Working dogs gather for competitions in Crozet

newspaperWorking dogs of various breeds and their owner/handlers from across the Mid-Atlantic region will gather in Crozet on the weekend of Sept. 19-20 to compete in a working dog draft test. Farm dogs pulling carts or wagons in Swiss farms were a common practice in years past, and now in celebration of that working dog heritage, draft competitions are held throughout the U.S.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Central Virginia will hold their annual Draft Test the weekend of Sept. 19-20. These Draft Tests are a series of exercises designed to develop and demonstrate the natural abilities of purebred Bernese Mountain Dogs in a working capacity involving pulling wagons or carts. These exercises demonstrate skills resulting from both inherent abilities and training which are applicable to realistic work situations. These Draft Tests are sanctioned by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of American and the American Kennel Club.

The Bernese Mountain Dogs originated in Switzerland, and they could be found on family farms doing a number of farm chores – herding, taking care of livestock, but they also developed a unique skill of pulling small farm wagons around the Swiss farms. They would often take products like milk and cheese to market in their carts, and bring back purchases the family had made. They were often called the “poor man’s draft horse”, and as a working dog, the “Berner” literally pulled his or her own weight in contributing to the prosperity of the Swiss farm family

The Draft Tests scheduled are open to all dogs, regardless of pedigree or heritage, and not just Bernese. The Club welcomes spectators of all ages to the Draft trials. Un-entered dogs may be present, but must be leashed or crated and under control at all times. The Club asks that the public show courtesy to the working dogs by keeping your dogs back from the ring and not fouling or blocking the freight haul area.

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