Today was a beautiful day, if not maybe a little windy. But definitely warm. I'm suffering now from too much sun and am quickly writing this up in between nap-times and doses of Tylenol.
Rally-O is a great sport, lots of fun for both handler and dog, and you get to meet a lot of really wonderful people. I compete my guys in CARO (Canadian Association of Rally Obedience) and CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Rally-O. Of the two venues, CARO is definitely my favorite. For the American readers, CARO is very similar to APDT, while CKC is very similar to the AKC as far as signs, exercises, and judging standards.
I have to say, I am quite disappointed in CKC Rally-O. The judging standards are so lax, that some really slack performances are still given qualifying scores. As such, some less-than-stellar rounds are counted towards Rally-O titles. So the "amazing dogs" get the same titles as some dogs that really didn't do all that well.
Now don't get me wrong. Rally-O is all about having fun with your dog and every dog of every level should be able to hold out hope of competing. But it makes the titles somewhat useless when you really understand the standard at which it was judged.
I was able to take a few videos this morning, and had a friend video tape me running the boys though Advanced and Excellent rounds. (Thanks Jeannette!) The following YouTube video shows Gio in Advanced, Romeo in Advanced, and Gio again in Excellent. In Gio's Advanced round, he was totally not paying any attention at all until the 4th or 5th sign. After that, I was able to get him working and he did the rest of the course very well. Even with the total selective hearing and sniffing adventure of the first quarter of the course, he was given a 94/100 and placed 1st. Romeo's Advanced round was absolutely horrible, it was as if I was fighting him through the whole course. He just did not want to be there, and I even had to redo the 1-2-3 steps backwards station. Yet, he was given a 92/100 and a 2nd place. The final round shown, Gio's Excellent round, was actually very nice and I think he did wonderfully. He was given a 97/100 and 1st place. In my opinion, only Gio's Excellent round deserved a qualifying score. If their Advanced rounds were judged to CARO standards they would have been lucky to qualify, and if they did it would be a pretty low qualifying score.
I'm hoping that the CKC standards are low just because Rally-O is a somewhat new sport to the organization. Hopefully, with time and maturity of the sport, the "Powers That Be" will revamp the judging rules to up the ante a little bit. I think the CARO standards are completely appropriate and see no reason why CKC couldn't meet them.