December 11, 2006

Lure Coursing....all it takes is a little prey drive, right?

Our friend, Lynn, found this great lure coursing club in San Diego ( that is an all breed lure coursing club and we arranged to head down this weekend for some fun after a little bit of reading/researching of course. The course is fenced...that was the research...and we were ready to go. I signed us up for four runs and plugged the park's address into the GPS. We loaded up the chosen four in the van: Ice (Mr. Prey Drive), Frosty (Granddaughter of Mr. Prey Drive), Satinka (the Airhead), and Katie (if Grandma's going, I'm going). We headed down to the park where the lure coursing was held to watch the tail end of the morning session to see what the whole thing was about. We got there, found parking and ran into the first "you've GOT to be kidding" moment. Yes, the park is fenced...on three sides (and I think there may have been an unsecured opening up at the far end, I tried not to think about it much)...and along the fourth was that orange, plastic field fencing stuff, about 4' high. GULP

At this point, Grandma has decided that Katie will just watch but I had other ideas. We watched the rest of the morning session with great delight. I tell you, watching those sightounds (and terriers and even a Newfie) run the course, chasing the was amazing.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about this very, very special lure. It's a plastic grocery sack. So, here I am, about to take my Siberian off leash, with a 4' fence along one side of the course, and expect them to chase a stupid little plastic bag...yards away from me...I mean, so far that they're a little speck in the grass. Have I lost my flippin mind? (No need to answer that!)

So, up went Frosty. First off, I'd forgotten NO FLEXIES...and I didn't have any other leashes with me. Ok, we were forgiven that faux pas after I swore NEVER to do it again. Sean took Frosty over to the start and I watched him get ready to release her...FROM HER COLLAR! ACK. No leash, no collar...Siberian? Again, I wondered, had I lost my flippin mind? (Again, no response required). Pat, managing the lure controls, scooted it back and forth to get Frosty's attention..and boy did she. Frosty danced in place in anticipation of capturing that amazing lure. Then, she was off! My heart in my throat, Grandma standing by with a noisy bag of treats...I watched my little girl race around the course...chasing a plastic bag! Her focus was amazing...and she followed the entire course and came back to the start point, got to jump on the bag and was re-leashed by Daddy and given a treat by Grandma.

Now I'm feeling more confident. My first off leash, off collar lure coursing run and I have my dog back, safe and sound in her crate. Of course, we had to buy one of the spiffy, quick release, lure coursing collars so we had the right equipment .

So, after the success with Frosty, we're feeling pretty confident. So, Ice is up next. I cautioned the gal with the Italian Greyhound to hang onto her dog, Ice has a pretty good prey drive and I wanted to be able to come back. She assured me she'd hang on to her dog and as the other small dogs along the course were gone for the day, we were feeling pretty darn good. So, I watch, again with baited breath, as Sean let Ice loose for his run. Now, crated along the course, Ice had been watching, avidly, all morning as dogs were turned loose to chase...something. His bright blue eyes gleamed with anticipation. He wanted to do...whatever it was those other dogs were doing. So, off he went. And he ran...and ran...and chased. At the end of his run, he was collared and treated and went back in his crate to rest. Two down, two to go.

Next it was Satinka's turn. My biggest concern was that she'd get bored 1/2 way around (at the absolute farthest point from me) and go exploring the park. Holy COW. Talk about focused. Satinka ran this course like she was born to it, cornering like a pro, turning and following that lure every foot of the way. I couldn't believe her aptitude for this game. And, quite a game it was for her. When she got to the end, she pounced on the lure (good thing they're cheap) and managed to get a piece of it before Daddy got ready to catch her and crate her up. Oh boy, now for Tink's favorite me! But the rattle of treats in Grandma's hand proved to be too much to resist and Satinka was safely collared and re-crated.

