The Secret World of Dogs – and Lure Coursing

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As you all know, the ‘Fastest Dog in Australia’ heats are happening Australia wide – held by different clubs in each state.  One Western Australian group – Lure Coursers Anonymous have held their heats already and West Coast Dog Sports are holding theirs at the Polo grounds in Guildford this weekend.  And as usual with the dogs, the excitement is building up to fever pitch.

Now before any lure coursing event, there are always doggy meetings and gatherings held by various breeds of dog to discuss race tactics, who is going to wear what and general doggy discussions take place talking about all highly important stuff and these meetings are looked forward to by every dog and are a highlight on the canine social calendar.

At Gidget’s House – The Meeting of the Italian Greyhounds (or Iggy’s as they are known)

The Italian greyhounds were holding their regular board meeting to discuss ‘stuff’ and by ‘stuff’ that could mean a multitude of things aside from racing because this breed of dog rarely stay on one subject for long.

Pippin always chairs the meeting and religiously has two mobile phones and has an admirable ability to be able to talk on both of them at the same time. Pippin is the ‘Mouse’ of the Iggy world and has his pointy snout into everyone’s business.

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Pippin the Italian greyhound – and chairman of all meetings!

 Gidget was there, and although a typical nosy Italian greyhound, was more of a fashionista and absolutely refused to go outside unless everything matched and was totally designer.

‘Gidget – will you please concentrate!’ Snapped Pippin looking annoyed at the tiny little dog who had been admiring her own reflection for over an hour, blowing steam into her tiny hand mirror and wiping it in hope of a clearer view of her beautifully chiseled pointy features.

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Gidget – the fashionista of the group

‘I will not be racing, I am far too delicate – I have legs that snap like carrots and cannot possibly risk myself’ Gidget replied sounding mortally wounded at the suggestion that she should concentrate on anyone other than herself.

Pippin rolled his eyes and said ‘I know you are not racing but at the moment we are discussing the cat situation in the suburbs and how the ferals keep threatening us with intent, only last week two Iggys were threatened by a feral tabby and they are still being treated for shock’.

Nica another fashionista and somewhat model of the dog world, promptly started to sob at Pippin’s announcement of the feral cat situation. Being rather dramatic, she was prone to crying in public and had started to carry some decorated gift bags from the David Jones store in Perth in her designer purse so that she could hyperventilate with style.

10369184_10152129514866921_3560933864050153625_nNica – another fashionista and all round delicate soul

‘We might need to call an ambulance’ Gidget shouted as she put her skinny paw around Nica who was checking from the corner of her eyes to see who was watching and moaning something about smelling salts.

‘Don’t let the cats get me, don’t let them – save me from the litter tray!’ Nica sobbed, she was playing the part now.

‘You don’t need an ambulance and the cats can’t come in here so stop being so silly!’ Pippin said firmly. Really this lot were so hard to control, they could be so very naughty.

Rocco – a smooth talking Italian greyhound, was looking somewhat bored as Pippin tried to quieten the others down.  Rocco is quite a character that has taken to speaking in a fake Italian accent and ordering ‘Pup-o-cinos’ and Panini plus listening to Pavarotti in a bid to look more Italian.  He even carries an Italian dictionary in his pocket for emergencies.

Rocco also claims to know Pavarotti personally despite being advised that Pavarotti died in 2007, Rocco strongly maintains that he is in fact his 25th cousin, the other dogs are too scared to shatter his illusions and let him continue to believe it.

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Rocco – (Pavarotti’s 25th cousin)

‘Let’s play with the toy rabbit!’ Rocco said in a high pitched shrill voice and then frantically started shaking a bed sock that he had found on the floor whilst growling at it to make sure it was ‘dead’.

‘That is not a rabbit that is my Mums bed sock’ Gidget yelled and then tried to snatch it back resulting in a tug of war between the two dogs.

‘Right, next on the agenda – are you lot listening?’ Pippin yelled and then blew his whistle loudly to get attention.

It was no good, all the other Iggys were now thoroughly over excited and all talking over one another in true Iggy fashion, each one not letting the other finish a sentence, each one with their own story to tell and every one of them totally full of gossip. Some of them were now joining in playing tug of war with the sock and Nica was periodically pretending to faint and demanding someone mop her forehead to alleviate shock.

