Atlanta Terrier Club Earthdog Test: A Walk In The Park

by Karla Deithorn, Executive Field Representative

On February 11 and 12 the Atlanta Terrier Club invited terrier and dachshund owners to their spring Earthdog test and it was a walk in the park, literally.  The club has use of Jim Miller Park in Marietta, GA that is part of the Cobb County Park system.  The club has put a lot of work into the park to make it a showplace for AKC Earthdog events.  With the help of the park workers they cleaned trash out of the woods and trimmed back branches on a path for the Master walk up.  Their site is now one of the top Master walk ups I have seen as I travel the country.

Saturday was a damp, misty day that was perfect for scenting.   The Master walk up used by judge, Kim Markle, traveled the edge of the woods with a few log piles for the dogs to investigate before they came to the empty den.  At the empty den we turned left into the woods and the dogs really showed their hunting abilities.  As we wound our way along the ridge, I watched nuthatches and downy woodpeckers in the trees.  The dogs worked their way to the den that is situated on a knoll above a wide, flowing stream.  Pale green moss covered the tree trunks that contrasted nicely with the brown, tan and yellow leaf strewn forest floor.  The Lakelands, Aussies and Borders blended into the woods while the colors offered a nice contrast for the Smooth Fox Terriers, Parson Russells and Westies.

Kim held his orientation in the warm building that housed the Secretary's table and then took the braces into the field.  Among some good working braces were the Borders, Geordie, owned by Norma Mullins and Harry, owned by Debbie Yeager.  Harry earned his third leg on Saturday with a very nice performance.

The brace of smooth Fox Terriers went next.  Jim Bell's, Natalie, ran with Gaylain Fife's, Barney, who is a BISS winner.  He didn't qualify on this day but Natalie did a beautiful job to earn a leg.

Kim also judged the Senior class which took place in the converted Master den and he did a good job with all the braces.  This Senior class is a challenge since the dogs must recall from the den. 

Judges Teri Beverly and Carol Wainwright did a wonderful job with Introduction to Quarry and Junior.  They offered advice and encouragement to all the exhibitors.

On Sunday the test opened to a smattering of snow.  While it was cold and, at times, a bit windy, it made a beautiful picture.  As the Master dogs worked their way through the woods with the falling snow, I would not have been surprised to see a fox bolt past the judge and run down the hill to the stream with the terriers in hot pursuit!  It was a picture perfect day for terrier work.

Sunday, Carol Wainwright judged the Master class and she had some wonderful braces.  John Behan's Border Terrier Hannah did a lovely job with Norma Mullins' Border Terrier, Geordie.  Harry, a Border Terrier owned by Debbie Yeager thoroughly enjoyed the weather and went on to finish his ME title that day!

Carol also judged the Senior class and had some dogs who came close to earning a leg and a few who came closer to the SE title by qualifying.

Kim Markle went from judging Master on Saturday to judging Introduction to Quarry on Sunday and he did a wonderful job.  He was very enthusiastic and encouraging to the exhibitors whether their dogs qualified or not.  I am sure his enthusiasm will keep these new exhibitors coming back.

Terri Beverly judged the Junior class on Sunday and again, she did a wonderful job with all her exhibitors.  There were more qualifiers on Sunday and even those whose dogs did not qualify got encouraging words from Teri.

The Atlanta Terrier Club made sure that judges and exhibitors were well taken care of.  They had coffee and donuts in the morning.  All their members wore easily visible badges with the club logo and their job description on them.  Exhibitors always knew who to ask for help or directions.  John Behan was busy both days setting up the dens for the judges to inspect and scent so the test could start on time.  Don Malik was also busy making sure all the supplies were at the dens.  Jim Bass did an excellent job as Test Secretary and got all the classes started on time as well as having ribbons ready for awards.  Gaylain Fife manned the club's sale table.  The Atlanta Terrier Club had for sale rat cages that were built to withstand the strongest terrier and there were many “Sherman Tank” rat cages sold over the weekend.  Rick Hagler who was a committee member with a Lakeland entered in the Senior class, was rat steward in Master both days.  He found that is a good way to prepare for moving up to the Master class as it gives you a chance to see how the class runs.

It is always exciting to see a club start holding Earthdog tests and the Atlanta Terrier Club has come a long way in a short time.  Their organization; site improvements and general camaraderie make their tests a pleasure to attend.  Be sure to add them to your Earthdog list for next year as they are talking about further improvements to the Master walk up.

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