OK, “disaster” is a bit of an overstatement, but I was telling this story to Josie on the phone last night, to her great amusement, and realized I should probably share with the blog.
I entered Batman in his first ever Rally O trial on Sunday. We have not taken any Rally O classes, but have worked with a private trainer on a weekly basis for the last 4 months on obedience for the BH, and on improving his behavioral issues with other dogs. We’ve also taken basic and intermediate group classes, and two K9 nosework classes. (This is an Asian household — we just like taking classes.
Anyway, looking at the AKC website, the Rally O Novice trial looked like a piece of cake, quite frankly. It’s basically a lot of heeling around cones and stuff, and two finishes. I taught him the finishes in a day. We practiced the stations for a few weeks before the event. No problem, right?
Wrong. Oh so wrong. It turns out, practicing a beautiful heeling routine at home with a ball in your pocket is NOT AT ALL like doing the routine in the ring with lots of distractions (after 3+ hours of waiting in a sensory-overload environment) with no ball.
Imagine me and Batman, proudly entering the ring. I told the judge we were ready, looked around the stations, and thought, “We got this.” Batman looked at me, like, “Oh, we got this.” Batman, it turns out, is a dirty, stinking liar.
We did great for the first three stations, but then Batman was like, “Wait, why am I here, again? Where’s that ball? Who are you? Who am I? Oh yeah, I’m Batman! I run this town! Wait, what’s that poodle over there? Is this leash edible?”
We barely made it through the Figure-8, and then things very rapidly fell apart. Batman had no interest in proceeding neatly through the stations on my command. No, siree. He wanted to inspect the laminated signs, knocking them over in the process. It was… a disaster. We did not qualify.
The best part was, as we were leaving, while I am visibly upset by this failure to qualify, Batman looks at me, happy as can be, like, “So, that was fun! What’s next?” I couldn’t help but laugh because honey badger don’t give a shit about no stinking ribbons! He just wanted to play. I’m so grateful to have such a happy dog – he raises my spirits with just one look.
Another positive outcome was the experience itself. Batman had NO issues with any of the dogs while on lead, wearing just his nylon slip collar. No corrections needed. I also met some really nice GSD people and other dog people, and am signing up to take a class with the local club for Rally O next month. It just wasn’t realistic for me to expect the dog to perform to an event that we’d never practiced for properly. I also need to do a better job fading the ball from the routine, and build his willingness to wait for reward.
But we WILL do it! We will succeed eventually, and at the very least, have a ball in the process.
I don’t have any pictures from the trial, but here’s one from a few weeks ago, with him grinning with some crap on his tongue. Goofy.
This weekend, we’re taking Batman on a special trip to Shenandoah National Park to celebrate his awesomeness as a dog.
Thanks for the laugh this morning. Your narration is great!
That was great Jennie. Batman is such a character. He and Max look more alike every time I see them!
LOL I know it was humiliating at the time, but I am so proud of you for being able to look back at it and laugh. I am so glad you decided to share it with us. It looks so simple but it isn’t easy!
Here are some books on “proofing” your dog:
“Success is in the Proofing” by Debby Quigley and Judy Ramsey
“The Art of Proofing” by Adele Yunck
Thanks, Julie! We will do better next time, I promise. We actually CAN’T do much worse!
The other benefit of flunking out of Rally was that everyone felt bad for me and became my friend. People were very kind and supportive afterwards. I got added to a bunch of training email lists and got connected to new resources. It’s amazing how nice people can be when they feel bad for you! LOL.
ROLF!! I was thinking about you guys on my drive back home after talking with you. I was smiling ear to ear and hubby asked me “what’s up, what’s with the big smile?” I say, Batman.
Andy don’t know who Batman is, but obviously- he knows it’s another GSD as I started telling him about Rally etc. and what he did.
Jennie has probably have those books on order now Julie!
Going to the park with ducks and etc is the best proofing we’ve ever done. Also, when we train at the club, we do the OB first and we practice lots of proofing in the beginning of the training.
Positive training methods is pure gold in my book, but the prong collar is the diamond that will get their attention hook line and sinker like no other.
“Batman it turns out, is a dirty, stinking liar”
I just love you both to pieces! Awesome that you tried and discovered that you are living with a dirty, stinking liar. I am very proud of you both. Thank you for sharing your adventure.
My little ruler of Gotham City most certainly is a Honey Badger. Who could not love that face and sappy smile?!
Sorry you didn’t Q Jennie (&Batman) but you made a great story out of your experience! Thanks for sharing it.
Lots of people think Rally is SO easy but it’s not quite as easy as it looks. You will definitely get there and will have fun in the process!
Batman is very handsome.
We went to visit Shenandoah National Park before attending our first NASS. It was beautiful. Have a great trip. Batman will love it!
Oh Jennie, this was hilarious. I hope you weren’t telling Josie this while she was driving, she would have had to pull over. The experience I have with the Rally people is they are very helpful and supportive of each other. The classes will really help. I ended up taking 2 w/Libby, more to get myself used to doing an entire course. I downloaded the signs from the AKC website, got some cones from Palos Sports, stuck some velcro on them and set up in my back yard. I also took the copies from the show so I had a “real” course to practice. We are currently working toward her RA, but are behind schedule, b/c of doing so much w/Ziva this summer. Libby has also decided to walk over the broad jumps instead of jump. I guess she figures if it is that low, why bother. She is a hoot.
Too funny, Jennie…Roman and I trained for months for rally and novice obedience. Roman did great at Rally, but we had to wait around a few hours for novice o. Needless to say, he was over it by then and decided to stop and scratch himself twice during our off leash figure 8. He also barked at another dog and we had to do the walk of shame after we were asked to leave the ring…ugh.
Jennie, this is the best post ever!!! Sooo hilarious, endearing, and full of fun. I think we all identify with your story. While I love reading all the great success stories, nothing makes me feel better than to see that I am not alone with the occasional disappointments (AKA disasters!). Our dogs are so sweet, intelligent, gorgeous, loving, and (usually!) well-behaved. Why does that “bonehead” gene always decide to manifest itself when you least expect it? Conversely, when I think a situation will be impossible to control, I’m totally amazed by his stellar behavior.
I LOVE that picture of Batman. You have captured his fun-loving innocence and joie de vivre. Whenever I see Dutch looking at me like that, I know we’ve had a great day!
Having a happy dog in the ring is a wonderul thing :)) Now you will know what to work on and that he was happy and well behaved (in the dog sense thing) you will do great with some training. .Take him as many new places you can think of for training and do your routine in different places. Have fun Rally is a blast and great way to get a dog into the ring where you can still talk to them!