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CKC Draft Dog Excellent (DDX).

DDX is a very complicated test. It is by far the most difficult thing Rusah and I have accomplished.
I will briefly tell you about DDX.  A team must earn 3 QS from 3 judges to pass. There are only 2 levels in Draft: Draft Dog (DD) and Draft Dog Excellent (DDX).  If you are interested to know what is involved in DD, please click here.

Oct 2, 2010 Rusah earned earned CKC DDX title.

To date Rusah is the only BRT with such achievement.

Great job Rusah

Our Marley is the second BRT in North America with Draft Dog title.

These are very challenging tests, that require lots of hard work, training and great working relationship with your canine partner.

Getting ready for equipment inspection.

Bihind us a ring for carting exercises and Rusah's cart and back pack.

DDX is much more complex than DD. All exercises are done off leash.  It consists of 3 parts. Each of the 3 judges is a lead judge for one of the parts, the other 2 judges observe and judge, so all 3 parts are judged by all 3 judges.  A team must pass all parts of the test under all 3 judges to get a title. There are no scores, it is pass or fail.
Before DDX starts a handler must present the cart, all equipment that will be used at the test (basket for the cart, bungee cords, ropes, tarps etc) for judges’ inspection by the ring side.

At CKC DDX trials you never know what the load is going to be like. All you know that it is 60 lbs. for DDX level. That is why you need to bring any equipment you might be needing to secure the load for the equipment inspection. Just before the trial, a handler is given an opportunity to see the load and try to load a cart without a dog being hitched. It allows a handler to plan how to load and secure all items as fast and efficient as possible, so your canine partner is not standing there for 15 minutes while you try to figure the way to secure your load.

  Each of 3 judges will look over the equipment by the ring side, and then a handler will be asked to harness and hitch the dog for judges to inspect the safety of the equipment that will be used.  Dog must accept all 3 judges touching the cart, harness, traces.

Part I. Carting exercise: demonstrates the dog’s competence as a draft animal in pulling a cart/wagon with 60 lbs load on a smooth surface.
1.  The dog is 20 feet away from a cart in stand stay; a handler retrieves a harness from a cart, harnesses her dog and walks with the dog to the cart to be hitched. The dog must remain standing while the cart is loaded and the load is secured. The lead judge for carting exercise checks the equipment again.
2. Back Up must be executed with fully loaded vehicle right after loading and judge's inspection. Dog must back up in a straight line minimum 4 feet.

3.  Maneuvers in the ring consist of 2 parts: Handler Beside the Cart and Handler Behind the cart.
In this part a dog and a handler will respond to a series of orders from a lead judge.  The team must perform at least 2 left, 2 right turns, 2 halts, slow pace followed by normal pace. This part is done twice with dog harnessed and hitched to a fully loaded with 60 lbs cart immediately after Straight Back up exercise. First time a handler can be anywhere but behind the cart and second time the handler must remain behind the cart during all listed above maneuvers. 

Rusah and Jean executing a left turn, handler beside the cart.

Rusah resuming a Normal Pace after Slow Pace was just executed, handler beside the cart. Later we repeated it all with me giving commands from behind the cart.

Moving forward after a hault , handler behind the cart.

Second Hault after Right turn in the ring.

To qualify for caring exercise in the ring Rusah must receive passing score from all 3 judges, be manageable and willing to work, responding well to verbal commands and executing all required exercises. 

If  a dog or any part of the equipment touches any part of the ring ( rope, post or any solid object in the ring), sits down or reliefs itself; if any part of the equipment or load comes undone and falls of the vehicle,  the team will not qualify. 

This is a great example of avoiding a solid object in the ring while executing a right turn from behind a loaded cart.

Almost done carting part of the test. Heading to the finish line!

Part II. Freight Haul Exercises.  A dog must demonstrate usefulness as a reliable freighting companion and worker over rough ground, incorporating various obstacles such as trees, boulders, high grass, go up and down small hills with halts up and down the hill, negotiating a narrow area, at least two 90 degree turns, one obstacle where dog must stop and wait for instructions from a handler (curb negotiating, opening a gate). The distance for the freight haul is 400 - 500 meters (1312- 1640 feet).

Before the freight haul starts, the judges and handlers are given an opportunity to walk the course, which is marked with flags , to allow for any questions to be asked and most importantly to plan the execution of the freight haul with your dog.

The exercise starts with harnessing, hitching and loading and finishes with unloading and un-hitching.
Your dog must patiently wait standing still while you load/un-load the cart with a 60 lbs load and secure it properly, so no part of the load is lost during your haul. Believe me, it takes quite a bit of time to load the basket with 4 pieces of fire wood, 30 lbs container of water, life jacket and a small tent, then fasten at least 6 bungee cords to make sure nothing will fall off.

At CKC DDX triials you never know what the load is going to be like. All you know that it is 60 bls for DDX level.

At this trial we harnessed and hitched by the ring side, then the lead judge inspected the load and we were ready to start our freight part of DDX.

The dog and handler are to work at a comfortable working speed, off lead, following the marked pass.

Once again if any part of a dog or vehicle touches a flag or any solid object over 4 inches tall, urinates or defecates while working, if a handler touches the dog or a vehicle at any time, team will not pass.

Rusah is ready to go for Freight Haul.

At this particular trial there was a very steep hill to negotiate, but Rusah did absolutely great.

We needed to keep to the left to go througha patch of sand to ensure that a dog is good with various terrains, is able and willing to trust the handler and obey commands.

After climbing this steep and very tiresome hill, we had to execute a sharp left turn between 2 trees and continue on. The distance between 2 trees was slightly wider than our cart.

During  Freight Haul handler can be anywhere: ahead, on either side, in front or behind the cart, guiding the dog on the designated pass, avoiding obstacles and solid objects. 

The last part of freight haul went through a meadow with tall grass with a path wide enough for the cart to get through. You can see flags on the right hand side of Rusah. I had to stop and steer her in a right directions several times, making sure we did not hit flags and small bushes on a way.

We are almost there!

We are done! Time to unload and un hitch. The ground is very steep, you can clearly see the incline where the trail ended.

Part III. Backpacking exercise of minimum of 800m (2624,64 ft). Purpose: to test an ability of a dog to function as a pack animal, carrying a 2 day supply of food and water in a back pack weighing 1/6th of dog’s weight over a long distance and rough terrain with distractions.
The course is clearly marked with flags that must be to the right of the team while hiking. Judges will inspect pack and load for safety and weight. Like in a freight haul, the handlers have an opportunity to walk the trail before backpacking with the dog to plan the best way to navigate through it.

Backpacking is done in a wooded area, with lots of loose branches, logs, high grassed areas, narrow passages, lots of turns, a steam of water, steep hills up and down must be negotiated. There are always unexpected distractions such a horse poop on a natural trails, groundhogs holes, fenced pasture with horses to your right. There is also a dog on a leash with a handler will come out as a distraction at some point during this exercise.  A working dog is to remain obedient and responsive during the encounter with a dog on its path and during the whole backpacking trail. At the end dog will be asked to halt and stand quietly while back pack is removed.

Rusah was amazing throughout all 3 part of DDX.  We received many complements on Rusah's drive, intelligence and desire to work with her human partner.

by Jean Brown, Midnight Solo Kennel

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