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iWildWolves Photography

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Posts tagged ‘usmra’

Basic things to know about the USMRA aka Mondioring for sport dogs

Keeping up with the theme of this past weekend’s San Diego trip I get a lot of people on my social media asking me what USMRA is, no it’s not a branch of the Marine Corp, though I know the acronym is similar and confusing. USMRA stands for the United States Mondio Ring Association, the sport along with many others originated in European countries and is very popular still out there. The USMRA is a member of the American Working Dog Federation (AWDF).

Other ring sports include:

  • Schutzhund
  • French Ring
  • PSA
  • IPO

USMRA Mission

  1. The mission of the USMRA and AWDF is to promote, conduct and administer Mondioring trials held to the FCI standards.
  2. To promote proper and humane training and handling of all dogs that participate in the sport.
  3. To promote sportsmanlike conduct at all Mondioring activities.
  4. To promote education about Mondioring by establishing nationwide trials open to the public as well as participants.

So what is Mondioring exactly?

I have been involved in the sport going on 4 years now, I live on the ranch that holds trials each year and twice a week we have club training, but unfortunately, I do not have a dog of my own to work. With 2 of my own dogs that deserve my attention, I can’t afford a 3rd high octane working dog. It’s not fair to me, my dogs, or a working dog I would get. Everyone knows I’m chomping at the bit to get a dog of my own, and they all ask me when that will happen. Though I don’t participate as a handler I do participate in many other ways and watch from the outside looking in, so that’s why I feel like I’m qualified to explain this to people who aren’t circling the sport or been around it their whole lives. SO let’s dive in!

Here is my elevator pitch on the sport. Mondio is a competitive sport that demonstrates obedience and personal protection at different levels through a series of exercises. Different from the other ring sports, Mondio practices with many distractions like what may occur in the real world outside of the arena. Strangers approaching loudly, shaking hands, toys, and food on the field to deter a dog. It’s all about control and training.

Therefore I love the sport, as someone who suffers from anxiety these days (who wouldn’t with all the mass shootings and human trafficking) I find I look over my shoulder everywhere I go and always have Beowolf by my side. Beowolf is not trained in personal protection at all, but he has an incredible judge of character and will literally push me off the sidewalk is someone sketchy is passing. However, the training for Mondioring is designed around that. In obedience classes, I find I started using the same commands and training techniques I see in the arena and it really helps with keeping him close. everyday life

Really this is a hobby for many people in the sport worldwide, for some, it’s their full-time job and they’ve made a career out of it but for many, they come home from working 9-5 and pull out Fido for training.

Who can participate?

Well right now there are still new regulations being formatted to evolve with the sport, however, USMRA participates in International events such as “Worlds” which is a worldwide trial for the top 6 in each country for each level. As it stands here are the criteria for dogs participating:

  • All new registrants must be purebred and registered through an organization. *This rule is in dispute amongst everyone so it may change*. This includes all breeds! The most popular are Belgian Malinois, German shepherds, and Dutch shepherds “Dutchies”. But can include large and small breeds from American Staffordshire terriers and Pugs to Cane Corso, Rottweilers and St. Bernard’s. If it’s purebred and has teeth, it can work! Currently, mixed breeds can participate but cannot place. boxer puppy
  • All dogs are to be intact (Not spayed or neutered). *This rule is also in dispute* Females can get away with this as you can’t obviously see the uterus from the outside and nobody does a physical to check, but males are harder to fool the judges. If you want to participate but your dog is neutered, there are things called Neuticles which are testicle implants, this is cosmetic surgery so be aware and do your research.
  • Behavior- Dogs don’t need to be outgoing and super friendly though that makes life easier for everyone, for those of you who have aggressive or sketchy dogs, this also may be the sport you can participate in. The sport teaches you how to control a dog who is “on a bite” and teaches your dog an “off switch” it will also teach your dog an “on switch” too so they are less likely to take matters into their own paws. Since the dogs don’t intermingle and many handlers are familiar with an intense personality, nobody is judging you! I know of several dogs are only like their handler and nobody else, when on the field the dogs learned this is time to work and after that, they are put away. Contact your local club coach for a consultation if you are interested in pursuing the sport with your dog.
  • Healthy- Vaccinated and in good physical health. The sport is a sport for dogs, not slavery, so the health and well being of dogs are the first and foremost top priority. Limping dogs, dogs with cuts or torn nails, health issues are not permitted and will be asked to leave the field. Many handlers will pull their dogs the morning of competition if they are subpar on their health, for many handlers in the US these are pets first and a working dog 2nd. So health is always a priority.

