When our current vocabulary doesn’t
quite cut it...
Jones wrote this article in the halcyon days of 2003 when a handler who could
work their dog equally well on their right as well as their left was seen as an
over-achiever and, quite frankly, a show-off. A life-long agility enthusiast,
she used to write under the pseudonym 'Perennial Starter' for Agility Eye
magazine where her irreverent take on our beloved sport was a reality check to
many. She attracted an international following of like-minded daft sods and had
the pleasure of travelling to South Africa to meet with Sally Adam - the first
person to achieve the Agility Champion status with her dog in that country - and
her friend Susan Smith who owned Dobermans famed for what they could find to
roll in. Enjoy.
is now a worldwide phenomenon and although it may vary in flavour from country
to country, there is no doubt that the agility experience is universal. This was
brought home to me during the recent visit of my South African friends after the
World Champs. It was irrelevant that we live in different hemispheres, once we
got onto agility as a topic, we might as well have belonged to the same club.
Dogs are dogs, humans are humans, and competition brings out the best and worst
in both the world over.
that we both agree on is that the language of agility is very much in its
infancy and there are many common objects or experiences for which no word or
phrase yet exist. We are both fans of the Douglas Adams' book, The
Meaning of Liff in which he lists hundreds of these objects and experiences
and gives them a name. Unashamedly stealing Adams' idea of using British place
names as the words or phrases, Sally Adam spent most of the long flight back to
Cape Town coming up with the lion's share of what follows.
The awkward, hopping
dance performed by a handler in the superstitious belief that it actually
assists their dog through the weave poles.
The silent whoop of delight you make when the only dog who could
still beat you takes down the first pole.
The glare you receive from the competitor lying in 1st place when
they realise that you have yet to run.
The least popular person at an agility show, whom no-one ever
An indoor show held in unconscionably cramped conditions.
A handler who enters with the sole purpose of winning prizes.
The signal a judge makes when eliminating a dog.
sinking feeling a judge gets when they realise that they are not going to make
it to the end of the dog walk in time.
A handler who kisses their dog before starting a round.
The sort of person who, without fail, will always manage to avoid
doing any sort of work at a show, but will always be the person most likely to
complain about anything.
of rickety equipment that gives a distinct home-ground advantage to the host
The sort of competitor who annoys everyone by messing around on
the start line with an elaborate and time-consuming set-up routine.
The course a judge sets up when they want to go home early.
feeling of panic you experience at a 12-ring show as you walk the fourth course
of the morning and realise you have completely forgotten the first one.
The irritation felt by the scorer when competitors continuously
hang over their shoulder trying to see their results.
A handler who is perpetually disoriented on a course.
of judge who loves eliminating dogs.
The lady in charge of judges' lunches.
The often infinitesimal difference between a clear round and
show held in unseasonably fine weather.
show held in unseasonably horrid weather.
tendency of certain competitors to wildly praise a dog which has clearly missed
the contact, in a vain attempt to influence the judge into thinking that the dog
did not, in fact, fault the obstacle.
The drivel that some handlers use to drag their dogs around the course by the
sheer force of their own personalities.
expletive audible to both judge and crowd.
person at ringside who knows exactly what everyone should have done... and not
creep down the contact of a Border Collie trying to work out exactly where the
handler wants him.
down the last pole on an otherwise perfect round.
handler accompanied by a Velcro dog.
The handler who comes off the course making a face, while his dog hops around
him waiting for a word... and waiting... and waiting.
for a dog who has tried to nip his handler in the ring.
dance done after a perfect round.
The type of man who competes with a Bichon Frise.
The small crowd of handlers who wait for five hours after their
run to pick up a clear round rosette.
thanks to both Sally Adam and Susan Smith
© Copyright Sally Jones