We all know them if we are at all involved with the Protection or Biting sports. They are recognized by the scratched, and sometimes flayed arms and legs. Bruises that resemble summer storm clouds in Florida often adorn those same appendages, while expanding onto center body mass. There also lie bruised or even broken ribs.
But this bunch of crazy guys also seem to sport the biggest smiles of anyone on the dog sports fields from Dusseldorf to San Francisco, from Quebec to Budapest, and a hundred clubs in between. Some of them achieve minor fame among the participants, while others ply their craft for local clubs only. Content to see dogs they know earn titles, confidence, or just have a good time. Whether you call them Decoys, Helpers, or willing victims, we need them all. If not for them, our clubs become nothing more than what Dean Calderon calls, “Mr.Bills Heeling Club”.
For the better part of 6 months, I have been writing and developing a project that I call,(for now at least) The Art of The Decoy. Interviewing and learning about some of the best decoys of Schutzhund, Ring sports, SDA, PSA, and Mondio both past and present. It’s an exciting, revealing project, and I can’t wait to tame the beast and put it out on the blog, and hopefully as a book.
During this process, I asked myself the question: Who are the Top 25 Decoy/Helpers of all time?
All I learned is that THIS question will cause more fights than the insipid Purely Positive versus Cesar Millan disciples wars. That is hardly my goal.
So I changed tacks, and now I’m not taking sides or making a neat least of the Top 25 anythings. I’m going to let you, the reader, make your own conclusions. Hopefully you can glean something of value from ALL the people I’ve befriended and admired and written about. But thats still on the horizon…
This post wants to pose a question to all of the various organizations that certify, govern, and otherwise take charge of decoy/helpers the world over. Why Don’t Our Decoys/Helpers get recognition for their hard work?
I know that the most righteous among us always say, “It’s about the Dogs!” And that’s great. But lets face it, without the Helpers/Decoys. we don’t have dogs that do Protection. They heel, track, and obey, but they don’t bite. I can’t see evidence that our decoy/helpers ever get paid for their work, except perhaps gas money, and the occasional hot lunch when we are especially appreciative as clubs. These fine gentlemen usually bear the brunt of hotel rooms, campgrounds, and other sundry expenses themselves. Shouldn’t they be in line for some sort of reward? At least some recognition beyond, “Geez that dog obliterated that guy!!! What was his name?
So, with all due respect and devotion, listen up NARA, ARF, DVG America, USC of A, SDA, PSA, WDC, and whatever other alphabet soup of organizations out there…
Let”s Find a way to reward and recognize the members of this brave and bloodied fraternity!
Now the question remains: How to do it properly, without over complicating things. It seems to this writer that we should start with the BIG PICTURE. Keep It Simple Stupid, if you will. Instead of starting out with scoresheets and rule books full of minutiae, how about we start with these categories:
1) Crowd Favorite Decoy. – A ballot could be filled out by everyone attending, with room for reasons for the nomination. Your reason can be anything you want, including looking good in a
bitesuit. No ballot box stuffing though, as it’s One Vote per person.
2) Judges Favorite Decoy – All qualified Judges in attendance, working or not, will have a vote. Your reasons should include some bit of technical reasoning for the vote.
3) Certified Decoys Favorite.- Certified decoys from any bitesport in attendance will have a vote, which should be replete with reasons for your vote.
4) Competitiors Favorite- These are the people best being served by the decoy/helpers. Certainly you can come up with reasons to appreciate the guys in the puffy suits!
Recognizing our hard-working decoy/helpers is long overdue. This small token of esteem in the form of a rosette, plaque, or medal won’t be nearly enough, but it’s better than most competitions are doing now! As this develops, more details can be added for form, technique, fairness, and style.
The WDC Championship is very close at hand now, and it’s probably too late to do anything at that level. But there are events all summer long that we will all go to and enjoy. So, event coordinators, give this some thought. There are many other possibilities that can develop along this line that will help our sport grow, and maybe even catch the attention of a spectating audience, and perhaps even press coverage. I’d love to see ESPN’s Saturday Night Bites on the programming schedule someday. For the love of all that’s good, they televise Poker Tournaments don’t they???