Now it's Katie's turn. Grandma wasn't sure about turning Katie loose, but after seeing Satinka the Brat, I was feeling pretty confident that Katie'd do just fine. Sean took her collar off and the lure took off....but, hey, over here...some loose dirt by the starting spot... We all laughed as Katie let the lure take off while she explored the loose dirt...hey, after all, a pile of dirt v. having to chase a plastic bag? No contest, right? The lure started on it's merry way, unthreatened by a chasing dog. Pat brought it back, ran it back and forth to get Katie's attention again and then they were off! Katie didn't run with the drive of the other three...but she chased that darn lure until she caught it...and then went back to the safety of her crate (I could see Grandma's relief).

So, all four dogs ran and we decided to give Tinks and Ice another go. Tinks was first. Quivering with anticipation...dancing from foot to foot..begging Daddy to let go of her, she waited impatiently. Then it was her turn again. The lure took off...and the black and white blur that was Satinka took off with it...all the way around, although this time she let the lure take some corners and she shortcutted to try and cut it off (no one said she was stupid ). She "caught" the lure at the end and then, again, thought it was time for Tink's favorite game..Chase Me. Pat tried running the lure back and forth to bring her good, she's smart. Finally, she got close enough to me that a flying tackled got her. Lynn said it was a good one . And she went back in her crate, done for the day. I know when to call it good.

Ice was our final run of the day. He'd been watching all afternoon and he WANTED that lure. So, off he went, my 7 1/2 yr old, harness banging, wheel dog. He had a good run...but, somewhere toward the end, the lure got far enough ahead of him that he got distracted...uh oh. No problem...Pat reversed the lure to get it back in front of him...but he's running backwards on the course...after a little feather or something tied on the heck with that plastic bag, he found something smaller to chase... After much laughter (although I'll admit mine was nervous laughter) eventually he targeted the lure again and came on in, happy as could be.

There wasn't a peep out of them on the way home...they slept like logs. We had a great time and I can't wait to take some of the dogs out again. If you'd told me on Friday that I'd be turning one of my Siberians loose, with no collar in a park that I hadn't walked the fence line, that had a temporary 4 foot plastic fence along one side...I'd have told you that you were crazy...but, maybe I'm the crazy one?

December 01, 2006

Ooops, I did it again....

We took the Kaos eKpress out with the cart again last weekend. Sean had done some work to improve the steering (YIPPEE) and we gave it another go.

With Hummee and Ice at wheel, Frosty and Max in lead and Aleska and Katie trotting along in the middle (swing), we were ready to go.

Ok, so, the steering on the cart is fixed...but in order for it to work, one has to actually TURN the handlebar.

Picture this: 6 dogs, running and having a ball. Daddy yelling FROSTY - HAW, MAX - HAW and darling little 36 lb Frosty trying her best to make everyone HAW (that's a left turn, by the way). So, Momma leans to add her weight to the turning cart...except...the cart isn't turning! It's following the dogs!

I had plenty of time, as I flew off the cart, to remember to tuck in my arms, roll my shoulders and tuck my head before I hit the ground...and remind myself to wait until I stopped moving before I tried to get up.

So, we learned a few things:

1 - One lead dog isn't necessarily enough to turn the team, especially the 19 1/2", 36 lb Frosty.
2 - Turn the cart and the wheel dogs respond to the change in direction and help move the whole team.
3 - slow the dogs down before a turn, they can't do a 90 degree turn!
4 - Mom steers and controls the dogs, Dad is Brakeman.

Although maybe #1 should be - train the dogs .

Here are photos taken that day: They do NOT include any pictures of Laura flying off the cart. These were taken AFTER the "big run" with the dogs going out on the scooter with Daddy so I could take some pictures .

Frosty, bless her 36 lb little self, was pissed every time the scooter took off without her. So we sent her out with Aleska, "I'd rather be resting" and Frosty had to pull both the scooter AND Aleska. And yet she still wanted more. I'm betting that while I'm here at work, she's home leading the snow dance so we can take the sled up to Big Bear for some real fun!