Lure Coursing - 2 Majors, 2 legs of SC, a JC and an ASFA Cert

Reza's Current standing:
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BIE Mahar's Reza of Mihdian JC

ASFA
FCh - 73/(100) points, 1/(2) First Places, 0/(2) Second Places
Best in Event - 1

AKC
JC - 2/(2) Completions, Done!
SC - 3/(4) Completions, beyond JC
MC - 0/(25) Completions, beyond SC
FC - 9/(15) Points {2/(2) majors}
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Metropolitan Atlanta Whippet Association - MAWA - Cartersville, GA
June 16th and 17th 2007


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This weekend Reza and I went out to our favorite stomping ground outside of Cartersville, GA. Selma had to stay home with Joey because she is studying for MED SCHOOL boards test which is tomorrow. We met up with and shared a hotel room with Masokissed and her dogs, Bridge and Merlin. Bridge is a 12 month old Ibizan Hound and Merlin is the black/blue poodle. Three dogs and two people in a hotel room is totally doable, but Bridge is a nutcase when out of her crate, constantly searching for stuff to get into, and if it's flat, Bridge can walk on it. I don't think she realizes that she's a dog, and dogs don't walk on tables and nightstands.

A couple weeks back, we had a three day coursing event at the same place. The hay field that we run in has gotten terribly dry and hard, and is difficult to run the dogs on. Dogs were "blowing pads" all weekend because of the terribly dry conditions on the field. This mean that they shred the large pad on their feet, usually taking a chunk out of it. Reza took breed every day, but she was the only afghan. At the end of the three days, she was eligible to run for Best in Event. So many dogs were knocked out of competition over the weekend, that running for best in event were only two dogs: Reza and another Ibizan. She had more in her at the end and ended up taking the Best in Event for the weekend. That gives her a new title on the beginning of her name, "BIE."

Back to this weekend: Under the advice of the sage-like Les Pekarski that has been lure coursing since pretty much lure coursing was invented, we soaked the dogs' feet in water 5-10 minutes before every run. This softens the pads of the foot. The pads are basically big calluses that they run on, and if the callus is dry and hard, it's more likely to sheer off and rip open like a blister. If you soften it, it has more give and will adapt to the stresses the dogs put their feet under on the dry, rough terrain. In addition, our dogs were soaked to the bone both before and after each and every run. This helped keep their temperatures down in the 106 degree heat index that is June in Atlanta. That's why Reza looks like a stringy mop while running out there.

We got to the hotel on Friday evening, got the dogs settled and went out for sushi. We came back to the hotel, drank a bunch and played guitar hero until later than we should have because we had to be up and at the field by 7:30 AM. Once at the field, we setup the dogs' crates, ate our McDonald's and then walked out the dogs. Maso filled out her day-of entries and I filled her in on all of the nuances of the event, including how the day will run, the differences between ASFA and AKC and how to hold the leash and release the dog. It was cool having Maso there not only for the goonishness, but also because unlike Selma, she can hold a camcorder steady.

First up for the day were the JC Tests. They wanted to get the JC's out of the way early incase there were any dogs completing them day-of and would therefore be able to run in the trial later in the day in Open class. This was Bridge's first time at any lure coursing event, and upon seeing the lure, went absolutely batshit for it. She was ready to go, and I don't think there was a doubt in either of our minds that she'd run well. Bridge got up to the line and Maso had a great release, no pre-slip. Bridge, for being a 12 month puppy and a first timer, did extremely well and paced herself throughout the run. This got her her first leg of her JC title. To earn a JC or Junior Courser, the dog has to run alone successfully twice. This allows them to enter the "Open Stakes" at a trial against other dogs to compete for their Field Championship.

After all of the JC tests were completed, the trials started. There were so many day-of entries, the trial didn't start until the afternoon, and it was getting oppressively hot. We were hiding with the dogs under the shade of a tree, unable to see much of the coursing. I really need to invest in am Easy-Up tent.

I was really excited this weekend because for once: there was Afghan competition. There were two Open entries, FIVE Specials and one Veteran. If Reza took her class, that's one point. If she took Breed, that was a FIVE POINT MAJOR. To complete a Field Championship, a dog needs to get 15 points total, with two of those wins being majors which are 3-5 points. I really had no delusions of taking breed over 5 other specials and a vet, but would have been happy just to take her class. The dog she was running against in the Open class was German import dog imported specifically to lure course. This dog wasn't competitive in the conformation ring because it was so dramatically different than the dogs here, but was supposedly very fast and tough competition. To win over that dog in my opinion would be an amazing achievement.

