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Edited transcript for the NAFA® Chat about the jump height proposal – May 29, 2008

dgsmithOK, we're going to go ahead and start and this will also start the transcript. Here's some background info and guidelines
dgsmithTonight's chat will provide one more venue to discuss the upcoming ballot issue regarding jump heights for NAFA. This is in addition to discussion that has already or will still occur on mailing lists and in-person at various flyball events among competitors as they decide how to vote on this issue. the current rule subtracts 4 inches from the height of the dog at the withers. The proposed change would subtract 5 inches from the height at the withers. No change to the 7 inch minimum or the 14 inch maximum would occur. while tonight's discussion will not be structured like most NAFA chats, it will be moderated. people with a point of view to discuss regarding the proposed change should send a message to dgsmith summarizing the point and each will be recognized in turn in the main window. Once a discussion point is in the main window, others are welcome to contribute civil and directly-related comments. Its likely not everyone will agree - so please keep discussions civil and avoid personal or derogatory comments. The edited transcript from this chat will be posted to the NAFA website for others to view. If you have a question about a topic or the appropriateness of a comment, send a message to dgsmith as above.
Karen_fiabI think that the proposal is a step in the right direction. Not everything can be taken into consideration regarding dogs jumping the "right " height. For instance leg to back ratio, weight to height ratio , jumping style etc. Is NAFA looking into these things to help come up with an idea of how to make needed changes for dogs with these unique structures?
dgsmithIn this format you can't all be listeners or it will be really boring - and short...
kimI have to agree you can't take everything into account but I do like the idea of 5 inch below instead 4. I have a borderjack that measures for 11" jumps which he can do But he jumps flat and hits his feet often and has been known to go butt over head because he hit the jump too hard
Karen_fiabI also like it. What about subtracting 5 inches for dogs jumping ten inches and below and keeping the four inch deduction for dogs jumping eleven and above?
Stephanie_BallderDashersOkay, I run a beagles, Phoebe my oldest beagle jumps 11" in NAFA, in another organization jumps 8". I see her struggle at the 11" jump, but runs well at the 8" jump. Is there any way that NAFA could adopt some measuring practices from other organizations? Leg length.
dgsmithThe NAFA Board of Directors considers all suggestions they receive. The item that was sent to them and is now being put to ballot is rather specific - subtracting 5 inches instead of 4 for all dogs. We can briefly discuss other items tonight, but I can't answer on behalf of the Board.
kimMy club is lucky to have numerous height dogs (mind you slower) so we choose not to run my borderjack as a height dog any more unless it is an emergency because it is a safety issue for him
Karen_fiabAnother possibility- allow exemptions for certain structures. Teacup Agility allows for weight to height ratio, deep chested "dwarfish" legged dogs, and long back dogs separately.
Stephanie_BallderDashersI think that the lower jump heights would allow height dogs to continue to race longer.
kimI do think they could race longer with lower jumps especially for the dogs who are on the lower end of standard
kimI also race a toy poodle and lowering the jump minimum from 8 to 7 was wonderful for him - it has also been great for the short legged dogs like doxies we have in our area. So I think for safety reasons I think minus 5 could help other teams in general
dgsmithTo a question above, yes, NAFA is actively gathering information regarding other ideas to represent the "jumping ability" of a dog that might be superior or supplemental to the height at the withers.
Karen_fiabThis proposal could also be of help in showing many different types of dogs competing. I would be hesitant , for instance in running a Doxie since I have had one go through disc surgery before. But at a lower jump height, it would be easier on the dog .
Stephanie_BallderDashersI am pleased that NAFA is looking for idea's to better, and help our dogs continue to compete longer.
