The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ontario held an all breed Draft Dog test Friday, June 2nd, 2006. The judges were Bev Molloy, Peggy Flockhart and Allan Maniate, and it was held in Caledonia.
We passed the first phase, obedience, with no problems at all, I'd be embarrassed if we didn't! Comments from the judges were "very pretty heeling", "a machine", and "fantastic obedience dog!"
The next phase was carting. It is held in the ring with an empty cart and it's like obedience, but with a cart. Starts, stops, slow, turns, figure 8 and a backup. Again Ceilidh was great. Not perfect, we got a couple dings on our wide turns on the figure 8, but other than that very good and all three judges passed us at this phase.
Next came the one that concerned me, field work. Uneven ground, hills, changes of terrain, and a load. Oh, the load. In the CKC DD test the load is 40lbs, and you don't know what it's going to be until the day of the test. Ceilidh weighs 43lbs, her cart is small and modified by me. Not a good combo at all.
She handled the terrain with no problems what-so-ever. Then came that load. Oh, the load... In this test they had a 30lb bag of soil, a gardening bag with some tools, a water hose and a tray with 5 plants on it. I managed to fit it in and secure it down, but couldn't balance it. We were pulled from the trial. So close to the end and Ceilidh was doing SO WELL! To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, I cried! But I got over that pretty quickly :)
The judges recommended different equipment for her if I wanted to do it again. But they said she might just be too small even then, the load was too much for her. I'm not sure about this. I think that if I get things right 40lbs & the weight of the cart shouldn't be too bad, the distance the dog has to pull the weight isn't huge. In this case it was the balance being totally wrong in the load and my cart, and my shaft loops on my harness. They suggested a wagon might be better for her since there wouldn't be a balancing issue.
Overall comments were "Absolutely wonderful worker - conditioning and better choice of freight haul equipment"
"too bad - she's very willing"
It was a great experience and something that I will be doing again, maybe not with Ceilidh but with Bullet for sure. Carting is a lot of fun, Bullet's going to be getting a nice cart and I'm going to do everything right. (Ceilidh's too small for that cart for sure.) l learned a lot thanks to the wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog people, and have a lot more to still learn!
I told Ceilidh that if she did well for me on Friday that she wouldn't have to pull for a long time... she doesn't like it as much as I do. She took that to heart and did amazing, doing everything I asked of her, I couldn't have asked for anything better. So it looks like Ceilidh's getting a break from carting!