After the first run, in Open, Reza was behind in score by one point, 74 to the German dog's 75. I was worried, but it was possible to make that up or at least tie for a class run-off. The dogs go back in for their second run and Reza gets a score of 74 again, but the German dog only scores a 67 because it ran off in left field and was cheating the lure and predicting badly. One of the facets of scoring is "Follow", and if the dogs are predicting by eithering having run the course already or having seen it run, then points are taken off for that.

The funny part is when I walked up to the board to check scores, Reza had a 144 to the German dog's 145. I was disappointed, but decided to check the scores over closely for each individual judge. Totalling up in my head, I discovered that they had added the totals wrong and Reza had actually taken the class! It pays to check.

The Specials class (dogs that are already Field Champions) that day had 5 dogs, but one was lame at rollcall. During the lunch break, the owner that owned four of the specials including the excused one left the grounds for lunch. He had missed his heats and was thereby marked absent. He drove up while I was walking Reza out about 15 minutes later and asked if he missed it, so it was apparent that he didn't mean to. He also expressed displeasure with the heat and how long the trial was taking. I dunno, you can bitch about clubs, but when it's all run voluntarily, the best thing you can do is be understanding and patient or join the club and volunteer to help; I help when they ask me to, like put up tents or other menial things. Other than that, we were running so late that day because of the number of day-of entries that have to be processed before the testing/trial can get underway. This gave the one remaining special her class and the veteran moved up to the breed run. I checked beforehand to see what I was up against and the special that was left was the top special in the preliminary round, so I was still going up against the top special of the day.

This brings us up to the breed run-off where Reza had to run against the winner of the Special class and the Veteran class. At the start, Reza was the strongest both on follow and speed. Coming out of the first turn, you can see her overtake both dogs that were already predicting the lure. Going across field, the Veteran in blue had an advantage because it was on the lure like Reza was. I could tell watching that the competition was the Veteran bitch, but was still happy with Reza's run. She ran hard through and kept up her speed. Sandra, one of our friends with Borzoi and a judge that was judging tomorrow, walked over while I was walking her out and said, "Congratulations: Five Point Major. You beat the Veteran by one point." I was ecstatic; I could not believe that Reza had just taken a 5 point major over 1 open, 5 specials and a veteran. We never really expected to get her AKC title because AKC events are fewer in number throughout the year, so it would be pretty hard with a rarer breed to not only have competition, but also win against them for those majors. Everyone was very happy for us and congratulations abound. We held off for the Best in Field run that day because you have to pick your battles. A BIF would give her another title, but in my opinion, running harder tomorrow for a major towards her Field Championship is far more important.

That night, there was a picnic and crawfish boil at the local state park. The club presented Les Pekarski with a trophy in his honor that would be offered annually at the MAWA AKC trial for the winner of the Best In Event run-off. Les was extremely touched by the gesture, and I thought it was fitting for the man that not only anchored so many different clubs in the SouthEast, but lure coursing in general. Lure coursing is what Les does, and does well.

We get back to the room that night and are absolutely drained. Standing out in the Georgia sun from 7:30AM until 5:00 PM will beat the hell out of a person. We were so gross from sweat too, but cold showers were amazing. We were in bed by 1:00, and had a wake-up time of 6:30. We had it set earlier for a nicer-than-McDonald's breakfast, but hit the snooze and settle for McDonalds when the time rolled around. Those RAZR's were lucky they weren't thrown against the wall.

First up came Bridge's JC run for her second and final leg. She ran like a champ and was defintely getting the hang of it. She did better than her run the day before and ended up getting her green ribbon and completing her JC! Yay Bridgey!

The Afghan guy that had missed the final the previous day decided not to show. This dropped the Special class down to one dog. The Veteran from the day before was entered to run as a Special with the Open classed in a "Mixed Stake." This doesn't mean the dog was in direct competition during those runs, only that it was scored along with the other dogs in the Special class. The lady who was also a judge, Stephanie, owned both the Veteran and remaining Special, so to release both dogs, she had to separate both dogs, but wanted to keep the number of times the lure had to go around to a minimum. The owner of the German dog also happened to be a judge. Don was this crusty old sea captain looking guy that was a little rough around the edges, but funny as shit; I liked him alot. He did alot of oval track racing and straight racing with his dogs.

