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A year since our last gathering was gone and Thursday, October 23, started our 8th gathering of Catahoula owners and breeders (October 23-26, 2008). It was organized for the first time by a new club, i.e. the Catahoula Club EU (CC EU), which has been established during this year.
On Friday morning, we gathered in front of the hotel. We formed a ring and introduced our dogs and ourselves as usually. After a few large group excercises we set for a walk to near-by woods. It was also a kind of training, because we wanted to prepare our participants for two disciplines of the DUNCO Dog competition. It is necessary to learn handling dogs when slower team (consisting of a handler and his dog) is overtaken by faster running one at a narrow path and vice versa. It could happen during canicross, dogtrekking or bikejoring, i.e. disciplines involved in the DUNCO Dog. Dogs excited by the race behave usually unlikely in comparison with a "normal" walk. Overtaking training at forest road fully confirmed our presumptions. The dogs were excited, barking, full of energy, and will to go ahead. The owners realized that more caution and strenght were necessary to handle their dogs properly.
On Friday afternoon, namely lovers of scooter or bikejoring appreciated a straight forest road with a perfect surface, which we found for this activity. Such conditions were unique, therefore no wonder that people were returning back during the whole weekend to train scooter again and again.
In meantime, another group of participants followed MVDr. Zoltán Tatarko and Jakub Hertel at a dog training place, where individual consultations concerning tracking or Schutzhund training went on.
On Friday night, our favorite night game, i.e. "the night marking", took place at a small side road along fenced fields for horses. Though no horses were there during the night to distract dog's attention. In spite of it, there were probably some "Sun maculae", because majority of dogs did not succeed well this time. Jakub Hertel, our hidden figurant, was not able to find any reasonable explanation for such a failure. He was marked properly only by two acd females, Bluespirit Seven of Nine and Abbey Red Camden Dog. He had to give for all other dogs an acoustic signal to draw attention to himself.
On Saturday, the main programme, focused on basic excercises for search and rescue, took place in a hall for horse training. Anke Boysen with her Catahoula male, Indigo Louis Šumící křídla, showed us first searching for a hidden person at such a closed area.
Later, all participants could test their dogs in searching for their masters, hidden under a fabric cover or paper box. By the way, it was another discipline of the DUNCO Dog, which we wanted to test there before launching it as a regular discipline. Nobody but Indigo has been trained for a such activity, thus we all were very curious for our dogs behaviour. All dog specialists and trainers present there agreed to that conditions were quite difficult for unexperienced dogs. The hall was the closed area with a strong smell of horses, a strong echo from a roof, and no air movement. No wonder that all hidden handlers had to call at least dog's name to draw his attention and to put him up to the right direction. Both Catahoula and acd are herding breeds, it was obvious in their working style. Except one Catahoula female, Fran Šumící křídla, who sniffed her master, all others were searching using their eyes first. However, we all were pleased after all, because there was no dog, who wouldn't be anxious to find his owner. Another point was that all, who made another attempt, succeeded much better than in previous case. On top, it was also one of tests for owner - dog relationship and there were no loosers.
On Saturday afternoon, some went again to enjoy bikejoring or scooter, others followed Zoltán and Jakub to excercise tracking or some obedience training.
Later, a lecture of our vet specialist, MVDr. Marek Pepřík, took place at newly reconstructed restaurant. The main topic was again hip dysplasia and its evaluation, namely in Catahoula breed. Many questions were answered and the discussion went on until a dinner time.
Anke showed us how Indigo was able to search at an open area, namely in woods. Indigo, who is the dominant male in his teenage years, proved that he was fully focused on his work and he managed to go past a pack of other dogs without noticing them. He succeeded in this true, unexpected test very well.
Before lunch, we tested our last DUNCO Dog discipline, i.e. to recall a dog from 100 m distance. Time is measured until a dog sits in front of or in heel position by owner's leg. This discipline also shows a master - dog relationship. Here, we all could see that the highest motivation for our dogs was the owner leaving them alone. All dogs were running fast towards their masters, but most of them lost precious seconds during setting themseves into a proper position. Ashley Venus Genetrix (female) was the fastest Catahoula in this discipline.
We would like to thank to staff of Albertovec, to our co-workers and to all participants for their activity, which made this gathering so pleasant and fruitful. We are looking forward to the first DUNCO Dog competition or to the next gathering.