I started training Dino (Ch Woodacre’s Court Jester RAE MB-RN SR1 TT2 CGC) for Rally at the beginning of 2010, but his journey into Rally began long before that.
After searching on Petfinder for a couple of months, I adopted Dino from Grateful Dog Rescue in San Francisco in December 2006 when he was a year old. They adopted him from San Francisco Animal Care and Control where he had been surrendered by his owners about three months prior because they had “too many kids and not enough time for the dog.” The shelter had him scheduled for euthanasia. They considered him unadoptable because they thought he was out of control and untrainable. Luckily Grateful Dog Rescue did not believe them and neither did I.
I got Dino registered with the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America and started showing him in Conformation, even though I had never shown a dog in that sport before. I knew Dino was a show off and could move very well. I found a trainer who taught me how to clicker train him for Conformation and within that same year Dino had several Best Mixed Breeds under his proverbial belt and was one point shy of all his points needed for his Championship.
For personal and financial reasons, I didn’t restart Dino’s Conformation career until January of 2010, when he won his last point needed.
The Mixed Breed Dog Club requires that to earn the Championship title, either an RE or a CD must also be earned. I decided on the RE. Furthermore, a restriction that the Club puts on all dogs with all their Championship points without an RE or CD is that they are ineligible to show again in Conformation, and I wanted to take Dino and my other two mixed breeds to the National Specialty in Oregon in October. This put a lot of pressure on me to get the RE by then.
I looked at UKC, ASCA and Mixed Breed Club to get the RE through. After looking thoroughly at the show schedules, I discovered that shows in California were very rare in those venues, and I knew that getting a minimum of nine shows to complete the RE by October would be impossible. Besides, ASCA was not starting their Rally program until that summer and UKC had just started their program early 2010. Mixed Breed Club had been allowing Rally titles for several years. I had put a RE on another mixed breed, Scout, several years prior.
I took a look at AKC. I knew that they were just allowing mixed breeds to show in April of 2010, which was about two months away from when I had decided to show in Rally. I started to attend classes and learn all the signs and requirements. I held off on registering with AKC at that point.
I did get Dino registered first with UKC because I was able to attend the first UKC Rally show in California at a Rat Terrier Specialty in March 2010. It was there that we earned our first two Rally legs. Based on that success, I decided to register Dino with AKC and start showing him in Rally.
In California, AKC shows are very plentiful. I was able to map out a minimum of nine shows through August where I planned to show him. The only time I had to go out of California was to attend a show in Utah, which was in June. That was my first time driving there, and it rained most of the drive and for the entire show.
We earned our final RE leg in Reno at the end of July, and we also got our first RAE leg. This made us the first mixed breed to earn an RE. Initially, I had not considered going for the RAE title since my primary goal was to get the RE title just to get the Championship title. However, by July I was hooked, not only on Rally, but also in Obedience. I had put so much training and time just go get to the RE that I didn’t want to waste all that and stop at that point. I decided to continue going for the RAE legs while training for obedience. My first sign that I should continue in Obedience was that I won a set of used scent articles at a workshop raffle, which would have cost me over $100, but I got for $10.
Working on the RAE took us all over Northern and Central California for two reasons. First I wanted to get the RAE as soon possible because I wanted to start in Obedience, and I did not want to do both at the same time for financial and technical reasons. I knew that Obedience requires a specific type of performance that we could not do in Rally, primarily all the extra words and coaxing, if necessary. Also, once I found out that we could possibly be the first mixed breed with an RAE, I was much more motivated.
Second, even though AKC had been allowing mixed breeds to show since April, they still gave clubs the option to allow them to enter. I was finding many clubs, predominantly breed and kennel clubs, were prohibiting mixed breeds. These restrictions were forcing me to travel further to complete the title.
Finally, on Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at the Santa Cruz Kennel Club, in San Mateo, a half hour from my home, we completed the final RAE leg with a 90 and 91 score. This was just over seven and a half months since we earned our first RN leg.
Now, we are on to Obedience. We have trained all the exercises through Utility, and we are working on polishing and proofing. We are entered into our first Novice show in two weeks. Our goal is to qualify by the end of June for the Invitational in Florida in December 2011. This means we need our UD and as many OTCH points as possible and be within the top three mixed breeds in the country. This will be the first year that mixed breeds will be allowed.
Dino’s shares his home with two other mixed breeds, Rusty (Woodacre’s LittleBigMan SR1) and Dot (UWP Woodacre’s Polka Dot SR2 TT CGC), Mercury the cat, two rabbits and two birds. Dino’s day job is as a pet detective where he tracks lost pets all over Northern and Central California. He has participated in over 200 tracks since early 2009.