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Fashion Police: Dog Snob Edition

31 May

You know how in some activities there is a sort of unofficial uniform? Not things that require actual uniforms like… water polo, but more like, let’s say, golf. No one decreed on the first day of golfdom “All men shall wear argyle and ridiculous hats, this is my will. Let it be so.”

 

“At least we think so. Did the lord of Golf decree this?”

Anyway, what we were getting to before things got all “Legend of Bagger Vance”…. people that do the same activity tend to have a certain code of dress, style, or even brand that they are dedicated to…. and Dog Sports are no different. Today we are here to give you a handy guide to guessing what people are doing at a dog show… based purely on their clothing. So basically… stereotyping. Our favorite activity!

 

Exhibit A)

ladiesinsuits

 

We’ll start with an easy one. Pastel suits and sensible shoes.  Awkwardly fitting skirt suits in any color generally are an indicator that a woman is involved in conformation.  Men can be a little trickier, as they range from crisply pleated khakis to impeccably fitted black suits.   Sequins are generally reserved for judges, but occasionally a young (read: under 60) upstart will dare to wear them as well.

 

Exhibit B)

 

Photo courtesy of Katy Johnson

Photo courtesy of Katy Johnson

Vibrams AND tight pants.  (Photo courtesy of Kelli Roman)

Vibrams AND tight pants. (Photo courtesy of Kelli Roman)

Once upon a time, If you saw someone wearing Vibram shoes and yoga pants, there was a good chance that  person was involved with agility. Nowadays, it’s easier to spot Vibrams and yoga pants at your nearest college campus, but if you have a foot fetish and a hankering for leggings worn as pants… an agility trial is still a good place to go. While there,  it is also highly likely to see people wearing tie-dye shirts (bonus points if it’s a the Best Q is a ResQ shirt), athletic shorts, and even ill-fitting sweatpants.  A solid guide. The more intense the person is about the sport, the more intense their clothing gets. (Either that or they’re a giant newb with a mastercard.) See someone in running tights and shoes that cost more than your first car? It’s a solid bet they are heading back to their crate to grab their Border Collie, strap him into his y front harness and tug lead and have him drag them all the way back to the starting line.

 

Exhibit C)

Yee haw!  (Photo courtesy of Jamie Ohman)

Yee haw! (Photo courtesy of Jamie Ohman)

Fine, this is a RuPaul's Drag Race contestant.  Close enough.

Fine, this is a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant. Close enough.

If someone is roaming about wearing copious amounts of glitter and sequins or dressed up as some type of septuagenarian cowgirl or urban matador, it’s a pretty sure bet that they are involved in canine freestyle.  If the dog on the end of their leash is also dressed in costume then it’s a guarantee. We aren’t sure who started the match your dog craze in freestyle… but we would like to meet them. Possibly go through their closet. There’s guaranteed to be a lifetime’s worth of sparkle in there. We like sparkle.

 

Exhibit D)

Photo courtesy of Renee Wagner

Photo courtesy of Renee Wagner

Reflective windbreaker.  Check.  Boots.  Check.  What are you looking at ladies and gentleman is someone involved in tracking. Can we really mock this? Utilitarian is the name of the game in tracking, apparently. Needs more creepy toe shoes.

 

Exhibit E)

Honestly, since you can’t read her shirt there isn’t a lot to mock here… but that dog’s face is life changing.(Photo courtesy of Nicole Vaughn)

Honestly, since you can’t read her shirt there isn’t a lot to mock here… but that dog’s face is life changing.(Photo courtesy of Nicole Vaughn)

More yoga pants? Yep.  They’re pretty much a dog sport staple.  Get used to it.  In terms of flyball-specific gear, look out for groups of people wearing color coordinated t-shirts with ball-related sayings (heheh…balls).  Although not technically a fashion accessory, they are also easily identifiable by their hordes of screaming dogs hanging from the end of brightly colored fleece tugs.

