As I’m sure many of you know…. and as I’m sure many of you DON’T know, APDT has made the decision to sell Rally-O. I’m not going to lie, over the last few years, I have lost a bit of trust in APDT in terms of their commitment to promoting positive training and because of this, wobbly at best, trust, I was hurt and angry that they would decide to sell off Rally, a sport I liked and was just getting started in pursuing. It felt like they were kicking a baby to the curb and I was very concerned that they were willing to sell it to the highest bidder regardless of that bidder’s intentions.
The more I have taken a step to cool down from being a little hurt, angry, shocked, and surprised, I’ve come to a bit of a different perspective. First of all I looked at myself. I live in the north-east (ish), where APDT Rally supposedly has seen the biggest growth. Locally there may be ONE trial each year for APDT rally. In order for me to trial more regularly I have to drive 2 – 5hrs away to different parts of Ohio or to Eastern Pennsylvania. When looking at the list of official trials, it was so extremely clear that APDT Rally is scattered at best outside of IL/OH/PA/NY/NJ (and I didn’t even see the one local one we used to have). There may be one trial in Arizona (in the whole state), one or two in California, one in Nebraska, one or two in Maine, etc. There are massive gaps in access to APDT Rally as it is. Over the last decade APDT Rally has a pretty big following in very select locales but it is still out of reach for many (including myself) because it is not local and the cost of the trial nearly DOUBLES due to travel expenses.
As I got to thinking about it, I wondered how much effort was actually put into APDT Rally by the APDT. As an organization, how much emphasis were they putting into growing rally… how many resources were they devoting to rally? As a member of the APDT I loved the history of Rally-O and it’s root in positive training but APDT Rally had zero baring on my joining the organization. I joined because I wanted to have access to the Chronicle, the Webinars, the discount for the APDT Conference (for if it ever came back to the north east and was within driving distance), and for the trainer directory. Rally wasn’t even a blip in my reasoning for joining. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that (especially since APDT-Rally isn’t accessible to a large population)–so I guessed that the APDT probably wasn’t putting huge amounts of resources to Rally because it’s probably not what their constituents were advocating.
So I got to thinking, what if APDT Rally were in the hands of an organization whose sole goal was the expansion of Rally? What if ALL the resources of this organization were directed at Rally and that it was run by people who LOVE Rally? That cannot be a bad thing. Maybe with more resources and more focus, APDT Rally (or whatever the new name would be) will grow and expand. MAYBE one day I won’t have to drive 2 – 5 hours for a trial because I cannot find anything locally more than once a year. I don’t think this is a bad thing, the idea of selling APDT-Rally to someone who wants nothing more than to have the sport grow and reach more people.
Now, I absolutely have concerns about the actual sale of APDT Rally. Like I said, I have a wobbling level of trust with APDT right now regarding their commitment to keeping the promotion of positive reinforcement training a core value. I am concerned about APDT selling Rally to the highest bidder with little to no value put onto the prospective owner valuing the “spirit” of Rally. What makes APDT Rally so special to the people who have been involved since the beginning is that it’s a sport that is about having fun and building a relationship through positive training. It’s not strictly about titles and letters before/after the dog’s name, for most competitors it’s about the journey.
The ‘spirit of Rally’ is what I love about the sport and I am really hoping that the APDT makes their final decision with this in mind. Ultimately I want APDT Rally to grow and expand and succeed in ways that it hasn’t been been able to in the last decade. I also want APDT Rally to remain connected to its roots in positive training. I am slightly more hopeful about that now than I was initially because they put out a statement/FAQ and they very specifically talk about the value of the ‘spirit’ of APDT Rally:
Rest assured we will be choosing a new home for Rally very carefully as we want to find a place for it that will help it grow and thrive in a way we have not been able to accomplish. We are also looking for a home that will continue its spirit of a fun, human and dog friendly sport with an emphasis on building positive relationships with our dogs. We will be specifically looking for a place that will maintain the spirit of Rally as it is now…
Whether or not they follow through with that statement has yet to be seen, but I just hope APDT Rally–or whatever it will become–will grow and expand and remain connected to its positive training roots! S