Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dear AKC,

Dear AKC,
Please review the criteria for qualifying on the Fifteen and Send Time (FAST) game.
Me and Maggie

I am fortunate that Maggie is one of those dogs that works well away from me. Not because I planned to be able to do the send bonuses in FAST, but because my trainer warned me early on that I would never be able to keep up with her, so I'd better train her to go on without me so that I could take shortcuts. Even so, many FAST send obstacles are just crazy. They are nothing you would normally do or train for, and they seem to confuse many of the dogs. As a result, the number of qualifying scores is miniscule. Last weekend I belive that there was only one dog on Friday that qualified in excellent, two on Saturday and none on Sunday. How many people will continue to enter under these statistics? What has happened is that some people use FAST for a "training run" and go out there to work whatever issues they have with their dog with total disregard for the course, not even trying to qualify.
This past trial had several issues... while the bonus sends were not the most difficult we have ever seen, they were poorly planned in many ways. Some of them were not worth many points, so you had to really struggle to get enough points OUTSIDE the bonus to qualify. They lacked a normal "flow" so we were asking dogs to change directions in ways we would never ask normally. And finally, the start line was placed 20 to 30 feet from the nearest obstacle. This was done to aid the manual time keepers for starting the clock, but created a nightmare for most teams.
Plus, there is no consideration for small dogs, so the send bonus is the same for a tiny toy breed as it is for a large fast dog. What this means is that the little dog may have to take 20 or 30 strides into the "send" where Maggie takes 4 or 5. A big fast dog may land 1/2 way to the next obstacle just by virtue of momentum alone.

As an example of the disregard given to the FAST event, I spoke to an AKC rep at a recent trial about a small issue and she said "it's only FAST, who cares about FAST?" I'll tell you who cares, any of us that paid the SAME entry fee as what we paid for standard and jumpers.
So AKC, can you please review the rules for FAST and see if you can make some changes that will allow judges to create some more realistic challenges that will allow a few more people to qualify?

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