Agility Venue Bashing

I’ve been playing this game for quite a while now (since 1994 – yikes!) and one of the things that’s always annoyed me is agility venue bashing or “neener, neener – my venue’s better than yours.”

AKC, USDAA, NADAC, CPE … I’ve done well in all of them through the years, and I’m game for trying anything new that comes along. When you “cross train” a lot, the first thing you learn is that every venue is different and they all have their pros and cons. Believe me, I can be a world-class whiner and could come up with a pretty good list of gripes about any of them! But to label one “better” than another? Or even more ridiculous, assume that the teams that participate in a particular venue are less skilled than those who compete primarily in another?

I spend a lot of entry fees in two venues that seem to bear the brunt of this attitude: NADAC and CPE. Heck – even NADAC people turn up their noses at CPE :)! Why do I participate in them?

When I started out with my girls, those were absolutely the right venues for us at the time. NADAC’s open courses and smooth flow gave Jayda the confidence and speed she so badly needed. “Sloppy handling” is a common accusation from non-NADAC participants, but I have to say that if anything, NADAC forces me to be very conscious of my handling – a bobble or a spin or even an inefficient line can so easily put you over time (even with a “fast” dog!)

CPE is awesome for babydogs – being able to do short courses like Fullhouse and Colors is a fabulous middle step to decreasing reinforcement density in a genuine trial atmosphere. Both venues are also very accomodating for semi-retired veteran dogs – my old guy has plenty of games he can still enjoy SAFELY in both venues.

Last Spring I went from weeks of nothing but CPE and NADAC to a 3 day AKC trial where Jayda qualified all 3 days in jww – 2x 1st place in Open and again the next day as a move-up on a pretty tight/technical Excellent course – one of only 3 “A” dogs to qualify. Damn, those out-of-control NADAC dogs and their sloppy handlers :).

ARE there teams running in NADAC who lack the necessary control for other venues? Yes. ARE there teams in CPE who “get by” with gawdawful handling and a lot of luck? Of course there are. But each venue brings it’s own particular “flavor” to the table and if you look at them with an open mind and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE, you’ll realize that each one offers something unique that can enhance you and your dog’s teamwork and skills.

At the end of the day it’s the relationship with your dog and how you perform as a team that matters, right? So please don’t assume my dogs and I are “less-than” because I choose to play in a different venue!