Earth dogs in training - or how to plant snow peas (or not)

Earth dogs in training – or how to plant snow peas (or not)

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My rally dog experiences

I started out in rally with a black and tan miniature smooth girl and we learned together how to train for obedience. You need to have your dog trained for basic obedience before starting rally. I knew I didn’t like the style the trainer was using – too harsh for a dachshund. Darcy (Duchwood’s Dark Beauty MS RA) was very forgiving and we worked our way through rally novice and then rally advanced. This was when the jumps were four inches for a small dachshund that had to strain to look up that far. Darcy sailed over the jumps and loved every minute of rally. I tried to train her for excellent in rally and never got very far because she wouldn’t do a stand. That’s why she never finished in conformation either. She wouldn’t stand on the table. She’s pointed but never got her majors. She loved rally but we never tried for the rally excellent title. Darcy did demonstrate potential for agility though during one of her advanced tests. She used the fence legs forming the arena boundary for weave poles. We don’t have a picture of this because my husband who had the camera had collapsed laughing.

I tried rally with a borzoi and my husband ended up getting her rally novice title. Ari the borzoi and I weren’t getting along.

I trained a miniature  cream longhaired male named Magic and only needed one more leg to get his rally novice title. I entered him at the Cascade Dachshund Club show in Washington and also volunteered to be a steward for rally for the show. Most judges in rally will let you be a table steward as long as it is not for the class you entered – not this judge. If I was a table steward for any of her classes, I could not show a dog under her. My husband, who had never worked with Magic, had to show him for the last rally novice leg. Wonders of wonders, Rae and Magic (Devoncream Magic Master RN) got the last rally novice leg. Rae claims it was due to his expert handling. I claim credit for my training.

I like to see that the dogs who are the conformation champions have performance titles as well. One of my standard longhairs, American/International Champion Willowcroft Teckelwood Flaire SL R.O.M. RN CGC ME Canadian JE, achieved her rally novice title with her new owner, Sue Ellestad. Flaire’s daughter, Champion Willowcroft Sorpressa SL RA finished her rally novice and rally advanced titles with my husband, Rae Hodges. Rae and Sorpressa are pictured during a rally seminar in Missoula in 2008.

Rae also showed Willowcroft Ronald Reagan SL RN and Templedox Lump of Coal ML RN to their rally novice titles.  American/Canadian/International Champion Criscross NW to Teckelwood MS RN was a challenge. Cris had been so well trained by his handler, Cathy Sorenson, he posed in a perfect stack when I stopped rather than doing the automatic sit needed for rally. It took Cathy all afternoon one day in Helena, Montana  to get him so he would sit when I stopped. I usually take advantage of our long, cold, dark winters to do rally training inside. I’m currently working with Ch Teckelwood Hunter MS and International Champion Devoncream English Rose and I hope to start working with some puppies this winter.

I do feel that everyone who shows needs to volunteer at shows. I like working as a rally steward. The first time I worked as the table steward was a real experience. Fortunately the judge was very understanding. However, when we were done she said to me “You did check my scores, didn’t you.” I must have had a really blank look on my face because she smiled and said “The correct answer is yes.” After that, I always checked scores. I enjoyed working as a steward at the DCA trials in Dallas. It did get a little busy when I had to take a break and dash downstairs from the 5th floor to the 2nd floor to see if my rally novice dog was through showing with Barbara Myers (her other owner) in Diva’s  first time being shown as a special. We moved Diva to the end of her class and she got her third rally novice leg so she could be in the DCA parade of performance dogs. Diva is pictured practicing at a seminar in Missoula, Montana.

Diva (American/Canadian Champion Cedar Hills Luv This Chip ML RN) and I did a lot a practicing for the rally advanced title. This requires that the dog be off lead as opposed to the rally novice where the dog is shown on lead. We entered a show at Lewiston, Idaho. We were ready. This show was held outside where it had snowed the night before. The scent hung close to the ground. Unfortunately, so did my dog. We entered the ring with high hopes. We were ready. Diva worked well with me off lead for the first few stations. Then we got to the station that had toys on an offset figure eight. Diva had seen the offset figure eight station the day before but it had food in it instead of toys. She paid attention to me the first time we passed the toys. However,  the course went back past the toys. She looked at them and then she looked at me. She turned towards the toys. I told her “leave them”. She stayed with me. Unfortunately the course then came back past the toys. It was too much. Diva ran and grabbed one of the toys. I yelled at her (something you aren’t supposed to do in rally). “Diva, leave it.” She dropped the toy and came back to me. I knew we were in trouble. We continued on the course but finally had to come back past the toys once again. This was one too many times. Diva ran and grabbed the toy and sprinted for the exit with the toy in her mouth. The toy in question was an octopus with long legs. It was bigger than my miniature dachshund. She looked liked an octopus with legs running across the ring. The judge looked at me and excused us. The crowd was in hysterics. Needless to say we didn’t get our rally advanced title at that show.

I haven’t shown in rally since then but I still steward for shows. I just don’t take Diva.

Name Am/Int Ch Willowcroft Teckelwood Flaire SL ME RN CGC Can JE R.O.M.
Nickname Flair
Bred to
1 Am Ch Windsong Caution to the Wind SE
Puppies Willowcroft Starfighter, M
Willowcroft He’s a Riot, M
2 Willowcroft Moonshine ML
Sire Ch Teckelwoods Night Shadow ML
Dam Rocksolids Jaguar ML
Puppies Willowcroft Sorpressa, F
3 Ch Koira’s July Fourth Rocket
Puppies Willowcroft Hillary, F
Notes for Ch Willowcroft Teckelwood Flaire SL ME R.O.M.
Ch Willowcroft Teckelwood Flaire SL ME R.O.M. is now living in Moses Lake, WA with Sue Ellestad.

View Pedigree:



Sorpressa is now living in Moses Lake, WA with Sue Ellestad.

Ronnie is now living in a pet home in Wyoming.

Coal is the black and tan dog in the middle of the picture. He is now living in Washington with his new owner, Jan Herleikson




Qualifying score under judge Karen Anderson, handled by Rae Hodges.

Name Duchwood’s Dark Beauty MS RA
Nickname Darcy
Category Performance Dogs
Category Rising Stars





Darcy has been retired to a pet home in Montana.

View Pedigree:


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