Ya may have heard us mention and Agatha ‘n Archie talk about tryin’ ta be earthdogs….’n we've been goin’ ta earthdog practice. And ya may have seen Rudy show his earthdog skills on his blog. But ya may not know what earthdog is all about and why we even want ta be involved in it.
So Dewey Dewster has been researchin’ all about earthdog ta let ya know what we found out.
Years ago the doggie breeds of taday were bred fer a special purpose….’n small terriers and Dachshunds were bred ta help the farmers and hunters chase the vermin ta their lair and then follow them underground. These decendents of ours needed ta have the physical abilities ta fit inta the animals den and engage ‘em in their own territory but they had ta have the brains ‘n courage ta accept the challenges in goin’ underground. Cause everyone knows we doggies sure don’t live down there. It’s dark ‘n dirty ‘n sometimes pretty muddy….’n when ya invade someone else’s house…they get pretty mad ‘n testy.
So way back in 1971 (way before I was even a glimmer in my Dad’s eye....'n my Dad wasn't even a thought), groups of terrier and Dachshund lovers were tryin’ out the task of actual hunting with their dogs. But it wasn’t until 1988 that a group of “go to ground” enthusiasts assembled in California ta put together an earthdog program that the AKC could embrace.
“To ground” trials were developed with 3 different levels of hunting tests for small terriers and Dachshunds and by 1993 several clubs across the states had tested a prototype and convinced the AKC that the program would be a viable one. The title for the qualifying dogs would be “Earthdog”. And in October of 1994 the program was put into effect.
Taday, there are 3 titles that ya can strive ta compete fer….Junior Earthdog, Senior Earthdog and Master Earthdog. And today the breeds that qualify for the trials are:
AKC Recognized Breeds
• Australian Terrier
• Bedlington Terrier
• Border Terrier
• Cairn Terrier
• Dandie Dinmont Terrier
• Glen of Imaal Terrier
• Lakeland Terrier (now that’s Toby)
• Manchester Terrier
• Miniature Bull Terrier
• Miniature Schnauzer
• Norfolk Terrier
• Norwich Terrier
• Parson Russell Terrier
• Scottish Terrier
• Sealyham Terrier
• Silky Terrier
• Skye Terrier
• Smooth Fox Terrier
• Welsh Terrier
• West Highland White Terrier
• Wire Fox Terrier (hey that’s us)
Foundation Stock Service Breeds
• Cesky Terrier
• Rat Terrier
• Russell Terrier
Since I, Dewey Dewster, have been researchin’ this, I thought that ya had ta pass the Junior Earthdog test under 2 different clubs and 2 different judges. But we found out taday that ya just need 2 different judges. So, since the club here is havin' 2 days of tests in August....me 'n Mom may be able ta get our Junior earthdog title this year.
I wanna tell ya my Mom goes ballistic when she gets ta the rats in that tunnel....ya can hear her barkin' way back in the line of doggies waitin' their turn...'n that just riles up the ones that are waitin' all the more. And ta think she didn't want ta go in the tunnel the first time we were there.....she started shakin' when we got close ta the practice site cause she remembered it from the last time 'n couldn't wait ta get to 'em.....That's my MOM !!!!!!
So what’s the test all about?
The Junior Earthdog Test consists of two parts;
1. Approach to the quarry
2. Working the quarry
To qualify ya have ta pass both parts of the test.
The junior earthdog tunnel is 9 by 9 inches and has an entrance at one end and the quarry (the rats) at the other end. It has ta be 30 feet long with three 90 degree turns and no additional entrances, exits or dead ends.
There is a release point that yer handler takes ya up to and at the judges command ya are released ta the ground. The handler does not pass the release point but may give a command at the release. Gram says “get the mouse” even though we are chasin’ rats cause we think everything in the vermin department is a mouse, except a snake…but I digress…...
Once yer released, ya have 30 seconds ta enter the tunnel and reach the quarry (again, the rats). If ya do that... ya pass that portion of the test….. Approach to the Quarry.
Ya then have 30 seconds ta start workin’ the quarry by diggin’ , barkin’ or growlin’ ta signal that ya really want ta get ‘em. Ya have ta do that fer 60 seconds. Then ya pass that part of the test…..Workin’ the Quarry. Ya then have ta be removed from the tunnel without destroyin’ it…there is an escape lid at the end that lifts up ta remove us wildly workin’ the quarry doggies. The judge will tell ya before ya leave if ya passed the test.
So now that ya have a bit of background on Earthdog, what do ya think? This is a really swell way fer doggie owners ta bond with their dogs ‘n a good way fer dogs ta feel that they can do somethin’ other than rippin’ up toys. Cause in the old days dogs were workers ‘n contributed ta the family just the same as their owners did. Now if yer worryin' about those rats....don't....cause they're in cages and there is a wooden dowel barrier at the end of the tunnel between where we are and where the rats are.
So, if it’s Sunday mornin’ ‘n yer reading this, we are at earthdog practice tryin’ ta hone our skills so we can pass the earthdog test that will be this August.
And the club that we have found ta teach us all this is the Western Pa. Earthdog Club or W.P.E.C. and their motto is Earthdogs do it with ratitude. Now their havin’ a fund raiser in the next month..... ‘n they were askin’ fer donations from everyone ta use fer a silent auction. They said ta go through yer attics ‘n basements ‘n ta bring flea market items fer them ta use fer the auction.
But Gram had an idea ta make some of her polymer clay doggies cause she figured that the members would really like ta see their dogs in an earthdog setting.... ‘n would buy ‘em ta get that money fer the club.
Gram usually makes wire fox terriers…can ya guess why ? But she tried ta make some of the breeds that we saw at the earthdog club practice ‘n meetings. They are ready ta box up fer the trip but she took a few pictures of what she made so ya could see ‘em. Can ya guess what breeds the little doggies are? There are 2 photo of each of the 4 creations.
They are not her best creations 'n the rats were a peck o trouble cause they needed ta be so small but all in all she is happy with 'em....'n it was good practice fer makin' different breeds in the future. Hope ya enjoy lookin' at 'em and we hope the club members like 'em too.
And we hope ya all are enjoyin' a restful Sunday.....
This is Dewey Dewster reportin' on the History of earthdog......