After Freya failed to V-rate as an adult in German-style conformation shows, and also failed CERF with punctate cataracts in both eyes, I knew we would not be breeding her, and I didn’t think we’d be doing any further competition with her, either.
Obedience training has been a lifelong activity for all of our dogs to keep them alert and active in mind and body, and to keep them from destroying all of our stuff. (That part works great, give it a try! All of our dogs have had great house manners, even the ones with other glaring faults.) So when my friend Sharon suggested that we might want to try competing in rally obedience, it did seem like something we could do and maybe even enjoy. I say maybe, because I’m not much of a competitor; I probably get ring nerves worse than anyone alive. I have never actually puked on my own dog out of nerves, but there have been days that my stomach has had so many butterflies, I’m sure it was close. And I have tripped over my own dog, who was going in the correct direction while I was about to head off in the wrong one.
Rally obedience is more relaxed than traditional obedience. You can talk to your dog and give help throughout, rather than having to give just one command and hope the dog is listening. Because of this, we did have a fighting chance at success.
I figured I’d try to title Freya at the first level in one venue. That’s all done on-leash, with many exercises she’s practiced since puppyhood. I figured that trialing her off-leash would be totally out of the question, as I could never predict for sure when she’d get that wild look in her eyes and run off to have more fun than she would have following me around a rally course.
I am not sure what happened along the way to change that. We have now completed first level titles in two venues and a second level title in one. That second level title was done off-leash, something I did not think we’d be able to do. Now, we have a very real possibility of being able to complete first and second level titles in three venues, and third level titles in at least two of those venues.
I don’t know if we will go on to traditional obedience. I know we won’t go on to Schutzhund… although we might try a BH if I can get her past her dislike of bicycles and other wheeled human-propelled objects. We’ve already gone further than I ever expected to.
Is Freya rising to the occasion? Or am I?
There’s only one thing that I wish we’d done differently. Freya’s breeder Donna passed away early last summer, a couple of months before Freya’s first trial. I wish we’d started sooner, so Donna could have shared in celebrating at least our first title. She would have been even more proud of Freya than Dan and I are ourselves.
I have to remind myself more often: Life’s too short. Don’t wait.
(NaBloPoMo | March ’10: 15 of 31)