Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I sent the below e-letter to AKC on 3/8/2011 offering them an idea, and the next day received the response below.
To Whom It May Concern:
My Papillon and I recently attended our first trial competing at the Excellent B level. It took us 30 Excellent A runs in 7 trials over 7.5 months to Q 18 times and get our AX and AXJ titles in 2010. Not bad. Then suddenly, promoted to Excellent B, I found we were competing for our Masters titles in the same class, for the same placement, with dogs/handlers who have multiple MACH titles and years of experience, hundreds if not thousands of runs under their belt. This seems totally disproportionate. Very discouraging. Looks like no ribbons for us for a good long while, even if we Q.
My request is that AKC create a new class so pre-MACH dogs don't have to vie for placement with MACH dogs who routinely Double Q. It wouldn't cause much trouble. We'd still all run the same courses. Same run orders. Just one more category in the computer, like “preferred”. So you'd have newer, greener pre-MACH Excellent B dogs and MACH dogs as separate classes. Seems much more fair to me for champions to compete against each other, leave us lesser experienced pip-squeeks competing in a category of our own.
With more and more teams coming into the sport, more and more entries at every trial, and so many entries in the 20” category in particular, it would level the playing field considerably. I have friends with 20” dogs, even MACH dogs, who have competed for years and rarely if ever gotten a placement ribbon, no matter how often they Q. With too many dogs in one category, there are too few ribbons to win.
I shared this idea with some other exhibitors, and all advised that the likelihood of this happening is slim-to-none because “that’s the way it’s always been”, and “AKC will never listen”. But my take on it is that the sport is still new and evolving, the AKC has listened to many concerns (24” weaves, lower tire and A-frame heights, inclusion of mixed breeds, etc.) and maybe the AKC would consider this suggestion as well. It certainly would be a more fair evaluation of the teams, and another way to inspire us. More carrots, on more sticks and all us donkeys chasing after them, paying more fees to AKC, trying our darnedest to get one.
In fact, though a bit more trouble, it would add interest to the sport if MACH dogs had an exra level of difficulty thrown in to emphasize their CHAMPION status! Shorter SCT, a few more obstacles, steeper angles, etc. It would certainly add more prestige to that MACH title.
I hope you will consider these ideas, and appreciate all you have done already to promote this wonderful sport that I totally love.
Baton Rouge, LA
Ace Maximillion von Fry, Papillon, AX AXJ CGC
Lucky Lucy Lu-Lu von Fry, All-American Dog, about to begin competing
Today I received the following response from AKC Director of Agility, Carrie DeYoung, very encouraging. I was pleased.
Hi Michele -
You are right the AKC Agility program is always growing and changing. It is only 16 years old at this point ...still a teenager!. The idea you meantion has been discussed by past advisory committees, but due to the size of classes at that time and the MACH multipliers there were concerns that the concept you propose would cause unfairness for other reasons.
This idea will be looked at again with the next Advisory Committee. We are about 2 years out form the next committee - I would expect that would be when it is discussed again due to the way the AKC makes regulation changes.
This idea is not dead by any stretch, it is one that we will continue to review & evaluate. As you noted the AKC program has changed a lot over the past 16 years and will continue to do so.
Thank you for letting us know your thoughts.
Very encouraging. I was pleased, though for such a young, dynamic sport I should think they'd meet to discuss it more often than every 2 years.
Upwards and onward,