Obedience: The Unspoken Bond Between Man and Dog
Whew, finally got a chance to start this post! So, first off, before I jump into the Obedience end of things- I’ve got a little story to share that made me laugh.
For those of you who’ve read any of my previous posts mentioning this, you know I’ve got a research paper I’m working on. My topic isn’t the most cheerful sounding one ever, I’ll admit that much- but it should be interesting regardless. It’s for one of my Anthropology classes, namely my Inca, Aztec, and Maya course.
So, I went to the circulations desk to pick up the books that I had placed on reserve (it’s easier this way, I’m entirely unfortunate when it comes to finding books that I need in the library- it’s huge and confusing!). I give the guy my card, he scans it and goes off to gather my books. When he comes back and starts scanning some of them, he gives me this nervous smile and a shaky laugh.
“Boy, you’ve got a lot of books on sacrifice and death here…” he commented and I kind of laughed. “You’re not planning anything, are you?”
I just looked at him for a minute and had to work on not busting up laughing. Do I look like the type to be into that sort of thing? The correct answer should be no. No, I do not.
I shook my head and explain it’s for a paper. What’s my topic? Coastal Peruvian burial rituals. Like I said, not really cheery, but it will be interesting!
So, score one for me. I creeped out one of our library assistants this morning.
Alrighty, story time over- onto the main topic: Obedience!
Now, I know not everyone knows what Obedience is, at least as defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC), so I’ll give you a quick run down of it.
Obedience is the demonstration of the “usefulness of a dog as a companion to humankind,” and is a sport in which there are “rules, regulations, judges, conditioning, training, placements, and prizes” (AKC link).
In this sport, both dog and handler work together as a team through a series of exercises and are judged on how closely they match the judge’s mental picture of a perfect performance. This makes both the dog and handler’s accuracy and skill paramount.
Within AKC, there are three different levels; Novice, Open, and Utility.
Novice is the simplest of the three and the point at which all handlers and their companions generally begin. In this class, exercises are done to show that the dog has a solid grasp on Companion Dog skills. The exercises include both an on and off leash heel, a recall, a stand for examination, and a sit and down stay with the group of competitors.
Once the dog has been awarded enough legs towards their title- three qualifying scores under at least two different judges, they are given the title Companion Dog, or CD.
Next up is the Open class. Here, things start to get more challenging. The exercises are similar to the Novice class ones, but are done largely off leash, with retrieve and jump exercises added in.
For earning three qualifying scores from two different judges, the dog has now earned it Companion Dog Excellent, or CDX title.
The final class that remains is Utility. This class is divided into two separate parts, Utility and Utility B.
In the main Utility class, all exercises are done off leash, and in addition to the main exercises, several additional ones have been added in. The dog will perform a scent discrimination, directed retrieve, jumping, and silent signal exercises. This is by far one of the most challenging classes.
Earning three qualifying legs in this class will award your dog with the title Utility Dog, or UD.
Should you so choose, you can pursue the next title of Utility Dog Excellent, or UDX, by earning a qualifying score in both Open B and Utility B over ten separate trials.
There is one final honor that your pooch can achieve- Obedience Trial Championship, or OTCH.
This is often, and rightly so, referred to as a PhD for dogs.
In order to garner this title, the dog and handler team must be awarded 100 points. These points must be earned from placing in ranks 1-4 in either the Open B or Utility B class. There must also be a minimum of three first place awards from the Open B and Utility B classes.
That, my friends, is a lot of work.
Each and every dog who has been awarded this title has worked its tail off with its handler in order to achieve this goal and I tip my hat to these teams.
I’ll have to wrap this post up though and return to it later tonight or tomorrow if there’s enough interest. If you want to know more, leave a comment down below! Or, you can click here, and it’ll take you to the AKC website and you can browse around to your hearts content.
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