27 September 2010

Team Small Dog explains how USDAA Future Judges fly down from the cabbage patch by way of the Moon.

Do you know where USDAA judges come from? USDAA judges aren't just born that way. They don't hatch out of the egg pod sent straight down from the great Scientology spaceship in the sky. Just in case that's what you were thinking, you can nip that little misnomer right in the bud.

Do you even know what these are, my non dog agility friends? Did you think I meant Scientologists? Nothing against Scientology, my Scientology friends. Because you are sitting pretty. I heard that the Voice of Lisa Simpson just gave you 10 million dollars to gallavant around with, down there in Hollywood, den of sin and inequity and blood, sweat and tears.

No. These judges get on airplanes on Friday nights, fly in crappy seats with no free peanuts across the country, rent a car, go to Best Western and then stand out in the rain or sun or windstorm all day long for 2 days, wearing moisture wicking pants and unfortunate, floppy sunhats, or sodden parkas as the case may be. Throwing their hands in the air over and over again, counting faults, drinking tepid water, and squelching dreams of qualifying rounds with the vision of a falcon that spots toenails just missing that yellow paint at 100mph every single time.

A meager bucket of money is thrown their way for this job, that includes designing courses that no one will hate and will nest together like perfect Russian dolls for the course builders and then they drive fast to not to miss their red-eye flights home on Sunday nights, where they go back to their real jobs and wait to do it all again come Friday.

This is the glamorous life of a USDAA judge that many of my agility pals decided to sign on for this weekend. To see if they would like to be a Judge of the Future. They spent all weekend learning the behind the scenes fun and games of course design. Yards per second. Refusal rules for the Advanced ring. Things like that, that you hear about but sort of just check out in a la la la la la kind of way when you have to think about them too much.

If you're me. Because I was NOT attending the judge seminar.

I was there as a guinea pig.

Since I'm more along the lines of your basic competitor whose in depth knowledge of the rules has been accumulated over time, mostly by breaking each and every one, and have no interest in actually judging dog agility, I went along to be one of their guinea pigs. Who am I to judge? I just want to run around on the grass with my dogs.

Every Future Judge had to be tested on their actual live in person judging, and since we are completely out of our skulls insane and don't mind driving to Hollister in a 100 degree heat wave on a Sunday afternoon, we were more than happy to be a lab rat for the Judges of the Future. Because we are super benevolent and kind like that.

Also we like practicing for free. Weave poles for Gustavo! Running in front of new judges for Otterpop! Startlines! Tables! Dogwalk contacts! We were there.

It was fun. Otterpop had one nasty, awful, stink eye horrible startline where I had sort of a sinking feeling of uh-oh-we-are-flying-on-an-agility-airplane-soon-and-she-better-not-do-this feeling, then ran around great. I almost hit Future Judge Gwen once and she had to duck under the a-frame. Oops. That is the Judge's Path part of the clinic, I believe. Gustavo ran pretty well. A couple missed dogwalk contacts, one trip under the table and a teeter flyoff, but aside from that, he had quite a few good runs. There were some shady trees to sit under and wait for a breeze, and it was a pretty pleasant way to spend the afternoon with all our friends.

Not everyone from the clinic will end up a judge. There were some drop outs. Some people attended just for the experience and a more in depth understanding of course design and rules. These would be like the kinds of people who can tell you many facts about 17th century Austrian kings. They know stuff like this because they are not afraid of large, thick books. And watch shows on PBS with the sound on. When we got there, they all looked pretty shell shocked, sort of shuffling around in the Workin Paws clubhouse kitchen. They were led out to the agility field one by one, and we asked them many confusing questions about refusals and popping out of poles that they were forced to answer with a cheeful smile and confident demeanor, with their Real Judge looking over their shoulders.

They were all very brave. I gave the Future Judges some dicey dogwalk contacts to stew over. Dropped a bar. Nothing fancy. Some guinea pigs offered up much more confusing to judge scenarios, kudos to you, guinea pigs! We hope that everyone passed their final exam! Good job, Future Judges!


Elf said...

Thanks, it was fun to watch Otterpop and Gustavo as always, looking like champeeen dawgs!

The correct info on us zombie, sleep-deprived judges is that (unless we lived in the general vicinity) we flew or drove in on THURSDAY evening, started at 9 a.m., finished around 7:00, then went home and had homework that took some of us hours to do from inexperience and incompetence (like me in particular), then got back at 8:30 Saturday, until maybe 9 that evening, more homework that did not go as well as I might have hoped, back there at 9 again, go until 6:30 again, then home and study study study, then again on Monday from 9 until 5. Four days! For those of us doing all the testing.

I will gladly be the tie-dye judge but I'm not sure whether that's allowed in the judge's handbook. I'll have to find out because it's important to represent tie-dye at agility events in a professional manner.

Thanks for the photos!

team small dog said...

I think you would be a good judge!