In dog sports, the term “Nationals” means an annual event for that sport (conformation, agility, rally, obedience), breed (Pugs, Poodles, Pumis) &/or organization (AKC, UKC, CPE, NADAC, ASCA). For example: American Kennel Club (AKC) as an organization hosts Agility Nationals. Dogs that are registered and compete in AKC agility events at the Master level and meet the annual criteria will be invited to attend this event and compete against other dog/handler teams from all over the US (and Canada too!). The next AKC Agility Nationals will be in Perry GA March @4-26 2017.
Breed groups in AKC, for example, also have annual meet ups where only that breed competes in various performance sports depending on the breed of dog (Herding for shelties, Hunting for Gordon Setters, Lure Coursing for Greyhounds) as well as the companion sports (agility, obedience, rally, tracking) that the club thinks people would like to compete in for the week. If they expect that there aren’t enough folks to have an event of just that one breed they may hold small All Breed trials but only give prizes to the host breed. Of course, the historical foundation of these events is confirmation so you can see the depth of the stock that makes up your breed.
An example of this type of event in our own backyard is the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America (http://www.acdca.org/ ) Nationals to be held here in the Pacific Northwest. Events will be held in and around Lacey WA from September 18th to 23rd. As you can see by the schedule of events the club will hold agility for just Cattle Dogs on Sunday and herd trials on the last two days at a local facility.
The Australian Shepherd Club of America (www.ASCA.org ) will be hosting its 2016 National in Albany OR September 9-17. While this organization allows mixed breeds and other pure breeds to participate in its various programs The National and its pre-event warm up competitions are only for Australian Shepherds who have met the requirements to compete.
Now that being said you should know that these various types of Nationals are held a different locations around the US depending on a number of factors such as regional clubs willing to do the support work and the necessary facilities being fairly close to each other. Because the population is spread out over greater distances, Nationals held west of the Mississippi tend to be smaller and need more help from the dog sport community at large.
With the is in mind, if you would like to lend a hand bar setting or stewarding or course building or anything that you already have a skill at with either of the above events you can contact the trial chairs directly. Let them know what you can help with—sometimes they need folks who are not entered to drive judges around or to help pack equipment up at the end of the whole production—and the times you are available.
Budgets are tight so don’t have any expectations of more than a few refreshments but these are wonderful opportunities to watch a great many dogs compete in a unique environment and perhaps get you interested in upping your own dog sport bucket list.
This Saturday the Boston Terrier Club of Western Washington is having an AKC all breed agility trial at Lakebay Wa. They are hosting an agility B Match after the trial day is done around 230 pm. We also are having a Judges dinner BBQ/potluck starting around 3pm so bring a dish to share as we have stuff to toss on the grill. We also will have a few vendors if you would like to come early and shop.
The trial and the match are outside on grass with sheep fencing (large open squares of light weight net fencing). Back in March I gave you post about a B Match at Argus with lots of good information so you may want to read that if you didn’t see it the first time. This modifies the information you need for an outside match.
First and foremost you must have a recall because we are outside on grass with sheep fencing as a ring barrier. There are no walls, there are no gates, a dog could run out of the ring and the ball field and get hurt or hurt someone else.
Again, the match I am describing is an AKC (www.akc.org) event which means dogs must be under control at all times and on leash everywhere except in the ring and at the warm up jump. If you do not have off leash control you are not ready for a match yet. Dogs may not be on a prong or corrective collar on the show grounds—martingales are okay but dog is expected to run in flat or rolled buckle collar for safety. While flexi/retractable leashes are permitted on the grounds they are not a good idea at trials because you should come to the line on a proper leash and (IMO) when walking your dog at an outside trial there is even more things to get tangled– humans or pop-up shade tent legs or chairs.
