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An International Perspective on the Championships

On-site coverage of the 2005 USDAA agility championships provided by Clean Run.


By Brenna Fender

The USDAA is honored to have Hisato Tanabe as one of the judges at this year's World Cynosport Games. Tanabe hails from Fukuoka, Japan, and has been judging for eight years. Through his interpreter, Tanabe responded to a few questions about the upcoming event.

What skills are you looking for exhibitors to use when you design courses for events like this one?

USDAA Grand Prix is the best and highest leveled competition in the world. It is very nice to be on the beautiful turf they provide every year. Because everyone in Agility activities is concerned about this event as one of the biggest World competitions, the courses must be of the type to send the right message to them.

My philosophy for dog agility is that it must be enjoyable for dogs, and a challenge for handlers but one that will enhance their dog's speed potential during their performance. I also feel that the dogs should never feel any stress on their body. I've seen some courses in other World level competitions and the feature of those courses were that there were a few tight-cornering maneuvers which could possibly damage a dog's body during their speed performance. Handlers needed to control their dog by reducing speed in order not to make their dogs feel uncomfortable at those cornering maneuvers.

Compared to other world courses, USDAA courses would never be stressful for dogs and the handlers while still requiring technical handling skills. I find that USDAA courses are still enjoyable. That is the part I mostly focused on and tried to accomplish. So, when I was given this opportunity to design courses, I told myself to keep the fundamental thoughts in USDAA history, and designed those courses to maximize speed performance without causing stress on dogs' body while making them enjoyable.

How do you expect this event to compare with those held in Japan?

Every year, I see much progress in US competitors, thereby making it more and more difficult to be a qualifier for this event. Following this event [each year], I always report what I saw, and try to have Japanese competitors catch up to keep the same competitive level. I am always amazed by US competitors who well understand where they need to be at what time, despite the fact there so many agility rings going on at the same time [reference to competing in multiple rings concurrently]. Also, the event is well organized with very limited staff. When the event is moving into the Finals, it is such an exciting moment. It's good to see when competitors are having fun and enjoying being a part of this event instead of just seeking the winnings. We (Japanese competitors) need to study on those, in my opinion.

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