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!

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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.