Eavesdropping on high flying Team Brierley...
Following the publication of Anne Brierley's article on competing with Bracco Italianos, we check in with the Bracc Pack to see how they are doing. How are these ancient and noble hunting dogs - rarely seen at agility shows - doing in the ring? We listen in on their post-show debriefing with The Boss.
One year later and there are now five dogs on Team Brierley - three Braccos and a Working Cocker plus a Chihuahua X.
Anne: So Ettie, as pack leader of Team Brierley, give us your honest opinion of the events that unfolded this weekend.
Ettie: We set off on Friday night and I had anticipated I would be first on. However, I was sat on the bench! I didn't get to do any Agility on the Saturday. None. At all. For some reason or other, the coach has decided that Gunner is the rising star and I'm the back up. I was so pissed off! I really don't understand what the coach sees in that Spaniel!
Like I said, I wasn't happy. I expressed this very clearly. I just gave as much lip and rhetoric as I could! Coach marched me out of the ring and said nothing. We were eliminated!
What did the coach expect?
She was obviously disappointed with me and gave me serious evils! It was clear that the boss was not happy.
Then I realised that resistance was futile and that perhaps co-operation may be the answer. I suddenly had an epiphany and forgot about my loathing of the spaniel.
Together, as a team, we won Grade 3 Jumping!
Once again the coach had me as a starter in the A-Team. I couldn't be happier.
Anne: Bertie, what is your view on the situation?
Bertie: For a long time I've been a huge fan of Baloo Bear from the Jungle Book. He is amazing!
Anne: You do realise he is not a real person?
Bertie: What dot you mean? He is my hero. He was my inspiration.
Then I completely forgot about Agility and then my nose just took me there. Man, those BBQs by the caravans were irresistable!
By the way, the Boss is amazing. She gave me some fantastic new treats!
Anne: Now, how about you Millie?
Millie: OMG. I was so excited this whole thing is just unbelievable! Mum - sorry Coach -found the most amazing sprat treats and I would do any thing for one! It was such good fun doing all that jumping. Mum was very pleased with me.
I did struggle a little bit with one course, but I got round and celebrated with sprats. Delish!
I admit that I did just have to go and say hello to a couple of people, but what can you do? You can't go to a festival and not socialise.
Oh yeah, I forgot. I did get 10th in Agility and a 4th in Jumping.
Anne: Gunner, we've heard there is a little tension between you and Ettie. Would you like to comment?
Gunner: Well... I don't want to get embroiled in the politics of all this, but me personally, I don't have an issue with Ettie. She is the pack leader and I respect her authority.
As for my sport, being a Working Cocker, I love the game. It's my passion.
I like to get things done just as the coach has taught me. There were a couple of times when I realised I was going too fast over the seesaw and had to put the brakes on real hard! You could see the smoke coming off all four paws and they were smouldering afterwards. I did, however, get my touch.
Overall I was pleased with my performance - obviously room for improvement - but I'm new to the game and it's only a matter of time before I get a place.
Coach was very pleased and that's all that matters.
Anne: Last but not least Bomber.
Bomber: I love my Agility at home and in class, but this all seemed a bit overwhelming. Because I am small, everything so much higher and all I wanted to do was to get to mum, and it was easier to just go around the jumps. I did like all the people and obviously had to go and say hello.
Eventually, with lots of encouragement from mum, I did manage to go over a few jumps and all bits of agility equipment and I made all my touches. I did enjoy myself, but I do get a bit nervous and it will take a little time to get used to the whole environment.
Anne: Well thank you for your time, it was a pleasure talking with you all and hearing all of your opinions.
For more information about competing with Bracco Italianos, see Agility and the Bracco Italiano
About the author...
It wasn't until she got married and had children of her own did she got her first dog - a Bernese Mountain Dog called Bovis, who was just a family pet with little training.
Next came Samson, a Newfoundland, and his name reflected his size. He was big even for a Newfoundland. He was a protective dominant dog and Anne had a steep learning curve in dog training techniques from a specialist dog behaviourist. It was Samson who made her realise the importance of dog training from an early age. Tom, a Papillion, was Samson's companion and great mate.
In 2002, along came Buttercup, her first Bracco Italiano followed by Little Em, a bloodhound. Of course, she made sure both dogs were well socialised and trained to a basic level for family life.
After Buttercup passed away in 2011, Anne realised she couldn't live without a Bracco, so Ettie arrived. She was a bundle of energy. Ettie was enrolled on puppy training classes, and went on to get her KC Good Citizen Bronze and Silver awards. As she grew, it was clear that her energy needed to be channelled into some form of structured exercise, so so they began some gundog training and agility.
Shortly after Buttercup died, Em passed away. Bertie then arrived on the scene - five months old, poorly socialised and terrified of everything. Now he loves life to the full. It was a challenge but continuous efforts paid off. He too loves Agility.
Then along came Millie, a tiny puppy, with a sweet nature. She is still small and sweet. She too loves Agility and also does gun dog training.
Anne also has two other dogs - Gunner a Working Cocker and Bomber, a Chihuahua X. They also do Agility. She has found that Agility with the dogs creates a closer bond through the pleasure they get from it and the partnership it creates through working together.
First published 14 June 2017