Posted by: jility | May 15, 2012

The Leash Saunterer

You can learn a lot about people when you leash saunter.

Normally, we are very spoiled down here in Southern California. The local professional trial secretary hires workers for the trials she does. It is wonderful! This takes the burden off the competitors who, for whatever reasons, choose not to work. There is rarely guilt slung at those trials for people to volunteer. I appreciate the people who work tirelessly and endlessly at these trials so I can sit on my fat ass, talk to my friends, spend more time with my dogs and concentrate on getting around a course. I hope all those people know how much they are appreciated!

My thoughts (and I have expressed these in another blog called “All Play and No Work”) about working is that the clubs are making big bucks at most trials. The club members need to step up and do the work, pay their trial workers well with vouchers for future trials or hire kids to do it. I don’t walk into Wal-mart and ask if I can volunteer or get guilted when I don’t.

I used to chair a large trial in the PNW and the club made great money then on that trial. I tried to “pay” the workers well with entries and food and take the pressure off those who preferred to not work.

If the club is poor and their trial is not making money, then I am more than happy to pitch in and help. If, however, they stand to make 4 -12 grand profit on their trial, they can certainly afford to hire help.

So, recently, we attended a trial that is not staffed by “working” competitors. It was all volunteers. The club membership has dwindled from 80 to 12 so workers are scarce. Perhaps they need to look at what (or who) is driving away their members and try to repair and replenish but that is really none of my beeswax. A smile from those in the score tent goes a long way ;).

Sir Cussalot and I got there early on Friday with the Global Warmer. Well, Sir C did, I went shopping for groceries and arrived a few hours after he did. There were only three club members there to help unload and set up all the equipment, tents, ring barriers, tables, etc. Sir C, an active 74 years old, helped carry a lot of heavy equipment. Sadly, his back is very sore now and I hope  all the stem cell stuff he did on it hasn’t been stripped away by a few hours helping out the club. I did better because I didn’t help with the heavy contacts like he did.

It was a shame that more people didn’t get there to help out.

Only having one dog to run in one class per day, I worked whenever and wherever I could. I sauntered leashes for hours and set bars for many classes. The poor judge had to set most of the bars in a couple of classes. I felt sorry for him out in the HOT sun all day long while people looked on from the shade of their tents. It was mentioned to me that the “professional trial secretary” had “ruined” it for the rest of the clubs by spoiling all of us. I am forever grateful to that pro for spoiling us! When I go other places to trial, I feel the guilt, and my body pays the price for working. By Monday morning I am toast. Post polio is not very forgiving when it comes to exercise. The pain lasts for days from only a little bit of work. As long as I am loaded up with Celebrex, I am styling. As soon as it wears off on Monday, I am miserable.

If the club members and others involved in these nonpro run trials were nicer to people and more appreciative, they might find more competitors willing to step up and lend a hand. Now I am not saying that ALL nonpro clubs are not nice or that ALL members of these clubs are not nice! There are some that are VERY nice (and they know who they are :)), but their niceness doesn’t override the nastiness of a few others! I have been to quite a few trials up and down the West Coast that are, let’s just say, less than nice and try to get workers through intimidation.

Anyway, off my soapbox and back to leash sauntering.

So, there are many kinds of unleashing:

1. First you have the extremely considerate folks who put their dogs in a sit, look around to find their leash mover, smile and hand off the leash. Sometimes I try to predict which ones will do that, but often I am fooled! There are people I think will be considerate, who are not, and those I expect won’t give a crap where that leash lands but hey fool me and hand me the leash.

2. Next you have those who look around trying to locate the leash person. Then they give the leash a good toss at the saunterer. This is my favorite exchange. I like to try to catch the leash but, alas, I am slow and my reaction time is less than good. Many are mortified when I  miss the catch(and I usually do). I had one woman this weekend who was so mortified when she threw and I missed, that she kept apologizing. She was so sweet! I told her not to worry, just concentrate on her dog (which everyone should do). Her throw was pathetic really, but I didn’t want to bring that to her attention. She was very nice.

3. The third type of handler, doesn’t look for the leash person, they just toss the leash in the direction they think they might be. I don’t have a problem with this person either. Some people come to the line very nervous and they need to concentrate on their dog and not who is going to deliver their leash to the other side of the ring for them. Been there – done that myself!

4. Next you have the drop and go. Their dog doesn’t have a start line stay so they just remove the leash and let it fall wherever as they run off after said ill trained dog. I always get such a kick out of some people who have dogs with no start line or an iffy start line stay. They turn their back on their dog as they walk out. All of a sudden their dog passes them up and they take off after it. Every single time they look amazed and shocked that heir dog would do such a thing! I am always so ticked by that. If I had a dog with a crappy start line stay, I think I would be keeping my eye on the dog as I led out. If nothing else, so I was prepared when the dog took off.

