Introduction to the 3rd Edition


The American Kennel Club Board of Directors has approved Rally as a regular event with AKC titles to become effective January 1, 2005.  AKC’s Rally Regulations are now available, published with the Obedience Regulations in a single handbook. The primary reason for the publication of this 3rd Edition of Rally-0, An Introduction to the Style
of Rally Obedience is to include discussions of those AKC Rally Regulations, as well as to incorporate some minor changes in my suggested format for Rally that I believe will improve certain aspects of what I proposed in the 2nd Edition.

Although the basic concept of AKC’s version of Rally and what I have proposed in the original series of articles that began in the February 1999 issue of Front and Finish, there are some major differences. Most important are the selection and arrangement of the exercises for the three classes, and the method of judging that AKC has adopted.  The selection and number of exercises in AKC’s Novice Class is very much the same as I have proposed for my Level 1 Class, including the performance of the class with the dog on lead. However, my Level 2 Class and AKC’s Advanced Class are performed with the dog off lead.
Because I believe the change from working on lead to working off lead requires a considerable advancement in skills, I have included only six (6) new exercises to be added to the list for use in the Level 2 Class.  Since both Level 2 and Level 3 Classes are performed with the dog off lead, I added a larger number of exercises, 15, for use in the Level 3 Class to provide a suitable increase in the level of difficulty. AKC has essentially done the exact opposite. In addition to advancing from on lead to off lead, AKC added 14 new exercises for use in the Advanced Class (second level). To the Excellent Class (third level), which is also performed with the dog off lead, they have added only five (5) new exercises. This creates a comparatively large advancement in required skills between the Novice Class and the Advanced Class, and a very small advancement between the Advanced Class and the Excellent Class.  In addition to the format of classes that I have proposed, I have suggested that at least two (2) of the six (6) new exercises for the Level 2 Class to be included in all course designs for that class, and that at least four (4) of the new exercises for the Level 3 Class be included in all course designs for that class. AKC has included no such requirements in their Regulations. This means that it would be entirely
possible that course designs created for the Excellent Class could, in fact, also be used in the Advanced Class.  The second major difference between what I have proposed and what AKC has adopted, involves the method AKC has adopted to judge the Rally performance. Their method revives the original attempt to judge dog obedience proposed by Blanch Saunders and Helen Whitehouse Walker and adopted by the AKC in 1938. Let me quote from Miss Saunders’ book, The Story of Dog Obedience, Howell Book House, Inc. 1975.

“The next amendment to the rules by the American Kennel Club was to come on June 14, 1938, when sample judging charts showing the number of points to be awarded for each part of an exercise (such as Forward Halt, 2 points; Left Turn, 2 points; About Turn, 4 points; etc.) were added..... But less than a year later, on May 9, 1939, a new booklet was issued, and the sample judging charts - whose point awards for each part of the exercise had been found to be too complicated - were dropped.”

What this is saying is that if an about turn is not performed properly, the 4 points will not be awarded. Not awarding the 4 points in a scoring system based on the accumulation of points received for the successful performance of the exercise, may result in the same final
score as deducting 4 points in the present system in which each team starts with 200 points. In the Saunders’ system, the amount of each award was predetermined. Either all 4 points were awarded or no points were awarded regardless of the severity of the error.  AKC’s list of deductions (AKC Rally Regulations, Chapter 2, Section 9 - Qualifying Scores and General Scoring) functions in essentially the same way.  One of the deductions in AKC’s “list of deductions”, “incorrectly performed station”, is used, as I understand, for scoring any error that is not otherwise specifically included in the list. Remember that this
deduction is set at 10-points regardless of the severity of the error. However, handlers have the option of repeating the exercise, and if performed properly, the 10-point deduction is reduced to 3 points. If the team does not perform the repeat attempt correctly, the 10-point deduction is recorded in the final score. Whether or not the 3-point
deduction is also scored, I am not sure. Although I could not find an explanation for this situation, the way in which the AKC Regulations are written, I would guess that it would be.  Personally, I fail to see the logic of providing the handler the opportunity of repeating an exercise in order to reduce a “points-off” deduction. In many cases, repeating the exercise (station) would result in attempting to reduce the number of points deducted that should not have been scored in the first place. Also, in most cases, a successful repeat of a station would still keep the team out of the ribbons and rarely would it have any effect on the final score in terms of being qualifying or non-qualifying.  There is still another inherent problem in this method. Suppose a handler thinks an error was scored as an “incorrectly performed station” and therefore repeats the exercise. However, the exercise was actually scored as something else, for example, a 2-point deduction for “lack of teamwork”. In this case, the team would receive the original 2-point deduction in addition to a 3-point deduction for the “repeat of a station”. The team receives a 5-point deduction for a 2-point error.  AKC states that performances scored as non-qualifying cannot be repeated. I believe that in the spirit of Rally, the opportunity to repeat failed (NQ) exercises should be allowed for those exercises in which it is practical to do so. This would provide the opportunity to
change the final score of a performance from non-qualifying to qualifying. This, obviously, is far more important to the handler than the possibility of changing a 10-point deduction to a 3-point deduction.

I have summarized many of the more important errors that I believe AKC has made in the development of their program. But, I have not done this without providing alternatives. I am sure that there are many places where improvements could be made in what I have suggested, but I believe you will find I have presented a sound, sensible approach in pursuit of the original objectives of my proposed Rally Obedience program.  Some of you may be wondering why the pronounced differences have occurred between the American Kennel Club’s Rally program and what I have proposed. It could be the AKC wanted to develop a program they believed to be better than what I have suggested. Or, perhaps they simply wanted to create something different. Whatever the reason, they apparently believed that honoring their commitment to involve me in the development of their program would have been counter productive to their objectives. As a result, AKC chose not to invite me to attend their Rally Advisory Committee Meeting in which the basis for their program
was established. That and their subsequent refusal to correspond with me, unfortunately, led to the present situation. I say unfortunately because had we worked together, I believe we could have created a superior program that would have been agreeable to everyone
and so much more favorable to you as Rally enthusiasts.