Linwell Cairns


GO TO GROUND (Earthdog)

  • Terriers were originally bred to help farmers and villagers keep down rat, mice and other rodent populations.

  • Those early breeders chose dogs that exhibited the instincts for chasing and killing small furry predators, and gradually different types of terriers emerged for different types of work.

  • The short-legged dogs would creep underground after their prey and they were named terriers after the Latin word terra, which means earth.

Nowadays, of course, terriers are not needed for rodent control, but it is still very evident that the instinct to kill is present in the majority of Cairns. Many cairn owners would like to do things with their dogs apart from obedience, and Earthdogging is one you might like to try. You can get titles on your cairn as you progress with training and testing.

Basically, the cairn is started out by being shown a small wire cage with a domestic hooded rat inside. The dog is expected to sniff this strange creature he has never seen before, and then to paw the cage, to whine, bark and generally get very excited. His natural instincts are being awakened and nature is taking over. He is encouraged verbally by the trainer and the owner and gradually the cage is put into a very short above ground tunnel and the dog encouraged to go through and push the cage out. From there, he will try other, longer, above ground tunnels until he graduates to the buried ones. Periodically, and in several parts of Canada, there are Earthdog Test Days where Cairns can earn titles - JE (Junior Earthdog) SE (Senior Earthdog) and ME (Master Earthdog). Each designation requires a longer, harder tunnel for the dog to traverse and a longer working time when he reaches the rats at the end.

It is very exciting when your cairn does show an interest in the rat, and a feeling of elation when he goes down the tunnel and works by barking, whining, digging at the bars separating him from the rat cage. And nothing surpasses the euphoria of the judge handing you a ribbon because your cairn passed this leg of the Test, and tells you what a nice working terrier you have.