I'm Not Changing

A big announcement for USDAA competitors this week; upgraded qualification requirements for Cynosports 2018. A big jump in tournament qualifications and newly added titling classes requirements will make the event in Scottsdale, AZ unobtainable for so many, next year. What I can only explain as a tactical move to increase attendance and thus revenue to USDAA, it is a disappointing turn of events for the average competitor. 

I feel like I speak for the majority of the community in saying that I enter USDAA trials because I love them. The community, the courses, the locations, the competition, it's the trialing scenario I want. I rarely see handlers take off for other adventures after making the qualification for Cynosports. We all play in USDAA continuously. 

This move to require more qualifying runs is not a guarantee that the club will see higher entries at local events. Quite the opposite in fact, because now people have to choose, they have to weigh their options, commit to the run that could be involved in qualifying for Cyno or pick a different avenue. Not many of us have the luxury of just trialing more.

Regardless of how many opportunities are had, to trial locally, or not, that still doesn’t answer the question of how much more my dog SHOULD be showing? What frequency, as a team, can we mentally, physically, and financially, afford? For me, and my young dog, the answer is about once a month, for now. I may find we can handle more or less as time goes on. I have to make that call for myself.  A club can’t dictate how often we show up. 

What type of changes will we see as a result? These shifts put pressure on handlers to take the safe handling option; to opt for the rear, instead of risking the blind. To pressure our dogs about knocked bars and off courses. To play it safe, instead of fast. It pressures us to push our young dogs out into tournament classes they might not be ready for, in hopes that they can play a few times, after that three-day car ride to Scottsdale. It makes transition years, for seasoned handlers, near impossible.  

These new changes are a guarantee of personal choice. A choice to stick to the path, or change plans. To put the gas pedal down or pump the breaks.  To attempt the goal or prioritize a different one. 

I hope for the sake of USDAA, the conversation about fair and competitive Cynosports qualifications isn’t over. 

One of my goals up until today was to qualify and travel to Cynosports 2018. Maybe it’s obtainable. Maybe it's not. But one thing is certain, my priority remains the same, to honor what is best for my dog, regardless.

Casey Coughlin Jones