Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nola's Rally-O Debut

     Hey, y'all! It's Dachshund Mommy again. I know, Nola letting me post two days in a row flabbergasts me as well! But I've decided that most, if not all, training and competition posts will be from me, with interjections from the little kielbasa. I know how much y'all love listening to my disjointed ramblings. ;)
Before I talk about the event, Nola and I would like to wish everyone a Happy Mardi Gras!

   The Rally trial was held in conjunction with a dog show at the same venue where we attended the Earthdog event a couple weekends ago (if you missed that post, check out our post Bitches...It's Not Just for Dogs for the full rundown). Luckily, this event was much more welcoming and enjoyable than the last! There were still a good handful of snobs and assholes, but such is the way with life. Most people were simply busy rather than rude, and we got several smiles and compliments, as well as meeting some nice people. We got to meet two BEAUTIFUL Black Russian Terriers, which I was super excited about! I'd read about the breed but never met one in person. Lovely and adorable dogs! One tried to steal Nola's tug toy after I stashed it in my camera bag, which was cute in a way since his owner called him off immediately. Also saw a Chinese Crested, Standard Poodle (oh my god <3 <3 <3 one of my favorite breeds), several Great Pyrenees, Great Danes, St. Bernards, Newfoundlands, a Glenn of Immal Terrier, and what I think may have been a Finnish Lapphund,, but didn't ask to confirm. There were tons of other breeds, of course, but those are more rare, in this area especially.

     It was hugely packed, and that did not help my nerves in the slightest. I'm claustrophobic, and that on top of being nervous for our trial put me on edge. When I'm on edge or nervous, Nola gets anxious and frantic. When I'm calm, she's calm. She feeds off me hugely. Just ask my mom, aka Sweetie!
When I get nervous, I'm twitchy and vibrate with nervous energy. My mother practically shoved me out of the arena and demanded I take Nola on a run, and I'm so glad she did! When we came back I was much more relaxed and focus, which meant that Nola was as well.

     I did around 5 or 10 minutes of practice with Nola while we waited for our turn. We were last in Novice. Usually I'd prefer to be first, but it worked out well.
Like I said, it was a very crowded and very busy event. Tons of dogs and a boatload of people all rushing around with tons of barking and noise. Nola did incredible; this was the highest level of distraction we'd ever been in and she wasn't paying attention to any of it. We were given more than our fair share of incredulous looks; having a well trained small dog, much less a well trained Dachshund, tends to draw a lot of attention, especially at dog events. I'm used to it by now, and honestly I love what a good breed ambassador Nola is. A little more on that later on, and keep your eyes out for a post on having a Dachshund as a performance dog!

     There were several other dogs entered in Novice, including a Chihuahua, an Aussie, a Cattle Dog, a Border Collie, a lab-ish looking mutt and the aforementioned Black Russian Terrier (who had a pony tail holding up her bangs. How cute is that?). We had a wonderful judge, honest and no nonsense but very fair and helpful. With this being our first trial, she was more than happy to pull me aside after the scores were given and tell me what I did wrong and what I did right, which was a huge help!

     It was kind of funny the way Nola acted as we entered the ring. She was a bit fidgety as we waited for our cue to move forward, but as soon as we took off it was like a switch flipped and she knew that this was her time to shine. I'm sure you all have guessed by now, but Nola is an attention whore who loves the spotlight and loves to preform. Nola: what can I say? I was born for stardom.  She loves it, which is why I wasn't surprised that she adored Rally. You'll see in the video below how her tail was up and wagging the entire time.

     Nola did freaking incredible!!! Her responses to my cues were quick and precise, she was eager and willing, her gait was flawless and flowing, and her focus was phenomenal. Not once did her eyes leave my face. Even the judge and ring stewardess commented on it, and said that Nola had the best focus of all the dogs entered. Had it not been fore me, we would've scored a perfect 100. Because of me, we scored 73, which is just barely qualifying! At the start of the trial, each team has 100 points. A qualifying score is 70 or higher. Points are deducted by varying degrees due to errors by dog or handler, incorrectly preformed stations, excessive barking, ect.
I screwed us up. :p I was seriously nervous and it showed. I incorrectly preformed a station (the stop/1, 2, 3 steps for anyone else who does Rally), didn't signal Nola quickly enough when entering the cone weaves which caused her to nearly miss one, got seriously confused as to where to go next after a sign towards the end, caught myself just in time before I incorrectly performed a second station, and the leash got tight on several occasions. If Nola wasn't sure an incredible dog, we'd've failed. :p
The leash wasn't tight due to Nola surging forward or lagging behind; it was due to me struggling to keep it from tripping Nola. Short dog + leash attached to collar + heeling = tripping hazard. For anyone who does Rally with their small dog, are there any tricks to keeping the leash slack and not having your dog trip?