 

Exhibit F)

Photo courtesy of Melissa Phillips

Photo courtesy of Melissa Phillips Grant

See that person wearing camo, Carhart pants, and waders?  No, you don’t see them? (Camo joke. Please excuse us.) They aren’t Duck Dynasty rejects, they’re people doing Hunt Tests with their dogs.  People that ordinarily wouldn’t be caught dead in camo may just don it to title their dogs… and we’re pretty sure that’s the only acceptable time to do so. (That and… you know… actual hunting… You can wear camo when you hunt.)

 

Exhibit G)

We can’t explain this. We just can’t. It may  haunt us though. (Photo courtesy of Trent Steele)

We can’t explain this. We just can’t. It may
haunt us though. (Photo courtesy of Trent Steele)

Big black dog named Vader, Dorky team name on hat, Darth Vader Tshirt to match team name/dog. (Photo courtesy of Karen Cummings)

Big black dog named Vader, Dorky team name on hat, Darth Vader Tshirt to match team name/dog. (Photo courtesy of Karen Cummings)

When dockdiving folks aren’t parading around in spandex, it’s much more likely to see them in shirts with Team names, or even sponsors. When not wearing team shirts, it can be difficult to tell your average dock diving enthusiast from your average college football tailgater. Tie-Dye is not uncommon on the dock.

 

**Surely we missed something.  Tell us in the comments.  Or show us your own fashion stylings.  Just be prepared to be mocked.  It’s what we do.**

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What Dog Sports Look Like to the Outside World: Part 2

28 Jun

Back by popular demand, we add to the list of what dog sports must look like to outsiders.

Altered Conformation

A drag show for dogs. Suspect duct-tape is involved. Still allows for an alarming amount of hairspray. Absence of awkwardly framed balls in every picture disconcerting.

This is a ball free zone. Not a free balling zone.

Canine Freestyle

Solo Square Dancing. Bonus points for an ability to sew massive amounts of sequins on to matching dog/human outfits. High degree of unfounded interest in Billy Ray Cyrus.

Billy Ray You Sexy, Sexy, Man Beast.

Hog trials

Dogs literally bringing home the bacon. Massive amounts of camo make us suspect this might not actually be a real sport and instead a hobby for the weekends there is no Nascar.

Those Wellies Cost more than a Dale Jr. Figurine. Think about it.

Dryland mushing

People with Balto fantasies and no actual desire to be cold. Possibly insane since they are willing to ride on a cart at high speed at the whim of spitzes.

I saw the movie, I bought this husky. How much harder can it be?

Rally Obedience

Human follows road signs to get from point a to point b in the most indirect route possible. Dog looks on baffled but will assist owner in chasing their own tail. Inexplicably accompanied by lots of clapping and kissing noises.

There may have been some alcohol involved there.

Lure coursing

Not sure if either owner or dog knows the thing flying around is a bag. Needs further study.

If this is the end goal, you’re using the wrong bag.

Disc

Dog gymnastics. College kids that never quite got over being picked last for ultimate frisbee.

I brought my own frisbee this time! Guys? Guys?

Dachshund Racing

Flying weiners. Sorry, can’t get farther than snickering about weiners.

Terrier Sprints

Small dogs dashing around over pipes, inside construction fencing while wearing brightly colored vests. Possibly Dog-centric Mario LARP-ing.

We never said it was good LARP.

Carting

For people that REALLY wanted a pony as a child, but didn’t actually live with Daddy Warbucks. Not sure why they didn’t acquire a pony as an adult. Suspect it’s due to cost of poop bags.

Lassie never had to do this shit.

KNPV

Some guy just got hit with a dog and then he rode a bicycle. It’s all very Dutch.

Yeah it really is that ridiculous.

Bikejoring

Also involves a bike and a disconcerting lack of concern for personal well-being. Once again suspect the Dutch/Dutch Courage.

This makes more sense.

Skiijoring

What the hell? Didn’t we just see this? Oh, skis. Is -joring German for put your life in your dog’s paws?

Too smart to latch himself to the dog.

Dog Scootering

This is ridiculous. Use your own two feet already!

The dog is running from the embarrassment of that scooter.

Cani-Cross

Oh…. Ha. Ha. “Own two feet”. I’m pretty sure they already had a name for this e.g. Train your damn dog not to pull you over.

Wow, he must be a champion.

