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Happy St. Pat's Day!
Sometimes I wonder about owners who impart human characteristics onto their dogs but I gotta concede this picture's a hoot.
New Subscription Option
I received several questions about the planned lower cost subscription option mentioned in my last column. We are still working on it but don't want to unveil it until we've posted enough content on for subscribers to get started. It shouldn't be much long now and we'll notify all F&F friends when it is available. As indicated in the last issue, the new option will be much more affordable while giving subscribers access to the same content we publish in the magazine. And YES... the ratings will be included as well! We sincerely feel that most will like it because it will be easier to navigate and read, especially on smartphones!
I am delighted to bring the fancy our first report in this issue. This year we are starting with the Open A Ratings which you'll find later in this issue.
For those who don't realize, quite a bit of work goes into the publication of our rating system data. A few individuals who work behind the scenes to make our reports possible don't get the recognition they deserve. Their efforts are deeply appreciated!
Rob Garrett works for the AKC's technology department and has been our go to guy to provide the raw data we need to tabulate the rating results. Rob has always been extremely prompt and responsive in meeting our requests for this information. Many years ago volunteers maintained these records manually and it required untold hours of work to tabulate the findings. Later we hired secretaries to manually enter the data into a computer system to tabulate the results. Rob's efforts in providing this material has saved us much of the manual work that was so time consuming and error prone. Rob recognizes how important this information is to the fancy and he has always been highly attentive in providing accurate data for us to tabulate. Thank you Rob!
Dave Pluth is another marvel supporting our rating reports. Dave provides the tabulated results out of the goodness of his heart. I envy his adept skills in designing the data system that calculates and sorts the data for us to publish. With Dave's "techie talents" I'd expect him to be kind of a geeky character. Working with him the past two years had made me realize what a kind hearted "normal" fellow he is. Always responsive to help and enjoyable to communicate with, we owe Dave a heartfelt "Thank You"!
Nancy Speed will probably kill me for including her here but she's a deserving lady entitled to recognition! The data we receive doesn't provide complete owner or contact information so it can be difficult to know exactly who the handlers are, or how to get ahold of them. Nancy has led the pack in extending a helping hand anytime we've asked for help. In genuine kindness to support the sport, and with concern helping handlers receive the recognition they deserve, I know Nancy has spent considerable time hunting these individuals down. I suspect she has FBI connections somewhere because she has yet to fail! Asking nothing in return Nancy does this to help all of us. What a gem!
By the way... Nancy & I have had a hoot watching April's delivery on the Internet. Thanks for being my video pal!
Dogs & Cats
Do you know what the difference is between dogs & cats? A dog thinks, “Wow, the humans are bringing me food every day, they let me live in a nice house away from the cold, they take care of my every need… They must be gods!”
The cat thinks, “Wow, the humans bring me food every day, they have me live in a nice house away from the cold, they take care of my every need… I must be God!”
The sport of dogs has lost one of the greatest dog trainers, competitors, and judges of all time. In early January Velma Janek passed away peacefully. Velma enjoyed a number of hobbies but you could always count on a dog being close by. In our circles she was always known as a keen supporter of obedience and countless exhibitors benefited from her experience which she conveyed through personal assistance and seminars. We are deeply saddened to lose this fine lady of our sport.
New Subscription Service
We have been working behind the scenes on an additional subscription service to offer subscribers at a much lower cost. We are happy to announce that this additional subscription option will become available this February. We will send email notices and include posts on our social media Facebook & Twitter accounts when everything is ready.
To the point, the new “Website Subscriptions” will give exhibitors access to the same content we publish through our magazine “Issue Subscriptions”. But instead of accessing PDF issue files, website subscribers will receive their articles directly on our website. Subscribers will be able to view material by author as well as search by topic of interest. Searches will run across all content on the website so you’ll be able to find needed info much easier than hunting issue-by-issue (as is needed now).
A second advantage to the website format is that we will be able to post current material much faster than we can with monthly issue releases. Some of this information will be available to website subscribers before it appears in our regular issues.
