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In my last post, Bath time! I told you about how I get monthly baths and sometimes how I get extra baths for special occasions. I got my most recent bath because my mom and I were going to a special event. At the end of that post, I gave you a little bit of a tease for what I might be sharing with you next. The beautiful photo of me holding a blue rosette was from that special event we attended! 

Remember quite some time ago, in my post Training plans and homework!, how I told you that my mom and I love training for dog sports. Things like rally and obedience and TEAM. We have been practicing specific exercises in both rally and obedience in preparation for going to a dog show. Last weekend we got to go see how well we have been doing with all of that training and practicing. 

On Saturday, September 21st my mom and I went to a local obedience trial. An obedience trial is a type of dog show. It is a competition where they offer just obedience and rally classes. We had a fun and fabulous day! 

My mom and I competed in two classes. For rally, we were in Rally Novice which is the first level of the offered rally classes. In obedience, we were in Beginner Novice. This is a class that combines a little bit of rally with a few beginning type obedience exercises. It is a nice transition class for me and my mom because we are not quite ready for the regular obedience classes.

For Rally Novice there are between 10 and 15 signs chosen from 34 available signs. The number of signs for a class and the number of available signs for the judge to choose from changes at each level. The judge decides which signs to use and creates a coarse for the teams to navigate. This makes every competition different because the course changes each time. There are specific requirements for the way each sign is performed. Points will be lost if performed incorrectly. For the novice class, the dog is on a leash. If you would like to learn more check out the AKC Rally page.

Beginner Novice uses some basic signs — like forward, left turn, right turn, fast, slow — for the team to follow when doing the heeling exercise. For the remaining exercises, the judge gives the directions. Some of the exercises are done on-leash and some off. This is an optional titling class which means that you can compete and earn the title if you want to. There were far fewer classes years ago when my mom used to compete in obedience so this class has been new for her. Check out the AKC Obedience page if you want to learn more.  

My mom and I competed in our rally class first. Just before the class starts the exhibitors, those are the handlers who are entered in the show, get to do a walkthrough in the ring. This way they can see the course and ask the judge any questions they might have. This is especially important for my mom. She needs to make sure there is enough room for her wheelchair to maneuver around each sign as she navigates through the course. I waited with my mom’s friend, Deb, while she did the walkthrough. As always, I watched my mom closely just in case she needed me! 

For those showing in rally, there is also a map of the course for each exhibitor. These maps help my mom greatly. She can’t see very well, even with her glasses, so when she is in the ring it can be challenging for her to read the signs as she approaches each one. With the map, she can become more familiar with the coarse and memorize the signs that we will be performing.

This is the map of the course my mom and I did for the Rally Novice B class.

Just before it was our turn my mom did fun tricks with me. We also snuggled and she whispered sweet words in my ear. I think my mom was nervous but I told her not to worry. We were ready and I would listen carefully to her and knew just what to do. Do you ever get nervous while you are waiting to do a performance or some other special event? I think getting nervous is a human thing and is a fairly normal reaction. At least it is for my mom! She did tell me that some dogs do get nervous . . . but not me! 

When everyone is done competing in the class the exhibitors with qualifying scores are called back into the ring. The judge announces the scores and placements and gives out the ribbons. My mom and I got a perfect score of 100 and second place! 

Rally Novice B – 2nd place

Next, we had to prepare for our Beginner Novice class. For this class, like in rally, there is a walkthrough before the class. I waited with Deb again while my mom went into the ring to hear the instructions from the judge. We were the first team in the ring so my mom hurried back to get me. We rushed right back for our turn. This was harder for both of us because we didn’t have that pre-class time to play and talk like we usually do. When we went into the ring we didn’t feel as connected and our teamwork felt a bit off. But I listened to my mom and did everything she asked me to do so we did qualify.

Like in the rally class we were called back into the ring for our scores and placements. Much to my mom’s surprise, we got first place! We got a score of 190 out of a possible 200 points. Both my mom and I made some mistakes but we had fun. We also discovered some weaknesses where we need to practice more.

Beginner Novice B – 1st place

It was a very fun day for me and my mom . . . but exhausting. My mom loves going to dog shows and, although she can’t go to very many now, she wants to go as often as she can. She told me that it is important to her that she pushes herself to do things even though it is hard for her physically. She says that the time it takes for her to recover after having a busy day is worth the effort because being there brings her so much joy. And you know what? It makes me happy to see my mom enjoying the sport she loves so much!  


This is our Rally Novice performance.