The American Kennel Club Rally competition encompasses many spheres of the dog-training universe.
The rally is a relatively new competition that combines obedience and agility. For two local dog trainers, it is also the most fun.
Sandy Fedoroff, of Cape May, and Wendy Kinnear, of Ocean City, are both participating in the first AKC Rally national championship March 28 in Harrisburg, Pa. They train with the Cape May County Dog Obedience Training Club, which holds classes in West Cape May.
"The rally is relatively new. The AKC describes it as a combination between obedience and agility," said Carolyn MacMullen, publicity coordinator for the Cape May County Dog Obedience Training Club. "In rally, you talk to your dog the entire time. The only thing you can't do is touch your dog to guide them. It's meant to be fun."
Both Fedoroff and Kinnear have experience training dogs, with their dogs holding "advanced excellent" titles, considered "the highest in the rally category," MacMullen said.
For a dog to hold an advanced excellent title, they must "have earned qualifying scores in both Advanced B and Excellent B classes at 10 separate licensed or member rally trials," the AKC website states. "A numeric designation will indicate the number of times the dog has met the RAE requirements like RAE2 or RAE3."
"My dog has her RAE6 and is halfway through to her RAE7," Fedoroff said.
Her Boston terrier, Sapphire, competes only in rally competitions.
"At the level that we are, all the dogs are off leash. You talk to your dog, and it's kind of like an obstacle course," Fedoroff said.
Kinnear started showing her toy poodle, Annie, three years ago. Originally, Annie competed only in obedience events.
"I wanted her to be a therapy dog originally, but from there it just led to competition," Kinnear said. "I was a PE teacher, so I did coaching when I was working. Once I started training Annie, it's like I had my own little athlete back again."
The competition Friday marks the first ever AKC national championship in rally.
"There are a total of 300 people in this rally competition in the categories novice, advanced, excellent and advanced excellent," MacMullen said.
The Cape May County Dog Obedience Training Club has never sent a member to a national competition, MacMullen said.
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