Welp – the Beast of the East did it again! Charlie completed another Iron Dog competition!
This weekend my partner in crime and I traveled about an hour and a half to Huntington, Massachusetts for the second annual Dog Hill K-9 Iron Dog Competition! We did the first one a couple of months ago, and – I gotta say – this one was much more difficult.
So, for those who don’t know, Iron Dog competitions started as a way to simulate the experience for working police dogs, etc. It’s a pretty intense competition, with obstacles like tire climbs, wall climbs, and dog carries. The sport is now welcomes anybody to come out and try their hand, or paw, and is inclusive of all breeds.
After the last event I was blown away by the bond Charlie and I seemed to gain on the course. There was a huge element of trust that we needed to rely on, as I relied on him to not pull me off of a cliff and re relied on me to make sure he was safe in scary dark caves.
This time around was truly no different. Although having some familiarity with the course was nice. Charlie and I still had to rely on each other to push through and finish that thing in one piece.
I knew the course would be different, but there were a couple of similar elements – like scaling the giant rock/cliff! I was actually really glad we were still led that way on the course. Charlie and I have been working on skills to make that obstacle easier. Basically, I had him lead out, then I met him and walked another length of the leash, then he met me and walked the length of the leash, and so on. This allowed us to slinky our way down the cliff without him pulling me over or me yanking on his harness.
One of the new obstacles that was particularly challenging was a wall, of sorts, of tires that was up against a big ol’ rock. The point was for me anc Charlie to climb up the tires to get to the other side of the rock. I’m not going to lie – I thought it was going to be relatively easy. I thought Charlie would climb it like a ladder. Bodda bing, bodda boom.
That’s not exactly how it went though.
I had a hard time getting my footing, which I probably should have figured. But the big problem we had was Charlie and his short little legs. He kept stepping inside the tires, and then his legs weren’t long enough to get to the next tire. It almost would have been easier if he had stepped on the lip of the tire – but I couldn’t get him to do that. Oh well.
How we ended up climbing the wall was I climbed up the tires and Charlie sort of climbed up the rock itself. Now, this wasn’t the most efficient tactic. But it was a challenge, which is pretty much the point of the competition in the first place.
He kept slipping and sliding on the rock and I was afraid I would he was going to hurt his little toes or fall down the cliff. But it ended up being totally fine and we made it to the top no problem. That was probably our favorite obstacle though – something new and challenging!
Anyway, Charlie did really well and stuck with me the whole time. He completed every obstacle except for the A-Frame made out of barrels – something he struggled with last time too.
I really want to say though, that I am so proud of the dog Charlie has become.
These competitions are hard. They really aren’t for the feint of heart. They challenge us physically (obstacles, duh) and emotionally (cliffs, duh), but that little guy looks up at me and says “I’ve got this, KT!” no matter what. He really is my best friend.
As for this competition specifically, I can’t recommend it enough. Jim, the guy who owns the property and organized the event, obviously puts so much of his own self (let alone time and money!) into the event. It’s well organized, relaxed, and fun.
Something that really stood out to me was the care that was put into all of the obstacles. Other than the fact that we’re climbing and running and walking on ropes, I never felt unsafe. What I mean is that the construction of the obstacles was impeccable.
If the tires for the tire climb were put together with shoddy rope, it would have been really dangerous. And if the logs set up for us to balance on weren’t put together with care, it could have been really dangerous. But at no point in the competition did the construction of the really technical obstacles freak me out, which really helped both me and Charlie feel comfortable in challenging ourselves to try new things and push ourselves past our limits.
I really can’t recommend Jim and his events enough. And neither can Charlie.
Charlie and I are hooked on Iron Dog events for life now.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your dog? Let me know in the comments!