Masters of Point Accumulation

This evening I’m doing a private lesson with a couple of my students preparing for play in the TDAA. They’ll be heading up for a TDAA trial at Clairmont County Dog Training Club (over by Cincinnati). One of the games to be played on the weekend is Truth or Dare (the invention of Jeff Boyer). This is clearly one of the most interesting games to emerge in our sport in the past several years. It’s a simple premise; the floor is laid out with a standard course. You can either run the standard course (Truth) or run a dog’s choice point accumulation strategy (Dare). The Truth strategy yields a fixed number of points plus a bonus point for each second under standard course time. The Dare course yields points on the same 1-3-5 schedule with a penalty point deducted for each second over QCT.

What should it be? Truth or Dare? The questions really boils down to these… can a dog be directed to a more profitable point accumulation strategy in the time it would take to run the Truth course? Can the Dare strategy make up the bonus difference by earning points at a rate greater than one-point per second? Can the dog stop time with an absolute minimum of penalty points?

USDAA players are possibly the masters of point accumulation in this country. Though I admit that TDAA players are learning in leaps and bounds compared to the more sedentary venues. An important key to maximizing point accumulation is to learn efficient back-to-back performance of obstacles. This shortens the transitional distance between obstacles.


This is an example of a point accumulation strategy intended to minimize the transitional distances between obstacles. You’ll note the obstacles on which I’ve determined to do back-to-back: pipe tunnel #1/2; tire #4/5; A-frame #9/10; pipe tunnel #11/12. I was so keen for back-to-back obstacle performance with my boy Bogie that I taught him a Turn Back command way back when so that he’d turn around and repeat an obstacle even when I was out of position.

The biggest mistake that handler’s make in the back-to-back is making to big a production out of turning back. The big wicked arm flails that handler’s give in the performance of a Front Cross represents a lost second, if not two.

And some handlers will tell me that the sharp turns are demotivating to their dogs. My only response to this can be… you’d better take the Truth course.

Two In One

Yesterday I knew pretty much that I had only one free evening. I could either go down fishing for an hour or maybe go into town to see the new Star Trek movie. I decided to fish. It was an interesting short trip. The water is just warming up and clearing from the rains. At the peak of the spring rainy season the river is cloudy from the silt and mud rushing downstream. When it settles, the fish are better able to see the bait.

I did something yesterday that I’ve only done twice before in my entire life. I caught two fish on a single cast. The first time I did this was in 1969 fishing down at Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas with my aunt Thelma and uncle Ellis where I caught two crappie using live minnow bait. The next time must have been about 1980 at the public lake in Fairfax, VA where I caught two perch that actually hit the same hook using earthworm bait. Yesterday I caught a carp and a catfish fishing on the bottom with two halves of the same earthworm arranged on separate hooks.

I kept the fish I caught yesterday in the Muskingum in a cooler and then deposited them in my own pond. The carp and the white amur that I have added to my pond will help control the grasses as possibly to some extent the algae (which some people mistakenly refer to as “scum”). Control of the grasses will help control the overabundance decomposing matter. I’ve already treated the pond for this condition and I’m pleased to report that the bottom seems solid and free of muck.

We do not live in a natural world. There are warnings about eating fish caught from our rivers because our industry pollutes those waters with impunity. And so I’ve had it in the back of my head that any fish I caught would go into my spring-fed pond. And after a year or so in that fresh natural water any poisons or toxins in them would be cleansed or passed through. Then I got to thinking about the “natural spring” that feeds my pond. My uphill neighbor is a corn and pig farmer. And unmistakably he uses pig poop as fertilizer for his crops. With that in mind, who really knows what antibiotics and other poisons seep into the ground water? I need to have the water of my pond tested.

We do not live in a natural world. I have no children so I am merely a tourist here. And I can report on the curious habits of the residents of my own land dispassionately. Our own feeding pens (McDonalds, for example) serve up beef that is unnaturally fattened and poisoned. Our population is exploding beyond any reasonable expectation that the environment can sustain it. And we poison our air and water with blasé indifference. This is a pyramid scheme, and will end as do all pyramid schemes.

The calendar has to be carefully managed.

Something Fun

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


2 Responses to “Masters of Point Accumulation”

  1. LINDA STUTZ Says:

    Hi Bud-
    You are absolutely right about our living in a pyramid scheme, and those on the top have the farthest to fall. This scheme is supported and promoted by our culture’s creed: “Buy this _______and it will make you happy!” IMO the biggest lie ever told, and every radio, television, billboard, newspaper, etc. shouts it thousands of times every day. The message is particularly aimed at children. It’s tough enough to convince myself of the lie, even harder to promote a different value system with kids.
    I enjoy the blog. Congratulations on your new pup- he’s adorable!

  2. Deb Auer Says:

    I’m trying to wrap my head around “dispassionate” and “Bud Houston” and, sorry, it’s not working. It’s possible to be a “tourist” and have children – I know lots of parents (my own included) who take a sightseeing approach to life. Based on your influence on a community of people, you are far from a “tourist.” As parents, we may permanently influence a few. In my case, two. Bud, I think you probably have influenced, and continue to influence, thousands, in conservative numbers.

    Looking forward to introducing you to a new group of people in September.


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