|I flew down to Alabama to pick up Alvin when he was 9 weeks old and could still fit
under an airline seat. Right away, he showed good focus for such a young puppy. We started training
for obedience right away, and he mastered the basics quickly and easily. I use a LOT of food in my
training and that suited Alvin just fine. By four months old he could do an entire obedience novice
routine and had been introduced to jumping and retrieving. I believe Dalmatians need a balanced approach
to training; praise and rewards when right and physical and verbal corrections when wrong. Show your Dal what
you want and he will be a quick study. They want to please you; you need to show them how.
I decided to enter Alvin in a breed show when he was 6 months, 3 days old for the experience of eating
and playing in the ring. We practiced the breed ring moves at our obedience classes for about a month. At
his first show Alvin won BOW for one point and off we went! His showy, confident attitude made it easy. He
quickly finished his Championship from the puppy classes with my amateur handling, both of us learning as we
went along. Meanwhile, he officially started his obedience career, earning an all-breed HIT to finish his CD
with 198.5 at ten months old. He won another HIT with 198 in Novice B on the same day that he finished his
Alvin the AKC Breed Champion!
At that point I retired him from breed competition and had him neutered so we could really focus on
obedience work, my first love. By the time he was 26 months old, he had earned his AKC OTCh and UDX, Canadian
CDX, United Kennel Club CDX, and six Dog World awards (for titles earned in 3 shows, all scores 195 or higher,
200 is perfect); along with multiple High-In-Trial and High-Combined honors. His showy attitude has helped in
obedience, too, and we continue to show for more advanced titles in the different registries.
Next we tried agility, a first for me. We started classes when he was 2 1/2 years old. The first night
he was confused and I felt like I was all thumbs. A few weeks later he was "getting it" and obviously enjoying
the sport. Again, food rewards work very well with Dals! After some studying on my part, I entered Alvin in a
few local trials four months later. Right away, he was successful, winning his first class with a perfect
score. He finished his first two titles in 4 and 5 trials (3 "legs" or passes are needed for a title, as in
obedience); scoring perfect runs in both NA and NAJ. We are just beginning in agility but with his athleticism
(a great outlet for all that Dalmatian energy) and the control he learned from obedience, I look forward
to fun times ahead in the sport. If only I could run faster........
All along the way, people have not expected a Dalmatian to do as well as Alvin has; but why not? Dals
are energetic, people-oriented, and smart as a whip! They thrive with jobs to do, especially for their
owners. Alvin has the good physical structure, normal hearing, and mental abilities to do almost anything I
ask of him; and he has such a good time his tail is always wagging. Just show your Dal what you want him to
do and hold on tight for the ride!
Since I wrote this article in last year in 2001, Alvin earned his 7th Dog World Award while earning his
Canadian UD/ OTCh. Last spring he became the first Dal ever to earn his Can MOTCh (Master Ob Trial Ch) and
did this with all first places, undefeated, never failing a class novice through MOTCh in Canada. He earned
his UKC OCh with a perfect 200 in Open B. He is the first triple OTCh Dal, AKC, UKC and Canadian Kennel Club.
In 2002 he earned a Conformation Performance Certificate versatility award from DCA. He has been the #1 Top
Spot, according to the DCA obedience rating systems, in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He placed 7th in the Superstar
class (all breed) at the 2003 Allstar Performance Dog Association Championships in New Jersey, the first Dal
ever to compete at this level. He has the most AKC OTCh points ever earned by a Dal, 582 and counting. He has
over 100 UDX legs and counting. He earned his OA and OAJ in AKC agility and has one AXJ leg with a perfect
score, first place. He is now 4 years, 2 months old as I write this on 8/14/03.