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Judge Jane Clark: More on Modification

How WCRL accommodates dogs with disabilities.


Rally judge Jane ClarkAs a rally judge, Jane Clark encounters many variations in the teams that enter trials, including handlers whose dogs have physical disabilities. WCRL regulations allow for dogs with disabilities to compete as long as their ailments do not cause pain or subject them to other harm, and handlers are allowed to request modifications for specific exercises by submitting a form to the judge. 

“With the regulations in mind, the teamwork required for a successful performance is quite evident,” Jane said. “When dogs have hearing impairments, the handlers typically have taught a good visual connection. When dogs have visual impairments, the handlers have taught a good auditory connection. These handlers also have a means of regaining that connection with no or minimal deductions.” 

For example, handlers can make their cues more pronounced and given more directly in the line of sight of dogs with hearing loss. Dogs with visual impairments can receive an auditory marker to provide the location of a jump or retrieve article. Dogs who use carts are allowed a wider turn radius into certain obstacles. 

Jane added that a request for modification is not a request for leniency in judging. “The team’s performance generally fits within the exercise parameters. I’m glad that WCRL provides the opportunity for a variety of teams to compete. When challenges are presented and overcome with an exercise modification, the special bond and teamwork exhibited in their rally entries always make me smile.” 

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