As many of you know, I occasionally stray from my usual modelling-related beat, mostly for travel-related side trips. Here comes another one.
This last weekend was the 2012 Vancouver Kennel Club all-breed dog show. I and the whole family are avowed Dog People. We've had dogs for ages (mostly pugs, with the occasional French Bulldog and English Bulldog added to the mix). My son owns a dog training business. My wife and I ran the Seattle Pug Rescue operation for more than a decade. Just to establish our bona fides.
Our dogs are not show dogs, since we have gotten most of them through Rescue. Still, we do enjoy dog shows, so I jumped at the chance when my son Kenton wanted a co-pilot for the Vancouver (WA) show.
Kenton has been working his way through Rally Obedience. These are judged trials that happen at most major dog shows. It is not based on breed conformation (which are probably the "dog shows" that most are familiar with), but rather on performance. There are a variety of difficulty levels, where dogs and their handlers are required to move through a set of increasingly complex tasks. The tasks are determined ahead of time, and the judge is there to evaluate the dog's performance of the tasks. Different types of sit and stay commands, positioning themselves in relation to the handler, knowing when to stay and when to move, and willingness to do all the tasks is important. Actually, it sounds like many jobs I've had myself.
You start out with 100 points and points are dropped if the dog misses a task or performs it badly. Ending with 100 is difficult but not unheard of. You can easily lose a few marks on style points alone. You can fail to qualify for the round if your score drops too low, usually under 70.
The novice levels keep the dog on leash (although pulling the dog through a step loses points) and allows voice commands. More advanced levels are done off-leash, and the most complex require hand signals only, guided by the commands of the judge. Kenton's dog Hank is a Bernese Mountain Dog, which is considerably larger than the usual run of dogs through our halls.
On the Saturday, Kenton and Hank had their third successful Rally Novice, which means that they have attained the first Rally level. On the Sunday, they successfully completed their first Rally Advanced, the beginning of the next stage. My congratulations to the both of them. A lot of work and training goes into those 2 minutes in the ring, and they performed well both days (96 and 93 IIRC).
Though separate, we also hung out at the conformation event. I typically watch Pugs, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, the occasional Boston, Bernese Mtn Dogs, and whatever else is going on when I have free time. The English Bulldogs were really nice, as were the Pugs. One Bully was even in the Rally competition, though she basically failed to qualify when she got bored and just sort of wandered away. Nice looking dog, though (see below). And here is a shot of one of the winning pugs, just to stick to our major preoccupation.
Although it poured the whole time we were in town and we had two adults and one large dog trying to sleep in the back of a Honda van, I think a fine time was had. We're looking forward to the Puyallup all-breed show in January. Back to our regularly scheduled model discussion shortly.