Today was racing day. We headed up nice and early so that Beanie and Biggles could get in some private runs before racing kicked off. In the first run we gave the Biggly Boy a 9 yard head start and he trounced Beanie! So he’s definately getting faster!
We hadn’t planned to enter them into the propper races but as it was the Scottish Beagle Club annual BBQ very few Beagles turned up. It was just Beanie, Biggles, a little dog that was there for the first time and a very BIG boy called Brodie who’d been once or twice before. We all figured that Brodie and the other little boy (who’s name I don’t remember) wouldn’t be able to keep up with Beanie so there was no fear of any inexperienced dogs interfering with her. It was a great opportunity to start building up Beanie’s tollerance for inexperienced dogs on the race track without any risk of setbacks. We were all in for a BIG surprise but it worked out very well!
In the first race all of the dogs started from scratch (i.e. they started on the same line). Beanie got a very slightly late start and Brodie quickly tucked in behind the lure and ran like the wind. All Beanie could see was a big Beagle bum and as she tried to find space on the track where she had a clear view of the lure. The other little boy bounced around excitedly getting in her way. My heart sunk. This was exactly the situation we didn’t want. But then I realised her body language was a bit different this time. Instead of looking as if she’d gone in a huff and given up she dug in and fought her way through to find a clear ‘lane’. Brodie was rapidly dissapearing into the distance. He had a huge lead but she and little Biggles chased hard and looked happy and confident.
For the next race we decided to start Beanie in lane two and Brodie in lane one. This gave Beanie a better chance of tucking in behind the lure. This would put her in a strong position where she didn’t have to fight her way accross lanes for a view of the lure. Hopefully it would help build her confidence. Brodie did exactly the same thing as Beanie had in the previous race – he ran across the track trying to get a good view of the lure. But Brodie wasn’t put off by other dogs in his path – it helps to be big! Beanie managed to hang on to a very tiny lead until they neared the finish line. Then Brodie’s thoughts started to turn to how he was going to get this pesky little dog out of the way so that he could get in behind the lure. Strictly speaking he should be focusing on the lure and not looking at Beanie (but it’s perfectly normal for inexperienced Beagles to do this). Beanie was put off by this and backed away at first (no doubt because of her experiences earlier in the season with some particularly naughty Beagles). But then she gave him a quick verbal warning and held her ground. Brodie crossed the line first again, but Beanie had faced her demons and they were still good pals!
In the final race Biggles and the other little boy were given a sizeable head start. Beanie and Brodie were setting a very fast pace and the others weren’t getting a look in. Brodie’s dad “accidently” gave Brodie a late start and Beanie got a two yard advantage. Initially, Brodie closed the gap a little and was hot on Beanie’s heels. But Beanie dug in and fought hard to maintain her lead.
As they approached the finish line Beanie managed to open up her lead a little and won by a good three yards. A big boost for her as she didn’t know she’d been helped a little by Brodie’s dad (traitor!).
It was a fantastic confidence booster for Beanie and a great lesson in how to calmly deal with dogs on the race track that don’t yet know all the rules. Beanie loved every minute and was absolutely desparate to race again, but Brodie had to go home. Brodie is quite an athlete and in fair races I think he’s going to be a very hard dog for anyone to beat – especially when he’s got a bit more practice under his belt. But Beanie is going to thoroughly enjoy trying! The race officials are talking about keeping experienced dogs separate from the new dogs which I think is a very good idea. We won’t be in too much of a rush to enter Beanie into propper races as we don’t want any setbacks but we’ll certainly try and organise lots of races with dogs that she’s comfortable with.
A big thank you to Brodie and his mum and dad for helping out our little girl!