Sunday, November 20, 2011

World's Hardest Jumpers Course - For Memory Management

Too many parallel jumps just boggles the mind! This course is a true test of the handler's memory skills. This would be an awesome course for a national event.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time to move on

I've been training at the same place for years. I've been there longer than any other agility student, and all the agility instructors. I do not expect special treatment. I do, however, expect to be treated the same as the others.

I am not returning to classes with Boo, as I feel there is inadequate instruction. This is a beginner level class, and feel that the class shouldn't be "follow the numbers" and "That's nice." One should get instruction, like "Try this."

My class with Bug has turned interesting, as my instructor is no longer speaking to me. Other dog/handler teams last night received, "Good Job!"s.

My older dog, Scout, earned her PDCH-Platinum a few weekends ago. There is usually a big celebration in class, even though she no longer attends. Zilch.

I have a theory on WHY this is going on, but can't substantiate it yet. If it is true, it's most pathetic that a person takes directives from someone else about to whom he/she may speak and behave.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where are the USDAA small dogs? Part 2

The rules at USDAA trials are rather loose, like no requirement to have a dog on a leash, and some vague "sportsmanlike conduct". AKC, well, there's long list in their code of conduct. I can see how this code is appealing to the small dog handlers.

There appears to be an "us against them" mentality between the small dog handlers and the larger dog handlers. Just because your dog is bred to give eye, bite, herd, give chase, or whatever doesn't mean the behavior is acceptable towards other creatures.

Someone posted a picture of a dog gripping a cow on Facebook, very pleased with her dog's (a relative of the pictured dog) mouthiness. Only thing about it is... this dog does NOT participate in herding - it's an agility dog.

Bragging about this got my panties in a bunch. Why? Bug has been a victim of this dog's mouth. Twice. And, the handler NEVER apologized.

Scout just doesn't like most other dogs. I monitor everything around her, as I don't want her to have the opportunity to react. I give warnings. "My dog doesn't like other dogs." I apologize if I haven't been vigilant. Upon hearing Scout's story during an award presentation, most handlers were surprised that she is reactive. "I never knew... you manage it well".

Here are some of the things that my dogs have been subjected to:

  • Walking Boo around at a trial where there was limited space. I chose to return to my setup with my dog that looks like a walking lamby toy through an uncongested area. A border collie rips out of a setup and nails Boo. Boo is clueless and keeps walking. Handler came to me in tears, apologizing, and offering to pay for any veterinary care.
  • Getting Bug ready for a run. He's at my feet, and I have him growling and tugging. A leashed BC is giving him the eye, then goes in for the bite. No apology.
  • Same trial, getting Bug ready for a run. Same BC does same thing. This time Bug reacts, snapping and lunging at the other dog. No apology.
  • Walking Bug, getting him to do his business before his run. Walk 6' behind a BC at ringside whose owner is getting him jazzed up by watching other dogs (BAITING). Dog turns and nips Bug. I get the "why is your dog harassing mine" look.
  • Bug's first day in agility class. Aussie in the other group has fixated on him from the moment we walked in the gate. Aussie is over 75' away and attacks Bug, who is leashed and attached to a weave pole.
Oh, and don't think I'm on a tear about border collie owners. Some small dog owners can be just as guilty!
  • Scout, Ms. Reactive, is being prepared for a run. Her routine is a series of left and right spins and barks. She jumped 16" in Performance, first dog in a large class, so I'll never understand why these morons had their 16" Championship dog out 30 minutes early. The handler of an Italian Greyhound, a breed with petite bones, was rubbing his dog's side, asking him if he wanted to... get Scout - the last dog to ever use as a bait dog.
  • Getting Boo ready for his turn in class. I'm about 30' away from equipment, and he's doing his "rev" routine - kicking his hind legs and barking. The dog currently doing the exercise makes a beeline towards Boo. Twice. I am fortunate to still have quick reflexes, and snatch Boo off the ground. Twice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are the USDAA small dogs?

I have three (rescue) dogs:

Scout is probably a Shiba/Kelpie Mix, 17" and 20.5#. She is an open dog, though one of the smallest.

Bug is a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, 12.25" and 12.5#. He is a mini dog, jumping 16" in Championship.

Boo is a Chihuahua/Something mix, about 10" and 7#. He is in training.

