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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

Hay Bales (written 11/13/20)

They are finally here. Twenty bales of prairie hay, neatly stacked in our barn hunt arena. Dad dropped them off just this afternoon, and I'm already chafing to get up there and start arranging them.

The barn hunt rules specify that each dog must go through a tunnel constructed of hay bales a certain number of times according to the level of competition. There are not necessarily any rats hidden in the tunnel. They can be hidden anywhere. But again, because this sport was designed to re-create the natural working environment of terrier-type breeds, slipping through the tunnel demonstrates a dog's eagerness to burrow, explore, and investigate any likely rat hidy-holes.

So one of my jobs in the near future will be to wrestle several hundred pounds of hay in to a good, solid tunnel. And then, as soon as we get the last container tubes, I'll stash some rats and get the dogs going.

By the way, I am now the proud mama of six rats, up from the original two. I mean, on a barn hunt course there can be ten or twelve of the little varmints. For training purposes, two just wasn't gonna cut it. So Chamois, Shar, Rummy, and Reece are now part of the pack.

We've already done a couple of hunts out in the front yard. Tassie and Cinder showed the most interest, as I knew they would just based on their interactions with small animals in the house. Scotch was trying hard to figure things out, and I'll definitely keep working with him on rats and giving him a chance to catch on. But my boy Banner, the fourth compadre in the group of barn hunt hopefuls, has shown zero interest in rats. Even when held right under his nose in their tubes, he has just turned his head away and practically rolled his eyes.

Well, that's all right. Banner can focus on tricks and obedience, and the other three can play in the hay. After all, rats certainly aren't for everyone.

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