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Talking with Patty Drom

This Cynosport agility judge was interviewed by Tania Chadwick.

We are lucky to have Patty Drom as one of the six judges at the USDAA Cynosport Games this year.  This will by Patty's fifth appearance as a judge at the USDAA's most prestigious event.  Since we'll be spending five days with Patty, I took some time to find out a little more about her.

Patty holds a degree in biology and she worked as a project manager for retail point-of-sale systems for 20 years.  Patty started dog agility training in 1986 when a small local group named DAWG invited her to play.  She left her corporate job and in 1995 opened Dallas Dog Sports, a dog training facility located in Wylie, Texas.  She is the owner/operator and serves as the Training Director.  Patty has competed in obedience and agility with two Springers (Scooter and Max) and two Border Collies (Jessie and Buzz), earning 24 titles in all.  ADCH Buzz, who is nine years old, is currently competing in the Performance Division.  Her young BC-in-training, Dewley, will be making his agility debut later this year. This will by Patty's fifth appearance as a judge at the USDAA Nationals.

TC:  How did you get started in judging?

PD: I started judging for USDAA in 1991 when Ken Tatsch invited the first group of agility enthusiasts to go through some training to help take the load off of him.  I really enjoy judging for the most part - the down-side being all the hours it takes to design courses.  Of course it's better these days with the course design software and the fact that instead of having to draw 18+ courses, it's usually just 8 or 10.  I'm happy to be judging in Scottsdale this year.

TC:  What is your approach to course design?

PD: Course design has always been very time-consuming for me.  In the end, I want a course that I would have fun running.  Ingredients should include testing the dogs' skills on individual obstacles and their ability to take direction from their handler, and testing the handlers' skills in reading the course and solving the puzzle that opens up the flow of the course.

TC: Do you design a course differently because it's a big event?

PD: Yes, I probably do.  Since I have only one course to present, (rather than a whole weekends worth of courses that I would design for a local show) I have to pick and choose what I want to throw into the design.  I might have a cache of ideas for course design, but they can't all be presented on one course.

TC: What do you like about judging big events?

PD: I like the charged atmosphere, the anticipation on everyone's face, the sense of pride that everyone has that they are there and participating.  It's awesome!

TC: What skills are you looking for competitors to use when you design courses for events like this one?

PD: I like to see the teamwork that the dog and handler share to get through the course.  Whether you handle from a distance or up close and personal, it's easy to see when it's working and when it's not.

Thanks to Patty Drom for taking the time to chat with me.  We will be looking forward to seeing her and all of our judges in Scottsdale.

Tania Chadwick has been competing in USDAA for 10 years.  She currently runs her ADCH LAA-Bronze Border Collie, Kidd, while trying to keep up with her three-year-old toddler.

Photo by Tania Chadwick



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