Saturday, January 17, 2015

AKC Rally Nationals

Taco with his collection of rally ribbons so far.  As you can see, he is very much a newbie.
Last year, in the process of getting his Rally Novice title, Taco also qualified for AKC Rally Nationals in March.  I wasn't sure we would go but finally I made my mind up and decided it would make a fun road trip!  Is he still super green?  Yes.  Do I have any aspirations for a top ten placement?  No.  Will we have fun visiting, trialing in a new environment and shopping?  YES!

I sent in my entry the very first day and got my confirmation back a couple of days later.  We are in, for sure!  We will compete in Rally Novice twice in one day and the combination of the scores from both runs will be our score for the day.

While I will try not to stress and turn into a crazy-stressed handler, I am sure to be a little keyed up.  in order to combat some of this, we have started a series of prep field trips to acclimate Taco to working in distracting environments.  Trips to the hardware store, Gander Mountain, Rural King, Petsmart, etc. where we simply enter the odd place, click and treat for attention, click and treat for fronts, set-ups in heel position and spins or leg-weaves, what Denise Fenzi calls three-second behaviors.  These are going well.  He can handle three second behaviors.  Will he be able to handle an entire rally course with attention in a new environment in just two months?  We'll see.  If he's not, I will need to be brave and provide him the support he needs in the ring to be successful even if it means a low score.

I teach a Competition Rally class on Wednesday nights so he's also getting a bit of practice on courses in a busy building.  Last night that did not go so well, there were lots of stutter-steps to restart when he got distracted, plenty of pocket hand and treat-reminding to get head position back.  But there were moments of fluid, engaged heeling!  And that is a great feeling!


  1. OH that is so exciting! Where are the Nationals being held? I hope you take along a dedicated Taco photographer. We'd love to "see" it too!

    1. They will be at Purina Farms near St Louis. My husband has agreed to be my videographer so hopefully we will have plenty to show off afterward!