On May 3rd, 2008, a group of French Ring enthusiasts from SoCalMal (Stephanie O’Brien, Erin Suggett, and Bethie Koenig) and SCABR (Kadi Thingvall) went to Huntington Beach CA to spend the day at the Grace Lutheran Elementary School’s Neighborhood Fair. During the course of the fair we performed 3 French Ring demos. Well, it was FR with flair. Many of the exercises shown were the basic FR exercises you would see in a trial, but we also used the skills we teach our FR dogs and “tweaked” them to make it more fun for the crowd. The goal being spectator participation.
For the unseen retrieve, instead of using just the handlers sock and one other, we had kids from the crowd come out and take off their shoes, then Cali had to find my shoe in the pile. For the guard of object Louie was guarding a small suitcase full of toys and candy, if Erin could steal the suitcase she got to keep it, if Louie could keep it the kids got to pick something out at the end of the demo. Of course the kids were all rooting for Louie :-). We had kids come out and be the food throwers for the food refusal, with Cali and Louie performing at the same time. Cali and Louie also did tandem positions while Stephanie and I were standing in the crowd. Brassai got in on the action and demonstrated some of the retrieves, then showed the crowd not only some face attacks, defense of handler and escorts, but also the type of control the dogs have with some excellent stopped attacks.
We stepped a little further outside the FR box and also did some muzzle attacks with Cali and Bethie. In between demos we hung out and had a little fun with the dogs, letting Cali and Louie do some tandem work and beat up on Bethie :-), the dogs schmoozed with the crowds, we explained FR and bitework in general, and just tried to dispel the myth that dogs trained to do bitework are out of control, vicious man-eaters. Some of the dogs also joined the kids on the play equipment, going up and down the ladders, down the slide, etc. It was definitely a hit with the spectators, some came to watch multiple demos, and we have already been invited to come back and do it again next year.