Wishing you a wonderful and safe holiday!
Category Archives: Events
Looking for something to do June 20th – 22nd without leaving your home? Looking to learn more about canine behavior from experts in their fields? Grab your computer, a comfy spot and listen to the SPARCS 2013 Conference Livestream! This is an amazing opportunity to hear from animal behavior specialist, biologists and canine behavior experts on a wide variety of topics.
What is SPARCS? From their brochure:
Current dog training practices are based on outdated knowledge, with
even popular celebrity trainers suggesting techniques more than 50
years behind modern behavioral research. A Seattle non-profit has
started a revolution to change this. The Society for the Promotion
of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS) has created an
open-access public platform where modern canine science can be
presented, discussed and debated by the greatest dog experts from
around the world.
I know where I will be June 20 – 22! Want to learn more? Click any of the links below to look at the schedule, read more about the speakers and topics and bookmark the livestream feed!
Yes, my title is harsh…but read on and you’ll understand. If you don’t then leave a comment and let’s discuss!
This past weekend was the 2014 UKC Premier and as is tradition I was there with my mom and friend. It’s tradition for us to stay in a hotel and enjoy all 4 days of the show. Usually I show my mom’s Silken Windhounds for her but this year I managed to seriously injure my calf while practicing flyball with my golden. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the show! I am currently processing the photos I took and will get those up here in the next few days. I have a few posts to write about the 2014 UKC Premier but I want to focus on something that happened that put a damper on our weekend for a bit.
The UKC Premier features all major dog sporting events: confirmation, junior showmanship, obedience, rally, agility, lure coursing, weight pulls, dock jumping, and barn hunts (apologies if I missed your sport). We had spent most of the weekend ringside watching confirmation and decided on Saturday we wanted to go watch some obedience. Housed in another part of the expo center, we grabbed our chairs and headed off to watch obedience. There were several rings for rally and several for traditional obedience which was running novice and open. My friend and I decided we wanted to watch some Open, walked to the ring, put our chairs against the back wall about 6 feet from the ring and sat down. We weren’t sitting there more than 5 minutes when a ring steward came up to us and told us we had to move because we were a distraction to the dogs in the ring. We apologized, picked up our chairs and moved. Now mind you, we were a good distance from the ring and were positioned by the garbage can and doors; we weren’t talking and couldn’t have been a bigger distraction then the people coming in and out and walking past us. The dirty glares we were getting from other obedience exhibitors should have killed us on the spot. Seriously… you would have thought we were screaming with bullhorns at a ballet.
We set our chairs up and are promptly told we can’t sit there because it’s a fire hazard. We were a little perplexed. There were no signs and no indications of where we could and couldn’t sit. Another UKC representation comes up and tells us we have to sit behind the yellow line as per the Fire Marshal. We look around and realize that behind the line means squishing back against where all the obedience exhibitors were crating. There was very little space so we pull our chairs back and start to squeeze in. Now mind you, there is almost NO space for us to put our chairs so we’re trying to do the best we can. As we’re attempting to get settled, one of the obedience exhibitors very rudely says to us, “Don’t set your chairs up there, my friend will be coming back soon and you’ll be in her space.” We look around, flabbergasted. There is literally no other space for us to set up. The obedience exhibitor crates are literally wall to yellow line and then have their chairs set up in front. You couldn’t squeeze a chair in anywhere if your life depended on it. So, we picked up our chairs and left. What a shame!
I remember when I first started I showed in obedience and they were the most welcoming, easy going people you could ask for in the dog sport. What happened? We were so unwelcome and treated rudely that it put a little bit of a damper on our Saturday. The problem was compounded upon by several factors. First, the crating. Confirmation exhibitors aren’t allowed to crate in the same building so why should the obedience folks be allowed to? If it’s literally the only space for them then they should be limited in exactly where they can crate. Second, there was no set space for spectators. The exhibitors were literally taking up all available space behind the yellow line so a spectator could not watch. The UKC needs to set space aside that can’t be used for crating or exhibitors so that someone coming into the show can sit, watch, learn and enjoy this part of the sport. Third; the absolutely horrible attitude and treatment from the obedience exhibitors themselves. There was no reason they couldn’t have moved to make room for us. Instead we were told to not sit because that was their spot. Last time I checked, obedience was a dying sport and I don’t think having an ultra-elitist attitude is the way to bring people in.
