I have been showing in Conformation for over 6 years. Over these past 6 years I have done some very foolish things. One of the most foolish things that I have done is not listen to my mother. I know what you are thinking. Why would a perfectly well-adjusted teen, who knows everything, not listen to his mother? And the bigger question is why am I admitting to this and telling you this now?
I am telling you this now because I think you can benefit from my mistake. What my mother told me to do was to try a companion event. But I didn't until the AKC began offering Rally at the beginning of 2005. Even then I was slow to start, I promised my mom I would begin training my dog as soon as I had a chance. This was sometime last March.
Well, three months had past and several chances to train had passed. I found out that when I said I would start working with my dog it meant that I had agreed to have my dog trained for the Moore County Dog Shows in early June. Boy was I scrambling. I had less than two weeks to go and had to study for finals as well. I went onto the internet and searched the AKC web site for the Rally signs and the description of what I needed to do. I found out that because my dog was conformation trained, I could do most of the ones required for a Novice Title. As you all know a conformation trained dog will stay with you as you move through the course. The only signs I was concerned about were those involving sits and downs.
I had worked with my dog on sits off and on but I wasn't sure we could master the downs. We worked every day for most of two weeks. However, as you will recall I was also studying for finals so I couldn't work with her that long. Bottom line is that I worked with my dog for about five minutes each day.
The big day came. I was, needless to say, very nervous. Never before had I been so unprepared for an event. And I had an audience. One of our friends decided to watch. When I showed up at the Rally ring, I realized that even though this is new to me and way out of my comfort zone, it was an awful lot of fun. My dog, Dolly, sat when she was suppose to and did her downs. Despite feeling unprepared I got two legs that weekend and one day got 4th place. I finished my dog at the next show we attended.
Since then I began training my dog for agility and obedience. I put my first obedience leg on her last fall and I will begin doing agility trials this spring. I have enjoyed doing companion events so much that I have also begun doing Rally with another one of my conformation dogs. I put two Rally Novice B legs on him in December.
So after reading about this teenage "genius" and the huge flaw he almost made, what is the moral of this story? Well I guess that you might say it is that trying new things might not be so bad.