Rally is a wonderful sport for both dog and handler. The handler may give multiple commands, all the body language deemed necessary, and is encouraged to talk to the dog throughout the entire course. The American Kennel Club was looking for a sport to act as a bridge between the Canine Good Citizen program and Novice class or Agility, and a way to encourage green handlers and trainers into the sport of AKC Obedience. In my opinion, Rally has answered the need.
Rally consists of heeling (not as strict as obedience heeling) through a course, following the numbers on individual stations. Each station has a sign such as, 270 deg. left, or right turn, or halt, down the dog, walk around the dog, and so on. The handler and dog team follow the course, carrying out each activity at each station, until the end or finish. The best part of doing rally is the constant talking, extra signals, etc. allowed, encouraging your dog to perform well and making the ring a fun place to be!
Rally can only be offered by an AKC club that also offers regular obedience classes at the same show. I used Rally Novice (on lead) to sharpen attention on my current Novice Aussie before showing in AKC Novice obedience. I have had many handlers bring out their Utility dogs in Rally Novice (on lead) and Advanced (off-lead) to build their ring confidence. Rally Excellent (off lead) has a few more difficult exercises to perform. I have seen many retired obedience dogs (and some retired obedience handlers) doing Rally because it is fun for the team. I have heard only praise for this new sport!
Here is a little bit about Rally for those who are not yet familiar with the sport. There are no one-half point deductions. There is no accumulation of one-half point deductions to make a full point deduction. In Rally, if it is not a full point deduction, it is not scored at all. Total points to star are 100. When it comes to titling, 70 and above will be a qualifying score for a leg. It will take three legs for a title. Titles that can be earned are the RN, RA, and RX. Titles will follow a dog’s AKC registered name. All the classes will be divided into A and B.
AKC Rally rules can be found on the AKC web site at www.akc.org. There is also a Rally web site called rallyobedience.com which does include a direct link to the AKC site. It also has all the most current “signs,” one per page for printing. Also included are explanations of the signs. Once you’ve caught the Rally bug, please sign onto our AKC Rally discussion list at yahoogroups.com. Some list members were on the original Rally organizational committee, many are judges, and many are pet people just getting started with Rally. The list has over 800 members nationwide.
I have taught Rally classes, presented Rally informational seminars, exhibited in Rally, and judged Rally for the past two years. All of my judging and exhibiting has been through AKC all-breed shows with obedience trials, and obedience trials and matches. I have worked with AKC Representative Roger Ayers as both a student and instructor when judging Rally. I have judged 264 entries in Rally Novice, 45 entries in Rally Advanced, and 2 in Rally Excellent, in Colorado, South Dakota, and New Mexico. I already have 5 new judging assignments at AKC shows for 2003. All my judging is as a Non Regular Obedience class judge with AKC.
Many of our readers may already know that to become a Non Regular Obedience class judge in AKC, you must have put a Utility title on one dog. I mention this because when Rally becomes a titling event through AKC, the prerequisites to become a judge are as follows: to have titled an Obedience dog through CDX (in AKC), to attend one AKC Rally seminar put on by an AKC rep, to take an open-book test and an oral test (possibly over the phone). All current AKC obedience judges who would like to judge Rally will still be required to attend one of the AKC Rally seminars to fulfill their requirements.
Other clubs currently offering Rally as a titling event are the APDA and the WWKC. At this writing, AKC is offering Rally only as a Non Regular class. Please contact me with any questions about Rally obedience. It is my pleasure to help with this ground-breaking effort on the part of AKC!