Managing canine athletes
If you do sports on a regular basis with your dogs, it’s very important to regulate their activity levels during training and competitions. Know their limits and be smart about what you let them do. A perfect example is Tooney at our AWI qualifier this year. She had a good freestyle round and a great toss/fetch. It put her around 7th place overall and in the top 10 for toss/fetch, too… She made the cut for 2nd round in both freestyle and toss/fetch. That is all well and good, but I know that after Tooney’s injury last year and her physical abilities that doing 2 more rounds would be too much. Could she do it? Yes. Would it be risky? In my mind it was. Even if she didn’t get hurt, it would very likely wear her down a lot and she would then end up running her last round probably feeling like I was forcing or pushing her to. Unfortunately, at every competition I see people who should make this same decision but they don’t. They go out there and in the last round, the dog doesn’t want to compete, walks off the field, etc. It’s supposed to be fun. If your dog is leaving the field or showing ANY indication they don’t want to play, then you aren’t listening to them and you’re forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. How do you think that will pan out in the long run?
Jenn and I asked if we could see the scores in the freestyle to see how far from making the top 5 qualifying spots she was. We decided if we felt she could move up a couple of spots that it would be worth it to do the freestyle and scratch the toss/fetch round. She had to pass 2 dogs that would certainly get much higher freestyle scores than her. She was close to them only on the strength of her toss/fetch round. We scratched her from freestyle and continued with her in the toss/fetch round. It was a pretty smart decision because she was only 1 point out of making the top 3 in the toss/fetch. She ended up 4th place, so that was great!
By doing this and making the decision ahead of time, it allowed the organizers to have the next highest scoring team that didn’t make the cut originally to make the cut after our decision.
I am super proud of her as she had a great day. It’s not very often you will see a competitor scratch a dog from the freestyle round simply because they felt it would be too much for their dog, but it goes to show how much we love the little T-bean and we try to do what is best for her.