How to Support your BIPOC Dog Training and Dog Sport Friends

A Brown Woman in an outdoor Conformation Dog Show ring presents her Rottweiler to a white male judge
I am often the only person of colour at a dog show, or trial. Have you ever wondered what that’s like?

There has been some conflict recently in a dog training community that I consider myself a part of. I know I know, what else is new, right?

This time, the source of this conflict was a seemingly innocuous question. Someone observed that the dog training/dog sports community appeared to skew towards white women, and wondered how we might make the community more welcome to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Some of us were thrilled that this person bothered to ask this question. Others felt this community was not the place for this kind of discussion.

I have considered posting this response within that community but I have concerns about my voice getting lost in the mix. I also worry my comments will disappear as has happened with the original post asking this question.

At this time, I feel safer posting here on my own blog, so here are some ways you can support the BIPOC Dog Trainers and dog sport competitors in your life.

  1. Listen to us: When we find the courage to tell you about our challenges. Sit down, and listen. We don’t need you solve our problems, we don’t need you to tell us it will be okay. We certainly don’t need you to change the subject because you are uncomfortable. We need you to bear witness to our pain.
  2. Show up for us: We need you to show up for us and perform some of the emotional labour involved in combating racism. This means challenging racist beliefs, actions and policies when you see them. At home, at work, in the dog sport community, and in your professional organizations.
  3. Increase Our Visibility: In order to feel welcome in a community, we need to know that we are not alone. How many people of color do you know in YOUR dog sport community? What are you doing to promote them or highlight their success? Increasing our visibility can be as simple as liking a business page and commenting on a post, or referring someone to a qualified BIPOC trainer in your area. It can be as large as recommending a BIPOC as a presenter at your next industry conference.
  4. Increase our opportunities: Providing educational opportunities to BIPOC, provides a way to encourage us into your industry. You can do this on a small scale by offering a free or discounted class to a BIPOC. You can do this on a larger scale by offering professional training to BIPOC at a discounted rate.
  5. Pay us: If someone has dedicated their time and energy to becoming qualified to provide you with a training or behavior service, we deserve to be paid for our work. Do not ask us for a discount, do not ask us for free behavior advice.

I am sure that as I process things, I will have other things to add here, but I believe this is a good start.

FREE Rally Obedience Course – May 1, 2020

Course Details

Level: Novice (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x50′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: Big challenge in this is course is the changes of pace at 15, 16 & 17. In some cases, handler cues were late at 16 causing dogs to forge ahead. In other cases, the handler did not change pace within the required distance of the sign.

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 50′ Course – Novice (T12-060)

DIY Rally-O Sign Holders

I saw this shown somewhere on pinterest as an idea for table assignment cards at a wedding, and thought it would be great for Rally-O signs!

You can make these sign holders with a few easy to find items.

  • 16 oz. Plastic Cups
  • Die Cut Numbers
  • Glue (glue tape, spray adhesive)
  • Thick tape (hockey tape, duct tape, gorilla tape)
  • Ruler
  • Box cutter
  • Scissors


Cut a small hole in the top of your plastic cup


Use your scissors to extend the box cutter hole across the diameter of your cup and down the sides of the cup approximately 1.5″


Use a 1″ to 2″ piece of hockey tape to reinforce the inside of the cup below the cuts you have made.


Apply adhesive to the back of your numbers, and stick them to the plastic cup. Remember to apply the numbers parallel to the cut you have made.

Your sign holder is now finished!

If you prefer a video tutorial, I’ve got on here for you. Enjoy!

FREE Rally Obedience Course – April 1, 2020

Course Details

Level: Excellent Team (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x65′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: There are some good opportunities to practice working around exciting obstacles in this course.

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 65′ Course – Excellent Team (T12-054)

19 Things Dog Sport Fanatics can do while respecting social distancing protocols

1. Organize your dog related paperwork. We’ve all got scorecards, Title certificates and, vet records that need organising.

2. Update your dog’s page on any Websites/Databases they are listed on. If your paperwork is all organized, this shouldn’t take long.

3. Display your awards. You’ve worked hard for those titles and ribbons. Get those certificates in frames and hang your rosettes!

4. Streamline your dog show wardrobe. Take a look at your closets. Sort through your clothing to determine what you like and what fits. With the rest, determine whether it’s garbage or whether it can be sold, given away or donated.

5. Take a look at your canine library. Sort through your dog books to determine what you might refer back to and what you haven’t opened in years. With the rest, determine what can be sold, given away or donated.