There are advantages to both types of accounts so we will be piloting the new format for a year to see how everyone likes it. For now we’re taking it step-by-step but other ergonomic benefits will be forthcoming in future months. We understand the new format won’t satisfy everybody’s taste but we hope everyone will give it a look. While we are getting up to speed on this we’re offering an introductory price for Website Subscribers at only $12.75 a year. That’s about a buck a month and over twenty-two dollars less than our digital issue cost! Those wishing to opt for Issue Subscriptions, and all current subscribers will receive the Website Subscription service at no extra charge.
Stone City Trial
At the beginning of the year I was fortunate to be able to judge the Stone City Kennel Club Trial. They had a neat idea that I seen a couple of time but wonder why more clubs don’t do this to make things a bit friendlier for exhibitors. Stone City offered an “NQ Raffle”. Those who ND’d were able to put their names in to win a prize. What an easy idea to make our sport friendlier for those who had a bit of misfortune in the ring. If you have other ideas please let me know and I’ll be sure to post your thoughts as well.
Facebook Group Moderator
A few subscribers have asked why we aren’t maintaining a FaceBook group for F&F anymore. We did in the past but lost our moderator so it was discontinued. We’d be happy to resurrect the F&F group again if one or two individuals would be willing to act as moderators. The moderator would need to check in to the group on a regular basis to accept new members and help maintain order. If interested just contact me at email@example.com and we’ll work out any details to make the experience efficient and enjoyable for all. If you’re willing to help out we’ll include a free subscription and advertising for any events/services you want to promote.
Happy New Year
We would like to welcome all of our new subscribers who participated in our holiday subscription drive. As well we want to wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous new year. Several members took advantage of our discounted gift subscription offer and we would like to express an extra special appreciation for your kind and generous support. Your thoughtfulness supports the entire sport of obedience. Thank you!
Kaitlyn & Poirot
I was fortunate to be able to judge at the Crown Classic Show in Cleveland last month. As a judge one never knows what they will encounter when attending an event. Most times these events turn out to be exceptional pleasures creating lifelong memories. One of these incidents happened to me when I met Kaitlyn Johnson, a young exhibitor participating at these trials.
To me Kaitlyn represents the exact kind of individual we need in this sport. She demonstrated an enthusiastic interest in our sport and a strong desire to participate to her best ability. Not only was this evident but I was so impressed to learn that she decided to bump up to a higher level class and give it a shot. A lot of experienced exhibitors don’t display this kind of zealous attitude.
Katilyn inspired me because it proves that there are people out there who find obedience attractive and worthwhile. With all of the talk about depressing numbers in our sport, pointless changes to the regulations, meaningless classes attempting to boost entries, and a whole host of other problems; the potential for increase in obedience does exist. They are out there folks! The question is, can we inspire them to stay?
The focus of obedience should not be on changes to exercises, standardizing judging, and imitation classes. There is really nothing wrong with traditional obedience and attempts to fix what wasn’t broke hasn’t and won’t provide increase to this sport! Obedience needs a more progressive attitude in supporting the people that sustain this sport. The emphasis should be on the exhibitors not the entries.
Obedience can quickly become rigid and mechanical. This doesn’t readily present a picture of attractiveness to many and adding more administrative overhead only increases the problem. It’s about time we start to emphasize the attractiveness, kinship, and fun obedience offers.
Recognition Field Editors Wanted
I was recently asked why we no longer publish a correspondent’s section in F&F and I promised to report on this. With advances in faster communication nowadays periodicals have had to make significant changes to the content they publish. Today in obedience most trial announcements are online before the show is even over. In short it would be impossible for us to publish trial news that wasn’t already outdated.
We do encourage submissions about worthy individuals and groups in our sport but perhaps we can do a better job? Many supporters perform impressive feats and discharge hours of dedicated service yet these contributions go unrecognized. Many enterprising clubs and schools that have earned accomplishments and promote ideas that we could all learn from. Again, many of these stories go untold, and certainly so on a national level..
