15 May 2007

This thing the Ladies like to do.

I don't have official stats. But I have some rough ideas about the types of people that gravitate to dog agility. It's different at the competitive level than it is at the class level, and it's different at the types of competition. I mainly compete in 2 venues-the USDAA-US Dog Agility association, and the CPE-Canine Performance Events. The CPE is a lot newer.

In comparison to the horse show world, the USDAA is a lot more like A show events, and the CPE is more like the B shows. The Bay Area is a hot bed for dog agility, with some of the biggest super stars and world cup trainers and competitiors all competing locally. I compete against them all the time, and it's always fun to hope I can beat them. Which I only very rarely do. They are mostly women. There are definitely men out there running, but it is mostly women. Most of them are over 40. A lot of them are over 50. There are few teenagers, since it's really hard to train your dog to learn agility while you are learning it. Some of the more successful teenagers have moms who do agility and probably got dragged around to a lot of dog shows. People that do agility are hooked-they drop everything to go to dog shows. Many of the older folks have RV's and this is their retirement job. There are a few husbands that make up some of the full time ring crew and gate steward jobs.

Lots of border collies, shelties, and jack russells. Especially in the USDAA. Some other types, some mixed breed types, but those are the preferred dogs for winning. In the CPE, there are lots more dog dogs. People with dogs who got into it and will do agility with their pet dogs. I think this is what I like about CPE. Although I like training my dogs to be competitive in the USDAA as well. It feels like the pro league. There is no sitting around in the USDAA. We are workers.

These are women that talk to their dogs, and like to talk about their dogs. Many conversations overheard at dog agility (I am not a big conversation haver, because I am a little freaked out by ladies of dog agility) are one sided. One person talks about their dog, then the next person talks about her dog. It's not really a conversation exactly, more like people telling other people about their dogs. And about their runs in Great Detail. It is really easy to obsess over tiny mistakes that cost you the qualifier or sent your dog out.

I think the dogs' performance is very much a reflection of who you are. If you have a good, fast dog, you are a good person. Your dog is sort of so so? That may speak to your character. You are not a great handler, your dog screws up a lot, is slow? Maybe you can shout the reasons that you are hoping for in your head as you exit the ring "Fluffy is so tired today!" but deep down you know you just aren't good enough. But if you can change your dog, maybe you can be a better person. And the dogs will only love you more and more and more. Your dog runs perfect? It must love you the most and you are a good person for training it that well. It's kind of a control freak thing. Anorexia for the chubby. But possibly just as disturbing. I am a bad, bad person when my dogs are just not good enough.

In the USDAA, people are a little more fit and upscale. More folks from San Jose, and Marin. Purebred dogs. Professors and software engineers who run shows like little armies. A few more men than usual. In the CPE, there are more folks from the valley. A little chunkier, smoke more, more trucks than new SUV's. Tight gray haired perms instead of fancier hair cuts. Loose lavender sleeveless blouses tucked into flowery shorts. More sporty clothes at the USDAA. And tie dye-goes with the age range and maybe sort of Bay Area thing.

But one thing about all these people, they just plain old love dogs more than anything. Really, more than anything else in the world I think. To do what they do and spend the time they do, that's just how it is. This thing is fun. So even if I think some of the ladies are so different than me, and I am scared of becoming a short gray haired lady in stretchy jeans with a plus size purple shirt and a giant dog cartoon on it with stickers all over my car advertising dog agiltiy, I still have something in common with her. Agility is just too damn fun.

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