The image has nothing to do with the article just a pic of Kassa at the RC airplane field
This weekend I had my first exposure to a dog agility tournament. It was quite a neat event although I must say I was a bit befuddled by the structure. I kept drawing parallels to Judo tournaments which I have helped run. In Judo you drive 4-5 hours, sit around all day till your age/weight/skill class comes up, fight double elimination, (so twice if you are having a bad run and if you win you keep fighting) and then drive home. Agility gives you more bang for the buck as it seems you get to compete in events each day and seamingly each day is a new event. There was a lot to be impressed about at this event. Handlers of all ages and fitness levels were in attendance working with dogs of with a wide range of experience. Clearly it is something that people and their dogs put a lot of pride and energy into.
The reason I chose this event as the first one I attended was because Jen and Riley, at neversaynevergreyhounds, were competing. As I'm sure is obvious I have a soft spot for greyhounds. It was fun to see Riley perform and mentally project my boy Kassa in her place. (Boy talk about double living vicariously.) Another thing I enjoyed was that there was actually nothing particularly remarkable about Riley competing. What I mean by that is she and Jen were just one of many trainer/dog teams (including whippets, german sheppards, pugs etc.. ) doing their thing. Often in the in the universe of greyhound adoption we have the tendency to elevate our hounds and go to great lengths to protect them. Greyhounds have thin skins and should not go to dog parks, Greyhound's prey drive is insurmountable and so should never be off lead in unfenced areas and are not suited to agility. Greyhounds are sprinters so you shouldn't jog long distances with them. Because adoption groups are trying to increase their success rates and put hounds in good homes they put inplace a structure of rules to help ensure that success. One of the secrets to Jen's success, in my humble opinion, is that she has realized greyhounds are actually dogs. This is quite a liberating concept. Instead of saying "my greyhound can't go to the dog park because he is a greyhound with thin skin", you can ask what every other dog owner asks: "Is this particular dog park a suitable place to run my dog?" Instead of saying "My dog's prey drive is insurmountable because of 1000's of years of breeding." you can say "all dogs are trained and bred for some purpose and if I choose to I can train my dog as well." After all, what value would there be in a hunting dog that just ran away, didn't hunt what you wanted them to hunt and just ate the prey when they caught it. Greyhounds historically have been well trained and I think we have severely underestimated the value of training in the greyhound adoption world. There is a lot value in the rules that are laid out by adoption agencies because they tell you the natural tendancies of the dog and give you a framework. Just as dogs historically bred for protection, like german sheppards or Great Pyrenees, can be trained to be great around strangers and other dogs, greyhounds can be trained to ignore small critters and walk a dog walk or jump a hurdle instead. I'm not suggesting that we disregard all the rules laid out by adoption groups, but I think it will do us well to remember that greyhounds are dogs and as dogs are trainable. See you all later, Kassa and I are going to the dog park.