Clean Run - June 2011 - (Page 5)

Editorializing… When Did Agility Become About Looks? By Jen Knappenburger Agility has always been an all-inclusive sport. Whether young or old, tall, or short, agility is a sport that everyone can enjoy—a sport where anyone can get involved for competition or just for sheer fun. No matter why people get involved, we are involved because it is a game that we can play with our dogs. Recently at trials, I have been in the unfortunate position of overhearing conversations that include ridiculing a person because of their size. Comments are made concerning their lack of physical ability jeopardizing the game for their dog, such as: “The dog could be so much better if he had a different handler,” “If only she could run faster,” and much more insulting comments directly about the person, which I do not find necessary to share. And what surprised me the most is that the people making the comments had not Qd that day, yet the “overweight” person being ridiculed in the ring at the time happened to Double-Q. It makes me wonder when agility became a sport only for the physically fit? When did it become a sport where it mattered what the handler looked like? When did our physical condition become the cause of our Qs? When did it stop becoming a game we play with our dogs? If people want to play the game, who are we to tell them they can’t? Who are we to determine what a person is capable of? Many people from different walks of life have the opportunity to play a game we all have come to love. Could someone else run your dog better? Maybe, maybe not. Agility is a sport that has become a connection between us and our dogs. Who cares how we run, how we look, or what condition our body may be in? From my personal standpoint, I want to run the sport I love with the dog I love. I don’t care if I am not as fast as the person before me nor as agile as the person after me. I don’t care if my handling isn’t as crisp as others or if I am not as polished as I could be. What I do care about is that I am enjoying every minute I have with my dog, enjoying the opportunity to run another round. I’m thankful that I have encountered the sport in the first place and thankful the dog I have running beside me is enjoying the game just as much as I am—he doesn’t know or care that a “better” handler might be able to accomplish more with him. I am also awestruck and inspired by some of the runs completed by handlers who do have physical difficulties. There are no words to describe what I see when handlers with limited physical ability can stand in the middle of the ring and smoothly direct their dog through an entire course. The feeling you get watching the connection between a dog and handler—when a dog and handler have that run where every movement, every motion is perfectly in sync—is indescribable. We have all had those perfectly in-sync runs and we can recall the great feeling it brings. When that run is complete, all you can think about is how awesome your run was, how awesome your dog was, how well you just ran together. You are filled with emotion. Not once after those runs do I remember thinking about how fat I looked or how slow I ran. All I can think about was the greatness of that run. I don’t think that feeling comes only to those handlers who are physically fit. Enjoy your dog. Let everyone else enjoy their dog. Each and every one of us needs to be thankful for the abilities we do have and for the opportunity we have just to play the game. Jen Knappenburger Jen works for animal control in Florida and competes with her Labrador Retrievers in obedience and agility. She currently runs rescued MACH Sampson UD, AXP, AJP, OF, CGC; Sunnyburkes Indi’N Rose CDX, AX, MXJ, AXP, AJP, CGC, FFX-AG; and Teva, a rescued puppy in training. June 11 | Clean Run 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - June 2011

Clean Run - June 2011
Editorializing: When Did Agility Become About Looks?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 3
Sharpening Your Snooker Skill: Teach Your Dog to Bypass Obstacles
Lameness in Agility Dogs
Confessions of a Gambling Addict, Part 2: Planning the Opening
AKC’s New Kid on the Block: Time 2 Beat
Challenges for Rising Stars
Intervertebral Disc Disease in the Canine Athlete
Challenges at CR Central
FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 2
Ready, Set, Trial! Walk, then Run
Tips for Training Running Contacts, Part 1
When is Good Enough Enough?
Agility Bloopers

Clean Run - June 2011