October 23, 1995-July 30, 2009y Doberman Pinscher, aka Max, was born in 1995. He had never stepped into a ring before March of 2009 at just over 13 1/4 years of age. He was a working dog for the first ten years of his life (he went to my store with me every day; we joked that he wore two hats -- vice president of security and vice president of sales. My late husband thought I was crazy when I said I was going to take Max to work with me. "You'll lose customers," he said. Well, actually, the opposite proved true. People would see this gorgeous dog standing in the window wearing his beautiful necklace and would come in to meet him.) Anyway, in those days, we didn't have time for things like dog shows
Then, late last year, Max was out in the yard with me as I was working my puppy, Isabelle. I noticed that when I would ask her to 'sit' or 'down' or 'stay,' Max would do it from across the yard. I thought it was cute but didn't really react other than to tell him that he was a good boy. Then, he took it one step further. He actually wedged himself between Isabelle and me while we were heeling and did the exercise himself. I decided he was trying to tell me something. So, I started taking him to class. We took classes at the Old York Road Dog Training Club as well as the Rally signs classes at Suburban Dog Training Club. He loved it! I joked that I was going to put him in a trial. On a lark, at his breeder’s urging, we actually did it.
Our first trial was the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) trial at Y2K9s in Wyndmoor in February of this year. Max had never even been to a dog show before and I was very new to it myself, having entered my first trial ever, with Isabelle, barely 2 1/2 months before. I was a basket of nerves but we got through the course. We even qualified, though barely, with score of 176. The next day we came back (it was a two-day trial) and Mr. Adaptable, now knowing what was expected, performed beautifully, improving his score by 20 points (196) and earning a fifth place ribbon.
Max's breeder, Barrie Hoytt of House of Hoytt in Tennessee, not surprisingly, was excited about what we were doing. He made plans to travel to Pennsylvania to film Max in competition. He was disappointed however, to learn that we weren't competing in AKC events Well, it didn't matter to me (everyone told me that AKC was much easier than APDT) and it certainly didn't matter to Max, so we decided to enter AKC Rally, too. Our first AKC trial was in Camden, NJ in March. It ran very much behind schedule …. Instead of going into the ring at 1 p.m., as scheduled, we finally went in after 5 p.m.! Despite the interminably long day, Max performed very well. Unfortunately though, he gave the judge a few little unwanted presents (he relieved himself in the ring) and NQ'ed as a result.
After that our luck improved. Max qualified in each of his next three trials, in April and May, earning scores of 96, 94 and 96, respectively, along with two red and one yellow ribbons as well as his RN (Rally Novice) title! Not bad for an old guy! Max's breeder tells me that Max is the oldest canine ever to embark on a performance career. There are others his age or even older who compete, but they all started when they were much youngsters. I don't know whether this is so but the most important aspect: He just loved it. He figured out by what I packed and what I wore, whether he or Isabelle was going to the trial. When it was his turn, he got so excited; it was hard for me to get in and out of the door because he was right under my feet. When he knew it was Isabelle's turn, he was most unhappy and stayed in his bed.
The week after he earned his RN, we entered his third APDT trial at judge Ali Brown's beautiful Great Companions facility in Neffs, PA. There he earned his third leg and his APDT Rally Level 1 title. The judge came up to me after his run and told me that in her opinion Max embodied what Rally was all about. Clearly he was quite elderly, she said, and he had to work really hard to get through the course but he obviously loved me and loved what he was doing and was enjoying himself thoroughly.
Sadly, that was to be his last trial. I lost him last month. He was happy and active up until a couple of days before his passing.”
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