Monday, August 1, 2011

The invitation and the questions

Jackson's invitation to the NOI (National Obedience Invitational) arrived today. This is the second year in a row that he's received an invitation. This year's invitational will be held in December at Orlando, Florida.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about posting this. Don't get me wrong -- I feel honored to have received this invitation. I think it does recognize all the hard work and effort Jackson and I have put into training and trialing, as well as the unique challenges some of us face when we choose to train dogs that are not of the traditional obedience breeds.

For those who may not know how invitations are decided, AKC invites the top 25 obedience dogs in the country based on number of OTCH points earned in the reporting year. In addition to these 25, the top three dogs (according to their OTCH points) in each breed are invited. A third way to get invited is through regional qualifying events.

Some breeds have no qualifying dogs; some i.e., herding and sporting group breeds have lots; and some breeds i.e., Great Danes, have very few competing at that level so their chances of getting invited are much less competitive - although they do need to have earned OTCH points to be on the list.

I guess the thing that seems incongruent to me is - the goal of the NOI is to have dogs compete for the title of National Obedience Champion (NOC), which to me means the best obedience dog in the country - at least on that given weekend - but they also invite dogs such as Jackson, who are nowhere near the same level as the top obedience dogs are. Perhaps AKC is just trying to encourage wider participation in obedience and are recognizing the accomplishments of nontraditional obedience dogs - and if they are - that's okay. I am proud and honored that we have been invited, even though it seems a little weird : )

Just thinking out loud. 

If you have thoughts on the NOI, I'd love to hear them! 


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Congratulations!!! Be proud of all you have done with Jackson!

I love that the NOI invites deserving dogs from every breed. While a basset with OTCH points might not be the same picture as a golden with an OTCH it still tells volumes about the training the dogs have had and their relationship with their person. You and Jackson are among the elite!

tervnmal said...

Congratulations to you and Jackson! You deserve the invite!

I've been to 3 NOIs (invited to 4 but didn't want to road trip to Long Beach). The first two were stand-alone events, only obedience, and they were exceptionally well run.

The last one was in Tampa in 2006. I took Jamie. It was a combination of NOI, agility invitational and Eukanuba Challenge. It was a zoo, everything at the same venue. I felt like it was set up more for spectators than exhibitors. It was a HUGE spectator event and my husband had to pay to get in both days (that was ridiculous!)

Having said that, I'm still glad I went. It was an honor to be part of the event and I met some very fun people and had a good time.

If you go (GO!), be prepared to just relax and enjoy the experience. The public loves to watch beautiful dogs and they will be amazed, no matter what your dog does. Unless you're in the super elite top 10 dogs, there's no pressure. It's hectic and crazy but you get to show 6 times in one day!

It's certainly not an even playing field but I think the AKC does a nice job of trying to invite as many breeds as they can. It's really a showcase event for purebred dogs and it shows that ALL breeds can do obedience.

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...


So THAT is what the invitation looks like. I only hope that one day I get one of my own!

My thinking on the NOI is this. Yes they're picking the best obedience dog in the country. Yes the dogs are at different levels - although they're all at utility, you can't compare even a border collie to a golden, or a miniature poodle to a Rottweiler. But if they went only by total OTCH points, some breeds would never, ever get there. There would be Border Collies, goldens, and maybe a Sheltie or two.

Do you know what the record is for Malamutes for OTCH points? One. Not one OTCH - one single point. Ever! And that happened last year, when the woman finished 4th in a large Utility class.

If they didn't allow the top dogs of every breed and limit the amount of breeds, Malamutes (and Great Danes and other "uncommon" breeds) would never get there. It's just the way it is. Some dogs have thousands - literally thousands! - of points, and in the 75 or so years that Malamutes have been in the AKC, not ONE has gotten more than ONE single point? Come on.

That being said, at least they do require the dogs to have gotten OTCH points, which requires defeating another dog. In the Agility Invitational, technically they only need MACH points which doesn't necessarily mean that the dog placed above other dogs. For obedience, it means that at some point in the past year the obedience dog was better than other dogs. That in itself is a huge deal.

I would absolutely go. One of our goals is to qualify for the agility invitational next year. We won't be showing in Novice, let alone Utility, by the end of the qualifying period for the 2012 invitational, but I also hope to get there for obedience at some point too.

Do I expect to win? Nope! But if my dog gets OTCh points, even if it's just one single point, that's such an achievement that it deserves to be showcased.