On Sunday, Chico and I tried competing in an agility trial from a different sanctioning body. All our other trials have been organized under the auspices (as well as rules and culture) of the American Kennel Club (AKC). AKC only started admitting “All American Dogs” (their name for what others might call mixed breeds, mutts, or shelter-specials) a couple years ago. Logically, at AKC events there are a lot of purebred dogs, a number of them I learned, trying to add titles in agility to AKC titles in obedience, herding, rally, and other dog sports. It seems to up the breeding value of a line if the dogs have a variety of titles. Shows their versatility or something. Yawn. I got into agility to make Chico into a dog that I could live with. I started competing because it was the logical extension of our training and because it would expose him (and me) to new and different situations and the more of those there are in Chico’s life, the better he learns to cope with them.*
The United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) has always welcomed mixed breed dogs. Their Starter level courses are about as challenging as the Open level courses we’re doing now in AKC, so I decided to give USDAA a try and the trial was this weekend. Boy howdy, what a lot of fun. There is a greater variety of games, things move right along, everyone is friendly, lots of people volunteered, the place was practically cleaned up before the last dog ran. The whole event seemed to radiate relaxation and fun, rather than competition. There was something (and please, don’t let anyone take this wrong because to me it is a positive) just the teensiest bit scruffy and scrappy about the vibe at this particular USDAA trial (‘t would be premature to generalize to all USDAA trials) that I just loved.
*The classic example of this is that every time we go on a trip, like the Canada trip last spring (posts start here), when we get back home Chico handles day-to-day issues with more aplomb than when he left home. It’s as if he realizes that after what he’s seen, this is nothing.