Posted Date: October 6, 2011
Deborah Davidson Harpur chats with another of our 2011 Cynosport World Games judges.
Name: Evelyn Robertson
Hometown: Seattle, Washington, in the upper left hand corner of the map.
Years active in agility: 15
Occupation: Small animal veterinarian, in general practice, working on dogs and cats. I used to own the practice that I work at, but I sold it to an associate almost two years ago and have cut back to two or three days a week.
What breeds of dogs do you currently have and do they compete in agility?
I started agility with my Australian Shepherds. Currently I have two Border Collies. Ren is 10 years old and moving from Championship to Performance. She is moderately fast and very consistent, and has multiple championships in four different agility organizations. Velo is two and a half and we are working hard to become a team. He is very athletic and responsive, and will be awesome once we come together.
Have you ever participated in the Cynosport games as a competitor?
I attended the years that the event was held at Del Mar and Scottsdale, and really enjoyed being able to compete there. I don't know if that will help me in judging as I haven't judged for Cynosport before, but I did learn that walking all the courses for the day in the morning and running them hours later is not that hard. Just mark your map (if needed) and watch some runs in your ring before you run to refresh your memory.
Are you doing anything in particular to prepare for judging this year's Games?
I take any opportunity to observe and learn from other judges, and I am lucky in that I get to play with my dogs at USDAA trials in the two weekends before Cynosport, which should help me get into the right frame of mind.
Do you find that designing courses for Cynosport is different than designing courses for a trial for a local or regional event?
The approach for designing was pretty much the same, except that at some point you realize that other people will be judging your course. I found the course review process very helpful, as usual. The main difference is that there is an extra level of review, and I expect there may be some further changes in order to present a varied-but-consistent and balanced set of courses.
How would you describe your style of course design?
My goal is to have courses that are fun, challenging, flowing, and maybe just a teeny bit wicked. And I mean that in the nicest way....
If you could invent a new game to be played at Cynosport, what would it be and how would it be played?
Well, it's not really new to anybody from my area, but I would pattern it on a local tradition here in the Northwest, Fido Follies. It's a three dog and three handler relay. Each year has a different theme, which provides the basis for the course. The dogs and the handlers all have tasks to do, and there is a lot of risk/reward strategizing. Creative cheating and bribing of the judge is strongly encouraged. They won't help you win, but they are still strongly encouraged. And there is a costume contest as well. It is big fun and surprisingly competitive, especially the costume contest, which of course is not limited to the people. It's pretty amazing what our dogs will put up with!
What advice can you share with competitors who hope to come through with a clean run on one of your courses?
It's all about timing; just don't take anything for granted. Nothing new there, we probably experience that every weekend that we trial, and I certainly get reminded of that every week in class!
Deborah Davidson Harpur has been competing in agility since 1998. She currently handles 16 dogs of various breeds including Rat Terriers, All Americans, French Bull Dogs, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a Shetland Sheepdog, a Border Collie and more. She enjoys competing in USDAA agility and is the proud mom of USDAA roving reporter Rickie Roo. Her dogs are all proud canine ambassadors for the Active Care line of dog food by Breeder's Choice and for ilovedogs.com, tj.la, and ilovedogsdiamonds.com. You can learn more about Deborah and her dogs at pm2dogagility.com.
Photo courtesy of Joe Camp.