I spent the long weekend driving back and forth to Bloomsburg for dog shows. I competed with my four year old chocolate Labrador, Orchid. Orchid and I have spent much of the last year campaigning for her championship in conformation (sort of the beauty queen class). While she is getting closer to completion for that, we have to wait it out for larger entries to secure the higher points that she needs. Meanwhile, I decided to return her to the ring in Rally Obedience.
Rally Obedience is venue of competition that explores the communication between handler and dog. Unlike traditional Obedience competition, a rally handler is allowed to talk to her dog and use whatever hand signals or words of encouragement needed to perform. The goal is to perform somewhere around fifteen challenges in a pattern set up with numbered signs. It can be anything from going over a jump, to dropping down while heeling, to turning either direction in place while in heel position, etc. Judging is based on completing all the required performances at each sign in proper sequence and correct manner. In case of a tied score, each dog is timed through the pattern.
Orchid has been a good rally competitor at the lower levels. She even received an invite to go to a special AKC event in St Louis. We didn’t go, but it was nice to be invited. In Bloomsburg, we entered the Rally Excellent division three days in a row. If all went well, I was hoping she would earn her RE title at the end of the weekend.
Everyday found us ringside with me fighting ring nerves studying the course prior to our turn. Orchid on the other hand, spent much of the time in mental preparation for the ring by laying on her back asking for belly rubs from spectators. Orchid came through each time she went in the ring, mastering the difficult courses with no issues. I guess that belly rub prep paid off! She won her class each day and earned her RE title. I could tell she was tired today. She came home this afternoon for a well deserved rest.