We have good news and bad news on the rally front.
- Bad news: The Tuesday Training group is taking a break. The weather has been horrendous. When it's not raining it's unbelievably hot and humid, making everything difficult. Even worse, there's a children's soccer league using the park now, making parking nearly impossible. Hopefully we can start back up when things cool down.
Good news: K-9 Obedience Club started a new novice rally class on Monday nights, under cover with giant fans. Last Monday was our first class and Jedi and I learned a lot.
Class was more formal than what we were doing in the park. It was set up more like a trial would be. We had a ring with regulation signs and the dogs were crated when not in the ring. I was afraid Jedi would be an idiot. Alas, the idiot was me. I need to memorize the signs and learn to make better use of the walk though. Jedi performs better when we move at a brisk pace. When I slow down -- or stop because I can't remember my left from my right -- he loses focus.
Surprisingly, Jedi knows more than I thought he did. He didn't forge ahead, his fronts were relatively straight and he executed the left finish like a pro. Even the teacher was amazed! Also, we were one of the few teams that knew the left about turn. (We've been practicing.)
We learned a new sign! This is rally sign #35, Call Front, Return to Heel. It looks difficult, but really isn't. How's that for a change? It goes like this: We walk up to the sign and stop. I back up and call Jedi into front position. I tell him to stay, walk around him and return to heel position. From there we walk back the same direction we came from. So yes, it's just like the picture -- if you're any good at interpreting pictures (which I am not).
There are a bunch of signs for me to learn! Beginning rally teams need to know 36 different signs. At a trial there will be 10-15 of them in the ring. Some of the signs involve weaving and spiraling around orange cones. A team will lose points if they touch or knock over cones. This part is challenging for clumsy women and long-bodied dogs!
We're making progress, slowly but surely. We'd do better if I was a better, more consistent trainer. Fortunately, Jedi doesn't care. I don't know when we'll be able to start competing. It seems that every semi-local trial conflicts with a nosework or scent work trial. But we're having fun -- together -- and that's the most important thing. -- K