Monadnock Humane Society is a beautiful facility in Swanzey, NH. Not only do they provide excellent rescue and adoption services, they are one of the best training resources in the area. MHS offers classes of all sorts, wonderful seminars, and a venue for performance trials. They also hold special events, such as their autumn walkathon & fundraiser, which Tripp & I attended in late Sept.
We were invited to perform a musical freestyle demonstration. The PomPoms got together for our group routine, and "Team TnT" offered our singles routine. It was super fun, and a great opportunity to practice for upcoming competitions. My first lesson was not to overdo the warmup! I should've taken video of that - Tripp was lovely. But by the time we were called to give our demo, Tripp was a bit bored. "What, more dancing?" LOL So he was less rock & roll today. At least I learned something for the future!
We also did an APDT Rally demo. Like I always say, I'll take free run-thrus anytime! Agility was on our to-do list as well, but unfortunately between everything else I missed that demo. Too bad, I was looking forward to that the most. But the trainer was kind enough to let us play on the course after the show, so we still got in some practice. :-)
It was quite an event outside the rings... lots of vendors, contests, and other goings on. Fun for everyone. A great turnout for the shelter. I'm so glad we could be a part of it.
Sep. 4 found us at American K9 Country for the Merrimack Valley KC show. At the time of entry I was unsure if I would still be in Rally Advanced, or need a moveup to Excellent which I'm not sure I'm ready for (we all know how that turned out, LOL), but the club was offering Non-Regular classes, which I had never seen done before. After researching the rules, I could not resist the chance to enter Rally T Challenge, along with the regular trial. Seems no one had ever seen it done, and it garnered a charge of interest at the show. Unfortunately, only one other person entered that weekend, and it was on a different day. So Tripp and I were all alone out there. Not much of a challenge for 1st place, but it was still a great experience, and lots of fun. I truly hope more clubs will offer this class in the future! No, you can't earn titles, it's just for fun and the sake of competition. Maybe a chance at some cool prizes, but that's it. Entry fees are lower though, and it really is worth it for so much fun mixing it up out there, plus it's great practice for more advanced Rally exercises. :-)
About the Rally T Challenge: This is a "non-regular" class. Regulations are based on AKC's Rally Advanced level. Any exercise from Novice or Advanced, as well as a few exercises exclusive to this class may be used. The course is longer and a time limit is set. The judge determines course time by averaging 3 personal walk-thrus. The time limit, however, is not posted until the end of the competition. Scoring is normal for each station (max. 10 pts. per), with the addition of 1 point added for each second below course time, or 1 point deducted per second over time. There are no NQs in this class; all dogs are awarded points. A perfect score is 200, though it is possible to score higher than this, or receive a negative score. A big part of the challenge is the walk-thru. Handlers are allowed to walk slowly through the course only once, and absolutely no practicing the given exercises is allowed (this includes after you leave the ring, which you must do immediately). Also, if you are unsure of a sign, you're on your own - can't ask the judge for clarification. Handlers are expected to be familiar with all rules.
The T Challenge is definitely aptly named. It is a new and exciting way to showcase your training, challenge your skills and mental acuity, and just have a lot of fun doing something different! I highly recommend entering!
Regular Rally trials saw good entries that weekend. Advanced alone had 20 on Sunday (8 in A, 12 in B). Interestingly, we in A division (the novices) scored better than nearly everyone in B (those more experienced); even the judge commented on that! It was a tough course too; challenging exercises, intricate layout. And the judge held us to high standards when scoring. She was fair, professional, really nice.
