Articles Index/Earthdog
Posted 02/22/98




This past August, the Massachusetts Border Terrier Club sponsored a fun day open to all terriers, which included swimming, lure coursing, and agility, in addition to a sanctioned AWTA trial. Attended by ANTA members Lori Pelletier, Diane Tracy, Mary Fine and Sheila Foran -- with a dozen or so Norfolks -- a "good time was had by all." Sheila's ten year old, Ch. Titanium Grenadier, a seasoned veteran of ANTA and Jack Russell terrier trials, not to mention mousing in the backyard, finally got a chance to earn his AWTA Certificate of Gameness and was also top Norfolk performer on the day.



Adam Metcalf, son of ANTA member Peggy Metcalf, took his spayed six year old bitch, Adam's Bouncer, to the terrier trial sponsored by "Border'n on Vermont" in Shelburne, Vermont, in September and she promptly earned an AWTA Certificate of Gameness. Though she had never performed in quite this fashion for Peggy, Bouncer apparently preferred Adam's magic touch and sailed through the test with greatest of ease.

Adam Metcalf and Bouncer




Carolyn and Wallace Bishop hosted an ANTA earthdog schooling day on a sunny September 19th at their Finale Farm in Martinsburg, WV. Thanks to the Bishops and Ed Plummer for making it happen, and to Richard Reynolds and Carl Schrader for their coaching. We're all a little better trained for this earthdog sport. I, for one, started out knowing nothing about training procedures, nor about the individual test requirements.

It goes something like this. Once the dog gets in touch with his inner terrier and what he was bred for and decides to go into the earth, the tests are: Introduction to Quarry (no credit towards) titles - Den design being a 10 foot earth with one right angle turn; Junior Earthdog - Den design is a 30 foot earth with three right angle turns; and Senior Earthdog - Den design is a 30 foot earth with three right angle turns, a false exit, false den and recall of dog. Then there is a Master Earthdog class. Ask Bob Lachman about that!

None of these is easy, and we were all working on a novice level. For example, Bouncer and Jeep negotiated the earth promptly but neither dog would bark at the quarry. (Barking, whining, scratching and digging all constitute "working quarry," but they must bark.) The quarry, of course, being a cageful of rats. Megan and Grazie "left the quarry," Earthdog jargon for going into the earth, reaching the quarry, then reversing and coming out the entrance without "working." I know that in Grazie's case, she figured she could get to the rats better from the outside access to the cage.

Peggy Metcalf's experienced Gracie was just "not into it" that day, her Bouncer whined, dug and growled but wouldn't bark, leaving only one of her trio from New York to do it perfectly. Hooray, Stumpy!

The novices are allowed 60 seconds to get to the quarry; Junior Earthdog candidates only get 30 seconds. The best part is that the competition is really only against one's most recent performance, so progress is really the goal. Mary Waters brought Bonnie from Ohio for her first try at the age of ten months. Usually terriers don't mature in their hunting personalities until about two years of age, but Bonnie is one game little Norfolk, even though she didn't like the idea of going into the earth until she was allowed to follow a more experienced fellow one time. Then she wasn't sure she liked the rats, but by the afternoon she was enthusiastic about the whole game. Didn't find her bark though!

Tanner, Rosebud, Oliver, Megan, Jeep, Bonnie, Grazie, Bouncer, Gracie, Stumpy and Spark will all be seen again on the Earthdog circuit, perfecting their skills and giving us such good times. All but Ed and I went on to the sanctioned earthdog trials sponsored by the Scotty Terrier Club on Saturday and Sunday. Richard sent a report of the weekend to Ed Plummer:

"Jeep did very well in the intro to quarry and got rave reviews from the judge and AKC rep. By the afternoon when he ran in JE he wouldn't even go into the hole. He obviously didn't qualify. (Ed. Note: See Ed Plummer's column for news on Jeep's later achievements.) Rosebud did qualify in grand style. She was one of very few qualifiers on Saturday. Carl was justifiably excited and proud.

The scenting conditions were awful on Saturday and I think that had something to do with it. Of the Master Earthdog entrants, only two qualified. There were three Senior Earthdog qualifiers and when I left only one of the seventy JE entrants had qualified. It ain't as easy as it looks!"

Some of our schooling exercises in Martinsburg were designed to encourage the Norfolks to use their noses. As Richard explained, "A dog doesn't necessarily use his nose as a tool unless it's productive. Terriers are a little too intelligent to be slaves to scent, but you can get them to develop it by making a game of it."

So now we have two new heroines named Rose, the Lachmans' Rosey and the Schraders' Rosebud. And at the Garden State Earthdog Test October 19th, Bonnie, Jeep, and Sue Ely's Georgia.

And onward we go. It doesn't matter if coats are blowing or topline isn't level. This is one of the really fun activities to do with one's Norfolk.

Debby Pritchard
ANTIC, December 1997


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