Comparison of the two

So I wrote about the change of Intelligence to Follow in the FCI rules a couple of times already. I didn’t notice, however, that I have written the Follow-version in the evaluation recap I made earlier last year. Somehow that has eluded my eye and mind, which is really sad. If I  have missed that while I was WRITING about it, how could have anyone noticed it?

Anyhow, in the earlier earlier version of the rules (42-2015-annex-en, valid from 15th of July, 2015) it says about Intelligence as follows:

3.7.5 Intelligence
Intelligence shown in the pursuit will make a Sighthound run a path that will put
it in a good position to take the lure, showing an agility without which even the
fastest hound will not succeed in a take. A dog will show its intelligence by
putting itself between the lure and its path to prevent the lure escaping to rough

In the current rules (51-2016-annex-en, valid from 1st of January, 2017), this has been changed to Follow as follows:

3.7.4 Follow
Follow is a dog’s capability to follow the lure and always have 100% attention
on the lure. Good follow is characterized when a dog:
1. Follows the lure for the whole course and actively try’s to catch the lure. Reacts quickly to the movement of the lure.
2. Follows the lure precisely and tries to make “jump to kill” immediately when it gets close to the lure.
3. Tries actively and aggressively to catch the lure through out the whole chase.
4. Go after the lure without making great assumptions as to where the lure will be travelling (course wise running).

Note the difference?

To me the Follow states it very strictly, that the hound must try to run towards the lure at any cost. Intelligence states it in much softer tones, giving room for interpretation and breed specific performance.

If we interpret Follow to the point, a dog ‘putting itself between the lure and it’s path’ is in fact doing a mistake, which would have been a merit according to the old Intelligence point: it is not trying to ‘actively and aggressively catch the lure’. Instead it’s trying to block it’s way.

Like a good hunter would try to do. Why nibble from the tail when you can cut to the throat?

Also a strict interpretation of Follow states that the dog shouldn’t take the terrain or obstacles into account while trying to catch the lure. “Follows the lure for the whole course and actively tries to catch the lure… without making any great assumptions as to where the lure will be travelling…”

Waiting for the interpretations on these points, not only for the dog owners and handlers, but also for myself as a judge. What ever the case, I still think that the follow should be scrapped and intelligence should be brought back with more emphasis on the breed specific chasing and conduct.


Hidden but dangerous

I wrote last about the most infuriating change CdL has gotten into the European Lure-Coursing rules. Like I mentioned, there are several smaller changes, some of which can be said to be good. The best such change has been the rule change, which makes the use of muzzle mandatory to all breeds.

Traditionally the Italian Greyhounds have been able to lure-course without a muzzle. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they are so small and people do not consider their bite as dangerous as one of – say – an Irish Wolfhound. However, with this kind of thinking people are forgetting the main reasons why lure-coursing and racing dogs use the muzzle.

There are two distinct reasons for muzzle in a sighthound running competition (broadly, I’m including lure-coursing, racing, straight racing and pack coursing in this):

  1. To prevent the dog to cause harm by biting
  2. To prevent harm to the dog, especially it’s sensitive mouth

The muzzle has to fulfill three jobs:

  1. To prevent the dog from harming others
  2. To prevent harm to the dog
  3. Not to cause harm to dog or others

Now that every breed has to use muzzle both on track and field, we – dog owners – have to make sure that these points are valid at all times.

This is a good change and shows that CdL is finally putting the dogs health first.

However, the change I’m referring to in the headline comes in quite a different place.

In paragraph 1.9. Dismiss and disqualification, point three has been changed from description of dismissal to that of disqualification. This seems minor, as both cases are extreme ‘punishments’ and usually very seldom.

As paragraph 1.9.1. gives the reasons for dismiss (stop during a race or course and encouraging the dog to run), 1.9.2 states the following:

1.9.2. Reasons for disqualification

The officials must disqualify dogs which:

  1. Attack or try to attack other dogs
  2. Want to escape
  3. Impede the progress of the races or course

It’s the third point that requires some validation.

You see, in point 3.1.3 describing the job of the starter in lure-coursing, it is stated that the “Owner/handlers keep dogs quiet and get them to the start in time”. In 2016 European championships there were several dogs, which had normal collar, harness and maybe even slip-leash when they came to the start. The mess with gear caused some starts to get quite prolonged, causing unnecessary stress to the other dog, which had to wait all this time for it’s partner to get ready.

Sure the wording ‘quiet’ is exaggeration and should be replaced with ‘calm’, which corresponds better to the current interpretation of the rule (some breeds just are more vocal on the start than others). But the point is that this ‘impeding’ may be used to disqualify dogs which are not ready for the start in reasonable time. What this time is and how this point is going to be interpreted in the reality remains to be seen, but what was earlier a reason for dismissal (ie. no negative repercussions to follow) is now a reason for disqualification (with all the resulting possibilities).

I wonder what changes I have missed because of these have taken my eye so badly. If you happen to come across such changes, please comment!

Rules updated

I have been very crossed about the recent rule change FCI approved for lure-coursing, that I haven’t been able to write anything about it. Some good points have been made (like approving the judging guidelines and the breed specific guidelines) but at the same time there have been changes which void the good ones.

FCI approved CdL changes, which included the change of one judging category to another. Namely INTELLIGENCE was changed to FOLLOWING. Under the new rule the dog which chases directly towards the lure all the time gets most points. Earlier it was possible to take into account the breed specific chasing pattern, like one chasing and the other trying to block the prey from escaping into a safe part of the field. Like some breeds do.

