Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Agility and toys......the problem?

So something that has bothered me for some time has surfaced again. The debate on it a good or bad thing

Now a few months back at one of the National show weekends, I ran with a toy in my pocket (bearing in mind that the agility rules state that a competitor may not have a toy or food in their hands and no baiting is allowed with a toy or food or clicker. Now with the ball in my pocket, I was not baiting (my dog was not focussed on my pocket or toy, nor was she jumping at me to get something from me), we proceeded to run the course. My dog probably didn't even know it was there. At the second last jump my toy fell out of my pocket. My dog and I carried on running as neither of us had noticed. The judge called me over to tell me that the toy had fallen out, and that he had eliminated me. I accepted the elimination, but still knew that we had had a great round.

Now up until this day there is word going around our province that someone from PE was running with toys and furthermore, someone from our province has reported back that I caused huge upset over the weekend, and that I was severely reprimanded. This is not true at all! Sorry for you folk, but there was NO upset. I was happy to take the elimination and I never argued the fact. But… IF I want to run with a toy and get eliminated why is it such a huge issue to certain people? I want a happy dog enjoying every round with me. If I feel that I want to eliminate so that the next round and some more after that will be good for my dog, then why can't I? This is why we do agility isn't it?? To have fun with our dogs! The people that are so anti toys, and that have big mouths every time is toy is brought out anywhere near them, are the same people that run around a course screaming at their dogs, telling them how stupid they are. I would hope that at same point a judge will be brave enough to eliminate based on the following rule:

Harsh handling or unseemly behaviour will be severely condemned and will result in immediate elimination.

Now a lot of top handlers in our country want to compete with the great agility guys overseas. Has anyone actually watched their rounds? They tug with the dog to the start, put the toy in their pocket and run. Can't we see that that is why they have such amazing dogs. They come to SA for the agility world championships and they are not allowed to have their toy in the waiting area. They have to have 3 or 4 dogs waiting and they have nothing to connect with the dog. I wish that those that have a hissy fit when a toy is mentioned would actually sit and think about WHY is having a toy such a bad thing. Is it because their dogs don't play with toys, where they never trained positively?? I can think of many people in our province alone that do not do any positive encouragement or positive reinforcement. Maybe look at yourselves and wonder where YOU are going wrong.

Now the new rules for Dog jumping states that a handler may not BAIT with a toy or food within 10 meters of the ring. Our local judges had a meeting discussing how this would be judged going forward. It was decided that a bucket will be placed outside of the ring to deposit your toy AND lead. You then need to make your way to the start (off lead) to commence your round. (Either that or enlist friends to go and help you get your lead out of the ring)… Now I don't have a problem getting my dogs to the start but there are dogs that cannot do this. Surely having a lead steward to take your toy and lead from you and leave it at the finish line is not a bad idea. But then the argument, who will do the lead stewarding and that means you are allowed to have your lead in the ring. What on earth is wrong with that? What advantage (while completing the exercise) does a handler have if they want to walk their dog to the startline on lead? Well I am interested to see how the other provinces will be handling this new rule.

Come on people our sport is dying and especially in our province. There is no comaradie, there are clicks, people don't get on and they forget the reason why we do the sport, to have FUN and an ENJOYABLE time with our canine friends.

As of now I will be concentrating on having nice rounds, enjoying my dogs and keeping out of any drama that happens. No more tolerance of stupid people!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A bad day......

Irritated,annoyed,sad,disappointed,angry....just a few of the emotions I felt at the last open show.
I wont be going into details regarding my results, courses were crappy and it was a very unpleasant day.

We had a learner judge ( which I understand can make mistakes) and her courses were terrible. They were courses where it made her smile knowing that almost everyone in agility 3 dq'd. Now I am all for nice,flowing and challenging courses but having a weave entry 180 degrees from coming off the see saw is just not according to the guidelines we follow. Wasn't there an over seeing judge you may ask, OH YES there was but she never made it onto the field once to look at what was put out. Now in my opinion how can you crit or "judge" a judge by sitting in your car and watching round after round. Anyway last time I run any rounds under this judge.

