SUMMARY: Boost wins bronze; Tika just says no.
Decided to run Boost on the lure coursing course this year. It's an enclosed loop with low jumps and tunnels through which a little furry thing that looks like a squirrel is pulled by a wire and the dogs chase it.
People have talked about how much their dogs enjoyed it in previous years. Before one of Boost's runs, a Border Collie ran from nowhere, dashed into the course, and started hunting frantically for the little furry thing. Half an hour later, the same Border Collie came from nowhere and dashed into the course, followed by competitor and sometime judge Tom Kula, running and yelling, to the crowd's amusement, although the dog remained oblivious when there was a small furry thing to subdue.
A fellow Bay Teamer had her Jack Russell Terrier in her arms, waiting. She had to hold her because the dog was shrieking and struggling in frantic desperation to get back onto the course. The Bay Teamer said that her arms and chest were torn up by the JRT's toenails. On Sunday, the dog tore its toenail out completely in its frantic efforts on course.
Yes, some dogs love this stuff. So we gave it a go.
A motor in the center moves the critter around the course, controlled by a person who keeps the lure moving at the dog's pace. The critter is attached to a wire, which wends its way around the course by wrapping around large red pulleys stuck into the ground. In most places on the course, the pulleys are off to the side, but at the beginning, the first one is dead in the center between the startline and the first set of jumps.
Boost's first run wasn't bad for a first-timer; a little hesitant in places, trying to figure things out, but no sign of the spooky dog that I sometimes see.
On her second run, she started to move, then noticed the spool and backed off to me. I encouraged her, got her revved up, and after two or three tries, she figured out that, if she hugged the fence and went NEXT to the first two jumps, she could get after the furry thing without having to go near the spool (which I think makes a funny noise as the wire zips around it).
The next day, we did two more runs, at a time of about 17.70 seconds, which was fast enough for a bronze medal. Apparently the next day they had a dog do it in the 14-second range, which would have dropped Boost's run out of the bronze range, but at least ONE of my dogs ended up with an award for the weekend.
I tried to run Tika, who loves to chase squirrels full tilt in the yard. Boost isn't usually interested in them, so I figured that if Boost was good, Tika would be better. Tika watched Boost run, which excited her almost beyond belief.
When I took her to the start line, she saw the little furry thing and began pulling at the collar to go GO GOOO! I released her, she started to haul--and skidded to a halt in front of that damned pulley, then tucked tail (what there is of it) and ran past me back out the entry. She wouldn't come back to me for several long seconds, then came only hesitantly. I tried to rev her up again, but now she was pulling backwards instead of forwards.
The lady suggested that I just walk her past the pulley, but as I tried to move forward, Tika went into full panic, flailing and shrieking at the top of her lungs, throwing herself against the fence while I hung onto her collar, and finally flinging herself sideways over the fence, still shrieking in terror. Quite reminiscent of how she reacts to going to the vet. There I was on one side of the fence, with no way to get over, but not wanting to let go of her and risk having her take off for the hills.
Needless to say, I didn't try her again.
Boost got one more run the next day, where she took off full speed, and then decided that the first tunnel was scary and didn't want to go through. She did, eventually, when I ran inside the course and encouraged her. After that, she had a fairly slow and hesitant run, but got through it looking quite interested in the furry thing.
More info on this particular lure-coursing business:
http://coursealure.com/ (including bad use of apostrophe).