We are currently looking for someone that would be interested in becoming a field editor for submissions of recognition. In short the duties would be to help us locate individuals and clubs to highlight, request and schedule submissions, proof the results and submit them to us for publication. If interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work out the details. We like simple and don’t want this to be a burden but we do need an individual who has the inclination to do it well.
Taking a look at the AKC's recent annual statistics is a good exercise for any obedience enthusiast. It may not lead anyone into euphoria about the future of our sport, but it will provide a sense of reality, and in some cases feelings of anxiety.
Noting that the AKC is forthcoming with their statistics they are to be congratulated for maintaining well-kept information. In reviewing the statistical publications one will notice that the results for any given year is always compared with the year occurring immediately prior. Reviewing longer spans of time one may observe that the numbers for a given year can change, but these differences appear insignificant. For example, if you compared the 2014 Number of Dogs Competing across the 2014 and 2015 statistical issues, the difference is only off by one. Given the thousands of records the AKC tracks, this is pretty amazing and they should receive a pat on the back for their accuracy.
Sadly reviewing the data on behalf of obedience puts me in the anxiety camp. One can readily see that the number of dogs competing continues to drop off at a considerable rate. The difference between the 2012 and 2013 competition years reveals a loss of 2,266 dogs in All Breed Obedience Trials. Specialty trials saw a loss of 247 dogs, and only Limited Breed Obedience Trials reported a gain of 44 dogs. On these three measures the loss of dogs competing was 2,513, countered by only 44 additional dogs in limited trials. The overall loss to the sport was 2,469!
Since one comparison doesn't necessarily constitute a trend, let's look at 2013 and 2014. Here one will observe that 3,471 fewer dogs competed in All Breed Obedience Trials, 105 fewer dogs competed in Limited Breed Obedience Trials, and 652 fewer dogs competed in Specialty Obedience Trials. This accounts for a total loss to the sport of 4,228. Close to twice the prior year's reported loss!
As hope springs eternal, one can review the 2014-2015 results which unfortunately, again, tells the same depressing story. In All Breed Obedience Trials there were 4,055 fewer dogs competing, 204 less dogs in Specialty Obedience Trials, and only 17 more competing in Limited Breed Obedience Trials. This accounts for 4,242 fewer dogs participating in obedience competition.
It has always been my belief that the AKC measures success through number of entries rather than the number of handlers. I can see how this makes sense since entires are one important avenue of income. Unfortunately looking at entries only tells part of the story. It would give a fuller picture to know how many actual handlers are participating in AKC obedience. But for now it is what it is, so we can look at entries to give us another perspective of our sport's well-being.
The AKC Statistical Publications break obedience entries into two parts, "Trials Held With Shows" and "Separate Trials". In reviewing this information I broke the aforementioned categories down into two additional parts. First I looked at the numbers based only on the Novice, Open, and Utility classes because overall, these are the foundation of our sport. Secondly I reviewed the numbers based on ALL reported obedience classes (such as the basic classes plus Beginner Novice, Graduate, Novice, Graduate Open, Versatility, etc.). This may offer some insight into whether the additional titling classes are having any significant impact on the health of obedience.
First looking at Trials Held With Shows, and considering only the basic classes (Novice, Open, and Utility) there were 1,027 fewer Novice entries in 2013 compared to 2012. In the same time frame there were 1,146 fewer Open entries, and 797 fewer Utility entries. Considering Separate Trials there were 625 fewer Novice, 51 fewer Open, and 79 more Utility entries. Combined all of these entries indicate 3,920 fewer Novice, Open, and Utility entries in 2013 obedience competition compared to 2012. If we look at all of the reported obedience classes combined, there were 3,920 fewer entries. Not a favorable outcome!