     As I said, we scored a 73. We weren't the lowest scoring team though; there was a 71 and a 70 behind us. They were also in our Novice A class, which is how Nola and I scored first place. :D

     Almost the second Nola and I came out of the ring, a woman came up to us (me, Nola, Sweetie and Sugar) and asked point blank "how did you get her to DO that? Mine [Dachshunds] just look at me, and I can't get them to do anything!". It was gratifying in an odd way. My joking answer is that Nola's a fluke, but in actuality it's a combination of constant positive training since she was 8 weeks old and the incredible bond we share. It's quiet obvious, both to me and others, that Nola and I have something special. It's especially   obvious when we're around lots of other dogs and handlers. The bond of a heart dog is an incredible thing.

      Here's the video (cinematography credits go to Sugar ;)):

   And pictures taken by Sweetie:

Working before going in

I love her focus. I didn't even have to train it! Just refined it.

Don't let this emptiness fool you! It was packed on both sides and behind us.

She was so proud

Two ribbons and her favorite tug toy for winning! She was rewarded solely with a game of tug after we did it, and was quite satisfied with that. Glad to know she'll work for a toy!

     I loved Rally, and so did Nola. This is definitely a sport for us, and I hope to put her Rally Novice title on her by the end of the year, events in our small area permitting. You need three "legs", which are the times you do it, to earn the title. One down, two to go!

Dachshund Mommy


  1. We are so frickin' proud of you both! Such hard work and dedication is paying off. You are amazing Nola!!!!!

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  2. Way to go!!!! I love Rally ... but have to seriously learn to control the nerves. Teach (like Nola) really feeds off of me (we need one more leg for our Rally Excellent Title). Loved watching you guys perform. Nola is so happy!!! We have a Dachshund in our training group that LOVES working and is so happy and focused. I love watching that little dog work.

  3. Congratulations. As I was reading, I was thinking "a video would be awesome" and there one was! I love how focused she was on you. That's amazing.

  4. Well done both of you! You must be so proud of each other :)
    Lynne x

  5. Good job Nola!! Rally confuses me (mainly because I've never really read up on what the signs mean or had anyone explain it to me)--I took Riley to a few training classes where they sometimes worked on Rally things for the people who took the Rally classes...they'd set up the cones and signs and I'd watch other people go through the practice course with their dogs, then when it came to our turn, I'd be completely stumped still. It does look fun though! Nola's focus in the video was amazing!!

  6. Congrats you two! I can't believe you got a first place ribbon with a 73! That is SO, so cool. Wilhelm and I ran a 98 on our last Novice leg with only one more team to go. I was sure we would get first and then this junior handler and her aussie came out and did a perfect run. I would have been bitter had I not watched them- it was truly a perfect 100. And I have to give an "I told you so" chuckle to the points off being all you and not Nola. The points off are so rarely the dogs fault. I wish they could read and lead the team- then we'd all get higher scores. :) A big congrats to you both again. Very exciting! Now, when's the next trail?

  7. CONGRATULATIONS! You've got your first one in, now it's all up from there! Very excited for you both!

  8. Way to go Nola and DM! You did great. It also helps to have a good support team behind you to keep you sane so cudos to Sugar and Sweetie too.

  9. Glad this event was much more fun for you and that you did so well. I could never actually get into the ring, so you are doing better then me. I am sure with more practice you will be less nervous. Congrats again!

  10. Great job for both of you! I love the pictures of Nola focused on you! There's just something about a doxie face (sigh!). I'm anxious for the next round!

  11. Congratulations Nola and happy Mardi Gras! I'm glad that you had better experience this time around!

  12. You guys are stars! Congratulations. It's probably no consolation but I am Beryl's worst enemy when it comes to Rally. And I don't even get particularly nervous, lol! You'd think with each station signposted it would be impossible to get them wrong! We don't do it any more but it was a lot of fun when we did :) I'll bet you get the next 2 legs in 2 competitions!!

  13. Well done! It has to be the bond thing as well as training. Most of our doxie friends just do as they want. We know you'll just get better and better.

    XXXOOO Bella & Roxy

  14. Beautiful. She moves totally in sync with you--that says a lot, not just about the training or her intelligence, but, like Scotsmad says above, about the bond between you. Those are usually signs of a happy, cared-for, balanced dog. Today I spent the morning on a rescue mission; fourteen dogs living in sub-human conditions with an owner whose good intentions get shadowed by laziness. After that, seeing this--the photos, the video--and reading the joy in your words... Yeah, it makes it all better.

    Thank you.
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

  15. Congratulations, Nola! What an accomplishment. Looking forward to hearing about many more future events.


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