10 July 2010

TSD Bayteam Cool Canine Interview-Carol Bowers and her dogs Bernie the Beagle and Deenie the BC/Kelpie.

At the Bayteam July 4th trial, a huge roar of applause went up towards the end of Masters Gamblers. Everybody went over to the ring to see what the commotion was all about, and there was Bernie the Beagle and Carol, running around their victory lap for finishing their APD aka Performance ADCh. It's hard to miss Bernie-just listen for the beagle baying before he goes in the ring, and also, how many beagles have you ever seen at a USDAA trial? He's definitely the first Bayteam beagle to earn a APD.

Bernie's a tough guy. He's nearly 12 years old, and went through TPLO surgery for a torn ACL in 2007. Two years later, he hurt his good leg when he fell into a deep ditch, and the San Francisco Fire Department had to send their skinniest fireman to pull him out. Bernie takes a licking and keeps on ticking, and clearly does a great job.

Carol's a tough lady, too. Once we pulled into the parking lot at a trial at the same time and I was slugging down a coffee. She looked sad.

When I said hi, she said, "It was too early for Starbucks. My Starbucks was closed. No coffee."

She could barely speak. She had driven far without coffee. Carol lives in Sunnyvale. The trial was in Prunedale. This is a feat I cannot imagine.

I had coffee left. I gave her mine. Carol is a very nice person. Us small dog people all know each other from waiting our turn to run. We stick together. If you ever see her looking tired, see if she wants your coffee.

When did you start doing agility? How did you get into it?

Somewhere between the time Bernie was 5 & 6 I had a job where I was working a lot and I was just in general being a bad Beagle mom. I was taking Bernie to a doggie daycare a couple of days a week. At the doggie daycare they were starting intro to agility classes one night a week at 8pm. 8pm was a time I thought I could make one night a week so I signed up. At the class, we - ok it was actually me - were awful. But the good news was you could take the class over again at a discount! Which I did and I ended up getting hooked. I entered Bernie in his first agility trial just before he turned seven.

Where do you train and how do you practice?

I go to class once a week at Power Paws. I practice on the weekends when I'm not at a trial, and I try to fit in a short practice during the week if I'm not working too much (need to do something about the job - it gets in the way!). That's about all the time there is for agility practice. In between practices I try a do some short training sessions inside the house such as, a few contacts on a board or anything else I can think of. I live in a townhouse so not a lot of my own outdoor space, but there is a good size common lawn area that I can drag a few jumps or weave poles out to and practice some - no complaints from the neighbors so it seems to work. On the weekends I will either rent a place or practice at home. 

You have always struck me as a very dedicated trainer and handler, who works really hard to keep your dog focused and motivated, and who doesn't give up when you have runs that don't go as planned. Bernie is a beagle! He is the only beagle I've ever seen doing agility! Do you have any tips for handlers who have dogs that are sometimes challenging to keep motivated?

I think you have to experiment with what works for your dog.  I've tried a lot of different things.  With Bernie it's all about the snacks (big surprise)! Before a run the baying (sorry about all the noise) seems to get him revved up along with some tug play. If he's not baying and tugging before his run I don't have a chance of him running.

You earned the last Q for your APD on your gambler's run on Sunday. Do you have any good tips for those of us that have a hard time getting those gambles?

You're right, we needed those evil Gamble Qs for the title. I am far from an expert in this area - especially since I had to spend a lot of time early on getting Bernie to run with me as opposed to taking off and sniffing and doing what Beagles were meant to do. My advice for getting a few Gamble Qs is to find an expert (like Jim Basic) and work with them on distance and gambles. I thought I had reasonably good gos and outs and I could not figure out why I couldn't get the gambles.  What I found out was that my gos and outs weren't as reliable as I thought.  Unfortunately for me, there is really no magic to getting a few gambles, it's just having a reliable foundation with the gos and the outs and that takes practice. 

I know you have a young border collie. Can you tell us about her?

Deenie is a very sweet Border Collie/Kelpie mix.  She is fearful meeting strangers which we have been working on quite a bit.  It's been a learning experience for me. She is in an agility class once a week and we have done some fun matches.

What do you do when you're not doing agility?  

I play some golf and give my two cats, Samantha and Annie, some attention!

Carol's best quote about Bernie?

He makes me laugh!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And no pictures of Deenie?

Whinge whinge pout pout!