Thanks to Judy Stephenson, Mary Ellen Jones, and the beaglers at Coraopolis Beagle grounds, members of NATC with small dachshunds were able to demonstrate earthwork on woodchucks for Herr Ransleben and Herr Wördemann.
The beaglers knew where some of the dens were, and Judy and Mary Ellen had flagged other dens. The soil was dry but some rain had loosened the soil enough so that digging wasn't too difficult. Also, the beaglers knew where the better digging soil was, and kept us away from the dry slopes.
The first dachshund to work was Carrie Hamilton's FC Apple Hill's Capsicum, a mini smooth, black and tan. Cap is just over a year old but very keen to get into quarry. We took Cap, and quite a large audience, to the far end of the beagle grounds where the ground had recently been cleared of trees, brush, and had been burned over. Cap marked and bayed a large woodchuck in a two-hole den. We posted two standard dachshunds at the exit in case the woodchuck bolted. The hole narrowed down to a single passage with roots blocking the way. Cap kept trying to thread through the roots but the woodchuck had already filled part of the den with dirt. Cap was of course wearing a transmitter collar so we were able to know where he was. The first hole we dug yielded a turn in the tunnel. The tunnel was blocked with fresh soil, meaning the woodchuck had buried itself. We weren't sure which way to dig but Cap jumped in, smelled the area and immediately began digging at the soil. We dug beyond him and there was the big chuck. Cap grabbed a mouthful of fur as soon as we opened the hole. We took him out and dealt with the chuck. The beaglers were most impressed by the dog's determination to get into the hole. The presiding judges determined that Cap's performance was sufficient to earn him his NATC Natural Den certificate.
The second dachshund to earn this certificate was Susan Fuller's mini red dapple long FC Yagi von Moritz ML. Yagi was entered into a one-hole den on a slope. Again, there was a large audience, which meant plenty of diggers. After Yagi entered we waited and waited to hear her bark, but there was only silence. She was wearing a transmitter collar so Susan started trying to find her. Nothing! We waited a bit but still there was no sound. Susan finally found Yagi with the transmitter collar at six feet deep, thirty feet uphill of the original entrance. Yagie wasn't moving around in the den so even though we couldn't hear her we thought she had the chuck bayed. In the meantime we checked for hair at the entrance to the den and found chuck hair. The diggers got down a few feet and could finally hear Yagi baying. She was fighting and barking at her quarry. The dig was extremely difficult because the whole area was a bulldozed heap of logs that had been pushed over a hillside and buried with soil. As the diggers got closer to Yagi and had almost opened the den, the chuck rushed to another part of the den. We tracked Yagi all around a big area, underground, chasing the chuck. The signal was seldom less than six feet, and occasionally went silent, which meant deeper than six feet. The judges determined that Yagi had done sufficient earthwork for her certificate but that the chuck was eluding her by running amongst the buried logs. It was decided that the place was dangerous and we kept silent. Yagi then came out. The beaglers later told us that they would not have recommended that area for digging because of the buried logs, so we were glad Yagi had gotten out safely.
The third dachshund to earn a certificate was Susan Fuller's FC HuntnDox Lily von Seerauber. Seer is a mini red longhair. We hunted for several hours before finding an occupied den. Only the judges and one beagler were in attendance, as well as Susan. Seer had a big bad chuck bottled up in a one-hole den. The end of the den was under an old stump so the digging was difficult. The beagler got involved and helped with the pry bar. The chuck didn't like the digging and kept charging Seer, who kept fighting and would not let the chuck bolt. When we opened the den we found a very large chuck. Seer had taken several deep bites under the chin that required stitches. She was very brave in working her quarry.
It is gratifying that the DTK now recognizes the earthwork done by dachshunds in America, despite the differences in quarry. Zwerg and Kaninchenteckels are useful hole dogs, and even small standards can have opportunities underground. The dachshund originated as an earth dog and in America today are being used to consistently take game. We appreciate the recognition of the dachshunds' underground talents by the DTK, and congratulate Carrie Hamilton and Susan Fuller on the work their dogs did.
Teddy Moritz, the Test Chairperson