Rita in January, 2010

Rita, a Bouvier Des Flandres

Rita is one of my Bouviers. She is large with a forbidding beard and moustache which is typical of the Bouvier Des Flandres breed.

Also typical of the breed is that you generally do not find any shy or subservient Bouviers as you may find with other breeds. The Bouvier is a breed which loves its owner(s) but it is still a very independant thinker. It is playful and gentle with its owner(s) but known to be an excellent and fearless guard dog.

Rita can move with great speed. However, when she gets in the obedience ring, Rita, shows her boredom by lagging. And with the recall, where she could come at full speed which I have seen her exhibit when she wishes to catch something, she holds her head high, and deliberately looks around her, left and right and comes in, but not with any sign of hurrying. Sometimes, if she could talk, I think she would ask why is her pack leader calling her and then she knows to sit, and wait for a hand signal or command to go to the heel position and sit. There is nothing to chase nor challenge, so why should she rush to come in, Rita probably thinks.

Our scores were high and going well on Monday night and she was moving in the last stages of the heeling at a fast speed.

Then came the stay exercises which I always regard as a gift as Rita usually stays like a rock. Murphy’s law, I moved off after putting her in a “sit and stay” position in line with the other dogs, And she took a step forward which failed her.

At the trial on Monday night. Trevor O’Neale successfully completed the CD title and Sue Blandford the CDX. Think this is the first title for Trevor but Sue Blandford, I believe, has achieved the CDX before. Congrats to both.

Rita had not been to any classes after the last trials and maybe that is why she passed the off leash heeling without much lagging and had a lot of enthusiasm for being out.

My training of her to this level has helped me as a few evenings ago, I walked her calmly on a pasture with cows close by on either side and she noted their presence and walked on happily The person who had the cows watched us closely and I suspect he thought she was going to react to the cows, but she didn’t. And she made no effort to come out of the heel position she was in but if she had, I would still have been okay as she was not off leash.

Bouviers in early days used to herd cows, and I know people in the USA and other countries have fun with them herding, ducks, sheep etc.

A neighbour’s child, about six year’s old, came out to walk her and I gave him her lead, only taking it back when we passed homes with dogs who came to their guard walls to bark. Rita made no effort to respond to the other barking dogs, most of which were small dogs. And the child, was, like wow, he would like to get his dogs to walk as calmly as Rita.

It is important to train dogs, especially ones Rita’s size and especially if they are going to be out in the public.

Even off leash, and at home, good training can come in very useful. Rita jumped one of my back fences chasing a monkey and luckily I was there when the monkey came down from a tree and the dogs chased it.

I caught Rhapsody, a shorter Bouvier just when she was going over the fence and called Rita the same time. To my delight she stopped in her tracks. But I had to let her return through a gate, as it was adrenalin that helped her over the fence and she did not jump back over. Since then I added about a foot in wire to prevent her jumping it again.

Each dog, like people, is different. Rita is very unlike my Bouvier Dena who sailed through the A, B and C trials and passed the CD title easily and with high scores.

The important thing to me is that Rita is well trained and the CD title is just a piece of paper demonstrating that she has a CD title, and it would be the fourth CD title I have achieved in training my Bouviers so it is not like a novice person achieving it the first time.

Rita runs in agility as she is trained to be off leash and Rita also competes in conformation shows where it is useful to me to stack her and tell her “stay” while a judge runs his/her hands over her.

Rita is very sociable and enjoys going to dog shows and agility and I expect her CD title will come some day 🙂 I am currently working with her towards the CDX title and so, hopefully, she will achieve both titles.


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