Spring in Arizona: Wildflowers, Hummingbirds...Rats?

by Karla Deithorn, Executive Field Representative

As an Earthdog Rep I am often asked if it is hard to put on an AKC Earthdog Test. Well, no....unless you live in Arizona where Valley Fever is rampant and the spores live in the soil. But even that threat did not deter the members of the Sun Country Terrier Club.

Trial Secretary, Jen Wennerlund, just happens to work for a company that does environmental mapping. She found that Dead Horse Ranch State Park was previously agricultural land and one area without the dreaded Valley Fever. Then Trial Chaiman, Billie Rosen, happened to have connections to the State Parks Department and with some help she got permission from Park Ranger, Les Bovee, for the club to use part of the park for their Earthdog Test.

The park offered a nice pavilion where the caterer was able to plug in coffee pots and other appliances to serve hot breakfasts both days that included eggs, bacon, pancakes, bagels and various pastries. Plus lunches of do-it-yourself cold cut sandwiches, hot broccoli cheddar soup, chili, BBQ beef and potato salad. Since it was below normal temperatures on Saturday, the soup was appreciated by exhibitors and the cool temperatures kept the dogs comfortable.

The Master Test on Saturday ended with five out of six dogs qualifying. The walk-up through the cottonwoods was a delight for exhibitors and dogs alike. As they came to the den in the open field, all the dogs were totally focused. They showed how Master dogs can work, even in an open area. Judge Carlie Hofemann had lots of praise for all the Master dogs as she awarded their ribbons.

At 10AM Carlie started the Introduction to Quarry class after an informative orientation. There were 26 entries for her to work with and she did an excellent job keeping handlers relaxed so their dogs could concentrate. Charlotte Borghardt's little longhair Dachshund was the hit of the Intro class as she sat up and BEGGED her owner to come into the den with her.

At 10:30AM, Judge Tammy Vranich gave her orientation to the Senior exhibitors and then headed to the den. Always an entertaining class due to the recall, we were not disappointed. Both days there were some qualifiers and those who did not qualify knew what to work on.
After a break for lunch, Tammy moved on to the Junior class. Border Terriers were the predominant breed at the trial, and Jim Walkington's, Zoey, completed her JE on Saturday.

The trial finished early on Saturday. And the club dug an extra den; had extra tunnel sections available, so they were able to offer the novice exhibitors an impromptu practice. This was a great idea that encouraged some exhibitors to come for the Sunday trial in hopes their dogs would show progress.

As Sunday's trial got underway, it promised to be a glorious day. As we stood at the holding area for the Master dogs, we watched a hummingbird feeding on some bright pink wildflowers. Then the Master braces headed down into a wash bordered by cottonwoods with spring grass underfoot. On Sunday, Master judge, Tammy Vranich had five dogs qualify and when handing out awards she praised them on their ability to search.

Tammy reaped the benefit of the Saturday afternoon practice in her Intro to Quarry class. She had more dogs pass and a number who came close. I suspect the Sun Country Terrier club will have some new members at their next practice!
The Senior class judged by Carlie Hofemann on Sunday was hilarious as usual. The standard wire Dachshund, Zephyr, duped her owner, Wanda Brown into thinking she had the recall down pat...only to duck into the main entrance at the last minute. She is a good worker in the den and I have no doubt she will earn her SE eventually.

Judge Carlie Hofemann had a good Junior class and some of the Intro dogs made progress, even if they did not qualify. Jen Wennerlund, who was instrumental in getting these trials in Arizona, had her mini wire Dachshund, Emma, in the Junior class. While she did not qualify, she made progress from the previous day. Emma's first love is agility and, I expect, with some encouragement she will also shine at Dachshund field trialing and Earthdog tests.

The committee and friends of the Sun Country Terrier Club; Jen Wennerlund, Billie Rosen, Jim Walkington, Gary Reeves, Lee Olson and others I may have missed, put on very well organized, friendly trials. They were very encouraging to the newcomers. They had a good mix of breeds present, including Borders, Westies, Parson Russell, Cairn, Miniature Schnauzers, Lakelands, Silky Terriers and a variety of Dachshunds. The facilities were top flight. Les Bovee, the Park Ranger, stopped by to enjoy the trial both days. And the Arizona weather was outstanding. This is definitely a club that is going to grow in the future and be an asset to the sport of dogs in Arizona.

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View a QuickTime video clip of Zephyr, Standard Wirehair Dachshund, foils the Senior recall for her owner, Wanda Brown.