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.