Much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ porridge, I find some agility organizations too hot,
some too cold,
but one is just right (well almost just right).
You see, unlike Ms. Goldilocks, I am more difficult to please and can find fault with most anything. Just ask Sir Cussalot.
It was in the year of 2000 when I first discovered dog agility. The first trials I saw were NADAC. Things were quite different back then. There was no training in the ring, no hoopers, the contacts were exactly the same as AKC, there was still a teeter and the jump heights were also the same. My how things have changed! Those who do NADAC love the organization for the changes, but it was those changes that drove me away. Well, that and the rule about no tugging or treating within 10 feet of the ring and the arbitrary interpretation of training in the ring.
Not that NADAC cares about my opinion, but I would do NADAC if they allowed treating and tugging next to the ring and tugging inside the ring. I am still not sure about those hoops though. They take the excitement out of it for me. You see, doing agility gives me the same rush I used to get riding show jumpers or flying over huge fences cross country. Hoops are, well, just hoops on the ground. No adrenalin rush there for me.
ASCA seems to be a good alternative to NADAC. It maintains all the good things NADAC used to offer, without the silly changes and rules that made NADAC so frustrating.
My husband, Sir Cussalot, prefers USDAA, but were it not for him, it is not an organization in which I would ever compete. I DO love the fact that my dog can be off leash at the USDAA trials. I don’t like the higher jump heights or the higher aframe (yes, when I do compete in USDAA I do so in performance to get the lower jump height and aframe) or care much for the master courses. I love to feel the wind ripping through my hair (I WISH!) and watch my dog open up on course (as long as I don’t have to run very far) and with many courses today, it is crank them down after crank them down after crank them down. I find those courses demotivating to me and to my 25 ½” Poodle who struggles with no momentum to make very tight turns. USDAA is a Border Collie and agile handler sport, not a Dogzilla Poodle and handicapped fat old woman sport.
When the courses are designed intelligently, which they are most of the time, I do enjoy UKI. I LOVE that you can train in the ring – WITH A TOY!!! How great is that? Unlike NADAC, you are not limited in what you train. You are given your maximum time and you get to do whatever the hell you want. It is YOUR time. YOU paid for that time in the ring and can spend it however you like (as long as you are nice to your dog that is). I do wish there were more UKI trials around. I also love that you can enter the day of the UKI trial! I wish other organizations allowed that!
I have never done a CPE or UKC agility trials so I have no opinion about those two organizations.
So my choice organization is AKC. Sadly, however, things are changing there as well. I do understand that agility must grow, but growing is not always a pretty or healthy thing for a sport. I hate the Euro style courses. I hate all the cranking around of dogs and the fact that there are times you need to be Usain Bolt to manage: crank – sprint – crank – sprint – crank – -sprint….
I am far from Usain Bolt! I am a 63 year old, overweight, handicapped woman who had polio, now post polio, a broken (literally) knee and a bad back. I consider myself a pretty good dog trainer, but there are only so many hours in the day to train verbals and such in order to get around those International style courses. I want my dog to be able to open up and rip without me having to do the same. I have found most AKC courses fit that bill, but, unfortunately, that is slowly changing and, should that trend continue, it will drive people like me from AKC agility.
I really don’t much care what the other organizations do about their equipment and rules. I do care about AKC because that is where I choose to spend my money and my time. I do love that AKC forms a committee every few years to listen to its competitors’ wants, needs and wishes. How great is that? Every time I send in my wish list for change, sometimes I get lucky and they listen and sometimes I don’t, but at least I feel heard.
So as soon as the wish list period ends, I start a new one to submit for the next AKC Advisory Committee.
Here is my wish list for this Advisory Committee:
My AKC Wish list for the 2013 Advisory Committee
1. Time plus faults!!!
Dog agility was modeled after show jumping. Even they have time plus faults! It is time for AKC to have the same. You can have huge time faults for each knocked bar (say a 5 or 10 point penalty added to the dog’s time for each knocked bar). It would be pretty hard to qualify with 2 knocked bars if the penalty was 10 points per bar. Another alternative would be a 10 second penalty for one bar plus 20 additional seconds for each bar after. Let dogs with a bar down still Q!