Basically this was a typical Italian greyhound board meeting and Pippin was run ragged trying to organise them all and control them. Don’t be fooled by the Iggys you see, they are tougher than they look and have even been known to have food fights and flick dog meat at one another.

‘OK, that is the end of this meeting’ Pippin shouted at the top of his little voice, clutching his clip board he fretfully ticked stuff off the list that had been achieved (or not) and then added ‘Anything to talk about next week?’

The Iggys were all shouting and yelling, Nica was back to checking her reflection and smoothing down her ears, Gidget was checking her appearance and holding her stomach in and asking if ‘her bum looked big in black’ and Rocco was back to talking in his fake Italian accent to gain attention.

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 Italian greyhounds – gossips of the dog world 

‘Winter jackets’ Gidget replied firmly ‘I would like to talk about winter jackets and are Gucci doing anything for this season?’

Pippin rolled his eyes – ‘Surely there is more to life than clothes? What about lure coursing?’ he said sounding frustrated.

‘Lure coursing – could be fun I guess’ Rocco said absent-mindedly.

The Iggys stared at one another, some cocked their heads in interest at the mention of lure coursing, but the fashionistas of the group – Gidget and Nica to name but two, rolled their eyes to the heavens and said at the same time ‘Let’s talk about Gucci’.

‘OK, Gucci it is then but don’t forget to all of you that are racing at the weekend to make sure that you meet Mouse Norris and myself under the Terrace where we can discuss pre-race tactics’ Pippin announced.

The dogs all started to talk over one another again – some discussed the race, others discussed clothes and one or two even discussed diets because they had a fixation of their weight and would often hold their bellies in and pinch skin on their ribs as they were paranoid about their weight.

‘See you at the weekend!’ Pippin shouted over the excited Iggys all trying to talk at once as their tails wagged frantically and as nobody had listened to him, he declared the meeting closed and instructed Gidget to type up the minutes, except Gidget was now outside discussing Prada with Nica.

At Dee Coles House

Dee’s ridgebacks were all lounging about on the bed, which they frequently took over leaving Dee with nowhere to sleep.

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Your bed is our bed – so Dee’s ridgebacks believe

Mac, Bailey, Princess and Jazz were spread out as far as their bodies would allow. Mac was reading a book about lure coursing to try and get tips for the race at the weekend while Bailey tried to watch TV while lying upside down.

Jazz and Princess were being typical naughty pups and vying for attention from the boys who took the lure-coursing thing very seriously. Jazz kept nipping Bailey on the tail while Princess tried to be a good girl but failed miserably because she didn’t like the grown up dogs ignoring her.

‘Mirror mirror on the wall, am I the fastest dog of them all?’ Princess said aloud to herself.

‘Don’t know about that, Mouse is the fastest I should imagine’ Jazz replied.

‘Will you two be quiet, we are trying to study for the run!’ Mac said impatiently.

But trying to keep two young ridgie puppies calm and quiet was like trying to keep Brutus from eating a steak and simply cannot be done.

‘Bailey?’ Princess asked.

‘Yes Princess’ Bailey replied without lifting his head up.

‘I am so excited that I don’t think I can sleep’ Said Princess in a high-pitched voice.

Bailey looked at the young ridgie and smiled ‘Yes, but don’t get too excited or you will do what is commonly known as ‘the Brutus’ which is not pleasant’.

‘What is The Brutus?’ Princess asked.

‘The Brutus is where you get so excited that you shit yourself and trust me, it is not pleasant’ Bailey said to the disgust of Princess who could never imagine doing such a thing.

Poor old Brutus, he has never managed to live down his title of Turd Legs and has actually crapped himself more than any dog I have ever known.

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The shame of crapping himself has never left Brutus

‘Bailey?’ Princess asked again.

‘Yes Princess’ Bailey replied patiently, honestly he was a very patient boy.

‘I can be excited without shitting myself’ Princess said firmly but made a mental effort to clench her bottom – just in case.

‘Good girl’ Bailey smiled and got back to his studies.

At Brutus’s house

‘Rocky I am so excited, I can’t wait for lure coursing, I just wish that Vader could come’ Brutus said to Rocky as they were busy digging graves in the garden. You see graves have to be dug on a daily basis purely to turn over the soil or so Brutus tells me.