*As regulations change I will be updating this post. The coach for the Santa Clarita Mondio Club is close to those on the board committee so all changes, I will be among the first to know. *

Levels

There are 4 levels of Mondioring that are all based on the level of training for the dog. It’s not based on age like shows or other sports but where the dog is in training, the higher the level the harder it gets, and more exercises are involved. Again this sport is designed to build a bond and boost confidence in a dog, not deter it, so putting a dog in a level it’s not ready for is STUPID.

Brevet (Br-e-vay)

This is the beginner level, for young dogs or dogs just starting in the sport.

Obedience Exercises:

  1. Healing without a leash heeling
  2. Absence of handler– Dog is in the “Down” position while the handler leaves for 60 seconds. The dog must stay put until handler returns and releases the dog from the down position. There may be a ball or toy thrown to distract the dog, but this is at a distance so it’s not too hard.long down
  3. Retrieve– Basically a single game of fetch with a “personal item” likely something you’ve been training with. Dog retrieves the item, then comes back to sit in front of the handler. The dog has 15 seconds to complete the task. (Below is Oj Knighten and Dude. Oj is a handler and professional dog trainer in Los Angeles County, see his Instagram)retrieve 2

Jumping Exercise:

  1. Hurdle– The height is based on the standard for the level, which is 0.8 meters. hurdlehurdle 2

Biting Exercise-

  1. Face attack with Baton– The “Decoy” stands at a distance and wave the baton lightly, these sticks make a clattering noise and their bark is worse than the bite. The handler sends the dog to bite the decoy and after 10 seconds the handler gives the command to stop. At which point the dog must stop and either guard or lay down, then the handler can call the dog back or walk over and Heel him away. 
  2. Defense of the Handler– This one is fun, it’s very interactive with the handler and the decoy. The Decoy’s job is to be very annoying and will try and get your dog to bite, however, the dog is not allowed to bite until the decoy hits the handler with both hands. He must use both hands and it must be clear and audible for the dog to understand, at which point when he bites after 5 seconds the handler will call off the dog at which point the exercise ends the same way it did with the face attack.

Click here for Full Brevet rules

Level 1, 2, and 3 consists of all exercises in Brevet, with additional exercises.

Must pass each Level twice to be certified and advance to the next level *Same goes for levels 2 and 3*

Obedience:

  1. Send Away or Send Out- This is like the fake game of fetch. The dog is sent to retrieve an item and once he passes through a certain threshold the handler is to call him back. He is to return to a heel position.
  2. Positions– Handler is to command the dog to change positions from a distance. Sit, Down, Stand. In any combination. The judge or field assistant will tell you the combination during the exercise. positions
  3. Food Refusal– As the name says, handler leaves the dog in a Down position while someone tosses food in front of him. The dog should ignore the food, licking or eating results in failure of that exercise.
  4. Little Wood– Only level 2 & 3. The handler is given a small piece of wood to rub his scent on it, then across the field will place it in the middle of 3 other identical pieces of wood. The dog is to sniff out the scent and retrieve the correct wood.

Jumping Exercises: You can select the height your dog jumps, but you get more points the higher the jump.

  1. Palisade– Level 1- 1.8-meter height; Level 2- 1.8, 1.9, 2.0, 2.1; Level 3- 2.2, 2.3m palisade image
  2. Long Jump received_620808161438781 20161029_144239(0)
  3. Hurdle– Level 1- 1.0; Level 2- 1.1; Level 3- 1.2 (Below is Francois Massart a french handler/ decoy/ professional dog trainer in Temecula, CA. See his Instagram)Screenshot_20190419-162844_Instagram.jpg

Biting Exercises:

