My first obedience dog, Shasta (R. Beth’s Hot Toddy II, UD, RAE2, CGC, TC, from the Ruby Hertz kennel R.Beth German Shepherds) retired from the sport in 2005, at nine years old, after getting her Utility Dog title. However, she and I found that we both still needed a job so started in the just created obedience offshoot, Rally Obedience. Unlike formal Obedience, in which you and your dog perform standard exercises at the direction of the judge, in Rally, a judge sets a course with directional signs that you follow at your own pace. For those just starting their dogs in obedience, it gets even better; you can talk to, encourage, cajole, plead and otherwise communicate with your dog as you move through the course.
Training a German Shepherd is great fun, although a challenge sometimes because they are so smart. They are very willing to learn and please. Shasta was a great companion and fun to show. She accomplished all her Rally titles in a total of 50 entries, missing only one Excellent trial entry. She had three perfect scores of 100 and
won four first place ribbons. We took both Obedience and Rally classes at the Mount Diablo Dog Training Club with Loretta Delinger, a patient trainer with lots of expertise, and a passion for having her students succeed and grow.
There are three levels in Rally: Novice, Advanced and Excellent. The dog and handler have to qualify in three trials before moving on to the next level. Shasta and I moved quickly through those three titles. The next title is Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE). That requires the dog and handler to qualify in both Advanced & Excellent at the same trial, and do that 10 times. Shasta did that and, in 2007, really retired with the RAE2 title.
I’m still showing in Obedience and Rally. My German Shepherd Sky (R. Beth’s King of Hearts, CDX, RAE, CGC, TC) has been a lot of fun to show and train. True, he can be a goofy pup, but people love to watch him. My youngest, Spirit (R. Beth’s Brand New Day) has her first leg in Rally Novice. She has big paws to fill, but I have no doubt that she will do it!
Mary Lemon has been a member of the Diablo Valley German Shepherd Dog Club since the late 1990s and is currently the club’s vice president. She also belongs to the Mount Diablo Dog Training Club. You can reach Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.