Following my two recent posts about possibilities for recruiting more newcomers to competition obedience, I received a couple of interesting responses which I'm sharing here.
It's been suggested ad infinitum that an AKC partnership with organizations such as Petco, PetSmart and 4-H could expose legions of pet obedience students to our sport. To date the only response that's discernable is zzzz.
Sue in Scottsdale emailed me about an exchange she had with a "trainer" at PetSmart recently. She said: "I had one of my dogs with me (Why not take advantage of the training possibility?) and the trainer was watching me. He asked questions and I told him I competed in competition obedience. He asked , 'What's that?'"
Andrea in Las Vegas sent this well-thought-out response derived from her family's experience. Edited a bit for clarity, here's what she told me:
Showing dogs in obedience is very costly for a family. Except for conformation junior handling, entries cost the same for kids as for adults. And those fees are a minimum of $28 per day, $84 for three days . . . per kid. And if the child shows in both obedience and rally, both have the same entry fee, as each has its own separate event number. She also pointed out that we should not forget to include the cost of gasoline, a motel, parking, etc. "That's really pricey for a couple of green ribbons and a certificate that comes in the mail a few weeks later," she said.
What's more, she pointed out, "Obedience/rally classes start at $65 for 6 weeks (mediocre choke and jerk method)." Then she contrasted that with one season of soccer or little league which includes two practices and one or two games a week and lasts 10 to 14 weeks. In her area that costs $90, and if you sign up a second child that child participates at half price.
Andrea concluded with this revealing time line: When she started in dog sports at age 14, she had 12 friends her age participating with her. By the time she was 20 she had 6 friends training and showing. When she was 30 all her same-age friends had dropped out, but her kids and their friends were there training and showing. Now she's 40. Her kids and their friends have moved on. And there are no newcomers.
And she said when she read my blog she realized -- sadly, she told me -- that not one of the four dogs in their home has an obedience title.