Meet the Judge – Scott Casino

Meet the Judge – Scott Casino  

Jan-14 PZ trial Cali and Scott

Where do you live?

I live in a van down by the river. Wait, no, that’s my smart aleck answer for the Champs questionnaire. I live in Chesapeake, VA (SE corner of VA). In a house. With a wife. And four dogs.

How many dogs do you have?VT 2011 4 dogs at Dog Mountain

My wife & I have four dogs (I think I hear an echo). I run two shelties, Cali & Summer, and a pomeranian, named Joslyn (sometimes referred to as the SchutzenPom, which also happens to be my NADAC Forum screen name). My wife Diana runs a rough collie named Chesnee. We mostly do agility although Cali & Chesnee like herding and have a few herding titles.

What is your “day” job?

I am a highly trained ne’er do well but regrettably, that’s not a very well-paying profession. So by day, I am the Shelter Behavior Consultant for Virginia Beach Animal Care & Adoption Center where my responsibilities include observing animal behavior, developing & implementing plans to increase animal adoptability, and working with shelter staff and volunteers in a variety of capacities. We take in over 7000 companion animals per year, and as you might imagine it is a very dynamic and busy agency.

How did you get started in agility?

Well, I was kidnapped by aliens and they basically forced me to take up agility (but they never did teach me to like tunnels–it takes me a long time to get through them). Whoops, my bad…got carried away.

Actually, I started agility when we got Cali. We heard that shelties were good at the sport and there was a place just a few minutes from our house that offered agility classes. So we signed up for a class and liked it and kept coming back for more. Then we went to some trials, and met a bunch of dog geeks who liked to drink beer after the trial was over, and we were hooked. (Isn’t that how everyone starts?) We tried several venues but found that we enjoyed NADAC the most and now trial exclusively in NADAC, mostly in the mid-Atlantic area.

How long have you been a NADAC judge?

I’ve been a judge for two years. But I’ve been involved in competitive sports judging for a while: prior to becoming a NADAC Judge, I was a collegiate basketball referee for 14 years (yes, this part is actually true).

What made you want to become a NADAC judge?

The rock-n-roll lifestyle of course! It’s such a thrill to watch people picking up dog poop at 7am. The opportunity to start conversation with total strangers by just saying “Good Luck!”

Seriously, I became a judge because I like the challenge of setting courses, watching people run their dogs on them, and seeing different handling approaches to course challenges. I also enjoy the travel and meeting new people. See, now wasn’t the first part of this answer more fun? LOL

What is your favorite class to judge?

Tunnelers. Most everyone likes it, the dogs run fast, and it tends to get competitors/spectators involved from the sidelines. I cheer for the handler which sometimes seems to encourage others to as well…it makes for a really fun, sometimes raucous class.

What is your favorite class to compete in with your dogs?

Jumpers. Its pretty much about you and your handling. Nothing feels better than nailing a Jumpers course because you are communicating in a timely and efficient manner with your partner.

What do you never leave home without? (judging or competing)

Trick question. I know the answer to this one: American Express.

In case you couldn’t guess, I always try to bring a sense of humor. (Granted, my sense of humor can be a bit off-beat, shall we say?) Its important to have fun at a trial so that we enjoy the time with our dog friends and our dogs. So I try to keep things light and fun at trials when I am judging.

Oh, and I bring a bag of donuts–the creme-filled kind with fudge on top and sprinkles–mmm, mmm. But for some reason, they never seem to get to the trial.

Anything else you would like to add?

I haven’t done enough damage yet? How about: “Stay thirsty my friends.”

Meet the Judge – Doug Ricks

 This month’s Meet the Judge is Doug Ricks! 


 I am very lucky to live on five acres, southeast of Seattle in Maple Valley, Washington. In addition to having most of it fenced for the dogs to “run free”, we have an agility arena on the property, so my commute to work is a five minute walk down the hill.

   There are six dogs ruling the place at this time. The two girls include the oldest Mazzi, a 12 year old cattle dog, followed by Rainy a 10 year old rescue aussie.  Then comes the boys : Boomer the aussie is almost 7, Reuben the Rottweiler is 4, Strider is a 2 year old aussie, and last but in no way least is Oberon who is a Rottweiler with endless energy for everything at a year and a half. Always something 2012-08-14_16.57.31going on with a pack like this.

   My day job, besides maintaining 5 acres, is as co-owner of Seattle Agility Center. We have classes in not only agility, but in nosework, basic and competition obedience, and Rally Obedience. There is some sort of class or activity going seven days a week and we really like to focus on the family dogs and those who really are into dogs for the love of dogs and the joy of play with them.

   We got started in agility about 15 years ago, because it just looked like so much fun. Diana had a “Runtweiller” who weighed less than 90 pounds and could run and jump with the best. My aussie was born to work, and really needed an active pursuit. We were training obedience at the time, and agility frankly looked like a whole lot more fun.

