Saturday, January 5, 2013

Volunteering At A Trial

Dhali and I went to an agility trial today.  By the end of the day we had both decided it was fun.  Well, I thought it was fun.  Dhali probably thought it was boring.

I think everyone, that is interested in agility, should volunteer at a trial.  It wasn't easy or fun in the beginning, but it's so much better to separate the difficulties of a first trial into 2 different experiences.  

So for anyone that is interested in the experience here it is:
The trial site is 3 hours from my house.  So I could have hit the road at 4:30am to be there when the doors opened and tried to find a crating spot.  I was tired and I didn't feel like driving in the dark again after driving to and from class Friday night.
I got to the trial at 12:30.  After getting lost on the way and having to go through a detour, because of a (looked like) bad accident.  So I go in and find the person in charge of everything and she says they have enough volunteers, but maybe they will need me later.  Then I try to find a spot to crate Dhali.  It's not really possible.  Lots of crates full of dogs and no one around to ask if I can sneak my crate in next to them.  Happily I ran into Laura (from The Dogs Are Really In Charge) and she showed me where Loretta's husband's crate space was and that there was a little room.  Andy only charged me $25 dollars to crate there LOL!  Just kidding - I bought a WAO shirt from him.
Sadly, Laura was going home.  :(

So then I watched some agility, which is fun, but not what I wanted to be doing.  Dhali was being fussy in his crate and I was just starting to think, "This was such a waste of time.  Do I even want to do agility?  It's so hard and I'm never going to get comfortable with all this."  'This' meaning - all the people, the noise, the dogs, the confusion of people moving around, all the things I didn't understand that were going on (but that I understand now!).

Then I got a job!  Yay!  Ring crew/bar setter.  At first it was kind of confusing.  I was near the end jump with the timer, so I had to change the timer when the jump heights changed.  I really didn't want to mess it up!  Also, I couldn't hear when they said the jumps heights - to change them, so I kept asking, "What height is it?"
But eventually I got it!  And it was fun.  I like having a job to do.
Then I got to be a course builder.  Not my favorite job.  One person had a map and everyone else was confused about what we were doing.  But it was interesting to see how they move the courses around and how carefully they set them up.  
I was ring crew a lot - re-setting bars.  Best place to watch agility.  I got to watch lots and lots of snooker.  And I learned that after the whistle gets blown you can go out to re-set the bars, you don't have to wait for the dog to stop the timer.  Also, snooker looks very tricky to play.

So I did lots of ring crewing (word?) and got into a kind of routine.  A new course meant I had at least 10 mins. to take Dhali outside or play with him, because they had to set up the new course, walk it for 5 mins. and then 5 mins. for first dog to the line.  

At first Dhali was complaining in his crate, but by the end of the day he was completely quiet.  Yes!  One thing we've got going for us!  That is a big deal for me, because it is very difficult to have a dog that can not relax in a crate.  Trust me, I know.

Dhali is still refusing to potty away from home.  He went from 6am to 9:30pm without going potty.  I was hoping today would be the day where he would potty away from home.  Nope.  He held it.  Ok, whatever silly head!

He played with me a little bit, but every time we would really start playing a dog would bark at him from one of the crates near by.  He didn't like that and I didn't want him to start associating play with snarky dog barking.  One time, when almost everyone was walking a course, I went to use the warm up jump with him, but there was someone else with their puppy there.  He was a good boy all day long.  We ran around outside some and he liked that.  He got better, by the end of the day, of walking with me and not trying to smell every crate and person that we walked past.

At the end of the day, when almost everyone had left, I got to be leash runner and scribe sheet runner.  As leash runner, you don't get to see very much of what is going on in the ring, but you get to move around more which is nice.  You also get to see everyone's leashes.  I'm nosey,  I liked that.  As scribe sheet runner, you get to see all the dogs' names.

Most people crated around us had left and I thought the crate next to Dhali was empty.  It was a big soft crate with a cover.  So when Dhali started doing his "I'm a cat" rubbing his face on the floor next to the crate I didn't stop him right away. Turns out there was a big black dog in that crate that wasn't too impressed with Dhali being a cat .  Oops.  Sorry!

At the very, very end when almost everyone was gone I got to measure Dhali with the measury height thing.  I wasn't even sure what the wicket would look like.  He measure 16.3", but he wasn't standing straight AT ALL.  Leaning and trying to get away from it.

It was a fun day.  I would do it again.

Tibby likes the shirt I brought back for her.

"My brother went to a trial and all he brought me was this shirt."


Helen said...

Bar setter is the best job because you can watch the runs. I don't like being scribe or timer to much stress to be right. Another good time to practice with Dhabi is during the course build.

Jenn said...

Course setting gets less confusing as you get to know the personalities of the judges. I start out by following the judge around with an armful of poles, which they then grab and drop the poles where they want the jump to be.

Bar setting is my fave, although I have to work to keep myself from looking at the dog's face. Sitting in that chair in the corner of the ring, I've gotten good at facing something else and watching the dog from the corner of my eye.

It's really tricky when you know the dog that's running.

Most people don't like leash running, but like you, I like the fact that it gets me moving.

Glad you got out to a trial. Sad that they are so far away from you. :(

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I'm glad you had fun! It's too bad you didn't come on Sunday when I was there all day.

Another tip, if you know you want to volunteer at a specific trial the best thing to do is to email the worker coordinator about 2 weeks beforehand. That way you can say about what times you're going to be there and request what jobs you want to work. They will love you for it!!! (You can find out who the worker coordinator is by looking at the trial premium which you can find either on the club's website or on the host organization's website.)

Catalina said...

Ah, I was just re-reading this post and I forgot to mention that I had emailed the trial secretary. Well, actually emailed Loretta and she forwarded the email to the trial secretary. So she knew we were coming.
I had contacted the volunteer coordinator for an AKC trial the week-end before, but she didn't get back to me, so we didn't go to the trial.
Trust me - I'm not going to drive 3 hours without checking first! :)

Loretta Mueller said...

I am so sorry I wasn't there :-( I was so sick :-( Dang it!!!!! Glad you were able to learn some stuff, next time we are at a trial together come visit me and you can ask all the questions you want!!!!!!