 

Rough Weekends and Why We’ll do it again (and again, and again.).

23 Jun

The number of activities we can do with our dogs has grown by leaps and bounds. From obedience and agility to dock diving, lure coursing or flyball it seems pretty much endless. With endless options come endless opportunities for competition and endless shows and trials where we can spend our hard-earned cash on a chance for a dollar store ribbon.

Actual cost of a ribbon? Less than five dollars. Cost to earn ribbon? We don’t want to think about it.

Some competitions however can quickly become a long tedious descent into a level of hell Dante never thought of because he’d never tried to regain a dog’s attention who is focused on a shadow that could possibly be a bug on the ground. Today was one of those days. While it didn’t result in ‘temper tears’ (Which have happened to us, so we don’t judge) it wasn’t awesome and we need a reminder as to why we do this, and maybe some of you do too.

1) Training is about more than the end result

There’s nothing like the bond that training with your dog will bring you. It sounds hokey, but it is true. Rather that training leads to calm walks around the lake or running around a horse arena while your dog flings himself over various obstacles or picks out a leather bar you touched once from a pile of other crap… it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you are spending time with your dogs. Some of us choose to use that time to train towards a competitive goal and it becomes a passion. While the alphabet soup around our dogs’ names are appealing, it’s all an expression of the bonds we have with our dogs, just in a structured format.

He’s a bastard but I’ve spent too much time on him to kill him.

2) Competition with an ideal is healthy

People who don’t like competition have issues. Healthy competition is just that, healthy. We have standards of competition for a reason. In pretty much every competition you’re aiming towards a dynamic idea of perfection to that particular judge. An objective third party is telling you how close to that standard you reached on that day and usually what you need to work on. It’s a simple optional test of your training. You should know the material and you’ve studied hours on end. If you don’t know it, don’t enter. Being aware of your own weaknesses in training is helpful. My dog may be good but if I can make her better, why wouldn’t I?

Improve on that, we dare you.

3)  Raven Syndrome.

What does that winner have that I do not and how can I steal it and make it my own? That guy who beat me? Why did he beat me? What are they doing better than I can do that makes that difference. Judging is subjective (sometimes extremely so) but they beat me for a reason and I will know why. The answer, however tempting, isn’t their dog, it’s sometimes minor tweaking sometimes a major overhaul of something that wasn’t working. Either way, I want his mojo and I will find out how to get it to take it back to my nest so my dog will perform better next time.

It’s mine because I found it so go away *hiss*

3)  We’re Competitive.

We’re not ‘The Dog Snobs’ by accident. While we’re polite about it, we’re competitive. Your dog is great but we’re pretty sure ours are better today and now we’re going to prove it. We don’t want to compete unless we’re sure our dogs are on par (or better than) the competition because there’s a difference between titling and excelling. Titling a dog is a major accomplishment but if it’s not my dog’s best effort, it’s mediocre. We can’t be snobby in mediocrity so we work harder at being smarter and come back stronger with more effort. Effort will always count more than a ribbon but the ribbon doesn’t hurt. Unless it’s Novice, because Novice is boring.

We have time for the losers too. We have a lot of time though you probably know that.

4) The People and the Connections

Training connections are gold. If you want to know about who’s training where with whom for what, you need people on the inside and you find those insiders at clubs and if your clubs are dysfunctional places for hopes to die, you find them at competitions. You get those connections by being friendly, polite and willing to offer a hand. As always however, with some no good deed will go unpunished and there are jerks. In its defense however, for every asshole* that is not willing to help a newbie out there, there are five other competitors that will fall over themselves to get you involved in the sport. Dog People? They really do like to share the madness. There are cliques and cults, of course. (We’re pretty sure we once saw ladies exchanging a blood oath in a trial bathroom.) Those people that are too snobbish to help out the new person aren’t the ones you want to socialize with anyway. Go, make friends, bring snacks, and avoid the folks that have forgotten that they were once new too. And if someone snaps at you over something? Deep breath, blank look and walk the other way. They’re not worth your time or energy.

*Alot* of Friends.

