Working or Amateur Stream?

Which should you enter?

The question often comes up because between an “ordinary” competitor and “professional” competitor there are at least 10 shades of grey, if not 50. Therefore, the SDDA has left this decision up to each competitor to decide if they are truly a professional (instructor, trainer, K9 handler, etc.). For what it’s worth, a personal guideline as an SDDA instructor is if I advertise scent work classes and take money for teaching on a regular basis (even if only one day a week), I am a professional. Since I have now been doing that for over 5 years plus seminars, I feel my exposure to 1,000s of dogs has pushed me into the professional category. So, even with my green, baby dog at Started level, I enter Working Stream.

Is there a difference between a competitor who has titled and is re-entering the same level versus an instructor or law enforcement handler? Well, sure, but we have two Streams only and if you’ve completed that level once, you have a small advantage over those who have not yet done so.

Is it judged the same? Well, the answer to that is equally grey. Firstly, the difference is minor – simply a matter of a slightly higher standard for handling; and secondly, it requires the host to make it clear to the judge that the competitor is in Working Stream. Yes, it’s marked on the score sheets, but judges may well miss seeing that if those competitors aren’t separated as a group from Amateur Stream teams.
The main goal is for placement purposes IF the host is offering placements. Some do and some don’t. It may be cost prohibitive for hosts to purchase two sets of placement ribbons only to find there is only one Working Stream entry in a particular level or component. However, it is something that is encouraged so that someone who has never competed in a sport before with their six-year-old farm dog is not competing against someone with vastly more experience, even if her dog is a new pup.

And finally, there are no Streams in Elite at all. To get to that level, there won’t be much difference from a sport perspective between experienced professionals and experienced amateurs. It’s hard work getting through to Elite and often means many trials and venues. We salute all of you who play at that level!

Karin Apfel

SDDA Instructor

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