Sunday, I posted a preview photo and asked if you could guess what we were doing on Saturday. What happened is that we had a great chance to take some dogs straight racing with a local club, so made an almost-2-hour drive down to Cottage Grove to spend the day racing dogs with friends.
|An Italian Greyhound at racing|
Now, since I was there just to have fun and run my dogs and spend time with friends doing something fun, I didn't get a ton of pictures. I spent most of my time running dogs and volunteering. But I couldn't resist getting a few pictures, and asking someone else to get some of my dogs when they were running.
|Two Silken Windhounds running|
The local racing club, SORCA (Southern Oregon Racing and Coursing Association) put on a LGRA (Large Gazehound Racing Association) and IWRA (Independent Whippet Racing Association) race meet. What is extra awesome is that SORCA not only allows non-sighthounds to race, but they offer club titles for non-sighthounds as well. All non-sighthounds are affectionately referred to at racing as "nose hounds" which is kind of cute.
|A program of three Silken Windhounds breaking from the starting box|
Racing is different than lure coursing in a few ways. First, racing is either straight racing (what we did) or oval racing. There isn't a course full of zigs and zags for the dogs to follow the lure over. Also, since the course is pretty straight forward, unless there is a foul, the dog who crosses the line first (by the tip of the muzzle) wins the race. There isn't any grading of how well the hound did in agility, endurance, etc. Also, a start box is used, like the photo above. It gives a more fair start than hand slipping the dogs since the doors all open at exactly the same time. The start box was actually busted when we started racing for the day, but got fixed part way through. Most people ended up hand slipping the dogs all day, though a few did use the start box.
|The small size "nose hounds" on their final run of the day|
The nose hounds were broken up into two different groups, with the large dogs (a lab, a staghound/border collie mix, a smooth collie, and a dutch shepherd) competing against each other, and the small dogs (Koira, Pallo, and a border collie) competing against each other. Poor Pallo didn't have any chance of winning being up against dogs with so much longer legs, but he went out, ran great, and crossed the line strong each time. The whole course here was a 200 yard straight sprint.The fourth dog you see in the photos of my dogs is a mini Aussie, who only ran in the third of three programs as a "ghost dog" (for no placement or points) in order to give Pallo someone to race against, which I really appreciated.
|You can see that Jazz and Koira are pretty evenly matched, as are Pallo and the mini Aussie|
The dogs run three times over the course of the day. Up to four dogs run at the same time. Each dog is assigned a blanket number/color to wear during the race. All dogs are required to be muzzled, both for safety of the dogs and to prevent the lure from being damaged. The lure is something that looks like a dead racoon and squawks when it bounces across the ground, as well as a white plastic bag, and it can get damaged pretty easily if the dogs aren't muzzled. And it isn't cheap to replace. When muzzled, though, you can let your dog attack the lure at the end a little. I really encouraged Pallo to do that, since he was so soundly beat by the other dogs I didn't want to discourage him. So he got to punch the lure and make it squeak with his muzzle at the end of each run.
Overall, we all had an awesome time. SORCA is made up of some great people. Everyone was nice, willing to teach us newbies what to do, and help us out when needed. Everyone stepped up to fill the volunteer positions needed to make racing happen.
Afterwards, we had to get a picture of the "nose hounds" all together. I put this group together pretty last minute, only a few days before the event, with everyone except the Dutch shepherd being on my flyball team. The Dutchie's owner is a facebook friend and lives pretty local to the trial location, and wanted to come. We were glad to include her. The lab that ran isn't included in this photo as they had already left at this point. She wasn't someone we knew, but I think was related to the person who owns the field. Her dog ran great, and got second.
|All of the Nose Hounds posing in racing blankets and muzzles with their ribbons. That is the starting box that we are all posed around. You can see how it opens in the picture above of the silken windhounds breaking from the box.|