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I am a nosey sort of Gal

February 20, 2023

I spent the past weekend doing one of my favorite dog sports, Barnhunt! I realized this weekend that I have been involved in the sport for most of its existence. The sport started in 2013, and Bailey earned her RATI aka Instinct test in January of 2014. I was away from it for a while as I didn’t really have a dog who was into it after Bailey retired so I am just coming back into game and other than some rule changes and some class enhancements the main things haven’t changed. Now, I have only Barnhunted in Georgia with my regional competitors, but the main thing that hasn’t changed is good sportsmanship and welcoming atmosphere of the local Barnhunt crowd. There are always a few hyper-competitive people in any dog sport (or any sport for that matter) and a few grouches, but the majority of the crowd is supportive, helpful, and welcoming.

Being supportive, helpful, and welcoming is so important in dog sports, but some of our dog sports are not very good at those attributes. Being a nosey sort of dog club gal, I made a point of chatting up several Barnhunt competitors this week, I took notice of these competitors because they were all under 25 (under 23) and I made a point to ask these young ladies about their involvement in dog sports, how did they get involved? Which sports did they like the best and why or why not? Thankfully, they didn’t act like I was too much of a weirdo and were forthcoming in their comments. They had different levels of involvement, family who were involved, some did “all the things”, some just a few things, one was just starting out with her puppy, as her friend has introduced her to Barnhunt. They were competing and helping, enjoying their dogs and the event. When I asked about the different sports, I got some candid answers.

Sports they liked, Dock Diving as it was fun and exciting, FastCat/Cat because their dogs loved it, Rally because it was laid back, Barnhunt and Scentwork again because their dogs liked it and it was fun, Agility because of the action and physicality of the sport. Disc event because they were fun and active.

GCH Rockie Top Flying Snow, RN, BN, FDC, CGC, RATI

Notice what is missing? The tradition dog sports, Conformation and Obedience. One comment about conformation is you must get the right dog (true) and that isn’t easy, and the most telling comment of the day was about Obedience, and I will quote “Obedience competitors are terrifying” and the comment was agreed upon by those in the discussion. As the President of an Obedience Club and an All-Breed Club, those comments are terrifying!

So, dog sport folks, look at the common denominator in this small conversational sampling, what stuck out to me was that dog sports are supposed to be fun, and we need to find a way to put the fun into some of our less “fun” sports.

Anything goes, what would you do to put fun into dog sports? How would you make them more welcoming? Especially Confo (as the younger crowd calls it) and Obedience? Let’s brainstorm, I am all about stealing ideas to make my clubs better.

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