Juno did pretty well at last week’s Rally (and Obedience) Trials sponsored by Chuckanut Dog Training Association. This was our first time competing in Rally Excellent A and she qualified both days. Neither day was a spectacular performance, but given our lack of practice, I was pleased. Although on Saturday she want and visited the judge (OFF COURSE, of course!), at least she didn’t run out of the ring and get us disqualified! LOL.

Last week’s trial was also my first time showing my friend’s Schipperke, Raven. Raven is very smart with a very strong work ethic. Raven did very well in Rally Advanced A on Saturday, with a 91 score. On Sunday, however, it was “Earth to Raven!” She most definitely had other things on her mind (the floor, the fence, the weather. . . . ). I excused us halfway through the course. Oh well. We rarely get a chance to practice Rally together, so all in all, I think we had a good weekend. And no matter what, I adore Raven!

I have been competing in Agility and Rally for about two years now, so I still feel very much like a competition newbie. I only compete in local shows so at most we’re in the ring 3 to 4 times a year. There’s a part of me that loves to compete (it’s so great to do well!) but I have to continually remind myself that it’s all about having fun, and if it’s not fun, let’s not do it. It’s hard to remember this sometimes, especially after sinking time and money in classes and training, driving to the trials, feeling like throwing up at the trials (!), only to have your Schipperke run out of the ring halfway through a great run. . . . I guess the true lesson is laughter and humility. ??? hmmmmm. I have met some wonderful people – and dogs – at trials, and that has been rewarding. I think what I like best, though, is the teamwork between my dogs and me — seeing what we can do together, where the boundaries are, how to best communicate. And working with more than one dog definitely stretches and challenges me (in a good way).

On another note: Since it’s November (and perhaps due to shorter days so I spend more time inside!), I’ve been thinking about things I am grateful for: I am grateful to my Rally and Agility instrocutors who have taught me that classes are more about training me than my dogs. I am grateful for all the wonderful books by Patricia McConnell! And, it was truly awesome to sit in her day-long seminar in Seattle this past September. I am grateful for all the wonderful staff and volunteers who are a part of Whatcom Humane Society. They have the hardest (and sometimes the most gut-wrenching) jobs and yet they show up day after day to make the lives of dogs and cats (and other critters) a little better until that perfect human and home come along. I am grateful to the staff of Northshore Vet, Dr. Donna Kelleher, and Dr. Woodfield (and the staff at VCA Animal Hospital in Lynnwood) for saving Tripp’s life this past March. And thanks to all my friends for being there. Canine and human.