Boo has been special needs since the day I brought him home. He was tranquilized for his neuter surgery, arrived dopey, and remained so for a week. He also refused to eat. And do his business outside. He's lucky that he's adorable.

I know there is the argument about the USDAA jump heights, as the little dogs would either jumpe 12"/16" Championship or 8"/12" Performance. This is part of the issue.

I had trouble with Bug popping weave poles. No one could tell me why, that is, until I came across a small dog person. "You're too close to him. He sees feet, and thinks you will step on him."

Therein lies the problem: Training the small dog in a world of BC-only instruction.
  • How many agility seminars are given by people who train something other than a border collie?
  • How many pictures in Clean Run are NOT of border collies?
  • How many articles have you read that give specific training advice to a dog that isn't a border collie/sheltie/aussie?
Technical courses with tight course times, the IHC flair, the long distance in gamblers.

Technical courses with generous course times, optional games.

Perhaps AKC appears to be a more viable option for the small dog handlers because the handler has difficulty applying large dog training into their small dog world.

This really bothers me, as I am having trouble training Boo, especially with fear of the teeter, and subsequently, the dogwalk. My class is a waste of both time and money. Oh, and the other fun thing about a small dog: other dogs want to eat them AND the other dog owner doesn't apologize.

Boo is a little fella living in a world of giants. I know he has it in him, but I need help unleashing his inner beast.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog Action Day Post: Thoughts on Volunteering

I am a software engineer. I work 40+ hours a week, in a cube next to a wall - a dead-end pathway. I plug away, having a little code fiesta at my desk with very little interaction with others. But, hey, it pays for my agility habit!

Since I work a lot, my time is very valuable to me. Attending agility trials becomes MY time: time for me, time for my dogs, and time to turn into a social butterfly. Working like a dog at a trial, especially after working like a dog at my job, can be unappealing. There are a lot of factors that determine whether or not I volunteer at a trial.

  1. Most people like getting a paycheck, especially when it supports their agility addictions. Trial bucks are a great way of encouraging people like me to help. $2 here and there can add up to a free run or two. It's also a great way to get the volunteers to enter a future trial, as those bucks are burning holes in their pockets.
  2. If a club is new and/or struggling, I will work. I selfishly want the club to continue having trials, and it's to my benefit to pitch in when needed.
  3. If I am being or have been treated poorly, forget it.
I trial secretary for a club, and am rewarded with certificates for free entries. If you think it's a cake job, think again. You get tons of emails, phone calls, rules questions, and change requests. I also joke that I am a full-service trial secretary - I do all the paperwork, I'll score, and I bake goodies for the workers.

I am the chief scorekeeper for a small club. I get non-tournament entries in return for 1.5 dogs. I say 1.5 since one dog runs everything and one is nearing retirement. I really want this small club to be successful so I can continue playing with my dogs locally. I have score kept for a small club out-of-town as well, and I did it for lunch, and, well, the people were just so darn nice!

What prevents me from helping can be how the club, in general, behaves.

The Screech Owl
I used to travel to a particular trial in California frequently. However, it's difficult to even want to attend, much less volunteer, when you have venue-specific people "helping" at a venue that he/she doesn't like, especially listening to the screeching of how said volunteer is missing a great trial in his/her venue non-stop. This particular club also is known for being slow, as the course builders snarl at those willing to schlep equipment around.

The Beaten Dog
Another club has few members able to do scoring. I am asked to score. I spend the entire weekend running numbers like an accountant, away from my dogs and my friends. I am "rewarded" with trial bucks that don't even cover the cost of one future run, and no thanks. I do not volunteer for this club anymore. This is akin to running a course with your dog, and not playing with or treating your dog afterward.

The Yell-Off
Listening to the trial committee YELL constantly. Hey, when labor is either for a pittance or free, you get what you get. Don't yell at us! Kill us with kindness.

The Hostage Crisis
I blogged about being held hostage at a trial earlier.

The Clipboard Master
Someone who walks around, bossing others, demanding everyone pitch in, being ungrateful, yet all this trial committee person does is carry a clipboard. Does he set a bar? Nope. Does he help move the A-Frame? Nope. Does he even say "Thanks"? Nope.

