Last autumn all the participants and organizers of the first gathering promised to meet each other in April 2005 again.
The organizers started to work at least a month and a half before the gathering. We were prepared for all the possible versions. We were the first to arrive to Lesní hotel in Strašín on April 15th. The participants and their dogs followed.
Compared to the first gathering there were many puppies this time. It is extremely important not to isolate the pups from the other dogs as well as to provide them contact with as many dogs of different breeds as possible. The programme had been adapted ragarding to the age of all the dogs concerned.
After the arrival everybody became familiar with programme of two following days. After dinner we discussed the training and breeding and the owners exchanged their experience and knowledge. We kept talking until midnight. We had to go to sleep because Saturday´s programme was really demanding.
The first part of the training started at 9 o´clock after we had breakfast together. It was my duty to lead the training. Everybody concerned formed a big circle outside the hotel and we introduced one to another again.Each of us talked about what they do with their dogs, what they have achived and what they expect to learn at the meeting.
We are proud to announce that this time the training included 16 Catahoulas, 2 Chien de Berger Belges, 1 Australian Cattledog, 1 Rhodesian Ridgeback and 1 Papillon. These dogs were accompanied by more that 30 owners and family members.
The goal of the first training was the preparation for the following show season. It is really worth trying how to show your dog in the ring of 16 Catahoulas. The trainers and more experienced participants showed to the others how shows work. It is a well known fact that not only the owners but the dogs as well learn by watching the others. The ones who had gone through the training moved to the next sector where many hurdles had been prepared. The goal now was to find out what the relationship between the owner and the dog was like and how both the owner and the dog solve everyday situations. The dogs faced e.g. shooting. The most succesful participant was a figurant on crutches who was wearing a hat. Not every dog is welcoming a strangely moving person. Anyway, dogs should get used to such non-standard situations. This simple test proved the dog´s attitude to the master and how the characteristic strains of the dog´s parents influence them.
Most of the dogs were sucesfull in this training and they were good-tempered, but strains of timidity also appeared. We regularly face timidity with various dogs at shows and it is obvious which parents hand down these strains. Similar breedings of these parents should not be repeated. I suppose that the breeders who have been involved in such breedings have already realized importance of this matter and will be sensible in such cases.
The third sector which followed was lead by our friend Jitka Lebedová. Her task was to acquaint us with the basics of agility training. That was why we placed several hurdles and a tunnel. Everybody could also try basics of flyball and frisbie.
We managed the situation so that nobody was bored during the morning. If there was someone who had already passed the previous sectors they concentrated onto the basic obedience or playing together (just pups). Our colleague Miloš Růžička helped this time.
Nevertheless agility was not the last morning discipline. This was the collective walk involving the test of dog´s behaviour in the forest.
We had our lunch then, short rest followed and before 2 p.m. we drove in convoy to the forest about 10 kilometers far. The afternoon training was split into three groups. Puppies from 4 to 10 months worked in a separate sector lead by instructor Miloš Růžička who gave a short tutorial of stalking. This activity was on programme was the first time and it was the first try for most dogs and their masters as well. Our goal was to find out the volume of the dog´s interest in this discipline. The instructor was surprised how cheerily the young leopards worked. All of them were really interested.
I, as usual, showed the dog-treking and riding a scooter pulled by the dog. There are more and more scooter riders among us and that is definetely positive. I suppose we are going to hold the first open race of catahoulas in this discipline in the fall.
The ones who were not playing (the privilege of the puppies), riding, running or stalking, were lead to Hana Koutková who improved their obedience. Everybody was exhausted after the 2 hours training.
After arrival we had time for a cup of coffee and then we had a theoretical part concerning breeding programme of Catahoulas. New participants were acquainted with available literature and the most important passages related to training and upbringing. Then instructors analysed the previous training and they mentioned the positives as well as negatives and mistakes and the ways how to eliminate them.
In the final theoretical part I introduced our log-term achievemnt – Obedience training. This is not just a single activity but a long lasting preparation which has to be pursued by the owner at home. The first stage is Obedience for beginners and after that we can continue to advanced stages.
At the end of theoretical part I tried to objectively evaluate current breedings in the Czech republic with consideration to the occurence of hereditary defects. Import of new dogs, especially the blue ones and relative ones, seems to be extremely dangerous. The fact that there are American breeders who ignore this risk is not a good example for us.
Before we even realized there was time for banquet. The hotel staff prepared delicous dishes from poultry, vegetables and cheese. The high point was the salmon titbit. Almost 5 kilograms af salmon dissappeared in a second. Argentinean and Chilean wines were served. Our discussion passed until midnight (which has already become a tradition).
On Suday morning we could improve basic obedience, agility or frisbie. Then we went for the final collective 2 hours walk. Everybody who came was pleased. After lunch we all went to our homes wishing to see each other here next time. The next meeting is to be hold from October 21st to 23rd 2005.
We were able to fulfil our achievements. We enabled the Catahoula owners to exchange their experience and to compare their dogs with the others, to test the dog´s character and their relationship to the master. The problems which occure are quite common but can become a serious problem with a Catahoula. We try to warn the owners at the gatherings but it is not the right place where to solve such individual problems. That is why we warmly reccomend that these owners visit Mrs Hana Koutková´s training school. She individally solves the problems with them and ideally with all their family. We introduce various activities to show what possibilities of work the Catahoula owners and their dogs have. Their interest in stalking, agility, frisbee and scooter pulling proves that Catahoula is a truly versatile dog. We should make use of it and find the right activity interesting for both the dog and the owner.
For the ones who would like to try the individual training (and I can only recommend it to anybody who has not tried it yet) – call 732 082 563. I believe that you will agree on an appointment and you can expect several pleasant days at our training school or at the next gathering.
Ing. Gerhard Stein
Translated by Věra Svobodová