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INFO ON STRONGDOG EVENTS



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STRONGDOG TESTS:
SPORTING EVENTS FOR LARGER TERRIERS
By Anna Fraser


There has been great interest in working tests for larger Terriers since the ATA started having Earthdog events over the past year. Earthdog tests are now restricted to all Group 4 Terriers that can navigate a 9" drain, all Dachshunds and all miscellaneous dogs that will eventually be members of Group 4. This excludes the larger Terriers including Kerry Blue Terriers, Airedales, Wheatens, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Staffies and others who certainly have the prey instinct but are too large for the 9" Earthdog tunnels.

We are happy to report that there is an emerging sport for the larger Terriers called Strongdog. It is not a newly invented sport but, rather, a revival of the Irish Teastas Mor gameness test that was popular in Ireland throughout the early twentieth century until it was discontinued in 1966. Until 1966 the working terriers of Ireland had to acquire a Teastas Misneac or Teastas Mor (major trial) certificate before they could gain the champions title. In this trial the terrier had a time limit of 5 minutes to drag a badger from it's hole or point out the position of the badger, so it could be dug out. Beside this also Teastas Beag (minor trial) games were organised, in which the dog was hunted on rat and/or rabbit.

A group of enthusiasts in the United States learned the details of the Teastas Mor early in 2004 and, based on the information, held practices in New Jersey and Connecticut, while another group held practices in California. They have named this new dog sport Strongdog and are interested in eventually having Strongdog recognised by the AKC and the American Working Terrier Association (AWTA). At present they are holding practices and trying to figure out appropriate tests and standards for the work that the Terriers will be required to do.

Adaptations have been made to the Teastas Mor requirements to comply with current concerns about the quarry. The Strongdog practices use raccoon or badger skins sewn together and filled with between 15 to 40 pounds of sand and weights to appear whole again while the Teastas Mor used live badgers that the dogs were to come in contact with. In Strongdog the quarry is pulled through the tunnels on a rope and the US groups are working out the best ways to pull the bait through and the best weights.

Monique Anthony has been in charge of the 2004 practices in New Jersey and Connecticut with more events planned for 2005. She has provided the information below and will welcome e-mails at
les-monique@snet.net
Her colleague Noreen O'More can be contacted at
reddogofimaal@yahoo.com
A Strongdog yahoo e-mail group has been formed and you can get information about it by contacting Monique.

Strongdog Test
Development of a new event for large terriers


Glens, Wheatens, Kerry Blues, and other large terriers were used in Ireland as Strong dogs that had to locate and engage or extract their quarry. One of their main functions might have been as a draw dog, to pull the quarry from the earth. In the past, Strong dogs in Ireland competed in working trials for gameness which involved contact with a badger and possibly drawing it from a tunnel. These terriers had to gain a Major Trial certificate before becoming an Irish Champion until 1966 when the trials were discontinued. Very specific details of these old Irish tests were recently uncovered. The Strongdog event has been modeled after these Irish tests, with the exception of using weighted animal hides instead of live quarry.

The quarry for the events will be raccoon or badger pelts weighted up to 30-40 pounds (the size of an adult male European badger). It is likely that lighter weight quarry will be used initially since the dogs might not be conditioned to pull the full weight. The tunnel will be approximately 11x11 inches, dirt on three sides, and will be covered with pieces of plywood along the entire length. This wood ceiling can be removed at any point to extract the dog if necessary.

The goal is to test the dogs interest in the wild quarry, their strength in pulling the weighted hide, and their determination to extract/draw the quarry out of the tunnel.

The first few Strongdog practices will be kept simple and the dogs will be observed as to how they respond. The dogs will initially be shown the quarry above ground to stimulate interest. Then, they will be introduced into a short tunnel with the quarry. The dogs that do well can then move on to a longer section of tunnel with more turns. After each practice event, the test will be evaluated and changed if needed, based on the results.

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