Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Need to Get a Grip

My agility instructor and friend, Dee, owns Airedale Terriers. She has four of them. Her oldest, Kaleigh, is 9 years old and was bred by Dee out of her spectacular female, Darby. Unfortunately, Darby is not physically with us anymore but must have shown herself, at times, when her offspring are at hunting tests.

Kaleigh is the mother of Dee’s three other girls. Payton is 2, followed by Parteigh and Brillo who are 1 and littermates.

Dee is very active and always has been with her Airedales. She shows them in AKC conformation, obedience and agility. She also showed them in hunting but until July 2009, Airedales could not compete in AKC hunting tests.

That changed in July when they were added to the spaniel upland hunting tests.

Dee hit the ground running with both Kaleigh and Payton, choosing to show them in Senior hunt tests, skipping over Junior since the girls are more advanced. When you skip a level, you need to earn 1 extra leg to get the title. So, instead of needing 4 legs to earn the Senior Hunter title, Kaleigh and Payton will need 5 legs.

Undeterred, Dee set out to compete with both girls and came away with legs on both of them.

Kaleigh earned her Senior Hunter title in September, becoming the first Airedale to net an AKC hunting title.

Dee moved Kaleigh up to Masters and tried her out at a few hunt tests. She was mostly handling this for practice as she was unsure Kaleigh had enough working sessions behind her to pass a Masters’ level test yet.

Dee entered a hunt test on October 18th, Kaleigh in Masters and Payton in Senior, needing only 1 leg to earn her Senior Hunter too.

Well, the thrill hit Dee when Kaleigh passed through to the latter part of the Masters’ test. Kaleigh went on a retrieve in the water after a bird that had been dropped. Just before Dee went to whistle to indicate where she wanted Kaleigh to turn, Kaleigh caught the scent of the bird and made a 90-degree turn to go get it, without direction. She returned with the bird and netted Dee her first AKC Masters leg.

What a thrill! I can imagine how delighted Dee was. She told me it had been a long time since she felt such euphoria. I know the feeling. Duff’s 1st MACH and Robbie’s breed championship had the same feel.

She returned to her RV with Kaleigh and removed her neoprene dog vest. Dee used the vest on Kaleigh to keep her warm. Kaleigh had been stripped so did not have much coat and the vest adds warmth, not buoyancy.

Unfortunately, some people seem to have too much time on their hands. I wish my regular job was so uneventful that I had the energy to raise a ruckus over inconsequential issues. It is beyond my comprehension why some people live for the seemingly sole purpose of raining on someone’s parade.

Perhaps they are so unhappy with their own lives that they must bring that unhappiness to others. One would also think some of it may have to do with envy. After all, the person who netted a Masters’ leg has a breed that some of the spaniel folks still object to. I know from owning terriers that they get a bad rap most of the time.

What happened, you might ask?

Well, Kaleigh wore a neoprene vest to keep the cold off. Apparently, some folks in the peanut gallery watching were critiquing different things but grasped onto the use of a vest as something that should have disqualified Kaleigh from her leg.

Absolutely nothing appears in the rules or any other AKC regulations prohibiting the use of a vest.

Dee first heard that the issue was raised by a club member telling her, right before she went to compete with Payton. She was told that some people have taken up the issue of the use of a vest to the trial committee and want her Masters’ leg taken away.

Dee is pretty unflappable. I am quite amazed at how she can be blown away with news and put it aside, for the moment, to continue with her task at hand.

She went to the Senior hunt briefing and then asked the judge about whether the use of a vest was allowed or not. The judge hemmed and hawed, not committing to an answer but it was clear to Dee that she felt working Payton without the vest would be better.

Apparently, a neoprene vest also substitutes as a floatation device. Please note my heavy sarcasm. It is utter nonsense.

Regardless, Payton competed in Senior and netted her 5th and final leg, becoming only the 2nd Airedale to earn a Senior hunting title in AKC. The first, if you recall, is her mom, Kaleigh.

After all was said and done for the day, the club informed Dee that they could find absolutely nothing in the rules that prohibited the use of a vest. In fact, one member told Dee that her Senior judge (who was being naughty about the use of one) actually used one on his Springer at their last hunt test. What a hypocrite!

One member, I believe the Masters’ judge, gave a little speech at the end of the day, as they are acknowledging all the qualifiers, that basically covered the issue of understanding differences in breeds and those that compete in their tests. He brought up a particular spaniel that was added in years past where the handling was a little different. He mentioned that people took exception and were up in arms about that. He brought up that Airedales are now part of the spaniel tests and that people may see different things, like vests to keep them warm when their coat is stripped. The use of a vest is not illegal, it is just different from what people are used to seeing. It does not make it bad, just different.

The worst part of the ruckus raised was that the main person behind it was actually another Airedale breeder. Of course, hers do not hunt. I guess that means she does not want others to either.

What a shame that such a joyous occasion for someone would have to have the shine taken off it by people with nothing else in their life but to bring others down to the miserable existence they live.

Here is to Dee and everyone else who can manage to stay above their dirty little truffles of life.


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