Posted Date: January 5, 2009
Judge Diane Carson provides an overview of her recent trip to judge at one of USDAA's growing number of clubs in Mexico.
I recently had the opportunity to judge the first USDAA trial put on by Club COAT in Puebla, Mexico. Puebla is one of the older cities in Mexico and I was fortunate enough to be able to go a couple of days early and do some sightseeing.
I was met at the Mexico City airport by club members Roberto Martinez and Miriam Sanchez Alvarez. We took about an hour and a half drive to Puebla. Roberto and Miriam were wonderful tour guides. There are many elaborate and beautiful churches in Puebla. The main cathedral is said to have had its bells put in place by angels. We walked all over the city. There is one street that has more candy shops on it than I have ever seen in my life! There is also a wonderful market place that has native crafts and goods for sale. Puebla is known for its beautiful Talavera ceramics and it shows up on everything from tiles to dishes.
On Friday, club member and trial secretary Adriana Aguirre picked me up at my hotel in downtown Puebla and we set out for a smaller town called Cholula. We went to the top of a pyramid, built by one of the ancient cultures. It now has a Catholic church on the top of it! There was a parade going on to honor a local saint, a band played, and firecrackers kept going off. We ate lunch in the beautiful town square of Cholula.
|Looking down on Cholula from a nearby Pyramid.|
Then the work for the show began; play time was over. Adriana and I stopped to pick up some equipment from the home of a club member. We unloaded the equipment at the show site, the Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla, a local university. Many different club members brought pieces of equipment to the show site in their own cars since the club does not have a trailer. The club was lucky to have use of the American football field at the university, which had the additional benefit of being completely fenced. It is very hard to find open grassy space appropriate to hold an event.
The event was held in conjunction with a pet fair. Club members try to promote responsible pet ownership and show that you can do fun things with your dogs, not just leave them tied up outside. Several members mentioned that this attitude is a real problem in Mexico.
For a first event, there were relatively few problems. We had a little bit of miscommunication about how to build courses; there was no center line tape until the second judge arrived with his. We also had a bit of miscommunication about electronic timing, so a couple of the start lines had to be adjusted.
On Saturday, the show was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. I had lots of dogs to measure before we could begin and there were the normal delays of getting started. I judged the Starters and Masters classes and Francisco Berjon judged the Advanced classes. He also served as chief course builder and translator. I was very lucky that Francisco was a good translator. Can you imagine trying to explain Snooker when you don't even speak the same language? His wife Barbara was also kind enough to help me by translating during measuring.
I was impressed by the quality of the dogs showing, especially with this being the first USDAA trial in the area. Mexico has a fairly large group of USDAA supporters and there was a good turnout from other areas. The Mexicans have been sending competitors to the Cynosport World Games for several years. Competitors also work to educate themselves on the sport; One told me that he loves to attend seminars because there is so much to learn. He likes to watch his fellow competitors since he can always learn at least one thing from each person. There were 60 dogs entered in this one-ring trial and it was great to see the competitors be so supportive of each other.
Since the trial was held in conjunction with the pet fair, there were many spectators - at least 100 at some points. The crowd was very enthusiastic, cheering loudly for each competitor and sometimes laughing along with them when something didn't quite go as planned.
There was a nice variety of dogs represented. Of course there were Border Collies and Shelties, but there was also an unusual number of Miniature Schnauzers. Several Poodles also showed and there were a good number of Belgian Malinois as well.
Overall, the show went very well and I think the competitors enjoyed the experience. The 15 active members of Club COAT worked very hard to bring the show together and hope to pick up a few new members due to the public exposure generated by their show. They did a great job of pre-show publicity; they had an ad in a local magazine and even had a billboard near the university advertising the event. They are committed to growing support for USDAA in Mexico. Let's all wish them much success!
Club COAT members after their successful event.
Diane Carson has been involved in agility for 16 years, partnering with Sammie, LAA Platinum (only the second dog to achieve this title), Cady, LAA Gold, and Jenna, LAA Platinum. Diane lives in Parker, Texas with her husband Pat and children Lizzie and Sean. She trains and teaches at Dallas Dog Sports with Patty Drom and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos courtesy of Diane Carson.