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Share your thoughts and insights...

Agility people may be better at navigating a course than writing a story but, thanks to social media, most of us have a chance to say what we think and share our acquired experiences. This is a place where you can express your personal opinion. It's what we're here for. Put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard and email your ideas to Agilitynet.

What's the Hurry?
From Hannah Louise Wade

I know this has been talked about over and over again but something needs to be done before a dog or a child is seriously hurt.

I was recently at a show and the speed of cars coming in and out the venue this weekend was appalling! We were parked at the gate and I've lost count how many times I had to literally scream at people to slow down and I know I am not the only one! I donít understand what is going through people's heads. They seem so desperate to get to their spot whether it's camping or day parking!

 What are we going to do?

I think clubs are going to have to start being firm and saying you speed you leave!  Come on show managers and clubs, itís time to start being aware and get firm!

You speed you leave.

From Dawn Gilmour...
Following on from this post, Gleniffer has decided to crack down on speeding vehicles. If anyone is seen speeding at Gleniffer Show in the future, their vehicle registration number will be noted and placed in the incident book. This will be sent to the KC, and a record of the vehicle will also be kept on a spreadsheet. If the same vehicle appears twice, you will not be allowed back to our shows. We will be very strict on this. 5mph is walking pace - nothing more. You have been warned. Let's hope all KC clubs join us in our bit to slow everyone down. (12/09/18)

When Judges Say No
From Beth Burton

If you have asked a judge more than once if you can put your dog back on the contacts and the judge has not verbally replied but is looking at you in away that clearly says 'No,' then, in my opinion, you either carry on or leave the ring. Surely if you have a problem with this, you should take it up with the judge at the time or speak to the Show Manager at the time, not jump on FB here or your personal page, afterwards because you didn't get what you wanted?

To me, a non-verbal answer to my first request = 'No' and the look, grumpy/cross, would mean that I am right in thinking that's a no then.

It's not the judge's fault your dog can't hold their contacts if you want them to stop on them or that you broke the rules.

Recently a friend of mine was running her dog at a show when he put himself back on the contact. Though my friend knew why she had been E'd, the judge made sure she knew the reason.  She friend appreciate this and said how lovely it was of the judge to check she knew why she had been eliminated.

Our judges give up their time so we can enjoy competing with our dogs for little to no thanks - unless we get it right on the day and are placed.

Judges, I love you all and am very grateful for what you do for us competitors.

I'm Proud
From Victoria Paine

I see so many proud posts on Facebook with a zillion rosettes from competitions, and thatís really awesome. But do you know what Iím most proud about?

Iím proud that after rehoming my idiot collie from a totally unsuitable home that weíve become a team - and that we are becoming an awesome team.

Iím proud that I can see where weíve come from, not just in his abilities but in mine, too. And Iím excited for the journey we have ahead.

Iím proud that Iíve a super awesome club that grounds me, lifts me, teaches me, laughs with me and cries with me (sometimes literally). It doesnít matter if we are having a shocking run or a super awesome one, because look how far weíve come and look how hard we are trying to do it right. And if that takes us all of our life, then who actually cares?

Iím proud that on my journey Iíve learnt how best to take care of the idiot that is now my collie and, as a result, he is fit and healthy. He jumps and runs balanced without rattling poles and  is, touch wood, generally injury free.

Because who actually cares whether we hit the top grades quickly? Because if and when we hit them we will be fit. We will be healthy and we will deserve to be there. And above all, we will have had an awesome time getting there!

What Do People Want from Our Hobby?
From Simon Chandler

Yes, of course we want our dogs to be as safe as possible. We hope that the equipment that is used is of a high standard and as uniform across the board as possible, but we have to remember a few things.

Firstly Agility is inherently dangerous. We are asking dogs to do unnatural actions, sometimes at high speeds. Accidents occasionally happen as they do in any physical activity whether it is undertaken by humans or animals. But surely we are all aware of this when we decide to partake or ask our animals to do the same.

We cannot keep trying to make changes just for the sake of it. If you want to alleviate risk, then we will have no equipment left to compete with. People wanted new distances because they didn't like seeing dogs screwing themselves into the ground trying tight turns. Now the courses are generally more flowing which, of course, is good for the dogs but that brings more speed so conversely more risk of accidents. 

Iím encouraged when I look at some courses, knowing that the judges have thought about lines etc. Of course, there will be those that maybe aren't up to what we may like, but then we have a simple solution. Either run it or don't. You have the choice.

