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A True Pasadena Underdog

Dylan Roche
View Bio
January 25, 2012

One Young Woman From Pasadena And Her Doggy Companion Take Home Two Titles From The AKC National Obedience Invitational

By Yvonne Lawson

Samantha Daly, 20, a recent graduate of UMBC, and her loveable dog companion Rugby were invited to the esteemed dog show, taking home the Number One title in the Maltese breed as well as in the toy category.

"Rugby ranked number one in his breed, he is Maltese. He was the only Maltese invited to the competition," said Daly. "We were invited at the last minute, and we walked away with two titles."

Daly knows the ins and outs of dog training competition. She has been training dogs at Applewoods Dog Training for three years and Rugby has been training since he was a puppy, three years ago. To be considered for the AKC Invitational, one must first participate in local and regional competitions. Through participation in multiple competitions, both the trainer and dog can gain recognition based on their number of wins. Earning points for each win allows larger invitation-only events to take note of high winners across the country. Daly and Rugby have been winning multiple competitions and receiving points that quickly add up.

"We've participated in regular local shows and have taken home several wins," said Daly. "Our points added up, and last minute we were invited to the invitational in Orlando."

A two-day competition, the AKC invited 146 dogs from across the United States with Daly being the only trainer invited from the area. In two days, each dog must show 16 times, performing on various levels of obedience training.

"We started out at the novice level where your dog learns to become a companion, walking loosely on a leash and performing come and stay commands," said Daly. "From the novice level, we moved up to more advanced commands and signals to jumping."

This year was the first time the AKC Invitational included a Junior Competition, which Daly participated in. As Daly explained, the general demographics of trainers at dog obedience competitions typically are older participants, making Daly one of the youngest trainers at the competition.

Dog obedience training goes far beyond conditioning a dog to become a well-mannered pet, but teaches both the trainer and trainee the importance of being a companion. For Daly, her experience as a dog obedience trainer began three years ago at Applewoods because of a life-changing experience. Before Rugby became a member of Daly's family, another dog by the name of Mandy was the family pet. Mandy was attacked by a larger dog and did not make it; Daly chose to learn to train dogs to prevent this from happening again.

"When Mandy passed away, I started training at Applewoods," said Daly. "I wanted to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Once I got Rugby, I started training him at Applewoods."

Rugby, a seven-pound, white Maltese may be small but his personality makes him a giant. Characterized as being an outgoing, social, energetic dog, Rugby's personality shines through in each competition he is in.

"Rugby definitely thinks highly of himself, which is actually a good thing when it comes to dog competitions," said Daly. "When he is performing at competitions, he is aware that people are watching him and that makes him perform so well."

For Daly and Rugby, this win at the AKC National Obedience Invitational is the true representation of the underdog coming out a winner despite overwhelming odds, with Daly as one of the youngest trainers and Rugby the only Maltese in the competition.

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