The selfish few...
Most agility show organisers put a lot of time and thought into working out the layout of their show. They assess the risks of moving traffic and do their best to make the showground as safe a place as possible. It's an agility issue as well. Why are there always some people who take advantage of a good thing? asks Christine Short.
Everything is marked out and signs are put up to inform the competitors where to go. The caravans start to arrive and they are told where to go and how to arrange themselves inside their plot to minimise fire risks and conform with Heath and Safety regulations. By Friday evening everything is looking good and the Show Manager drives around in the buggy surveying the site with a smile.
Very early next morning the car park attendants are at their posts, directing the day parkers into their spots. Their aim is to make the most of the space available by filling up the neat lines. All should be well. But is it? Not at most shows in my experience. That is when the selfish few decide they will find a better spot for themselves.
I remember one show early in the season. To be nearer the rings, people were driving right across the designated exercise area from 7.00am, causing handlers to have to continually be calling their dogs to them when they should have been perfectly safe. This was repeated at the end of the show and, in my opinion, was downright dangerous and completely inconsiderate. The official parking area was shaded by many trees so no excuse there. I did report this to the show management, and they were horrified. They said they will put barrier tape up next year to prevent this happening again Ė just another job for them which should be unnecessary!
It seems more shows these days are allowing some day parkers to park right onto the rings. Not quite so bad if you park with the front of your car facing the ring but not so good if it is the back. The dogs in the car get very excited at seeing all the agility going on and bark and lunge in their cages. This can upset some of the more sensitive dogs actually in the ring and cause them to refuse or run round obstacles. One extremely sensible judge recently refused to start her class until these cars had been moved. Some people even had their dogs tied to the back of the car, lunging and barking at the edge of the ring!
I do understand that ring parties should have some privileges and need to be near to the rings to get their dogs quickly, but a designated area should be set aside for them. And, let's face it, at most shows, many of us are helping, so we can't all be by the rings.
My pet hate is when day parkers decide to come into the camping area to find spaces if the day parking is further from the rings than the camping. These people usually have a large van full of barking dogs which often upsets the dogs in the surrounding gardens and any peace is shattered for the day. Often, they let the dogs out of the van to perform their jobs, off lead, causing more stress and chaos.
Then there are those who decide to park between the caravans, wherever they can find a space. They disregard the fact that those 'spaces' are actually firebreaks and should be left empty. I hate opening my curtains in a morning to find myself looking straight at a car or van which shouldn't be there. The campers have paid for their plots which include the spaces left for safety reasons. Day parkers just should not be there.
on the day?
Also, the space they take up has to be paid for. The argument usually is that all of the needs of the day parkers are covered in the entry fees. So why do the camping fees continually rise? A camping pitch covers about the area of three cars at the most. So a couple of pounds for day parking would be very reasonable in my opinion. Then either the camping fees could be reduced a bit or the cost of entry fees for everyone.
I am putting forward these controversial viewpoints to raise some good discussion and debate. I am not criticising all day parkers Ė after all, I am sometimes one myself! I realise it is the inconsiderate minority who are the ones that spoil it for others. At Dashin' Dogs in August I asked one of my friends why he had moved his car out of the Day Parking area. He said it was because it was too noisy and was upsetting his dogs!
Consideration to others is the answer.
Meanwhile Christine became a qualified judge in 1989, her most exciting appointment being in Denmark, and a qualified instructor in 1991. She became Chief Instructor, Secretary and the first Show Secretary at Empingham DTC. In 1994 a car accident put an end to all that but she managed to continue competing, having fun with her two Hungarian Pulis, Tosca and Reiki, both clowns in the ring.
In 2000 she moved to Stafford and in 2003 got her first Sheltie, Tarot, who went from Starters to Senior. He was joined in 2006 by Tipsy, a wild child in Grade 4. Christine's disabilities mean she handles her dogs in her own unique style, often getting it wrong, but her passion for agility is as strong as ever.
First published 12/10/09