Thursday, September 1, 2011

LEM: Animal Instincts

I mentioned in my Scavenger Hunt excuse that I was recently kidnapped and taken hostage at the Coursing Hounds Association of the Mid Potomac (CHAMP) competition in The Plains, Virginia. It's weird to say I was captive at such an event, because if you've ever been to an animal centered program like these luring trials, you know that it's more like being captivated by the immense love of the "owners" and their "pets." You might even realize (after watching the interactions of animals and humans) that the determining factors for deciding who is in charge are pretty skewed. These precious canines at the CHAMP event are loved, pampered, cherished by people who are totally devoted.
puppy love
Luring isn't like dog racing. It relies on a dog's natural instincts to chase fleeing prey (in this case, three white trash bags). Wearing snazzy little racing vests in vibrant colors, the dogs give chase at the hollered, "Tally-ho!" of the luring officiant. They then run after the moving lure, turning here and there along the course.
I'm told by one of the veterans that the scoring is a bit subjective. There are points for maintaining chase, keeping close to the lure, and attacking the lure when it stops at the end of the course. Most dogs seemed to make it through 3/4 of the course before smelling something lovely and distracting near a horse jump along the way.

It was an interesting day. Despite the competition, everyone seemed so willing to educate the newbies (and we were so clueless that we really needed help).
mama dog
Ya spent a little time hanging out with a new mama and her pups. "Look, she has nightnights!" Ya exclaimed as he observed her nursing her pups. At that point, he was hooked on the puppy playpen. I mean, they got "nightnights" - - and poor Ya is convinced that a mother's milk is a treasured drink. And that mama? She was a beautiful dog, who at one point took a break from motherhood to further her pro coursing career.
pup sipper
Oh my goodness, those pups! The cute quotient was far surpassed with those playful littles.

The wait for the practice runs was endless. Having been told to arrive at noon, it was painful to sit and wait for the coursing competitions and then the trials to conclude. What usually ends at 2 p.m. stretched beyond 5 p.m. But Mom was determined Dorado would get her chance to try out luring, so we stuck it out.

As Mom rattled off the names of the various breeds of dogs at the CHAMP event, I was again reminded of her passion for canines. She was meant to be a veterinarian, own a kennel, or do some other such dog-related career. And these were her people - these CHAMP parents - the kind who are passionate about their four legged family members.

course qualifiedFinally, it was over. The awards for best courser (by breed) were issued. The trials to test new competitors' instinct and interest in luring were completed and bright green ribbons were bestowed upon each successful pooch. The minivans, trailors, and wagons dwindled down to half dozen. Tents that once shielded participants from the glaring sun were gone. The whimpers, barks, and howls were mere echoes in memory.

And then it was Dorado's turn. We borrowed a sleek yellow racing jacket. Mom escorted Doh to the field. She looked at the officiant for instructions. She held loosely to Doh's slip collar and at the tuh of Tally-Ho!, released a very excited Dorado.

I admit it. I didn't think Doh would move, let alone hit warp speed as she trailed the lure. I figured she was cute in the jacket, we'd taken a few preparatory pictures, and we'd have a story of the beginning and ending of her luring career. I was so skeptical. I was so wrong.

Dorado took off after the lure and followed it around the bend. She turned with it as it zipped along. She kept her eyes trained on its path. And Mom squealed with delight, beamed with pride, and shook excitedly as her sweet Doh shined on the course.

So now, I'm told, Dorado has decided that anything white and flowing is free for the attack. It's just asking for her to give chase. It is demanding that she catch it - -even when the white, billowing thing she has spotted is part of a neighbor's beautiful sari taking flight on the wind of the morning. I suppose this means she'll be even more prepared for the next lure course event she attends?

dorado run


Nat said...

You've got some adorable pictures! (stopping by from 'Show off your shot')

One said...

Wonderful shots! I love the first one the most.

Tara said...

wow, you got some great captures! Looks like a great day!

Melanie said...

These shots are so cool and gorgeous! I heart the 1st one bunches!

Ms. Pony said...

That first image is very sweet, and the rest of them are a lot of fun! Great images:)

Gitanjali said...

absolutely love the first shot!