Bella and I arrived at the “Dog Agility Program Area” next to McLaren Sargent Shelter at Lake Accotink Park a few minutes early on Sunday. The regular dog obedience class before us was still going strong. So Bella and I hung out towards the edge of the field and waited.
While we waited we met one of our class mates, Hobbs. Hobbs is a brindle lab mix with his CGC and TDI certifications. Slowly other classmates started to arrive. And then the class before us ended.
By the time Rally-O officially began we had seven human/dog pairs. Three of the pairs had taken Rally-O before (and are really, really good) and four have never have.
Pasty and her standard black poodle, Elvis, were our teachers. They made the introductions and dove into the class instructions.
For those who are unfamiliar with Rally-O, Rally-O is a dog sport focused on obedience. Rally-O consists of a “course” with 10-20 obedience maneuvers, aka stations, spread out on a field. The point is for the person/dog pair to make their way from the “start” of the course to the “finish” of the course by successfully acting out each “station”.
The “stations” are marked by signs which instruct the person/dog team what action to perform. Here is an example of a sign:
This sign means stop and have your dog sit.
Right now Bella and I are taking the class to bond, to help reinforce the obedience she has already learned, and to rid her of extra energy. But if Bella and I become really good at Rally-O, we could compete. Rally-O titles are offered through the AKC. The Rally-O course are judged on a point system on how well the human can read the sign and have the dog execute the action.
But I am getting too far ahead. Back to our FIRST class on Sunday.
Patsy walked the newbies through each of the 12 signs. She and Elvis showed us the maneuvers and then the 3 human/dog “expert” pairs in the class ran though 3-4 signs at a time for demonstration.
Then the novice Rally-O pairs tried them. I had my bait bag and Bella was hot to trot to do anything other than sit and whine at my side. And we did the 360° turn, the 270° Left, Call Front Finish Right Forward sequence. And if I do say so, we did pretty good.
We continued on to do:
Moving Side Step Right
Call Front, Walk Around Dog
Halt 1 Step, Halt 2 Step, Halt 3 Step
Halt, Down, Stand
Send over Jump, Handler Runs By
Halt Down, Walk Around Dog
Stay, Handler Walks two Steps
Call to Heal
Towards the end, Bella was a little tired and didn’t care for her treats anymore. Plus I broke the bait bag and the nylon leash was killing my hand. We let the dogs run around and play in the fenced in space after we finished the course. I chatted with Patsy and then we took our leave.
All in all it was pretty fun. Let’s see what the second class has in store.