This makes the earlier approved addendum of breed specific judging guidelines obsolete! Now all the judge has to see is whether the dog is running directly towards the lure all the time, not taking into account any changes in the terrain or the course. Judging is more like judging sighthound racing: the one that runs fastest and all the time towards the lure is the winner.

Does this really measure the dog’s ability to hunt? My opinion is that it does so even less than with the earlier rules. It devalues the intelligence, the capability to take into account terrain, foothold and direction of the lure into account while chasing. It just brings the evaluation closer to mechanic of giving 17 points for all areas to a dog chasing the lure, devaluing the expertise of the judge. I know, there are currently a lot of judges guilty of that kind of judging, but is that judging the dog or just giving nice points to a friends dog?

We should remember the purpose of lure-coursing to begin with. Any judge not using the point scale to the max is guilty of not appreciating this purpose and is actually telling that they cannot evaluate individual dogs or their individual traits properly.

The purpose is to measure the capabilities of the participating sighthounds to hunt in their breed specific way in an artificial coursing track. Not to see which dog runs the track fastest. Racing is for that purpose.

On lighter side

Whenever the world looks gloomy and dark, I get my spirits up by playing with the dogs. Just go out, toss a ball, tug-of-war, watch them chase each other.

Recently there has been more than enough reasons to get up and go out. Lets take good care of our dearest ones. And our dogs.

They deserve it!

Safety first

I shared my opinion about the most important person in the field, and stated that the safety of the dogs participating in the lure coursing event lies in the hands of lure operator. A good operator can make or break the performance of the dog, for sure.

But how about the equipment?

Before going any further on this road let me remind you all about the line in the FCL Lure Coursing rules. It states very simply and clearly, that

The safety and health of the animals must always guide all officials and participants during racing and lure coursing events.

FCI Regulations for International Sighthound Races and Lure Coursing Events, Vienna, April 2012, p.6, 1.2 Protection of animals

Clear. Fine.

So it is stated in the rules.

However, there is no mention about safety of the gear used for the track.

Now, let me make this clear: every country does its best to follow the rules and guidelines set in there. For sure. And diligently. The interpretation of safety differs quite a lot from country to other, which leads to my amazement.

In Finland we have pulleys which rise about 5-7 cm above ground and have very low profile, as can be seen from the following picture.


Finnish pulley from the side. The top is about 5 cm above ground.

The pulley cannot cause any injuries to the dogs unless something else happens, like dogs fall and tumble over the pulley, hitting it directly.

The pulley is anchored to the ground with spike protruding from the bottom of the pulley. No additional hooks or anchoring required.


Finnish pulley from above. The plate is about 25cm wide, with rounded rim.

At the same time most of the countries around Europe are using higher, 15-20 cm tall industrial pulleys. It is not unusual to hear a dog getting injured or even killed by a contact with these tall pulleys or metal hooks used to anchor them in the ground.

Finland has proposed regulations for pulleys, only because of the requirement mentioned in the rules. The safety of the dogs is the most important thing in this and in any dog sport. But these regulations and guidelines have not been approved by CdL at any stage, even though they acknowledge the injuries and problems the higher, industrial type pulleys pose to the dogs.

There is a solution. Finland has used these pulleys for years and without problems. The returning of the lure is just as fast as with the higher ones, this we have proven in our lure coursing events and even in European Championships 2015.

Proper equipment is an investment to the future of the sport. It may hurt the pocket of the clubs right now, but the pulleys will work for years. And provide safe sport for the enthusiastic dogs.

The safety of the dogs first. Everyone agrees on that, right?

First snow

First snow has landed here in Finland. It’s time for amazing discoveries for the puppy, which has not yet experienced snow in any form. Our Paddy the Irish goes around the yard, sniffing and poking around, pushing the branches and darting away from falling snow released by the curious nose.

The older ones couldn’t care less. Sure, there are smells, strong ones, coming from beneath the thin snow cover, which our Breas still finds fascinating. But he loses interest in them quite fast now, as he’s already 4 years old.

But for the puppy. I’m waiting for a proper snow cover before I take my camera out to get good shots. Maybe I will get a similar photo out of Paddy, darting across the white yard, as I did of Brydie (deerhound) years ago.


Lodhainn Brydie on the move!

Or a flying Irishman, like I got from Breas the Deerhound.


Breas, it flies!


Oh, I’m looking forward to winter proper. Do you?

Aim of training

Now that we have popped open the can of worms considering training, let’s go deeper.

Sure, training itself implies that we are trying to get into a situation that we – or in this case, our dog – performs and recovers better. Let’s put an emphasis on that: training is aiming to improve certain traits required to compete better.

Like a good friend of mine said, if you really want to compete and train, every time you go out with the dog you know what you are going to train. Every. Time.

Let it be obedience, socialization or actual training for running. Every time you take your dog out, you have an agenda. That is training.

If you just go for a walkie in the woods is not necessarily training, unless it happens to be the ‘rest day’ between interval training or strength training.

Like I noted in an earlier post, we have three seasons in training. Think about the requirements of the season and plan at least a week ahead: when the harder training, when rest. When you are pushing the dog to the limit with speed or endurance, when you rest and do the maintenance – rest, swimming, massage, osteopathy, you name it. And then some rest more.

Plan your aim of the training. Speed requires different kind of training than endurance.

Plan ahead. Aim the training.