Our South African Bouvier des Flandres Story
Hello Xero. Our names are Babushka, Zeus and Cola. We live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa with our human mom Sonja and dad Bertie May. We are Bouvier des Flandres dogs. Our family also includes 10 year old Grandpa Moses who is a rescue terrier x and Peanut our house cat.

About our Bouviers
Babushka and Zeus are rescue Bouviers. Their previous owners did not want them any more. We had already bought Cola as a puppy from a breeder in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Hearing about two Bouviers needing homes we added Babushka and Zeus to our family. They had no training and were not in a good condition. Soon they settled in with us, Cola, Grandpa Moses and Peanut. They have all become a wonderful happy pack and very much loved by my husband Bertie and I.

We had already started taking Cola to dog school since a puppy to socialize her with other dogs. Babushka and Zeus soon joined us on our weekly trips to the school. They have all done their basic 6 week obedience course. Seeing them doing so well and being talented dogs we enrolled them for further disciplines i.e. higher levels of obedience, CD, CGC, Protection work and CARTING. Carting is what Loes has asked us to tell you about

History of Carting in South Africa
We arrived at the dog school one Saturday morning earlier than usual and saw all kinds of dogs pulling carts. We were intrigued! Before I go on with our story I just have to say, and I am sure anyone that owns a Bouvier will know this; In World War I and II, Bouviers were extensively used to help soldiers in many ways. One of these were to cart medical, food and other supplies to the soldiers in the trenches.

We borrowed a cart and harness from Joan Steward Dumbris, the owner of the dog school and legend in the carting world here. Under her watchful eye she taught me to teach our dogs to pull a cart.

Now we will first give a little insight into the History of Carting and Carting in South Africa. Large breed dogs were the original draught dogs and they were used to pull many different loads. Pictures going back to the 1870’s show the dogs carrying very heavy and enormous loads, there is no way that we would allow our dogs today to haul loads of this nature.

The hawker and his dog had tramped for many miles to provide British soldiers with exration delicacies. The soldiers proved appreciative customers, buying up the whole stock. No doubt the dog received adequate praise and tit-bits for its friendly services.

Carting was introduced into South Africa in 1988. After much hard work carting became an official Kennel Union of South Africa event. The first Transvaal Provincial Council Dog Carting Sub-Committee was formed in November 1988 with the purpose of promoting carting.

In 1990 a St Bernard was awarded the first Dog Carting Champion status. She was owned by Peter Ghavalos and was a breed champion. Her name was Thorberg Anesta. The first Carting Dogs in Port Elizabeth were the Steward-Dumbris’ Rottweilers Rhodies and Chumvi and Abel Esterhuysen’s Rottweiler Samantha. Steward-Dumbris’ travelled to Cape Town to take part in shows and find out more about carting.

Mike and Joan Steward-Dumbris went to Cape Town in September 1992 to take their Judges examinations and the first Show in which Carting took place in Port Elizabeth was the RCEP Show in October 1992 with Joan Judging. In September 1993 a Carting Association was formed and this was recognized as the Eastern Province and Border Dog Carting Sub-committee. The first Port Elizabeth KUSA NATIONAL DOG CARTING CHAMPION was Belgian Shepherd—Groendael, Von Hamil’s Tsoko CD Ex handled and trained by Mick Angell.

Draught dogs were also used by farmers to cart milk and other products around the neighbourhood. They obviously had to be strong dogs and be able to manoeuvre turns, go over bridges, through gates and narrow areas, over all sorts of rough terrain and accept any sort of distraction such as chickens or rats running in front of them while they were standing patiently waiting to be off loaded or for their owners to service milk to a customer.

Can you imagine your dogs having to carry the weights these Dogs of War did? Modern carting dogs carried much less weight and these were recently up dated and effective April 2009 and our Carting dogs are not allowed to carry more than half their weight and this makes things much easier.

Our dogs are only allowed:
Mini Novice - 1 kg and not more than 3 kg
Mini Senior —2 kg and not more than 6 kg
Standard Novice -2 kg and not more than 9 kg
Senior Standard -5 kg and not more than 12 kg

Please realize the history of carting is a summary of our Carting in Port Elizabeth South Africa. The carting discipline is also done in other cities in our country.

Teaching our Bouviers to Cart
Teaching our Bouvs to cart was not difficult. The tools you need are love and patience. We taught our dogs with positive re-enforcement. Using food as a reward. First we put their harness on, rewarded and took it off. We repeated this until the dogs were calm and happy to walk with their harness. Then we walked behind them holding onto the harness. Once the dogs were happy with this, we let them pull a light object. Patience is the trick. If the dog showed any signs of discomfort, unhappiness we would start at the beginning again. Eventually we could hitch them up to their cart. We also let them sleep next to their carts, eat next to their carts, so the carts became part of their home. Now all 3 of our Bouviers pull carts happily. Even Grandpa Moses at the age of 9 years old learnt to pull his tiny cart. I cannot go into all the teachings of this discipline as it would take very long.

There are four main classes of carting dogs. Mini Novice which are small dogs like Grandpa Moses. When the Mini Novice dog has qualified in three Championship shows with a score of 95% and higher they move up to Mini Senior. The difference between the two is that in Mini Novice your dog must be on lead when doing the obstacle course set up by the judge. In Mini Senior class your dog does the course without a lead and very few commands.


The next two classes are Standard Novice and Senior Standard. These are for the bigger dogs like Cola, Zeus and Babushka. The same rules apply. Standard Novice you keep your dog on the lead. Once the dog has qualified in three Championship Shows scoring 95% and more you move up toSenior Standard which means you may not use a lead on your dog. Off lead the dog must follow you through the carting course which can be made up of gates, figures of eight, distractions like food and many other obsticals.

In both Mini and Standard classes your dogs are expected to do a 3 minute stand stay, back up, recall, fast pace, normal pace and slow pace. In Novice your dog may sit. Once you are in the Senior classes sitting is not permitted.

Cola with load

Carting with your dog is great fun. It is also very useful at home. I use my dogs to help me unload groceries when I get back from town, I use them when I am in the garden to pull rubbish away. We walk up to the store and cart our goods home. We give rides to children. The dogs enjoy helping and like all Bouviers love to work. Our carts have been custom made. Carts can be bought very easily in other countries. Here we have to make our carts or import them. Carting is not a fast discipline, it takes time and is very sociable.

Our Achievements
We have only been carting for two and a half years. Cola is my first Bouv to start carting. She has qualified this year from Standard Novice up to Standard Senior. I am so proud of her. Zeus and Babushka are much younger in the discipline, meaning that I have only started them carting less than a year ago. They are both with Grandpa Moses in novice class. They are looking forward like Cola to qualify to the senior classes. Wish us luck, our competition is tough and we are young to the carting world.

We have enjoyed telling you part of our story and what we do here in South Africa. It has been a great journey with our beautiful Bouviers and we hope we have inspired you all to try this fabulous discipline with your dogs. We would love to keep you up dated with our progress with a video or two in the future.

Thank you Loes and Xero for inviting us to share our Bouviers, Babushka, Zeus, Cola. Grandpa Moses and Peanut the cat with you all. A big thank you to Joan Steward Dumbris helping us with information we needed. Fond Regards from South Africa.

Met dank aan: Sonja Du Plessis May and Joan Steward Dumbris
Datum: 31-08-2014