May 8th, 2018
Monday afternoon was perfect for setting up a Rally-O training course. My husband had cut 10 stakes to attach the laminated commands onto them. The stakes had to be sturdy enough to withstand high winds and a Newf’s sweeping tail. He painstakingly applied two Velcro strips to each command card and their corresponding strips to the stakes. Each one was measured to perfection – a testament to his engineering skills. I decided that a course of 8 commands plus the start and finish cards were enough to begin. Altogether, I have 36 novice command cards to choose from. The course can be changed quite easily. As a result, I can customize the course to suit Bailey’s learning aptitude. I selected 8 commands to practice. The ground in the backyard is still frozen up here in Labrador. So, I placed the stakes in the snowbanks thereby creating a course that would take us down one side of the house, across the yard and back up the other side. A few adjustments had to be made once I realized that doing a 360 degree turn wouldn’t be possible in the space available between the garden shed and snowbank or that turning right would mean walking into the side of the house. I was ready to get my girl.
Now, Bailey always naps in the afternoon to help recover from her noon hour walk. I aroused her from a sleepy slumber of only one hour. I made up for the enthusiasm that she was lacking. My girl perked up when she saw the start sign. I showed her the reward, dried sweet potato. We were off with my command of “Okay, heel”. The first station required a stop then sit. Bailey pulled that one off without too much effort. Praise was her reward and we were off to the next card. We proceeded around the yard until finally the end of the course was reached. Bailey gobbled her treat for a well-done effort.
It was a bright sunny day even though it was -1 degrees Celsius (-10 if you factor in the windchill). I was bundled up to ward off getting chilled. The furnace, our black beastie, was warm. We detoured into the garage for a quick pit stop. Bailey drained down the water bucket by a third. Another treat convinced her to try the course again. I made the mistake this time by turning the wrong way. Had we been in a sanctioned Rally-O competition, I would have lost points for the team. I guess that I am the one who needs more practice. We finished the round and Bailey freshened up with another trip to the water bucket. I still thought my girl was up for one more round. Bailey’s speed was much slower as she waddled from station to station. By the time that we reached the sit followed by down command, Bailey lingered a bit longer on the ground before responding to my “Okay, heel” command. Obviously, she was ready to call it quits. Her reward was a fetching a ball tossed into the snowbank. It only took a couple of throws before my girl was ready to continue her siesta.