Again, first looking at Trials With Shows across the 2013-2014 competition years there were 862 fewer novice entries, 1,652 fewer open entries, and 1,261 fewer utility entries. Among trials held as separate events there were 237 fewer novice, 851 fewer open, and 315 fewer utility. Combine the basic obedience classes and we end up with 5,178 fewer entries! Scary! So did we fare any better when considering all of the obedience classes? Worse! Taking into account all obedience classes we were down 7,018 in 2014 compared to 2013. This picture appears dismal!
From 2014 through 2015 the story reads pretty much the same. In Trials Held With Shows there were 924 fewer Novice, 1,267 fewer Open, and 1,515 fewer Utility entries. That's down a total of 3,706 entries for Trials Held With Shows. Looking at Separate Trials there was a positive bump in Open entries with 631 more. Unfortunately the 694 Novice entry drop and the 207 Utility entry drop wiped out the Open gains. End result, a negative balance of 270 entires. So what's the score taking into account all obedience classes? Not good. Taking all obedience classes into account there were 4,985 fewer obedience entries in 2015 than 2014. A very sad state of affairs indeed!
Can’t remember all of the info above or find it confusing? Here’s a quick summary. Between 2012 and 2015 there were 10,939 fewer obedience dogs and 15,923 fewer obedience entires at AKC events.
One can look farther back into the history of AKC statistics and occasionally find instances where the popularity of obedience appears to improve. Unfortunately these growth spurts can be explained in terms that don’t suggest growth, expansion, development, advancement, or proliferation. For example, a few years back some of the entries appeared to grow but investigation revealed that the growth was only due to newly added optional classes and not an increase in exhibitors. This isn’t growth, it’s just masked reduction, decline, decrease, decay. Doc this dog appears to be very ill!
For those who would prefer to look at tabulations of the information above please review the tables included following this article. Better yet I strongly suggest that you point your web browser to http://www.akc.org/events/statistics/to peruse the AKC Event Statistics yourself. I’m always interested and open to your comments!
Since the new regulations went in force last December I've heard nothing but complaints and bewilderment about the rule changes to the scent discrimination exercise in utility. At a recent judging seminar several of the attendees tried to get some feedback as to why the procedures to this exercise was changed. Unfortunately our requests for an explanation appeared to be deliberately obtuse. I have to wonder whether my limited view of the obedience fancy is representative of the whole. I'd be interested in any responses that favor of this rule change and why. If you are interested and willing please email your thoughts to me at email@example.com. I will not publish anyone's response without contacting them for their express permission to do so.
Dee Dee Anderson
Dee Dee is one incredible human and an exceptional supporter of our sport. Dee Dee recently contacted me of her own accord and offered to put together a couple of fantastic features for us. In this issue please turn your attention to Dee Dee's special feature covering the 2016 AKC Rally National. We're also excited to be able to publish Dee Dee's coverage of the 2016 NOC next month.
Open A Ratings
A high paw to all teams who placed in this year’s Open A Obedience Ratings. This month we're privileged to be able to provide these breakdowns for the fancy. The Open A Ratings cover the 2015 competition year and can be found at the end of this issue. Email Addresses
If you didn't know we will soon consolidate our F&F email addresses to help fight junk mailers and make things easier for subscribers. For those wishing to contact me personally or to submit copy for submission please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For other matters please write our general email address email@example.com .
I have been fortunate to be able to judge the Car-Dun-Al obedience trial several times and have always enjoyed the camaraderie that occurs at these events. A couple weeks ago I was able to return again but this time I was met by several new exhibitors who displayed the exact kind of attitude and passion obedience needs. I haven't seen this kind of energetic enthusiasm about our sport in a long time and it was a splendid thing to experience. Hopefully God will grant us more trainers like this to spark an increased interest in our sport!
If you didn't know we will soon consolidate our F&F email addresses to help fight junk mailers and make things easier for subscribers. For those wishing to contact me personally or to submit copy for submission please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d like to welcome Laurie to our list of capable writers. Laurie has a love of our sport, a unique perspective, and a gift of humor that many of you will enjoy. Greetings Laurie!
