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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Agility Judging & Who Our Customers Are

As an AKC Agility Judge, I have the pleasure of traveling around the country and judging dogs of all shapes and sizes. Since I've been doing this for a decade now, I took a moment to share some of my thoughts on the AKC Judge's List. Here they are:

Over the last several years, I've heard and seen quite a few "stories" from judges that made me proud to be a part of this group. I've also heard a few that had me shaking my head in disbelief too.
I know I'm from the old school where I see judging as a profession while others see judging as a hobby - that's okay. I think that we can all agree that the impact we have on a trial can either ease or add to the stress of those volunteers/clubs putting on the show. With that said, I would like to encourage all of us to take a moment to remember who our customers are (the one's who pay our fees, expenses & compensate us for our time) and that would be not only the exhibitors, but also the Club.
One example is that like it or not, we find ourselves in the role of helping Clubs keep costs down. Some of the things we can do is:
  • Make our air reservations in a timely fashion. Presenting the club with a $1,200 airfare bill for a flight within the US is generally over the top (even for today's standards).
  • Be realistic on rental cars. Sure you may drive a $45,000+ vehicle at home, but you can find reasonable cars/prices without having to revert to a Geo Metro. Folks, a $500 car rental bill for a 3 or 4-day show is excessive (unless it's Hawaii or Alaska which can reach the $175 a day range).
Also, Club members/volunteers are not our servants. Sure, they kindly help us out to keep the show going and most of us are very appreciative of the little things (like when they have lunch at our table at a specific time, get snacks we like, etc.), however, unless it's specifically written in your contract, all "extras" are above and beyond the call of duty. If your lunch or soda doesn't show up at exactly the time you specified or if your empty hotel-provided papercup ends up in the garbage by 2:00 p.m. - don't yell at those kind folks around you. Also, those putting on events are not our chauffers, laundry maidens, tourist guides or other service providers like we might expect on a personal vacation. Again, if they provide these items to you and it's not in your contract, it's an EXTRA, not a right. Lot's of people/clubs, love to do this and I've had some of the best times/experiences thanks to them. Rather, I'm talking about the expectation that this type of item be provided when the Club/volunteer hadn't planned on it or worse yet, volunteer it.
I truly believe the vast majority of us are reading this and thinking "Dah!" but I did want to throw it out there as a reminder.

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