Monday, March 19, 2012

Volunteer at Your Next Dog Agility Trial

Participating in dog agility is one of the best ways to bond with your dog. After a few months of agility classes, you will notice that you and your dog communicate without having to say anything. It all has to do with body language. Dog agility trials offer you one more way to keep that bond strong and give you an idea of how your dog focuses on you even with so many distractions.

If you decide to enter an agility event with your dog, consider the volunteer opportunities available at the trial. Volunteering for one of the trial jobs helps you become acquainted with other competitors and makes the events run smoothly. It also gives you a close up view of the agility course and something to do besides get nervous before your agility run. Make sure you designate which events you are competing in when you fill out the volunteer form. This ensures you free time for your event. Even beginner agility enthusiasts can do most of the volunteer work.

Ring Crew

Volunteering for ring crew is a good starter job at the trial. All that is involved is sitting on the sidelines and watching the dogs run the course. If a dog should knock off a jump bar, you run in and put it back on the jump. Also, when the dog groups change, you set the jump bars to the correct height for the dog. You do not have to guess because the judge yells out the jump height.

Leash Runner

Leash runner is another beginner volunteer job. Each handler takes the leash and collar off the dog before beginning the course. The leash runner takes the collar and leash and carries it to the end of the course. When the dog completes the final obstacle, you hand the leash to the handler.

Course Builder

Course builders set up the new agility course for each event. This job involves moving jumps, tunnels, weave poles, A- frames, hoops, and dog walks. A course chart is available to show where the obstacles go and how they are numbered. The judge is also available to direct how the course should be set.


The time of each dog's run is calculated electronically. When the dog runs through the first obstacle, it registers on the time keeping machine. The timekeeper just has to make sure the time begins as soon as the dog begins its run and turns off when the dog passes the final obstacle.


The scribe's job is to write down the time it took each dog to complete the agility course. When the dog finishes the run, the timekeeper tells the scribe the dog's time.

North American Agility Council
Act Up Agility Club

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do I Need an Aquarium Bubbler and Air Pump for My Fish Tank?

Photo by Vestman

Freshwater and saltwater aquariums require equipment that prevents the water from becoming stagnant and polluted. Water movement provides oxygen for the fish, keeping them healthy and disease free. The aquarium filter is necessary for all aquariums because it filters out fish waste and excess fish food. The filter also provides oxygen as it circulates water throughout your fish tank. Two other pieces of aquarium equipment that aerate and move aquarium water are the air pump and bubbler. Although the air pump and bubbler are not essential equipment for your aquarium, they do provide extra aeration and water circulation in the fish tank.

Air Pump

An air pump produces air that flows through plastic tubing into an aquarium bubbler, air stone or into a sponge filter. Sponge filters do not provide their own pumping action like an external, power filter, so it needs a pump to force air into the filter and push the tank water through the filter material. Air pumps also carry air to bubblers and air stones through plastic tubing. The air produces bubbles that add oxygen to the aquarium.

Bubblers and Air Stones

The aquarium bubbler is a long tube with tiny holes that connects to the plastic tubing, which comes from the air pump. They are also known as ‘bubble wands’ or bubble walls’. Bubbles from the wands rise to the surface of the aquarium water, taking toxic gases out of the tank. The bubbles provide additional oxygen to the water, helping fish to remain healthy and active. The bubbles also keep the water moving, keeping fish waste and food from settling on the tank bottom.

Air stones are porous stones that release bubbles from air forced through air pump. Aquarists use air stones, not only for added aeration but also as ornamental bubble stones in the aquarium. The bubbles look great as they rise to the surface and they reflect the colors and lights of the fish tank.

So, if you’re wondering whether you need an air pump and bubbler, keep in mind that any extra oxygen you can add to the fish tank helps keep your fish healthy and bubbles are also pleasing to the eye.