Christmas Rally 21 December 2013

On the 21st December my local club held its annual Christmas rally competition. It has become a very popular tradition, and it is a day that many look forward to each year. A day of fun both on and off the rally course, it is a good way to end the competitive season.

One of the fun things about this day is people's creative costumes as it has become a tradition that you dress up on the day. More and more people are doing so and the best costumes are named at the end of the day! So it is always exciting to meet up and see the many fun and beautiful costumes; this year we saw Rudolf with his Santa dog, an angel, a couple of Christmas trees, a few Christmas gifts, more Rudolfs, a superhero Santa Claus and several normal Santas! It’s so nice that so many want to spend the time to find a costume. In this picture, you can see Rudolf who won best costume of the day.

On the day there are competitions in all rally classes: beginner, intermediate, expert, champion and open class. Open class is where everyone competes against everyone. Specially for the Christmas rally the open class involved special exercises from the judge's hand. This year, it was a sign where the dog sat still while the owner went and decorated a Christmas tree. Another sign was where the dog sat still while the owner lay down on the ground. In addition, there was also room for one of the new signs from the next year; the new slalom with a full tour round one of the cones!

On the video you can see an edited example of the open course, with all the dogs from my local club mixed together.

I competed with two dogs this day, Miki was entered in the open class and the champion class, and my loan dog Gyrsa was entered in the open class. Miki is a small Havanese and Gyrsa is a slightly bigger Havanese, so they were quite different to walk in the open class. First, here is a small video with Miki and I on the open course. Miki did really well despite the fact that he suddenly walked beside an owner in a large cardboard box, not something we had trained on. But Miki did super good anyway, with only problems at the sign where the owner had to lay down, this was just too strange for Miki that he found it very hard to sit still while I got down. But I'm very happy with our performance on the course and especially with Miki!

And here you can see a video of me with my loan dog Gyrsa. Gyrsa is slightly larger than Miki, as she is the bigger breed Havanese. Gyrsa went really well on the course, with Gyrsa I had dressed up as superhero Santa's contrast: a gangster Santa. Gyrsa did so well that she broke the point frame in open class so we ended up with around 300 points out of a possible 100, amazing for a debutant dog!

On the champion course I lent Miki out to Per. They have trained together before, and they have also competed together before. They did a super job on the champion course and actually ended up with a nice fourth place in the champion class. Well done Miki and Per!

So all day long there was one great performance after another in the rally rings. Though I did not have time to see many of them as I was not only competing, but helping out with fun activities that would take place after the competitions had finished.But all the performances I got to see looked so good!  All the local dogs did well some with high scores which were high enough to place on the podiums. Some dogs chose to throw a party on the course, but as long as you are both (dog and owner) having fun together, that doesn't matter.

Anyway back to the extra fun stuff! I had planned with Katherine V (the organizer of the Christmas rally) that I could arrange a few things during the break between the end of the competition and the awards ceremony. One of the things I had planned, was a game for the dogs. Katherine had encouraged people taking part in the Christmas rally, to bring a gift on the day. So when the rally courses had been cleared of signs and cones etc. then one of the courses was filled with lots of gifts, it was a big gift field!  All the dogs whose owner had brought a gift was now allowed, in turn, to search the area and pick up a gift. I think that was a welcome new exercise, and believe in the long run this can become a part of the Christmas rally tradition!

The other entertainment I had planned was a game of noughts and crosses but in dog form. In the morning we had encouraged people to sign up for this activity in teams of four people per team . And when we were ready to get started six teams had entered. They then got to compete against each other in make it or break it matches until the winning team was found in the final.

Noughts and crosses in dog version is the same as a normal game of noughts and crosses, except that the pieces are swapped for a dog and handler. And the two teams are divided in sit and lay down instead of circles and crosses. The fourth participant on each team was then the strategist who controlled his dog/owner pieces around the fields until one of the teams had three in a row ie either three dogs sitting in a row or three dogs lying in a row. It's a fun little game, and the teams played enthusiastically!

After our entertainment there was a prize giving ceremony were we got to applaud all participants and wished each other Happy Christmas. It was as usual a super nice day, and I am already looking forward to the next one in December 2014!

Mette from Denmark

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