5)  Credibility

Here’s a little secret. If I want to compete with my dog, and you are a trainer that wants to teach me how to compete with my dog… you sure as hell better have titled the dog in the sport I’m interested in. Not a novice title either, I want the good stuff. So if you want to be a dog trainer? You have to get out there. Title your dog, then start making up your business cards.

That’ll be thirty five dollars.

6) The Prizes

Okay, yeah we could order our own ribbons for cheaper than any entry fee, even the doofy toys are a nice show of accomplishment. Plus, we can subtract their cost from the entry fee and not feel like we just paraded our dogs on stage demanding pretty-feet and “booty popping” out of creatures who really don’t give a damn. Though if they had dog tiaras we’d probably*** be down for that.

It’s so classic and understated.

*To all the assholes, it’s Thumper’s rule. If you can’t be polite  or at least civil, you need to just not participate in dog activities with others. You ruin it for everyone else and you drive away the new competitors who actually allow these sports to continue. Also, trial results are easily available with minimal effort. We know who you are and have long memories**. We have a zero tolerance policy on bitchery to newbies. Educate, mentor, guide and even direct, but put on a happy face and suck it up buttercups. They’re here. They paid their entry fees just like you did. Get used to it.

Pretty much.

**As of today Fang’s list which had previously been empty reluctantly grew by one.

It’ll be forgotten by next week, but it’s fun to stew.

*** We’re already seeing if this is a thing and what we need our dogs to do to get one….

What Dog Sports Look Like to the Outside World.

22 Jun

While many of us are either involved in, or familiar with, the wide array of dog sports that exist, we must remember that the vast majority of people have no idea that the dog world extends past what they see on TV every Thanksgiving.  Below we outline what we imagine various dog sports must look like to the outside (i.e. non-dog fanatical world).

IPO/Schutzund

Angry people shouting in German while a large dog bites the Michelin Man’s ethnic cousin.

As Paula Deen’s Dog, he’s been trained never to bite the white ones.

Agility

Dog plays on colorful construction equipment while a woman in Lululemon pants and Vibram shoes runs around yelling strange words like “scramble!” and “table!”

At least his pants aren’t transparent.

Obedience

Frumpy person struts around with dog staring at them adoringly.

At least the dogs may participate in the ‘frump’.

Flyball

Lazy people yell at dog to fetch ball over and over and over without actually having to throw the ball.

Why use your arms at all?

Nosework

Dog sniffs boxes. Unfortunately, no actual drugs to be found.

All the pretty colors.

Weight-pull-

Owner is desperate to move cement blocks ten feet. Not willing to rent a front end loader.

Because that would be the easy way.

Conformation

Frumpy office managers parade at a synergy convention.

Image from image.toutlecine.com

“What do you mean I need to ‘gait livelier’”

Dock-diving

Loud indecisive gym teachers yelling at Labradors to recreate a Disney documentary.

Image courtesy of fox

“I said jump like the little lemming you are!”

Herding

Border collies moving sheep into pens and laser light shows.

Simplistic, but not inaccurate.

Treiball

Herding for the avid-indoorsman.

Typical treiball enthusiast.

Tracking

A Nature Hike without the nature.

We could get in to this kind of tracking.

Hunt Tests

Something with a duck in a box and the blind. The duck may or may not be dead but you can’t know until you open the box which still won’t help because you’re blind.

We said duck… there’s a U in there.

Earthdog

People actively encourage their dogs to fix a rat infestation.   Must be too cheap to hire exterminators.

Damn it, they brought out the schnauzers.

Barn Hunts

Made by the people who hold Earthdog trials and collect money for free rodent control. Geniuses.

Barnhunt is a new sport, as far as we know there isn’t a class for handling larger pests…

Did we offend you?

 

Tell us about it in the comments! Offended that we didn’t offend your sport? Tell us about that too!

The Types of People that Do Agility.

1 Jun

Agility is a dog sport which attracts all kinds, and we mean *all* kinds.   In this entry, we will do our best to categorize a few of the most common types of people you will encounter when involved in agility and the dogs who are stuck with them.

