The Clown Can Stay, but the Ferengi in the Gorilla Suit Has to Go!

Aside from a four hour clinic today, I have USDAA courses to wrap up for Indy in two weeks, and some course reviewing to do for the TDAA. There’s also a couple of new TDAA games I need to review.

By the way… one free “Small Universe” CD to the first person who can tell me exactly where the title quote comes from (and, it’s not enough to say “Star Trek”).

Course Design and the TDAA


The course pictured here was a Superior course used in the first TDAA Petit Prix in 2004. The course demonstrates a number of the course design considerations that make the TDAA unique from other agility venues.

Straight away you’ll note that the transitional distances between obstacles is considerably tighter than in any other venue. This course shows transitions of as little as 8’. Though as TDAA courses go, this course is a bit on the generous side as far as spacing between obstacles goes. In a straight line of jumps the judge can actually set the spacing between the jumps to as little as 6’ or 8’. Though you’ll note in the case of some kind of technical challenge – a discrimination problem or a trap – the judge is typically going to open up the approach to as much as 12’ to give the handler room to solve.

Another big difference between the TDAA and other venues is that we allow a course to begin (or even end) with a technical obstacle like a contact or the weave poles.

This course was designed on the round which is somewhat unusual in the Americas. But it is a very effective design for maintaining spectator access and appeal. To calculate the area of a circle, the formula is: pi * radius2 (pi = 3.1416). So, if you want to know the area of a circle with a 70’ diameter (which would be a 35’ radius) the calculation would be: (3.1416 * (35 * 35) = 3848.46 ft2.) And you know I didn’t know until the very moment that I did the calculation for this article, that the 70’ diameter circles comes in somewhat less in area than is supposed to be allowed under the TDAA rules (calling for a minimum of 4,000 ft2.)

As you can see, the rather diminutive TDAA equipment fits rather comfortably inside of this small area.

What We’ve Learned about the Smaller Courses

It is no accident that the first three TACh dogs in the TDAA were Yorkies. This organization was created very specifically for the smaller dogs. Many people who handle dogs successfully in the big dog venues do so because issues of timing are inconsequential. They might very well flounder in the TDAA until they have learned to handle the small dog with the same kinds of skills and keenness of timing that big dog handlers face on a weekly basis in another organization.

One of the criticisms of the TDAA (and good excuses to avoid competition in the TDAA) is that the smaller courses tend to slow dogs down. It is actually quite true that a dog’s yards per second (YPS) will go down in the TDAA; but, in fact, dogs don’t actually move slower than on a big dog course. Well, you must wonder how both can be true.

Technical obstacles and technical moments will always slow a dog down. If the number of technical obstacles and technical moments on the TDAA course are the same as on the big dog course the consequences of slowing down will always loom larger on the TDAA course. Think about it this way. On a big dog course the time lost on technical performance is made up on the flat, that expanse of real estate between the obstacles. A TDAA course just does not have as much flat… as will a big dog course.

Many small dogs actually move considerably quicker on a TDAA course than on a big dog course. The reason for this is simple, the courses are more invigorating to the dog – the action comes fast and furious; rather than having eight or ten strides between obstacles, the dog might have two-strides.



MS Vista for all of the wailing about its’ performance and pitfalls is really not a bad interface. It seems though with each new release I lose capabilities that I had before. An interesting thing about it though… the system keeps a stat counter on all of the internal games. In Windows XP only Freecell has a stat-counter. I keep about a 98% win rate in Freecell. I would have thought that my win percent would be as high in Hearts, but it just ain’t so. My rate tends to flicker between 86 & 87%.

Yesterday I logged a rare “Shoot the Moon” game. It’s very hard to do. I’m gratified that it keeps a “Best Game” notation on the stats page (so I really don’t every have to do it again).

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at


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15 Responses to “The Clown Can Stay, but the Ferengi in the Gorilla Suit Has to Go!”

  1. Solveig T Says:

    I know nothing about Star Trek, but I have to give it a try anyway: La Forge says this during the Farpoint mission.

  2. budhouston Says:


    Clever try Solveig. But wrong. While he did say it originally on the Farpoint mission… we weren’t actually there and we weren’t privy to the quote for seven more years.


  3. Mark Says:

    Here is the beginning of the quote: “A monk, a clone, and a Ferengi decide to go bowling together…” DATA

  4. Erica Says:

    It’s from the movie Generations. The original series was best, but I’m old and don’t do well with change.

    Live long and prosper!

  5. budhouston Says:

    Okay. Contest over, and Erica wins (get in touch & I’ll send you the Small Universe CD).

    I pretty much knew as soon as I posted it that somebody might Google the question and I figured it would be too obscure to even Google. But no, in the afternoon I ran the query myself and got dozens and dozens of hits.