    I started up the ranks as an SP-1 judge in the summer of 2002. I wanted to be a judge in order to give back to the sport that had been such a big part of my life.  And since we introduce so many people to the sport, I wanted to contribute to making as many trials available to people as possible. I have enjoyed so many great benefits from judging, and not just learning how to stand in freezing and boiling temperatures for hours. There are so many great people and dogs that I have had the pleasure of watching, and really enjoy the chance to go back to an area and see a team that struggled in novice now sailing though elite.

    I really enjoy all of the classes as a judge, but my favorite is almost always jumpers. When the course is set just right and a dog and handler have everything working there is a beautiful grace and flow as they glide through the course.  Tunnelers is a close second most times because other than getting off course, what can go wrong? No bars, no contacts, no weaves, just run as fast as you can.

   My favorite class to compete in is also one of the most challenging for me at times, Touch n  Go.  Finding that balance between drive and control.  And of course jumpers is not far behind.

   When competing, I try to never leave for a trial without my dog. I have to admit one time I was actually backing out of the driveway IMG_2643when I noticed it was very quiet in the back seat. And what would I never leave home without when going to judge? My I-pod of course. I really don’t know how anyone survived those cross country flights without Angry Birds and custom music playlists – and noise cancelling headphones that do not quite block crying babies but make Eric Clapton sound ever so good.

    Lastly, I would like to thank NADAC for the opportunity to judge. Over the past 10+ years I have had the pleasure of seeing thousands of runs, and endless hours of people doing what agility is supposed to be all about – having fun with your dog. 

Doug Ricks 

Meet the Judge – Nick Sparks

This month’s Meet the Judge is Nick Sparks!

Where do you live?Nick Sparks

Nashville, TN

How many dogs do you have?
4 Shelties

Names? Ages?
Fiona 6.5, Mr. Shelby 5, Daphne almost 2, Micky (failed foster) around 3

What is your “day job”
Recording Engineer/producer

How did you get started in agility?
Fiona. Phyllis took her to simple obeisance class. Agility was in the other room and both Fiona and I took to it immediately

How long have you been a NADAC judge?
3 or so years

What made you want to become a NADAC judge?
The enjoyment of the sport and the people associated with the venue. Plus I am a travel nut. I enjoy becoming a part of location. Clubs that I have worked for will confirm that by the time I leave a location I have located places that natives know nothing about.

What is your favorite class to judge?
I don’t really have one. every region or club has a class that is more “their thing” and it is fun to determine the class and watch.

What is your favorite class to compete in with your dogs?
Strategy hoopers. I like to make up my own course

What do you never leave home without? (judging or competing)
coffee cup

Anything else you would like to add?
To combine fun and competition, doesn’t get much better. And to do that with your 4 Nick Sparkslegged teammate, tops the experience off.

Meet the Judge – Lark Pollari

Hi everyone, My name is Lark Pollari, a NADAC judge. I live in Big Timber, Montana. Big Timber is a small town of about 1700 peopleand about 500 dogs and 300 cats. I know these numbers because my job in real life ( outside of agility) is being the Animal Control Officer for the City of Big Timber.

I grew up in a ranching environment that always involved many dogs. Eventually I started taking any dog I had to obedience because that was all that was offered in my area. My claim to fame was winning a six week obedience course with a black and white Pekingese named Skunkie. She was one little dog with a huge heart.

Then around 2003 I saw some dog agility on the Animal Planet. I have no idea what venue it was or much of the details……I just knew that was the coolest thing I had ever seen and I wanted to do that with my dog. I had a Border Collie/Aussie named Ace that was so athletic and smart that I knew this was what we needed to do. So I began my search for dog agility in Montana. At that time there was little information available, even on the Internet. I eventually found some info for pure bred dogs but that did not do me much good. Months later just through conversation, I discovered a person that had done some agility and actually knew someone that gave lessons in Bozeman, MT, a town just 65 miles from where I live!! I was so excited that I went home and made the call that changed my life and put me on the path that I am on today!

Since then I have adopted three more dogs for my agility partners. Gadget is a Corgi mix that was a stray on a reservation in Montana. Derby is Sheltie/Border Collie that was in Sheltie rescue in Denver, CO and my newest addition, NineEleven… aka Niners, a shelter dog from Bozeman that I adopted on Sept. 11. Oddly enough all my dogs have been or are black and white. I have been accused of having a theme going, which I of course denied until I had to admit that my cat is also black and white. So maybe….

I attended my first judging clinic in May of 2010 and in July of 2010 I got put on the judges list. Since then I have the opportunity to build and judge in an unofficial capacity. Those opportunities have been priceless. I had my first official judging assignment for the GotDog? New Years Trial in 2011 with Greg Battaglia as my supervisor. Oh yah…it was awesome!! I could not believe it when the last dog ran on Sunday….it was like….no…I want more!!

So I am a new judge…..just starting down the road. I have met many great people since I started in agility and I think the NADAC agility family is the best. I look forward to meeting more dogs and people as the journey continues This is a great experience and absolutely confirms that this is the path I want to be on.