I think what perplexes me the most about what happened is the attitude of ‘being so quiet you could hear a pin drop’ in the obedience building. I understand not wanting there to be kids running around screaming or other major distractions but since when do obedience trained competitors need a completely distraction free environment?! I remember when I trained we trained in all types of conditions and made our own distractions to help our dogs learn to focus. If your dog can’t handle a couple of gals sitting in chairs watching 6 feet from the ring then you probably aren’t ready to be competing.
Now, you might be reading this thinking I’m a confirmation elitist and I’m not. I have put obedience and agility titles on dogs as well as finished dogs in their confirmation championship. I have waited two years for a performance Border Collie to show in flyball, agility and obedience. I love all aspects of the sport and it pisses me off when one type of exhibitor acts like they are better than another. All aspects of the sport have their own challenges and require training, patience and dedication. We get enough gruff from those outside the dog sport that we don’t need to be assholes to one another.
You’ll notice a new image on my sidebar. I found this great app that allows you to help your local shelters just by walking your dog!
Intrigued? Read on:
Don’t just Take your Dog for a Walk, Take your Walk for a Dog!
Walking your Dog just got a whole lot Better! Now you can Raise Money for your Local Shelter every time time you walk your dog.
Taking your dog for a walk is now not only good for you and your dog, it raises money to support all pets at your local animal shelter. The Take your Walk for a Dog program is a revolutionary Dog-powered fundraising tool for animal shelters that uses a free mobile App to promote healthy pets and healthy humans while raising money to support local shelters. Your Local Animal Shelter is partnering with WoofTrax, Inc., to introduce and promote the App in this area. “You walk your dog anyway,” says Mike Katz, Director of Community Relations for WoofTrax. “Now, for every mile you walk, we donate to to your local animal shelter.”
“There is no easier way to raise funds for our local shelter then using the app every time you grab for the leash!” says JoAnn Goldberger, Director of Development, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Center, Baltimore, MD. Whether you are walking with your dogs or by yourself, the App is a way to keep track of your walks, encouraging you to walk more every day. That’s good for your health and your dog’s health. Plus, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your walking directly benefits your local shelter.
One of the key developers of the Take your Walk for a Dog program is the “WoofDriver,” a world famous dog-powered sporting lifestyle expert. WoofDriver focuses on new and exciting ways to exercise, train, and spend time with your dog. You can see videos of the WoofDriver in action at Wooftrax.com.
Our community can now support us simply by walking their dogs. Proceeds directly benefit the many homeless animals that come to our local shelter each year and support the ongoing good work that our local shelter does in our community.
If you would like additional information about Walk for a Dog, or if you have any questions, visit wooftrax.com.
No big surprises here, but PETA has already jumped on the Real Sports segment on dog showing. Even less surprising is the message that they took away:
You’ll definitely want to watch the full feature on HBO GO or HBO On Demand and share it with your family and friends, especially those who think they need to have purebreds. It will surely inspire many people always to adopt and never buy their future canine companions and to find something better to watch than contests that exploit “man’s best friend.”
As typical, PETA is using this as an opportunity to decree all purebred dogs as ‘bad news’. Let’s be realistic here. Not all breeders are bad. Not all purebred dogs are bad and not all dog sports are exploiting those who participate.
The answer is not to turn away from the sport nor is it to stop purchasing and breeding purebreds. That’s the simple extremist answer to a complex problem. The answer lies in taking a step back and bringing back a true mentality for health in breeding. We enjoy our purebred dogs not just because of a look (sure that’s part of it) but also because of what they can do. Breed function should be maintained and if we turn to an adoption only rescue model we’ll look the distinction we love so much in various breeds. Let’s not let the blind eye to bad practices and a few ‘bad apple’ breeders stand for all purebred dog owners, breeders and aficionados.
If you haven’t seen the HBO’s Real Sports segment called Unnatural Selection you’re missing out!
Fortunately, I have it right here for you!
Watch this and then come back and see if you agree with me.
Go on. I’ll wait. Really. This is a MUST watch for all individuals involved in the world of dog sports.
