It’s been awhile. I’ve intended to update you about agility and all the things I’ve learned. Sure, I’ve learned more about the games. I’ve learned traditional jack put is next to impossible for me especially when a judge puts a distance 12 weave poles. I’ve learned that i like to go for 51 points (max) in Snooker to avoid having to do weave poles. I’ve learned dif host clubs don’t give you ribbons for completing the each games level but some do it for the entire level only (OMG TORTURE FOR ME THOUGH). I’ve learned a lot about the sport. But what I’ve learned mostly is that mean people suck.
What have I learned? Well competing in many CPE trials has given me quite a bit of insight. Although this is not a dig at CPE as a venue, it is said to be the nicer of the organizations. The people help each other…it’s the “for fun” organization. I love competing in this venue. I love the games that they have and the way trials run. What I don’t love is injustice, and mean people.
At this point Woody is my only agility dog. Last year we learned NATIONALS IS GOING TO BE IN OHIO 2018! We have worked our butts off throughout 2017 to earn 48qs and progress into level 4 for all events (including dreadful jackpot. ). #roadtonationals! To give you a sense of Woody I would like you to know that not only does he have 6 other dog siblings in my house, he is older than 4 of them. I foster dogs and have brought numerous dogs in and out of our home without any issue of aggression from Woody. He has been in training for sports, and fun his entire life. He has done countless training classes and also has his Canine Good Citizen Title. He does not like to be charged in the face by other dogs, which is typical for most all dogs that have learned proper social manners. He runs in 5ks and many times places in the top 10 if not top 3 (humble brag). These races are in close quarters with many dogs and he has never had an issue running around near or next to strange dogs. Woody is a good , non-aggressive dog and to suggest anything else is ridiculous.
First and foremost, I am considered new to this sport. I have been doing this for about 2 years now and have been learning the ropes for about 2.5. I chose to do CPE over other venues due to the general opinion that the people are nicer and that it considered more fun for the owner and the dog. As I have participated in 5-6 trials in 2016, 11 thus far in 2017, I have begun to understand the sport and the people. I personally wouldn’t be able to state that the people are nicer than people who participate in AKC events because I have not experienced that. No I have not done an AKC trial so sure that’s part of it. But I go to class with AKC competitors and they have been nothing but nice. Other than the 4-6 people I have trained with at my training facility, I had made exactly one friend outside of that group. She is always welcoming new people and she reached out to me on facebook after I made a post about my first experience at a trial.
Sure, I’m not the most outgoing person but I think that’s pretty safe to say about most dog people. Typically, we do have a special bond with other dog people though so in theory it should be easier. I do much better with dogs as I am an introvert. Most dog people claim this and it makes sense. My first fault is thinking that dog people get dogs. Dogs have bad days. Dogs don’t like dogs running up to their faces. Some dogs handle it some dogs correct it…please don’t let your dog run up to my dog’s face. It’s just not nice. Also, how can you claim to be a dog person and devoted to your dog(s) when you use a retractable leash? I mean COME ON PEOPLE. Anyhow, people are not very eager to make new comers feel welcome unless they train at the same facility as them. There is actually a group of people known as “the mean girls” who consistently make new people feel unwelcomed into this sport.
Finally, two months ago, a few different people talked to me and complimented how much Woody and I have grown as a team. I didn’t even know they noticed us. For them to go out of their way to acknowledge the amount of time, energy and money I’ve put into this sport put me over the moon. The next few trials they continued to talk to me which was really nice because I didn’t feel like such an outcast despite the constant chatter about anyone and everyone from the “mean girls”.
Fast forward to this trial—We had finished the first run and I walked over with Woody to ask if my new friends had looked at the next course map for Jackpot (we all know I hate this game) and if they had a strategy. We walked past a dog crate on the right and a dog growled and lunged at us through it’s crate. I continued to walk past this dog and it’s neighboring dog did the same thing. So, I turned around and said I was going to go sit down instead. As I turned to walk away both dogs reacted causing Woody to jump into another dog, who was not on a leash at all. His owner (overreacted) was startled by this and started to yell at me and say that Woody got her dog. I turned around and said I’m sorry and that I was trying to get away from the dogs growling at us. I asked if he was okay and she said yes but he had been nervous so this wouldn’t help. News flash, your dog is always nervous. She made sure her dog had nothing on him and put him in his crate. Woody had no fur in or around his mouth so I was and am certain Woody did not bite this dog. In fact, she claimed Woody “spit” on her dog later on. Not bit…but spit.
Not until 4 hours later and constant discussion with the “mean girls” did she decide to report Woody after her dog was not performing well. I fully believe that her bad day was being blamed on my dog. She talked about us none stop all day and started to spread rumors implying Woody was an aggressive dog and he actually bit her dog (which is not reflected in the statements, nor was skin broken and thus is legally not a bite.). She cited one witness. When the witness statement didn’t align with hers the next day she got a friend to come forward and give a statement. This is against the rules but it didn’t much matter. The statement was taken and hopefully won’t be used.
So what happens after someone accuses you or your dog of anything? You’re done. You’re done for six months regardless if a true incident occurred or not. That doesn’t seem very fair to me. How about you? In AKC there are very clear guidelines to determine what constitutes as an incident but in CPE, it’s basically a death sentence to the work you’ve put in. The rules state that a committee hearing must take place that day with the parties, witness, and committee members. The committee is to determine if an incident occurred. The rulebook does not actually define the word incident but the implied definition is contact with intent, and bites. It specifically mentions that passing dogs on leash does not constitute an incident but that’s only in the newer rulebook which was not present at our hearing. The ironic thing of this all is that the complaining person suggested a warning for Woody. SHE suggested a WARNING for Woody spitting on her dog. When the witness statement didn’t match hers she started amplifying what happened to compensate for the lack of support she thought she would get from a non-bias witness who wrote down what she saw.
