This is What a Senior Earthdog Looks Like

The tunnel entry at this test was a little more hidden than we had encountered before, and Moe had to look for it for it rather than just bolting in as usual.  For a heartstopping half-second I thought he was going to go into the false exit (which would have meant he failed), but he righted himself quickly, went into the tunnel, and quickly went to work. 

As he was working, I saw the judge kind of smile and call her rat steward over (yes, that's a technical term).  I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I assumed all was ok as she told me to call Moe back to me after he'd barked and scratched for the required 90 seconds. 

190466354sThat was when things got tricksey.  We've had Moe pretty well recall trained for several months now, and I was completely confident that he would come back to me.  But this time he didn't.  I was taping on the tunnel, laying on the ground, calling him--all the while thinking "awww, f**k"--but he just kept barking.  I was sure we were out of time, when the judge walked up to check on him.

Turns out, the judge was smiling earlier because Moe had broken one of the bars that separates the dog from the rats.  (This is a badge of honor, because--even though these bars had been well used--it takes a dog working pretty hard to do it.)  Once the rats were removed, however, knucklehead-Moe had tried to follow them out and had gotten his head stuck between the remaining two bars.  He wasn't barking at the rats, he was barking because he couldn't get free. 

Laughing again, the judge unstuck Moe's head, told me to call him again, and awarded us a pass when he came right back to me just as he was supposed to.

More pictures are here.