Watch it? Good.
Now read on:
Overall it was a very impactful 15 minutes. The phase that stood out to me the most was referring to the AKC as the “Lord of Dog Shows”. While AKC may like the nomenclature, to me it conjures up something more akin to a world filled with more drama and backstabbing than the series Game of Thrones. The problem with being a “Lord” is that often you’re too high up in your ivory tower to realize what’s really happening down below. In this case, they are turning a blind eye to the damage that is being caused to many purebred breeds due to standards that have turned the sport into a mere beauty pageant where form is the end all be all and function be damned. I’ve talked about this before in length and won’t belabor the point here again. What the representatives for AKC say in this segment really speaks for itself.
I’d love to see the AKC be taken to task and really answer how they plan to help stop line/in- breedings. Last year’s Westminster winner was a father to daughter cross and the AKC’s only response was “We stand for happy, healthy dogs.” They said it so much that I wondered if they truly believe that’s what they are doing with the AKC or if they were told to say that (as if saying it made it actually meaningful).
Now, I’ll admit, it’s not entirely up to the AKC to ‘police’. Individual breeders need to step up and start taking responsibility. However, the AKC has enabled this type of poor breeding practice by not doing anything to stop it. The solution is simple and is already in play in the UK: Litters that are line/in-bred shouldn’t be allowed to become registered. Next, start working towards healthy dogs, not just dog that fit a standard on paper. And finally, make sure that all dogs are certified healthy before being bred. Don’t leave this up to the individual breeder; make it mandatory. Is it a lot? Sure. But until the collective dog community as a whole can be responsible in their own actions and breeding plans the AKC should step up and really help make “Happy, healthy dogs”.
So, where does that leave the UKC? They certainly aren’t as ‘angelic’ as the show made them out to be. Don’t get me wrong. I love the UKC. However, Wayne Cavanaugh’s words are great but at the end of the day they are just that… words. Words without any action behind them are meaningless. I think the UKC has started making strides in the right direction but in the years since coming aboard it’s been business as usual for the UKC. Mr. Cavanaugh has been president of the UKC since 2000. UKC still has politics. UKC still runs into the same issues of breeding for ‘looks’. UKC still see’s judges putting up dogs because of the ‘friends and favors’ ideology that runs through dog shows. Like I said, I like the UKC and prefer them and their mission over the AKC but they are far from perfect. 14 years is long enough and I think Mr. Cavanaugh needs to be more than ideology and put words into action more.
Regardless of who is right or which organization is better, at the end of the day it’s the dogs who are going to continue to suffer if something isn’t done. I love dogs. They are a passion. I love dog sports. I don’t want to see them go away but I do want to see an organization truly stand for ‘happy, healthy dogs’.
What did you think?
This weekend we went and watched a U-FLI tournament out in Davisburg, MI (one of my old 4-H stomping grounds).
As you probably gathered by now I am a ‘wannabe’ photographer and love taking pictures of dog events. One day, I’d like to be professional and do professional dog photography but I have a long way to go.
Case in point this weekend. I grabbed my camera and headed out in hopes of getting some amazing actions shots like this (these are NOT my shots…photo credits in captions):
Needless to say, my pictures did not at all turn out like this. Instead, I got shots like this:
Now, in my defense this was an indoor event and there was no flash photography allowed. However, there has to be a way to get better shots than this. I know because I’ve seen them!
Most embarrassingly, most of my shots came out like this:
I’m not kidding. I have literally pic after pic after pic of this same jump with NO dog. Even using the sport function on my camera was too slow to catch these extremely fast dogs.
I recently ordered a few books on indoor and low light photography as well as dog photography in general. I’m hoping these will take my photography up to the next level.
I currently don’t have any advice on how to take better indoor, no light / low light photography of action shots at the moment. However, I do plan on bringing that advice to you once I have it!
The event was great. I had a blast and was reminded of why I love being involved in dog sports. The community is fantastic, they are helpful and the events are just fun. I can sit for hours and just watch. I am going to be joining the flyball team Canine Express with my golden Blizzard. I can’t wait and have already started on target training with him.
I did capture a few cute pics! Look for more on flyball training and photography tips and images from me in future posts!
