Earth Dog is a competition designed to test the innate abilities of hunting dogs like terriers. Bob Gann has one of 12 Earth Dog sites in the nation. He built it in his back yard.
"We have three different tracks back here and it tests different levels of the dogs capabilities," Gann said. "It's the event that's designed to test if the dog has the instinct to do what it was breed to do. They have to find the quarry, find the tunnel and they have to make their way through the tunnel and they have to indicate where the quarry is. They're timed events."
Even though Earth Dog is an event for dogs, Gann says it's his escape from life's stresses. He says instead of vacations, he and his wife travel the country with their dogs to compete in trials.
"It really does give you a purpose in life, something to look forward to," Gann said.
Everything changed in June when the High Park Fire ripped through Rist Canyon.
"I'm the Rist Canyon fire chief so we were busy trying to save homes," Gann said. "I was running back to town giving updates and trying to let people know if their homes was still standing."
Not only did Gann take on the stress of trying to save his neighbors homes, but his house was also in the middle of the burn area.
Gann didn't have any Earth Dog trials this summer, but because of the tracks in his backyard, his house and several of his neighbors homes were spared.
"So the fact that we have events here making it a nice environment for Earth Dog means we've treated the forest in a way that protected us from the fire," Gann said.
Gann says trees and branches are good examples of things that fuel a fire and cause it to grow bigger and spread faster. By clearing part of his land for the Earth Dog track, he says he saved his property and one of the things he says brings him joy.
Gann says now that he is surrounded by hundreds of acres of burned land, his Earth Dog tracks gives him a reason to remain optimistic.
"You know, Rist Canyon is still here," Gann said. "We'll clean it all up and we'll have a great event. Looking forward to it."
On Sept. 29 and 30, Gann will be holding his first Earth Dog competition since the High Park Fire.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)