6. Clean out your vehicle. My car’s main duty is to transport me and the grrls to and from dog activities. As such, it tends to collect a lot of dog related junk: Ribbons, leashes, pails, sand, mud, and dog hair. Now’s a good time to give your vehicle a spa day.

7. Sort through and clean your Show/Trial/Class bags, buckets and tack boxes. These are also things that tend to collect dirt and clutter.

8. Sort through your dog supplies. We’ve all got more grooming tools, grooming supplies, supplements, collars, leashes, toys etc than we use. Now’s a good time to sort through things to determine what you have not used in the last 12 months, what might be expired, and what you might need. Determine what you want to keep, what needs to be thrown away, and what you cam sell, give away, or donate. Use your ‘things I need’ list to support small business in your area.

9. Wash your fabric, nylon, and paracord collars and leashes and harnesses. I’ve always washed mine with my usual detergent in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. I leave them to hang dry.

10. Clean and condition your leather collars, leashes and harnesses. Your leather items can’t go in the washer, but they can be cleaned and conditioned. Clean and well conditioned leather will last a lifetime!

11. Wash your doggy bedding and clothing. My dog bedding gets washed in the dirty/hot water cycle and dried on high heat. Sweaters and coats are usually washed in the cold/gentle cycle and hung to dry.

12. Wash and repair your larger equipment. Jumps, tunnels, treadmills, inflatables, grooming tables, crates, platforms, etc can all likely use a good scrubbing.

13. Wash your dogs toys. Fabric toys can be washed in the washing machine (regular/cool cycle, extra rinse) and tossed in the drier (Low). I air dry toys with ‘live squeakers’ as I find the dryer heat damages them. Most plastic or rubber toys can be washed in the dishwasher, or hand washed (use a scrub brush) after a good soak.

14. Prepare dog training treats and/or show bait. You can make stuff from scratch or chop and portion prepared items. Both can be prepared now and frozen for future use.

15. Maintain your regular grooming schedule. If you are not showing, you will still want to maintain coat so your dog is ready to shine once we are permitted to hold shows again. If you own a pet or performance dog, and your groomer has closed shop, you may need to take on a larger share of the grooming. YouTube has tons of great tutorials.

16. Maintain your dog’s fitness level. Outdoor walks in open areas, cycling, and treadmills are great ways to maintain physical fitness whole respecting a social distancing protocol.

17. Continue training at home. Chances are, when this pandemic has run it’s course, you will still want to show or trial your dog. Keep up your home training so you are ready to enter shows and trials when the time comes. If you need instruction, check out online dog traing options.

18. Consider online or virtual titling opportunities. If you are the kind of person who uses titles as motivation you to train your dog, there are quite a few online options available. Basically, to receive a virtual or video title, you submit video(s) to an organisation to have your performance scored. Many of these venues have multiple sports and varying levels of difficulty.

19. Reach out to your dog sport communities. One of the things I love about my dog ‘family’s networks, is that we rally to support each other in times of need. So if, you are doing shopping, offer to pick up food (dog and human) for those in isolation. Fortunately, current information. If you are able, offer to care for the animals of those who are ill.

FREE Rally Obedience Course – March 1, 2020

Course Details

Level: Advanced Team (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x65′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 65′ Course – Advanced Team (T12-054)

Fit YOUR Mask First

If you have ever had the pleasure of traveling with a commercial airline, you are familiar with the passenger safety briefings. This is when the airline staff relay the safety features and procedures specific to the aircraft you are on. If your aircraft flies high enough, this briefing includes a demonstration of the oxygen masks to be used when the cabin pressurization system fails. After demonstrating how to use these masks, they always tell you to fit your mask before trying to help anyone else. The logic here is that if someone requires assistance to put on a mask, there is no way they will be able to help you if you lose consciousness while attempting to help them, but if they lose consciousness while you are fitting your mask, you can still help fit their mask and potentially save a life.

Last year, during a session where I got to act as a Teaching Assistant in a really cool online class for the even cooler Andrea Varep Harrison, this safety briefing came to mind as we discussed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as it relates to our ability (or inability) to be motivated to pursue our goals. The Hierarchy of Needs was not a new concept to me but with the safety briefing in mind, something became clearer to me.

Looking at the hierarchy through the lens of my current mental health knowledge I see how practicing self-care to ensuring physical and psychological needs are met, has a HUGE effect on our lives. It helps shape how we feel about goals, whether we feel like setting goals and whether we are even ABLE to meet those goals.

From personal experience, I have felt like a better friend, better spouse, better instructor and better dog trainer when my own mental health demons, are well managed. This doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days or frustration in my life. It means that when I am taking care of myself, I am no longer the barrier to my own progress towards goals. When I fit my own oxygen mask, I’m better prepared to act in my own life positively.

