Friday, August 19, 2011

Pet Peeve: Hating on CPE

CPE doesn't have a lot of respect among the broader agility community.  In part, it was CPE's reputation for relaxed, less competitive atmosphere that made me select it to begin with.  As I've been to lots of CPE trials this year, though, I've come to like it a lot.

The other day I watched a dog in AKC open.  It was a lovely dog with a positive handler doing her best to do everything right.  They're a really nice pair.  They're not an experienced pair.  There are lots of dogs about this level in CPE.  Typically they're in Level 1, Level 2, and occasionally you'll see a dog like that in Level 3.  Don't get me wrong--everyone starts inexperienced and there's nothing wrong with that.  I was just surprised to see that this dog was in the intermediate level of AKC, which the general agility world would tell you is so far above and beyond anything that ever happens at CPE.

...but that handler wasn't making any comments about CPE.  She didn't know I compete in CPE. today's trial there were lots of people who don't typically trial in CPE, and they were very vocal about how much better they were than all the rest of us.  In light of my experience this past week, I found this language rather frustrating.  Yes, some of these people who were talking the talk had nice dogs and were good handlers, but they were not in a league of their own.  They were among the best handlers, but their dogs didn't always win their classes or even always qualify.  Quite simply, they fit in as upper level CPE competitors.

One of these people made a big deal about how inappropriate it was that someone had written 'Reactive' on the gate sheets.  She said, "Here we go again.  DON'T ENTER."  I was rather taken aback.  I guess CPE might be more reactive dog-friendly than other venues, but I hadn't really thought about it before.  However, I did notice how many fewer All-Americans there were at USDAA, and I could imagine AKC has even fewer.  My initial reaction to this woman's comment was, admittedly, rude.  I thought to myself, "Well, some of us didn't spend thousands of dollars to get the perfect puppy that we were able to socialize from the minute we brought it home."  I've never seen a bad experience at CPE.  Sometimes there are a few barks here or there, but that's about it.  Some of these reactive dogs clearly LOVE agility and are very good at it.  It would be a real shame, in my opinion, if they were not able to play.  Needing the dog after you to wait until you have your collar on just doesn't seem like a big sacrifice.  I know I'm biased having a 'sensitive' adopted dog.  Yet in our case, I have a dog who was always good around other dogs until he was attacked.  Should the dog who attacked him have been allowed to be running in class?  I don't know.  But I know that now I have a dog who will bark if another dog gets to close to him while he's doing agility, and if someone told me that my dog's barking was unacceptable and I could no longer do agility, I would be very angry.

...Sorry for that rant.

The main theme I came across is, if you really don't respect CPE, don't come.  Or if you do, at least manage to keep your mouth shut around the rest of us who find CPE to be a valuable venue.  And for those of you who don't respect CPE, I would hope you might reconsider.  There are good dogs and good handlers at CPE, even if overall it is not as competitive as the highest levels in other venues.  It's also a great place to start.  There's a place for everyone at least for everyone who can manage to give it a chance.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! I, too, get sick of the attitude CPE and its team receive.

    I've been at other venues and heard competitors telling each other not to bother with CPE because it's "too easy." In almost the same breath I've heard the same people also complain "It takes to long to move up." Um, so which is it? Because with CPE trials regularly offering 8-10 runs in a weekend, if it's so easy, these folks should be blasting their way through C-ATCHs and even C-ATEs, right?

    Another side of this is that I'll be at CPE trials and hear competitors who compete in multiple venues complaining about course designs: "What? look at this turn! That entry! That's impossible! My dog can't do that! You would NEVER see that in [ other venue]."

    CPE doesn't count refusals? If your dog doesn't make them, then so what? CPE times are not as tight as your favorite venue? There are lots of CPE dogs that regularly come in WELL under course time, so so what?

    I invite everyone who hates on CPE to come run level C for a season. If you still find it "too easy," I'll pay for your C-ATE cake.