This post was written for the Dog Agility Blog Event. You can see all the fabulous posts here.
We're a pretty green team.
Ok wait. Back up. We're a super green team. And we're not talking about those lovely mature shades like forest green or hunter green. We're talking something like, say, chartreuse. That color that's part green and part yellow. The perfect color for Dahlia and I. Part newbie, part scared out of my wits, part ready to tuck tail and run when faced with a course at a trial. If I could, I'd get all her ribbons in chartreuse. It seems fitting, after all.
But anyway...I digress.
What all this means is that I had to ask people what on earth "internationalization" meant outside of "going someplace other than the USA to trial." So I asked a community I belong to. Here were a fewof the answers that made the most sense to me.
International courses are hard and set up to really challenge handling.
To me, an international course is wrap-centric.
More hard angles, backsides of jumps, lots of twisty turns. Definitely made to challenge your handling skills.
I understand all of that. I may be green, but I've been involved in agility for over two years now and I've been reading about it and studying courses and talking to people about it for several years.
However, can I execute any of that? Well, some. But certainly not all. Maybe not even most.
So when I watch these amazing international competitors my mind sort of boggles at how they get it all done, at the speed and grace and amazing fluidity of their running, the connection they have with their dog that at times seems almost supernatural. I love watching it. But frankly, it scares me.
Dahlia and I? We're not "international" material. We're not even national or regional or state material. We're just a girl and her dog enjoying some time together. We're CPE Level 2, not International. People have been talking about internationalization "trickling down." I understand it. I really do. People want more challenges.
But please, as you're considering these new challenges, as you're thinking of ways to up the ante, please don't let it trickle down too far. Already, from my understanding, AKC Novice has become much harder than it was several years ago. For someone at my level, it's incredibly challenging. I spent an entire year in CPE Level 1 just trying to master the basics (and CPE Level 2 is awfully close to level 1, so we haven't progressed too far). I attempted AKC Novice twice, both times failing to get one Q.
Please try to remember the newbies, the green handlers, and even more so, the chartreuse ones like myself. We're out there to enjoy ourselves, but if courses for newbies are too challenging, how many people are going to be scared off? How many are going to throw in the towel and quit? Sure, you may say "Then maybe they shouldn't have been doing that in the first place." But why so? Doing agility, even at our lowly level, has created a wonderful bond between Dahlia and I. It's given her more confidence and more joy. If we had quit early on because it was too challenging for us, none of that would have happened. And that would have been a real shame.