A few days ago I received a request, along with other dog agility blog writers, to make June 28th a blog action day focused on volunteering at agility trials. Many thoughts came to mind about my personal experience with volunteering and what I would write.
Today, after reading many other blogs that are participating in this blog action day, I realize that what I was planning on writing was not even close to what others were saying. I have read about advantages of volunteering, incentives clubs can give to get more volunteers, and having a appreciative attitude toward the people who volunteer. Yes, I couldn't agree more with all of these discussions. However, I can't seem to get my initial thoughts out of my head of what I wanted to write.
Reflecting back on the past few years of trialing, I can say that I have volunteered, but I am not a consistent volunteer for two reasons.
First, I have a high maintenance dog. It took several years of training with a dog behaviorist to be able to trial without my dog losing his head. This evolves relaxation exercises for my dog, physical exercise between runs, and learning to read my dog's behavior so I can do what I need to do, to relieve his stress.
Second, suffering from chronic migraines for years, getting through an long trial day without getting a migraine hardly ever happens. There seems to be so many migraine triggers at a trial, such as certain weather elements, types of lighting, lack or types of food, how early I had to get up, and the list goes on.
It is safe to say, that if I am not working with my dog, I am trying to prevent a migraine or get rid of the one I have. When I do volunteer, it is generally at a indoor trial with set-up the day before or after I have completed my runs for the day when I feel well.
My migraine pill, Maxalt, really works well getting rid of my migraines, but it can make me dizzy, unfocused and light headed. I have run agility courses many times light headed successfully, and many times not, so I would prefer not to. On rare occasions, food can delay my migraine a few hours. I always try approach first when doing agility.
One day, at a trial, I was sitting down eating a snack because I was starting to get a migraine and a woman that I did not know walks up to me pointing in the direction of one the the trial rings saying, "You need to go volunteer over there". I assumed she got me confused with someone else, so I replied, "I think you have me confused with someone else. I didn't sign up to work right now".
>She seemed to be irritated at this point and said, "but I need a volunteer and you're doing anything". Not happy with her demeanor at this point, I simply said, "I don't feel well so I'm taking a small break".
She said, "Well, I'm not moving until you go volunteer". Not wanting to get into it, I just ignored her and continued to eat my snack while she stood there just staring at me. She stood there a very long time while I ignored her. It was all very strange.
If she would have introduced herself, and said, "if you feel better later will you come find me so I can give you a job?", I would have been made a point to go help her later for being nice. However, since she was so rude, I secretly vowed to never help her.
I read on some other blogs the suggestion of making the volunteer time not so long and time consuming. I love that idea. Due to the reasons above, making a long time commitment doesn't work for me. For me, being able to give fifteen minutes here and fifteen minutes there, would definitely help me be a more active volunteer.
These are my experiences and thoughts on volunteering at trials. What are yours?