Volunteer Sign Up

Every premium for trial entry will typically include a page for you to sign up… to volunteer to help make the trial run smoothly and quickly. And the page will typically entice you with the promise of a free lunch… or $2.00 off your next trial entry.

When I work I usually try to be a course builder. It’s something I’m pretty good at, and it doesn’t really have any demands on my time during the conduct of the class. But if it’s a one ring trial I don’t have any problem with volunteering to do something that will absolutely numb your brain, like scribing or timing.

I come from a culture in which it was inconceivable that a lot of people would sit on their hands while a few people did all the work.

A well run trial is a great delight. Everything runs along smoothly, and you get out of there at a reasonable hour. There’s only one way that can happen… when just about everyone jumps in to do some small part.

There is a list of reasons that people won’t work at trials. Each probably demands some discussion.

You are supporting the club with your entry fees: The club is making a lot of money; they should pay for trial workers

This sometimes might be true, but not usually. The cost of putting on a trial can be incredible. The host club takes all the risks, bringing in the judge, providing equipment and the maintenance of that equipment, renting a trial site, putting up tents, renting portable toilets, feeding their volunteers.

You’re a guru… and doing any kind of volunteer work is beneath you

Nearly as often as not you’ll see classy conduct and hard work from agility hot shots. Unfortunately there are some that just aren’t very good role models. Often enough their students and associates adopt the same slothful habits as though they were virtues worthy to be emulated.

The host club / judge / other exhibitors abuse volunteers

It’s not really smart, but it happens. I could share a bunch of anecdotal stories about how volunteers get abused, mistreated, and disrespected. But I won’t. There is no better way to lose good workers who are truly the backbone of this sport, than to treat them poorly.

You’re running multiple dogs and there is no real time to volunteer for anything

This is a pretty good excuse. The exhibitor with several dogs really is giving pretty good financial support to the host club. But even this exhibitor could help by getting involved with setting up the trial site; or tearing it down.

You don’t know how to scribe / keep time / course build

Most clubs would be thrilled to give you the crash course to help you learn one of the key roles for making dog agility competition happen. And, don’t forget the free lunch.

What’s Your Excuse?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. Be sure to check out my distance training series: The Jokers Notebook; an (inexpensive) elaboration and improvement on the work I did in Go the Distance.

6 Responses to “Volunteer Sign Up”

  1. Adrienne Says:

    When I was starting with Emma and she still required a *lot* of management (dog reactive) I was unable to help mid show. But I almost *always stayed late to help with end of the day break down, trying not to leave until everything a volunteer could do was done.

    Thankfully now I am able to help a lot more mid-show.

    Did you know that in Minnesota there are many folks that come to show *just* to volunteer? They are not even running dogs!

  2. wanda usher Says:

    When the economy tanked, our club downsized to one ring shows. We love them. So, now instead of hosting two multiple ring events per year, we are doing seven one ring shows. We have them at our training field and we can setup for a show in 30 minutes. We are very nice people and we invite everyone to eat our food and work at our show. You will never have a conflict, and you just might learn something. The starters folks get to watch the masters dogs run and they learn the importance of all those things like a contact criteria. The masters people watch the starters dogs and they have flashbacks of their ADCH dog leaving the ring to go and chase a bird. Everyone kind of knows that if you come to our show, you are expected to volunteer and if you don’t then shame on you. People do take notice and generally it is a non club member that will tell me a person is not helping, but they are eating our food. (Too funny) You judged for us last year and I think you will recall that we had lots of great experienced help and on the job training for those who needed it. Thanks, Wanda at Low Country

  3. Linda Says:

    Our club–Blue Ridge Agility Club, in Western NC–has an outstanding reputation for not only putting on great trials but for having fantastic volunteers. It’s the volunteers who help trials run smoothly. The club has close bonds with other clubs in the NC, SC, GA, TN, & VA trial circuit. We all provide volunteers at one another’s trials. It’s just what you do when you are a part of an agility community! And our members who have puppies in training or who are no longer competing are always there to help out–from bar setting to chairing the trial!

  4. Judy Casserberg Says:

    The multiple dog excuse doesn’t work here, Our secretary and chairman run multiple dogs. We actually have 99.9% volunteer involvement at our trials. We only have one person who never does a thing Why? we don’t know and don’t ask but figure that someday she too will learn that trials don’t happen without volunteers. I just wish that we could afford to afford to compensate our volunteers more but we are new, still paying for equipment etc and they seem to understand that.

  5. Karen Says:

    Well said! Thanks. Volunteers are what makes trials work and run smoothly. There’s something everyone can do, as you say, even if it’s before or after the trial. I only hope that my club appreciates each and every volunteer so they’ll keep helping our little band of agility-crazed folks put on trials. We definitely aren’t in it for the $$, just for the fun!

  6. Jan Says:

    Amen. and I always enjoy your blog.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: