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PD- my views 1 year 5 months ago #135

  • Mick
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I write in response to Wendy Beasley’s article.

I would disagree with her assertion that PD is broken. The Championship, Open and Special PD trials that I have attended as a Ticket judge or steward have been enjoyable and successful events, worked by a mix of breeds including collies, GSDs, Malinois and cross-breeds.

I was very surprised that the incident that happened at the KCCs in Oct 2018 was mentioned; this should not be discussed as the investigation is still active. I understand that Wendy was not at this trial and therefore the comments are hearsay. Hearsay will and does cloud the facts.

Wendy went on to say ‘the first major stumbling block appears to be the breeds involved’. On this, I disagree. The first stumbling block is people. Wendy asserts that the power and speed of the Malinois is at odds with the PD tests, and states that ‘the speed height and weight of the Malinois’ makes it ‘positively dangerous’. It is this language and comments like this that are building misconceptions about the breed.

Malinois not only work as Police dogs and in Special Forces, they are mine-detection dogs, Search and Rescue dogs, drugs and explosive detection dogs, as well as being worked very successfully in all dog sports all over the world. In the UK, the small number of Malinois competing in working trials have been very successful in both TD and PD, winning Tickets in both stakes, and with 4 becoming Working Trials Champions. Malinois have been worked in trials since 2004.

Wendy asserts that Malinois are almost certain to take a running man down. I maintain that if helpers are trained correctly and ensure that they are aware of the dog’s position at all times they are able to take the bite safely. Helpers should not run without looking back at the dog.

Collies and similar breeds will not be ‘defeated by the equipment’ in use provided the dogs and helpers have been trained correctly. There is not a problem with the bite jacket or the modern sleeves of today; it is only training, and correctly trained dogs of any breed will not find any biting exercise difficult. The modern sleeves and the bite jacket are designed for the safety of the dog and the helper. All the sleeves we use have a tapered bite-bar suitable for all breeds, and the sleeves of a bite jacket are soft and yielding enough for any breed to gain purchase. I have seen sleeves being used at Championship trials that have 2 large brass buckles connected to the sleeve cover which could easily be bitten by the dog. These should not be in use.
When judging I have awarded one ‘Ticket’ to a Malinois, other winners have all been collies or cross-breeds.

Most accidents in life are the result of poorly maintained equipment, poor training on how to use the equipment, a person engaging in a task for which they are not physically capable, or ‘having a laugh’, and so not working within relevant safety guidance. This could also be the cause of mishaps to those participating in dog sports.

Regarding the Test of Courage, the well-trained committed dogs that I have judged have always been able to complete the task. The test is never continued to the detriment of the dog if it has failed.
I would like to point out that the job of the helper is to firstly ensure the safety of the dog, secondly his own safety, thirdly to work within the rules, and lastly to comply with the judge’s instructions in order to show weaknesses or strengths of the dog, so that the judge can judge the test correctly.

Let us not needlessly change the sport. Instead, what we should be doing is training helpers to work with all breeds of dogs within the rules of PD, providing the dogs are of suitable temperament and fitness.

I do agree that we need to work together to resolve any issues that we may have, so maybe at some point we could discuss this face to face.

I would welcome anyone who would like to train as a helper for PD; we are able to work with experienced helpers who are familiar with all breeds. Any handlers who wish to gain more experience on a bite jacket or any other equipment would also be welcome.


Mick Tustain
The following user(s) said Thank You: davetoni1@hotmail.co.uk

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PD- my views 1 year 5 months ago #136

  • Wendy
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Thank you for taking the trouble to contribute a detailed reply to my original post. While I disagree with much of what you say, I recognise that it is just your personal view, based on your own experience, just as mine are based on my own. I also appreciate that we are unlikely to agree on many points, but that doesn't make either one of us right or wrong, but at least it has started the debate, so thank you.