5. Now you start to get into the oblivious handlers. They have no idea how their leash gets to the other end of the ring for them. They are also the first to angrily scream, “WHERE’S MY LEASH???” if it is not there waiting for them. They think the leash apparates or levitates into the waiting chair at the end of the run.

6. The final leash tosser is the worst and I saw a few of these this weekend. They remove the leash from their dog and throw it as far as they can in the OPPOSITE direction. One person actually managed to throw the leash outside the ring this weekend! They neither notice nor do they care. Their dogs sit at the line just fine and they don’t look nervous at all, they just don’t seem to care. One such person ran more than a few dogs and she threw that leash as far away in the other direction as she possibly could each time she stepped to the line.

This last type of leash toss is extremely difficult for slow saunterers such as myself. I try to stay out of the picture so the dogs do not even know I am there. I never walk towards the leash until the dog has been released and is long gone and my movement will not disrupt them.

If the leash chucker has a very fast dog and I am sauntering leashes in jumpers, I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in HELL of getting that leash to the other side before the dog is finished running! Now I know I am going to catch hell from the chucker for not doing my job in a timely manner. My only prayer is that the dog goes off course or has some other time wasting fault while I try to get my fat ass across the ring.

Leash sauntering is my favorite trial job to do. I get a little exercise, get to watch the dogs and I learn a lot about my fellow competitors as well.

The next time you step to the line, take a glance around to locate your leash runner (saunterer if it is I), give them a little smile and toss your leash in their direction. I guarantee they will appreciate it 🙂

Helen  Grinnell King


  1. Just found your blog and LOVE it. Your observations on people and writing style is funny and easy to read. Keep up the posts. I haven’t seen you at agility trials but I am in Northern California only.

  2. I like to aim it at the leash person, especially if they’re not looking. Whack-a-LeashRunner is one of my favorite games! Heads up, here comes a harness! Boink!

    • AWESOME!!!! 🙂

  3. A really great club here in the PNW “hires” volunteers. They pay a local animal rescue to have their volunteers come out and help. The rescue makes much needed money and the volunteers know their time is valuable to their rescue of choice. The volunteers are well trained and super attentive. It’s a great relationship for all involved!

  4. My very favorite was the handler who tossed the leash away from the ring and into the ring corner. Unfortunately there was a tunnel there and the leash went into it. I could not find the leash and the handler screamed and screamed for it. The trial came to a halt and it took 3 of us to find it. Oh joy.


  5. I fear I am one of the inconsiderate people who tosses it any which way behind me, and for that I am HUMBLY sorry!! It’s probably because for the first few trials in which Lucy and I competed, she would retrieve her leash when I would say “break” and bring it to me instead of taking the first obstacle. It was quite hysterical, actually. When I started giving the leash to the leash runner/saunterer, Lucy would give the evil eye to the person, as if to say, “Where the hell are you taking my leash?”. Now mind you, I have NEVER encouraged Lucy to retrieve her leash, but she is a golden retriever, and evidently has a very strong attachment to her leash. So, now, I try to surreptitiously remove it, without Lucy knowing it’s gone, and that’s when my poor “leash removal behavior” kicks in. I guess I’m a number 3 on your list! I’ll do better next time – I promise!

  6. I hope we are considered one of the “nice” non-clubs 🙂 I say if you can’t beat em’ join them! I do however wish I made “4-12K” at the trials! LOL! that would be nice after all the hard work that is put into these events!

  7. Hey, gotta say, I got yelled at in So Cal by a leash saunterer who accused me of throwing my leash the other way. Not cool. I NEVER throw my leash. I set it down by my side with Ten who doesn’t tolerate it flying through the air without her. I hand Ky’s harness to the leash runner. Better skills.

    Did I set Ten’s leash on my non dog side? Hell, yes. Was that the most convenient spot for the saunterer? Probably not, but it’s my run and I’m not doing it out of inconsideration, it’s just the reality of BC V1.0.

    Did I beat the leash runner to the finish? Yes. Was I an impatient asshole about it? No. Did I expect to get shit about the leash being 3′ farther away than if I had thrown it over Ten’s back? NO.

    • Touchy touchy 😉 Feelin guilty? LOLOLOLOL

  8. We once had a very nice person try to throw her leash. It caught on her hand and went straight up and got hung on one of the arena’s rafters. It took a tall guy and a long jump bar to knock it down. Stuff happens at trials…

    • AWESOME!

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