frustrations ++

So, let me paint a picture for you. In Victoria, there are currently 4 dedicated ‘agility clubs’, and two people who currently do ‘private group classes’ over my side of the city. One of them is me, the other is very into Susan Garrett and I think we have a bit of a clash of personalities. Which is fine, I just don’t want to train with them, even though they have good dogs and they win lots of things. Two of the four agility clubs are on the other side of the city – both are just over an hour away without traffic, and the other two are closer by but closed to new members and have been closed for a long time. They’re so closed that even though I put Lumen’s name down when I got her as a puppy, 2 years ago, we still haven’t been able to join.

Just after the New Year they had membership applications open for new members. There was a little questionnaire with questions like: your dog’s current level of training & where you train, any experience/involvement in dog training (not just agility), any experience instructing classes? Why would you like to join (this club)?

So I filled in my application.

And so I’m thinking, ok, here I am – I’m a known person in the agility community given that I started competing with Mallei 9 years ago.

I was a previous active member of this club.

I was in the Top 10 dogs of the state 3 years in a row, and came 2nd one year.

I represented Victoria in the Nationals in 2008 with Mallei, and got into the Finals in Masters Jumping.

I had the 2nd Agility champion in the state, the 1st Australian Shepherd Agility Champion in the country. He was probably the 4th or 5th in the country to get it.

I’ve managed to train 2 dogs on my own to be pretty damn good (even though Loki isn’t competing yet, he’s awesome).

I’ve been to a bunch of seminars and joined heaps of online classes.

I’ve instructed at a couple of different places including on my own, and offered to instruct at this club as part of getting in as a member (whether I wanted to or not, I would have done it if they’d asked).

I bring different experiences and knowledge that they wouldn’t have seen before (OMD, Silvia Trkman, etc. There is more to the agility world that SG, people.)…

And I was rejected.

Nope, not good enough. So what the hell did they want?

Am I too different? Do I not gel with their methods? Did they sense my ambivalence towards SG? Did they smell an imposter? Did they figure I was fine by myself so why give up precious membership positions to me? Did they not want to take in dogs who were already past the foundations stage (even though I said I’d be happy to go through that again with Loki if needed)? Did they not want someone who could potentially get to the top of the sport here (and I’m not ringing my own bell, I promise, but I am competitive, I am ambitious, and I have a damn good dog in Loki) and represent the club? Are there people on the committee who just don’t like me? Did I not kiss enough ass in my application and go on about how wonderful the club is and how I could not wait to join such a shining beacon of quality agility tuition?

I mean, in the end, I can do this by myself. I’ve proven that with Lu. She’s not perfect but we’re doing ok. And I will do it again with Loki, by myself, that’s fine. I just wanted him to get in the class environment, to learn to work with dogs around. I wanted somebody else, for once, to look at my handling and critique it – something I can’t do in the moment without filming, watching and breaking the ‘flow’ of our training. I would have liked to have tried different exercises that I might not have thought of myself, or might have pushed me to try something different. Hell, I would have even been happy to have done some SG games and stuff that apparently they incorporate into their foundations. I made it clear that I was open to anything and everything and that I brought new ideas, too.


This pretty much sums it up. My 2 rude fingers makes me feel so Australian right now.  "FARK YOOS, YA BLOODY IDIOTS" Ok, enough of that, FOREVER.

This pretty much sums it up.
My 2 rude fingers makes me feel so Australian right now.
Ok, enough of that, FOREVER.

I’m sorry my blog is so full of complaining today. Maybe if I get it all out in one go it’ll become more positive again.


thursday thoughts: football rules

So, having become fed-up with the fact that the two closest agility clubs here are full to the point that they’ve had to close their waiting lists to get in, most obedience clubs don’t let you do agility until your dog is 12 months old (any kind of agility), or run in very strict ‘modules’ that don’t allow anybody to train in a way slightly different to theirs (see this post for more), I decided that I’d start looking into setting up my own training, whether in club-form, small-group lessons form, etc. I’ve done enough foundation with Lu to figure I’ve got a pretty good starting point for other new people, and had an idea of how to run more advanced classes in a ‘workshop’ format, to take advantage of combined knowledge.

So, I got Husband on the phone and we called three of the local shires, to see if they had any sports-grounds or ovals with lights that we could use. Now that daylight savings is over, it’s getting dark by 5.30-6pm, so having classes at 6.30 or 7 wouldn’t work without lights, or without power (if I were to supply my own lights).

Now, you’d assume that all ovals and sportsgrounds would be property of the local council and therefore governed by them, right?

Well, the resounding answer we got was:
“Oh, well, there’s a football club there. You’ll have to talk to them.”


“Oh, well, there’s a football club there, so they’re in charge of those grounds”.


“Well, there’s a football club there, and they use the oval every night”


(and really, every night of the week?? Every. single. night???)

I’m sorry, but I thought that ovals were for the use of the whole community, not just AFL players? What if I had a soccer club? Or a Lacrosse Club (I’m assuming they play on ovals..?) or a cricket club, or some other kind of running-around-on-grass-club that required lights?

No, no. It’s all about football. Which really irritates me because, well, why? I know we’re ‘football mad’ down here, but I’m certainly not- I want to run my dog around with a group of other likeminded, responsible dog people, somewhere with lights, and at this point in time, the only place I can think of is a parking lot because everything else is under the control of football clubs, apparently.

I often wish that agility here would take off more, become bigger, more clubs, better handling, better instructors, more trials to choose from, trickier courses, more international seminars, etc, but when I look at the response I’ve received from our councils in reply to my request, I can see why it’s so difficult to make it go anywhere. Even horses have specific grounds they can use (pony-clubs). Where’s our dog specific grounds?!

Probably being used by football clubs, 7 nights a week.

a touch of class

Just a nice picture of the pups for the header…nothing related to the post.

Husband and I have been toying with the idea of me starting my own training classes. I’ve learnt so much from doing Foundation with Lumen that I feel very confident in being able to pass on that knowledge. 

Agility specific clubs here in Melbourne are full- there’s 12-18 month waiting lists to get in with a Foundation dog. Everybody in the agility community knows me and what I did with Mallei so I have a good reputation as a dog trainer already… 

I’ve recently been doing small-group classes with another trainer and I feel like there’s parts missing that I would really benefit from, or, which would be better done as a pre-agility/puppy class, and then a bit more of an advanced foundation class…

So I have lists of what I’d teach, and I feel like it’d be a really successful program that could be tailored for different people, and because there’d be essentially pre-foundation and foundation, you could either do more equipment, motivation, speed and turns in one (which is what we’d like to be doing) and more shaping, tricks, stays, games and playing, etc in the pre-puppy. 

As I’m planning to take a few Silvia Trkman classes, I could also work in what I learn from those to my own sessions, and since nobody here has taken her classes as far as I’m aware, that would be totally new and different. 

I already know people who would be interested in coming, and have access to a large client base through friends and other dog people… I could charge people $20-25 a class, and after a few lots of classes should have paid off the equipment I would need to outlay for (some nice jumps and actual proper tunnels would be a good start, followed by a dog-walk (I’d want to encourage running and it’d be great to have my own DW to practise on before trailing!))… I need to find somewhere that I can hold the classes in the evening- so an oval with lights somewhere, organise insurance… I think it’d be fun…!