Central Bark Canine Events held the first ever barn hunt trials in New York State over October 25 and 26 in Central Square, NY. Barn hunt is a new dog sport sweeping the country by storm. Eva Raczka and her husband Todd own the facility along with Eva’s parents, John and Mary Fowler. Karen Cummings is the other main force behind barn hunt in the central NY area
In barn hunt, the handler and dog work as a team to find rats hidden away in strong PVC tubes among hay or straw bales. The dog must find the tubes and distinguish between empty, litter and rat tubes and the handler must call when they think the dog has found the tube with the rat. False indications lead to a fail. In addition, the dog must go through a tunnel made of bales and do a climb with all four feet up on a bale (or two). This is a timed event with the Novice level having two minutes total.
It is important to note that safety of the rats is paramount. The rats are always safe in their tubes. Dogs are not allowed to shake or roll the tubes. Most of the rats are raised by instructors in their homes and around their dogs so they are not stressed by the event. Rats are rotated out of the tubes throughout the day so no rat works beyond his/her “union hours”. All in a day’s work!
Most dogs start off with an Instinct certification. In this case, the dog can bypass the tunnel and climb but must identify the correct tube out of three lined up in the ring. One minute is allotted for the instinct test. Forty two dogs went home with brand new RAT-I initials after this weekend. Perhaps the most unusual was Arty, the New Guinea Singing Dog!
The facility is fabulous. This was one of the few barn hunt events actually held in a barn! Exhibitors were very grateful for that on Sunday with the cold rain all day. Hot and cold drinks were provided along with pizza. Many exhibitors brought food offerings as well including some cute rat themed items. Every dog was fortunate to receive a bag of Bil Jac treats just for competing, so no one went away empty handed! There were two raffles – one for workers who earned tickets by doing gate duty, rat wrangling or scribing results. The other was an open raffle with purchased tickets. Cathy Lewandoski came up with plenty of great raffle items. Judge Dawn Martin did a wonderful job of educating and encouraging while also officiating.
The rosettes offered for titles, placements within a class and high score dog in a division were spectacular. Classes are divided into Novice, Open, Senior and Master with further divisions into small, medium and large by dog height.
Twelve dogs finished their Novice titles and moved up to Open level. One dog finished her Senior title and attempted Masters. Some unusual breeds competing included Glen of Imaal Terriers, Curly Coated Retrievers, a Kuvasz and an Icelandic Sheepdog. One junior handler did an excellent job with his Jack Russell Terrier earning their RAT-I and the first leg towards their Novice title.
The next set of trials will be held November 22 and 23 at the same site.