Then, of course, we have to accept the fact that Agility is an activity that is not suitable for all breeds of dogs. If I had Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound or dog of a large size, I wouldn,t dream of doing Agility with it. There may be dogs like that that are doing it, but does it mean they should be! Letís face it... Iíd like to be able to do numerous somersaults in a race with a proper tumble, but the fact that Iím built like a baby elephant and have the athletic prowess of arthritic Orang-utan would mean Iíd lose. So maybe I shouldnít attempt or, if I did try, soon realise that this isn't for me.

Agility is like that for some breeds, so maybe we shouldn't be 'dumbing down' equipment and courses in the belief that it is helping certain breeds.

Iím not against anything that potentially makes it safer for me to run my super fast dog around a course but not at the detriment of making courses too easy. After all, we need to remember that the Agility competitions we enter are tests and should be treated as such. I want to test my dog against the judge, his/her course and against my fellow competitors in that test. I donít want to just run around thinking this is boring. I want to push him and show his athleticism off to others. Does this make me a selfish owner? No, I donít think it does.

We enter competitions for various reasons but just because we sometimes donít get things how we want, why should we change it to suit ourselves. We should look at the bigger, wider picture and think of others who maybe are generally happy with their lot.

I see a lot of comments that start with 'my dog isnít suited to this' and 'This doesnít suit me' or 'I canít do this because I have to run.' Add this to the already growing trend of 'judge bashing' and soon competitions will be sterile - jumps on the floor, A-frames and dogwalks six inches off the floor, no tunnels, no weaves.

So please people, let's just get on with what I believe is a great hobby and try putting a smile back on faces when we stand in the middle of a field sending our dogs over sticks.

Food for Thought
From Graham Partridge

I have just spent the day judging in Finland where they offered four runs per dog. Entry fees for first run is £12. Any other runs are £10.50 per run, so four runs = £43.50.

No trophies, no rosettes, goody bags only.

Just saying sometimes we do not appreciate how lucky we are.

Just in Case...

From Gill Cowie

I know that the majority of us have plans in place for when illness etc strikes and our dogs need looking after but I am just rethinking the whole scenario.

I am writing out my dogs daily routine Ė to leave in a clear wallet that someone can take with them should the worst happen Ė because sometimes the unexpected does happen. You go out for the evening Ė and donít return, for instance, for a day or so. Although people KNOW you and your dog, trying to find everything they need Ė where it is etc Ė in a panic Ė it is so much easier to have it written down etc etc - peace of mind. Nuff said.

Can We Not Have Fun AND Compete?
From Rebecca Harris

Why do some talk about competing as if it is a bad thing?

On so many dog training and pet groups people say, 'I am doing agility for fun not to complete' and you sense the undertone.

Well, I do agility because my dog loves it and I do competition for me. My dog still loves it, and I love seeing him love it - we have fun! I would not train or compete if it wasn't fun for my dog. I think that is the majority of people at agility shows and attending competitive clubs (to compete more effectively) each week. Wouldn't you agree?

Note: Not downing those that do not compete - unhappy about judgemental people that take it upon themselves to judge others that compete as not possibility doing it for enjoyment with their much loved dogs.

Margaret Goyne 
I have changed over the 25-ish years since I started agility. At first not, I said, competitive till the day my extremely naughty and unreliable dog suddenly started to behave and get placed. Then, further on, thought there seemed to be little point training and not going to shows, then ended up more or less retiring as I was unable to run.

Now back to training having found a good instructor to help with distance handling, very rarely compete, do it for fun and satisfaction but still aiming for competition standard.

Leslie Van Steen-Leonard 
I was like that. Iím not someone who enjoys competition. However I do enjoy setting and achieving personal goals, so trials helped me to see how we were progressing. It took me a long time to enjoy trials, ignore the fact that itís a competition, and just treat it like a personal test of skills that is not compared or judged against others.

Penny Heal 
So many different reasons why people compete. I spend a lot of time and money training my dog in two disciplines and I absolutely love the training - we take it seriously. Competition for us is a chance to put it all together 'in the ring' and see how it goes.

After 16 years in agility and five in obedience I am finally getting to the point of view that it is just another training opportunity, but if it all comes together on the day there is no buzz like it. Rosettes and places are icing on the cake. I do want to progress though, because the challenges are different and skills need to be better the higher you go. This motivates me for training, so it is a big fun circle. Huge plus is the competition day out with atmosphere and social side. Apart from helping, which I really enjoy, who doesn't want to talk dogs all day!

Kate Lamacraft 
Love training my dogs, Love having a whole day out at competitions with my dogs, Love winning, Love getting round clear, Love getting round with faults. Just love seeing my Houndies have fab time playing agility. Agility is awesome for dogs and handlers

Jan Stubbs 
I just do it for fun cos my dog is 44cm high and we didn't get a 4th height so are seen as a bit of a joke. So I may as well laugh and just enjoy the privilege of being able to enter something at all - but just not take it all that seriously. I'd love to compete properly & fully though but we aren't meant to want to!

