Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Volunteering at agility trials...from a dog's perspective!

Lots of dog agility blogging folks are writing today about volunteering at trials, so I wanted to get 'in on the action,' and give you a dog's perspective of humans volunteering at agility trials.

When Mum first adopted me and I was just starting to train in agility, she would take me to every single agility trial in the area so both of us could get used to this wild and wacky environment of agility we both love and enjoy.

While we were there she would walk me around, do a little training with me, send me over the practice jump; and she spent a lot of the time volunteering to help run the trial. It was a super great way for both of us to learn more about agility, meet all the people and dogs that would become our long time friends, and have a great day.

Her very first volunteer job was gating a Masters level ring at a local USDAA trial...talk about trial by fire! She found out that around where we used to live they called that position 'gate b*tch,' Well, that surprised Mum so much she had to ask why...BOL!

When we started trialing, Mum volunteered a lot of the time between my runs, and working/playing with me. She wanted me to learn to chill out between my runs, and I did that pretty well. Even though, I spend most of my time looking for her out there while she's volunteering.

She's done a lot of the types of volunteer jobs available, except the desk jobs. She has her favorite jobs (like most folks) and ones she definitely won't do anymore (they wouldn't want her to do them anyway, she's not good at them, BOL!). Her favorite jobs are building courses and gating. Most people don't get why she likes those jobs, but she does!

I'll never forget, one time at a local USDAA trial during the 4th of July weekend years back, the Masters Ring Steward's (I think that's what you call them) dog got freaked out from the fireworks and escaped from her yard. The next morning Mum took over her duties since she had to find her dog. Mum hadn't ever done that kind of work before. Heck I was still in Starters I think?

But it turned out to be a great day! Our friend's dog was found, and Mum had a lot of fun running the ring, even amid Gracie escaping from her crate that very hot day. We got to meet some great folks that ran Masters level, see some awesome runs and even got tips to help me win my Advanced Snooker course that day!

Once Gracie came into our lives, Mum cut back on her volunteering at trials. Gracie needs Mum to help her get used to being at a trial and in that type of stressful environment. So Mum and I spend a lot of time working with Gracie and helping her enjoy her day. It's really helped Gracie a lot.

I also don't like Mum to work too much at trials, I like her to spend time with me!!! Heck that's what we're there for right? To have fun together?

But Mum and I both know it's important for her to pitch in when she can, build some courses throughout the weekend, do some gating; because we believes it's important to give back to the community and event that we all enjoy so much! And many of the trials just couldn't happen without help from volunteers.

So I try to be understanding...well most of the time that is! I know Mum likes to socialize with humans now and then too, BOL!

(This post contains are some photos of me and Gracie at trials over the years, spending a little time with Mum, and waiting for our next run :)

2 comments:

Elf said...

Good point of view from the dogs' eyes. I do have to remind myself to go spend time with my dogs at the trial. Their big bonuses are usually first thing in the morning and at the end of the day when I get the frisbee out. I don't always play as much with them at home.

Kirby @ Dog.Nerd.101 said...

Great to hear from the dog's perspective! I especially liked how your Mum got into agility by first going to trials to watch, way before ever competing! What an awesome way for both you and Mum to get a sense of what a trial is like. I also think you make a good point when you talk about Gracie coming into the picture. It is important to remember that some dogs, like Gracie, need more support from their human to feel relaxed and safe in a hectic trial setting. I think people need to be respectful of all of the choices we make (like your Mum spending more time with Gracie when she needed it) but also remember that agility trials wouldn't happen with out volunteers!