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Rocky and Brutus discuss the weekend ahead

‘I wish I could come as well’ Vader yelled through the fence and then made some special noises that only boxers can make.

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Vader and Brutus – they do EVERYTHING together including window licking

‘Well personally I would rather herd sheep’ Rocky sniffed without looking up and then herded up his tennis ball to stop it from running away, tennis balls have a mind of their own you know.  Rocky has exceptional herding talents and has even herded up food on a picnic mat before and yes, I am being serious.

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 Rocky herding up our picnic

‘Rocky will you play with me when Brutus is at lure coursing?’ Vader pleaded through the fence while snuffling loudly.

‘Piss off, I would rather play with a dugite’ Rocky shouted back ‘But I guess a little bark-off through the fence won’t hurt’.

Vader grinned, a bark-off would do for now, it might not be racing but it was better than nothing.

‘I am going in now, I want to learn my stuff for the dog racing’ Brutus said happily and told Vader he would speak to him later.

‘He likes this racing lark doesn’t he?’ Rocky muttered to Vader.

‘Yep he does, and so do I. Do you like anything Rocky, aside from your ball?’ Vader asked the little black kelpie dog.

Rocky looked thoughtful and after a few seconds replied ‘I used to like having my tennis ball thrown for me but I have bad hips so can’t have that anymore. But I do like swimming and I would love the chance to herd up sheep as soon as Mum can afford for me to do that’

And he did love his swimming and is really good at it, Rocky’s hip dysplasia completely disappears in the water and that is a joy to see.  He has been to hydrotherapy once and we have plans to take him again as he loved it that much.

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Rocky in hydrotherapy

Both dogs sat there quietly at either side of the fence. It was almost a moment of friendship, I say almost because at the same time, both dogs remembered that they don’t actually like each other.

‘Bastard, snub nosed mucus face monkey-pig’ Rocky growled through the fence.

‘Spastic clicky hipped big eared batfink’ Vader growled back and both boys launched into a tirade of angry barks, growls and snot flicks through the fence while doing the obligatory ‘fence run’ where they run up and down and chase one another from each side of the fence – fence running is an Olympic sport in the doggy world and most dogs take it seriously.

‘Will you two stop it! Rocky come in right now!’ I shouted through the patio door.

‘Same time tomorrow?’ Rocky said to Vader.

‘Yep, same time – catch ya later’ Vader replied.

And that was that – as quickly as it started, it had finished.

Let the fun commence!

The build up to the lure coursing has started, the dogs are in training, or discussing training, probably doing squat jumps and press ups in attempts to get fit.

There will be heated discussions and meetings, test runs around the garden and lots of activity in the home.

You may well come downstairs in the night to find your dogs huddled up in a group reading about lure coursing tactics, you may even catch them out trying a high protein diet for faster performance. Just don’t be surprised at your dogs embracing lure coursing and getting excited about it.

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Brutus dreams of lure coursing (and chewing Tony Abbotts testicles)

So to all of you that are going on Sunday, keep an eye out for Brutus who has promised not to shit himself with excitement. We will probably be under the terrace I should think.

Pippin will be holding a meeting with the Iggys and also holding court to Mouse, Barbie and the greyhound contingent and Dee’s ridgebacks will probably be around other ridgebacks discussing lions and stuff.

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Dee’s ridgebacks – discussing lions and stuff

The cattle dogs/kelpies will be having heated discussions about sheep as they normally do and probably won’t even notice you staring at them unless you shout ‘Bahhhhh’, in which case you will be promptly herded up.

Melissa Jone’s Staffordshire bull terriers will no doubt be trying to make their regular big bid for freedom as they open their own crates whilst the other dogs cheer them on and whistle the tune ‘The Great Escape’.

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One of Melissa Jones’s Staffords – think ‘The Great Escape’

Photo by Melissa Jones

Basically it’s all going to happen at this event so dust down your most comfy shoes, bring enough cash to treat yourself to the sausage sizzle and a cold drink and bring with you a good sense of humour and imagination because if you are really lucky, you will hear all the dogs talking – just like I do.

It’s a great day out – for the dogs to catch up, for friends to catch up and just to have a nice time.

See you on Sunday!

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright June 2014

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