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Friday, June 18, 2010

Tweet!!! Dear Handler, Your Dog is Lame...

While running an agility course, it's discombobulating to hear the judge whistle you. You've got a plan, you're thinking about the course, you're directing your dog and by golly you can't help but think 'Why in the world is the judge interrupting me with that darned whistle?!'

Mentally you're thinking:
* Am I running the right course...check.
* Did my dog hit that last contact...check.
* I didn't start before the timer said okay...check.
* What the heck...?

Physically, adrenalin is coursing through your veins and you are in overdrive. So when the judge says 'Your dog is lame...' understanding exactly what that means may not process right away.

Things Handlers Have Said - Here are some real conversations (and possibly a lesson on what not to say) that have occurred after having whistled and informed handlers their dog was lame (H - handler, J - judge).

H: "No, he's not!"
J: "Really, he is. I would suggest checking the rear right paw"
H: "He's not lame!"
J: "I'm just sharing..."
Note: turned out the dog had a burr burrowed between its' pads. The handler did come and thank me later.

H: "No! Do we really have to stop my run?"
J: "Yes! Your dog is lame and I'm just looking out for them"
H: "I know...I just wanted to finish running the course."

H: "Oh he's not in pain." and the handler takes the next jump, turns to judge and says "I'll explain later"
J: More whistles and an interception mission begins

H: "He just has a cut on his pad"
J: "Well, that explains why he's lame. It must be bothering him because he's limping"
H: "But the cut doesn't bother him all the time"
J: "Looks like he needs a little more rest and healing time"

H: "But that would have been my title!"
J: Speechless


What Is Lame - For the heck of it, I looked up the definition of lame at
1) crippled or physically disabled, esp. in the foot or leg so as to limp or walk with difficulty. 
2) impaired or disabled through defect or injury: a lame arm.

With a definition that hints or implies a lifetime stigma, no wonder people seem to immediately jump to denial!

A Better Definition of Lame - So I kept up my search and found what I feel is a more appropriate definition from the Longman Dictionary Online:  1) unable to walk properly because your leg or foot is injured or weaka lame dog

What a Judge Means When They Say Lame - What I'd like to encourage handlers to think is that when a judge says "Your dog is lame", they're not making a medical diagnosis or saying that a dog is forever crippled. Instead, they are sharing that in that moment of time, there is an issue that is preventing the dog from having a normal gait. Remember, we can only go by what we see and if a dog looks lame (doesn't have a normal gait), we must error on the conservative side (i.e. what is best for the dog) we must whistle and excuse the dog from the ring.

What Should You Do - When whistled and told that a dog is lame, in most cases you should:
* Stop - Immediately and look at your dog.
* Think - To hell with the run!
* Ask - What was he/she doing (i.e. limping, holding a leg up, etc.).
* Decide - Do I pick-up my dog or let them walk off the course.
* Investigate - Go back to your setup and thoroughly check your dog out
* Plan - What the next steps will be, keeping in mind what is best for your dog.

Final Words of Wisdom - Remember, we care about the well-being of your dog. While it certainly can be disappointing to be unable to finish a run, your dog's safety and well-being is our first priority.

1 comment:

  1. LMAO "I'll Explain Later"! Now thats a hoot...oh wait. I was there for that one LOL