Tuesday, September 25, 2012


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
270° Left
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.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

No Doggie Fun and Games

Bella’s Doggie Fun and Games class was cancelled. Not enough people registered so they combined the two listings. The class is now on Thursdays.

This news really upset me. I am fully invested in attending a class with Bella on Sundays. The reason this is important to me is…well I want her too exhausted to walk.

Sundays are normally Dave’s day. Meaning Dave is on Bella duty all day. Which he likes and so does Bella and mostly importantly I LOVE.

But with football season, Dave will not be taking care of Bella every Sunday. I will. And to help run Bella out of her energy I signed up for Doggie Fun and Games.

So when I got “the call” from cheerful Abby cancelling my class, I was in shock and a little panicked.

I didn’t know what to say. And we ended the call. Then on my way home from work, I called her back and told her “You can’t cancel the class….I NEED that class.”

Luckily for both of us, she was well equipped to handle a hysterical woman on the phone. She looked up all the classes offered on Sundays then narrowed them down to ones in my area and then discussed them with me to choose the right one for Bella.

We decided on Rally-O at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield held on Sunday at 11 am. She then cancelled the Doggie Fun and Games course in the Parktakes Online system, which got me a refund  and then register me for the Rally-O class. Which meant I didn't have to do anything. Abby took care of everything for me. Thanks Abby.

The Rally-O class was cheaper and Lake Accotink Park closer to me than South Run RECenter. And I will be home in time to watch the 1 pm Redskins Games.

I am a little bummed about not having the Doggie Fun and Games course. But Rally-O should be fun too.

Here is the class description:

Prerequisite: Dog Obedience II or equivalent. Join us for one of the newest dog sports! Rally obedience exercises and corresponding signs from the beginner through expert level are taught. The handler-dog team practices a new course each week.

I hope it is fun…I will update you all next Sunday.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Unknown Subjects (A Thank You, Of Sorts)

Here I am, past due again... whoops.

Last weekend was an exciting time for us, not just because it was a holiday weekend, but because it was a wedding weekend. Jeff and Krista tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony on Saturday afternoon. I was a groomsman and therefore had events on Friday and Saturday. Friday night we had the rehearsal dinner and brought home company. Well, company arrived before rehearsal dinner, but not in Bella's world.

John and Nicolette stayed with us on Friday night. They arrived just before we left for the rehearsal. I had put Bella in her crate so she did not get to meet them before dinner. We attended the dinner and returned home about ten o'clock. After changing clothes, we went downstairs to let her out of her crate. She was excited while inside the crate, but as I opened the door to let her out, she didn't bolt out like I expected. She slowly stepped out of the crate as she saw Nicolette. As we attempted to get her to greet Nic, she remained shy and we decided to take her outside. She went off leash into the backyard and relieved herself but instead of bolting through the open door like she normally does, she remained half inside and half outside of the sliding door. Her front half was saying, "I'm not sure about this." Her back half was saying, "This is so totally awesome." I watched as her tail moved rapidly back and forth, making her entire hind-side move as well.

She stepped inside, made her way up to Nic and started sniffing. Her front half apparently decided that her rear half was correct because she then proceeded to continuously sniff, lick, snort, jump, and circle around her. Noticing John, she said hello, but quickly moved back to Nic. Bella may have recognized John since they had met previously, when she was ten weeks old, so she didn't feel the need to spend much time around him. Or it could have been the fact that he sat in her throne and didn't even make one attempt to offer it back to her. I guess he missed that post about her throne.

As Nic moved from the floor to the couch, Bella did little to dissipate her curiosity. She moved back and forth, over and under her, laying next to her, getting up and stepping over her, crawling underneath her legs. She finally settled down long enough to attempt snacking on her hair, which is something she has grown fond of doing with Chassie as well. Overall though I think she did a great job of meeting two new people. I'll take this time to thank John and Nicolette for staying with us and also being unknowing subjects on "The Puppy Files."

Saturday morning, Chassie and I took Bella to Doggy Day Camp at PetSmart. Originally, I was only going to take her, but as a last minute change to the plans, Chassie and I both took her. We then proceeded to pick up our share for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which for those of you that don't know, Chassie writes a blog about that subject as well. You can check it out here. After we arrived home, John and Nic drove out to Sterling to pick up the tux for John that was originally two sizes too big. During that time, Sawyer and Ashley came over to help us out with the dogs. I think Draco enjoyed that experience since they took him on a really long walk. After Draco's walk, they did us a big favor by picking up Bella from Day Camp and brought her home. They arrived just as we were leaving so I haven't had time to ask how it went. I hear from Chassie that everything went smoothly. I'll take this opportunity to thank Sawyer and Ashley for taking good care of our pups and being unknowing subjects on "The Puppy Files."

As we attended the wedding and reception, Chassie's mom came over to take care of the dogs. After careful planning- taking Bella to Doggy Day Camp, setting up a season of Mad Men to play on the PlayStation and writing out instructions for her to start said season.... Bella was the only one to cooperate. I have a feeling the controller turned off from inactivity and I neglected to write instructions down to turn on the controller, hence she was not able to watch the carefully set up first episode of Mad Men. Bella at least behaved herself and Draco is always a good dog, except when he's expecting a walk which is a different story for another day. So at this time, I'd like to thank Roberta for taking the time to help us out when we needed it and for being an unknowing subject on "The Puppy Files."

All in all the weekend was successful. Jeff and Krista "finally" got married. Both dogs got to meet new people and see people they haven't seen in a while and were able to act appropriately away from us. We skipped a training class but everyone else needed to miss it as well. Now it's on to football season...