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Agility Wisdom

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. So express yourself. It's what we're here for. Put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard and email your ideas to Agilitynet.

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 on 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 to leave in a clear wallet that someone can take with them should the worst happen because sometimes the unexpected does happen. You go out for the evening and dont return, for instance, for a day or so. Although people KNOW you and your dog, trying to find everything they need where it is etc in a panic 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. Im 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 its 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 50 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 the last remnants of the sun striking the clouds gold.

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

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

My old Dalmatian Morse, slops along in the collies wake 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 Im there, and Morse rubs his head on my leg. I lean down to pull his ears and decide I dont 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 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.