One thing I love about the UKC is the time and attention they give to juniors who want to participate in the sport of dog showing.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to not only show but mentor two green junior handlers (and by green I mean this was going to be their very first dog show ever). The show was a UKC show held in Mason, MI at the Ingham County Fairgrounds. If you have never shown in UKC you’re missing out. These shows are relaxed, generally friendly and most people are more then eager to help. It’s not without it’s own ‘dog show politics’ but the laid back atmosphere coupled with the friendliness and ‘realness’ of those that show in UKC make it worth competing in. If your dog has an AKC registration then you can register for UKC.
Unlike the AKC which requires juniors be at least 9 years of age to start handling, UKC allows children as young as 2 years old to start getting experience in the ring. Pee Wee, Sub Junior and Pre Junior (all up to the ages of 7) allow a parent to enter the ring with the child or help from the sidelines. Once they get into Novice Junior they are judged and earn points. All of the ‘pre classes’ are run through their paces but not ‘judged’ per se. The idea is to get children experience in the ring, build confidence, build knowledge and most importantly give them a great spark for showing dogs.
My daughter Braewyn, who is 4 years old showed a dog for the first time ever this weekend. She absolutely loved it and had such a big smile the entire time I know it left a great impression with her. She was so proud of herself and the work she did. With each show she got more and more confident in the ring; so much so that by the end show she needed someone in the ring with her but not by her side.
One of the best things about UKC is that it’s not just cut throat competition with cold judges. Most judges genuinely care about the juniors who are starting out because they know that they are the future of their sport. They take the time to make it educational and do what they can to help juniors grow; they don’t just hand out ribbons and let them go without giving them tips on how to best grow and learn.
Showing in UKC doesn’t just require you know how to show the dog off, it also requires you have a wealth of information around the breed you’re showing, dog health and dog anatomy. They ask about what the dog’s purpose is, what they do and general anatomy questions such as where the dog’s stop, croup or withers are. The kids in the ring can’t just look good, they have to be smart as well.
Savanna, the daughter of a good friend of mine showed for the first time this weekend as well. She did absolutely amazing. In fact, she went from not knowing how to even handle a dog to not only showing in junior showmanship but going on to handle Oracle to his championship by getting him two Best of Breeds. She learned quickly, was eager and a natural.
If you want to keep the sport of dog showing going you have to have a future generation who is interested. To do this you have to make it fun. You have to build confidence. You have to let them know that their passion means something. UKC does this and they do it well. I am so proud of these two young ladies for the work they did this past weekend and I cannot wait to see them grow!
I had the pleasure of attending the Michigan Winter Classic this weekend in Novi, MI. It’s been awhile since I’ve attended an AKC show but a little shocked at the direction the AKC is headed in. It’s no big secret that they’ve been struggling the past few years as revenue has dropped significantly from less registrations and a drop in those who are showing and even attending. I don’t want to focus on those reasons here; perhaps it’s a topic for another post.
As an example, The Detroit Kennel Club will not have their annual dog show at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI this year for the first time. This benched show, in it’s heyday was an amazing collection of dogs, vendors, dog sports, educational presentations and a place to go and spend the day shopping, looking at dogs and watching everything from competitive sports such as agility, obedience, flyball and confirmation to demonstrations from K9 police dogs, search and rescue, to herding. It was the dog show you attended every March in the area. It was a long day for those of us showing (and I experienced it quite a few times) but ultimately was a fantastic event. Unfortunately, entry prices started going up which led to a drop in entries; if you don’t have enough dogs for a major why bother? Ticket sales inside the event also skyrocketed which led to less attendance. More and more sponsoring and major vendors started pulling out. I can remember when I was much younger, going to Cobo Hall and starting at one end and working your way to the other end just looking at the vendors and collecting free samples. You’d get to the end and have multiple bags of things to take home for your dog. Now, there are no brands and vendors who give out free samples. Want a small ‘show special’ bag? That’ll be five bucks for what we used to give out as a free sample. It also took you 1/2 the day to get through all the vendors. Recently, vendor quality went down and you started seeing less and less more niche vendors and a lot less vendors; I mean a lot less. The reason for this was most likely due in part to the extremely high fees that they were charging for a vendor table. Space ranged anywhere from 1k to 1.5k for a small area. I know as I looked into potentially getting a table when I was baking treats for Thurston’s. Then, the final stake through the heart came when agility was no longer showcased at the event. The crowd loves watching agility and without it a non-repairable hole was created for the DKC at Cobo Hall.
