Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lancaster Bark at the Park

Brisbane and I spent the weekend in Lancaster so we could attend the annual Bark at the Park. It's basically a dog festival, complete with vendors, demonstrations, disc and dock diving competitions, contests, raffles, and even carnival games for dogs. And lure coursing, which is the entire reason we were there.
This was a two-day event with a total of twelve hours of lure coursing across both days. Brisbane spent a minimum of twelve hours across two days either running, or screaming because someone else was running. I learned some new things about Briz in those two days.

1. Brisbane doesn't hurt his feet when he is running, he hurts them when he is not running. He always sticks his feet in his water bucket, ensuring that his feet, any bedding, and the floor of his crate stay wet the entire time he is screaming and tapdancing in there.

2. A 3' tall x-pen, staked to the ground, beneath a short sun shade, is enough to contain Brisbane even when the lure machine is running.

3. Brisbane's paw pads remain intact when he spends a coursing event standing on grass instead of a plastic crate pan or soaked bedding.

4. While Briz appeared to be fine wearing his Ruffwear Grip Trex boots off and on through the first day of the event, on the second day he protested when I tried to put them on. The boots had caused sores to form under his front dewclaws, and putting them on two days in a row was too painful. I am planning to get Briz some Neo-Paws boots because those can be adjusted enough that the strap will not put pressure on the dewclaw.

5. Two days spent screaming, miles of running, and plenty of downtime around the equipment failed to make Brisbane any less obsessed with the lure. Sunday evening he continued to stare at the equipment intently until every last bit was packed up and put away.

6. Brisbane will bark at the lure continuously for at least half an hour without losing interest.

7.  I am unwilling to let Brisbane bark at the lure for more than half an hour because nobody has time for that, even when we're fiddling with the equipment.

8. At the end the event, after all of that running and screaming and barking and hysterics, Brisbane is still perfectly willing to try out dock diving.

9. Despite my lofty expectations, the Prozac had no effect on Brisbane's behavior at the event. Apparently this kind of crazy doesn't respond to medication.

10. Nobody else's dog is as obsessed, intent, or hysterical as Brisbane. Dogs that are better behaved are either less driven, less interested, or belong to people with the time and means to work with them in the presence of the equipment.

A lady with a lovely, well-bred young cattledog cheerfully told me that training would fix Brisbane's behavior at the event. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was thrilled he hadn't seriously considered biting anyone in the last two days. I'm well aware that intensive training could potentially turn him into a dog that thinks about other things in the presence of lure coursing equipment, I just don't feel the tradeoff is worthwhile. We only get to do this a handful of times each year, and I am normally helping run these events. I don't know how many of these precious opportunities we would need to use for training instead of playing, helping, and participating in order to teach Brisbane to chill out and behave himself. We might not even get there while he is still healthy and sound enough to run. I could avoid this level of crazy by simply not lure coursing any more, but I feel it's worth putting up with it in order to allow him to do something he is that crazy for.

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