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Day Parking

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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.

Pay on the day?
That brings me on to another controversial subject! Should day parkers pay to park at the Show? One Show had over 200 day parkers, and it cost them over £400 to bring in another set of toilets and an extra skip. £2 a car would have covered this extra expense. After all, a camping space for the weekend is getting on for £20 these days, and many of us do not use the facilities provided. I prefer to use my own bathroom so have no need for public toilets. But day parkers obviously need them so shouldn't they contribute?

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.

About the author...
Christine Short
started training in 1983 with her Old English Sheepdog, Bunty, at Sevenoaks DTC. Having moved to Rutland, her first Shows were in 1986 with her 2nd.OES, Bonny who never really took to all the hustle and bustle. Bunty's daughter, Sheff, however, gave agility 150% and competed from 1989 to 1997 gaining places at most Shows in Starters and Novice classes.

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.


From Vanessa Hardin...
Gone are the days when you could park by the ring, unfortunately! 

We day park the whole time now due to finances forcing sale of caravan (plus the rising costs of the shows) and generally no moans. Some shows are a pain because you are trying to swop dogs and there is a fair old walk to the car while other shows are run so you have time to get your dogs! It is hard for us with four dogs in three different grades, although in the old days they would have all been Novice and in the same class. 

The only thing that really annoys me is when we do make the effort to get there really really early and are moved back because of the numerous people who save places for 'friends.' There seems to be a clan of 'I arrive early and save for my club' on a rota. Donít think thatís fair.  Anyone who helps should always be given the best parking possible! (19/10/09)

From K. Harris...
Ms Short takes the attitude that day parkers are some sort of low life, there to be a pain to the 'superior' caravaners. Who came first, day parkers or campers?

I only camp at one show during the season. The rest of the time I am a day parker! I behave myself, having been brought up to obey rules, no matter how daft they are. The only time I disobey is to park my vehicle facing the other way when the stewards have no regard for the heat or direction of the sun.

 Day parking is usually two or three times the distance from the rings than the caravans. The toilets are nearly always placed for the campers, not for the day parkers, yet caravans have, as she rightly says, their own facilities. Day parkers may have had a two or three hour journey to the show. I, therefore, think they have a rough deal. They have no cosy 'home' to sit in with a nice, hot meal or cup of tea, or even a lie down, as I know many of them do. Remember too that not all agility people can afford a caravan and the vehicle to tow it. Toilets are a necessity and would have to be provided, as at any event, on Health & Safety grounds. There should be no question of day parkers having to pay extra for them.

I donít agree with day parkers taking it upon themselves to leave the allotted area and find themselves a space in the campsite. I feel itís a bit naughty. The fact they have a 'large van full of barking dogs'... well, it is a DOG SHOW for goodness sake!

It is also unfair on those who choose to behave themselves and stay in the allotted area. I do find it a bit odd at some shows that when I arrive early I am told where to park, yet vehicles that arrive later are put nearer the rings. This seems unfair when people have made the effort to get there early.

All that is required is a little more common sense, thought for others and tolerance. After all it is only a dog show. (19/10/09)

First published 12/10/09