This is a topic which was raised in a recent judges’ meeting. As judges we must ensure that the health and welfare of the dog is paramount and that a dog is happy and physically sound enough to work at a trial.
Many dogs and handlers have Disability Modifications and judges will amend courses to take individual needs into account.
However, there does come a point with all of our dogs that we have to ask ourselves if continuing to work is really in the dog’s best interest. It may be that a dog can cope with working on grass but is unhappy/unstable walking on an indoor surface which may become slippery if the dog limps or panics. When you book onto a trial ensure that you check that the conditions will be appropriate for your dog before you commit.
It may be appropriate that you drop back into easier Veteran levels to ensure that courses are not as long and demanding. Never be afraid to ask on the day if you can drop down levels- this is showing a kindness to your dog.
We understand that our trials are great social events for all so, when the day comes that your dog is no longer able to work at a trial, you are always welcome to attend as spectators and supporters.
We are lucky in our sport that we have handlers who are so caring and considerate to the needs of their canine companions but moving forward, if judges feel that your dog is not sound enough to work they will not be able to judge your round. It is not pleasant for any judge to refuse to mark and we are hopeful that handlers will make the decision to stop working rather that us having to take that step.
I know that you’ll take this post in the spirit it’s meant because you are all, first and foremost, dog lovers who want the best for their canine friends.
Looking forward to another year of TDR.