Last year Cobo Hall was bleak. Vast areas of empty space served as a reminder of what the show used to be. It’s a vast combination of things that led to this point. The DKC decided to not run the show this year. Sad really; it was the one event you saved your money for and marked on your calendar each year. DKC’s site (http://www.detroitkennelclub.com/) says that they are currently looking for another venue to potentially hold a show but they need to find sponsor’s. Purina, which was one of their biggest sponsor’s 3 years ago and when they pulled out things went downhill. I hope they do find a space and if they do I hope they have learned from their past mistakes.
That brings me back to the Midwest Winter Classic. It had a decent amount of vendors for the size show it was. It had agility, confirmation, obedience, and rally. There were demonstrations such as herding, meet the dog, spend time with a handler and junior showmanship clinics. The floor was bustling with dogs and people, both spectator and show attendee alike and that’s where my issue with what they did comes in. Typically, at AKC shows only those showing or demonstrating are allowed to bring their dogs. As a person who shows their dogs they tend to know the ‘rules’ of how you and your dog behave at these types of events. This even however saw a change; spectators could also bring in their dogs. Let me let that sink in a moment… anyone, so long as they paid the $10 entry fee could bring their dog in. AKC and the show sponsors encouraged this by providing open clinics, and an area called “My Dog Can Do That” where you could come in and try out some agility with the help of professional trainers.
According to their website:
Can I bring my dog to the show without an AKC registration?
Yes, if you would like to participate in the “My Dog Can Do That!” event. You may register at the AKC booth at the show. Participating dogs must be at least 6 months old and have proof of rabies vaccination. Please bring your dog on a buckle collar and 4 to 6 foot leash. No retractable leashes, prong collars, chain choke collars or head halters allowed.
However, no one was stopping them at the door. You had to register at the table which meant you could easily come in, not register and simply walk around with your dog. I saw a ton of dogs with prongs, chokers, retractable leashes and a few head halters. You would think a show chairman would have seen this and questioned it.
I get why they are doing it. If you can bring your dog you might be more likely to come. More people coming means more people paying and that’s good for the pocket books. Also, bringing more people in also means that they are getting exposure to what the AKC is and what they could potentially do by being a part of it. All good things for them. However, for those showing this provides a bit of an issue. While some people have manners and common sense on how their dogs should behave in public with other people and dogs, many do not. As I mentioned, I saw people come in with long retractable leads (can we banish those sometime soon?). They often were not keeping a close eye on what their dogs were doing and they had a tendency to just go where they pleased. Even those who had their dogs on a shorter leash still let them just go up to strange dogs to sniff. Not all dogs wants to say ‘hi’ nor are all dogs going to take kindly to yours jumping in their face.
If AKC wants to allow spectators to bring in their dogs to these events there are better ways to do it. For starters, they should require proof of vaccinations at the door, it’s small thing but it should just be done. A great idea for additional revenue and keeping behavior under control is to only allow dogs with a CGC certificate to come in (I know…I know… we can discuss CGCs another time). This not only encourages people to make sure they have dogs that behave but it opens up revenue for AKC and testing facilities. Even better would be for AKC to or whichever kennel club is hosting the show to charge an additional fee for each pet being brought in. Included with this fee is a small class that they MUST attend directly by the entrance. In this class an instructor would go over behavioral rules, how to handle their dogs around other people and dogs, and just discuss common courtesy about the event and having your own dog there. They would then check vaccine records and equipment. Perhaps a quick ‘aggression’ check could be done as well to ensure the dogs belong out in public. It doesn’t have to be a long session either; just enough to make sure everyone starts on the same page. It would also give the Kennel Club and AKC a change to again talk about the merits of joining the club.
I doubt this will happen as at the end of the day AKC is a business and like any other business it needs to make money to stay alive. I think however, there are better ways to go about it and still stay true to their mission.
On Thursday I’ll be posting some images from the show. Make sure to check back then!