While Bulldogs aren’t considered a normal “draft” breed, they are built like miniature draft horses and with proper conditioning and training, can make very capable carting dogs.
The AKC doesn’t currently offer draft titles to all-breeds, however any of the accepted draft breed clubs (ie. Bernese Mountain Dogs, St. Bernards, Rottweillers, etc.) allow other breeds to compete in tests that aren’t completely filled by the host breed–and, as long as they complete the requirements they can earn draft titles through their national club.
Gabe and I were fortunate to have a draft test held just a few miles from home–and with some great coaching from two ladies I met through the Chuckanut Dog Training Club, we were able to know just what was expected and be properly prepared. One of our biggest challenges was making sure Gabe’s harness and cart were properly adjusted and balanced so that he could pull as efficiently as possible. We were so blessed to glean from several years of carting experience as our friends Mary Ann Hendryson and Meredith Gilbert met with us multiple times to oversee the fitting and offer advise on what to tweak and where.
We took advantage of every opportunity to get out and practice maneuvering with the cart, gradually getting him used to working hills, turning, backing up and pulling weight. Gabe’s special girl, Chubbs the Bulldog, loves to ride and was very willing to “help” with the training. Over 10 years old, arthritic, losing her sight and hearing, she thoroughly enjoyed getting a tour of the local park once again.
Check out Gabe giving his Special Lady Friend, Chubbs a ride around the park in, “Driving Miss Chubby” (aside from the blurry video there’s a lot to smile about!)
On Saturday, September 8, 2012 Gabe entered his first draft test sponsored by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Greater Seattle. With his beautiful custom cart made by Joe Stewart of Stewart’s Dog Carts arriving just three weeks before the test, we had little time to prepare–but his extensive obedience background gave him a huge head start on training. One of four non-Berner dogs out of the twenty-four entries, Gabe was among the 12 who qualified, earning his Novice Draft Dog title.
Gabe and I pose with Judges Phil Chagnon (L) & Bob Schmidt (R) after successfully completing his Novice Draft Dog test. *Click here* to read all about what the requirements are for earning an NDD through the Bernese Mtn Dog Club*