Following Perri's recent graduation from Obedience class, graduates were told that if they wished to join the Obedience Club, we would need to come to "club night" on a Wednesday evening to observe what goes on. To see if we truly wished to join.
Club night is obedience work, heeling patterns, sits and downs...everything a handler and dog need to practice to be show ready. I knew that Club Night was EXACTLY what I wanted, and so I was there tonight.
I dove into the Dog Sport World looking for agility for Ein in December 2011. I was asked to drop in on an Obedience class or two, in order to evaluate "where Ein and I were". I remember that night. I remember that we learned finishes on the class that I dropped in on. I had no clue what a finish was. I remember a trainer demonstrating a left finish with her dog. Something about the slight hand movement and the dog coming into finish just moved me. I loved it. I thought it was beautiful to see that connection between handler and dog.
The trainer watched Ein and I heel. Fumble through about turns. I had no clue what I was doing. Ein did. He trotted alongside me, head up. Eyes on me. Prancing and smiling despite the scary training center environment. The trainer brought us in front of the class and told me, "Many handlers would kill for focus like this dog has." My heart swelled with pride for my little red dog.
But I still wanted agility. Until Ein didn't want agility. He wanted Rally-O. Not by my own choosing, the agility class that I entered Ein in was agility one week, obedience the next. And that turned into agility one week, Rally-O the next. Ein was maddeningly laggy in agility. But rally-o? That came natural. Initially I anticipated the agility week, the rally-o week not so much. Until it was the other way around.
I have learned so much. Ein has his Rally Advanced and APDT Level 2 title. We are driving towards Level 3, Rally Excellent and an ARCH. His confidence has grown by leaps and bounds.
But my Ein. His anxiety is something that we may never entirely overcome. He is eight years old. I want the AKC Obedience ring to be something for him. I want it so much. But I have to accept that this more than likely cannot be. (I have resolved not to put him into the Novice ring. But I have a way of not being able to resist these things.)
But I have my Perri the Poodle. Perri is an Obedience dream. I started heel work on her within the hour of adopting her from the family that did not want her. And she really is wonderful.
I have so many dreams for Perri. Therapy. Agility.
But first and foremost, AKC Obedience.
I have heard of many who have a bad taste in their mouth for AKC Obedience.
It is "old school". Legendary. It is elite. It is strict and unforgiving. The best of the best.
In the past and present, many dogs were and are trained with cruel practices to succeed in the ring.
But I can train my own way. With our beloved Bil Jacs.
And I cannot wait for the day that Perri and I step foot and paw into that ring. Side by side. Connected. Working together and loving every minute of it.