Well, there seems to be a lot of discussion again about Snooker, particularly Super Q's, in many of the discussion boards.
Over the years this topic seems to rear it's head a few times per year. We read the comments on the USDAA sounding board nearly every time the topic presents itself, again, and again.
We've been doing agility for over nine years now. Not as long as many, but longer than some.
USDAA was the venue we started in, before I got my ILP with the AKC. So it was really all we knew at the beginning of my agility career.
Being Mum's first dog, we had lots of rules to learn when we started. All the different games have different rules. Some concentrate on strategy, some on distance, some on speed (well they should all be fast right?), All the games are different, all have different goals, all have different rules.
Some dogs have strengths for some, some dogs have strengths for others.
I remember very well, that distance handling was definitely not my strong suit when I started out, I liked running with Mum; even though I got one of my very first Q's in novice gamblers at my very first trial at 18 (plus one day) months. Mum had no idea I had it in me, but she knew right then and there, what potential I had.
Since I wasn't a very good gamble dog, Mum and I worked a lot on obstacle focus, distance, and begged our trainer to let us practice it nearly every week. Soon I became a great gamble dog!
Snooker takes another set of talents, you've got to be fast (most of the time), you've got to get used to being pulled between obstacles and sometimes running far from one to the next. It takes a lot of strategy, that sometimes weighs heavily on your Mum (or Dad). It takes practice, and it takes time to develop all of those skills.
For those of you who know me, it took a long time for me to get my three Super Q's for my ADCH. Many, many times over my career in the early days and in my later days, I was second place and even first place, either in my own height or with combined heights. I competed in the 16" championship class which is ripe with talent and speed. I had my work cut out for me.
I remember Mum analyzing many of my Snooker runs trying to figure out how we could beat these great dogs...how many obstacles could I do in a certain amount of time, how many could I do in the opening, how many in the closing, how many in both, how can I save time on the course with tighter turns, well, you get the idea.
Up until last year, 16" dogs were combined with 12" dogs, but the first of this year that changed with the addition of the 14" and 18" class; making 16" dogs combined in the future with 18" dogs (which in our area are most all border collies). This created even more challenge for us as almost every time we are entered in Snooker, we are combined in heights here in Georgia where we compete.
I got my first Super Q in 2010 at the age of six, the second one in 2012 at the age of eight, and the third and final one earlier this year at just under 10 years old. I also got my Snooker Bronze the same day.
For all of those still trying to get those Super Q's, all I have to tell you is don't give up unless it's not the right thing for your dog.
I've run a lot of Snooker courses over the years. Some fit us like glue, others we knew going in we had no chance at a SQ. I've run slow and I've run fast. I've had an up and down career. But at nearly 10 years old, I still got a Super Q, beating every single dog in the entire championship class. Yes, that's right; I not only beat the combined 16" and 18" dogs, but I beat the 12", 14", 22" and 26" dogs. I got the highest score in the shortest amount of time of all the dogs entered that day in the championship level.
We believe that not everyone is meant to get an ADCH. We thought many times that I was one of those dogs, even though all I needed was one SQ for a long time. But we persevered and conquered my goal.
In the Yahoo groups there is a lot of discussion about changing the rules of Snooker for the Super Q's. Are they fair? It's not for us to say....the rules are the rules and we went into this game knowing what the rules were. Even when the rules changed this year to combined 16" with 18" dogs, and making my quest for my ADCH even more potentially difficult, those are the rules.
As long as your dog is running happy and healthy, I say accept the rules, embrace them, work on your training skills to coincide with the rules. It's not a safety issue, it's a challenge issue. And, you never know when that one in a million Snooker course is going to come along and fit you and your dog like glue. And when that happens may you shine bright with the Snooker Gods and get that last SQ for your ADCH.
If I did it.....believe me , anyone can.