Tugboat Loves to Rally

By Sarah Freeman (March 2012)

What got you started in Rally Obedience?
Tugboat is a once-in-a-lifetime dog. He is our first Portuguese Water Dog and it was apparent early on that either he was given a job or we'd suffer the consequences. He is filled with a joy and spirit that needed to be channeled into positive activities. Our participation in Rally was also tied to my desire to have him earn his Canine Good Citizen Certification.
We attended Linda Schindler's Rally Class to practice the skills Tugboat learned in his Manners I and II classes. The class turned out to be a very unique class for us both. Tugboat thrived in the class and I developed some close friendships with the other women in the class.

What is most rewarding about training for Rally Obedience?
Rally Obedience has been a shared experience for Tugboat and me. Every Wednesday afternoon, Tuggie got to meet up with his doggie friends and I got to be with girlfriends. It was not long after starting our Rally class that Tugboat earned the C.G.C. certificate. By this time, I realized how important Rally had become for Tugboat. It has been very rewarding for both of us. Tugboat is a dream to work with because his is so food motivated. He caught on fast learning the skills needed for Rally Obedience. Tugboat's love of performing the Rally skills dragged me into participating in Rally Trials. Yes, I was reluctant. Tuggie earned his titles with ease. I, on the other hand, had to learn to enjoy the ring experiences.

What is the most challenging about training for Rally Obedience? Honestly, getting used to competing in the ring. Thankfully, Tugboat loves to perform each skill. In spite of my performance anxiety, Tugboat earned high scores. It is always challenging learning new skills. It also is the most rewarding. It is fun to watch Tugboat think through a new skill broken down into baby steps.

Do you have amusing moments that happened in training or trial? The figure 8 with distractions has two bowls of food or toys that the dogs walk by while doing a figure 8 around cones. It never fails that Tugboat goes "window shopping" to check out what are in the bowls. He listens and always "leaves it" but not without checking the bowls. I really have to be on top of his movement so we will not get points taken away. The look he gives me is priceless and always makes me laugh. One of these days I can see Tuggie picking up one of the toys and bringing it to the judge! I highly recommend Rally Obedience to anyone that wants to share a fun experience with their dog.