Experiences of a late-comer to the agility competition scene -- our training, trials, life-style changes/challenges, RV adventures, and observations on the sport, the people, and dogs involved in it. Begun July 17, 2010.
After 3 years of coaxing, I've finally convinced my dog club we need to promote, i.e., create a public presence beyond our website (which I built 3 years ago). What actually turned the tables, I think, is the Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission's (BREC) new Obedience classes, their plans to create an agility course at their Burbank dog park, and some new teachers in town who are advertising their classes.
So last April the club officially activated a Publicity Committee and named me Chairman. But it took until August to announce it to the membership and approve $200 toward the creation of a Publicity Booth we can take to parades, dog park openings, and other public events. I asked for $300 but got less, so the club is borrowing my canopy and many other items until I can submit a budget next year. The wheels of progress grind exceedingly slow, and apparently my enthusiasm isn't shared by all.
I've been working on the booth (pictured above in my back yard) for a month now, trying to make it attractive, informative, interesting, weather impervious, easy to set up and take down, comfortable, and fun. The whole thing (canopy, 2 tables, 2 bins, ring gates, display board, 2 posts) has to fit in one car (a large car). With the weather turning cooler, I pretty much live in the booth these days, tweaking its features every day.
The biggest task has been the tri-fold display board, with collages depicting our club's activities, a few of our best newsletters, signage, etc. I've taken so many photos of our club's activities over the years, I had plenty to draw from - trials, matches, seminars, classes, demos, and of course, dogs. The problem is, photo paper and color ink aren't cheap, and laminating adds up quickly and for now, all this is out of my own pocket! I'm not real happy about that, but what else can I do? The point of the booth is to show what our club does, attract new students to our classes and members to our club! Can't do that without props.
In the past few days some club members have come by to see the booth (Polly, Nedra, Linda, Joy, Sheryl, Noel), and their reactions have been favorable. Now I've got to call more members, one at a time, and invite them to see it. John and I don't mind working the booth, we think it's fun, but we won't always be available. For instance, the first event coming up is September 24th for AKC's Responsible Dog Ownership Day, but I'll be in Kiln at an agility trial, and so will many of my club mates. A perfect time to tap into LCCOC's newer members, who are looking for volunteer hours. They'll need training in booth setup, take down, how to run it, what to say, etc.
Burbank Dog Park Entrance - side view,
possible booth location
I met with BREC's events planner last week and mapped out a schedule of dog-related events we can participate in thru next March. They are investing heavily in their dog parks and seeking ways to promote them. Last Friday, John and I drove out to the Zachary Park, then the Burbank Park. Both have beautiful new dog parks with expansive lawns, wrought iron fencing all around, double gates, separate small and large dog yards, lots of green grass, water fountains, wading pools, poop bag dispensaries along expansive sidewalks, new shrubs planted here and there. Unfortunately, neither one has a single tree . . . . . so there is no shade. It's so hot, only a few dogs were out there and they didn't stay long. We had to leave quickly not to faint! Trees all around the perimeter, but none in the dog parks! What were they thinking?????
Also unfortunate, no night lighting, and no electricity. No place to take your dog at night, and no fan in our booth! Bummer!
Willow and Lucky at Zachary Dog Park
One thing I discovered -- Willow loves water! We don't have a pool at home so how could I know, but she jumped right in and started snapping at the bubbles she made when prancing around. She got in over and over. I coaxed Lucky in as well for a few minutes, but Maxie wanted nothing to do with the pool.
Also, my dogs went crazy barking at the other dog running loose in the big dog yard. Lucky was growling and lunging at the fence, Max and Willow barking their heads off, while the Siberian Husky just stood around quietly. Not sure I could let my dogs loose at a dog park. I presume they would settle down after awhile.