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Earthdogs and Submarine Races

It never rains in Southern California. Ha! Don’t you believe it. We just had a day of high winds and heavy, torrential rains in South El Monte, Calif., about 14 miles east of Los Angeles. The only thing missing was lightning, thank goodness! But – as with almost any good dog event – the show must go on!

  

Welsh Terrier Club of Southern California Show Chair Carol Hamilton and Dandie Dinmont Terrier UKC Ch. KatieDid’s WinSan Miss Petronella JE RN CG, ‘Ella B.’ (at left). Photo provided by Carol Hamilton. Hamilton and Laurie Rossi. Photo by Mary Lynn Machado.

Earthdog might at first seem kind of like watching submarine races. With experience though, we can actually tell what’s happening just by the noises we hear. Plus, we can almost always tell the outcome by the handlers’ faces.

Earthdog is kind of a combination of underground agility crossed with hunting field trials. A really good dog can win in the conformation ring and in its field event. This one is for the smaller Terriers and Dachshunds – those that can fit in a 9-inch-by-9-inch tunnel. In fact, many of the dogs competing and qualifying are AKC and UKC champions. Several are also AKC grand champions.

    

Cory Rivera and Parson Russell Terrier GCh. Orejac Trackways Victoria R SE, ‘Vicky’ (at left). Don Bayne and Border Terrier Glenlair Oliver’s Legacy SE CG, ‘Oliver.’ Photos by Mary Lynn Machado.

Originally, the earthdog test was developed by the American Working Terrier Association, then incorporated into the AKC’s performance program. On March 17, 2012, the Welsh Terrier Club of Southern California sponsored both an AKC test in the morning and an AWTA trial in the afternoon. AWTA is a little more inclusive and accepts any Terrier that can fit into the tunnel, plus all Dachshunds. We had a Patterdale, a Jagdterrier, and even a smaller American Pit Bull Terrier entered. The little Pittie made it all the way through the AWTA tunnel. The following day on Sunday, the AKC test was sponsored by the Western Fox Terrier Breeder Association.

    

Rossi and Norfolk Terrier Ch. Sugarpine’s Mrs. M. Migeon ME CG, ‘Migeon.’ (at left). Sarah Frost and Wire Fox Terrier GCh. Ashgrove Camarillo Brillo SE CA CG, ‘Brillo.’ Photos by Mary Lynn Machado.

Trenches are dug, forms put in, and the whole thing covered with dirt. Because we were pretty sure of “some” rain, we also covered all the tunnels with plastic before piling on the dirt. It worked, so the tunnels were quite dry.

There are three titling levels:
1. Junior is pretty straightforward. The tunnel is 30 feet in length, with three 90-degree turns. In order to qualify, the dog needs to run the tunnel to the rats in 30 seconds, then proceed to bark, dig, scream – in other words, “worry” the rats – for 60 seconds.

   

Parson Russell Terrier GCh. Orejac Trackways Victoria R SE, ‘Vicky’ (at left). Wire Fox Terrier GCh. Ashgrove Camarillo Brillo SE CA CG, ‘Brillo.’ Photos by Mary Lynn Machado.

2. Senior gets more complicated, and is, by far, the most entertaining to watch. The tunnel has a few extra turns, and the times extend to 90 seconds each. After the dog worries the rats for 90 seconds, the judge removes the rats with their safe cage and leaves the area. Now comes the FUN!!!! The handler has 90 seconds to entice the dog back to them – but with no bait and no toys. Like I said, this is the best one to watch as handlers make dives, promise the world, and dogs sit and laugh at them. Oh – and the rain only adds to the excitement and humor! Did you know that dogs have a middle finger? Just try and get them to leave the quarry end – as they HOPE the rats will return.

   

Ch. Sugarpine’s Mrs. M. Migeon ME CG, ‘Migeon’ (at left). Border Terrier Skyline Dandini SE CG, ‘Dandini,’ owned by Alan Izumi and Janet Sinsheimer. Photos by Mary Lynn Machado.

3. Master is closer to a real hunt. The dogs work in pairs to find the quarry at the end of the tunnel. There are a few more challenges in the tunnel. Hopefully, the dogs will work as a team. Hopefully, the handlers will read their dogs. Interesting to watch, but not usually as entertaining as Senior.

   

Welsh Terrier rescue ‘Tank’ and Jillian Miller (at left). Border Terrier ‘Oliver’ and Parson Russell Terrier ‘Vicky.’ Photos by Mary Lynn Machado.

The rain puts a whole new spin on this. The scents stay closer to the ground, the grass can be a little slick when trying to retrieve your dog, and getting soaked isn’t always so enticing.

   

Cory Rivera and ‘Vicky’ with Don Bayne and ‘Oliver’ (at left). Rivera and Master Earthdog judge John Ruege watch ‘Vicky.’

This was St. Patrick’s Day weekend – when many of us would have preferred to hole up in a dry pub and wet our tongues in a delightful way. I’m sure many of us celebrated later that evening and thanked St. Patrick for our passes. Only dog people would be out in torrential rain so their dogs can do something they enjoy! Yep – we were wet – but we had FUN!

   

Jim Dorris, show secretary for the Western Fox Terrier event, with Hamilton, show chair for the Welsh Terrier event (at left). Photo by Mary Lynn Machado. Qualifiers at the Welsh Terrier event: kneeling in front are Hamilton with Dandie Dinmont Terrier UKC Ch. KatieDid’s WinSan Miss Petronella JE RN CG, ‘Ella B,’ and Mary Lynn Machado with Smooth Fox Terrier GCh. Bellewoods Lumiere JE CG, ‘Mimi.’ Photo provided by Carol Hamilton.

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1 Comments to “Earthdogs and Submarine Races”

  1. Sonya Henderson,Raynics Bassets says:

    Just finished the by Carol Hamilton and enjoyed it very much. I live with an Australian Terrier that belongs to my friend and she enjoyed it also.

    CONGRAGS TO ALL THE WINNERS AND THE OWNERS.

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