Posted Date: September 28, 2010
One of the 2010 Cynosport World Games judges talks agility with Deborah Davidson Harpur.
Name: David Bozak
Hometown: Oswego, New York
Years active in agility: 12
Deborah Davidson Harpur (DDH): Have you judged for the Cynosport Games in the past?
David Bozak (DB): No, this will be my first time at the Cynosport Games.
DDH: What classes are you judging at the Games?
DB: European Standard, Team Gamblers, Performance Grand Prix, Team Snooker, Grand Prix, Junior Handler Showcase, Performance Speed Jumping, Veterans Showcase, and Rekoons.
DDH: Are you doing anything in particular to prepare for judging the Games?
DB: No, I'm just trying to stay healthy and rested so I can enjoy watching (and keeping up with!) the great dogs that will compete in Louisville.
DDH: Do you find that designing courses for cynosport is different than designing courses for a trial for a local or regional event?
DB: No, not really too different. But I included something special in each course.
DDH: What breeds of dogs do you currently have and do they compete in agility?
DB: My wife Esther and I have four rescues: three Border Collies and a miniature American Eskimo. Our oldest BC, Jemma, has just retired at 13 years. Ryder, our youngest, is a six-month-old BC who has just started his first agility class. The middle BC, Chad, doesnt compete, though he enjoys agility. Pearl, the Eskie, is the only dog competing at this time.
DDH: Why did you become an USDAA judge?
DB: I see judging as a way of contributing back to the sport of agility and to satisfy a desire to see how others play the game across the country. It has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know folks and to learn how others approach the sport outside of the area of the country where I compete. In addition, agility has been a great family activity, a way that Esther and I can bond with the dogs and travel together.
DDH: What do you think are the qualities that make a good agility judge?
DB: A sense of humor! A judge has professional obligations to be fair and consistent, and to understand the rules and apply them appropriately. But you have to enjoy what you are doing (or why do it?), so I appreciate judges who clearly enjoy seeing the dogs succeed and treats the dogs, handlers, and volunteers with respect.
DDH: What is the biggest challenge in judging that you have experienced?
DB: Trying not to get run over by handlers or tripping over obstacles during Gamblers!
DDH: In terms of judging generally, not just at the Cynosport games, what do you see as the role of the judge in terms of our sport?
DB: We promote the sport by our professionalism, by doing what we can to ensure the trial runs smoothly, and by encouraging those new to the sport with fun courses and good will.
DDH: How would you describe your style of course design?
DB: Jemma was born in our local animal shelter. As a result she craves novelty over everything else and her favorite courses were those with unexpected challenges. Those are my favorite courses as well, so I try to create flowing courses with a surprise here and there that keeps the dog (and handler) on their toes.
DDH: What advice can you share with competitors who hope to come through with a clean run on one of your courses?
DB: Relax, have fun, and stay connected with your canine partner. Enjoy the experience.
DDH: What do you enjoy most about USDAA agility?
DB: I've always enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at USDAA trials, where top handlers encourage the newbies and where we all compete on the same courses. Oh, and of course Snooker is the most fun you can have with your canine friend!
Deborah Davidson Harpur has been active in dog agility since 1998. Before that she raced karts, was a nationally ranked driver, and was a writer/editor of Karter News Magazine, a national publication. Since her move from racing on the track to running different breeds of dogs on the agility course, she and her dogs have really embraced all that agility offers. More about her team at www.pm2dogagility.com.
Photo courtesy of Barry Rosen.