To follow up on my post from yesterday on ‘Why Do I Run Agility?‘ I wanted to express why I choose out of the numerous dog agility organizations out there today to run NADAC Agility, as for me it is a very conscious choice, that is again multi part.
First, it’s what I know. Back in 1997, there was USDAA and there was NADAC. AKC was just beginning their agility program, CPE didn’t exist, nor did Teacup or any of the other groups around today. I competed a little in USDAA and in NADAC, and when AKC got on board in a couple of those, but the agility club I belonged to and it’s members decided to focus on NADAC for hosting their very first trial so it’s what I learned.
Second, I like that at no point do you have to compete against your fellow competitors in order to win. Sure they do placements in each class, but placements don’t actually mean anything in NADAC scoring. You don’t need a certain number of first places to earn a certain level title. You don’t need to win against a certain number of other dogs in order to level up. You compete against the course and yourself in order to win in NADAC. I like that. I feel it builds good comradery among competitors. Sure folks can have their individual competitions if they want, but the sanctioning organization doesn’t require you beat each other in order to win. I like that.
Third, I feel it’s the most accessible venue to me. The course design stresses flow and that usually means the dog is taking a fairly logical path. Which creates more handling choices. Unlike in certain other course design styles, where if you can’t be somewhere on course there is no chance you’ll qualify, in NADAC style I have the option simply based on course design and course path to handle a number of ways. NADAC course design and style also usually means I don’t have as high a risk as I do with other course design approaches of running into or over equipment that is placed just outside my field of vision. There is space to move. The judges are instructed to not be an obstacle themselves so I don’t have to worry about not seeing them. I like that the equipment is rather minimal, I don’t have to worry about wings on jumps to crash into, or not seeing the up end of the teeter to smash my head into, and running into a tunnel hurts a lot less than a pause table, trust me.
Fourth, I like that there are challenge options but none are required, other than the base requirements for a qualifier. In NADAC you aren’t required to level up if you don’t want to for whatever reason. And at any time you can level down if you want. I like that once you reach Elite, there are further ways you can choose to challenge your skills if you want. I like that if I want I can stay in Novice forever yet still earn certain awards. I like that in Elite I can earn my championship and/or challenge myself further by say working to earn run indexs over 100. Or bonus distance run challenges. I like that there are so many options depending on the choices of the dog and handler team.
Fifth, I like the focus on safety and that NADAC is willing to evolve. Agility is a high impact, dangerous sport. NADAC has always seemed at the forefront most willing to modify and change trying to balance the challenges of agility with keeping dogs and people safe. Around here NADAC trials are either outdoors or indoors on turf footing. I won’t run on mats. I am more likely to trip, slip and fall running on mats, as is my dog. I won’t run on contacts with slats, I’ve experienced my dogs jamming their toes too many times over the years. NADAC uses rubber only contacts. I like that in NADAC there is only ever one dog off leash at any time on course. Because of the stress on safety, I know I don’t have to worry about what the dog exiting the course is doing as my dog and I begin. I know the judge won’t signal me to remove my leash until that other dog is safely on leash. I’ve seen dog fights at trials, and experienced being the dog on course as the dog that just finished chases after you. It’s not fun, is dangerous, and is so easily preventable.
Sixth, I like the variety and willingness to try new things in NADAC. There are so many classes to choose from. Regular, Jumpers, Chances, Tunnelers, Weavers, Touch N Go, Barrelers, Hoopers. Each with a different focus, different handling and training challenges. I find it fun working on the various skills each class presents as challenges. I like that NADAC is willing to play around obstacles, like introducing hoops and barrels on course. I don’t mind going to a trial and seeing something for the very first time, I actually find that rather a fun exciting challenge for the day. Seeing if our known skills can be applied to the unknown, it’s a thrilling rush when we can!
Seventh, I trial on a strict budget. NADAC trials are rather plentiful, as are USDAA, CPE and AKC trials around here. But we can only afford to trial a certain number of times a year. So for the reasons above I choose to focus on one venue, NADAC.