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Cynosport Judge Profile: Becky Dean

A profile of Cynosport Judge Becky Dean!

This week we'll be featuring profiles of all of our excellent Cynosport judges. First up is Becky Dean:

Where do you live?

My husband and I moved to Dublin, Ohio, which is a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, twenty-five years ago after I accepted a job offer (and where I still work).  We were finishing up our respective graduate studies in Greeley, Colorado, where we had a cheap apartment with a magnificent view of the front range.  So, the decision was to continue our life of eating bologna, a loaf of bread and a enjoying a great view, or go back to our flat-lander roots and hope to buy a house.  We chose the latter.

We both hope that we'll be to move back west in the next decade and until then, it's a real treat for me to be asked to judge in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, and I hope to judge in Idaho, Utah and/or Nevada before I hang up the whistle for good.

How did you get involved in agility and how long have you been involved?

Like many other folks after we bought our house, we wanted to add a dog and I had grown up with a Norwegian Elkhound, and my husband had Labrador Retrievers.  We assessed the size of our backyard, and I happened to be taking aerobics classes with a woman who ran agility and introduced me to a Pembroke breeder.  That was in 1997, and we waited nine months for a puppy and the best pregnancy *ever*.  I began competing in 2000, when the A-frame for 12", Championship dogs was 6'3", and before rubberized contacts. 

What types of dogs do you have and what are their names, ages, and any titles?

We currently have 3 dogs - all female corgis (pictured above). 

  • Drew, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, 13-years old, recently retired from agility
  • Amelia, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, seven-and-a-half-years old
  • Audrey, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, three-and-a-half-years old

They all are active in various dog sports, and have brought home many pieces of ribbon and received envelopes that bear the "Do Not Bend" label on them.  They tend to enjoy the boxes from Clean Run the most and let me ooh and aah over the decorated PVC bars and parchment paper.

What do you do in your "other" non-agility life?

I have two graduate degrees - one in viola performance (yes, I have made it to Carnegie Hall by practicing), and the other in library science.  I work at the Online Computer Library Center, which works with libraries around the world.  It's a pretty cool job, and one where you have no idea of what project is going to hit your in-box next.  I am a product analyst and I write and test requirements for software developers.  I am also part of a group of 30 staff technical staff that the company is sending through an online Data Science certification program, offered through The Ohio State University, and it's been interesting to be an adult student in an online classroom.  It's been a long time since I worried about my grades.

How long have you been a judge?

I took the USDAA judge's test in January of 2003, and I remember watching the Super Bowl in the hotel room after the clinic was over.  I choose to stay as a Starters/Advanced judge for about six years before wanting to test for Masters judging.  I'm very glad I followed that path - I learned a lot from all the Masters judges I worked with, and am grateful for their insights along the way.

What do you enjoy most about being a judge?

A lot of things - not sure there is just one, but it's a beautiful moment when you see a dog and human truly trust each other - you trust your dog to execute the skill, and the dog understanding and executing the information you provided.   Doesn't matter what level dog - starters through masters challenge or venue - it's that amazing understanding of "got it" between the team, which is what we work for in our training and practice.

Personally, I find that judging helps me keep things in perspective, and it also makes me reflective.  Wherever I go, I must get a picture of a sunrise, and there have been more than one occasion where I pull off the road (or ask the driver to pull over) to get that perfect shot.  I've also truly come to embrace there is always something new to learn, and there are always two sides to a story.  

What events will you be judging at Cynosport?

Whatever they tell me to judge. I understand I'll be judging the courses I was asked to design (Steeplechase, Relay, and Junior Handlers) in addition to some of the courses designed by the other judges. 

How do you approach designing courses for Cynosport?

Interesting experience for me - I'm not used to seeing the design requirements  "only use jumps in this area" and "do not put an A-frame or dogwalk here" and reasonable areas of the ring bounded by a semi-circle and you know, something about needing to be able to set up quickly for awards.  For Steeplechase, it made it a little tricky for me, given that there are three uni-directional obstacles, you can only re-use two single jumps, and one big obstacle that must be used twice.  (And a partridge in a pear tree??)  Oh, and you need to be able to see everything ... (sigh ...the devil is in the details.)

And you want it to be a very flowy course, get the dogs into extension, the handlers gasping for air at the end, and enough time to clap and get back to your judging position do it over and over again.  You don't want to have 30 miles on your Fitbit -well, okay, let's be honest - you don't want to be the judge who made *another* judge log 30 miles on their Fitbit.

Do you have any tips or advice for Cynosport competitors, especially ones competing at the event for the first time?

  1. Pace yourself. 
  2. Breathe in, breathe out.
  3. Repeat often.

What are you most looking forward about Cynosport this year?

Watching some beautiful sunrises, the amazing teams, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, remembering friends and dogs who are not competing in the sport, or are longer with us, and toasting everyone with a good margarita. 


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