Judge Dread

Judge Dread video

Another Judge Dread video

A little bit of trivia….many many years ago I was a USDAA agility judge. Being an agility judge is not an easy task if you are a perfectionist. First, it is tough to stand out there all day and be *sure* that you make all of the correct calls. I would lose sleep at night worrying whether I had cost someone a qualifying score because of judgment error. I always gave it to the dog if I had any doubt. I took get pride in running my rings efficiently and designed nested courses etc. to be sure no time was wasted.
However, I did find it tough to design courses with challenge that was appropriate for the level of the class. Stuart Mah and I taught a correspondence course in course design (sort of like an online course but we did it via snail mail back in the old days ). I was fairly accomplished at course design. However, every once in a while I would miss the mark a bit. On my first Masters assignment, I tried dream up challenges that were different and fresh (it wasn’t hard to do that in those days). I guess I was a bit too innovative; at the end of the first day my arms were sore from raising them so many times to signal faults :( Obviously it was a bummer for me to see so many people fail, and indeed it was a reflection on myself as a judge and course designer. While I was successful in my endeavor to be creative and challenge the competitors with sequences they had not encountered before; I failed to consider that perhaps many of them would not yet be prepared for those challenges. Lesson learned. I used that experience to try to help others by publishing the sequences that were the most difficult in Clean Run. I called it “Judge Dread” as I knew that those handlers that weekend must’ve dreaded my courses :)
Realizing that it was impossible to be a perfect judge probably contributed to why I retired from judging. But, since I’m posting about judging, I will tell the story of the nail in the coffin. At one trial I wanted to be an efficient judge and keep the trial running smoothly as usual, but I was getting no cooperation from the club. It was basically a mutiny….they were intentionally not helping. I consulted the other judge and it was not happening in her ring. I found out at some point that this behavior was some sort of payback for causing delays (which I didn’t even know I caused) when I was a competitor at their trial months earlier. Suffice it to say that this club successfully convinced me that judging was not for me. Those that ran some of my courses may think that’s a good thing :)
I like to think that I could have had a positive influence on the sport as a judge. But, we will never know.
Perhaps someone has some old Clean Runs that have some of the courses in them to share?

Leave a Reply