On Last Week’s Episode…
60% of football fans who emailed me this past week were disappointed with the outcome of the Super Bowl, as they were supporting the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-35 in an epic game that I found highly entertaining!
The game ended with the Chiefs controlling the ball and kicking the game winning field goal after the Eagles committed a holding penalty. Some viewers (mostly Eagles fans) felt the holding penalty should not have been called, and that “the players should decide the game, not the refs.” Of course, a player DID decide the game, and the guilty party, Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, admitted after the game that he had illegally held the Chiefs receiver (watch the penalty). “I pulled on his jersey. They called it. I was hoping they would let it ride,” said Bradberry.
I respect him for saying that, and I respect his teammates for saying that he was not responsible for the team’s loss. There were any number of other plays that had a similar or even greater impact on the outcome. Game officials also noted that the call was routine, obvious, and noncontroversial. From my perspective, it makes no sense to suddenly stop enforcing rules that you would enforce at any other point in the game.
In thinking of a parallel to dog agility, I considered the teeter. The most common fault associated with the teeter is the fly-off, when the dog’s feet lose contact with the board before the board hits the ground. At many big events, I have noticed that the teeter will be judged more tightly in the preliminary rounds, similar to local trials. However, some judges are quite forgiving in the finals, especially in Europe. I’ve seen both national and world championships won and lost on teeter calls. I speculate that one of the reasons fly-offs continue to be an issue with even very high level dogs is that inconsistent judging persists. Competitors will always push for an advantage, whether it’s in dog agility, or at the Super Bowl.
Good Surfaces for Football and Agility
For those who watched the Super Bowl, you may have noticed some slipping by the players. Although the surface was actually grass that was grown and cost over $800,000 dollars and was maintained by a well-reputed groundskeeper and crew, players on both sides complained about the surface. The trade off here lies with the potential for injuries, as several studies have shown that artificial turf may be responsible for a higher rate of catastrophic injuries like ACL tears compared to natural grass. I’d rather slip than tear my knee.
Agility competitors have long been attentive to the surfaces that our dogs run on. Grass, dirt, turf—we run on them all and everyone has their favorite surface. Today, most competitors favor some version of artificial turf. Interestingly, for large multi-ring competitions like AKC Nationals, organizations are forced to go to dirt or grass in order to accommodate the large numbers of dogs. If you’re attending a big event on dirt and you typically run on turf, I think it’s worth the effort to enter at least one trial on a similar dirt surface to give you and your dog some experience. Your timing will be different, as on dirt, the handler will typically be slower and less mobile than on turf. There may be moves that you often execute but simply won’t be able to do on dirt.
A few minutes into Rihanna’s Halftime Show, I turned to Sarah and said, “I think Rihanna’s pregnant.” That was probably a minute after millions of women said the exact same thing, along with everyone on Twitter. I’ve seen halftime performances that I enjoyed more (Shakira and Jennifer Lopez), but I’ll remember this one for a long time because she stood on a floating stage suspended by cables, high above the field—pregnant. My hands started sweating even as I realized that she was also attached to a safety cable in case something went horribly wrong. Immediately after the game, Rihanna was confirmed to be pregnant, effectively making the halftime show the most highly viewed baby announcement in history, without Rihanna ever making an actual announcement.
It was yesterday. I was still sick from last week. I’m still sick now. I’m ready to be well again. Maybe Sarah and I can have a date night in a few weeks. Did you know that in 2021, Americans spent over $2 billion on gifts for their dogs and cats on Valentine’s Day?
A few weeks ago, I asked you about jump cup safety. Barb Davis, a long-time agility competitor and AKC National Agility Champion, reached out and shared the Dog Agility Safety Checklist that she created shortly after her young Border-Whippet was injured at an agility trial in December (he’s fine). With Barb’s permission, we have uploaded the file HERE (updated 3/11/23) so you can view and/or print it for your own use.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments and questions.