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As I think I’ve mentioned before I grew up in dog sports.  While other kids joined cross country or field hockey teams, did ballet classes or gymnastics, I joined a dog agility club and a 4-H group.  My parents, when I look back on it, were oddly supportive about the whole thing but at the same time not.  At least I was allowed to quit soccer and girl scouts.  And have a dog, first Barley, then Regal, which was huge.  It was weird, but anyway not the point of this post, that can be another day.

Point of the post today, I grew up in dog sports.  I made a career in dog sports.  I got sick.  And stopped dog sports for a number of years.   In part due to illness, in part due to I had to pay the mortgage and also was chronically ill so hoarding energy to work to pay mortgage took precident over leisure activities such as dog sports.  But this is also not the point of this post.

Well the growing up in dog sports, then taking a hiatus from dog sports, and now being back in dog sports bit is the actual point of this post.

My hiatus and return to agility, I believe I’ve mentioned before.  You can search old posts if you’d like.  Probably ones from early last year.  Things were different after 5 years but not really that much different.  I think because I’d been so involved in trial organization and such for years before my hiatus and not much has changed in that respect.

But as I get back into obedience, which has been more of a 10 year hiatus I’m struck by many differences.  In a good way.  Mostly in the areas of communication.  The internet is such a cool thing.

Way back when, 15-20+ years ago, I remember if you wanted to know the rules for obedience competition, you sent the AKC a letter requesting it and I think $1 per regulations booklet you wanted.  Or you went to a trial and picked one up there.  If you wanted to know about area matches and show and gos, you either subscribed or borrowed someone’s Match Show Bulletin.  Which was sent by postal mail.  And listed matches and shows all across the country.  Or you knew someone involved in one of the area obedience clubs who had fliers.  I wasn’t as involved in obedience as I was in agility, so I think some of my gathering info was from the skirts of the sport.

Now, not only have the test items in obedience changed and are changing further come May, but how I was able to learn about them so quickly has changed!  Which for someone like me coming back to the sport is great!  As it prevents me from hopefully training the exercises in the ways I remember from a decade ago, only to find out later they are now different.  Turns out the stays are nearly a thing of the past, and the ones that are done are very different from 10 years ago.  There are new exercises as well.  And not only that, you no longer have to send by post $1 to the AKC to get a rule book and wait weeks for it to arrive.  Here it is anytime I need it!

Or how easy the web makes it to find out about area show n gos, or fun runs, or matches.  Or trials.  Or even just training classes.  How when I filled out an entry incorrectly for an upcoming rally trial, the trial secretary just popped me an email asking me to redo it correctly and send it in.  I remember when you sent in an entry, then had no idea if you were entered at all until you finally got confirmation in the mail.  And if you’d filled it out wrong, well you were SOL.

Or how youtube allows one to watch competitors from across the country of all levels.  To see, and be able to pause, and slow down, and really analyze what a perfect 200 performance actually looks like.  Just plug into the search feature ‘obedience perfect 200 score‘ and wa-la!  How what is written in the rule book really looks in real live action.  Or how you can watch videos of trainers from all over instructing how they teach specific skills or obedience exercises.  How you can now get ideas from such a wide range of instructors in your own home.  How you can look up various presenters and trainers and gather info to decide if you really want to spend the money for their class or seminar, if their training approach and style is one you would trust.  Before it all used to be rather who you knew, who you happened to train with, who was in your area, and a lot of luck.

Or how the AKC now has a blog for rally and obedience.  And gives articles where judges explain how scores and points and demerits are assessed.  Where judges frequently see handlers and dogs loose points.   Why the points are deducted in those amounts.  What you can do as a handler to improve your scores.  Where judges break down and walk you through the various exercises from a judging and scoring perspective.  Not only incredibly interesting, but enlightening and gives me many things to add into my training criteria and plans.

Before you had to trial a lot and learn many things the hard way, mull over score sheets, and maybe if the judge had time and remembered your performance get feedback from the judge, or be lucky enough to have an instructor who had already done all of that and could guide you better, or other competitors were kind enough to offer you suggestions and feedback.  It always felt there was so much retraining involved when you learned that how you interpreted what was written in the rule book wasn’t how it played out in real life.  I’ll still have to do those things, but I feel like I’m at a better starting point going into it because of all of this knowledge being passed over the net.

It feels really surprising (and yea yea I know it shouldn’t, but it does), yet incredibly super cool!  Such knowledge at a click of the mouse or tap of the screen, about dog obedience!  So very cool!

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