In Canada and the US, we know that 1 in 5 of us will experience some form of mental illness, and the canine community is no exception. If you have been struggling with a specific dog sport goal for some time, before you assume you are not reaching your goals because you are a bad trainer, or because you aren’t as disciplined as that girl in your online class, or because you have The Worst Dog In The World, I would like you to try one thing. Please?

Fit your oxygen mask first.

Sit down in a quiet place and take 5 minutes to consider how your physical and mental health might be playing a role in your current inability to meet goals. If simply contemplating 5 minutes of self reflection alone has you in tears, you have your answer before you’ve begun. If your 5 minutes of self reflection reveals some areas for improvement, jot them down. Either way, a discussion with your primary healthcare provider may be the first real step forward towards your dog training goals.

FREE Rally Obedience Course – February 1, 2020

Course Details

Level: Novice Team (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x65′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 65′ Course – Novice Team (T12-054)

2019: 36, 000 kilometers of Podcasts

I got my brand new car at the beginning of June. In just over 6 months, I have put about 36, 000 kilometers on it. Most of that was dog related travel and all of it was with me as the driver. Podcasts are my go to entertainment on the road because they are free and plentiful. . In no particular order, here are the podcasts I listened to on the road last summer with their descriptions as they appear to me on my podcast app.

Crime Junkie ~ Ashley Flowers & Brit Prawat ~ Crime Junkie is a weekly podcast dedicated to giving you a true crime fix. Every Monday, Ashley Flowers will tell you about whatever crime she’s been obsessing over that week in a way that sounds like you’re sitting around talking crime with your best friends. The storytelling is straightforward and free of rabbit holes so the cases stay suspenseful and are easy to follow. If you can never get enough true crime… Congratulations, you’re a Crime Junkie!

Dr. Death ~ Laura Beil ~ Dr. Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain, and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away. But soon his patients started to experience complications. And all they had to protect them was a system ill equipped to stop the madness.

Fatman Beyond ~ Kevin Smith, Marc Bernardin ~ Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin give us their spin on pop culture before going in depth on the finery geekery we all know and love.

Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast ~ Melissa Breau ~ For the last 4 years, FDSA has been working to provide high-quality instruction for competitive dog sports online, using only the most current and progressive training methods. And now we’re bringing that same focus to you in a new way. Each episode of the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast will feature an interview with a leading name in the competitive dog sports training world, talking in depth about issues that often get overlooked by traditional training methods. We’ll release a new episode every Friday, so stay tuned–and happy training!

Savvy Psycologist ~ Jade Wu ~ Meet life’s challenges with evidence-based research, a sympathetic ear, and zero judgment. We’ll use the best of psychology to help you be happier, healthier, and most importantly, yourself.

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine ~ Justin and Dr. Sydnee McElroy ~ Every Friday, they dig through the annals of medical history to uncover all the odd, weird, wrong, dumb and just gross ways we’ve tried to fix people over the years. Educational? You bet! Fun? We hope!

Science Vs ~ Wendy Zukerman ~ Science Vs is your team of friendly fact checkers that blow up your firmly held opinions and replace them with science. Wondering whether you should drink detox teas like an insta-celeb, or believe your drunk uncle’s rant about gun control? Science Vs has an ep for that.

Stuff You Should Know ~ Charles (Chuck) Bryant, Josh Clark ~ If you’ve ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

The Daily Zeitgeist ~ Jack O’Brien, Miles Gray ~ There’s more news and less comprehension today than any historical period that didn’t involve literal witch trials, and trying to stay on top of it all can feel like playing a game of telephone with 30 people, except everyone’s speaking at the same time and like a third of them are openly racist for some reason. From Cracked co-founder Jack O’Brien, THE DAILY ZEITGEIST is stepping into that fray with some of the funniest and smartest comedic and journalistic minds around. Jack will spend up to an hour every weekday sorting through the events and stories driving the headlines, to help you find the signal in the noise, with a few laughs thrown in for free.

Return of the FREE Rally Courses – January 1, 2020

Forgive me friends! Somehow, it’s been six and a half  years since I’ve shared a rally course with you, but I’m back and I’ve got plenty of courses in the vault for you.

Course Details

Level: Excellent Team (CARO)

Space Required: 30’x70′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: This is a fun team course with a jump for each team. Team one only has a 4 sits, while team 2 has 7 sits including a sit stay! This is one of those courses where having team partners with skills that compliment yours really helps!

Download this Course: CARO 30′x 70′ Course – Excellent Team (T12-052)

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