A Post-Valentine Thought
From Hannah Graham

There is a group of people associated with agility who never get a mention and are rarely acknowledged.

Here's to all our non-agility husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners etc. Those long suffering individuals put up with our agility addiction which usually leads to multiple dogs, a camper or caravan, dog vehicles, agility equipment everywhere and dog related everything, plus the large amount of money spent attending shows and training. Long weekends away from us or spending supporting us at shows, our chauffer's, chefs, dog sitters, walkers and grooms, they'll never run a dog, but they're willing to support us. They are the ones that pick up the pieces when everything goes wrong or are proud of us when we get it right.

Without this group of people who stand by our side, would we actually be where we are now?

I certainly appreciate mine - and never tell him enough so this weekend let's give them a bit of love.

The Cost of Training
From Dawn Gilmour

One of my friends asked 'Why do you pay so much money for your daughter to do Dog Agility?'

Well, I have a confession to make. I don't pay for my child to train her dogs.

So, if I am not paying for them to train, what am I paying for?

  • I pay for those moments when she becomes so tired she wants to quit but doesn't.

  • I pay for those days when she comes home from school and is "too tired" to go training but goes anyway.

  • I pay for her to learn to be disciplined.

  • I pay for my her to learn to take care of her body.

  • I pay for her to learn to work with others and to be good team player.

  • I pay for her to learn to deal with disappointment, when she doesn't get that clear round she hoped for, but still had to work hard in the grading.

  • I pay for her to learn to make and accomplish goals.

  • I pay for her to learn that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work and practice to create a champion, and that success does not happen overnight.

  • I pay for the opportunity she will have and will have to make life-long friendships.

  • I pay so that she can be in the arena instead of in front of a TV screen.

I could go on but, to be short, I don't pay for dog training. I pay for the opportunities that my dog provides her with to develop attributes that will serve her well throughout their lives and gives her the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far. I think it is a great investment!

The Cost of Dog Agility
From Dawn Gilmour

Reading another post, it seems Agility is a very expensive hobby in other countries and especially Europe. Some handlers are paying as much as Ä50 to enter one dog per day.

It also appears that if you do not have a pedigree dog, then there are certain things you are excluded from like national finals. Seems we may have some issues here but. at least, we cater for all from mongrel to pedigree.

European Courses v. British Courses
From Elizabeth Saggers

I had an interesting conversation at the Kennel Club International Festival (KCIF) with one of our European judges. He told me that British courses were different.

I asked if that was a bad thing and he said 'No, just different.'

So I went on to ask how they were different and he said in his country 'We run, run, run'.'

Then I asked what about the disabled, older, less mentally able or very young handlers and was told quite simplythat they just don't do it'

I am not adverse to changes for the welfare of our dogs or improvement of our sport. I enjoy the mix of courses, some suit me some don't, but I do not want to see a situation where the agility which so many of us enjoy for a weekend away with our dogs is altered to suit what appears to be a minority.

The only reason to alter things should be the safety or welfare of our dogs not just to suit some other form of competition. After all variety is the spice of life.

Big Distances for Small Dogs
From Lu Candy

Dear KC (Agility section) -

I know you've brought in the new distances so dogs can get enough strides in between obstacles and, therefore, put less long term strain on their bodies, but I don't see the logic as we now seem to have many 'obligatory' go round the back of's' where it looks to me like dogs are having to take off and turn almost 180 degrees from one stride.

We would not ask Olympic level hurdlers to run round and take every 3rd hurdle from the wrong side and, as far as I know, in the equestrian world no one would set that manoeuvre in a show jumping course.

Also why have we got the same distances for Small dogs as Large dogs? Surely they have a shorter stride pattern so should have relatively shorter distances.

Feeling reflective
From Beverley Kimber

The other morning on my way to a competition, I thought to myself why am I doing this. What is it about agility that I have become so addicted to>

When I look back I realise how happy I am on my training days and how much I look forward to it. I realise how much of an escape it is for me after a hard day of working hard to try and cure people's loved ones and even my loved ones from the terrible dreaded word cancer. Just running around with my dogs and having fun makes me realise just how lucky I am.

So next time when you are at show, make sure you are cheering each other on and don't slate people. You don't know their stories.

I love being around like-minded people who just enjoy the sport and being with their dogs.

Morning Star
By Sue Jones

It's 4.30 in the morning. 

