Friday, June 3, 2011


If you live and show in an area where all dog shows are held indoors, what follows may be of little interest to you.

Responding to my comments about the training advantages PetSmart offers, makrasouth spoke of liking to train in PetSmart in the winter or on rainy days.

Winter?  What's winter?  Here in the Sonoran Desert winter is one day in January.

We do get occasional rain, though.  And it can come in torrents.  Because most of our obedience trials are outdoors, there's always a chance a dog show will be held in a downpour.  Remember, dog shows get cancelled only if there's close-in lightning or if the grounds are flooded -- and I do mean flooded, not just a lot of puddles.

So I have strong feelings about preparing my dogs to be competitive in the rain.  Not everyone around here shares my enthusiasm for training in the rain. In fact, they think I've gone around the bend.  However, I've observed that often it's not Fluffy who's averse to it.  It's the people; they don't want to get wet.  Funny thing: I've learned that all that gets wet will also get dry.

Around here (Phoenix) the problem has less to do with getting wet than it does with finding rain to train in. So if Bravo! isn't scheduled to train tomorrow but when we wake up it's raining, out we go.  And it has paid dividends.

Honeybear picked up a substantial number of OTCH points on days when other dogs couldn't or wouldn't perform in the rain.

At the time, Bonnie Lee had a marvelous papillon named Rosie.  Honeybear and Rosie were neck-and-neck as they headed toward the OTCH finish line. We'd run into each other at shows all over the West.  Once we squared off in Las Vegas.  It had rained all night and the ground was soggy.  Truth-be-told, Rosie out-performed Honeybear in the Utility B ring that morning . . . in every way but one.  Rosie said, "Oh, I'm not going to sit in that."  She didn't.  HB won Utility B and picked up nine OTCH points.

The coupe de grace came on the morning of October 17, 1999 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  It was 39 degrees at ring time.  The wind was howling and the driving rain was coming at us sideways.  Simply the worst day we had ever shown, by far.  My little golden "mudder" never flinched as she finished her Obedience Trial Championship.

So yes, we train in the rain.  We seek rain to train in.  When I hear people say, "Oh, Fluffy won't work in the rain," I think of the long-running smash musical South Pacific and the song from that show "You've Got to be Carefully Taught."


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