Friday, February 24, 2012

Agility Sportsmanship

We are agility competitors.
We give applause, not a cold two beat clap as we introduce our competitors.
We sincerely congratulate those who beat us, not merely give them a dull high-five.

Why play alone when the two of us can run as one?
There are no coaches yelling at us from the sidelines; only the cheers of fans and supporters as we cross the finish line.
We may have messed up, but we aren't scolded or punished.
The only "back talk" we receive is the excited barking from our partners as we run the course.

Boys or girls, neither we nor our partners are discriminated against by gender.
Me and my dog are the team; there is no such thing as a "clique" in our pair.
One mistake and we don't qualify.
We take the blame for all mistakes on the course; we don't blame our teammate.

Our teammates are extreme athletes.
Pivots, crosses, wraps, and precise timing outshine running with a ball in a straight line with an occasional cut or turn.
We train and prepare for competition all year long; not just a season.
We get championship titles after our names forever; not just a plaque declaring that we beat a few schools for one season in high school.

We work our way up to the top, taking the time we need.
We don't push beyond our limits to try to outdo the other competitors.
The people we compete against are our BEST friends.
We never back talk our referee (judge), because they're our friends too.

We're recognized no matter where we are on the agility field.
My partner and I aren't pressured and overworked to achieve our best, because we're both out there to have FUN.
Most importantly: Our dogs don't talk behind our backs to other teammates and complain about us. They're just happy to be there.

Agility is a sport.
A sport, that no matter what, makes us feel great at the end of our run.
Disaster or not, it's impossible to get mad at our teammates when we look at them looking up adoringly at us.

Agility is a sport.
Our sport. Our passion. For the rest of our life.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Agility Tryouts

Think back to when you were first getting information about participating in dog agility.  You may have seen one of the trials at Palmetto Islands County Park or maybe stumbled upon our website.  You were intrigued, excited, and ready to start so you could hurry up and make it to nationals!  That may have been years ago or just a few months ago.  Still, agility has made an impression upon you an your dogs.  Sure it has been frustrating and not to mention EXPENSIVE at times, but you have made great friends and grown close with your dog.  Now it is time to share that joy with your family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. 

On Tuesday March 6th at 7pm we will be having Agility Tryouts at the LCDA training field.  Anyone is free to come, no agility experience needed.  A group of instructors will be testing dogs to determine what class would be best suited for them.  PLEASE spread the word about this great event to everyone you can!  It was an awesome success in the fall resulting in TWO, count them TWO, full introduction to agility classes.  Many of the participants from these classes are now members of our club. 

If you know someone who is interested in coming please have them email LeAnne Meyer at

Happy Training!
Lindsay Shuler
Rascal and Abby

Monday, February 13, 2012

Time To Play

Life is busy. We work, go to school, have family, go to church, and play sports.  Every member of our club has multiple different options for how to spend an hour, and yet we choose to go to the field to play with our dog. Marital negotiation is often involved: (If I can have this hour to play at the field, you can have 3 hours to bike tomorrow! If I sign up for the 8pm class, can you be home by 7:30 to take over bedtime parent duties?). Negotiation at work happens: (Hey guys, if we take off this Friday for a trial, can everyone work Wednesday instead?). We skip yoga or leave work a little early because it’s a beautiful day outside, and those eager brown eyes are staring at you with a questioning wag of the tail: “Can we go?”

As a parent of a young child, I have tried to incorporate agility into our family regimen without making it seem like “my time”.  Most of you know my son Reed- many of you have held his hand during a run through or have found an errant tractor in a tunnel. At this point, he is very agile himself.  He knows how to weave, perform the teeter, scoot through a tunnel, and lie on the table. He is learning to recognize numbers and help me label a course!  Because of this, we go to the field at undesirable hours, not because we are anti-social. While Hunley and I are drilling contacts, there is often a soccer game with husband and child being played on the field, jump poles turned into forts, and a buffet lunch of Panera being served on the fence. Sometimes there is a kid under the A frame that pops out just at the wrong moment (and people wonder why Hunley generally sticks with me?!).

