Monday, February 11, 2013

What is agility?

So a few days ago I found out that the video of Sinco and me from NADAC Championships 2011 Extreme Games World Challenge was being posted on Facebook as a means to criticize what NADAC is doing in the form of agility.

According to the online definition from Merriam Webster agility is:

the quality or state of being agile : nimblenessdexterity

I don't see anything in there that includes obstacles.  Now I know I am being facetious here but really isn't dog agility called that because the dogs are being nimble and agile in performing the sport?  I really think if you look at any Extreme Games Challenge run you will see nimbleness and dexterity in its finest - even more so than on traditional agility courses.

I understand everyone has their favorite agility organization and their legitimate reasons for liking that organization.  I understand very often new and different things are easy to criticize.  I also know that I am the kind of person that likes to try new things.  I played my first EGC games without having seen so much as a photo or video of it beforehand.  It was being offered on Friday night before a trial I was attending.  I had first thought I would watch but I saw it laid out and just had to "try it".  I never ask my dogs to do more than I think they can and I knew I could go and help or bail as needed.  My dogs loved it so much and got faster and faster with each run that I was absolutely hooked.  It was pure adrenaline and about handling and distance training and timing.

I love training and handling challenges even if I am not successful always at executing them.  I also went to the 2012 AKC World Team Tryouts.  That is about as opposite of the spectrum as NADAC Championships gets.  I went with the same dog.  We were not as successful at the Tryouts in part because my dog really did not enjoy those tight challenging courses.  I enjoy the mental challenge but she was not the right dog for that challenge even though we had spent months training and preparing for it.  I didn't take into account that an entire weekend of courses like that would take its toll on her mentally like it did.  I tried to make it fun and keep her up and happy as much as possible and I didn't care how we did.  Now I know that is not the place for her.  Sinco does fine in AKC and USDAA and even a little UKI but I know I won't ask her to do too much tight collected courses.  Now her daughter on the other hand was born to do tight challenging courses and can turn on a dime and stay barking for joy as she does it.  She will be the dog I do more international courses and training with in the future.

I am fortunate to be able to have multiple dogs and I can choose what organizations to do with each of them.  I do not need to make everyone one of my dogs do all of them.  Feisty is retired from doing AKC low tables and being in that environment.  She is entered at nationals because sometimes she gets into the crowd and sometimes not.  Feisty is in training for bonus lines in NADAC because she loves to work distances.  We are not often accurate as she gets "high" working at a distance.  But she is having fun so then I am having fun.  It is a training challenge to work that level of distance.

Tay has had two biceps tendon surgeries so I do not want her jumping her full height 16/20 so she is doing organizations where she can jump 12 and she is 7 in April.  She has had a lot of stress issues in the ring partly due to the amount of pain she endured while we were trying to figure out a diagnosis.  Pain would come and go for her and adrenaline would block a lot of it.  She loves agility in training and more and more she is loving it again at trials.  She can be very fast when she feels good.  

Carmine is Sinco's daughter and her initial training has been for tighter and technical courses which is her strong suit.  She does not respond to pressure well and I am working on that through Amanda Nelson's online course.  She is young and has lots of potential for any sport.

All of my dogs have done EGC and all of them seem to love it.  They love to just all out run and turn on the ground and I have a hard time handling them sometimes.  It is very rewarding to have a clean run in this game.

All of the organizations have their niche, they offer different things for different people.  Few dog and handler teams can actually do all of the organizations at all of the levels of each organization.  It is alright to have your favorite organization but please do not berate another organization and certainly do not do it when you have not even tried it.  You can say what you like or do not like about an organization but when it crosses the line of making fun of it and belittling those who participate in it then it becomes akin to bullying.  Each organization has its issues - there is no perfect agility organization out there just as there are no perfect agility dog and handler teams and no perfect dog agility trainers.  We are all flawed but none deserve to be bullied, belittled or berated.  It is all agility - the state of being agile and nimble.  

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