Last month Howie & I graduated from our 6-week obedience class with a local training group. This group is oldest-standing AKC affiliated obedience group in Michigan, and they offer affordable training. They offer everything from puppy classes, to obedience classes, to rally, agility, and even therapy dog classes - they're a really great group, and all of their training is by the AKC rules. Howie was the star of the beginner class we attended and quickly learned everything that was taught to us (we still have to work on long stays, but that's another story). I was really proud of him, over-all, and have been with our training since graduation. I knew we still had things to work on, but without some kind of "run through," I didn't know just much.
Last week, I found a dog training facility in Ann Arbor which ran fun meets in Rally-O and Obedience, and this is the same facility which will be holding a C-WAGS and APDT Rally-O and Obedience shows on the weekend of July 4th (which we are aiming for). I got excited, signed up for a Rally run-though (or so I thought) and con another friend into driving out there with me. The site advertised $5 run-throughs - what better way to see how ready we were?
On Wednesday I drive out to Ann Arbor, excited and nervous, but telling myself this is all just for fun. I get out there and set up my crate space, talk to some people, and begin to warm Howie up - putting him through all his paces, working on a few things, and watching other people run through obedience classes. Howie was nowhere near the class that these other dogs were in, but it was fun to watch them. Then, it slowly began to sink in there was no Rally course set up...
So, I asked someone, "What time does the Rally start?"
She seemed confused. "I didn't think we had Rally tonight...
I was told to go check out another building where it might be set up, but the building was empty. I truck back over to the other building, and inquire again. Nothing, no one knew a thing. I was both sad and upset - the website had advertised it, I was certain, otherwise I wouldn't have signed up! Luckily, the owner of the facility was willing to set up a Rally course for us to run through, although our time was limited because there was a puppy class coming in that evening.
I walk the course, trying to remember all that I had read - do the course without your dog, and make sure to do the movement before the sign. This should be easy, I thought, I've been riding dressage my whole horseback riding career, memorizing this course should be a piece of cake! Not so much...Once I went back to get Howie, it was a disaster. I was doing the movements behind the signs, doing right turns instead of lefts, and confusing the hell out of my dog. He was a saint, trying his best to do what I asked, despite the 90-degree day and sweltering humidity. A few times, I asked him to sit-stay, and ran through a sign on my own before trying it with him. Amanda didn't have a much better go at it, and she's an obedience trainer (mostly family/manners).
We left, knowing what we have to work on, and knowing that we're probably not completely ready for the APDT/C-WAGS show on July 3rd/4th, but we'll probably go anyway. The experience will be good, and we'll get to see how it's really done! So, my homework for the next week is work through the exercises we'll see in Level 1. Wish us luck! We'll need it!
(Next post: 2009 Bully Breed Summer Splash Bash - as soon as I get pictures back from Amanda!)