Showsight Presents the Dalmatian

moRe Than JusT a PReTTy sPoTTed FaCe: WHAT DALMATIANS DO

by Janey RandleTT & Tina Thomas BaTCheloR

When coaching with a horse and carriage the dog may be positioned next to the horse or carriage, never in front.

“ W hy that’s as cute as a speckled pup!” states the popular compliment, but any Dalmatian owner will tell you that their Dal is more than just a pretty cute and spotted face! Rare is the Dalmatian that is content to be just a pretty couch potato! They are energetic, athletic and prefer to be engaged in important work on a daily basis. The breed came into its modern day form at a time in his- tory when the most common form of travel for people was by horse-drawn vehicle. These vehicles were large

enough to carry the travelers and driv- ers and a few possessions, yet not much else. Soon there evolved the need for a dog to accompany them as protection for the travelers, a watchdog from ban- dits, a guard for valuable possessions and a companion to the drivers and the horses. Such a dog also needed to have the stamina to trot on its own for the daily traveling distance of 25 or so miles, bed down in the comfort of a stable, and get up and do it again the next day—day after day. To the fashion conscious English aristocrat, it was also important that the dog be attractive

and flashy, a perfect compliment to a well turned out rig for impressing the young ladies and the neighbors on Sun- day afternoon outings! EntEr thE Dalmatian Early breeders selected traits for form to follow function, giving the breed the characteristics to exuber- antly trot beside a horse and carriage day after day. Today people no longer travel by horseback or coach, of course, but the Dalmatian has retained the characteristics of those days gone by: the ability to develop a sense of team- work coupled with the rare sensibili- ties of independent thinking that a true coach dog needs, all the while paying attention to verbal commands of the human member of his team. Dalmatian enthusiasts have developed events that are designed to gauge the Dalmatian’s ability to perform those tasks it was originally bred to do. They are called Road Trials and are sanctioned by the breed’s parent club, The Dalmatian Club of America. Road trials began in America in the early 1900s when the dogs were tested on their ability to run beneath or beside an actual horse-drawn coach

The hock exercise with a rider and horse rider and dog checking in with each other. (Photo © Kathy Clark Photography)

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