  1. Face attack with Baton and obstacle– Only Level 2 & 3 are with an obstacle (something for the dog to jump over like a tunnel or row of water barrels) obstacle 2 e collar present
  2. Face Attack with Accessories– Only Level 2 & 3. An accessory is a bundle of objects the dog should run through to get a bite. (Below is Allison a handler and Decoy check out her Instagram)Screenshot_20190419-163308_Instagram
  3. Flee Attack– The decoy is running away, and the handler sends the dog after the bite. flee
  4. Stopped Flee Attack or Call Off– Only Level 3. Same as Flee attack except handler is to call dog back before it contacts the decoy, the dog should return to a heel position. call off
  5. Search and Escort– Only Level 2 & 3. Basically, a game of hide-and-seek with the decoy, the dog should sniff him out and bark until the handler comes and gives dog next command. Then the dog should stay with decoy’s every move and prevent him from escaping via a bite, a lot of dogs are trained to walk between the legs of a decoy making it harder for an escape. DSCF8267
  6. Object Guard– Only Level 3. The object can be anything and the dog is to stand and guard it against the decoy who is trying to steal it while the handler is out of site. The dog should initiate a bite within a certain distance from the object, then let go to return to guarding the object. object 3

So how do we know who wins?

The best part is it’s a paired team sport, nobody competes against one another, everyone upholds the most sportsmanlike conduct. We all cheer and clap for each other and help everyone out, tips, videotaping and taking pictures among other things. Each exercise is scored on a point system, everything is worth a certain amount of points and the judges remove points as needed. In any event either everyone can pass, or nobody can, it all boils down to each individual team. It’s just you and your dog on the field, all your training and hard work come down to what happens on the field. team

What’s the reward?

Eternal GLORY! Just kidding but seriously everyone competes for a title for their dog and bragging rights. There is no prize money, though, every trial has raffles and you can win some dope stuff! Like I said earlier in the post, this is a hobby for pet owners as well as professional trainers, but everyone has the same amount of fun! Not to mention opportunities to travel for trials and meet new friends. friends

Do the dogs like it?

Do they ever! This is a sport designed for dogs, many thrive in this sport especially mouthy energetic dogs like the herding and working breeds. Most were bred to do exactly this and many owners admit that on their days off the dogs still want to work. You can hear excited cries as the dogs are on the field, they can’t control themselves and are eager to get out and work. They were born to work and do something, sure maybe the obedience part isn’t as fun but their reward in a “tug” or ball is well worth it, not to mention many decoys refer to themselves as a human tug. puppy dutch

What if I don’t want to compete?

There are many pet owners who don’t compete with their dogs but come to training just the same. We are a community of dog lovers who all mostly have the same breeds and can relate. We talk, we laugh, we eat and work dogs! There is no rule that says you have to compete if you train, in fact, if Valentine was able or Beowolf was younger I would participate in training but wouldn’t do the competitions. Like I said it’s a hobby and a fun one at that, creates a bond with you and your dog, teaches you about handling a powerful dog and builds both of your self-confidence! Contact a local club for any questions. *If you don’t plan on competing then a mixed dog can participate*

What if I don’t have a dog?

That’s not a problem as neither do I. You can volunteer at trials, help with your local clubs offering services and such (snacks and in my case I am the Vet tech on duty). If you’re interested in being a decoy the best part is this is an equal opportunity sport, both men and WOMEN can be decoys! Even I have taken a bite from one of our dogs in the club and let me tell you, it’s a major rush! I would do it more, but we have plenty of decoys to help and the coach doesn’t want me to get hurt since I need to be on my feet all day and I’m out of shape to handle the stamina and weight of the suit. received_809283349448893

Where can I check out an event?

Trials are held throughout the year by various clubs, this is nationwide as well as worldwide! National events are held in the spring and the International World’s championship are usually the first week of October. Trials are really fun as each one has a theme so the club decorates and makes it as interesting and unique as possible! Click on this link to see when and where there is a trial nearest to you! jurassic mondio

Check out this video of Jessica and Khaleesi from the USMRA Nationals April 13th. She is a level 3 competitor from our Santa Clarita club. Jessica is a teacher and Khaleesi is a family dog!

So I won you over and you want to know how to get started?

Check out this link to the official USMRA site to find a club near you.

Santa Clarita Mondio Club Southern California.

Hope you like this post, come check out a trial if you’re ever in the area!

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San Diego or BUST! Taking the PCH with Beowolf to stealth camp in Bonita.

