The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Test your skills

All Dogs Gym & Inn will host Rally-O trials on July 7, July 8, Aug. 25 and Aug. 26. Call to register.

Care for your pet

Pets are fun but they also need lots of care. Aside from regular check-ups by a veterinarian, there’s plenty you can do to keep your pet and the local animal community healthy and thriving. Here are some local options; check your town for more:

• The NHSPCA at 104 Portsmouth Avenue in Stratham, 772-2921,, will hold a rabies and microchip clinic on Sunday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $25 per animal for a three-year vaccine. MicroChip is $35 per chip, which includes implant and registration with HomeAgain. 

• Learn about The Energy of Foods for Your Pet from holistic veterinarian Dr. Katherine Evans at the Concord Cooperative Market (24 S. Main St., Concord) on Tuesday, March 27, from 6 to 7 p.m. Call 225-6840 or visit the store to sign up for this free class — reservations are required.

• The Friends of the Manchester Animal Shelter sponsor Fix-a-Pit, a spay/neuter program free of charge to pit bull owners who live in Manchester. Fix-a-Pit will provide city pit bull owners with a free spaying or neutering of their pet, plus a rabies vaccine and a microchip. Call 628-3544. The shelter is at 490 Dunbarton Road, Manchester,

• Sign your dog up for a canine massage from Tracey Brown, who works primarily through Baker Wells Animal Hospital in Hampton Falls/Seabrook, 978-337-7965,

• The Humane Society’s annual World Spay Day falls on the last Tuesday in February, though the organization also likes to say every day is spay day, and some participants host spay/neuter clinics on different days in February. Visit to find low-cost spay/neuter events and educational events near you or to enter the Spay Day Photo Contest, which runs through February.

Dogsled up Mount Washington

In March, three dog teams from Muddy Paws Dogsled Kennel will climb the Mount Washington auto road to raise funds for the new nonprofit New Hampshire Sled Dog Rescue, History and Education Center. They welcome sponsorships and donations as they attempt to become the first dog team to summit Mount Washington in winter. Only two other dog teams have ever attempted the summit, in 1927 and 1932, according to the musher’s blog at Two guest seats will be auctioned to accompany the teams to the summit — see for the auction, as well as video of the dogs. The mushers will lead the attempt between March 7 and March 9, depending on weather, and they’ll reschedule if weather demands. Call 545-4533 to learn more or sponsor.

More dog-sledding:

• Waterville Valley Resort’s Snow Dogz program offers two dog sled excursions every Friday and Saturday evening through March. Visit

Barking Brook Sled Dog Adventures visitors can enjoy a trip into the woods of the White Mountains region behind a team of Siberian Huskies from Barking Brook in Bridgewater, 968-MUSH. Visit

Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel has a team of rescue and second-chance Alaskan huskies that lead rides on site from mid-December through April, weather and trail conditions permitting. Rides are offered Thursday through Sunday, between 9 a.m. and noon and between 1 and 4 p.m. Visit or call 545-4533.

• A cardboard dog sledding competition will be held Sunday, Feb. 26, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Benson Park, 23 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson. The dog must either pull a sled or be pulled in a sled — a real dog or stuffed animal is necessary to participate. There will also be a demo and Q&A with members of the Boston Snow Dogs dog sledding group. E-mail

Check out Rally-O classes:

• All Dogs Gym & Inn, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, 669-4644,

• American K9 Country, 336 Route 101, Amherst, 672-8448,

• The Barking Dog, 210 Rockingham Road, Derry, 434-2275; 7 Beech Hill Road, Exeter, 773-2275; 209 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 222-2275,

• Bo-Gee Agility Dog Training and Sports Cen
ter, Route 107 Freetown Road, Raymond, 895-0358,

• Pet-Agree
, 12 Donovan Road, Candia, 483-8775,

• Sendaishi Pet Resort
, 355 Straw Road, Manchester, 622-9684,

Rally the pooches
Agility and obedience combine in new course


Local pet-centric businesses have begun offering an alternative to everyday dog training.

Rally-O teaches the obedience skills of traditional training classes but allows for owners to have more fun with their pups, said Carrie James, a dog trainer at The Barking Dog in Exeter. James called Rally-O the American Kennel Club’s answer to “stuffy” obedience competitions. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has also developed a version of the obedience-focused sport that allows for owners to reward their canines with a treat at the end of each skill test. Rally-O participants have the option to take classes solely to reinforce behaviors or to enter into the competitive aspect of the activity. The classes and Rally trials are open to all breeds.

“It’s practice for [dogs] but in a fun, different way,” said Gail Fisher, owner of All Dogs Gym in Manchester. The sport, Fisher said, hones the behaviors owners want to see in their dogs — responding when called, walking politely on a leash and staying put when told.

“It’s pretty straightforward behaviors,” Fisher said. “Dogs like to be with you, move with you and retrieve things.”
An obstacle course is set up in which owners can run through a variety of obedience skills with their furry companions at Rally-O classes and competitions.

“The whole idea is not to give harsh corrections,” James said. Dogs and their owners are scored on their performance during each run-through of the Rally-O course. The idea is for the entire course to look like one performance.

Points are deducted (scores start at 100 points) when harsh corrections are used, she added. Owners also lose points for such things as loud commands, not having control of their dog and keeping a tight leash. Up to 10 points can be lost for a lack of teamwork between the dog and its owner, James said. “It’s about getting the dog to cooperate with you,” she added.

James asks for 31 skills to be tackled by her Introduction to Rally-O students by the end of the six-week session. The first skill is to successfully walk the dog around three small traffic cones with the pup remaining focused and by its owner’s side. More than 50 skill stations can be attempted during different Rally-O class levels, Fisher said.

“You practice what your dog already knows to keep their skills sharp,” Fisher said, adding the class is a good choice even for those not wishing to take part in Rally-O competitions. “It keeps the dog responsive to you,” she said.

More advanced skill tests involve having the dog exhibit the required behaviors without their owners at their side. Those skills include advanced retrieving and going over jumps. Fisher noted that one of the more challenging stations involve having the dog back up next to its owner in the “heel” position.

“It’s a very friendly sport,” Fisher said. “We’re not nitpicking. If your dog has a slightly crooked sit, who cares? You lose points if your dog doesn’t lie down, doesn’t sit or is out of control. That kind of thing.”

Dogs need to have completed some obedience training before taking part in a Rally-O class. Fisher’s facility requires that dogs complete a second-level obedience course or receive approval from the instructor to enroll.

“Your dog really does need to be able to walk politely,” she said. “Not that we can’t teach in Rally class, but it’s not designed for that.”

Rally-O is a good program for dogs with reactive issues or pups that are neurotic, because it gives them activities to focus on, James said, nodding to a golden retriever in her class. “She does brilliantly,” James said. “Her brain needs to be put to use rather than … worry about things.”

Sarah Desiderio, of Fremont, and her husband bring their Boxers Oscar and Charlie to James’ Intro to Rally-O class.

“It gives them something to do,” Desiderio said of why she enrolled her pups in the class. “Especially in the winter, when there’s not much fun to do outside.”

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