Share your thoughts
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
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
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
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,
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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?
appreciate mine - and never tell him enough so this weekend let's give them a
bit of love.
The Cost of Training
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
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
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
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.
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.
By Sue Jones
It's 4.30 in the
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.
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
- a day to moan about everything and anything to do with Agility
- a day where we all come clean about all the naughty thing we do that p**s
- a day of what I would like to see that would suit me and only me
- 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
- 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
- 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
It is not the winning or
going clear. It is not the equipment or shows. It is not hero worship or faint
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
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
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
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
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
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
Still, the squall of stagnant water frightens
off the midges.
Smelling like the bottom of a pond, we squelch