09 June 2011

Press Release from WAO

When we first announced this event in August 2010, the WAO organizing committee made a
commitment that we would review the jump heights and the jump height cut-offs immediately
after the first event. We also said that we would continue to review them each year, and we
would tweak them as we thought necessary to get the fairest and most competitive four
divisions. We want to be flexible enough that we can take what we learn from each event and
make changes to make the next year even better. Competitors should be aware of this going
forward and anticipate that some rule changes may occur immediately after each WAO and be
effective for the following year.
Our goal in defining the jump heights and cutoffs is to look at agility from a worldwide
perspective and not with a bias toward any one country. And it’s not just about looking at how
high dogs have to jump, it’s about evaluating the range of competition within each jump
height division—in each division, you will have dogs that measure at the very bottom of the
cut-off range and dogs that measure at the upper end of the range. We believe that the changes
we put forward are good ones when looking at the sport as a whole, from an international
perspective. Dogs measuring 411mm competing against dogs measuring 499mm (dogs that
normally compete internationally at 650mm) was not fair. But we think that dogs measuring
411-440mm can be competitive against dogs up to 485mm if they are jumping 525mm. We
have also seen 486mm dogs proven that they are extremely competitive at 650, both
nationally and internationally.
We have made an error, but it’s not with our proposal itself. In our excitement with how well
the first event went, we responded too quickly to requests that we allow all three medal
winners to return to defend their titles in 2012. When we decided to make that announcement,
none of us considered that we were going to be reviewing the jump heights the following
week, and any changes we made then might impact these medalists. It was an oversight for
which we apologize. From a customer service perspective, we don’t think it’s fair to penalize
these medalists. With that in mind, we have decided to wait until after the 2012 event to make
a height cut-off change in what was the 550 division. The jump height itself, however, will
change to 525mm for the 2012 event. We still want to provide a fairer jump height for dogs
measuring over 411-440mm in the hope that these dogs will attend the event in 2012.
The changes to the jump height cut-offs for the 300 and 400mm divisions will be in effect for
the 2012 event since these do not adversely impact any returning medalist—while a returning
300mm or 400mm dog may measure down into a lower height because of the cut-off changes,
the dog has the option of running at the same height as in 2011. At the WAO, dogs are always
allowed to jump at a higher height than what they measure into. It’s only the returning 550mm
champions that present a problem. So returning 550mm medalists may choose to return as a
wildcard in their event in either the 525mm division or the 650mm division.
We also want to make all competitors aware that dogs measured at the 2011 WAO will not
need to be measured again if they return in 2012 or a subsequent year. This should eliminate
concerns for people who have dogs that are on the borderline of a jump height cutoff; you
don’t have to worry about someone getting a different measurement for your dog each year.


Here's what I get from that release: "OK, we messed up in inviting you back, but since we already did it, we'll allow you jump your comparable height. But we're still right darn it!"

I still strongly disagree. Yeah, sure, you give 17" dogs a chance at winning. And how many of those are there? And if those dogs aren't willing to compete against my dog at 21.6", implying that their dog is not as fast, then how is jumping 1" lower going to make them as fast? Whether I'm in the height or not, I hate to see any category become slower and less competitive overall, because it has been narrowed so much. And I absolutely believe that's what will happen in 2013. And now you have dogs who are 19.25" competing against 22" tall malinois and BC's. THAT's not fair because these 19.25" dogs are also jumping MUCH higher than their shoulder. 6.75" over their shoulder is a lot. As I mentioned previously, sure, a few dogs of such height can do well at 26", although in my experience they usually have shorter careers. How many 10 year old dogs did you see at FCI jumping 26"? I'll tell you because it was Strafe's great-grandmother - ONE! How many 10 year old dogs could jump 22"? Probably a lot more. Drifter is 8, another medalist was 9, these dogs have CHOSEN the WAO because they liked the idea of a competition where they are not forced to jump jumps that are so large that half the challenge or more is simply keeping the bars up (and keeping the dog uninjured). I have thought for years that FCI would be better served by splitting into 4 jump heights, as it really is patently ridiculous to lump all dogs 17" and up into the 26"/650mm height. It's basically saying "All BC's should run together". WAO is trying to accomplish fairness with 4 heights, but instead they are saying "the 17" dog is special" which makes no sense, because last time I looked around, there were a lot more 19" dogs than 17" dogs competing at the high levels of competition. Why cater to one subset? Now you've made a much larger subset unhappy with the level of THEIR competition, over larger jumps, and against larger dogs.

OK, well, anyway. I mentioned to a friend, I actually strongly believe Drifter won't be attending either way because I am still seeing some odd behaviors on his dogwalk, which was so reliable the last few years that a change now seems odd, and I am thinking it is related to his toes getting sore. He has a bad toe that doesn't work anymore, and now with the heart murmur and getting older, I think doing contacts might bother his toes. They got quite sore after our practices in England where we did quite a few dogwalks to get uesd to the height, and so I am thinking our career is limited now, we will finish our MACH2, probably go to KY, and be done. But do I want to bring a different dog to WAO when they so clearly have a strange agenda in their heads, charging about changing things willy-nilly every year depending on who complained the most? I think EO and FCI need a 4th jump height, but at least they are consistent with what they have.

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