Monday, November 1

Roofus + Rally = Success!!

Day 1 Success!
   Roofus, my Old English Sheepdog, had an APDT Rally Obedience trial this past weekend. It was the second time he has trialed, and after the disastrous first one, I was pretty nervous. I'm an extremely competitive person, and when it comes to dog sports, it takes a tremendous effort on my part to stop, realize that the whole point is to have FUN, and shake off setbacks. At first, my goal for the weekend was to get one Q (or qualifying score), but after some serious thinking, I decided a more reasonable goal was to have at least ONE run (he was signed up for four) where I did not haul out the treats and NQ.

   It's not that Roofus doesn't know the signs, or that I get nervous and he doesn't listen - it's that Roofus is new to the world of trialing (he does not do agility or anything like my other dogs), and that he's an Old English Sheepdog. Roofus does rally to please me, not because of any personal desire to be a particularly obedient dog. There are a lot of new sights, sounds, and people at trials, and Roofus does not yet have that "ring mentality" where he focuses on Mom instead of wanting to go check out everything.

Our first run, well, I was having a tough time getting his attention even outside the ring, with chunks of hot dog. When it was our turn, he discovered that one of the ring crew, right outside the gate, had a breakfast sandwich. It took a long time for me to get him at the start line, sitting, and ready to go. Amazingly, we walked out of the ring with a 187 - which is a Q - and a 3rd place. The second run of the day went similarly - except I felt I had his attention more. We again scored a 187 and grabbed 3rd place. Roofus had already doubled my expectations for the weekend. One more Q and he'd have his level 1 title - but was I being unrealistic to hope that we could get it tomorrow? Was I jinxing myself to dare to hope? I decided a more reasonable goal was to simply break the 200 score barrier.

Apparently not. The first run on Sunday, Roofus marched into that ring like a pro. He was extremely attentive, to the point that I became a bit unnerved by his focus. It was a beautiful run, though, and my handsome boy walked out with a 201, second place, and his level 1 title - RL1. I actually jumped up and down with joy, the judge snickering at me. I didn't care. MY Roofus, the one everyone calls slow, dumb, unable to learn (I unfortunately sometimes fall into the habit as well) - he had just achieved what none of my other dogs have - his first rally title.

After that run, it became clear that Roofus wasn't amused at being crated any more, and he would much rather go home. He had only one more run, and the trial was moving pretty quickly, so we waited out for his first level 1B run.

It wasn't pretty. Roofus's attention was gone. There was no focus. Every once in a while he paid attention to me, but boy, was it dirty! He eeked out a 185, ironically having our lowest and highest score on the same day.

And so our Rally Obedience weekend ended - Roofus had a perfect weekend, going 4/4, and far exceeding my expectations with his performances. While I dare to dream what may happen at the next trial, I have made up new goals for him: I want to score consistently in the 190s, and I want to get his RLX title. Roofus, of course, doesn't care - as long as he is provided with plenty of hot dogs and bear hugs.

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