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A loo, a loo. My kingdom for a loo...

There are those who might say that Soraya Porter has a fixation with PCs - no, not personal computers, but public conveniences - but for those of us who suffer terribly from pre-competition nerves, they are an essential part of any competition. If you spend a large amount of your time occupied in visiting these ‘conveniences’, it is possible to become quite an expert in all aspects of the ‘lavvy

 Any seasoned competitor soon develops a ritual pattern for visitation.

Visit upon arrival
This is essential preparation for future more hasty visits. Here you can stroll at your leisure before walking your courses; taking time to spy out where your rings are. At this time of the day there is unlikely to be queue, toilet rolls are plentiful, little paper towels are in neat receptacles for easy dispensing, soap is pristine, floors are clean, bins are empty, every door has a working catch and there is the delicate astringent aroma of cheap air fresheners sufficient to remove any nasal hair from your snout.

Pre first run dash
This occurs after you’ve walked the course more times than you can list on one hand. You’ve watched other people walk the course. You’ve listened to other people’s conversations as you’ve marched round en masse. You’ve clandestinely listened into several Senior handlers conversations about the course. You’ve changed your mind many times, and wondered ‘
why on earth’ you thought you could do an Open class anyway. So as you stand there dithering, your bladder decides to muscle in on the act and, glimpsing at your watch, you decide you’ve just got time to nip to the loo.

Big mistake! Now there is a queue. In fact it’s not a queue, but a practice for the town’s biggest Conga line. It’s not even a solely human queue – there are dogs there too! Why? Isn’t the exercise area big enough?

Aside: I forgot to mention earlier that we are, in fact, talking solely about ladies PCs. I have little experience of Gents. However, one thing I do know about Gents loos is that there is rarely, if ever, a queue for the men’s loos.

So you stand in line, wondering if you can get round twenty obstacles without losing control of your bladder, whilst shouting frantically at a fast receding hound. Wondering if you should brazen it out and walk into the Gents, wondering...

Finally, you’re there. Into the cubicle you dash, sighing in relief you then discover there is no loo paper. You call in a strangled voice for someone to  strangled voice for someone to lob you some toilet tissue.

This has one of two results. Either you suddenly feel like you’re sitting on a loo (with your trackie bottoms round your ankles) in the middle of a ticker tape parade as loo paper rains down on you from all directions. Or ( and this is more common) you sit there in splendid isolation feeling like you’re the only person in the world as you’re met with a deafening embarrassed silence. After all who else wants to admit that they’ve used the loo with no paper or, worst of all, that they’ve just used the last piece?

Having managed to carry out your ablutions in time to still run your first event, you are now vowing to last out the rest of the competition without going to the loo. You start to limit your liquid intake, despite it being a boiling hot day. This doesn’t last though. Eventually, you have to drink something, because even the much-slurped water for the dogs provided at all the Trade Stands is starting to look enticing.

Mini handlers complaint
I include all those spectators who watch the popular crowd pleaser, the Eukanuba Mini Circular Knockout. Hands up all those out there who thought this was purely an event of speed and accuracy for dog and handler? Wrong! This is the product of some evil genius to test the bladder control of all attending – competitors, spectators, ring party and judges. It’s fast and furious; competitors are told not to leave the vicinity until the class has finished – if you miss your turn you’re out. No second chance here. It consists of several high-speed rounds and ring parties are under pressure to process competitors ASAP. Events normally take place on a boiling hot day with the sun beating down, and everyone knocking back the clear stuff. I’ve witnessed it several times – what happens when a competitor of several rounds is eliminated? What happens when the class finishes? Everyone dashes to the loo! Evil, I tell you...

Scene of devastation
So it's coming to the end of the show, and you decide to make just one more visit to the facilities before the long journey home. You may well have avoided any queue but, when you enter the building - permanent or temporary - a scene of devastation meets your eyes. Obviously the local outing of ‘Slobs Are Us’ has snuck in while no one was looking.

