So something that has bothered me for some time has surfaced again. The debate on toys...is 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!