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PD- my views 1 year 5 months ago #146

  • Mick
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Hi Wendy, I had been hoping for more of a reply to my post than ‘I disagree’.
Please tell me what you disagree with- could it be my comment about hearsay? The misconception of Malinois? Do you think we should not be training helpers, or use sleeves or jackets that are designed for the safety of the dog and helpers? Do you disagree as to why accidents happen? Or that the job of the helpers is to work within the rules of the sport? Or my question as to why we should needlessly change the sport?

I would like to repeat my invitation to you and others to come and train on the equipment we use in trials. This would be a good opportunity to discuss any issues we may have.

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PD- my views 1 year 5 months ago #151

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Hello Mick,
May I apologise, firstly for my tardy response to your post, as I have been away competing at Wessex and did not see it until today, and secondly for disappointing you with my previous reply which you deem insufficiently detailed. I will therefore expand a little in the hope that this will make my position clearer, although my original post was designed to promote discussion between all those interested in the debate, and not a means to initiate a two way discussion between ourselves.
We will begin with my statement that PD is broken and I think we must agree on the fact that numbers of entries have dropped considerably, as have Championship PD judges and Helpers. You tell me about the successful and enjoyable trials you have judged or stewarded at but all the recent ones have taken place in the south with the exception of one in the east. All were judged by Stan, Mark, Les, Lauren or yourself and all utilised your own group of trained IPO helpers and your entries were at an all-time low. To the outside world these trials look far more like club competitions, where the judge, steward, helpers and most of the competitors are all members of the one club and regularly train together, and one wonders how long it will take the Kennel Club to realise that these small stakes are not worthy of tickets. However, that is just my personal opinion to which I am entitled, and it is this opinion together with the fact that almost every other society that normally puts on a PD stake has stopped doing so which leads me to believe that PD is broken.
I do of course apologise for mentioning the 2018 KCC incident while it is as you say still active and ongoing, but as the rest of the PD and in fact trials world is kept totally in the dark about this it is not surprising that I was unaware that this was the case. However, clearly you are aware, so it certainly seems that someone must have been discussing it.
I think if you reread my original post you will see that I referred to the Malinois as getting bad press and “far from being dangerous are victims of their own power and speed.” I did refer to aspects of the chase with this breed being positively dangerous, and I stand by this statement which is clearly one on which we continue to disagree.
I am fully aware of all the various jobs that Malinois carry out efficiently and without aggression, and at no point have I found fault with the temperament or make up of the breed. I made a point of stating that I have very little knowledge of the breed, and at no time in my post or anywhere else have I suggested that it is the Malinois that has broken PD. However, I am sorry to say that I cannot say the same about many of the people, as it is people not dogs that are bringing about the demise of the PD stake, which is why I titled my post “ PD - Let’s Talk”
You say that properly trained collies will not be defeated by the bite jacket and I don’t think I ever suggested that they would, none of my dogs have had any difficulty biting an IPO finned sleeve with a jute cover and it is only the black or blue close woven nylon “indestructible” sleeves that were being used a couple of years ago which I objected to, but if the right arm is available and properly presented the collie will have no more trouble biting it than any other breed. However, what I do object to is helpers looking like they are wearing padded jackets with no visible target area and dogs learning that anyone in a padded jacket is fair game, especially those who may be running or shouting, and we have seen the confusion that this can cause.
I will ask again, if the dog is correctly taught to target the right arm why do you keep saying the jacket is for safety? I am completely sure that none of my dogs would ever bite anywhere but the right arm, and this is achieved by training. While I am very grateful to you for your invitation to come and try your equipment, perhaps we should stick to all dogs learning to target the right arm, and only the right arm, and thus no need for a change of equipment. You are also very welcome to come and see how we train this with and without distraction, and just in case you are thinking that this only works with collies, we have friends, who are Cat A prison officer dog handlers and train and compete with just the right arm sleeve, with both the GSD and the Malinois. I would also ask why the bite jacket is seen as an aid to safety when it leaves face, neck, hands and legs unprotected which are surely just as vulnerable.
My final argument is with the Test of Courage which is where we mostly see the bite jacket in use. It has always been the case that the PD Test of Courage was as varied and imaginative as the judge could devise, and yet you have introduced a test which has very little variation and can only be done in a bite jacket. I have always made a point of talking to competitors at trials where I have not attended firstly for my Dog World column, but lately just out of interest, and I think I am right in saying that the Test of Courage at all the recent trials judged by you or your club members, consisted of a man in a bite jacket with objects held in both hands, frantically waving them to keep the dog out and deny the bite. There have on occasions been added complications of water, blinds, or other hazards to negotiate, but the object of the exercise is to bite the man in the bite jacket waving both his arms and presenting a moving target. Now I am sure you are aware that this test was originally devised for another sport, which is where I imagine you first saw it, but in this the dog is allowed to bite the legs, and so the tenacious hound that was prepared to brave the onslaught of the arms could get in and bite the legs. However, in PD the only target is the right arm, and the dog finds it almost impossible to get this unless it’s lucky enough to spy a window, which my own dog has done on occasion. It does seem though that you are overly concerned about the safety of this test, no doubt fearing the dog might be frustrated enough to bite elsewhere, and so you insist on a bite jacket. Now I know my dog would not bite elsewhere so it may not get a bite at all and, as such, fail your test of courage, but I wonder if you would be prepared to do this test wearing just a right arm sleeve and be just as sure of your dogs? If the answer to this is no perhaps we should revert to proper tests of courage which would do away with the need for bite jackets altogether, and rather than me take time and space explaining what these are you could research the ones at various trials over the years, and indeed I do remember the days when they were actually a part of your tests when you started judging.
I do appreciate your comments about helpers needing to be young, fit and trained, and in a perfect world this would be ideal, but I will ask where you expect to find these young fit people that are willing to be trained and travel all over the country at their own expense to help at a sport with no financial incentive, as Societies certainly cannot afford to pay them. Even if such paragons do exist, who is going to train them as surely it should be done by someone who has been helping and taking part in PD trials for many years and apparently these are now all too old. While we welcome competitors from the professions, we do not see their status as any different from our own, as we are all taking part in a sport with our pet dogs and do not pretend to be operational, and I am sure you will agree that your own experience as a Parks Police Officer bears little or no resemblance to the working trial PD stake.. Whilst I can accept that we must be open to change I cannot accept that PD needs to become any more real or any more dangerous than it has ever been, or be in need of any more robust safety equipment, just properly trained dogs and well thought out tests. I welcome discussion from other interested parties with new ideas that allow us to keep this fun stake for us all to enjoy, but it would be preferable if they had some experience of competing in the PD stake and a genuine wish to take it forward . Although you appear to think “having a laugh” is some sort of detriment to the sport, it has always been a very real and enjoyable part of the PD stake and stopped us all getting above ourselves and thinking we are police officers.
Finally thanks again for taking the trouble to reply to my post, and for your invitation to come and see what you do. I have done my best to expand on my earlier reply at your request, but do not intend to continue in an on line two way debate, so I have put my thoughts out there for others to take forward or discard as they see fit.

