Friday, August 12, 2011


There is a sanctioned obedience match up the road a piece this Sunday.

I asked my friend, "Are you going to the match?'

"No," she replied, "it's a sanctioned match."

Here we go again.  Her dog is on the one-yard line, about to finish her UDX2 and her OM2.  Then, at ten years of age, retire to rest on the laurels of a fine obedience career.  That dog has a few quirks -- a tendency to bow to the right on go-outs and a penchent for staring right through the handler on the drop signal -- which need frequent fixing to keep the dog on track.  Fixing my friend wouldn't be permitted to do in a sanctioned match.

According to the American Kennel Club, the purpose of a sanctioned match is to provide an opportunity for dog clubs, judges, stewards, and (competitors) and their dogs to gain experience for licensed events.

In the the ring at a sanctioned match, the dog and handler must proceed as if they are competing in a licensed trial.  That means no food, no toys, no hands-on, no training aids of any kind. 

Which, in turn, means my friend and her dog can't do the tweaking they'd be entered for in the first place. So they'll stay home.  The dog won't get to work in a show-like environment.  The club won't get the entry revenue.  All this at a time when everyone is wringing their hands about the drop-off in entries and trying to figure out how to make obedience more competitor friendly.  ("Oh, but we didn't mean that!")

I'm kind of dense.  More than two decades in the sport and I still find the rules governing sanctioned matches hard to rationalize.

Someone please explain to me:  If my dog turns short on a go-out and I take him gently by the collar and march him out there, saying, "Away! Away!" how does that dilute the dog club's learning experience?

Please help me understand:  If, while heeling, I have a treat fastened to my armband to help my little guy concentrate on his focal point, how does that diminish the match judge's learning experience?

Straighten me out here:  I hold my dog around the chest and jazz him up before sending him to retrieve his dumbbell over the high jump.  How does that rain all over the stewards' learning experience?  (Assuming they are paying the slightest bit of attention in the first place.)

Hip me, please:  I put a target at the far end of the ring to help my Utility A dog perfect nice, straight go-outs. And that sticks a fork in the match secretary's learning experience how?

Clarify this if you will:  My little guy gives me a perfect front.  I respond by dropping a ball from under my chin.  And that blows the learning experience for who?

Just askin'.


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