In which Sadie and I make our public debut

We have been working and practicing for months. I admit, I am the weak link here, not putting in my time every day, but we are committed, interested, and last Friday, we had our chance. A show was scheduled for just down the road from us, other people we knew were signed up, everyone agreed it would be fun. So, we took a deep breath and signed up.

We weren’t on until close to 10, but we showed up at 8:30 so we could schmooze, get the feel of the place, check out the competition and try to act cool and not make total fools of ourselves when our turn came. While we were able to chat up the audience, there was one real drawback: some of other entrants were good. Very good. Far better than the two of us.

A quick consultation with a true friend confirmed our suspicions, and we headed out back to try to put a little last minute polish on things. Unfortunately, we were both nervous and worked up, and things didn’t gel. Every run through was worse than the one before. Sadie was getting more and more upset, and rather sharply pointed out that I was missing my cues. Finally, we decided that enough was enough, we would do our best and wow everyone with our great attitude.

So, eventually, we were lined up, only two more ahead of us. One of them struck up a conversation. She had been travelling all over the upper mid-west, entering shows, and knew every trick. She bragged at length about past performances, clearly trying to throw us off. Sadie got sick of it, and went to sit back with our stuff, leaving me to hold our place in line. The woman leaned over to me, “Isn’t she a bit skinny? Does she weigh enough?” Yes, she’s fine. “How old is she?” 12. “12! Are you sure?” She poked her neighbor and pointed, rudely I thought, at Sadie. “She’s twelve years old!” “She can’t be! Are you sure?” I was somewhere between mortified and furious. Sadie gave me a look that said “I don’t deserve this” and went to find one of her friends. Luckily, it was this woman’s turn before I could think of anything else to say.

Then it was our turn. Verify names, registration. I started out. The judge grabbed my arm. “I’ll tell you when.” Sadie looked away. Judge: “OK, start!” I started. I looked back, and Sadie was staring at another performer. Me: “Sadie, come on!” Sadie jumped, and ran to catch up. We were off a little, but found our rhythm. Around, left, right, swing in a circle, fast, slow, we were perfect. Then, the solo parts. Me first. I told Sadie to stay put and headed out. The judge grabbed me. “Not yet!” Sadie turned away, making a big point of being more interested in the other teams than in the judge giving me instructions. I headed out, did my bit without tripping. “Sadie!” She ignored me. “Sadie! Come on!” She jumped, and scurried over to me. I hugged her. Her turn now!

She sauntered out, sat down. She wasn’t comfortable, shifted and rearranged herself a bit. The judge leaned over. “That disqualifies her, you know. Do you want to go on?” I said yes, trying to hide the whole conversation from Sadie. But she knew. She had one more, her biggest number. I went out with her, the whole audience was watching. I patted her shoulder, tried to psychicly give her some encouragement. By the time I walked off, it was over. She couldn’t take it. I turned around and she was running for the exit. She went straight to her chair, acting natural and trying to pretend she was supposed to be there.

The judge was sympathetic. “I heard she’s 12. That’s pretty old to be starting out. And you disqualified before she did. On the recall, it’s ‘Dog, come!’ Any more is a double command. But still, you did really well for your first obedience trial. Especially with a dachshund.”

Hi Punkyova

From personal experience, I think the handler gets more nervous than the dog does. I had better experience going for the CGC (canine good citizenship) cert than doing obedience trials. I think it was a more low-pressure affair.

Don’t let the first try discourage you. You’ll learn from it, and maybe Sadie will too. Lastly, you’ll find folks at the competitions that have better attitudes than the snobby woman you dealt with.

I actually took my dog Iiko to obedience for about 3-4 years with a club. The folks who were serious regulars at the club were very good folks and helped me a lot in getting Iiko trained. I recommend taking classes on a regular basis if you have the time.

Nice story, and although I know nothing of canine competition, if it’s something you want to pursue, then, as the French say, “Go for eet.”

Right up until the very end I had no idea what you were talking about :slight_smile:

My puppy Angus told me that he wants to be in dog shows. So now I have to find out all about the stuff I need to do. I think he just wants to show off.


Thanks, everyone. We did have fun. Sadie is unusual because of her age, and this made her something of a minor celebrity. The judge actually gave her one of the prizes that no one won (a small can of dog food, which she inhaled) for being such a trooper. We do take classes, but, as I said, I am bad about working with her every day. (The one lady was the only snob. Everyone else was wonderful.)

SexyWriter - I cannot encourage clicker training strongly enough. The clicker itself isn’t magic, but the technique, operant conditioning, is phenomenal. It is based on BF Skinner’s work. Do a web search for Bob and Marion Bailey. Marion was one of Skinner’s grad students. She and Bob (and her late husband Keller Breland) have trained just about every animal that has a brain stem. It works, and, best of all, it doesn’t have the potential fallout that punishment based training does. Angus the Magnificent will keep his happy personality, and you will grow closer and more attached to each other. Consider subscribing to the clicktrain list as well.

Sadie loves to train, and she loves to show off even more. Finally, she is beginning to get the attention (and treats) that she deserves!

Thanks for the advice! I’ve heard of clicker training, but haven’t looked into it. I will check it out today. A trainer came to my house for a one-on-one this week and she showed me some great ways to handle my dog that have made things easier and less frustrating for me. That was really exciting. I’ll ask her about this method and see if there’s anyone else around who knows about it.

He and I are having so much fun!


I saw your post on how wonderful Angus is. Ask about clicker training, but remember, the clicker isn’t all there is to it. If your trainer uses positive reinforcement, she is using the same scientific research, just without the clicker. This is just as good for relationship building/avoiding bad side effects. Some trainers think the clicker is a gimmick and avoid it for that reason. But have a good time with your lovely little boy! He won’t be so little for long! You’ve got about three years of high energy bouncy bouncy before he calms down enough to notice the rest of the world!

My parents used clicker training on me. It worked, I was a well behaved boy, but someday I feel like I’ll be in a Poe short story and shout I DID IT I KILLED THEM ALL OH GOD IT’S THE CLICKING OF THE HIDEOUS CLICKER!

Or maybe not.

Speramus non!