Cantor Participated in a Weight Pull Contest
18 months old, October 14, 2017
Friday night some of my training friends said I should enter freight-train Cantor in the weight-pulling contest the following day. We decided to put our scheduled nosework training session back an hour or two so that I could take Cantor to it. I had never seen one, but Denise had and said it was a blast. We all laughed as Denise told of Hayden sitting down and absolutely refusing to move when asked to pull a load she thought was ridiculous.
The weight pull is sponsored by a local pet store whose owners, Kayla & Josie, we all know well from agility and nosework. So off we went on Saturday for a new adventure. Marlene and John came to help, Marlene to take photos with her cell phone and John to help keep Cantor from veering off towards other dogs during his run.
They load sacks of dogfood on a wheeled cart, attach the harnessed dog to it, then hold him while the owner goes behind a chalked line. You can call or wave toys and/or food in order to get the dog to pull the cart from the start line to the finish line (both chalked on the pavement). The dog has 1 minute to get the front wheels of the cart over the finish line. The dogs successful on the first pull advance to the second heat and try to pull a heavier load. It’s an elimination process, with a maximum of 5 heats, so if they pull the second load they go back into line for a third pull.
They’re very insistent on safety for the dogs. One person walks alongside the dog to help it go straight and not get entangled in anything, while another keeps the cart steady from the rear. Most of the inexperienced dogs leapt around and back and twisted the lines, but Kayla jumped in quickly and got them straightened out so they didnd’t get scared.
The dogs are grouped by weight. They began with dogs 86 pounds and over, then got to Cantor’s class, which was 66 – 85#. Cantor weighs 75#. We didn’t stay to watch the smaller dogs but Denise said that for her Sheltie they had used a skateboard with small sacks of food.
Some of the dogs in the first two classes did the same thing. One pit bull sat down, glared at his owners, lifted his muzzle to the sky and howled the entire minute. Others moved over to sit by Josie or Kayla as if asking to be rescued. Others, who had obviously done this before, pulled vigorously and enthusiastically. You couldn’t tell by looking at a dog – size, muscling, breed – how it might react, so we laughed a lot. Cantor got the funniest expression on his face the first time I called him and he felt the weight of the cart. Second time around he was still confused but beginning to get the idea, and third time around he did pretty well. The fourth time he pulled the cart part-way and then said it was too much. I was very proud of him.
All registered, harness approved, waiting for our turn
First heat, 90#. Lots of dogs participating
Second heat 210# Several dogs fewer
Third heat, 360#, which is five times Cantor’s weight. Still fewer participants. They put a more serious pulling harness on Cantor before his turn. He’s beginning to get the idea and enjoy himself. He understood what was going on so I was able to tell him stay and leave rather than Kayla having to hold him back from following until I got behind the handler line.
Fourth heat, 450#. Only 3 dogs left: Cantor, a Chesapeake and another young German Shepherd.
The other GSD had nipped at Kayla in the third heat as she tried to disentangle him from the lines. In this heat he bit Josie, not breaking the skin but bruising her, and was disqualified for aggression. So Cantor was 2nd in his weight division!