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Out On A Limb
Posted on 11/09/2012 in Out On A Limb.

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I would like to give you two things to think about this month. Are we asking enough of these dogs? And do the rules permit handlers to play too many games? With rule changes coming in the near future, these are some of the things we have been thinking about lately.
There have been some comments regarding the rule that only requires squirrel dogs to hold their tree for two minutes. A good many people are thinking three minutes would be a more accurate test of whether or not a dog will stay treed. Some also suggest five minutes, as it is in the nite hunts, to be more to their liking.

Those who are in favor of a change feel that, in many cases, these dogs are treeing by sight, and the additional time will not be a factor anyway. Others feel that, as breeders, we should be working towards enhancing stay-put tree dogs. If the game is moving, the dog should move. If the game is staying put, so should the dog. Are we testing and rewarding dogs with those qualities with a rule that only requires dogs to hold a tree for two minutes?

Another topic that has been getting a lot of discussion is the idea of implementing a stationary rule. The stationary rule is fairly new to the UKC coonhound events as it has only been in effect for a few years. The goal with any competition event should be to evaluate dogs for what they are doing. When you leave avenues for handlers to attempt to not evaluate the dog, and you leave judges helpless in requiring the dog to be evaluated, are we doing a disservice to the sport?

That was the thinking when the rule was brought into the coonhound events, and it has been successful. The truth is, it hardly ever gets applied. That’s because it forces a handler’s hand. It requires them to tree a dog that they know is obviously treed but previously would have chosen not to declare the dog treed. Any time a handler feels he or she does not need the points, they are not willing to take the risk of losing what they have. In those situations, dogs are left to run a hunt out treeing the whole time. Some folks would consider that playing games with the rules.

While it often times does not affect who wins that particular cast, it can make a big difference on how the cast winner’s score compares to other cast winners’ scores back at the club. If the goal of licensed events is to evaluate dogs for what they are doing, and reward the dogs that perform the best that day, then this topic is certainly worthy of consideration. It has already proven to be successful in the nite hunts. Are the squirrel hunts and nite hunts that different in this respect? Something to think about.
Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable hunting season. World Championship particulars coming soon.