I was spending too much time dilly dallying around on Facebook, so I chose this weekend to put an end to that.  I only posted three rescue dogs from petharbor on Saturday night, and that I did directly from petharbor and not from FB.  However, when I opened my email on late Sunday morning, someone’s comment came through regarding one of the dogs, so I had to click on it to see which.  Then, for some reason probably due to habit, I clicked on the FB logo, and landed on my main news page, where I got a quick glance at a post from 300 posts earlier, meaning Saturday.  She was asking who was running on the live stream.  Ugh!  I had quickly closed out the site, but when that registered, I had to go back to see.  A livestream agility trial on the web is not something I can ignore. It ends up that not only was it airing this weekend, it was free.  FREE!  I had missed all day Saturday,  which wasn’t horrible.  I convinced myself washing the Aussies was much better.  They smell luscious now, and had I known about the live stream, those baths wouldn’t have happened.

So in between doing laundry, I watched this trial.  At some point, I watched the president and vice president of the USDAA run their Border Collies in starters pairs. I’m just saying this was scary. I would not like my dog running with someone else’s dog chasing after him. Nope. Not funny.

Outside of that, the rest of the runs were entertaining and worth a watch. I learn from this stuff. Some handlers are so graceful. I love watching the good handlers who have long limbs. They’re like agility ballerinas. I am not. So I live vicariously.

One bothersome thing with a lot of runs was it seems to be the thing these days to remove your dog from the ring when he does something wrong. Some handlers removed their dogs at the second obstacle in the grand prix course. There was a shoot then a dog walk with a tunnel wrapped beneath it. The dogs were supposed to take the tunnel. Quite a few took the walk, and their handlers removed them from the course. Some dogs jumped off the dog walk in the middle of going across to be removed. Removed! After one obstacle! For a while, I thought this removal, when the NQ whistle blew, was mandatory, until someone started a trend and did the rest of the course, which would be what I’d do. Here’s a great handler reaction to her dog who was going into the tunnel, I thought so, and when she turned her back, took the dog walk. But she kept on going and had a nice run otherwise.

I understand the concept behind removing a dog from a course, but I think it’s being used more broadly than it’s meant to be.  The proper way to apply this method, as I understand it, is if a dog is having an issue with something like a startline stay, and he breaks the stay, then you remove him because you’ve been working on this issue and supposedly the dog knows better. So when he breaks the stay, he gets the whole run taken away from him as a punishment.  (And you lose all the money you’ve invested each time this happens.)  I’ve seen a local handler remove her dog for such a variety of mistakes over months of trials, it has to be confusing to the dog.  It is to me! Anytime the dog makes a mistake, the run stops. The dog is humiliated and removed for the mistake of the day, which probably is made from a result of free floating anxiety.  So I’m just wondering, were all these handlers working on obstacle discrimination issues when they removed their dogs or was this a punishment for a mistake?  Or maybe they were being polite and once they knew they NQ’d, they left the ring?

What happened to the fun in agility?  Dogs are supposed to have fun!  They aren’t supposed to be darting through tunnels and over dog walks while being chased by a loose teammate!  (Why isn’t there a rule in place to collect the loose dog to make it safe for the dog running the course?  Just saying.)  And should there be so much pressure that dogs get removed for anything slight of perfection?  I guess for some, but that’s not my cup of tea.

One Response to “Agility Commentary”

  1. Kristine says:

    I’ve never competed in a real trial but I don’t get this removing one’s dog from the ring thing either. I have watched my trainer many times and when her dogs make mistakes on the course, even if she isn’t going to Q, she goes back and makes them do the obstacle over again and then continues on with the rest of the course. It’s her money, may as well get some practice in, right? That is what I will do – not that Shiva and I will make any mistakes. 😉
    Also, I would worry that just removing my dog would teach her that she doesn’t need to do the obstacle properly if she doesn’t want to. Which I do not want. Thirdly, it is for FUN! At least, for me it is. Walking off the course because of an error isn’t a good time for me or my dog. Shrugging it off and doing our best anyway, that is what gives me a good feeling at the end. But I suspect I will never be as high ranking as many of the competitors you watched on the weeked. I’m cool with that.

    That first video was totally scary. At first I laughed but when I saw the mishap on the dog walk… Yikes! I guess their dogs can handle it.