For a dog Carlin’s size, a Coursing Ability Test course is at least 600 yards. The course for today’s test, put on by the Chintimini Kennel Club, was 637 yards.
The course was mostly flat with just a few dips and swales. The cover was quite short — it looked like the grass had been cut recently, and that perhaps a few drops of rain had fallen in the recent past, making the field a carpet of gold with flecks of green. And the morning started out cloudy and relatively cool. Everyone was grateful for this, as it would be more comfortable for the dogs, who were going to be putting out a lot of hot panting effort in a very short period of time.
Carlin ran 13th, so we didn’t have a long time to wait. This club recommended that the dogs run without a collar for safety, so I went along with it, simply looping the leash into a kind of slip lead. Once we got out to the start line, I took of his leash, and held him around the chest like I have in Flyball and Barn Hunt. Carlin was ready to go, but restrained himself, waiting for me to send him. The Hunt Master asked me if I was ready, and when I said I was, she twirled her finger to signal the Lure Operator to start the bags running, and sent us off with a “Tally Ho!”
Carlin finished that first run with dedication and enthusiasm. He is such a beautiful dog to watch run. I wish I could have been both the handler and a photographer so I could get pictures, but if you saw the video of his first run, you know what I mean. Carlin passed that test, finishing the course in 1 minute 3.78 seconds. Then we waited for the rest of the dogs to finish so the group can start the second run.
The field was relatively small, so they ran the same course again, this time in reverse. That messed with the dogs’ minds a bit, especially if the dog has been running often enough to understand that corners can be cut, thus reducing the distance. (This is legal.) Oddly, Carlin did get a little confused at about 1/3 of the way through of the second run. The plastic bag bunnies ran through a shallow swale, and going that direction, they were briefly hidden from sight. Just for those few moment, Carlin lost them and he slowed way down, looking around. This is where the skill of the Lure Operator comes in. He slowed the lure down and then alternately slowed and sped it up. This jerky movement caught Carlin’s eye, and he was off again.
Surprisingly, even with his slight difficulty, Carlin ran that second run a little faster than the first: 1 minute 3.41 seconds. And he did it with enthusiasm and dedication. So that was his third pass overall, earning his first title. As soon as the AKC records it, he will be Realta’s Carlin O’Whistlestop CA.