Friday, February 17, 2012


Apparently the majority of those who read this blog have no idea how to navigate the steps necessary to leave a message in the comments area.  I understand; the process confounds me, too.  The responses I get directly to my email outnumber by at least 10 to 1 the comments left on the blog.  From time to time one of those emailed comments strikes me as must-read for all those who are tuned in to this blog. 

Such was the case when I heard from Judie Niece on February 15.  Judie was responding to the well-documented case Andrea in Las Vegas had made about the cost of competition obedience participation.  Judie started out to explain how the benefits of having  your kids participate in AKC dog sports events can far outweigh the onerous costs of that participation.  But before she was finished she also delivered a little piece of wisdom that way, way transcended dollars and cents.  Here's Judie's message in its entirety.

There is an incentive to have your children participate in AKC events, and it far outweighs the cost of shows.  My daughter Holly participated in AKC Junior Showmanship and conformation.  She started at age 11 -- no classes.  She observed professional handlers and put into practice what she saw in the ring.  She placed several conformation titles on dogs that she handled for others.  She also trained her Lab in obedience, earning a CD title, participated in hunt tests, had a registered therapy dog, and qualified for Westminster 2 times as a Junior Handler.

Her first introduction to a dog show was watching "mom" participate in one of her first obedience shows -- she was hooked!  Not only do these juniors mature quickly, having to participate with adults, but those who participate in AKC events are also eligible to apply for AKC scholarships.  Between her undergrad studies at(Arizona State University) and then her transfer to (Colorado State University) for vet school, she was awarded about $30,000 in scholarships.  And your choice of majors has nothing to do with the award.  Many recipients choose majors not having anything to do with the "dog world."  Not too many weekend soccer warriors can say the same.  And did I  mention she was SO BUSY with the "dog world" that she never had time to get into any trouble. . . . just sayin' . . .

It happens that I was priviledged to have, literally, a ringside seat for the interaction Judie describes. Many were the times Judie and I competed in the obedience ring with our goldens -- Judie with Sandy, I with Honeybear.  And we watched together as Holly heeled her Lab in the Novice ring.

A few weeks ago, at an obedience trial, I looked to my left and saw a young couple changing a diaper atop a crate.  They were Holly (Niece) Tuttle DVM, her husband Bill and tiny daughter Brooke. 

Another dog sports newbie on the way?


1 comment:

  1. Willard,

    Great story. However, I disagree that obedience only needs more recruits. Just look at agility. I don't see any more effort to get youngsters involved in agility than in OB, yet agility is thriving.

    Agility requires far more space and equipment (or access to such) than obedience. You hardly need any equipment for obedience and you can find a way to train in a house, on the sidewalk, in a park, etc. And yet, agility, not obedience, is thriving. Obedience has never been as popular as agility, even when obedience was practically the only dog game around.

    Just about everyone in OB has an opinion on how this or that change could improve OB. I have a million ideas. Only thing is, it doesn't MATTER what anyone's ideas are. OB is etched in stone. And that, I think, is the real problem. Regular OB doesn't seem to be able to try anything new.

    Agility and Rally can make dramatic changes practically ovenight. Changing anything about OB requires decades of pushing, and then the changes are little more than chips around the edges of the stone into which the rules have been carved.

    I'm not talking about making OB "easier". I'm thinking of things like more variety in the routines, maybe a "Preferred" option with lower jumps, higher and harder levels of OB to move teams beyond endless perfection of the same old, a reassessment of the value of exercises that people have complained about for decades (like the Open groups), etc. But mostly, I think OB just needs to TRY some new ideas. Maybe they won't work and maybe they will.

    Evolution. It's not just for antibiotic-resistant bacteria anymore.