Former Shelter Dog Overcomes Fears to Win Top Rally Title at Age 12

Former Shelter Dog Overcomes Fears to Win Top Rally Title at Age 12

Jamie Ohman of Camillus, NY, tells us how her fearful rescue dog gained confidence and became the multi-titled Dancing Cavy’s Pain in the Butte RAE BN CA.

Risa is my first dog.  I adopted her from a shelter when she was 2.5 years old, and I had dreams of competing with her in dog sports.  Unfortunately, she was afraid of many things: dogs, people, and new places.  It wasn't going to be easy!

When we first started training together, our trainer was working towards the top title in AKC Rally - the Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE) title -  with her dog.  I remember watching the two of them earn their RAE and thinking we'd never get a title like that.  The obstacles were too great.

Several years later, AKC started the AKC Canine Partners program, and mixed-breeds started competing in AKC sports.  Risa was now 6 years old, and we'd just recently competed in our first canine freestyle competition. 

I decided we'd give rally a shot.  Despite being fearful, she did brilliantly in the ring.  As we moved into the higher levels, we struggled a bit with focus.  We continued to work hard, and she kept improving.  By the time we were working towards our final RAE legs, we were really clicking together in the ring.  Spectators often commented on what a happy worker Risa was, and that made me smile more than the qualifying scores and ribbons.

We celebrated her 12th birthday the weekend she earned her RAE at the Syracuse Obedience Training Club's trial on Jan. 9, 2016 -- exactly five years to the day after she earned her Rally Novice title at the same location.  What I once thought was impossible had been achieved.  I never gave up on her, and she's always given me her all. 

Risa has also earned the Beginner Novice (BN) title in AKC Obedience and the AKC Coursing Ability (CA) title in addition to freestyle titles. I never would have expected such grand accomplishments when I adopted her almost 10 years ago.  She is an incredible dog and a brilliant teacher.