Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dog Tired and Ready to Bite

First, let me say how much admiration and respect I have for the clubs and individuals who plan and execute agility trials.  It's no small task and, typically, it is carried out by a very small and dedicated group.  Second, let me say that I bear some responsibility for today's debacle by thinking that the day before I leave for a National is  an ok day to enter an agility trial.  Now for the rant.....

I arrived at the trial site around 11am this morning, knowing that I was probably early but figuring Novice would start running by 2pm.  When I arrived, they had completed all 3 levels of Fast but were less than halfway through Exc Standard.  I left at quarter after 4 - without having stepped foot in a ring - since Open standard hadn't even started.  Judging was supposed to start at 8am so I did a little math and given the entries, I calculated an average of 34 runs an hour.  At that rate, it was going to be at least another hour, possibly more, before Novice would even think about starting.  Assuming a 5:30 start for Novice and padding a little for other things(equipment issues, waiting for results, etc.), I wouldn't have left the trial until 7pm or later.  This was a 2 ring trial but just one judge.

I can appreciate having to pay my dues in Novice and that it means usually running last.  Although it seems rather unfair that the dogs with the least experience have to wait the longest.  And I can understand equipment issues (apparently there were problems w/the electronic timers) but this is a bit ridiculous.  And yes, I know, the trial committee and the judge had been there since 7am or earlier - a very, very long day for them as well.

Yes, I can arrive later to the trial but then I can't really volunteer to work at the trial.  Almost every trial I've ever been to has been desperate for workers.  And what about the many Excellent-level competitors who burn the wind getting out of there as soon as their dog(s) are done running?  Remember when you were a Novice and had to stay there for hours?  Trials can go faster if there are enough people to work and the trial committee isn't scrambling to find a gate steward or ring crew.

I do have to say that the trial committee member I spoke to before I left was very kind and understanding.  I loved the trial site - although it would be miserable in hot weather as there is absolutely no shade to be had.  But please, I beg those of you who are on trial committees; consider hiring a 2nd judge, have back up plans if the timers aren't working and give the Novice competitors a break and mix up the run order periodically.  If you can, offer an incentive for people to work trials - and not lunch or a raffle.  I know of one trial secretary in New England who offers credits for every class worked toward entry fees for later trials.  If you work enough classes, you can trial for a whole weekend with no out of pocket entry fees paid.

Moira is now bathed and I'll start on the laundry shortly.  Guess I won't leave for PA until after noon tomorrow since I lost all of today.


  1. Well, shoot! Sorry you had a wasted day. We get a lot of agility trial workers from our beginning classes. They aren't ready to run, but they have fun watching and learn a great deal. They can set jumps, be score runners, leash holders, etc.

    Safe travels!

  2. Thanks! We don't have a lot of training facilities around here so we don't have that pool to pull from. It took me over 2 years to find someone teaching agility.