We will soon consolidate the F&F email addresses to help fight junk mailers and make things easier for subscribers. Too many spammers have acquired our addresses because we have been publishing them for so many years. As a result we are bombarded daily with these useless messages and it makes finding valid correspondence very difficult. In the future we will also be implementing some strategies on our website to help alleviate this problem in the future. For those wishing to contact me personally or to submit copy for submission please email email@example.com. For other matters please write our general email address firstname.lastname@example.org .
I was fortunate enough to be able to judge the Companion DTC of Flint over the Easter weekend. The members of this club worked so hard to put on a pleasurable event and all exhibitors were such a joy to work with! From my vantage point every exhibitor accepted responsibility for their dogs and I didn't hear a single excuse about "why my dog did that". The novice entries were up, which to me was a gratifying shocker! These folks know how to do it right. For a minute there I could've sworn I was attending one of those trials my dad used to talk about.
In looking at the variety of training problems most new exhibitors face it appears that the lion's share would be eliminated or reduced if they would spend a few minutes establishing voice control over their dogs. When I speak of this concept to new trainers it's apparent that many haven't heard of it or have given it any consideration. This is sad because obedience training would be so much easier for these newcomers if they would simply spend a little time training attention and incorporating voice control into their training regimens.
I have so much respect for individuals who train by themselves and go to a trial to see what they can do, but so much remorse for those who receive incompetent instruction and are sent to trials unprepared. The former likely have enough spunk to walk away from the trial satisfied they gave it their best. The latter may walk away embarrassed because they relied on some nincompoop's tutelage. Where did all the good common sense instructors go?
To view more articles please visit our Members Page!
The 2015 AKC Obedience Classic and the AKC Agility Invitational took place December 12-13, 2015 in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, demonstrating the highest level of training and teamwork between dog and handler. Obedience and agility competitions for junior handlers were held for the fifth year, and an AKC Rally® Junior competition was held for the second year.
AKC Obedience Classic
Four obedience dogs and their owners – one dog/handler team in each of the four classes – were crowned at the AKC Obedience Classic, which brought together 217 dogs from across the country and beyond.
Placing first in their class (Novice, Open, Utility and Masters respectively) were:
AKC Agility Invitational
Five agility dogs and their owners – one dog/handler team in each of the five height categories – were crowned as the 2015 winners of the AKC Agility Invitational, which brought together more than 700 dogs from across the country and beyond.
Placing first in their height division (8", 12", 16", 20" and 24" respectively) were:
AKC Juniors Obedience/Rally Classic
Juniors who participated in the AKC Juniors Classic competed in Obedience and/or AKC Rally®.
In Obedience, Juniors competed in two divisions (Obedience Junior Titled (OJT) – where the Junior earned all the titles on the dog that met the requirements and Obedience Junior Handled (OJH) – where the Junior may handle any dog that met the requirements). The Juniors competed in the Beginner Novice, Preferred Novice and Preferred Open classes twice, based on their AKC obedience accomplishments.
Placing first in their divisions were:
Obedience Junior Titled (OJT)
Obedience Junior Handler (OJH)
Placing first in their class were:
AKC Juniors Agility Competition
Juniors who participated in the AKC Juniors Agility Competition competed in either the Junior Excellent or Superior Classes, depending on whether they had achieved an agility title.
Placing first in their height division (8", 12", 16", 20" and 24" respectively) in the Junior Excellent class were:
Placing first in their height division (8”, 12”, 16", 20" and 24" respectively) in the Junior Superior class were:
A blind man goes Christmas shopping and drops into a department store with his seeing eye dog. Beyond the store’s Christmas tree, the manager notices the blind man pick up the dog and begin swinging it over his head at the end of the leash. Completely shocked the manager knocks over the tree as he runs to the blind shopper and says “Sir! Sir! Do we have a problem here? Can I help you with anything?” The blind man replies very calmly, “No thank you. I’m just taking a look around.”
