TheVersatile PBGV

The following originally appeared in the AKC Gazette.

The Versatile PBGV

At the 2012 PBGVCA National Specialty , PBGVs and their owners competed not only in conformation, but also in agility, obedience, and rally.  Two days of specialty trials were offered for each of these activities.  The week began with agility, which was held at a local training facility.  Ten dogs were entered, with a total of 26 runs each day.  Despite some weather related challenges, there were 13 total qualifying runs.  High in Trial each day was MACH Clancy’s Capsaicin Rush VCD2 RAE OF PCMH.

At the host hotel, obedience and rally classes were offered for two days as well.  Unfortunately there were no qualifiers in the regular obedience classes, resulting in no High in Trial award.  However, there were qualifying scores earned in the optional titling obedience classes and most of the rally entries qualified.

PBGVs are not often thought of as the first choice for a serious performance competitor.  In fact, at past nationals the companion event classes have often been viewed as less important or serious than the conformation classes and were sometimes entered with little or no advance preparation.   I am pleased to report that this is no longer the case.  It was evident that every performance dog and handler team competing this year had put a great deal of time into preparing for the event, and on a given day I believe that any of the dogs entered could have qualified in their respective classes.  It is also interesting to note that many of the same dogs competed in multiple events over the course of the national specialty and that a high percentage of the dogs entered in the companion events were also titled in conformation and hunt tests.

For a dog to successfully compete in multiple activities with different physical and mental requirements over the course of just a few days, a great deal of preparation must occur first.  This preparation begins with the breeder.  Selecting a puppy for agility or obedience training is not all that different from selecting a show prospect.  In fact, a puppy with structural faults that make him unsuitable for the show ring is likely to be at increased risk of injury or fatigue in the performance ring as well.  The book Structure in Action:  The Making of a Durable Dog by Pat Hastings gives many examples of the effect of conformation on a dog’s ability to perform.  Along with excellent conformation, the ideal performance dog should be kept at a high level of physical fitness in order to meet the demands of each sport.

Temperament is another important factor to consider when choosing a dog for performance events.  Scent hounds were bred to work somewhat independently in the hunting field, but the most useful hunting dog is also cooperative with his pack and handler.  This sense of cooperation is an important quality for an enjoyable working relationship with a PBGV.