This type of match does allow toy rewards but NO FOOD on the course. It is extremely difficult to get crumbs out of the grass and no one wants to lose a Sunday qualifying run to treats that fell out of a pocket Saturday night. Dogs must meet the same criteria for the match as for a trial—they must be over 15 months in good health and have an AKC number (http://www.akc.org/register/?pre=breeder&activity=puppy MIXED BREEDS are welcomed in agility as well as other sports). Don’t forget need to be careful with your verbal corrections—nothing so harsh or loud as to upset bystanders. Again, if there is a serious problem or mishap the club must report it to AKC and punishments can be assigned for serious offenses even for a match.
A match for training purposes is for dogs and handlers that know how to safely engage the equipment on a course but you don’t have to do all the course as designed. It is NOT for LEARNING the EQUIPMENT but for experienced teams to practice skills (start line stays, wraps, contacts, serpentines, weave poles, shorter sequences) in the very different environment of an outdoor trial and for new teams to see where they are on the agility journey. You don’t want to put a dog in this type of match if they have never done the equipment or never been in such a stimulating environment. Why?? Because you don’t want your dog hurt by doing the equipment incorrectly nor do you want your dog to become afraid of the equipment or the environment and, since you are limited in your use of rewards and corrections, you don’t want them to become ring-wise (that is where they know you can’t get after them or bribe them like you do at home when they are being naughty or crazy)
We are offering a match for training purposes this weekend at Volunteer Park in Lakebay Wa on the Key Peninsula. It is a lovely park with a couple nice open spaces and a little forested walk. It is a site that has hosted AKC agility trials for years so the club is very happy to be part of that tradition. We expect to START the match around 230pm but with outside trials anything might happen to affect how the trial runs, so be flexible. When you arrive, leave your dog in the car. Get the lay of the land. Get a plan. then potty the dog. The sounds and energy level of outdoor trials is very different from places like Argus but still watch yourself and your dog in the path ways to the rings as folks are running back and forth.
We typically have you (or someone you have do it for you) sign up $5/90 seconds (cash check or worker voucher) during the day of the match (in this case Saturday August 6). You may do which ever ring(s) you want as many times as you want (at $5 for each 90 seconds) but be aware that can be a long time when you are working on your plan…or trying to get a dog to come to you. You will sign up by jump height and you may jump whatever height you wish. (IMO) jump lower for working on your handling or problem solving or a new place and regular height for conditioning. Also jump lower if the grass is damp or slick—I hear the weather should be in the 70’s.
You may park wherever there is room and there is overflow parking/camping in a field above the trial area. Just follow the road you come in on straight past the ball fields and up the dirt hill.
The Trial Secretary’s table should be not far from the rings so please
don’t drag your dog up to the secretary table to ask questions. You usually sign up for matches by the Secretary Table as well as find out when the measuring official is available. I will be wearing my new brown ball cap with this logo
To be officially measured you need an AKC number (http://www.akc.org/register/?pre=breeder&activity=puppy ) to be sound and over 15 months old. If you would like an unofficial measurement or to get your dog use to the measuring process please ask for assistance as the wicket is expensive and we don’t want it knocked about.
Since this is a public park it is imperative that you pick up any and all pet waste you come across or your dog deposits. There is no off leash area around the rings and the big field also has campers using it so you should not be off leash there either. Also, other folks may not have the recall they THINK they have when their dog sees your dog or your dog sees their tennis ball/Frisbee/stick. Don’t assume anyone wants their dog to interact with yours.
Again if you don’t know about the mental preparation of going into the ring –even to practice—please understand from the perspective of those of us who are running dogs (IMO). Please let us focus on the course and our dog before and after our run. Don’t come ring side and start chatting about our breed or want to tell us how the run looked or ask questions about strategies. We are trying to focus on the job at hand and build the bond with our dog—who is getting amped about running before we go in and demanding praise and cookies when we get out. We may be running to get our next dog so timing is precious. Ask questions or share observations once everything is settled back down for that handler. This is especially important to those who are agility instructors—students might want to film their runs for discussion later but please let them enjoy the time with their dog.
Trialing outdoors can be a great deal of fun but it does offer a different level of challenges. Hope I haven’t overwhelmed you but, the more you know and plan and train, then the better and more successful your agility career will be.