Buddy and I are going on a Rally course on Sunday. It's a sport I've researched for articles, but never actually taken part in before. Although it's established in America, it's very new to the UK, and we're lucky to have a course going on so close to us. As I understand it in the easier level the dog can stay on lead, which is a comfort when you have a friendly Labrador whose mission in life seems to be to meet and greet as many people and dogs as he possibly can. But what are the behaviours that we have to carry out as we work our way around the course? I have to say that while I'm excited, I'm now getting a little nervous too.
So I've been investigating online, and here's the findings of my in depth research so far: some of it we'll be able to manage, some of it we might well make a mess of. So it should be a fun day, and at least we'll give some of the other participants a good laugh.
The point is that we can have a go, and we can enjoy the experience knowing that's it's doing both of us a lot of good and strengthening our bond. I learned last year while trying out a lot of canine activities and sports (and leaving my comfort zone a long way behind) that I've wasted a lot of time standing at the edges of arenas and rings, watching someone else and their dog performing or competing, thinking, "One day Buddy and I will try that." But for so long we just didn't get around to it. Until last year, when we both learned a lot - and had a lot of fun in the process.
I have to admit that I don't think Buddy and I will ever be as good as Clarissa Bergeman (the handler in the video above) and her dog, but I suspect we're not on our own in that. The important thing is that we can try it out and see if it suits us. It will be an adventure. We may not put in the best performance, but as the saying goes, I know I'll be bringing home the best dog. The real challenge is to make it so pleasant and fun that Buddy thinks he's bringing home the best human. Fingers crossed!