kimI agree - change is hard but does need to happen some times
Matt.Oceanmark_FlyersI don't want to sound argumentative, but with the current height dogs we have, and the other dogs in our lineups, there isn't really a concern for us founded out of safety of the dog, they all jump well, clear the jumps, and hopefully we'll never see an acl injury in our dogs. But changing the 4 to a 5 would de-value the importance of our current height dogs to a point, also, for teams that are trying to recruit a height dog, it gives them a broader spectrum to choose from albeit it is only 1 inch, but where do you stop? Next year will it be another. Now if your running a king charles spaniel or a chihuahua, this isn't really going to affect you as the minimum remains 7 inches. It really only comes into play at the 12" dog level., my own smallest dog measures 13 on a good day, would that extra inch help her and the team sure, but it isn't about helping my team be faster. Some folks want to run aged/sore dogs should they? who's to say? vets if your old enough and your region has sanctioned it for some tournaments. so to me I guess long story short, vets takes care of older, sick dogs really shouldn't run, the lowest the height will be with this proposal is the current 7, so isn't it really just about de-valuing the 11" dog? or opening up the spectrum for people who have a hard time finding a good height dog? I do however agree with changing the measuring point to the underside of a dor or some kind of leg height measurement
kimI don't think it would devalue current height dogs but may open up more options for height dogs for many. If my borderjack could jump 10" I would not be so concerned about him as a height dog. But I can see why some may think lowering the minimum could devalue current height dogs
Matt.Oceanmark_FlyersSo if there is a faster 12" dog on your team, your captain wouldn't be tempted to say "kim we don't want your dog on the team for a height dog" were going to use that dog instead, you get to stay home this weekend? I'd be worried it would alienate some competitors who want to win, not just points - notice I said tempted
kimConsidering I put the teams together along with my husband, we choose to run the borderjack as a "big" dog right now cuz we don't want to jump him at 11"---- we would if we had too though and we did for a year. If others on the team are willing to jump their dogs at higher jumps I wont stop them But they would have to work their dogs to jump that height and not do it willy nilly
Karen_fiabI don't see how the proposal would lessen the value of height dogs. Please explain. Also, I agree that it opens up the possibilities of many types of small dogs competing. Flyball is for all dogs. This could help NAFA grow.
Matt.Oceanmark_FlyersI ran the max with my 47lb beagle mix, as we had no height dog. look at my points we had a hard time but I did it cuz that's what a team was about. This year I've changed teams as she was quitting halfway through raceday and I was worried she'd be hurt. now we have a great height dog to race with.
kimmy acd was a height dog for a few tourneys in her younger days when my toy poodle shut down - we went from 8" to 14" jumps - yes we still ran pretty fast but it was much much harder on the dogs and my acd hit her paws - she also jumps flat
Stephanie_BallderDashersIt all goes back to what the team is looking for.. speed, points, fair racing. I don't think that lowering 1" will help my beagle as much as the 3" less. She drops a full second off her time at 8"... she is still in great shape active, running full when needed as a height dog. I chose to run vets to get the 8" height when I can.
kimlike I said -- currently my team has numerous height dogs that give us 7-9" jumps plus my borderjack who gives 11" so we don't have to make the decision to jump high right now. My borderjack will run 4.5 but we choose to run height dogs that run 6-6.5 seconds which is better on all the dogs and they are faster - my borderjack can run 4.0 over lower jumps but I am not about speed. I prefer dogs to play safely and do what we can to let them have longer racing careers
Stephanie_BallderDashersI agree....
kimwould I be more likely to jump 10" jumps with my borderjack - yes because I do like speed but not all about speed (figured I should clarify)
Karen_fiabSo it seems that the proposal may just help where it should. Towards the dogs that really , because of structure , need to jump lower. I agree that many height dogs won't be very affected from the change. I know mine doesn't change in time at all over jumps one inch lower.
kimI believe lowering the minimum will just give more options for height dogs and make it more safe for some to jump their own height
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyerswell, our dog that allows us to run at 10" for instance, if another dog came along that allowed you to run at 8" and was just as fast (or slower for that matter) your other 3 might pick up their feet/pace and have a great clean race. with the 10" dog the german Sheppard knocks the first jump to smithereens with the 8" its great. doesn't that make the 10" dog less appealing for a lineup? so wouldn't subtracting an extra inch open the door to a taller dog (who are generally faster - I know I shouldn't make group assumptions about speed and height but it applies to some I know) make the shorter dog less appealing (as it is also slower - I know this isn't the case for all) thus de-valuing the shorter dog. I really think a change to the measuring system in relation to short stubby dogs vs short "regular:" legged dogs is the way to go, not just - hey take off another inch for everyone.
kimagain that depends on team philosophy - since we have so many height dogs my borderjack is not used as one right now - shoot we have so many - my toy poodle doesn't get to race much and he is one of the faster height dogs right now
Stephanie_BallderDashersI run my beagle as a big dog with 8" height dogs... so no, they are dual purpose dogs!
kimwhat about the dogs that have long legs but jump very flat and hit jumps
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyersthat has a lot to do with the heart of the discussion too, team makeup and availability of dogs to select
kimhe is on the lower end of 15" at withers - if he was at the higher end he may not be hitting jumps. I don't think height dogs will ever be devalued because there is always a team that will need them
Stephanie_BallderDashersYes.. I think that the height should be based by leg length, that takes the chest out of the picture.