It actually doesn’t matter if the committee determines an incident occurred as the rulebook requires all reports to be sent to them so they can determine if an incident occurred THREE TO SIX MONTHS FROM RECEIPT OF ALL PAPERWORK AND $100 FEE (to be paid by money order and not check unlike annual membership fees). THREE TO SIX MONTHS? That’s just for them to review the incident….So you’re done for 3-6 months and can be found “innocent”. On top of that, if it is determined that it was an accident and not aggression you will have a minimum suspension of 6 months. Seems fair right? What this says to me is that I can not like your or your dog and just report you as attacking me or my dog…with spit to get you suspended for six months. I don’t actually have to have a witness and it’s not really even guilty until proven innocent. It’s you’re guilty because someone said it. This also doesn’t stop people from talking more and more about you and your dog It doesn’t stop people from changing their story when the witness statement doesn’t agree with your “(sob)story”. A committee hearing can’t stop you from being reported and it also can’t stop MEAN.
The key points to me are per the rules there was no incident because the witness testified that there was actually no bite or attack what so ever despite there being no definition of what constitutes as an incident. It was 2 statements vs 1. A dog reacting to another dog is not an incident per my understanding of the limited information in the rulebook, so it was inconceivable that the committee would rule against me. I feel the only reason they did, and they stated, was that they felt they had no other choice, which seems to be wrong. I understand that regardless, they would need to submit this paperwork but I don’t believe that they were able to factually determine that an incident occurred per the rules.
Despite the lack of acceptance since my introduction to the sport I have moved up in the levels and had one goal with my 9 year old pup to attend Nationals. I was very excited to hear that it would be in Ohio in 2018 because I knew we could do it. 9 isn’t the youngest of the bunch and to have started this sport so late in his life I knew we wouldn’t have many opportunities to achieve this. Anyone who has even sat next to me knows that I have been talking about the road to nationals the entire year. At the beginning of 2017 We were Still in Level 2 for Standard, and Strategy (2 qs in level 2 for 2016). We were in level 3 for Handler and Fun (3q in 2016 for level 3). We had a long way to go to not only get into level 4 but also 48 Qs. We worked hard and started doing training at an additional facility to work our weaves and distance and after $960, and 9 trials we achieved our 48Qs and Level 4 status. At this point I have spent $1,200 this year alone to achieve our 48 and practice for Nationals. This does not include the amount of money spent in training. I have poured my heart, soul, time, energy and money into this journey and for one person to single handled ruin this for us is devastating.
The irony of that day is that there was a new person at the trial that day that I went out of my way to help and hang out with so she felt included. Did she need me? Maybe not, but I had done a class or two with her and knew that people would judge her beautiful pitbull( mix?) because she doesn’t love little dogs. What does she love? She loves doing agility and her mom was sure that she could keep all the dogs safe at a trial after practicing for a year or so. But that does not stop people from seeing an “aggressive” pitbull the second she steps out of the car. Is this dog aggressive? No. Does this dog have prey drive? yes. Is the owner capable of handing her dog? Yes. But no one cares about that…especially when it’s a pitbull. Not only that it’s someone NEW to talk about and gossip about.
Now normally you will see my sleeping with my dog when we are not competing. Why?
- 1. I love to sleep.
- 2.I don’t really have many friends there to pass the time with.
- 3. Woody doesn’t like to be left in his cage alone so I stay with him.
But I didn’t take my nap that day despite going to bed at midnight the night before and getting up at 530AM to walk my other dogs I was leaving alone for the day. Why? Because I wanted to be that one person for this new comer. I wanted to make sure she felt comfortable. I just made new friends and it felt good to feel a bit more welcomed and I wanted to pay it forward as they say. I’m not saying this was a charity case. I like this person and this dog. She had other friends there too but I just wanted to help if she wanted it. We weren’t friends but I knew she was a good dog owner and I wish I had someone at my first trial helping me along. I don’t think there are many people like that at the trials I go to and I want to represent the mission of the venue as best I can.
So what’s next? Who knows. I have a long time to wait despite my lack of trying to expedite this process so that Woody can go to Nationals. I don’t see this happening and I don’t want to get my hopes up. Quite honestly if I am your friend on facebook from agility don’t be surprised if I unfriend you because I break down when I see these posts that I should be in. Woody continues to go to agility class and continues to get better. We talk daily about spitting and he assures me that he does not know how to spit. We go to off leash parks and play fetch and swim and he’s a happy pup who doesn’t know how cruel and petty people can be.
Although a long story, many people have asked me the details. This message was sent to CPE (not in it’s entirety because relevance to the exact situation was not there) and is not an attempt to call them out. Am I frustrated with the organization? Sure. Who wouldn’t be when you’ve put so much time,energy and money into something only to be devastated because someone was having a bad day? Do I believe in their mission and intent of the venue? Absolutely. I’ve been around a lot of dog things and have seen first hand how mean and judgmental people are. Do I think CPE is a nicer more fun venue than others? I can’t be sure as I haven’t been to other venues, but what I do know is that there are the same types of people at CPE as they tried to avoid at AKC and other venues. The mission and intent of the venue does not mirror what the members of this venue do. My suggestion: Buyer beware– there are mean people everywhere. It’s not just about the love of dogs and the sport. I would love to be as optimistic as my prior posts and all the wonderful things I thought about COMPETING in the venue over the past two years but really when I look at the big picture, it’s no different than high school. There are cliques and when you’re new you really are an outsider unless you’re lucky enough that one person tries to help you.