If you’re tired of being in LA this spring and want to venture out to other areas of Southern California then San Diego is the next obvious choice! With so many things to do, places to see, the zoos, the safari park, the beaches! Paired with perfect weather it’s the ultimate day out scene. Want to step it up a notch, well if you have the gas and the patience then taking PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is the way to go!

 

I have always wanted to drive up the coast of California along the 1 PCH and never had the time or the opportunity, but this weekend all of that changed. I have a newer reliable car, better gas mileage and some money in the bank as a cushion. Also I was set to attend the USMRA National Championship, details on the event to come!

 

I cleaned the car, checked all the fluids, filled up the tank (mine cost $40-45 to fill) and loaded Beowolf into the car. I needed to keep Valentine home for this one, the size of the event along with number of other dog’s present can be a lot on her and it was just me so I wouldn’t have help to handle her, it wouldn’t be fair to Valentine or helpful in her training to not give her my full attention. Not to mention I was also working as a stand in RVT so even Beowolf would have to be put up if I was needed. Even though it was a quick trip I managed to do a lot! I saw my father who also got to hang out and watch the event, I took Beowolf to Ocean Beach Dog Beach which is our favorite place to go when in town and we got to see some of Camp Pendleton which is my old stomping grounds! Though I would have loved to do more and see more, this was a short visit.

 

So let’s get started!

To get to PCH I headed on the 405 West to the 110 in Carson and hopped onto the 1 in Harbor City. Firstly I wouldn’t recommend this, take the 405 to Seal Beach. From Harbor City on its mostly Long Beach inner city and residential areas, I feel like I wasted time and gas on stop and go inner city traffic and wasn’t even close to the oceanic sights I was seeking. This was a lesson I learned for YOU!

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Stay on the freeway until you get to Seal Beach, from there the PCH is beautiful! We stopped at Starbucks for some drinks and food and I needed to go to the bathroom, so I let Beowolf out to stretch his legs and he got his pupaccino! I saved money here as well, using a Starbucks gift card I got a long time ago, so it was FREE today! When we were relaxed it was off to the second leg of our adventure!

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You still go through beach cities like Huntington Beach, Newport Beach (home of my beloved show, The O.C), Laguna Beach (shout out to my girl Kristen Cavallari!), all the way to Dana Point. It was so nice listening to my music on a beautiful sunny spring day driving through the cute little cities with glimpses of the ocean as you pass by! We didn’t stop anywhere because I was still on a schedule and the plan was just to drive the PCH, next time we will get off and hit the beaches or eat somewhere.

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This was basically a recon mission, where to start the PCH journey, where the places I want to get off at, and any other little details I made note of as I passed by. Beowolf spent most of the time with his head out the window saying hi to the beach goers on the sidewalk who were equally in awe of him.

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Once we passed through Dana Point I decided to hop back on the 5 freeway as Beowolf was getting fidgety and likely had to go to the bathroom again, I didn’t want to stop in the city to try and find a park, but I knew there would be rest stops.

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We reached our first rest stop just before you reach the Main Gate of Camp Pendleton, Beowolf stretched his legs and sniffed for a good spot to potty while I stared at the oceanic views that were once my own back yard. I also longed to be back living on Camp Pendleton that was also once my home, but that was another life, still I couldn’t help the nostalgia from sneaking in momentarily.

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We spent 10 minutes at the San Onofre rest stop and when Beowolf was finished we hopped back in the car and was ready for the 3rd and final leg of our drive. As it was a little after 1:30 pm, it wasn’t too busy although there was still plenty of traffic. At this point I knew the freeway like the back of my hand, as this was the route I took to get to work when I lived in Oceanside and worked in Mira Mesa. It was like falling back into line, except this time I wasn’t on my way to some low paying job, and I had more entertainment to look forward to.

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I made it to Rohr Park in Bonita just before 3:30pm. Most of the set up for the next day event was done, but there was still plenty to do. So I let Beowolf rest while I ran around taping, cutting, hammering, and other stuff trying to help everyone finish in time for dinner. I didn’t go to the dinner with everyone because I wanted to see family, so my father bought pizza and we just hung out with Beowolf catching up on a lot.

