Photo by Audrey Pavia
This month, my Corgi turns 11. I haven’t done much with him in the last few years, but when I found out about the American Kennel Club’s new instinct certification in coursing, I knew we had to go for it..
The AKC Coursing Ability Test is open to all breeds and is meant to evaluate whether a dog has the instinct to chase a lure consistently throughout a course. Dogs more than 12 inches at the shoulder chase the lure 600 yards; dogs less than 12 inches, like Nigel, run 300 yards.
After watching a few videos of dogs doing the event on YouTube, I decided Nigel was up for it. I enrolled him in a Coursing Ability Test in San Diego, Calif., and yesterday he got his first shot at this sport.
The event was held at a dairy farm in the hills of northeastern San Diego County. The course was set-up in a huge, flat field. The lures were three white plastic bags attached to a pulley system, powered by a generator. The course was set-up in a square shape, which means the dogs had to follow the lure around corners, not just in a straight line. Dogs take turns running the course, one at a time.
Up until now, lure coursing was just for sight hounds, breeds such as greyhounds and whippets, which were bred to hunt fast-moving prey. But with the new Coursing Ability Test, any AKC-registered or listed dog can try chasing a lure.
Dogs must pass three times to get their Coursing Ability Test title, or CAT. Ten passes, and a dog earns a Coursing Ability Advanced title, and 25 passes results in a Coursing Ability Excellent title.
When the first dogs started their tests, I made Nigel stand by the sidelines and watch. He didn’t get it at first, showing no interest in what the other dogs were doing. I was worried. I thought for sure that all he would have to do was see the other dogs chasing the lure and would catch on, but he was oblivious. That was until I said the words, “Get it!” This was the term I used to encourage him to herd sheep in the herding instinct tests we had done years ago. As soon as he heard “get it,” the light bulb went on. He instantly knew what was coming.
When it was Nigel’s turn to go, he was excited beyond belief. My normally well-behaved Corgi was barking and straining on the leash, anxious to do the run. When the judge said “go,” he took off like a bullet, faithfully chasing the lure the 300 yards without faltering. He earned his first leg!
This event featured two runs, and therefore two opportunities to earn legs. A couple of hours later, we tried it again. Nigel aced the second run, and we drove back home with two legs of his CAT title under our belt.
The next event is at the end of this month, and you can bet we’ll be there. It will take place two days before Nigel officially turns 11. I’m confident he’ll get his third leg and his official CAT title. He’ll be living proof that for Corgis, like begins after 10!
Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia’s adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters by herself while working full-time. And you thought “The Simple Life” was out there?