Posted by: jility | June 27, 2011

All Play and No Work…

As fulltimers in our motorhome (we call her The Global Warmer or GW for short) for the past five years, we have travelled all over this fine Country competing in agility. People are very different depending on where you trial. I find that interesting and not sure why it is; just human nature I guess. I do think that a few people set the tone early on in agility infancy for everyone else in each region and that continues today (good and bad).

The friendliest and most supportive place we have trialed was in Virginia. They were amazing and made us, as total strangers, feel very welcome! Fellow competitors ALL cheered loudly for each other and US too! It was WONDERFUL! We have been to other places that shall remain nameless, where they wouldn’t give you the time of day if you asked (literally!) or they look at you like you otta get outta my territory or there be trouble a brewin!

As a former trial chair (I just resigned after many years of doing it because they changed their dates and we are in Southern California when that trial runs), I have a different outlook on workers.

When I was the chair for my all-breed club, my husband and I spent 12 plus hours every day working at that trial. I hired two people to be in charge of the workers and three or four to be chief course builders. They all got two free entries for doing so and were allowed to do whatever they wanted with their entries but my husband and I ALWAYS paid for ALL of our own entries at our trial. I would rather pay our own way and give our entries to workers! I want more than one in charge in case they are running and are needed in another ring.

I never paid attention to who worked and who didn’t. My feeling is that it is their choice to work or not. What I did was make sure that as many club members as possible attend those trials and work if they can. After all, it is my club that makes the money from these trials. I see the competitors as customers, not workers and feel they should be treated as such. Some people pay large amounts of money to trial. I know with four dogs to run, our trial expenses are pretty hefty. My club used to make BIG bucks from those trials! I think that the club members should put in the effort to work if possible.

I LOVE the clubs that hire kids to work trials for fundraising for their school or 4 H or whatever! I LOVE the enthusiasm of those kids and to see how much fun they have watching the dogs and learning about the different jobs in agility! It is very inexpensive to hire kids to work for the day and the club STILL makes a ton of money!

Agility is my passion. I love it but I am finding more and more that I have less tolerance for crabby, judgmental people. At the trial I chaired, I always tried to make sure that EVERYONE was nice to the customers! I want BIG smiles on everyone’s face if possible! I want trialing to be F-U-N and not a miserable experience of sour faces, finger pointing and guilt.

I want to pay my money, go to the trials and enjoy the weekend with my dogs. I work when and where I can. I never take lunch tickets or vouchers or anything else for doing it (one reason is that I am a vegan and they rarely have anything I can eat anyway). My husband works when he can but we don’t work as much as some and we appreciate all the work that goes into a trial. We also appreciate all the work that goes into a lot of business ventures but I don’t think people should be guilted into volunteering for these profitable events.

I don’t walk into Sears and ask where I can fill in for free to help them. Clubs should be making money. If they aren’t, then they need to look at why. Our club made over $5,000 at the last three day trial I chaired and I know of one club that does a 4 day trial that made almost $15,000 at their last trial and that is PROFIT! I am sure there are some small clubs that don’t make a lot of money due to dates, location or lack of smiles but I think those clubs are in the minority.

My opinion is not the norm but, because we live in America, we are all entitled to have and voice our opinions.

GOD BLESS AGILITY!


Responses

  1. When we started getting really into dog sports, we went to one AKC trial, everyone was so grumpy we didn’t have fun and completely dumped agility trialing and went full time to disc dogging cause everyone was so nice. BTW – you’re living our dream right now – awesome to travel around the country full time in an RV. One day!!

    I really enjoyed your post. 🙂

  2. You are so lucky being able to do the agility/travel lifestyle! I’d love to give that a try someday.

    Having been involved in the business end of our club, I take a much narrower view of what “profit” means for a club. We host some big USDAA trials and our net *for that weekend* might make it into the thousands of dollars (or sometimes not). But we don’t have salaries or profit sharing or even free t-shirts for members. That all goes back into keeping equipment maintained and current (we’ve had to replace almost everything at least once or twice in our 15 years, some more than that), insurance current, trailers purchased and outfitted and licensed and insured and stored, attorney fees (not often, but something’s always coming up), accounting fees (with 8 trials a year, it’s no longer a trivial thing to keep it going), and so on, we just barely keep ahead of the curve of outgoing vs incoming. And, sure, we’re paying all that money because we like to do agility, and we’re willing to share with other people.

    That doesn’t mean that other people don’t need to work to make a trial work. If anything, they’re not “paying customers” as much as they are maybe “houseguests” whom we’re allowing to play with us–and although we want to be nice to everyone, I’m not fond of houseguests in my house that sleep in my bed, use my linen, eat my food, use my shower, and expect me to do all their cooking and cleaning while they sit in a chair and read a book. If I may stretch the analogy. But then, these are USDAA and CPE trials, not AKC. I have no experience with AKC clubs or trials, so although I’ve heard that they make a lot of extra money that they use exclusively for their members’ benefit, I can’t speak to that with authority.

    It is true that we give “paying” trial jobs to club members first before we offer them to nonmembers–like you, we have 2 crew chiefs & course builders per ring and they get free entries. 2 work so much better than one for those jobs.

    But pretty much everyone else at the trial, in my view, is on pretty equal footing: We all want to play agility, and the only way that happens is by people filling the jobs. When I’m traveling, I am less likely to help set up or tear down because of the distance I have to go and I want to be on the road. But while there, I work, and if the club is very small, I might also go out of my way to help before & after. We already have one small club stop giving trials because too many people who were from out of the area didn’t want to get involved in helping. And a couple hundred people used to attend their trials every time. Now there’s no trials there. Ah, well.

    I think your observation about people in different areas having different attitudes towards visiting competitors, or workers, or anything else, and that that attitude is set early on, is quite interesting. In this area, I’ve noticed a difference between clubs who are primarily AKC clubs and clubs who are primarily not AKC,and that might be because the people involved started with different backgrounds & attitudes. Funny.

    And now I’ve almost written a whole blog post just in the comments. Sorry!

  3. I agree that the club hosting the trial should have the majority of the volunteers as it is their club. If I have time (and sometimes I don’t depending on the number of dogs I am running) I will help out a bit, but not always. It also depends on the trial I am at. At a small trial, I will usually pitch ini where I can, not only because I enjoy the people, but also because it helps the day move more quickly.

  4. Interesting post, and interesting lifestyle! Naturally I had to tour around and visit Butt cracks and Whore houses and recipes, too. Very nice to have discovered your sit!.


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