My oldest dog has just asked to go outside. I get up, throw some clothes on over my pjs, collect the puppy from her crate and take them both outside. Both have wees and we come back in. Oldie goes back up to bed and I put pup back into crate.

I go upstairs and get into bed and then it starts. the screaming banshee is now fully awake and doesn't want to go back to sleep.

5.15 am

 I give up all hope of sleep and we all get up.  I feed the dogs and then decide to prepare Ingredients for the breadmaker.  I'm in the kitchen and I look to my right to see a small puppy at the back door. I grab my coat and take her back out into the garden where she immediately does a poo and a wee. What a little star!

I bring her back in.

SHE is now asleep.

New Rules for Dog Agility in Scotland FB
By Dawn Gilmour

Suggested Agility Topic Days

  • Moany Monday - a day to moan about everything and anything to do with Agility

  • Truthful Tuesday - a day where we all come clean about all the naughty thing we do that p**s people off

  • Wishful Wednesday - a day of what I would like to see that would suit me and only me

  • Thankful Thursday - a day to be thankful for the wonderful dogs we have, and be thankful for those that give up their time to allow us to compete and have fun

  • Fantastic Friday - a day of joy as we are all off to Shows and in a good mood for a change.

  • Silent Saturday - a day of not many posts as we are all knackered

  • Successful Sunday - a day of happy posts with our win outs, clear rounds, Champ wins or just having the best time ever with my friends and dogs

The Real Joy of Agility
Steve Seale wrote this years ago...

It is not the winning or going clear. It is not the equipment or shows. It is not hero worship or faint praise.

It is the relationship and bond between you and your dog, that individual closest of ties you build, with the simplest of looks between each of you and you both know, the unconscious communication that is second nature between you, the sense of joy in being with each other competing, training or resting. That sense of togetherness as you wait to compete and, after, walking back to the car.

If you know these things and have them with your dog, then you have won in agility regardless of rosettes and trophies.

A Message to All Show Organisers

Just to broadcast to everyone I won't be going to any shows in 2017 that don't specifically cater only for me and my dogs! This is so that all show organisers know that they need to contact me directly to discuss what I want. Otherwise that's it. I'm not coming!

Dear Weather
By Dawn Gilmour

Dear Weather -

It really is nice of you to try to average out the temperatures between Summer and Winter, however here are a few things you should know -

  • I like sun in the summer.

  • I love frost in the winter.

  • My winter duvet has not seen the light of day this year.

  • Agility Shows across the UK have been cancelled due to your poor judgement of what you think is best for us.

  • Thousands of agility handlers and their dogs have been left distraught as they have had to do housework etc. when they should have been at an agility show!

  • My van does not cope well with mud and there has been more than enough of it in 2016.

  • My thermal knickers bought especially for this year are still in the package.

Please return the weather to normal for 2017 or I may need to remove you as my friend!

Thank you in advance.

Out of the Skies
By Alan Gardner

This is a true story and a surreal moment...

I was up the field training when an airplane lands in the field. A man gets out panting and runs up to me.

'Are you okay?' I asked.

The pilot replied, 'Yes, just landed as my engine is running cold and I need to put some tape over the vent. Hope I didn't disturb dogs?

And here is the clincher...

He looks at Jaidi and says, 'I didn't know you could do agility with Bernese Mountain Dogs!'

So now people drop out of the sky to see what breed he is...

Rambling with Rebus
By Elaine Thomas

The twilight is deepening as we set off across the fields Ė the last remnants of the sun striking the clouds gold.

The dogs chase through the long grass Ė their passing leaving a smoke trail of pollen.

They barrel after the ball, so intent they donít see the fox in the hedgerow Ė it watches them quietly and then slips into the dense undergrowth without a trace.

My old Dalmatian Morse, slops along in the collies wake Ė content to watch them circle and spin. Old age has robbed him of his graceful economical trot, but on a quiet summers evening, he is quite happy to spend an hour nose down, tail ceaselessly waving, nearly but not quite keeping up.

On the horizon a jet takes off from Gatwick through the layers of gold and purple, and I wonder what holiday destination they are going to.

Rob turns his head just to check Iím there, and Morse rubs his head on my leg. I lean down to pull his ears and decide I donít want  to be anywhere else than here, in the darkening twilight with my dogs.

Five seconds later I walk into a ravenous swarm of midges Ė and the mood vanishes. Rebus then hurls himself into the river with no thought as to how he will get out, and eventually scrambles up the bank, showering me in smelly water, mud and pondweed.

Still, the squall of stagnant water frightens off the midges.

Smelling like the bottom of a pond, we squelch home.