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Last edit: by Wendy. Reason: Toning down

PD- my views 1 year 4 months ago #152

  • Mick
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Hi Wendy,

I read your post and now I understand why you say PD is broken. I agree that the number of entries has dropped and that a number of Societies no longer run PD.
Yes, we are short of Championship judges, but you could help by putting yourself forward to judge Championship PD and enter more PD championships.

Surrey, SATS and East Anglia Societies are working hard to promote PD, and are working towards qualifying more PD judges.

You said we have our own group of trained IPO helpers. Just to be clear, I trained Ross as a helper for WT PD only. Now, Ross is helping to train other helpers.

Your post said, ‘to the outside world these trials look far more like club competitions’. I understand that you were not at any of the PD competitions you were referring to, so how would you know? I would like to think that if you had been a competitor or spectator you may have seen what others saw - the PD rounds were all within the I Regs, they were expertly executed with no incidents recorded, but more importantly: no guesswork- handlers were told of the test beforehand and were stewarded accordingly. They showcased dogs that were trained to a high standard and were enjoyed by competitors and spectators alike. And FYI, the competitors were from: Berkshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Somerset, Surrey, Durham, and Leicestershire. I have only trained occasionally with one of the competitors. Also, there would have been more competitors if Lauren had not had to withdraw her own dog on the several occasions when either she or I were judging.

