Posted by: allstaragility | March 6, 2013

Internationalization is not a bad word!

Yay, it is yet another Dog Agility Blog Action Day!  I enjoy writing these blogs as much as I do reading everybody else’s!  You can see a full list of participating bloggers here.

Today our topic is “Internationalization”.  It saddens me that this term has such negative connotations to many enthusiasts in our country.  I was taken aback recently while reading through posts on an AKC list from competitors who are so vehemently against anything considered “international” being forced upon them.   Just saying the word-which-shall-not-be-named has people conjuring up images of an arena clogged with obstacles not taken in any sensical order, dogs risking injury on sequences which ask them to do the impossible and courses requiring a minimum level of human physical fitness that the average US handler cannot meet. I will have to address these myths at another time.  Perhaps somebody else participating in this action day already has!  I want to tackle this subject from a slightly different perspective.

Guess what?  Every single run you have at a local trial is, in fact, internationalized.    Almost all of us can trace our lineage to other countries.  Our sport is an immigrant very much like our ancestors who came to this new world.   Just as America is known as the “great melting pot”, agility in the U.S. has been melted down and diluted like many of us are.  I have to acknowledge the German and English blood in my veins, the same way we must respect how we would not be playing this game if the forefathers of our sport hadn’t created it and shared it with the world.

In 1999, I was just getting back into competing in agility (I began doing NCDA agility as a 4-Her in the late 1980’s).  I remember attending  the AKC Nationals in Denver and being in the stands watching the pioneers of US agility compete (Linda Mecklenburg, Nancy Gyes, etc).   Yes, these individuals are true pioneers.   They explored this new sport, found and developed better routes to navigate it and brought many of us along on that journey.  Just look back 10-15 years ago and see how course designs have changed along with our vastly improved handling and teaching skills.  If it weren’t for the individuals who studied new methods and pushed the envelope, we would be sitting where we were 10 years ago.  I don’t think any of us would trade agility now for what it was then!

What scares me about the resistance to the further growth and expansion of our sport is considering how much more we could evolve in another 10 years.  Agility is still relatively young.  When our ancestors first came to North America, some settled on the eastern half of the continent while others had that desire to keep pushing west to see just what they could find beyond the Rockies.  This is exactly where the state of our sport is in the United States.  There are many “settlers” who are perfectly content with where they are right now.  For some, the mountains are a nice view, but they feel no need to see what is on the other side.  That is to be acknowledged and respected.  On the other hand, the number of pioneers has grown significantly and they still harbor that burning need to keep exploring the new frontier and seeing how far they can go.  Those mountains are a challenge, a dare to see if they can be scaled to reap the bounties that might lie on the other side.   Those choosing that path should also be respected.

The U.S. is big enough for everybody to play the game how we want.  We are very fortunate to have different organizations that cater to the variety of ways competitors want to experience agility.  Unfortunately, many competitors have outgrown what is currently offered.  In other words, there aren’t any metaphorical mountains in our local competitions over which to climb.   The concept of “internationalizing” agility is not about “keeping up” with the rest of the world, it is about evolving and exploring along with the rest of the world!

Think of the most recent frontiers humanity has explored in the last century; we are searching the depths of the ocean, diving into the world around us on a microscopic scale, and pushing outside our atmosphere into the vast universe around us.  It is exciting to see what the future holds in our sport if the opportunity is made more available to those who want to continue evolving and expanding beyond our current boundaries.

Cosmic agility, anyone?


  1. Great analogies, Lori! I’m with you 110%!

  2. Great post, Lori!

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