The Hoarder
This happened to a friend of mine. She pole sat for a class that lasted for over an hour, and the volunteer coordinator wouldn't give her a raffle ticket unless she worked three classes.

The Winner
What tickles me the most is having someone come up and say, "Thanks for helping out. You're doing great." I think this is the best reward of them all. An email to the Yahoo Group thanking everyone is insufficient. Everyone likes when their boss tells them, "Job well done," and it's perhaps the BEST thing a club can do to encourage volunteers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learn Thy Rules

I hate admitting this as much as admitting that this is true: I am the walking USDAA rulebook.

I've read the rulebook (both the 2004 + modifications and the one that begins June 1), and can rattle off answers to a lot of questions. The ones that kill me the most are the Masters handlers who have competed with multitudes of dogs that ask, "How many points to qualify in snooker?" and those that can follow USDAA's titling requirement matrix.

I encountered another problem this weekend: Trying to stack the deck in snooker.

A competitor asked a long-time USDAA judge about the running order rules for Masters/PIII Snooker. The answer is that the order is randomized. You *may* space out dogs, but the dog can only move up in the running order. Question asked and answered. Done deal, right?

Wrong! The competitor cornered the inexperienced trial secretary to talk about the running order. The competitor is running a dog for someone else as well as this person's own dog. Since the other dog is known to mess up, the competitor wants the other dog to ALWAYS run first. I happened across the conversation.

I should preface this by saying that I've helped the trial secretary with the software and the rules in preparation for this trial. Both the judge and I told the trial secretary that Snooker is randomized, and WHY it's randomized, and that the order can only be changed by moving up. There is NO spacing between dogs guarantee - the ring will be held. The trial secretary was very understanding and receptive to help with the rules.

The competitor then got pissy when I rearranged the Veterans dogs. Once again, someone not familiar with the rules. The USDAA Veterans program is NOT COMPETITIVE. There are no real placements and no SuperQs, only Qs going toward Lifetime Achievement Award. Another competitor got pissy about it as well, telling me that eventually there will be SuperQs. Uh, no. It's non-competitive. Period.

There were a grand total of TWO Veteran Snooker dogs: one mini and one open. Once again, if competitors could, uh, actually read the rules, they would quickly learn that OPEN dogs are scored separately from MINI dogs.

It was awesome for USDAA to offer a Veterans program, but it's still a shame that handlers cannot fathom it not being a competition. At Nationals, it's called the "Veterans Showcase", and I like to think the same of the Veterans Program.

Please, familiarize yourself with the rules. You don't need to know all of them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dear Clean Run

The following is my letter to the editor of Clean Run regarding someone's letter.

Dear Clean Run,

I did take offense to seeing a breeder advertisement in Clean Run. Regardless of how accomplished and/or responsible the breeder is, Clean Run is NOT a purebred-only and breeding publication. If I want to see breeder ads, I can subscribe to AKC publications.

However, what I found more offensive are the rebuttal letters, namely So-and-So's comment regarding rescue dogs, “However many do it while suffering through health and structure problems.” Where are the numbers that back up this claim?

I never knew that all three of my rescue dogs (and mixes at that) are suffering health problems, while all those well-bred purebred dogs are not. There are plenty of “reputable” breeders breeding dogs with seizures, dogs unable to jump, luxating patellas, among other physical issues. I can name these dogs.

I have yet to meet a rescue dog that is one of these “many” unfortunate dogs mentioned. I do have a rescue with a collapsed trachea. That’s not poor breeding – that’s poor care before I got him. The other two are very healthy, including an 11.5 year-old who can still compete.

I am disgusted with the amount of pure hatred people have towards rescue dogs. I terminated a friendship when one person said, “All rescue dogs should be euthanized.”

Please cease perpetuating the rescue dog myths.

What I did glean from the letter writer is that she bought a dog from a backyard breeder (BYB), and had to retire the dog early due to physical problems. Here's what I don't get: How is this a rescue dog? You paid a shitload of money to "rescue" a puppy from a backyard. If your issue is with BYBs not giving a crap about the health of a dog, then say that! Don't lump all rescues in your diatribe. Dogs from reputable breeders end up with a rescue group or in the pound as well.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

USDAA Title/LAA Worksheet

I've just updated the Title Worksheet for the Veterans Program.