Mean people suck

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. 

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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. 

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Agility Update!

So, I have done probably 6 trials now. My last one was in October and Ben had a panic attack and Woody found a snake on the course. Needless to say, we took a month break from agility, and just started back up going to practice. I’ll get into Ben’s panic attack another time but below is my understanding of the rest of the games I left out. I didn’t pay member dues this year (because I didn’t know) so I have to wait until December to get my official status of where I am in regards to levels, but some games we are level 3 and some we are level 2. AND Ben has level 1 jumpers still…. hahaha. 

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Handling:

Colors-Well this was easier than I thought. Basically there are two standard courses set up that overlap one another.There are typically 8-12 obstacles on both courses. You must choose one course or the other. Sometimes, obstacle 1 could be obstacle 1 on both colors, or obstacle 2 could be the same and you may have to take the obstacle from a different direction. Sometimes you may think you’re going to do the blue course but then your dog takes the red course and you must adjust. It’s a pretty simple game to understand! 

Wildcard: This course looks like a standard course, but at three different spots you will have to choose obstacle A or B. In level 1-2 you will choose two A obstacles and one B, and in the higher levels you will choose 2 B and 1 A. So, again, you can correct yourself a little if your dog chooses an A or B when you didn’t want them to! 

 

Strategy:

Jackpot: This one is confusing to me because most of the time they do what they call a “non-traditional” jackpot. Meaning, it doesn’t exactly follow the standard rules. I THINK the standard rules are something like this: 

You do whatever you want for the first part of the game. You collect points like full house and you need a min number of points based on level. THEN a buzzer goes off and you are to do the “gamble”. The gamble is typically 3-4 obstacles that your dog must complete but the catch is you can’t cross a certain line (they put tape down). So essentially your dog must be good at distance. You must complete the gamble with no faults and end on the table to Q. So, I’m glad most of the time it is a non-traditional jackpot. 

In non-traditional jackpots they can kind of do whatever they want. The courses I have seen is that during the opening time, you could complete the gamble and it may not require distance. IDK how that’s allowed but I like that. Then the buzzer rings and you still have that “gamble” time to collect extra points or something. IDK I just wait for my score haha. Some how it works out and the score you!13668981_863324830071_2221575898163967957_n.jpg

 

 

Second CPE Trial

This past weekend we attended our second CPE Trial. The amazing thing about trials are that there are so many good people around that all love their dogs as much as you do! The people there are almost better than seeing all the types of dogs!

In their first trial, I ran Standard, Full House in Snooker. So in this trial I added another game. We did Standard, Snooker, Full House and Jumpers. We have had a recent problem with Benny, however, where he chooses to always jump out of the ring and run to find his dad. So, we had to hide his dad this trial and not let him know he was present at all. Ben did stay in the ring, but he forgot what a tunnel was I think. Hopefully he grows past this need to find his dad because it would be nice to sit together!

So what I’ve learned for CPE agility is that there is standard and then four categories of games:

  • Handler Games(AKA PASS because I am so bad)
    • Colors and Wildcard
  • Strategy Games
    • Snooker and Jackpot
  • Fun Games
    • Full House
    • Jumper

So here are my interpretations of the games thus far:

Standard is pretty simple. It’s a numbered course meaning you must go in a certain order, and based on your level you can only have so many faults (errors). It is timed.

Snooker is said to be the hardest game but I like it. It’s a two part game, meaning you have to finish part one before you can do the second part. So there are 4 obstacles that are marked as “Red”. All the other obstacles out there are “white” obstacles. You must complete a Red obstacle and then a white, then a red, then a white, then a red and then a white–so three times. The thing is if you do R W W they blow a whistle and you’re done. If you do R R same thing. The other important thing is you can use each red only once. The white obstacles can be repeated. There are 4 red obstacles in case you knock a bar on one of the red obstacles…it’s a safety net. So once you complete your RW,RW,RW you then have to do part two. Most obstacles are also numbered regardless if they are red or white(some reds won’t be a number because they are not part of part two). the numbers are 2-7 and that specific obstacle is worth that many points so obstacle 2 is 2 pts 3 is 3 pts and so on. you must complete this series in order. A buzzer will sound and you have to get to the table within 5 seconds. You will qualify if you get the right amount of points for your level.If you don’t get enough points you can still place as long as you don’t disqualify yourself. The one thing  I didn’t mention above is that during your RW,RW,RW series the R are worth 1 pt and the W are worth whatever numbered obstacle it is. What I learned this trial is that sometimes an obstacle can be a red BUT ALSO a white because it has a number because it’s part of part two. MIND BLOWN. So I guess they let you take that jump as a RW combo. Then that jump can only be used as a white again in part 1. Confusing, i guess.

