There is always something interesting going on at trails. This last weekend I was at a trial up in Washington. Between running my dogs I was watching others run their dogs as well as visiting (one of those runs was my wife Trudy’s winning pro/nov run with her dog Jill ). One of the statements that struck me was dealing with the idea of disrespect. The just of the conversation was that the person did not feel they could do something during their run for fear of it being disrespectful. This got me to thinking about what people see as respectful vs disrespectful in the trialing world.

What I find interesting about this whole respect vs disrespect issue is; who are we actually being respectful, or disrespectful, to?

I have heard it said that when one goes to judge the should dress a certain way or it is disrespectful to the competitors. I have heard the same as a contestant dressing a certain way showing respect or disrespect to the judge. I struggle with this idea. I am not saying you should not go to the post, or to judge, in good clean clothes, it is the polite thing to do. I am saying though, that style is not the true sign of respect.

What is respect then if not doing the polite thing? Respect is not doing the polite thing it is doing the right thing. It is being honest with all you are dealing with.

Honesty does not always make everyone happy but it is not about that. It is about being correct, fair, and kind. This does sometimes involve politeness. However, if politeness is placed above honesty it is in fact disrespect, the exact opposite of the intention of the gesture.

To be respectful at a trial we go ready to trial. We do not waiste the time of the contestants, judge or crew. It involves being clean and tidy but not specific style (unless there is a dress code, which for me is a tangent I should not sound off on at this time). We are ready to run when our time comes. When the setters have the stock ready we do not putz around, we get to it. We do not talk down to, or about, judge crew or other contestants. We do not look for special favors. Then there is respect during the run itself; which involves the added elements of the dog and the livestock.

To be respectful to the stock it is as simple as not putting someones ideas ahead of good work. Don’t run your stock around needlessly in an effort to please someone if you do not feel it is good work. Be fair and honest to the stock.

We respect the dog by not asking things it is not ready for then being upset at it for not being able to do it. This also implies the opposite as well. That we hold the dog to the standard of excellence they are capable of. As soon as we lower the standard of work the dog is capable of we step into the realm of disrespect.

By accepting this lower standard we, in a way, are telling the dog we do not believe in its abilities. We are telling the judge we do not care about showing our best to them. The contestants, crew, and host get that we do not value their time.

By being respectful at trials (and in our stock dog work) we will affect a raise in the quality the work. This equates to a raise in the level of competition. As the competition gets stiffer we all benefit. The livestock benefit by being worked in the most efficient manner. The dog benefits because as we seek a higher level of work we will not get there by force so we learn to work better with them. The higher level of competition will make us stretch and grow as sports-persons and competitors, making the enjoyment of watching good dog work so much more enjoyable.

So lets all go to the trial with an air of respect not just empty gestures that we pass off as respect. It will make the trialing experience better for all involved.

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