Future Rating System Publication
At this time we are seeking input from the fancy to see if there’s a better way to provide rating reports in a more timely manner. One of the issues is that we must wait for each competition year to end before tabulations can be completed. In short, we can’t begin publishing any results until all of the data can be received, proofed, calculated, and formatted for publication. Understandably everyone wants the results they are interested in to be published first. But, as the old adage goes, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
Nevertheless we want to do a better job of pleasing the most exhibitors and the following idea has been proposed. We are very interested in your thoughts!
As the idea has been suggested, F&F issues could be remodeled into a format and schedule where rating reports would be published in separate issues on a much faster schedule than they are now. Typically we have all of our data around the first or second week of February in any given year. Allowing four to six weeks for tabulating and formatting, we would begin publishing individual reports sometime in March and follow approximately every ten days to two weeks with an additional report. The goal would be to provide subscribers with all reports by midyear.
In making such a change the question remains as to how we would handle the continuation of our training articles and other content. As I mentioned in Biscuits & Bones (on page 3), most trial news now appears through social media outlets such as Facebook. As such it’s no surprise that much of this subject matter is no longer covered in many magazines. If we were to condense all of our issues into the first six months of a year we would need to provide any remaining content by publishing it through our membership website.
Several years ago we attempted to move to a website format for our articles but subscribers didn’t care for it as much as the magazine format. Therefore we switched back. Since that time technology has advanced significantly, especially with the advent of smartphone and tablet technology. As these devices are all now compatible with our website this makes us wonder if the time might be right to look at this option again.
There would be several advantages in publishing articles through our website versus the magazine format. First of all it would offer more continuity as articles would be published along threads making them easier to follow. Second, content could be published in a more timely manner (i.e. as it comes in rather than waiting for monthly issues). Third, as articles would be maintained on our website this information would remain available to subscribers without the need to save issues. Going back to find this information would also be easier than flipping back through issues. Fourth, subscribers could elect whether they want (or don’t want), to receive notifications when new material is published.
The downside of web publication is that subscribers would need an Internet connection in order to access their content. While such material could be printed or saved to a computing device, in daily practice this isn’t always done. Today most people consume information on the fly. They read it and move on. With advances in technology most exhibitors have consistent Internet connections through their portable devices so it’s less problematic that it once was. This is one of the main reasons social media is such a success.
So to summarize, if we were to make the aforementioned changes the following would be occur.
As previously indicated we are sincerely interested in your feedback! You are always welcome to email us you opinions. If you wish to do this please send your comments to email@example.com. Optionally we are going to prepare a short, easy to complete survey for exhibitors to provide this feedback. No decisions have been made and we will not be making any rush to judgements. Our only goal here is to provide the support you desire!
We are contemplating a big change to the publication of our ratings next year and I’d be interested in your opinion. The idea is to run two separate F&F issues with all of the obedience ratings published in one and all of the rally breakdowns in a second. We feel this would please everyone more since no one would have to wait months to see their results. Publishing our ratings in one volume would also offer more continuity since comparisons would easier to make across individual dogs, breeds, and groups. Do you like this idea? Email me or add your comment below!
I’m guessing by now that most canine enthusiasts are aware of the heinous Dog Meat Festival held in Yulin China. We want to add our voice to the thousands of others protesting this barbaric act. Describing such an event as a festival is incomprehensible and we abhor this inhumane treatment of our beloved companions.
It would be easy to point our finger at all Chinese citizens but not all of them approve of this behavior. One lady by the name of Du Yufeng is doing what she can to rescue as many dog and cats from the event as possible. Du Yufeng has set up a shelter for these animals but it is costly for her to care for so many. Please consider donating to her cause by visiting http://boaianimalcentre.weebly.com/yulin-dog-meat-festival.html. Note that much of the information on this website is difficult to view! No doubt it will require the efforts of many sources to avert this appalling tradition but we applaud Du Yufeng for her actions in saving the animals she can.