 

Catching Z’s

So as any normal person would do, they would stay the night with family. However I am a future vanlifer (not nearly ready to start) and need to get the experience living in my car…again. Since the event was set up on a public park they needed overnighters to stay in the parking lot and keep an eye on things. This was the job for me and another girl who came to compete with her dog. Originally the plan was to shoot over to Ocean Beach and sleep in the parking lot there, it’s free and permitted until 2am then opens back up at 4am. A few friends suggested I do that as well as reviews sounded promising, the only risk would be being woke up by police between the hours of 2-4am, though the risk was low as not many cops bother you if you’re not bothering anyone. Plus in my car I just look like a tourist who parked her extra car there, versus a large RV that’s a big target. Nonetheless the sanctioned opportunity to just stay in the parking lot at the park was better, I didn’t want to really do more driving and there was a bathroom right by the car. It was also quiet and more private than at night where there can be a lot of passerby people who could disrupt my sleep.

 

I let Beowolf out to run around the huge field while I set up the bed in the back of my car and got dressed into something comfortable then it was time for night night. Only 1 parking patrol car drove by around midnight (park closes from 10am-6am) but they didn’t bother me, not sure if they didn’t care about 2 vehicles doing nothing, or if they knew there were 2 vehicles permitted to be there, but I slept like a baby. It was so warm and cozy as I used this new car air mattress I got on amazon. It was easy to inflate and insulate the heat better than I thought, in fact when I woke up the next morning all my windows were dripping from the steam we created!

 

I was glad in the end that I stayed there, the bathrooms were better than portal potties. I let Beowolf out for a minute and then deflated the mattress putting away our night things and got ready for the beach! We got to Ocean Beach dog beach around 7am and it was already getting busy, there weren’t many dogs though which I was happy about. There is a reason I stopped taking Beowolf to dog parks and that reason stretches to public beaches as well. He has never once started a fight or caused trouble, but not everyone watches their dogs or has control of them, Beowolf can also be a… wolf… which means he doesn’t always come when called either. It had been a while since I let him mingle freely with other strange dogs and so before getting out of the car I gave him a pep talk to be on his best behavior.

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He heeded my advice and was a very good boy, though like I predicted he didn’t much want to come when called. He was more focused sniffing the thousandth pile of seaweed to care about my commands (something we need to work on) but all in all he was well behaved and made new friends, he also made sure to stay close by. I managed to get amazing footage of him, but my stupid phone was dying and his reluctance for paparazzi meant I couldn’t get all the shots I wanted! Oh well, reason for another trip I suppose! We stayed there a little over an hour and then went back to Rohr park where it was already packed!

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The event was awesome! I got to see friends that I haven’t seen in a while and watch people from our club compete on the National levels which was great, my father stopped by to hang out and watch the event too. Even Beowolf sat with us for a good portion of the day until it was time to break for lunch in which case it was time to put the beggar away. As it grew later in the day I needed to head out, like I said it was a very quick trip, I needed to be back to work the next day and didn’t want to get in too late. My father checked out my car and made sure I was ready for the 3hr drive ahead of us, I filled up the rest of my tank (I never start a long-distance drive without my tank FULL) and headed out.

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The drive home was great, later than I wanted so the sun was lower than I like, making it so I must constantly flip back and forth the sun visor for shade. Overall it was as I predicted. I just took the 5 straight up because at this point I just wanted to get HOME! This made it easier too not having to navigate a lot of traffic, just stay in this lane and we’re good. I travel this way a lot as well, my grandpa lives in La Habra and so I take the 5 everywhere.

 

I got home around 7pm which was good timing for the drive. Bagheera and Valentine were ecstatic to see me, I let Beowolf out to run the property with Valentine while I unloaded the car and got settled into the house. They could use the nice stretch of their legs too, Beowolf with me having jetlag and Valentine from being in the kennels overnight.

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We’re exhausted, to say the least, but it was a great time! Even though it was short I mostly wanted to see if I could do it and take advantage of things I’ve been wanting to do. Like, get a first-hand knowledge of Pacific Coast Highway and stealth camping in other places. I intend on taking PCH northbound at a later date to check out those areas as well, likely will be when I go up to Sacramento for my stepdad’s grand opening of a restaurant.

 

In the meantime, stay classy San Diego!

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