Barn Hunt

Harley at Barn HuntBarn Hunt is the new and quickly growing dog sport that is gaining popularity across America. I’ve been competing in Barn Hunt with Harley over the past four months. In this timed event, dogs locate rats (safely enclosed in aerated tubes) hidden in a straw/hay bale maze. Barn Hunt is committed to creating a safe and fun sport for dogs, that also holds rat care at the highest level of consideration. This sport is based on the traditional roles of many dog breeds in riding farms, barns, crop storage areas, etc. Barn Hunt allows breeders to test proper working traits in their dogs in a real-life setting.

Barn Hunt is for anyone interested in a new way to interact with their dog that provides their dog with a new challenge. All breeds and ages of dogs (including tripod and deaf dogs) can do this sport—as can all ages of people. If your dog can fit through an 18 inch wide by bale-height-tall tunnel then they are good to go. Progress is charted through titles, levels of increasing difficulty, and championships. Barn Hunt is an independent sport, but titles are recognized by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC).

Alex and HarleyAfter competing in both agility and obedience with Harley, I wanted to try something a little different. Barn Hunt, like other canine nose work sports, relies on your dog and their incredible sense of smell. In this scenario, the dog is the team captain calling most of the shots while you as the handler trust your dog and occasionally help them puzzle out where the source (the rat) is located. It really helps build a dog’s confidence and focus their energy.

There is a fun test coming up here in Bryan, Sunday April 10 where you and your dog could try Barn Hunt for yourself! You can find out more details here. Come out. I think both you and your dog with enjoy it!

To find out more, visit to understand the rules and look at upcoming events.

Electives—do what you want!

One of the great things about third year is the ability to choose your electives. Very interested in horses? There are many equine electives for you. Love pocket pets? There are electives for you. Excited about emergency medicine? They have an elective for you.

One of my passions is behavior, and currently I am taking the Small Animal Behavior elective with Dr. Bonnie Beaver DVM, MS, DPNAP, DACVB. This course builds on the knowledge gained during the required first-year course on normal animal behavior. We learned about the importance of differentiating behavior and medical problems. We discussed management and behavior modification involved in common behavioral issues. We have also learned about neurotransmitters and some common drugs and their intended uses.

At the end of our course, we had a choice to either create some informational brochures or train an animal to do something and make a video. Easy choice for me, let’s train an animal! I worked with my friend and fellow ambassador Christine, and we decided to train her Labrador retriever, Fischer. Check out our training video!



Healthy Living in Veterinary School

Third year is just flying by! It seems like we are busier than ever—between classes, junior surgery, and clubs. However, as a student, it’s important to take time for yourself, and this includes taking care of your mind and body. It’s really easy to justify making a poor choice for dinner or skipping your workout for the third time this week when you tell yourself “I have a big test, I’ll do better next week.” The truth is there is always going to be another test, or quiz, or group project. School is important, and as veterinary students, we have worked very hard to get here and want to do our best. However, we cannot excel in school or life if our bodies are not fueled properly and if our minds are foggy.

While eating healthy, well-balanced meals daily is a great goal, we are sometimes so busy that we grab what we can on the go.  Instead, I try to eat “clean” as often as I can. This may mean packing healthy snacks, such as fruits, nuts, and cheeses, so that when I do get hungry I have something that will fuel my body better than a package of chips or cookies. I also aim to drink as much water as possible. Oftentimes, hunger pangs are really signs of our body asking for water. Many us go to caffeine to stay awake, but this actually depletes the water in our bodies and can cause headaches. I find that every now and then its OK to have a treat, IF I provide my body with healthy, nutritious foods the majority of the time.

Ideally, I strive to work out three to five times a week, and sometimes that happens. But on weeks when the school schedule is nuts, and I know I’m not going to get those work outs done, I try to incorporate shorter bursts of activity into my routine. Some examples include parking at the far end of the lot and walking in. I also like to take a brisk 10-minute walk on my break and/or lunch.

Lastly, with all of the pressures of school, tests, clubs, work, etc. it’s important that we are aware of our stressors and how our mind is reacting to them. By allowing myself a few minutes every day to meditate, I can achieve a sense of calm, peace, and balance that benefits emotional well-being and overall health.