Going into the Mixed-Stake Prelim, Reza did a bad, bad job of predicting the lure because I let her watch the course before hand. The german dog was also doing a bit of predicting and the other special was all over the place. At one point, the Special actually collided with Reza on the field because it wasn't looking where it was going. Reza saw it coming and slowed a bit, avoiding a full speed hit and any injury. She was confused, but picked right back up on the lure. Post collision, I definitely felt she was on the lure harder with better follow than the other dogs. She took the Prelim with a point over the German dog.

Then comes the drama: During a borzoi run, a pretty coated breed, two judges, Mike and Don got into a spat. The string broke during the run and one of them wanted to bring the dogs back and start the run over. The other said there was enough of a run to judge on and it's hot and cruel to run the dogs again. One ended up calling the other an asshole and words were exchanged. A grievance was filed. The club had to take an hour and a half break to call a meeting. If they didn't follow the law by the book, they could have their club status taken away by the AKC. In the end, both judges were sent home for the day. Don, who owned the German dog Reza was running against, left the field, so didn't compete in the second run. Mike, who was judging Afghans that day, left too, so Sandra, the other Afghan judge was left to single judge the dogs. Because Don left, Reza took the open class and therefore got one point. A dog's entry counts as long as it successfully completes it's prelim run, so the German dog counted towards the point total.

Reza's final run was uneventful while running with the Special in mixed, but was a very nice run. The Special decided to stop in the middle of the field to smell something, not that it mattered toward her open win. It did freak Reza out and made her slow down, but she picked back up when she passed the other dog. The problem was Afghans were the last breed to run in the order. This means that breed run-offs were directly afterwards giving Afghans almost no down-time to rest. There were the Afghan Specials Class and Borzoi and Saluki breed run-offs, but that's only three runs before Reza had to go back in. I basically walked her out, wet her down, put her up for 2 minutes, then wet her down again and we were back on the line.

Both dogs ran exceptionally well for having to run a back-to-back, but I think Reza edged the other dog in the "Speed" category. She ended up beating the Special for the three point major. That gave her both of her needed majors towards her Field Championship, so now she can just peck away at singles and get her title.

Next, we were going to run Bridge practice, but decided to get something useful out of it; her ASFA Certification. Unlike the AKC, ASFA requires you to prove that you can run with another dog cleanly before you can run in the Open stakes. All of the AKC judges are also ASFA judges, so they have no problem signing off on it. The problem was that we couldn't find another dog to run with Bridge either because of the heat, the fatigue or blown pads. I was getting Reza out, even though I wasn't going to run her for Best in Event, just to get Bridge certified when some nice Pharoah people pulled one of their males out to run with her. That dog ended up blowing THREE pads on the run, making both Maso and I feel extremely guilty. To heal a pad, you have to Epsom salt soak them for a week for 30 minutes a day and they heal up, but it's still not a good thing to have happen. Bridge had an excellent run and qualified. She looked surprised that there was another dog on the field a couple times, but figured it out quickly and stayed on the lure like a champ. I'm very proud of her, as Maso is too!

All in all, an amazing weekend with Reza getting 8 points in two majors and two legs of her Senior Courser and Bridge earning her Junior Courser title and Cert'ing for ASFA so the next time, she can enter Open against other dogs in both the AKC and ASFA!


(All videos are under 10 megs, with some being under 5. All in WMV format.)

Saturday
JC Test -
Bridge's JC Test (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Preliminaries -
Afghan Open Prelim - Reza and German Import (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Finals -
Afghan Open Final - Reza and German Import (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Breed Run-off -
Afghan Breed Run-Off - Reza, Special and Veteran (Video)


Sunday
JC Test -
Bridge's JC Test (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Hansa's JC Test (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Preliminaries -
Afghan Mixed Prelim - Reza, German Import and Spec. Bitch (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Finals -
Afghan Mixed Final - Reza and Spec. Bitch (Video) >Photo Gallery<

Breed Run-off -
Afghan Breed Run-off - Reza and Special (Video) >Photo Gallery<

ASFA Certification -
Bridge's ASFA Certification (Video)


Here are some random snapshots:

This is what you get when you piss off the ops in #petisland, our IRC channel on irc.zirc.org:



Merlin with a lobster on his head:



Puppy Bed:




Look at them ears: