The more I get involved in the dog world, the more people I meet who do some sort of competitive sport with their dogs, including flyball, agility, lure coursing, obedience. All of them seem to have a lot of fun doing it, so a couple of months ago I started looking into participating in one of these sports. One trainer I went to told me that Pearl had a lot of potential for agility. Another talked up rally (the “fun” version of obedience, she called it). We did one agility lesson, but the trainer used a pinch collar and recommended an e-collar, so instead I signed up for a rally class with Pearl and in the meantime tried to figure out how I could make the time with my busy schedule to do the required volunteer hours to join a different agility club in my area. And somewhere along the way I started thinking that to be a “real” dog person, Pearl and I needed to participate in the dog show/dog sport community in some way.
Yesterday was my second rally obedience class. We talked a lot about what to do and not do at a show, what the judge is looking for, and how to prepare for the dog show atmosphere in and out of the ring. Now, I am enjoying learning about rally and I think Pearl benefits from almost any kind of (positive-method) training class for a variety of reasons. However, last night I realized that I have absolutely no desire to take Pearl to a show. The idea of it alone is stressing me out. First, my reactive, highly energetic dog would hate lying quietly in a crate surrounded by other dogs and the bustle of a show. Second, I am the least competitive person ever and while I enjoy teaching my dog new things and celebrating the lessons we have learned and the progress we have made together, the idea of getting judged against others after performing in a ring is terrifying to me. Plus, its expensive and time-consuming. These sports may be really fun for some, but maybe that doesn’t include Pearl and I. And that’s okay.
After this rally class, Pearl and I are going to take a step back from the show-prep type classes. I want to do a canine good citizen class, because I think that would help us work on the behaviors and skills we need to improve on just for everyday life with Pearl to go more smoothly and a CGC is more of a challenge for yourself and your dog rather than a competition. I want to do a tricks class with her too, because Pearl loves learning fun tricks and I really enjoy teaching them to her (and showing them off to my friends later). Maybe if Pearl ever settles down enough I can get her certified as a therapy dog, which is something I have always wanted to do. Maybe someday we will take an agility class or another rally class. Maybe one day we will even participate in a show. But I am taking the pressure off for now. I’ve realized that dog show people aren’t the only “real” dog people the same way that purebred dogs aren’t the only “real” dogs. In my mind, real dog people are people who love their dogs, who are informed and responsible pet owners, and who enjoy sharing their love of dogs with other dog lovers in whatever way makes them and their dogs happy, whether that be through dog shows, dog walking groups, or even dog blogs 🙂