I was totally unprepared for how strong of a reaction she had, it was either get pulled forward through the air or plant myself on my butt and hold on for dear life! Hence the picture at the top of the post.;0) After the first dog, I was more prepared. Bess was sooooo amped up! Every muscle was tensed and she was quivering at times with tension. I have NEVER seen her like this! She even whimpered a few times. It was crazy!
Because she was showing such a strong reaction, I decided not to run her with the greyhound lure the first time. While she did chase the plastic bag, towards the end she wasn't really sure what to do and veered off.

For her second run, she got the greyhound lure and had better follow through at the end. On Heffner's second run, I ran him with just the plastic bag and he did pretty well on just that. I was pretty impressed with him. I wasn't expecting as much interest as I got! There are additional videos of those runs, but Kennedy has been more than swamped and a bit over worked, so I'm happy that she was able to put together what she did. Thanks Kennedy! I'll post the other videos once they are done.

Overall it was a really fun experience! The people were all really nice and it was fun to try something totally different than anything else we've done. I would like to eventually enter both dogs in a coursing ability test, but I'll need to find one that doesn't already conflict with other activities that we've already got scheduled. And Heffner will definitely be waiting for cooler weather before he does any of that.

The dogs will have to run a 600 yard course. Ideally, if I'm actually going to go through with this, I would like to do some specific conditioning for this. We have a few football fields and soccer fields near our house that would be ideal for some longer distance sprint work. I'm just going to have to convince Adam to help me out with it. So we'll see how that goes.

In the mean time, I'm signing off so that I can jet off to bed and get some rest before heading off to an AKC trial with Heffner in the morning. I'm hoping for an enjoyable weekend of agility with him, regardless of the technical outcome.


Mango said...

Is there nothing your dogs don't do? That was so cool. I love the image of him reacting to the nutty whippets. Nice to see them both in full stride. So healthy and beautiful.

Mango Momma

Kennedy said...

You forgot about the part where I was too busy taking pictures of you and you're like, "Uh, Kennedy, can I get a hand with Bess please so I can stand up?" lol

She was SOOOOOOOO amped up! Lots of fun. :)