17 July 2012

Judging and testing dogs

It is most frustrating at times, being a judge as well as a competitor. For me I am a competitor first, and also a trainer. I like training and running my dogs. Although I like judging as well, I would always prefer to handle than judge.

But there are times when I am asked to sit out of a show and judge for the rest of the Agility fraternity. I honestly don't mind, unless there is something important coming up and I need to work on course, so then I don't take the appointment.

But lately judging around here is frustrating beyond words. Where did the respect for a judge go? When did clubs and handlers stop treating judges well? I am most disappointed.
Recently I had the misfortune to be the judge where a competitor made me wait in the cold and rain because she didn't want to learn 2 courses at once, and then proceeded to take her time in walking my course and then even more time to fetch her dog. Unfortunately the organisation allows things like this. At the same judging appointment, I was left to put my briefcase on the floor, I wasn't offered lunch or a snack, not a single cooldrink or cup of water for 2 days. Thank goodness I took my own!

But the worst of it, for me, is the lack of understanding of the sport by the competitors!! I mean, I don't just churn out courses. I actually sit and plan and design for weeks. I get told what sort of competition it is for, and I design accordingly. I test specific types of handling, and specific types of training that the dog should have at the level in which he is competing. It really is not my problem if your Agility 3 dog cannot do a pull-through, or a go-round.. or layer 1 obstacle - you should know this! As a handler, in the top grade, you should KNOW how to give your dog a line, how to use your voice and body to give your dog the information it needs to understand what to do. And people, it is a RACE, not a Sunday afternoon stroll (and then complain because you don't make the easy time!)

I am really tired of being abused as a judge - and being told that I put up cr@p because some twit can't do it! I am a handler and trainer as well, remember, I KNOW how to do each thing that I am testing. I am not just putting obstacles anywhere to see how many dogs fail!

Some judges think they are doing people a favour by putting up really basic courses, so that lots of people gush with praise.. yet these poor people must then go to another competition and actually get a test at the appropriate level and then they get a SHOCK...... hmmmm unfortunately also not my problem.

Moral of the story - I think I am on a judging break. I just can't take the abuse when I can actually rather be running my dogs! And if there are no competitions because the blackmail didn't work - then so be it. I still have grounds and equipment and I can still enjoy my dogs, and train properly and do the things that I WISH the judges were testing!