Before I even got Wally I knew I wanted to do competitive obedience with him. At the very least I want a CD, and at the very most I want OTCH and UDX. Yeah, not like I really want much huh. ;) Seriously I just wanted a CD, I didn’t really think anything further was possible with a terrier. I mean, obviously it’s possible but is it really plausible? I had my doubts until I met Cathy Soule, a competitive obedience dog trainer.
This morning I made my way out to scenic Purdy for our first session, cursing myself the entire time for not wearing wool socks. It was in the low 30’s and I was keeping an eyeball out for black ice, clearly I should have worn wool socks. Anyway, we showed up a little early (even after completely missing the driveway and having to turn around) and Cathy sussed out how much we knew.
We went over sit (Wally does the wrong kind apparently, I didn’t know there were multiple sit styles!), heel, front, stay, watch, touch, down, retrieving, come, and stay. Basically everything. Like I said, Wally does the wrong kind of sit very, very well. I guess there are back sits and pop sits, and you want your dog to do a pop sit. In a back sit the dog sit backwards onto his hind end, which in the heel position would move his neck out of alignment with your leg, losing you points. In a pop sit the front legs don’t move and the dog tucks his butt up under himself, keeping his neck in alignment with your leg in heel position. How little I know!
Aside from doing the wrong kind of sit (which we’re going to work on), Wally is apparently doing really well and should have no problem getting advanced obedience titles. Of course we’ll have to work hard for them, but that was to be expected. He’s off to a good start and picked up on all the new skills really quickly, such as front, come, and stay. He and I both loved how everything was a game, lots of happy voices and cookies tossed about.
Since I have zero experience with competitive obedience I was perhaps a bit naive in thinking we could get our CD by the end of 2012. Very kindly Cathy educated me about the time it takes to get a dog up to competition level. She explained how most people take 6 years (!!) to get a UD because they spend 1.5-2 years on each level . She believes in training the dog to UD level from day one, which means that after 2 years you can go out and get a CD, CDX, and UD. With my horsey background this makes a lot of sense since in dressage you always show at one level lower than what you are training.
Cathy also believes in striving to get perfect scores rather than mediocre ones. For her this comes from a competitive edge, which I don’t think I really have. But then I do want to brag about Wally being the super most awesome Border Terrier of all time with three perfect legs to each title and OTCH and HIT and all that. So maybe I am competitive. Perfect scores or not, it makes total sense to shoot for 100% rather than passable. What’s there to brag about passable? It’s not like he’s a Chow Chow where getting an obedience leg is like winning the Mega-Millions, a once in a lifetime occurrence. Wally might be a terrier but he’s one of the more trainable breeds, not to mention he has the temperament for it. No excuses!
Conclusion: Wally and I really like Cathy Soule and we’re going to start up weekly sessions in Feb. Watch out obedience world, here comes a terrier!