Another thing, toys and leads. OMW this is all becoming a joke. I understand there will be new rules coming in affect in April, hellooooo its only FEB. But apparently we need to get used to the idea so this judge has decided to enforce this rule now and then sommer for agility too!! We had a bucket a few meters behind the startline to put toys, leads and whatever else we had with us. OK fair enough. However we were not allowed to take our dog to the actual start position on lead and if we did and chucked the lead behind us, a time keeper was told to fetch it. This meant the time keeper "creeping" up behind the dog on the start to move the lead 1 meter away. What disadvantage is there if my lead is lying behind me over the rope....who knows!! So, handlers get to the last jump and their lead, toys etc are now in a bucket behind the start jump. This means handler needs to manouver their dog around the scribe table to get your belongings while another person is trying to get their belongings in the bucket before heading to the start line. I am all for having a bucket....but PLEASE make our stuff available to us after the last obstacle. This brings me to another gripe. A grade 2 dog had just run a lovely DJ round, collected their belongings and made their way to the side of the field. The dog had the ball in its mouth and in the process of going to the gazebo literally put 2 paws into the ring on the far corner. At this time the judge was eyeballing them to see how she could nail them. are eliminated she shouted. After some discussion this decision was not reversed. The corner of the ring was cluttered with jumps, cross bars and the trailer....the only way to get off the field was to "cut the corner". EISH shame this judge must have serious issues.

Then my poor dogs…. They are quite sensitive to bad things happening. If mom is sad, upset or cranky they know, they feel and they don't enjoy it. I had just jumped one of my dogs and of course our lead wasn't nearby. I tried to walk him back to the gazebo but he kept wanting to take the quickest route back which was going across the ring. The more I called him, as I knew the judge was eyeballing us, the more he went onto the field. I then tried to carry him, eish too heavy. Next option was to try walk him by the scruff of his neck, he isn't used to this and lay down thinking I was mad with him. I would never ever manhandle or be nasty to my dogs and seems that I had to be a bit firm just to avoid us being "punished". My friends eventually tossed me a lead and we headed back to camp.

I was hoping for an enjoyable day out with my dogs but sad how one person can spoil this.

I know that not many people will be supporting this judge again, I for sure will never enter under this judge again, hope the clubs hear our pleas....otherwise unfortunately they definately wont have a good turn out.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Open shows.....and things that grate me

So Saturday morning we headed off to the first show of the year. We had AG,NC and DJ on both Saturday and Sunday. The weather was superb and I was in a good mood.....hehe dont get that often, so I was looking forward to a day of running my dogs and seeing where we are in our training.

We started with agility and it didn't go too well. The courses were quite nice but lets just say I eliminated with all 3 of my dogs and we will leave it at that. Brandi's contacts were great, but I didn't get into the correct position after the dogwalk and we eliminated going into the wrong side of the tunnel.

We had some lovely NC rounds. Brandi ran a lovely clear round winning grade 3 and Roxy in her first time in grade 2 had a cracker of a round and then knocked the last bar....eish!!

Then we started DJ. Now the entire morning during NC and AG I did the same thing with all my dogs. We tugged or played with the ball to the start line, take the toy, toss it behind me and walk into the ring to start. This was fine until our DJ rounds. I took Brandi to the start, took her frisbee and tossed it behind me, put her at the start and waited for the judge to start me. Something was mumbled to me which at first I couldn't hear and didnt know what the problem was. I then realised she was saying "please put your toy out of sight" . Now my toy was BEHIND me and my dog and neither of us was even focussing on the toy that was lying 3m away from the rope. We were clearly not going to start until my toy was moved, my training buds moved it an inch and the judge was then happy to start.

Now I am not sure what the problem was as we had the same judge all morning. I ask myself what is wrong with taking my dog to the start line happy and eager to go out there and work to our hearts content. Oh yes its the word HAPPY, some people just dont seem to get it. I have watched many rounds taking place overseas and having a tug or toy with you, to the start and sometimes even in your pockets is the norm. Are we not wanting to follow these great agility handlers? Because if we do we are clearly not doing it right. I don't see them yanking their dogs on the lead to the start, screaming at them to get into position and then shouting all the way around the course.SO on the topic of rewards. Another handler on the day decided she would place her toy 10 meters ( that is what was requested ) away from the ring in a direct line from the last jump. The dog took the last jump with the handler encouraging the dog to GO GO . The dog took the last jump and screamed straight ahead to fetch the toy.....BAITING??? I am not a judge but in my opinion that is baiting. But according to the judge on the day...THAT WAS OK!

Sunday was a different day and the judge on the day actually had a brainwave or should it be the norm? During our briefing we were told we could tug or play ball to the start, place our rewards in the bin provided and assume our position to start. After our round we could charge off to the bin, grab our toys and reward our dogs off the course. WOW.....that worked like a dream and not 1 dog was distracted or had an unfair "advantage" by having their toy in the bin.

All in all I was happy with most of my rounds from the weekend and have an idea of what we still need to work on.

And in 2 weeks time we do it all over again.....with the same judges!!