*sigh*

Ex-Conformation Types

If you see someone running a Chow or a Shih-Tzu or any other completely unbiddable breed, it’s a good guess that they are one of these people. They aren’t there because they love agility, and they aren’t there because they love training. They are there because someone told them a balanced dog has titles at both ends and the dog refused to chase a lure.

Not the kind of balance we're talking about

Not the kind of balance we’re talking about

Seriously Serious Types

These are people that have Border Collies or Shelties or Aussies ( and maybe a Papillon). They don’t have time for your questions and actually having questions means you will never be friends. Noticeably, all of their wardrobe comes from Clean Run or at least has ‘tech’ in the name of the fabric somewhere. Much to Fang’s chagrin, these are also people who wear Vibram Toe-Shoes, which are Crocs for people with money.

But Uglier.

Casual Competitor

The casual competitor has a good perspective on it all, mostly. Barring some unforeseen instances where the competition monster erupts, these are good people. Unfortunately, it’s a very small step from CC to our previous category. An early warning sign is going from a breed they actually enjoy to a Border Collie. (We refuse to believe anyone actually enjoys Border Collies.)

“I’m ready. Are you ready? I’m ready. Ready for anything. Ready. Ready. Ready. You’re ready! Get ready now. I’m ready. Ready.”

“I’m ready. Are you ready? I’m ready. Ready for anything. Ready. Ready. Ready. You’re ready! Get ready now. I’m ready. Ready.”

The Best Q is a Res-Q  People

They are more than happy to tell you how abused their snappy Border Collie was before they got involved in agility and would love to tell you the story of how their heart dog was rescued and got them involved in agility. They are often identifiable by the T-shirt sporting their favorite phrase “The Best Q is a Res-Q”. If you mention looking for a dog to these people, they automatically know one that would be “just perfect!”… some actually do, and some just want to pawn off a dog from their backyard rescue.

Your thoughtfully bred dog is satan. Get used to it.

The “I have this breed because I wanted to go to nationals and there are only two in the US doing agility” type

It’s considerably easier to get to AKC invitationals with a Shar-Pei than it is with a Border Collie. There’s a reason for that. So, how does one circumnavigate the system? Get a Border Collie in a weird little hungarian terrier suit. That’s right, a Pumi. If you have  the money to import a dog from the wilds of eastern Europe, you can make it to nationals. You’ll just have to switch breeds again when people start breeding them in the US. *cough* pyr shep*cough*

Fang loves these and doesn’t do agility (yet) so Potnoodle can shut her whore mouth.

Recreational Agiliphile

These individuals routinely take classes and engage in various agility-related activities, but don’t actually have plans to compete for a variety of reasons.  Although the RA is generally more closely aligned with the CC,  they can also come in an annoying subvariety.  These sub-RAs are those people that take up most of the instructor’s time and don’t really care to do things properly.  It is not uncommon to see sub-RAs admiring their dog on top the A-Frame and expecting everyone else to stop and coo in admiration.  This sub-RA is often the bane of existence for the Seriously Serious types who treat every second in class as integral to achieving  agility supremacy. They’re even annoying to the CC or the other RAs

Did we miss any agility types?  Do you recognize yourself in one of the descriptions?  Share below!

No More Wire Hangers: A brief guide to Obedience and the People that compete in it.

9 Apr

Here at ‘The Dog Snobs’, there is a fair amount of competitive spirit. It reasons then that dog sports would play an active role in our existence. Busybee and Mr. T, despite having the hearts of Champions (and probably better training than most dogs who actually compete), don’t have any plans to step into the show ring, but Fang, Potnoodle and their dogs are regular competitors at a variety of performance events.  Between the three of us, we know a lot about different performance events and feel it is our duty to share (with a touch of snark) the intricacies of each type of event.  For our first entry on this topic, we will tackle Obedience which is Fang’s favored venue.

Obedience

The Event:

 

The Obedience ring is where it all started. To the outsiders, most people with a pulse under the age of 45, and spectators, Obedience is rather boring. It’s quiet, subtle, and like fine wine; it’s all just Boone’s Farm if you don’t know what you’re talking about. There are a ton of subtleties and class variants and optional titling classes.  These vary by organization but the most basic version is pretty simple.

