Running an Agility Trial in COVID-19 Times

This weekend, Dec 4-6 2020, the Oriole Dog Training Club is having an AKC agility trial. Normally we hold this trial elsewhere where we can have hundreds of dogs and exhibitors in 2 rings . But this year, we needed to carefully guard the club’s stressed finances and scale the trial down to 1 ring to reduce the number of exhibitors present. So we moved this trial (and our January trial as well) to our club building.

Judge David Nauer observes a team running on Friday evening in the Time To Beat class.

The trial committee – chaired by Oriole member Tricia Dunseith and our Trial Secretary, Clantyre Show Secretary Services – spent quite a bit of time on determining safeguards to put in place. In addition to following best practices recommended by the CDC and AKC, the club has been monitoring the quality of the ventilation throughout the building for several months now so that we have a well-informed knowledge of how to ensure the air quality is such that the risk of contamination via viral aerosol is reduced to a very low level.

The quality of the ventilation is tracked by monitoring CO2 levels. Here we are 2 hours into the trial on Saturday morning and the level on the sportsfield is well under the 700ppm at which we would need to take action. The maximum number of people in the building occurs when we have 25 people for a walkthrough; this can cause the levels to reach just over 600ppm. (Information point: hospital rooms strive for a CO2 level of 6oo ppm). The air on the sportsfield is ventilated by three large overhead industrial units set to run continuously which is supplemented by fresh air blown in from the loading dock.

Sorry – but this is one trial where you can’t spectate. The key to keeping everyone safe is to ensure that few people are in the building at any given point. For this trial we have the Oriole Rule of Five: You can be in the building for exactly 5 reasons:

  1. Walk your course
  2. Run your dog
  3. Volunteer
  4. Use the restroom
  5. Pick up your ribbon

Masking of course is required at all times while on site including while running your dog. Here are some of the other policies put in place:

Check-in and worker coordination: Stations for these are set up outside of the building.

The check-in station is located in the Pod behind the tent where the worker coordinator is stationed.

Traffic Flow: There is a specific one-way traffic flow in and out of the building. The main hallway is used for entry and the middle hallway is used to exit. Quality ventilation in this area is ensured by keeping the front doors open as well as use of an air purifier with a UV filter.

The next few exhibitors to run are staged in the main hallway and just inside the door on the sportsfield. Floors have been marked to remind everyone of the social distancing requirements.

Cookie-Toy Table: A table is provided between the ring entrance and exit for exhibitors to store their coat/cookie/toys before the run.

A coat/cookie/toy table is provided for exhibitors to leave such items before entering the ring. Exhibitors then pass by this table on their way out of the ring.

Technological tools: Exhibitors with smartphones and car radios can track the progress of the class. (We are trying – with indifferent success – to stream the trial on Facebook as well, but are running into issues with bandwidth on the club WiFi network).

Gate steward Linda McKisson is using the Agility Gate app on a tablet to mark off dogs as they complete their runs

Results: These are posted in the building near the station where an exhibitor may enter to pick up their ribbon or they may be viewed in real-time outside on a monitor placed next to a window.

Class results are posted in the middle hallway for quick viewing before proceeding to the ribbon station
Ribbons are available after the class on the loading dock organized by the exhibitor’s last name.
The scoring station located outside of the building has a monitor for real-time viewing of class results

We are glad we are able to have a limited trial under all of these precautions and are appreciative that our exhibitors are being supportive to help keep everyone safe.

We know that both you and we all look forward to the day when things can go back to normal. Until then – Stay Safe & Stay Healthy!