Volunteering – Agility Blog Action Day post

So, I have to ‘fess up. I am not all so good about volunteering. I did it in the beginning a few times at a few different trials. I made a horrid mess of timing at one of them. It was awful. Last time they let me do that. Other than that, I never really had a bad experience with the actual volunteering part. But, it did really stress me out not only that I may miss my class elsewhere, but of much greater importance to me was that I wouldnt have ample time for my dog before we went in the ring.

I have a dog that needs a lot of handholding. Especially in the beginning. Over the last 16 months of trialing we finally have got our pre- and post-run routine down. Still now, it eats up a good amount of time before and after my runs. I have worked so hard to get him to be comfortable out there and actually run, that the last thing I can bring myself to do is whip him out of the crate immediately before we are on and then stuff him back in to run off elsewhere. I wont do it.

I realize there are other options for help than just ring crew. I volunteered to be the coffee-getter for a club trial last year. I got up early early and showed up with coffee. On the first day. And then on Day 2 I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I forgot. I forgot the coffee. And didn’t realize it until like 2pm. No one came after me with a hatchet or anything, so maybe no one figured it out. Or maybe they just didnt know me well enough to come after me. I am sure there were at least a few really grumpy workers rolling around the trial that morning. Either way I was completely mortified. I never gave them the receipt for the Saturday coffee that I paid for because I felt so bad.

I am hoping that down the road I will have more confidence in my timelines and that Forest will be more comfortable overall for me to be able to figure something out. Likely by that point Phineas will be ready to run and I’ll have 2 dogs to worry about, though Phin will surely be much easier to manage than Forest. I do understand the need for helpers, I really do. In my other lives I have run some rather elaborate events largely off the backs of interns. But, at the end of the day, I am paying around $100 (plus gas, food, the occasional hotel, my time, etc.) a weekend to spend time with my dog. Our relationship and his comfort level comes above anything else. That’s my top priority and as much as I would like to be more helpful at the end of the day, I won’t be badgered or guilt-tripped into thinking otherwise. Maybe its bad agility karma and I am forsaking a high Q rate by admitting that. So be it.

*It’s most likely you got here from Agility Nerd’s blog. If not, and you’d like to read more blogs on this subject, go here.*


6 thoughts on “Volunteering – Agility Blog Action Day post

  1. I think we share some viewpoints. I also will not be badgered. My dog is priority1, and I am close behind! I think it’s interesting though to realize how much volunteerism contributes and furthers the sport!

  2. Loved your very open and honest post! I have not volunteered either, for many of your reasons. My dog requires lots of extra time before & after. I cant just pop her & in out of a crate when its time; thus, I have less time on my hands I could volunteer. Thanks again!

  3. Well, now I’m rethinking the whole volunteer thing. Maybe I don’t know my dog as well as I should. He’s high maintenance but seems to be OK just chilling in his crate at trials. Of course, the last trial we entered he bolted out of the ring when we finished before I could get his leash on. Good thing he knows the “Go Kennel” command and the whippersnapper actually found our setup in the sea of RVs and cars!! But, I had to really work on curbing that behaviour the rest of the weekend which meant a lot of training and attention before and after the run to make sure I was the most fun thing for him and it paid to stay with me (he is usually a velcro dog so this deviance really took me by surprise!). Thank god I decided NOT to volunteer that weekend. There is no way I could have worked with him if I had to be ring crew or something in the next class. You also make a great point about the $$ we spend to play with our dogs for a weekend. There are very few venues I can enter that don’t require an overnight (and the one that doesn’t I will not attend anymore because of the poor treatment I received both as a volunteer and a competitor that weekend. The only good that came out of that trial was meeting a person who has turned out to be a great friend.). So I spend a couple of hundred dollars on entry fees, gas, hotels and food, drive a hundred or so miles from home and then NOT be with my dogs because I feel I have to be a good doobie? Yep, definitely rethinking this whole thing. But then, if everyone who volunteers rethinks doing so, how will trials be put on? I’ll have to find a balance I can be comfortable with.

  4. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting! I don’t hope my post comes off as not respecting those who do volunteer and/or as not understanding the necessity of volunteers to keeping trials going–I do!

    It’s been interesting to read the other posts in this “group blog” topic. I actually now think my viewpoint is a bit tainted by the fact that (unfortunately) the majority of the trials I attend are AKC trials as they are what is most available here in Southern CA. They are mostly run by breed clubs and often have a professional trial secretary who is from out of state. I think this leaves me with a very different impression of volunteering than I would if our shows were very small and/or run exclusively by local clubs. Another confession–I did belong to a local club but my experience was poor enough that I decided to back out after only a year. I did volunteer for them as part of my required hours, but I felt like they did not only do a poor job of expressing gratitude to their workers but also were bad/inaccurate about tracking hours. Regardless of the details, it sounds like I may have a different view of volunteering had I been in a different area or circumstance.

    And, @Pam, its good you realized your dog did need the extra attention. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we want we give them less than what they need. Again, for me, that is unequivocally the most important thing while at a trial. My dog needs to be happy–or at least reasonably content–otherwise I should not be there at all.

  5. I agree it is important to find ways to help that allow you the balance you and your dog(s) need. I really think the more ways clubs can find for people to do multiple short tasks the better everyone can help the trial move along smoothly and quickly. No one wants to bar set for 2-3 hours! Getting the coffee is a task that needs to be done and I’m sure there are many others…

    Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts!

  6. Ouch, I can’t imagine the agility world if everyone took this attitude about volunteering.
    99% of the trials I attend (admittedly not AKC for the most part) are run by clubs that are 100% volunteers. We give of our time before, during, and after the trial so that everyone can play with their dogs. (I’m most often the trial secretary AND chief scorekeeper all weekend for my club). I am sure my dogs would love more attention from me during the weekend, but they are understanding and run with me anyway, because I make sure in the ring it’s all about the two of us. If I can’t do that, there’s no use running agility, in my opinion.
    I hope we do a wonderful job of appreciating ALL our volunteers (club members and participants) because without them, there would be no trial at all.
    I’m not saying your viewpoint isn’t valid though, but just try to imagine a trial where everyone had the same thoughts. Somewhere, there is a happy middle ground. Perhaps it’s here in the Pacific Northwest 🙂

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