Full house is typically the first run of the day it’s offered (I’m told at least) because it lets the dogs run around and get some of their energy out. There is no set course, you are just trying to earn enough points based on what level you are in. Contacts are worth 5 points, circles (tunnels and tire) 3 and jumps 1. You need get at least 1 contact, 2 circles and 3 jumps(14 points total). It’s just a lot of fun and just lets you get used to running around out there too. I like it because it lets the dogs sniff the place. You have a certain number of seconds based on the dog’s height and then a buzzer will go off. Once you hear the buzzer you have to get to the table within 5 seconds or they will deduct 1 point per second from your total. If you get enough points for your level and you got the required obstacles then you get a Q(qualify). If you don’t get enough points and/or required obstacles you can still get a placement ribbon like Ben did!

Jumpers is a course that only has circles and jumps. It is numbered meaning you have to go in a specific order. You also have to know what a tunnel is (BEN). It is timed and if you run out of time you will get a NT(no time). This means no ribbons. If you get too many faults (IE point deductions) then you may get a NQ(not qualified) but can still get a placement ribbon.

So Woody Qed in Standard level 1 (2cnd leg), Standard level 2, Jumpers level 1, Full house level 2, Snooker level 1 which was all he competed in so he had a perfect weekend!

Benny Qed in Standard level 1 (1st leg). He NT Standard level 1(ran out of the ring), Jumpers level 1(ran out of time), Full house level 1(didn’t get the right obstacles and didn’t get enough points), Snooker level 2( refused to go in the #3 on 2-7 and thus didn’t get enough points)

It was a super fun weekend. The best thing was that I brought their cages. Ben never goes in a cage and the cage is new for Woody. Ben will now go in the cage as long as the door remains open, it’s actually his bed of choice! So I was able to work with Ben on cage training and shut the door for a few minutes at a time which was really huge for him!

I had one person tell me “yeah you know, agility is addicting” and it’s very easy to lose site of that when all you do are classes and your dog gets a little bored. My suggestion is to try to trial because it really revitalized my energy for agility.  I want to trial again soon! It’s fun to get to actually work your dog with a reason!!

Agility?This looks fun….

So given that I have an agility section, obviously I do agility with at least one dog. Benny started agility in October 2014. We put him in agility because we wanted to see him jump high. Turn out that your dog doesn’t just jump whatever they can… they are measured and put into a jump class. Talk about a let down… 16 inches? That’s it? That’s it. 12346460_822797781601_5616702011714559067_n

Woody started Agility about a year (and three months before his first competition) later because he is spoiled rotten and he gets to do everything. Woody learned very quickly because he is a Jack and now they both are in the same class level. 

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So I’m new to this obviously so I am just going to tell you some quick facts that I’ve learned along the way. 

  • New dogs are called “green”. Owners are “green” too. 
  • An agility “venue” is not a location. It is the organization. For example CPE, AKC USDDA, TDAA. 
  • An agility event/competition is called a “trial”. 
  • Trials are done by skill level and height. 
  • Each venue has different rules that must be followed.
  • There is actually skill and practice required on the human’s part.
  • Contacts are obstacles that usually have yellow on both sides. They require the dog to climb up or down something (Think dog walk, A Frame, teeter). 
  • The human is probably the one messing up.
  • Dependent on your breed, it will be really easy or not so much.
  • Most of the time you will not understand the spins, or routes required and you will trip and fall like a fool.
  • People “walk”the course. This means they stick their arm out and follow the numbers as if they were running their dog. They try to get their footing and determine how they are going to run the course. Where will they turn? Will they make their dog slow down? Do they have options to do something different? Do they need to block the entrance to the tunnel? It looks funny. I was like “Yeah, okay. Whatever this is weird”. Well, I walk the courses now too.

Agility is actually really fun. However, I think one of the best things that comes from agility is the bond between you and your dog. They learn to read you, and you them. You create a connection that you are doing something together–its fun but they also need to stay with you and rely on you as the leader. You learn to control your dog and what they do. You also learn a hell of a lot about coordination which is really difficult. The best thing is that you have fun and so does your dog! 12347623_822797776611_3572408532971482662_n.jpg

A lot of people think that you have to have a lot of practice to do a trial. Sure it’s nice but as long as your dog and you have a good connection and they know the equipment, you can most certainly try it out. The judges and other participants explain everything for everyone and you have time to ask questions. It’s actually a great learning experience just to watch. And basically if you try you can get a ribbon-trust me. 12741953_833871355071_361503611206111769_n.jpg

So it looks fun and it is fun! In later posts I will go over some key things I’ve actually learned at class and trials that I hope help other newbies in the agility world! 

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