The Scottish Working Trials Society PD championship trial in May is one we always looked forward to and enjoyed when Libby, Leo and Phoebe were competing in PD. Set amid the spectacular scenery of Lauder Common with tracking on the common and the control and patrol in huge hilly fields, it is like no other trial, and the friendly welcome and great company make the long journey worthwhile. Sadly now with no dogs in PD we have to wait until August and the TD trial to visit this lovely part of the country, but this too has its own beauty with the heather all in flower and the long sunny evenings.
There will be added significance when we do go this year as this society will be hosting the Kennel Club Championship at this venue in October, so it will be a chance to get out on the heather before the big event. However, that will be later and this time it was the turn of the PD dogs to compete under Charlie Taylor and there is no doubt that they would have been expecting a good test from this very experienced judge.
A new stake
Although for us this trial was always about the top stake there are of course lower stakes and these were well supported by local and not so local handlers, and none more so than the new introductory stake. This is the first time this society has run this stake, and they were in two minds whether to bother but with an entry of 18, which was the highest of the trial, it seems likely that they will do it again in August.
As it turned out the winner of the introductory stake also won CD, which was quite an achievement for Joyce Watson and Labradoodle Colinton Ceil at their first ever trial. The other surprise was that all UD entries qualified, which is almost unheard of, and the winner of the stake was Pam Wadsworth’s imported Bouvier Snoop Dog Ximena V Caya’s Home Doganodogs CDEX, which makes a change from the usual breeds.
With only eight entries in PD all nosework and control took place on the Saturday, and the weather was overcast but dry. Two of the eight went out in nosework and one more went out in stays, leaving just five on qualifying marks going into the patrol round on the following day.
Sunday dawned fine and dry and turned into a glorious sunny day and the patrol round was set on the field at the top of the common reached by a dirt track. I know this field well and there are two huge piles of stones providing some natural cover, and in addition to this a hide had been set up, and this provided the location for the first exercise, which was the test of courage.
The sleeved man emerged from this hide, some distance away from the handler and dog and shouted and threatened until the dog was sent, at which point he became quiet and still. When the dog arrived he began shouting again and attempted to keep the dog out with a riot shield. If the dog made a concerted effort to get in it was given an opening and a bite, and most made a good attempt, but all lost marks and one dog was obviously unsure what to do and failed the test completely.
The criminal and hide were then searched and the escort went from here past a group of shouting men, who did their best to distract the dog as the original criminal attacked the handler. Most dogs were distracted and there were some very close calls with the dogs only just managing to stop the attack in time.
The next exercise was the chase, which was a very long one with the criminal disappearing out of sight briefly, thus testing the commitment of the dogs. Although he was quickly back in sight, and no problem if the dog had kept running, two of the dogs actually pulled out of the chase and returned to their handler as if recalled, and so it obviously did cause some confusion and cost these two dogs both their chase and recall marks. The recall was exactly the same in the other direction, but unfortunately two of the dogs that should have recalled didn’t so lost all the marks for this test.
The last exercise was the quarter which took in most of the field, the hide and the two piles of stones. There was a dummy find with an innocent man leaning against a spade, and from here the dog was sent on to the corner of the field to find the hidden person under a camouflage net. One or two dogs were very high by this point and so there were a few nibbles in the hide, with the resultant loss of marks.
Not all dogs covered all points, so there were one or two low marks and after the various mishaps during the round with no dog without fault, it was feared there would be no qualifiers, but happily there was one team with sufficient marks. Newcomers Roseanne Leatham and WSD Bilko’s Glory (Sam) took their first ticket.
There is an extraordinary story behind this team as although Roseanne owns the dog she did not start to work him, or indeed any other dog, until he had reached PD. Glynis Page, who I understand is Roseanne’s auntie, worked the dog for her, and qualified him through the stakes, but owing to a back injury was unable to carry on working him, so Roseanne bravely decided that with no experience of working trials handling she would take on the challenge and work him in championship PD. They took the stake by storm and qualified within a couple of trials, picking up a reserve ticket on the way, and now they have achieved the ultimate, taking the ticket in good company and qualifying for the KCCs in October at the same venue, so it could be a lucky omen.
We are now looking forward to the Wessex TD trial at the end of June, another trial in a beautiful part of the country and, as I am writing this on the first sunny day we have had for weeks, let’s hope it continues and summer has finally arrived.