There are three levels; Novice (CD or Companion Dog), Open(CDX or Companion Dog Excellent) and Utility (UD or Utility Dog). You must qualify (Q) three times in the class to earn the title and the previous title is required to move to the next level. Each level has different exercises but the idea is that each level is built upon the successes of the previous. There is functionally an alphabet soup of possibilities in terms of Obedience class titling. As a tip though if you see OM (Obedience Master), UDX (Utility Dog Excellent) or most impressively OTCh (Obedience Trial Champion)  in a dog’s name; they put more hours into their dog’s training each week than you spent picking your last vehicle.

 

What Car I chose didn’t matter, I trained my OTCh dogs to drive a tow truck out to me.

The rules for Obedience are not by any means simple. While people always tell you to “RTFM!” (Read The Fucking Manual), this time they mean it, and we mean they really really mean it. Can you use both a hand signal and a verbal command? Well, we know the answer and we’re not telling you because 1) It would take too long and 2) RTFM!

Just read the manual.

The People:

 Obedience is one of those funny places where everyone is a Type A personality and anything other than that will earn you a funny look. Weirdly, this is also one of the places where breed sweaters with matching pants and pom poms are held up as a standard and even expected fashion choice.

l_0b07e2c0-b390-11e1-b0e3-234aed700002

While occasionally standoffish at trial, they’re also some of the people most willing to bolster up a new exhibitor and offer suggestions when frustration hits. However, it is a hard regular clique to break into. Like in a lot of dog events, there are clubs based around groups of people, many of whom have been around since the dawn of time and they’re not so inclined to invite you into their inner circle. If you want in your best bet will always be the old fashioned way. Train your ass off, and someone will notice… eventually.

I trained my dog to invent the wheel. He’s ready for his CDX.

The cliques in obedience are fairly broad and have a lot of ‘Shades of Snob’ in them. Oddly enough despite a fair amount of animosity between Conformation and Obedience competitors (You’d be pissy too if you were relegated to the back corner of a massive complex) they share the most similarity in groups. You have ‘The Old Timers’, ‘The Clicker-ites’, ‘The Balanced Trainers’, ‘The <Insert Breed here> people’. The groups then get smaller as personality conflict, training-style and who-knows-who gets sorted. The tribalization isn’t surprising really. We all like to be a part of a group but eventually someone’s got to get sacrificed upon the altar of competition. It’s like Hunger Games but with no risk of actual death, at least hopefully.

‘It’s better than ‘Shades of Gray’ but frankly it could use more heavy petting.”

So, you’ve made it to the club. You’re in! You’re training your dog and now comes the rough reality, there are over 200 ways to NQ (Not qualify) on your way to a CDX and in Utility that number goes up exponentially. And sometimes the longer you train the more it seems like your dog is inventing new ways to circumvent the exercise. Dreaming of an OTCh? How many times have you won in a class over over 6 dogs, heck in a class of just 3 dogs even when you’re competing against finished OTCh dogs? How many times can you spend $200 a weekend for trialling. Can you handle the inevitable failure that comes with the journey? It’s as much a mental commitment as a financial one really.

If it peed coins you’d be in business.

If you think you’re still game, it’s time to meet who you’ll be up against.

Nemeses:

Agility: Probably the number one rival for funding, space and attention, Agility is the whoreish younger sister of Obedience. It’s fast, it’s flashy and it has crowd appeal. A lot of the training is similar and both sides have noted the benefit to cross-training but be damned if anyone likes to lose space to the other.

She totally does agility.

Rally Obedience: Don’t let the name fool you. What was originally supposed to be a “pre-obedience’ styled competition has morphed into its own bloated image as the epitome of obedience. The love child of Obedience and Phonics, rally is a wonderful place to introduce your dog to a lot of stuff you can’t do in Obedience and a handful of stuff you can. Judging is pretty typically loose and easy and generally it’s a fun relaxed environment without a lot of the stresses Obedience brings.

first-day-of-obedience-school-pees-on-everything

All kidding aside, dog sports are awesome ones with ribbons, trophies and more big-ass ribbons even more so.

-2

.Compete in Obedience? Want to compete in Obedience? Horribly offended? 😛 Share a story with us!