GET RID OF REFUSAL calls in all classes! They are subjective and arbitrary! Let us eat up time and still Q if we are fast enough.
5 or 10 second penalty for missing the yellow on a contact but still can Q.
2. Start an Excellent C or equivalent division so the “wanna bees” and the “bees” quit complaining that courses are too easy for them. Many of us like the AKC courses and don’t think they need to be more challenging. PLEASE give that minority of competitors a class of their own so they leave the majority of us to go on loving agility, not dreading it!
3. LOWER THE DOG WALK for the love of DOG! Dogs will still be challenged but falling will not be so dangerous! One of our dogs had to be retired due to DW falls. I was a novice and she was my Novice A dog. I had no clue how to train her not to fall off. There are many others who don’t know how to train for that and sometimes, and even if you do train the dog to enter correctly, stuff happens. Why risk the dog’s health and wellbeing?
4. If you won’t lower the dog walk, at least make wraps up the DW out of tunnels or angled approaches illegal. They are DANGEROUS to the dogs!
5. If you are not going to lower the DW, teach judges about creating SAFE DW approaches. Falls from the DW can end a dog’s career or the dog’s life. If the DW is lowered, then the approach is not as important. Only straight approaches to the dog walk should be allowed at the height it is now. You can leave the DW full height in the EX C division with international style courses and let their dogs take the falls.
6. Remember, some of us are handicapped and/or old. Runs from one end of the ring to the other and back to a discrimination will drive the handicapped and old folks from AKC (less revenue for AKC). Remind judges of that too. It is DOG agility, NOT PEOPLE AGILITY! Leave the long runs, backside of jumps and twisty courses for the EX C classes. Then people have a choice.
7. Explain to judges that backsides of jumps don’t belong in T2B! It is about speed and flow! Save those HORRIBLE Euro style courses for the Excellent C classes!
8. PLEASE BAN FLEXI LEASHES!!!! Nothing is worse than having a fearful reactive dog and some idiot comes along with their goofy obnoxious dog that bounds to the end of the flexi into a fearful dog. Then they get huffy when the fearful dog reacts in terror! AKC doesn’t allow head halters, yet they allow flexi leashes. The head halter is MUCH more reasonable to allow. At least people have control over their dogs. Most of the public know it is not a muzzle. It is time for AKC to allow head halters on the grounds. Let us educate spectators who show up with pinch and chains on their dogs.
9. Allow bitches in heat to compete at the end of a class. They do it in other Countries! We are WAY behind the curve on that one.
10. Please get rid of the four paw rule. People have maximum time on course. They should spend it however they want.
11. Get rid of slats completely and make rubberized contacts mandatory. Slats are death on the dogs’ toes!
12. Get rid of fixed jump cups so there are only cups where the bar rests. Fixed cups are dangerous. Our dog was injured badly by them and I have seen many others injured by fixed jump cups.
13. 12 weave poles in novice please! 6 poles make no sense.
14. Make Aframe 5’ for regular classes and the International height for Excellent C class.
15. Get rid of the 3 weave attempt rule. People pay their money and deserve to spend it anyway they like until they run out of time. We are blessed with great weaving dogs so it is not an issue for us, but I really think it is a terrible rule.
16. Allow training in the ring WITH A TOY! We pay our money and deserve to be able to use all of our allotted times in the ring. Allow a choice for people like UKI does, where we can declare training or not and take in a toy.
17. Make dogs jump at their own jump height unless they do Excellent C, then put in the international heights so they have a choice.
18. How about all dogs run the same course except the Excellent C dogs? Just allow for the same faults you do now in novice and open. It would make the day go so much faster and save the course builders’ backs! Dogs would come in better trained and more prepared to run.
19. Make taking the backside of jumps or the same jump in both directions in sequence illegal in the regular classes! Save that crap for the Excellent C class.
20. If you don’t make all dogs run the same course, then make all dogs run clean in order to qualify, even at the novice and open levels. It is culture shock for people to go from being able to have faults to having to be perfect in Excellent.
Thank you for having this committee!!! I LOVE AKC agility and appreciate that you take our wants and needs into consideration. I feel heard! I ask for many of these changes because I want to be able to continue to compete in agility for many more years to come!
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