Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 5

Editorializing… Barbarians at the Gate? By Francoise (Sassie) Joiris We’re in a hurry, and it’s the one thing that we all apparently have in common. Never mind that we love agility and that weekends with our friends are a blast; from the moment we arrive at a trial, it seems that we’re rushing to get our runs in and leave. Whether judge, exhibitor, or club-member volunteer, we all seem to be in the same boat—our lives are encroaching and while we value our time at trials, we can’t afford any wasted time. Unfortunately, sometimes the very things we’re doing because we’re in a hurry simply serve to slow everything down. Occasionally I hear the term “gate Nazi” being bandied about, and although it’s meant humorously, the implications aren’t wonderful. The theory, subscribed to by a few judges and gate stewards, is that handlers are in need of domination, that yelling and badgering people to the be in the right place at the right time will make the world a better place for everyone because we’ll all get done in a timely manner. If it worked, then maybe the ends would justify the means, but in my experience as a competitor and as a gate steward it doesn’t. At a recent trial the judge wanted the next dog in the ring inordinately early; not only were there still nine obstacles to go, but one of those obstacles was also a set of 12 weave poles, an obstacle that seems to have the greatest variation in the time it takes to complete. She told the gate steward in no uncertain terms that she did not want to find herself waiting for a dog to get on the line, and by gosh, she didn’t. “Dog #110, get on the line now! Where’s dog #111? You need to get on the line! When I call your dog’s name you need to get out there fast, don’t make me yell!” This dialogue went on and on, the entire length of the class. The judge made it a point to glance at the start line to make sure there was a dog on the line well before the dog ahead was finished, and if there wasn’t, she gave the gate steward a look. Dogs were having zoomies, dropping bars, stressing, and sniffing: it seemed as though a great many of them were doing anything except the right thing, and their handlers weren’t that much better, getting lost, getting tense, barking commands at their dogs. With the amount of time that the failed runs were taking, the judge reminded the gate steward to hurry people along and the gate steward moved from insistent to bullying. Dogs and handlers were lined up five or six at a time, with handlers trying to keep their dogs focused on them, not the other dogs; and that wasn’t an easy task since every line seemed to have at least one barker, one sniffer, and one tugger to keep the other dogs distracted. Tense handlers snapped at each other, at the gate steward, the leash runner, and pretty much anyone who crossed their path. At the end of the class the gate steward was tired and frustrated; the judge was frustrated at the low Q-rate and the complaints—the course hadn’t seemed that hard; and the exhibitors were just plain frustrated. This is an extreme example, perhaps, but we’ve all been in similar situations. Rushing does not make things go faster and getting people frazzled usually makes things go slower. The more the gate steward works at dissipating tension, the more smoothly the class will run. My all-time favorite gate steward, and my mentor when I started working at the gate, has never, to my knowledge, come close to sounding annoyed. He’s unfailingly polite no matter how tense the situation, and other that a slight rise in volume to make himself heard over barking dogs, he never raises his voice. People go into his ring feeling a little better about themselves, and that’s a good way to face a run. A judge who is reasonable about when the next dog should be on the line is a wonderful thing too. I watched a huge class run without a hitch, every dog on the line before the timer was ready to time, with a judge who had dogs coming in three obstacles before the end. She assumed, correctly, that most people are sensible and reasonable and will do what they need to do to be ready on time. There are plenty of ways to save time without shouting at handlers to get on the line. Timeliness in arriving on site, setting up the course, and letting handlers walk (no one truly needs a 45-minute walk-through) makes a bigger difference in the long run than trying to rush once the class is in motion. A gate steward certainly has the right to expect handlers to be near the ring within five or six dogs of their turn, but there’s no need for having them all stand at attention, and no need to bark orders. People respond well to “You may go on the line now, thank you,” and if they tell you they’ll be on the line on time, trust their judgment. Some people and dogs walk in at the last minute but are on their way the moment the timer stays Go; others will step up the moment you allow them to do so, starting their elaborate pre-run ritual. One thing is certain, unflustered handlers run better, and better runs mean that the class gets done faster. Competitors are not barbarians; there’s no need to treat them that way at the gate. Sassie Joiris Sassie Joiris trains animal actors (birds, farm animals, cats, and dogs) for television and film. She has been teaching dog training in one form or another for 30 years. Her Norfolk Terrier, Ch. MACH Stamp, OAC, NJC, TN-N, JE, is her first agility dog. She also has Boing!, a young Whippet who just started competing. Contact Sassie through her website: http://home.ix.netcom.com/~joiris. February 08 | Clean Run 5
http://home.ix.netcom.com/~joiris

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Contents
Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
On Course with Annie Lehman
Basic Turns
Trainer’s Forum
Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Skill of the Month
When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Shelter Champs: Dunk
Distance Challenge
Letters
Agility Organization Update
Nested Courses for Mardi Gras
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - On Course with Annie Lehman
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Basic Turns
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 59
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Shelter Champs: Dunk
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 84
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