a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: An Opportunity to Expand One's Horizons

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

An Opportunity to Expand One's Horizons

SUMMARY: Dog agility blog event: Internationalization.

Today is one of those occasional days when "dog agility bloggers around the world ... join together ... to write on interesting and helpful topics for dog agility enthusisiasts." Read more about the group.

Today's topic is "Internationalization," and by the end of the day there should be a huge collection of posts on internationalization for you to browse.

Our fearless organizer, Steve S., says "This topic is about whatever it means to *you*." What it means to me: The chance to stretch one's education.

Early in my agility career (a lonnnng time ago), I naively suggested to my agility instructor that agility needed more kinds of obstacles because, after all, once you've learned to do a jump, what else is there to know? Now, of course, I know painfully well that fabulously interesting and challenging courses can be built with our increasingly limited set of obstacles. Some of that comes from the expansion of agility throughout the world--the more people and organizations involved in keeping handlers and dogs challenged, the more things we discover about what's possible.

Recently I've seen more courses like none I've ever seen before, built with nothing more than jumps.

And speaking of jumps-- (do you like that segue?)--

I like international agility because it prompts us to learn more about the rest of the world in general. Thanks to master jump builder Jim Basic, we learn some every week in class as Nancy Gyes and Jim instruct us to "Start at Brazil, take the back side of Germany, rear cross Japan..."  (See some photos of their jumps in the slide show on their web site.) Here are some tidbits to go along with the color:

Flag of ArgentinaArgentina: Bay Teamer and world team member Silvina Bruera came to California from Argentina in South America, which is the 7th-largest country in area and the largest Spanish-speaking country. The name "Argentina" is derived from the Latin argentum ("silver") because the first Spanish conquerors arrived following rumors of the existence of silver mountains (which don't actually exist). Until the mid-20th century, English speakers often called it "the Argentine", which sounds more exotic and adventurous--"I've competed in agility in the Argentine--"
Flag of BrazilBrazil: This is the fifth largest country in the world, occupying most of central and eastern South America, with the world's 7th-largest GDP. It's the only country in the Americas where the primary language is Portuguese. The word "Brazil" comes from brazilwood, a tree that once grew plentifully along the Brazilian coast and that produces a red dye also known as also known as "Natural Red 24." At the first USDAA Nationals I attended, in southern California, I remember Brazil as being one of the few other countries to send a team, some of whom made it into the final round and were loudly cheered.
Canadian FlagCanada: Canada is the world's 2nd-largest country in total area--but only 4th largest if you don't count the huge expanses of water within its borders. The country's name comes from "kanata", an Iroquoian word meaning "village." (Iroquois are a league of several indigenous matriarchal tribes living in southeastern Canada and northeastern U.S.) Norsemen briefly colonized Newfoundland around 1000 A.D., and that was it for Europeans for another 500 years. Canadian agility organizations (or should that be organisations) and U.S. organizations closely parallel each other, and plenty of high-quality agility competitors and gurus come from Canada, despite all that snow, eh? ohhhh nooo I'm missing a photo of the Canada jump! Will have to remedy that.
France: Per Wikipedia, "the name France comes from the Latin Francia, which means 'country of the Franks'. There are various theories as to the origin of the name of the Franks. One is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. Another proposed etymology is that in an ancient Germanic language, Frank means free as opposed to slave." Nearly 20% of the territory of France lies outside Europe. In France, dog agility is called simply "L'agility" (the agility), as in, "This weekend, I'm doing the agility, merci, ooh-la-la, cherchez la chien."
Germany: There is no law regulation on the exact color shades of the German flag, so there may be differences from one flag to the next. The name "Germania" appears as early as 200 B.C. in Roman texts--possibly meaning simply "related tribes", as in related to, but different from, the Gauls (in France). The standard German language is closely related to English and Dutch. Beethoven and Einstein were German, although it is not known whether they did dog agility.
Japan: The Japanese characters that make up this country's name mean "sun-origin"--hence, "Land of the Rising Sun." Japan is an archipelago of--holy contact zone, Batman!-- 6,852 islands! Hmm, possibly island-hopping led to agility-jumping. Makes sense to me. Japanese teams attending the USDAA Cynosports World Championships are always cheerful, excited, involved, well-coordinated, and successful. Japanese team and their decorations, 2007 at Scottsdale:

Norway: This country's motto is "Alt for Norge," meaning "Everything for Norway." Their anthem is "Yes, we love this country." Isn't that sweet? No battle anthems for them! It's generally believed that the country's name comes from the Old Norse "nor veg", meaning "northern route/way." Norway doesn't allow dogs' tails to be docked and, in fact, won't even allow them to come into the country from outside, which caused ruckus in the international community when they held the world championships and a couple of champions from other countries couldn't compete. The term for agility in Norway is simply "agility," and Wikipedia says this about that: "Ordet agility kommer fra engelsk språk og betyr «evne til å bevege seg hurtig, smidig og lett». Det har sin opprinnelse i det latinske agilis som på norsk finnes i ordet agere, å handle eller å gjøre." So there.uh-oh, missing this one, too.

Spain: There are four official languages in Spain (Castilian, Catalan, Basque, and Galician), three unofficial regional languages (Asturian, Aragonese, and Aranese), and several more dialects of these (Andalucian, Valencian...). Despite all these rich vocabularies, no one really knows where the name Hispania (from which Spain is derived) originates. It might derive from the Greek poetic use of Hesperia, in one sense meaning "land of the setting sun." Looks like Japan and Spain have the whole day surrounded.   Another scholar, per wikipedia, "argues that the root of the term span is the Phoenecian word spy, meaning "to forge metals". Therefore i-spn-ya would mean "the land where metals are forged"." I wonder whether it's the land where dog agility jumps are forged?

Sweden:  15% of Sweden is north of the Arctic Circle; however, thanks to the Gulf Stream, it's much warmer and drier than other countries at the same latitude. "Sweden" comes from an Old English word meaning "land of the Swedes." The Swedish name for the country, "Svierge," means "Kingdom of the Swedes." No one seems to know what "Swedes" were. Sweden has been at peace, avoiding war, for 200 years. Does that include discussions about the worth of various agility handling systems?

United States of America: The country's name comes from "United," meaning "united," and "States," meaning "states." There's a nice round 50 states in the U.S., as the stars on the flag indicate. However, that hasn't always been the case--the 13 stripes represent the initial 13 colonies who founded the U.S.  Some of the interesting states are: California. Which is where I live, and which is a hotbed of dog agility. The first California Grizzly Bear flag appeared in 1846; the species was hunted to extinction in the state in 1922.  Interesting facts about some other states: There are no poisonous snakes in Maine. [OK, really, there are 50 states! And they are all interesting! I have been to about 45 of them, so I can vouch for that! Go see all their flags on Wikipedia!]

Note: Flags referenced to images on Wikimedia Commons. I had some trouble with their automatically generated HTML for images, so some images link directly back to the source and others don't.


  1. Hey, I remember those jumps! Fun take on the internationalization theme.

    And thanks for clearing up the mystery of what your country's name actually means! ;-)

  2. oh what a cool take on it :D

    thanks - have always loved your international jumps :D

    1. Thanks! Jim's jumps; my photos of them. ;-)

  3. Nice post Ellen, very creative to match the creativity of Jim's internationalization of the painting of his jumps:) NJG

  4. One of the better Internationalization Agility post I read ;) Fun bright colors and not so serious!