Featured, Local News

Canine capabilities on display

Farm Dog Certification event attracted a variety of breeds

By Robin Alberti

KILLINGTON—A Farm Dog Certification (FDC) event was held this past Saturday, Aug. 11, at Mosher Farm and

4-year-old Brittany Spaniel, Orion, with owner Beth Nicholson.
4-year-old Brittany Spaniel, Orion, with owner Beth Nicholson.

Excavating in Killington. The FDC test provides a series of exercises that represent situations a farm dog would encounter in a typical farm environment, according to the American Kennel Club website. The basic test requirements are designed to emphasize a dog’s ability of self-control, confidence and trust necessary to succeed in any canine/human partnership. These traits and foundational training are vital to a working farm dog as well as the welfare of livestock.

The Tracking Club of Vermont (licensed by the American Kennel Club) sponsored the event.

Elements of an FDC test:

  • Greet judge for an initial dog appraisal
  • Jump on a hay bale
  • Walk over or through unusual surfaces
  • Pass through a gate
  • Perform a walking pattern around farm environment (large equipment and a passive stranger)
  • Supervised separation
  • Reaction to noise distraction
  • Reaction to another dog
  • Walk by farm animals
  • Handler feeds livestock
  • Dog approaches livestock
  • Physical examination

A variety of breeds, ages and sizes attended Saturday’s event, from a Yorkshire terrier weighing in the single digits, named Mr. Baxter, to a 3-year-old mastiff pushing 200 pounds, named Will. Many of the participants belong to the Tracking Club of Vermont. Most of the owners were not what most would consider a typical “show dog” pet-parent. These dogowners simply enjoy spending time with their four-legged family member and appreciate the benefit of AKC skills. Being members of the Tracking Club of Vermont is about having fun things to do with dogs, and the extra special bonding that comes with the training sessions, many participants quipped.
Rene Bugnon, of Mt. Holly, was there with Max, his 9-year-old field bred english spaniel. “When you are a member of the Tracking Club, you get to see a lot of the same people at these type of events and that’s fun,” he said.

Some were attending their first certification event, while others were already well-decorated canines.

“I like to get as many titles as I can to show people that mastiffs can do anything,” said Heidi Kraft, owner of Will. And 5-year-old German Shepherd, Ruger (a retired therapy dog) already had tracking and rally titles, according to owner Ginny Wilson.

3-year-old Mastiff, Will
3-year-old Mastiff, Will

Others in attendance Saturday were two 6-year-old Bernese mountain dogs: Cara Mia with owner Pam Eldridge from Waterbury and Keiko with owner Cory Manning; a 4-year-old Brittany spaniel, Orion, with owner Beth Nicholson; and 9-year-old field bred English spaniel, Max, with owner Rene’ Bugnon from Mt Holly.

Carol Carini got her daughter, Beth Nicholson, involved in 4-H dog showing at a young age. Now as an adult, Nicholson helps run the program. Nicholson brought Orion, her 4-year-old Brittany spaniel to the event in Killington and plans to attend the annual 4H club dog showing at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland.

“It is a really great thing for kids and their dogs,” said Carini. “We meet once a month in the winter, and once a week in the summer to get ready for the show. It is really good for the kids to go home after 4-H and have specific tasks to work on with their dog before the next meeting. It gives them something specific to focus on with their dog during training. It really helps motivate them to work with their dog, not just having their parents tell them to go play with the dog.”

The 4H program runs from October through September. A new session will be starting this fall. For more information contact Kimberly Griffin, UVM Extension 4-H educator for Bennington and Rutland County, at 802-773-3349.

The Tracking Club of Vermont holds meetings the fourth Thursday of each month in the Rutland area. All events and meetings are open to the public. All breeds and mixes of dogs are welcome to participate in the clinics and tests. For more information visit trackingclubofvermont.org.

Photos by Robin Alberti
5-year-old German shepherd, Ruger, with owner Ginny Wilson, participates in certification event

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