by Karla Deithorn, Executive Field Representative
On June 12 and 13, the Western PA Dachshund Club held their Earthdog tests at Woodside Farm owned by Bob and Sandy Patterson. As the exhibitors checked in at the Secretary tent, they were treated to a breathtaking view of the Laurel Mountains that surround the farm. While the trial was small, having an entry of 41 on Saturday and 32 on Sunday, it was well worth the trip. All the dens were in the shade making it comfortable for the judges, exhibitors and dogs.
The Introduction to Quarry den was nestled in the shade of a huge catalpa tree which had scattered its white and pink blooms around the area. Exhibitors waited their turn in the holding area by a grape arbor. On Saturday IQ Judge, Linda Givens was assisted by Apprentice Judge Brenda Weintraub. Only two dogs qualified in IQ on Saturday but some went on to a good performance in Junior on Sunday. Sunday's IQ Judge, Duane Pulford also had Brenda Weintraub as an Apprentice Judge. And both Linda and Duane proved to be helpful and encouraging to the Novice dogs and handlers.
In the Junior class on Saturday Judge Duane Pulford had an entry of 13 and only two qualified. One of those, the Westie, Buffy, owned by Antoinette Yurkovic went on to qualify again on Sunday under Judge Richard Reynolds to earn a JE title. On Sunday another Westie, Chauncey, owned by Cheryl Terri, also qualified to finish his JE. Ten year old Chauncey has a heartwarming story. After a successful career in the breed ring and as a stud dog with Champion get, he was stricken with a fast growing cancer of the lower jaw. He had to have major surgery in early 2004. He bounced back as only a true terrier can and Sunday completed his JE title.
The Senior den was nestled in the edge of the woods and on Saturday Judge Richard Reynolds had two out of six qualify. On Sunday Judge Curt Givens qualified one out of five. Sandy Patterson apprentice judged both days and was fortunate to apprentice with two judges who hunt their dogs. I am sure she gained some interesting knowledge with these two judges.
The low qualifying percentage is not as surprising as it may seem. Like Open obedience competition, it sometimes takes a dog a while to put all the pieces of the test together for a qualifying performance.
The Master class was run first in the morning both days. However, on Saturday the start was delayed to allow exhibitors time to get to the trial. The site is only a short drive off the PA turnpike and due to an accident the night before, that particular stretch of the turnpike both east AND west was closed. All the exhibitors made it in time to compete in Master.
No one qualified in Master on Saturday under Judge Curt Givens. However on Sunday Judge Linda Givens had four out of seven qualify.
On Saturday Sandy and Bob Patterson asked me to check out a woodchuck den that was right along the foundation of their house. I had only young inexperienced dogs with me but my one year old bitch did enter the den and I could tell it wound down and around in a spiral. This is the most difficult den for a novice dog to enter, so we opened the den some more and I had Sandy get her Dachshund, Apollo to have him check the den. Apollo had refused to come back to Sandy in Master on Saturday and check the empty den. She brought him to the den and let him explore it. Since the den went under the propane tank next to the house, I suggested that Bob put some mothballs in it and cover it over to discourage the chucks from using it again. I mentioned to Sandy that Apollo should do better at the trial the next day and sure enough, did not hesitate to come back to her in Master to check the empty den. He had discovered that she too could find game! Sometimes just calling a dog back to check an active mouse or mole hole or to investigate an active game trail can teach him that YOU are an active part of the team it is worth his time to listen and come back when you call.
When the test ended on Saturday the fun got into high gear. We gathered in a circle to talk dogs; tracking; den work and hunting while Mick Keller fired up the turkey fryers for dinner. He served up BBQ turkey and lemon & garlic turkey with baked beans, rolls, and macaroni salad. Plus for dessert he had three cobblers: chocolate with cherries, peach and apple. Everyone ate until they could hardly move. Mick's work with the local Boy Scouts and campfire cooking obviously paid off in a spectacular dinner.
While the trial was small I am sure it will grow in the years to come. Once the word gets out about the wonderful dens; the magnificent views and the great food the Western PA Dachshund Club provides at their tests earthdog competitors will be beating a path to their tests.
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