I have not written in a while and my plan was to catch everyone up on the boys and I have been up to this summer, but last week USDAA released their new jump height rules. I have been back and forth as to whether I would contribute my $.02 but I figured that’s what blogs are for so here goes…
Being the selfish person that I am, the jump height that is most near and dear to my heart is the 12″ class (although I do have some limited opinions on the larger heights as well). To say I was disappointed in the lack of change in the 12″ class would be an understatement. Call me crazy, but when the 22″ class has on average anywhere between 40-50 dogs at local trials and the 12″ class has somewhere between 1-5 dogs there is something seriously wrong. If USDAA was my organization I would be really embarrassed by this. The fact that the USDAA board felt no change was needed in the 12″ class is shameful. Seriously, what were you thinking? I know members of the board attend shows so I know they see the issues in the 12″ class, so what happened?
I have read that USDAA prides itself on encouraging “head to head” competition, this is something I really love about USDAA. However, how can I participate in “head to head” competition when I am the only dog in my jump height? Not much fun in that. I am one of the lucky ones, I live in the mid-atlantic area where we probably have the greatest concentration of 12″ dogs. If I hit the right shows I can have as many as 6-7 dogs in my class (gasp!!). My friends in other parts of the country have told me they are typically the only ones in their class. Seriously, where’s the fun in that? I attend about 2 AKC shows a year and they are small local shows. I have seen with my own eyes that small dogs are in fact participating in agility, we are not some myth like the unicorn or mermaid. At the two AKC shows I attend, I see very evenly distributed numbers in each jump height (8,12,16,20,24). I know every venue has its flaws but clearly the AKC seems to have gotten this jump height thing right. Or at least right enough that competitors are choosing AKC over USDAA when it comes to small dogs and possibly the large dogs (again, I have limited knowledge on how the big dog people feel).
If USDAA were my organization I would be all about the numbers (remember, I did say I was selfish). I would want to attract as many competitors, aka customers, as possible. Not only would this be good for my business but it would also make it much more fun for spectators and other competitors to watch. If I was doing something that clearly was discouraging potential customers from participating I would do what I needed to do to change that. I don’t think that digging in my heels and standing on some moral soapbox about dogs not jumping under their withers is encouraging people to try my venue. I can’t see after all these years, the small dog people are all of a sudden going to say, “Gee USDAA is right, I should not be jumping my dog under his/her withers height, I need to start going to USDAA trials.” It hasn’t happened in the 15 years I have been doing agility anyway.
Honestly, I have not read the entire convoluted mess that is now the USDAA jump height rules. I pretty much stopped reading after I read there were no changes to the 12″ class. I have read lots of FB posts about people not being happy with combining jump heights and some dogs still having to jump higher than their handlers would like. The whole thing makes my head hurt.
So if I were queen for a day….
No need to reinvent the wheel, adopt the AKC jump height regulations. Again, I don’t do a lot of AKC but I don’t hear anyone complaining about jump heights over there and there seem to be plenty of participants in all jump heights. Since we already have a true veterans program you can include spreads into Performance and run everyone together. Should make things run much more smoothly. For those competitors who are interested in international competition they would be required to jump their international heights for classes that count toward international team selection. Also if people wanted to jump their dog at a higher height they would be free to do so. USDAA could still keep their competitive, international nature with regard to courses and “head to head” competition. In fact more so because there would be more competitors to be competitive with.
Another option was the 10,14,18,22,26 jump heights. Making the cut offs the following:
10″ – 12″ and under
14″ – 15″ and under
18″ – 18″ and under
22″ – unchanged
26″ – unchanged
Again, I have very limited knowledge on what the large dog competitors wants and needs are. I have heard some people not wanting to jump their large dogs 22″ or 26″ so that is why this option would be my second choice.
I am extremely grateful and appreciative of my fellow local 12″ competitors in my area. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. But again I am selfish and I want more of them! I am a competitor at heart and I want more competition. I don’t want to have to thoughtfully plan out which shows I sign up for in order not to be the only 12″ dog in attendance. In my perfect USDAA agility world I would want the number of dogs in each jump height to be as evenly dispersed as possible. I really don’t think this is an impossible dream…if the AKC can do it…just sayin’
In my life there is very little that I am 100% certain of. I am not a psychic, I can’t see into the future so I am not 100% certain that changing the cut-off for the 12″ dogs would bring in the small dogs in droves. It would be my strong opinion that this would happen but again, can’t see into the future. However I am without a doubt, bet my life, 100% certain that making zero changes to the 12″ class will bring exactly zero new dogs into this jump height.