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyerstraining comes into play a bit here too. we could debate about dogs that run around jumps. jumping/hitting jumps cant really be covered by lowering jumps, teach the dog to pick up its feet.
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyersleg length seems fair to me - but I'm not a vet and don't know the intricacies of joint structure of every breed either
kimI agree on leg length but that is not part of the ballot so don't think we should start debating that part
kimwe're supposed to be debating 5 vs 4 and whether 1 inch would make a difference and I do think it would help
dgsmithI like self-policing chatters. I was about to suggest that while thinking there's a better solution might be a reason for voting one way or the other, its not the primary focus tonight.
kimmaybe not all dogs but would help many - and could help teams actually have more height dog options
M-E_DogZworthHey. I'm a newbie. But I know an inch makes a difference for my BC. She jumps more smoothly over 10 than over 11. She's more comfortable ;o)
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyersyeah, it will help speed in some cases, safety for others, but is it a universal help to every team? does it give anyone an unfair advantage?
kimgood question - but then again some folks out there have an unfair advantage for whatever reason - more experience, better trainers, faster dogs in general
Matt.Oceanmark_FlyersIf your team is having a hard time finding a height dog it gives you another inch to option, but like I said it only starts coming in to play for dogs that measure 12 and over. De-valuing current height dogs to me comes into play if you have a large team with a lot of height dogs to choose from. So that's a very small group, but it could happen
kimyes but again chances are another team could use said height dogs - I will most likely be offering up my poodle to another team who is desperate for a height dog - around here folks run on more than one club some times and it works most of the time
Matt.Oceanmark_FlyersI guess by de-valuing I mean the dog that is today's height dog, after this proposal passes, might not be tommorows.
kimbut they could on another team - and if current team pushes them out that easily then I wouldn't want to play with them anyways
dgsmithAre there other aspects that people should consider (or that you consider) when deciding how to vote on this issue? We've talked about speed, safety and the unique role and value of height dogs. And we've talked about other solutions that might be alternatives to this proposal.
Karen_fiabMaybe, today's height dogs would just be joined by more new height dogs that jumped twelve inches previously and now jump eleven for instance
kimno but I would put safety first :)
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyerswell. will height cards be affected? will a re-issuance have to occur? will they need to be re-,measured & re-carded?
kimwho says a dogs Has to be measured
kimyou only have to do it if called on it - yes I know some regions will do this at the drop of the hat
Stephanie_BallderDashersGood question? I spent many a morning in line for my cards!
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyersin this region, I was talking to a head judge the other day, he said only once a height challenge was made in something like 5 years.
dgsmithThe Board has not discussed height cards in advance of this ballot. It would have to be decided by the Board if it passed - what effect if any it would have on existing cards.
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyersbut other regions might have issue with it
M-E_DogZworthAre there a lot of dogs with height cards in your area? As far as I know, we have nearly none..
Matt.Oceanmark_FlyersI'm not sure of the exact amount of currently active carded dogs. But like I said, not many people measure and in my 3 years, Ive never heard of a challenge
Stephanie_BallderDashersI have two carded height dogs, I prefer to know if a challenge is made.
Matt.Oceanmark_Flyersso I guess like dale said, that's a board decision. but it potentially has affect on those poor souls who stood in line 3 times a 3 separate tournament with fingers crossed
Stephanie_BallderDashersYes... and more looking for a Supervising to get the final measure!
M-E_DogZworthDo these chats happen often? Every time there is a new proposition?
dgsmithWe have leadership chats fairly regularly - when I can get the Ed and the Chairman to give me dates - preferably the same dates. We have candidate chats around elections and we're going to have a chat or three about what should happen with open and performance next year - stay tuned.
dgsmithSince we seem to have run out of discussion (and people) I'll bring the chat to a close. Remember we have at least one more chat on this topic this coming Sunday - June 1st at 7pm CDT. We're considering adding one more chat after the ballots are out at the request of several folks looking for a longer notice on the chats. I'd like to thank everyone for coming out tonight and we'll chat with you Sunday.

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