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Rain doesn't stop play...surprisingly

Sunday the 4th March saw Howard, Polly and myself in the glorious setting of Bourne Woods for the latest UK Dachshund Trials Club training event.

When I left home it was just starting to spit with rain. Keen to be off, I decided after brief reflection, that my lightweight fabric coat would be fine for the day as this mere spattering would soon pass.

A group of people sheltering under awning at picnic table.

Dedication in spades.

Fool!

It was great to see some new faces at Bourne and many regular ones too. This was the second time we had used the location and the woodland provides a great setting for the tracking exercises. With open grass areas within the car park to set out our modular go-to-ground it ticks a lot of boxes. Services are a bit limited as the toilet block is locked up (on a Sunday at least) and none of the seating is sheltered.

Thankfully Minna and Dal were far more organized than myself and brought, not only a fantastic awning/gazebo thing to protect one of the picnic tables from the rain, but also a rather fetching blue plastic poncho which came in handy after the persistent rain had soaked through my coat, sweater, shirt, trousers AND underwear. On the bright side my socks stayed dry as I do at least own a decent pair of walking boots.

Howard is an old hand at these events now but this was definitely going to be a step up in terms of difficulty. Previously the trails I have laid for Howard were laid using pieces of cocktail sausage spaced roughly 20 feet apart over dry ground. This not only provided a strong scent trail but also provided food reward regularly throughout the trail. Today we will be laying a scent trail by dragging a sponge soaked in the liquor used to boil some pieces of sausage and black pudding. Food rewards were placed only over the initial 10 feet or so to indicate the direction of the track and also at the end to provide a reward for completing the track. The trails will also include two 90 degree turns. Oh yes, and be worked in the pouring rain.

Minna started the day off by laying a 'beginners' trail around a small stand of trees in the centre of the car park using the dragged sponge method, mostly to demonstrate the techniques for laying trails to some of us more experienced club members.

A modular go-to-ground with dog looking over it.

Our modular go-to-ground in all it's glory.

From this I helped to lay out our very smart looking modular go-to-ground, which Nick has spent so much time on. The go-to-ground is designed to simulate the dogs entering enclosed animal dens and tunnels to flush game and/or vermin.

As this was Polly's first time at a training event I took her round the 'beginners' trail while being supervised and offered advice and encouragement. I was really impressed with the way she performed as a complete novice. Even after being distracted by a wonderfully friendly Bassett hound mid-trail. This sort of disruption, which can occur when we run our events in public venues, is both a bad thing, when you are trying to keep a dog focused on a task, but is also a great thing, when you see people taking an interest in the activities and our wonderful dogs, of which we are so proud.

After this, I assisted in marking and laying the more advanced trails, deeper in the woods. After laying 3 trails we left them to 'age' (as if working them freshly laid wasn't going to be difficult enough). As the trails needed to be left at least a couple of hours, a break for lunch was due.

After a bite to eat and a spell of drying out in my car, Howard and Polly had a go at the go-to-ground. Polly was understandably reluctant initially but after a couple of runs she got the hang of it. For Howard this is old ground and he covered it well.

With the easy part out of the way it was time for Howard to tackle his trail. Sharron assigned us one of the trails I had helped lay earlier and with Dal monitoring, off we set. As we approached the start of our trail we came across a black labrador, eating our sausage pieces from the start of the trail. After dismissing the labrador back to his owner with his rather fetching blue ball, we made a start.

I have to say I was really proud of Howie. He did need quite a bit of encouragement to stick to the trail at times and at one point where we crossed a forest trail he turned down it. Due to myself not marking the trail clearly enough Dal and I were not much use to Howard at times but still he found the trail's end and I was pleased as punch.

By this time the rain and cold were getting the best of everyone so the general consensus was that we would leave obedience for the time being and get home to dry out.

If you feel like attending our next event details can be found at The UK Dachshund Trials Club website.