Stella has spent a lot of time this year working with Raven in rally class. Memorial day weekend she will go to her first competition with Raven. A few of you have asked, “Why is Raven doing rally, and not Major?” The answer is simple, and it’s complicated. 🙂 Major and Raven both go with us to Rally training, and both do well on the course. Stella and I each work with both dogs. But here’s the thing. Major has been working for me (he is Stella’s service dog, but he alerts to my wife and I) for almost 3 years. So when her BS is off, he is looking for me, searching for me, and becomes unresponsive to Stella because he is trying to get to me to tell me to fix her.
I am perfectly okay with that. That was by design, based on her age and ability to take care of herself at the time. It frustrates Stella, because she loves Major, and I’m sure she would love to do this with him, but I am pretty sure that with nervousness, and depending on how close to breakfast or lunch she competes, her blood sugar will most likely be high. That would be disaster for her and Major. Major is our public access alerting dog. The more chaotic the situation, the more tightly he focuses on her. And at a dog show/competition, with all that is going on there, he will be focused solely on making sure she is okay, and if she isn’t, letting me know about it. He will be there with us, sitting right by my side.
Raven on the other hand, came to us later. She had also worked with more people, been with more trainers, and been around more diabetics than Major had. She is more comfortable alerting to Stella, and not so focused on getting to me. But public access chaotic situations aren’t her strong suit. She is VERY obedient when out in public and on leash, but she doesn’t always alert consistently in those scenarios, and if she does, it is often to an extreme high or low, not just a slightly out of range BS like Major would alert to. At the competition, I think we will find that Raven is much more manageable for Stella, and betters her chances at success in the ring.
Raven is also better at the obedience aspects of the sport. She responds better to voice commands. She has been around trainers longer than Major was. And Stella is perfectly capable of working Raven off leash if she focuses, and her BS isn’t too far out of range. The 2 of them have been working hard. Raven and Stella can relax a little more, and have a little more fun than Stella and Major at this point. Major requires intense focus, Raven is a little more easy going at rally.
Of course, I am still working Major all the time, and I’m sure that i could most likely handle him successfully in the ring, but Stella would need to stay home to prevent him from alerting. The pitfalls of having a great service dog 🙂 And this is all about giving Stella the opportunity to succeed. So Major and I will be there as support. Their pit crew, their cheerleaders.