By Rae Ann
Hello, my name is Rae Ann. My Cocker Spaniel, Lilly is six years and I am twelve. We recently completed our Rally Novice title, and in October we will be heading to Canton, TX to hopefully attain a leg on our Rally Advanced Title. When Lilly was four years old we began our first beginner obedience class at a dog training center in the town where I live. I was originally interested in training Lilly to be a therapy animal but when we worked our way up to the advanced obedience course our class instructor told us about competing in Rally and encouraged us to do it. After further discussing it with my parents and the instructor we decided we would give Rally a tray.
At our very first show in Fort Worth, Texas I was so nervous I thought I was going to have to ask my parents to take Lilly and me out of the event. However I pulled myself together and kept practicing with Lilly until our number was called to get ready to enter the arena. I remember thinking as I sat by the ring that I was going to do terrible and completely mess up! When I finally stood nervously in front of the start sign with Lilly confidently wagging her little tail beside me the judge asked if I had any questions. Dozens of questions were racing around in my head, but all I said was “No, I think I’m ready!”
As we exited the arena I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Whew! I had the time of my life, but I had been so uptight that I was exhausted! My parents sat beside me waiting for our score and told me I had done a great job. When I saw the ring steward write my score on the big poster by the ring I anxiously raced to see how we had done. Our score was 95! I was so excited! Lilly was going to get the first leg of her RN title. Wahoo!
One of the vendors at the show was a gourmet god treat stand. Dad, Mom and I chose some treats for Lilly and she was very happy with her reward. After a few minutes all the qualifiers were called to come get their placements for the Rally Novice event. When the judge handed me the first place ribbon I was absolutely ecstatic! I have never expected Lilly and me to win. Our prize was a squeaky dog toy. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with her new favorite toy.
The next day, at the same show Lilly won first place again with an increased score of 97! At our next two-day show in Rockwall, Texas we came away with two more first place wins with scores of 97 and 100! The last show we went to in Longview, Texas was also a success. We again won first place with a score of 100.
The best thing about showing is not winning or qualifying for a title; it is having fun with your dog. I think that the main reason we work so well together is because we’re not just a dog and handler; we’re best friends! It took almost a year of training to get Lilly to know all the commands involved in Rally, but it was really worth it. I would like to thank my parents for hauling Lilly and me around to training classed and dog shows and for always being there to encourage me, my trainers for teaching me how to teach Lilly, and most of all, God for making it all possible!