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Before a dog runs in a trial are there any checks made on its health, fitness to run, etc?


The reason I ask is that I was at the English Nationals at the weekend and was stood near the entrance to the field where the runs were taking place. I saw a bitch that was obviously old and it was also obvious that she had recently had a litter.

I asked the handler about her and he confirmed that she was nearly ten and had had a litter of five pups eight weeks ago.

At the end of her run the bitch had done her best but failed to complete the course in time. She was exhausted and flopped into the container full of water just outside the judge's trailer.

My question is: should this have been allowed to happen?


There were a few other issues concerning the health of some of the dogs that were running that I was not happy with.


If it is too expensive for a Vet to check the dogs before they compete, would it be possible to have one of the judges do this?

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I don't know the rules in the UK, but I believe here any judge could excuse the handler if a dog were obviously unwell or injured. That said, age and a recent litter, either together or separately, shouldn't preclude a dog from running in a trial.


From what I understand of the sheep at the English Nationals, many dogs in addition to the bitch you mentioned were bested by the sheep. And my youngsters will also flop into a stock tank at the end of a run, even if it's not particularly hot, so resting in the tank after a difficult run doesn't in itself mean the bitch wasn't up to the task before her (healthwise). Don't forget that the mental work of a trial is as tiring as the physical work too, and sometimes older dogs are wiser and therefore know how not to waste a lot of energy in certain situations.


Regarding age, Alasdair MacRae's Nan was 9, close to 10, when she won the national finals here for the third time in 1999. I'm sure there are plenty of other older dogs who are competing well at the age of 10.


What other sorts of health problems concerned you that you felt a vet check should be required?


FWIW, I was at a trial one time and saw a dog who was obviously lame. I was astounded that she was being run given how lame she was. I found out later that the dog's limp was from a long-ago injury that had no great lasting effect on her working ability beyond the limp (that is, the limp did not signify current pain or other similar issues). I learned then not to be too quick to judge appearances.


I plan to run my open bitch at a trial in two weeks. Her pups will be six weeks old then. I am already working to get her back in shape, but she will likely still have some obvious characteristics that would say to spectators that she whelped recently. I suppose I could wait until there's no evidence that she nursed pups, but she was dying to go out and work a week after she whelped. So I'd have to question how fair it would be to her to keep her from working when she's perfectly capable of doing so. Will I expect great things of her this soon after whelping? No. But I don't expect someone else to judge that I am being cruel to my dog either. I know what her choice would be in the matter.



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Thanks for the reply Julie.

It seemed obvious to me that the dog just wasn't up to the task. I thought that the speed (if you could call it that) of her outrun would have given the judge cause for concern.


To the shepherd's credit, he did tell me after his run that he was retiring the dog from competitive work now and she would only be used for light duties on the farm.


You are right about the sheep getting the better of many of the dogs. The judge stopped quite a few of the runs because, in his judgement, the run was not of a good enough quality.


One of the heartening things I saw was that there were two fourteen year old competitors (both female).

I'm looking forward to Kelso next month.

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In view of my previous post I should have made that clear shouldn't I?

The two girls were neices of Jim Cropper who is very well known in BC circles here.


Jim was an upset and dissappointed man. The judge disqualified him because he thought that Jim's dog gripped a sheep as Jim was penning them. I was stood just a few feet away and saw what happened and the dog did not bite the sheep. There was a particularly stubborn sheep that would not move no matter how much pressure the dog applied so the dog lurched forward towards the sheep and got within a foot of it before it would move. There was a definite gap between dog and sheep - but the judge must have seen it from a different angle and assumed that the dog gripped the sheep. A number of others saw the same as me and we made this clear to the judge but the decision stood.

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