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  • Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    Jack Russell Terrier Play Day! Lots of Fun, Lots of Rain!

    We finally were able to make it to the Jack Russell Terrier Play Day in Jasper, Georgia!

    Play Day was sponsored by Dogwood Jack Russell Terrier Club, and was held at the home of Wanda Dyer. Wanda has a beautiful home with acreage large enough to have a garden and plenty of space left over to lay out the fun and games for the dogs.

    We appreciate Wanda's generosity and hospitality, and also the hard work, time and energy of all the members of the Dogwood JRT Club who were responsible for planning and executing the Play Day. We realize how much is involved in setting up this sort of event, which was made more complicated by the rain. We had so much fun! Plus I was able to meet Faith Letendre in person, after corresponding by email for ages and ages!

    The games were racing, lure coursing and go-to-ground. Unfortunately, the go-to-ground had to be postponed until another day because there were no white rats available from pet stores. Next time, though!

    We left home about 9:30am, and although rain and storms were forecast for our area and also for Jasper, Matt and I decided to take our chances and head up north to Jasper, Georgia with Sadie Belle for our first ever Play Day.

    In the beginning, Sadie Belle thought we were going for a walk in the woods, or to the post office, or on some other errands. She was happy to ride in Matt's lap with a blanket and a good view of the road. Then we passed out of her familiar territory, she became concerned and moved to the floor board of the back seats, on the passenger side where she could keep a watchful eye on me, and pick up clues as to what the day had in store for her.

    This was her first trip on her own, without her support group of Spanky and Maggie. We think she did rather well, all things considered.

    Just as we passed the sign for the city limits of Jasper, it started to rain. And it continued to rain, all the way to the play day site a few miles down the road. We pulled into the driveway, and saw there were quite a few cars, so that was good news. We knew this had to be a group of hard-core JRT owners!

    We waited a few minutes to see if the rain would let up, and then Belle spotted the cows in the pasture and started to growl at them. So we decided to get out and make a break for a building where we saw other people and lots of Jack Russells. We stayed here with everybody else until finally the weather let up enough for us to go out and start racing the dogs.

    Aside from our home and her home kennel in Tennessee, Belle had never seen so many Jack Russells, and unlike her home Jack Russells, she didn't know any of them! Belle was so freaked out. Plus she was wet and cold from the rain. Paper towels to the rescue, and I tried holding her a bit. That helped a little, but I still wondered whether I should put a bag over my head.

    But everyone there was so nice, helpful and friendly, we began to forget about Belle's insecurities, and concentrate on showing her how much fun she could have at Play Day!

    Time for racing!

    Here's how it works: there is a set of wooden boxes, open at the top, each with a window on the front, about 6 or 8 compartments in all. You place your dog in a compartment, head and shoulders first, close the lid with Velcro, and then after all are filled up, some waves the lure in front of all the boxes to get the dogs worked up and ready to race. Then when all the dogs are at a fevered pitch, someone pulls a pole that opens up the fronts of all the boxes at the same time, and the dogs rush out and race after the lure and through the hole at the end of the course.

    Well, that's the way it's supposed to go. I found it incredible that some (only a very few) dogs had no interest in racing (or lure coursing) at all. I don't know if they didn't get the idea, or just didn't think it was fun. Others fought their muzzles instead of racing.

    Belle didn't fight getting into the box or her muzzle (well, not much!), which really surprised me. She sort of got the idea and ran for a while, but by that time the lure and most of the other dogs had long ago run through the hole.

    Next time, I think I will see if she can race by herself with the lure on a slower setting, so she can actually see the lure go down the course and go through the hole. Her legs are so short, and she gives it a good effort, but unfortunately the truth is she will never be a winning racer against the longer-legged dogs. I think she will love the hurdles though.

    And they're off! Here you can see all the dogs starting off, and Belle is actually racing, but she is already far behind.

    In this heat, Belle has actually moved ahead, and is only in third-to-the-last-place. You can see one of the dogs stopping altogether and fighting the muzzle. You can also see that the lure and the other dogs are already through the hole, so there is nothing for Belle and the slower dogs to see.

    Next event! Lure coursing! Here's how it works: there is a motor with a large pulley, and a cord that goes around the large pulley and also a number of smaller pulleys placed in the ground. The shape is sort of an octagonal shape, and the lure is a simple plastic bag from the grocery store. The motor has an on/off switch, and controls for speed and direction.

    Photo of the motor and pulley for lure coursing. Pretty simple setup, I suppose, but things do break down and you have to keep an eye on the motor so that it doesn't overheat. I think that overheating is part of the deal, no matter what you do.

    Here's Belle checking out the mechanical equipment for lure coursing.

    Here is a the lure going around the course on a trial run. The instant Belle saw this, she went nuts! She knew exactly what to do, and could not wait for her turn! She watched intently as each dog went around the course, kept an eye on the motor and the lure at rest, and was electrified by the concept of being able to run around, chase the lure, and no muzzle!

    It's Belle's turn! Her little stubby legs are flying, her deep chest is only inches from the ground, and she is intent on one thing: catching that lure and ripping it to shreds!

    Belle in hot pursuit of the speeding plastic bag! By this time, notice that she has figured out it is more efficient to run inside the cord. Good girl, Belle. Go, Belle.

    There she goes - just a tiny blur of white! But having so much fun!

    Even when Belle is not racing, she keeps an eye on the lure and its progress. Plus she guards it from the other dogs by growling and positioning herself between them and it.

    There's Belle at the bottom of the screen, watching intently as another dog takes his turn.

    Below are some other, more random photos Matt and I took of the play day, to give you and idea of the other dogs and their owners, and a feel for the day. I apologize for not knowing who all these people are.

    Finally, we called it a day around 1:30. Sadie wasn't used to so much running, and I didn't want to risk her getting too sore, or even worse, a torn ACL or badly pulled muscle. She would have stayed all day, of course, but Matt and I were getting hungry, so we headed for the car. Even as tired as she was, Sadie Belle spotted a bull, and had to give him a good blast of what-for before we left.

    Belle settles down for a nap after her Big Day at Play Day!

    We headed to Ball Ground and Two Brother's BBQ, one of our favorite BBA spots in north Georgia, plus I have posted extensively about Ball Ground and the late Oscar "Rock Man" Robertson. We found Two Brothers easily, and it wasn't too crowded that late in the day.

    Matt had the ribs and I had the BBQ sandwich with pulled pork, slaw, beans and french fries. It had been ages and ages since we had had BBQ, and it was delicious. Good hot sauce too.

    Poor Belle! Left in the car when we go eat BBQ. She wants some BBQ too!

    Since it was rainy and cool, we didn't have to worry about Belle being left in the car. Of course, I got up several times during the meal to check on her, and there she was, just watching me back.

    So happy to see us come back to the car!

    Nap time!

    Then we headed for home, and Belle went fast asleep with her blanket in the back seat floor-boards. She was glad to be back home, and Maggie and Spanky sniffed her carefully, trying to figure out where in the world she had been all day. Belle quickly resumed her life at home, starting dust-ups with Maggie at every opportunity. She was not sore or injured in any way the next day, that we could tell.

    One interesting thing that Matt and I noticed as the day went on was how much better socialized Belle had become. In the beginning, after she got over her initial fears, she tried to start a dust-up with the other dogs, but finally she settled down and was not bothered by them at all, nor they by her. This is such a good thing because she doesn't get to interact with many dogs. We all had a wonderful day, and we hope that next time we can bring all the dogs to Play Day.

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