When I was reading another blog just the other day, my thoughts were brought back to rally obedience. I had taken a class when I lived in SC and had thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun for both Glacier and I and I think it would be something to get into again one day. The operative words are "one day." A few things need to change in order for me to do rally obedience training and perhaps some fun competitions.
First, I need a dog to do it with. Glacier is such a sensitive guy and needs structure to be able to work at his best. Asking him to also do rally obedience is confusing for him and is detrimental to our working relationship. We also cannot have pet dogs where we are living right now and that is why we have invested so much into our Sugar Gliders. Even if we could have dogs I'm not sure I'd want another one in this flat. I love this flat. Its location is fabulous and it's actually quite cute and has a lot of character, but there is no way we'd be able to fit a third big dog in here comfortably. I try to pretend that we could, but really, it would make things squishy. Sure we could fit a small dog like a miniature Dachshund, but they are known for their big barks and our neighbors would not be impressed. This building is old and not very well sound proofed. So, I'd have to get a dog.
Second, we'd have to be living somewhere else or perhaps I'd have to have a venue to practice in. This problem is a bit less of a concern since there are plenty of parks around us where I could practice, but the weather is unpredictable in Scotland and I'd need an alternative indoor practice area. If we had a bigger flat, or house, with a "garden" (AKA yard), that would be ideal.
If I am being realistic, I probably wouldn't have the time to dedicate to rally obedience properly in the upcoming year anyway. I've applied to the University of Edinburgh for Performance Psychology and if I get in, rally obedience on top of studying, classes and training for a triathlon might be a bit much.
With all of this in mind, I had a bit of a brain storm last night as I took the boys out for the last "park" of the night. Why not train Roscoe? Not right now, but Mr. K and I are pretty certain he will retire himself young, sort of the way Jetta did, and if that is the case he will still be young enough to enjoy something like that. He loves to please and even though he may choose not to guide anymore, I think he would be happy to have a fun job. I asked Mr. K last night when I got back inside and he agreed. That made me pretty excited.
By the time Roscoe retires, I'll be done with school and hopefully working. I'll probably still be training for the triathlon, but I'll be a more established athlete and it won't take up as much of my time as it does now. Besides training, I spend a lot of time researching the sport, social networking and many other things. Being blind means that I have to learn about the sport by either doing it or reading about it. So, I've been doing both. With this learning process out of the way, it would open things up for me to do something as a hobby that would be relaxing and fun. Not that I'm saying that I want Roscoe to retire early just so I can train him in rally obedience. In fact, if he works until he's old enough to be satisfied just being a couch potato, that will make me very happy. However, if he retires as young as Jetta did-seven and a half-we better find something else for him to do.
Life has a funny way of working itself out though and I'll read back on this post one day and probably have to remove my foot from my mouth. Roscoe will decide to work until he's an old man and I'll have to actually find a dog to work with. Either that or Glacier will retire early and he'll go back to rally obedience. That said, the guide dog trainer made a comment to Mr. K when he watched them work that he thinks that Roscoe will retire himself young.
Roscoe loves to work; that is, after you get the harness on. He reminds me of Jetta in that sense. He backs away from the body part going over his head, just like Jetta. He takes off like a shot once you lift the handle off his back and does a fabulous job, but when he's mad about where you're asking him to work, you know about it; again, just like Jetta. He also has become more "sniffy" as he's gotten older; just that little bit more distracted. Jetta didn't necessarily use her nose more, but she definitely became more and more distracted as she lost interest in guiding. The funny thing is, even though it was difficult retiring Jetta at such a young age, I felt so much better knowing she decided for herself. I almost wish this would be the case for Mr. K because that would save him the anguish of making the decision to hang up Roscoe's harness. I saw so many other guide dog owners retire their dogs, dogs who had worked for eight or nine years, and they eventually had to choose for the dog. I was lucky that I was saved that difficult decision, but this time around, I think I won't be spared. Glacier would probably work until his paws didn't work anymore. Of course I wouldn't let it get to that. He's such a good boy and deserves a great retirement. For Glacier, at least, I think retirement is a good few years off, but we'll see what Roscoe decides in two or three years. That's another reason to get that fenced in garden.
If Roscoe retires early, we'll have one working dog and one not. Mr. K hasn't decided whether he is getting another dog after Roscoe and I think he may make that choice long after Roscoe retires. When Glacier retires, I most certainly will be getting another dog. I feel safer traveling with a dog for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because I can't see at all and because I am basically deaf in my right ear. The dog acts as a safety net for me. That means, we'll have three big dogs at once, unless Mr. K gets a dog and that will make four. I really don't want to re-home Glacier and Roscoe if I can help it. The two of them will have to stay together; especially since they have been together from day one. Separating them would be very cruel. Also, if they retire at different times, what do we do? Hold on to the one who retired for a few more years until the other is ready to stop working and then re-home them? That also seems cruel. I think our best bet would be to find a flat with a limited amount of stairs-so that it will be gentle on two aging dogs' hips-with a fenced in yard. That way, we could keep both boys and I could also have my new working dog. Besides, if we give Roscoe and Glacier up, who will I rally obedience train?
Wow. This post really digressed. My whole point was to talk about my excitement to train Roscoe in rally obedience, but I guess all of the factors of life had to be considered. Whatever may happen, I hope we have a few years still to get things in order so that we can keep our boys and Roscoe and I can be rally obedience buddies.