I introduced the bite jacket into Working Trials for two main reasons: I have seen too many Tests of Courage where the sleeve has been fed to the dog. I feel this is not a true test of courage. Secondly, when using the bite jacket helpers are protected consistent with safety, they don’t have to feed the arm, and this allows the test of courage to be more varied, realistic, imaginative, and safe for dog and helper.
I have trained with bite jackets as a police officer long before I introduced them to Working Trials.

You said, ‘we have seen the confusion that this can cause’. Who are ‘we’? And what ‘confusion’? Trained correctly there is no confusion, nor will dogs bite neck, legs, hands, or chase and bite people in puffer jackets. This simply does not happen, and there is no evidence for such statements. Furthermore, making such baseless statements publicly simply makes more Societies, who may not have members who are knowledgeable on PD matters, opposed to running PD trials.

We do not ‘frantically wave objects to keep the dogs out, to make it almost impossible unless it gets lucky’. The TOC is well-thought out, and tried and tested before a competition. There is always an ‘in’ for the committed dog if it has been trained correctly. You need to understand that dogs will not bite the legs unless trained to do so, and that it is more difficult to achieve than arm bites. We do not train leg bites.

You said that competitors from the professions think their status is above others. I assume you mean me and other retired police officers. This is untrue, and not a fair comment. We are not producing a test that is anything like the work we do with operational Police dogs. We produce a test that is within the WT Regulations.

The aim of this so-called ‘club’ to which you refer, is promoting the sport and trying our best to keep it going. What is your aim, and what is your contribution?

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PD- my views 1 year 4 months ago #153

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Hello again Mick,
Oh dear here we go again, I think what you fail to understand is that I am stating my own opinion and by disagreeing and saying it isn’t so doesn’t make either of us right or wrong!
You ask why I do not put myself forward to judge championship PD and my views on this subject have been loudly and widely stated. I have judged numerous Open PDs as well as the lower stakes but I, in common with several other trialists, do not agree with the KC method of judge selection by means of a test, but when I broached this subject with Stan he told me it wasn’t a test. I then enquired if it was possible to fail it, to which he replied that they don’t let people fail, which rather undermines the value of the method. As I have been vociferous in my condemnation of this system it would be hypocritical of me to take the test and judge, and I can assure you there are a number of other trialists that feel the same way. This is a digression from the PD discussion but as you keep asking why I don’t judge this is the reason, You further ask why I do not compete in more PD Championships, and the reasons for this are my own, but I do find it hard to remember when you last competed and yet you are out there judging it. At least I am competing, and also helping at trials in stakes other than PD. You may also not remember that Paul and I ran East Anglian Trials virtually unaided, putting on two Championships and two opens before we had to admit defeat through lack of help. My contribution to trials in general does not limit itself to the PD stake and many new trialists that started their trials journey with us have found their way to successful qualifications so I don’t think I can be accused of lack of contribution. You tell me that you have trained Ross as a PD protected steward and yet once again neither Paul nor I can ever remember seeing you fulfil this role at a trial yourself. I don’t think I ever suggested that the professionals saw themselves as of higher status; I merely stated that we do not see them as any different from ourselves and I think Jeff Poole, John Watts, and Alan Bolton, all professionals and regular successful PD competitors and judges would all bear me out on this.
I will not enter into further discussion about the tests, the bite jackets or the Test of Courage other than to remind you that the confusion to which I refer is a steward in a padded jacket being bitten by a competing PD dog when collecting articles from the square, nowhere near the patrol field and without any command to do so. I am giving the dog the benefit of the doubt and saying it was not a vicious or aggressive dog but was confused, but if that wasn’t the case then the alternative is more worrying. I realise that our opinions will never coincide and no amount of online discussion will change that, so I suggest we leave the discussions to those to whom my comments were originally addressed so that it may continue as a general online discussion rather than a personal exchange between two people, and as far as I am concerned that is an end to the matter.

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