A Note from Liz Carter, North American Sport Dog Association
February 3, 2023
What a year it has been. When NASDA first came together, largely in my garage on pieces of scrap paper over some PVC and wood, I envisioned a diverse community of individuals who celebrated the versatility of the dogs we love. The standard for each run would be determined by what we would like to see if we were hunting out in the field for the day with our dog and our friends. Accuracy would be most important, then speed. Dogs would work independently but follow human direction when needed. These trials were designed as tests of skills, endurance and versatility.
The rules were once 3 lines long. We ran into desert fields and snowed over prairie fields, onto agility courses and into sheds to find rats with our friends. We’ve grown a lot since then but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion and enthusiasm of our NASDA community.
When we first drafted the rules of the Invitational Championship in 2019, there were specific key elements of the Spirit of NASDA we felt were important to include:
- Celebrate diversity and versatility
- Foster a supportive and welcoming community
- Showcase skill and teamwork
- Push teams to be their best on and off the field
- Test endurance of mind and body
The rules you see today have only very minor differences from the 2022 Invitational Championship held in Minden, NV last year. The format and scoring remain the same. The elements added incorporate skills from the existing levels of competition. For example, the blind hides derive from Level III and above while the distractions first appear in Level II. Handler’s making the call in Urban Locating on some, but not all, courses finds its roots in the Grand Champion class. The opportunity to develop and practice those skills in a trial environment can be seen in the Urban Games Challenge. Multiple search areas in Lost Item were part of the original Level III rules and later moved to the Grand Champion class. The elevations and accessibility of hides are no different than the classes you already compete in. The goal was to provide elements of all levels of competition and present them a different way so that all teams have the same playing field.
Without question, the most difficult determination was the retrieve in Shed Dog. There was not a fair and equitable ways to judge a Level I dog and a Master Champion dog without a retrieve. The retrieve is the essence of a day in the field. I know there are some that feel blindsided. The retrieve has been part of the Invitational Championship since the beginning and has been included in the Frequently Asked Questions since the Invitational Championship was first announced. Past teams have risen to the challenge and now this is your opportunity if you so choose.
An Invitational Championship is an opportunity to showcase your training, handling skills and teamwork with your incredible canine partner. It is an opportunity to celebrate your team and to showcase your unique abilities. It’s a chance to meet up with other passionate individuals who love their dogs and love this sport as much as you do.
A championship is not going to be easy. This is where teamwork, skill and endurance come together. There are dog skills, yes, but there is also mental management and handling strategy. For many it will include goal setting and training plans. It may be competing or training in new places or terrain. It may be teaming up with others in your area or finding a mental management or sports coach. It may be choosing not to compete but to support those around you who do. The path to the event is not the same for everyone, but without a doubt, it will be a challenge and it will be worth the attempt.
Take a moment to enjoy your team’s incredible accomplishments. Sit down and consider what your goals might be. Will it be to show off your aging competitor, represent your breed or making it to the semifinals? Will it be to experience a championship level event? Regardless of the goals you set, know that you and your dog have earned the opportunity to be there. You will be celebrated, supported and encouraged. You will find community and friendship. You will always go home with the very best dog.
Here is what I ask of you, brilliant and passionate exhibitor, embody the Spirit of NASDA:
- Demonstrate exceptional sportsmanship
- Prepare for the challenge of the field
- Encourage and support others
- Celebrate your teammate by finding all the things
- Act with grace and dignity in both the win and in the defeat
Above all, remember this:
We only have so much time on this earth, and we are granted so little time with these amazing creatures who follow us with great enthusiasm, trust and love. Be kind and fair to yourself. Be kind and fair to your dog. Be kind and fair to others.
I am deeply appreciative of our wonderful NASDA family: our staff, volunteers, clubs, judges and exhibitors. I look forward to seeing you in Montana this June.