In my opinion the Championship Decoys were nothing short of amazing. Yes some rules per se were ‘bent’. Every dog was ‘tested’ differently and each dog’s weaknesses, whether character or training related, were exposed. The Decoys did their job. As did the Decoys in Virginia last year, where a number of individuals complained. The Decoys were not brutal. The Decoys were fast and had virtually flawless technique. The baton was never laid hard on the dogs and never straight down on the spine. The speed and the intensity with which the Decoys performed can never be mistaken for brutality! My dog Jason was hit in the head once, as can be seen in the video. He came off for a split second and without hesitation came through again. When Frank Germain saw that he had hit the dog on the head, he immediately readjusted the baton for proper placement. If you watch carefully, it was the dog that pulled, torqued and moved underneath the baton as it came down. This was NOT intentional. A decoy cannot control or predict 100%, the speed, strength, and movement that a dog has in a 15 second fight. These Decoys didn’t need to wield a baton in order to support their intensity. Anyone that was there, saw several dogs get intimidated or stopped in their tracks just by the body language and eye contact that Didier gave on the escorts, guards etc…Let’s give credit where it’s due. Maybe these Decoys are just too good for the training our dogs are receiving?!?! Rather than criticize and condemn their talents, why not critique OUR own training techniques? There is a reason these 2 Decoys are so popular and in demand in France. Didier, from what I’ve been told, has decoyed since he was 14! I believe he is 31 now. In his first year as National Select, he decoyed 100 trials! If we want to be on par with the French, play a French sport, and be judged as the French are judged, then we have to be prepared to play by the same ‘rules’, and modify our training techniques. On a more positive note, there were many dogs in various levels that withstood the work of these Decoys! These dogs and their trainers have to be highly commended!
To be quite honest, I would rather trial my dogs under the French than the domestic Decoys. I’ve seen some Decoys swing and hit the dogs without even being able to see them. Unfortunately, they lacked experience and/or technique. From my own personal experience, a French Decoy has never hurt my dogs. I wish I could say the same for SOME of our decoys. Earlier this year, I had my dog hit several times in a row behind the ear at the base of the skull. I had it videotaped and the Decoy reviewed the tape. After viewing it, I reminded him (not too nicely) that perhaps he should read the rules as to where the baton may be placed safely…In the 15 second face, not once was the baton placed properly. His comment to me was flippant as he replied; ‘I didn’t hit him hard enough to kill him’. I was appalled by the lack of integrity he had for the sport and the animal. Given a choice to trial under SOME of our decoys, or under the French decoys, I’ll take my ‘chances’ with the French. In the last 18 mos. I’ve had 3 trials in a row where the baton was used improperly by a few of our decoys. I’ve seen more dogs hurt through incompetence, than due to the speed and intensity as seen in the French Decoys.
I love the sport, but I love my dog even more…I can only hope that one day, North America will be able to ‘produce’ Decoys as capable and talented as the French…
Brigita Brinac & Jason
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