Paper towels are stuck to every conceivable surface, and none are in their receptacle. At least one door is hanging from its hinges and it’s not the same one as the one missing its lock. All toilet rolls are missing from every cubicle, but some thoughtful soul has provided some from their own stash. Sadly half of this has succumbed to the same ailment as the paper towels, and are stuck to floors and other inappropriate surfaces for the general dismay and confusion of would be users.

The soap has become a master of disguise, and those few examples left have either transmogrified into bad jelly like props left over from an old Doctor Who episode, or, more scarily, decided to grow a winter coat for the more inclement weather ahead, and are now adorned with a variety of hair and grot of all colours and types. Anyone moving too swiftly is likely to be bitten and in need of urgent Rabies jabs.

We’ve talked in general terms about PC usage, but I have not warned you about the more specific hazards of the loo. Users beware – a loo for the general usage of the public can be a very dangerous thing. Some of these hazards are peculiar to all PCs, but some are most definitely only encountered at Agility Shows. PCs are
not for the faint hearted.

First up is a common one – the cracked loo seat. This comes in two forms.

  1. The first is straight forward. You lower yourself to the seat and a swift, painful nip is administered to one or both buttocks depending on the location of the crack.

  2. The second form is much nastier – you place yourself upon the seat and unbeknown to you the crack opens on an unsuspecting posterior. You only know about it when you lift yourself from said seat with the loo seat attached to your derrière, inflicting extreme pain. Only by sitting down again can you remove the offending article.

For the strong willed this is the answer, but sadly, all too often, the pain is such that you pull away, inflicting a bad bruise at best and, at worst, ripping the seat from the loo which remains firmly attached to your behind. Not only are you in pain, but also you’re officially a loo seat ripping vandal!

Next comes one of the agility hazards – dog’s heads! Uh? I hear you say? Well, picture the scene. It’s your first visit of the day. You’re sitting there contemplating your next run, when suddenly you see a movement out of the corner of your eye. Swiftly you look down at the floor where the gap between cubicle wall and floor resides. There it is again – you see hair – tawny, tousled. Is someone trying to get in? Is it a small child? As you gaze in horror all becomes clear and you go back to your contemplation – A long pointy nose followed by two brown eyes appear in the gap. A dog,
of course, should have guessed. Perfectly natural for someone to take a dog to the loo after all, isn’t it?

I have noticed this does seem to be a habit of elderly ladies with small dogs. Is this the agility equivalent of Alzheimer’s? You have been warned.

Moving on to fixtures and fittings; be sure to check you locks AND MAKE SURE YOU OPERATE THEM CORRECTLY. This is particularly important when making use of the less popular form of PCs -  the PortalooRemember this door is the only thing between you and the wide, wide world. Humiliation is sure to follow if you do not employ a locks services.

 I speak from very personal experience. Sitting with you undies around your ankles, elevated for all to see, is not how I wanted to view the complete stranger who suddenly pulled open my Portaloo door at All About Dogs. Not only did it scar both of us for life, but I bumped into him everywhere I went at the show for the rest of that day.

Lastly, a word to the wise. If you are at a show, try and use the facilities nearest to Jill’s tent. As a seasoned campaigner she has a plentiful supply of toilet tissue and, providing you know the secret password, she may be able to supply you with a black-market roll to smuggle into your cubicle. What’s the secret password? You’ll have to speak to Jill...

Reprinted from the Suffolk Five Rivers DTC Newsletter

About the author...
Soraya Porter trains 2-3 times a week at three clubs - 5 Rivers, West Suffolk and Deben and teachs regularly at two of the clubs. Last year, with the help of the ever supportive Ernie, she managed to survive and pass the Agility Club Approved Instructors Course, which was a real highpoint of my year

From Paula Triggs, a victim...
Soraya forgot to mention the so called 'friend' who likes to give the portaloo you are sitting in a quick shake, which makes it seem like an earthquake to the poor beggar inside! Just beware if Colin Whitear is lurking nearby!


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