I justify these activities by thinking that this has made my dog a better agility dog. Hunley has to focus on me or our game is over for the day. It lets me spend quality time with my child and my dog together in the outdoors. I’m hopeful that my child will bond with animals the way his parents have- dedicating his life to their health and welfare.  And hey, if a large ball ever rolls on the field during a trial or the judge hides under a contact, I am fairly confident that my dog will keep running with me!

I appreciate being a member of a club that is family friendly and willing to hold a little hand while I run a course.  I appreciate that I have a healthy, happy dog that will run with me despite most distractions. I appreciate that I have a child that is pretty flexible about his parent’s extracurricular activities. Most of all, I appreciate that I have found the time to play with my dog! 

Anne Cook

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chute Setters, Ring Crew, and Leash Runners, OH MY!

 An introduction to some volunteer jobs at an agility trial

So, you have completed the intro to agility classes (or maybe a couple of them), loved the handling classes, and finally, here you are ready to enter your first trial. As you complete the registration form, not only must you decipher the form, you also must indicate what volunteer jobs to work. What? Volunteer??  Well, this blog is all about those “little” jobs around the ring which help so much in keeping a trial running smoothly.  First, let me state a couple of facts about these volunteer/ring crew positions - pay is terrible, for our Charleston, SC club, most of them take place in the hot sun, and finally, the work is very, very appreciated but with thank-you's not said enough to those who do volunteer. 

Let me start with Ring Crew. The ring crew actually gets the honor of sitting inconspicuously around the ring to replace fallen bars and change heights on bar jumps, spread jumps, the table, the A-frame, and swing-tire between the runs of various heights of the dogs.  Did I mention it is also a great place to get a tan, relax, and watch other people run the course? Bar setters should be prepared to move swiftly to reset any fallen bars during a run (at the Judge's discretion) especially if the jump is used multiple times during a run.  The judge or the gate steward announce the jump height to which the bars are to be set.  This job requires up and down sitting, bending, and walking.  

Chute Setter: Not too hard here - this job is exactly as it sounds. What can be rough is when those speeding fast agility dogs run thru the chute like a bullet and tangle the end of the chute upon exiting.  This job requires lots of bending and fluffing of the chute.  

Leash Runner/Scribe Sheet Runner: The leash runner moves the leash of the dog running the course from the Start line to the Finish line (after the dog/handler have begun their run). Wow, that sounds easy and one gets to check out everyone's cool leashes. Ok, so while admiring that leash and watching the dog run, don't forget to actually walk the leash from point A to point B, not disrupting the dog while it is still on the line, or during the run. Better to wait until the dog has crossed several contacts or jumps, then retrieve the leash and either lay it on the ground or hang it on the leash holder near the exit. Scribe sheet runner takes the completed sheets from the scribe (who/what is the scribe will be discussed in a future blog) at the end of the run and hands them to the scorekeeper. Both of these jobs require standing, some bending, and walking. 

Course Builder: These are the individuals who actually place the various jumps, contacts (table, dog walk, A-frame, teeter), and/or tunnels on the field as per the Judge's course maps so everyone runs the same specified course. This particular job is an all day trial job: you'll be working in between each change in the level of competition (Masters/PIII to Advanced/PII, Advanced/PII to Starters/PI and vice versa), and between categories such as Jumpers, Gamblers, Snooker, Steeplechase, etc. This job requires a lot of manual lifting of jumps, A-frame, teeter, dog walk, the table, etc. and requires knowledge of how to read the course map (what each symbol on the map represents, how to determine distances and positions on the field from the map, etc.)  

There are other jobs like timer, scribe, and gate steward, but these jobs are more complicated and may not be the best for your first trial.  I hope this helps when it comes time to indicate your volunteer position at your first and subsequent trials' registration form. 

Sue Tetanich