    Solveig got tripped up by reading in the text that Data had heard the joke from La Forge in the Farpoint mission. As far as I know that was anecdotal, and in fact we didn’t actually hear the quote until the movie “Generations”. (Mark has me doubting myself because I was unawares of the start of the joke… which argues that we actually did hear the whole thing some where or another).

    Solveig’s protestations about knowing nothing of Star Trek are well taken… but she is a clever fan of Google. What the heck Solveig… I better send you a CD too. (Mark is feeling real left out right now).


  6. Mark Says:

    In the movie Generations, DATA starts laughing, saying he’s finally gotten a joke La Forge told to Riker during the events of “Encounter at Farpoint” (which we never heard). The punchline is “The clown can stay, but the Ferengi in the gorilla suit has to go”.

    How am I incorrect? The quote comes from DATA?

  7. budhouston Says:

    Hey Mark,

    I didn’t say you were wrong. But you didn’t answer the question either. Data yes; but the correct answer was in “Generations”. ;0

    It was the worst Data role that Brent Spiner did in the Next Generation movies; mostly because the failed emotion chip was irrelevant to the overall plot and cast him as a character considerably less than heroic. He redeemed himself finally in First Contact. IMHO


  8. Mark Says:

    OK Bud – Using your logic, tell me where this quote comes from.

    “You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”

    (And it’s not enough to say “Baseball Manager)


  9. budhouston Says:

    Um… Yogi Berra?

    Ok, using my logic, what do I win?


  10. Mark Says:

    Bud – you have just been promoted from agility instructor to competency evaluator for the State of Ohio for students completing the 8th grade. Your job is now to evaluate the standardize test scores to determine which students get rewarded with advancing to high school and which get to repeat 8th grade. You determine the 8th graders fall into one of the three categories. Here is how I see your evaluation going:

    GROUP 1 – Aced the standardized test with A and B work and clearly get moved on to high school.

    GROUP 2 – Got none of the answers on the standardized test correct. This group guessed at multiple-choice answers, copied from their neighbors, and had cheat sheets taped to their arms. However, due to their cleverness and resourcefulness in attempting to get the correct answers, they also will be rewarded passage to high school.

    GROUP 3 – This group fell slightly behind group 1. Although clearly demonstrating they knew the test material, their answers were slightly off the mark. Well-written essays had spelling errors and complex math calculations had an occasional misplaced decimal point or rounding error. This group will be forced to repeat 8th grade with the hope they will move into group 1 or 2 next year.

  11. budhouston Says:

    Mark, Mark, Mark….

    I’m sorry. That is NOT a promotion. Why would I aspire to being a teacher? They spend 4 years–to the rest of their lives in college. Then they work for less money than anybody with comparable education might earn in our society. And they are subject to the whim of every idiot “no child left behind” Republican politician that might have half a notion to interfere with the work of teachers (which is…. all Republican politicians).

    I know you actually have a point. But since your forte is not actually making your point, I would suggest, wear a hat.

    By the way… you didn’t even say if I got the answer right or not.


    (are you a Mark that I actually know?)

  12. Jenn Says:

    Hey Bud,

    Looking forward to giving your courses a go in Indianapolis. 🙂 Hopefully the day will flow well for everyone – and maybe we’ll leave while there’s still a bit of daylight (though that’s probably wishful thinking).

    Thanks for your suggestions on the Show & Go course by the way – I can’t recall if I replied to that, but if I didn’t – it was certainly very helpful! 🙂 The property owners ended up moving their own fence around a bit, so we expanded the agility field to 90 x 180 this fall (easier mowing). We don’t use that much space at once, but the dogs sure like having that big of a fenced area to play!

    Jenn & the Shelties

  13. Wayne Says:

    I think Mark answered your question correctly. You asked “who can tell me exactly where the title quote comes from.” He was exact.

  14. Mark Says:

    Dear Mr. Houston;
    For someone who constantly challenges his readers with puzzles and riddles, I am very surprised this riddle got past you. My fabricated teacher story is actually an apologue, a brief fable or allegorical story with pointed or exaggerated details, meant to serve as a pleasant vehicle for a moral doctrine or to convey a useful lesson without stating it explicitly. Unlike a fable, the moral is more important than the narrative details. As with the parable, the apologue is a tool of rhetorical argument used to convince or persuade. Obviously I did neither as my point was completely lost and I have been wearing a hat for two days. I will attempt to answer your three questions and make my point a little less subtle.

    Yogi Berra? YES – In my humble opinion you are 100% correct. A quote is normally identified by its author. For this you get to go to the head of the class and join GROUP 1 and claim your prize, unlike me who was relegated to the purgatory of GROUP 3. Your prize – in place of a “Small” CD you have won a “Petit” DVD. You already have it.


  15. The Smith Says:

    can I just say that the original quote is from La Forge during the Farpoint mission, the fact that we mere mortals did not hear the words until Data mentioned it during Generations is not relevant – I would like to dispute classifying La forge as the origin as merely anecdotal because Data clearly attributes direct authorship to La Forge.

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