So I just got home from a Barn Hunt in Bloomington IL and as I was driving back a number of things were going through my head. Most of the way TO Bloomington I was grumbling about driving, traffic and anything else that I could think of. I had decided that I hate traveling and plan to do less and less which is still my plan. On the way home I was thinking of how much fun I had or didn’t have.
- The people were friendly.
- It was fun seeing fellow competitors.
- It was really hot and I had to keep moving the van to keep the dogs cool.
- The blinds were inside and awful because first we had to sit in line and then walk in order into the blind across from the dogs in the blinds in the other ring… very stressful!
More thoughts crossed my mind. I had been accustomed to Jake passing and if he passed he placed with one exception and that was his first barn hunt. In fact, he passed every one until halfway through master (that’s 11 or 12 consecutive trials) I should correct myself… Jake ALWAYS passed, I, however, found numerous ways to make the wrong decision. I did notice some consistencies:
- The shorter the run, the more I think he felt cheated. This actually makes sense… He does well so he gets taken from the course.
- He finds the rats and they are taken away from him. It was adversarial and he didn’t want to give up the rat.
A few things started happening.
- He started going TO the rat and then continuing to hunt and then coming back to it. This was not at all like him because previously he would immediately go to it and try to pick it up and keep it. But it gave him more time to search (play) on the course.
- He started picking up litter tubes to take back to the van. Of course, I thought those tubes had rats in them so I called them. He got to keep something or so he thought.
I had watched video after video to try to understand his actions to come to these conclusions. His times were amazing… 20 seconds in novice, 90 seconds in senior, under 2 minutes in master. He did his job and is rewarded by being crated again for hours. How fair is that??
So this past weekend I had time to think.
- Why am I doing barn hunt? Jake likes it… to spend time with my dog… it’s fun… nice people.. All good reasons.
- What about Jake? He has fun when in the ring and then the rest of the time is in the crate in the van. (I should include Brita here also because she most often is along for the ride if not entered.)
So this past Friday morning, load up at 830 to go – run errands – get him and Brita out of van for 5 min. at about 10am… take off – stop again at 1 or so, get them out … arrive in Bloomington… go to motel .. go outside a bit… no playing in room … sleep … up and into crate… trial … out of crate 2x to hunt and maybe 4x to potty… back to hotel – Subway sub for supper (meat to dogs)… ice cream from McDonalds … next day.. crate … hunt.. out to potty several times.. drive home…
On the way home I think to myself how much time they spent crated… how much time I actually spent with them … did they really have fun? We get home and Jake and Brita run like crazy through the yard, chasing each other, finding a REAL critter in the wood pile… they finally looked like they were having FUN!
So as I mull over my thoughts about this whole thing I really do question myself and ask myself the question: Is it really fun for Jake and Brita… really? They seem to have so much MORE fun just playing in the yard and chasing critters through the woods. So what to do?? We’ll see….