Tripp made me very proud that day! While his performace was not entirely flawless, he did wonderfully overall, even on some usually hard exercises like the Figure 8 (past bowls of smelly treats)! Such a good boy. Funny thing is he was extra tired come afternoon... apparently it's more exhausting to behave himself than it is to be a twerp. ;-)
We hit one snag in the trial - after finishing, the judge explained that there was a timer malfunction. She offered two choices: I could do it again and be timed, or take whatever score I got. Time only matters in Rally as a tie breaker, so I could still place IF my score was good enough. She could only tell me that I Qed. I thought it over (that is, I agonized over the decision) and finally resisted the temptation to be greedy - I was pretty sure we did okay, and realistically we weren't likely to do much better a 2nd time - but possibly could've done worse or NQed. I'm so glad I made that choice. Reviewing the video, Tripp did better than I thought. Turns out there was also no need for a tie breaker; scores were all off by at least 1 point. We ended up placing 4th with a 97 (wow, good class!) and earned a second leg towards RA. All in all, a wonderful day!
Yesterday we entered two trials at the American Eskimo Dog Club of New England's UKC Show & Rally Obedience in Westfield, MA. Forecasts threatened rain, but as usual the weekend turned out lovely, if a bit warm. I'll take the heat over working in a downpour, although I did end up a bit sunburned. ;-)
Tripp was slightly distracted and I would've preferred a tighter heel position, but overall he was great, esp. considering we were both a little rusty after so many months out of the sport. The judge, Peg Munves, gave me a wonderful compliment on my handling. She's also completely infatuated with Tripp (well, who can blame her?) LOL I say she went too easy on us in scoring, but then, Rally isn't as much about absolute perfection like traditional obedience - it is also about the dog-handler relationship, and working well as a team.
This was our first time in the advanced class; RO level 2. Once again we were the only ones in A division (for untitled dogs or "new" handlers) - seems most handlers in UKC are in B. So of course we took First Place by default.
Trial 1, we finished with a perfect score of 100. I was in disbelief. Our performance certainly was not perfect. But the judge said it was because of my handling, working Tripp through the course so well. Wow. I still think it's because he's just so darn flashy out there, he simply makes me look good. LOL Oh but that perfect 100 wasn't the end of it. At the end of the trial, they take the best scoring team with the fastest time out of all levels and divisions and award them a special High in Trial ribbon and prize. Can you believe it, we won! Our first HIT! :-) And our first leg towards URO2.
The proud moments don't end there. Trial two, we finished with a score of 99, and another HIT! That was just incredible; I didn't expect it with an imperfect score. And there were at least a dozen entries in both trials, so we were up against some good competition. Another leg towards our advanced title, just one more to go. I expect to finish this fall at the Marshland trials.
What? That's not all? Oh no, we did even more! :-) In level 3, there is an "honor dog" - one team performs a down stay in the corner of the ring while another team does the rally course. Each competitor in that level must act as honor dog once. If there is an odd number, then a stand in honor dog must be brought in. After our final trial, the judged asked how Tripp's down stay was. (It's strong.) As there was only one entry in RO3 in trial 2, they needed an honor dog as well as someone to run the course while the competitor performed the honor exercise. In other words we get to have a free run through. Well, she didn't have to ask me twice! She even offered to score and time us as if we were competing. Heck yeah! I was somewhat less impressed with Tripp's distracted performance and commented that "I'm glad this doesn't count" but incredulously we still would've managed to score 98 with a fast time. To quote the timer, we "flew through that course." It was great practice and I swear rally gets more fun the higher you go. Can't wait for the next trial, and looking forward to moving up in levels.
AKC Rally Obedience...
Souhegan Kennel Club, Amherst, NH, 10/15-16
Trial 1: score 85 (so many handler errors!)
Trial 2: score 94
Merrimack Valley Kennel Club, Amherst, NH, 10/24
Trial score 87 (my fault again), First place with best time, new title: RN
We begin Rally Obedience trials...
Dog Obedience Guidance School, Agawam, MA, 9/26
Rally Trial: score 97, 1st place
Marshland Obedience Club, Saco, ME, 10/2
Trial 1: score 96
Trial 2: score 100 - perfect! New title: URO1
First place by default - no competition in our division.