9th Australian Masters Games
Held in Canberra in early November, for the first time Dog Handling was offered as a competition class in an Australian Masters Games.
Mara Herba and Patches (the piebald Siberian Husky) signed on and trained lightly, albeit sporadically, as a lead up. The competitions were run under modified rules - rules which emphasised having fun - to suit the philosophy of the Games.
Open Obedience was held bright and early on Saturday morning. All exercises were done off leash. A short but brisk Heel pattern including a Figure 8 around two people was followed by a Stand for examination by the judge. Then came a Recall – with a catch - the dogs were asked to Drop to the ground while running back to the owners. A retrieve of an object over a solid jump was included before the group of dogs was left to Sit and Stay for 3 minutes while the owners retreated out of sight in a nearby building.
Patches worked well enough - and consistently enough – to gain the Silver medal for Second place in Open Obedience.
After lunch the Agility classes were held. With no time limit on the course, it was simple enough to work the dogs over, through or across each jump, tunnel or walk in the correct sequence. So we thought - we did not factor in the lowered heights for the jumps and table ( as per the modified Masters Games format), with the unforseen consequence that many dogs leapt on, over and off the table, resulting in a fault and needing to call the dog back to stand on the table for a 5 second pause.
Patches completed the course with only the fault at the table - fast enough to give us a Gold Medal in Open Agility.
Sunday morning saw us arrive early enough to walk the cross country course of 1.2 km, with a series of different obstacles aimed to test the confidence, ability and endurance of the dogs (and the handlers!) No collars and leashes were allowed on the dogs when running. Patches started out beside me in what can best be described as a “loose Heel position” as we negotiated the zig-zag through the trees, a bar jump and A-frame over the fence on the way to the Walk over the creek (where handlers had to use stepping stones while the dog went over the wooden plank of the Walk). Then came a run up “Heartbreak Hill” which tested some humans, but none of the dogs, and a quick up and over another A-frame towards a tyre set between trees. It was around here that Patches hit his stride and started doing large loops around the area while I jogged along the shortest permitted path. Luckily we coincided at the tyres, jumps and log walk just long enough for him to get clear across each of these required obstacles. Then came a dash though a tunnel and down the hill to the dog walk back across the creek. Patches let me gather him close (metaphorically speaking) and we completed the final formal part of the course together – with Patches going clear at a maze, tunnel and jump - followed by a close Heel position through the zig-zag of trees before a final flat out dash to the Finish line.
A fortifying drink helped me recover enough to cheer on the others as they ran in turn. Just as the last competitor set out on the course, the storm which had been threatening for some time broke and equipment was dismantled literally as soon as the dog had jumped the obstacle. With 30 people pitching in, it was only a few minutes before all - equipment, people and dogs - were safely under shelter. Our time of 6:04 minutes was good enough for us to take the Silver medal for Second place.
At the medal presentation ceremony afterwards came an additional surprise. Patches had helped me to another Silver medal – for second place overall for my age group in the aggregated Dog Handling competition at the 9th Australian Masters Games.
Ch Mikulov Patches CD AD JD ET AAD FD FDX