Monster

I’ve pretty much decided that I catch any really big fish out of my pond that they will grace my dinner table. The rationale is pretty simple. The big monster fish eat the little developing fish. So this evening with Kory the dock dog and I, pulled a monster out of the pond. It was a fat-belly catfish full of roe. Measuring about 2-1/2 feet, she was plenty big enough to eat the little bass I’ve stocked into the pond.

Note that I give Kory partial credit for the catch. He jumped about two feet into the air when the bobber went under water. It took me about 20 minutes to bring in the fish. And he gave me all the necessary moral support.

Today was a working day. I finished a section of wainscot in the training building, nailed the last boards up on the façade fence out front, repaired the stove in the red cabin, and put up screen doors for both cabins. That pretty much earned me an evening of fishing. I’m so glad it turned out well.

I also started work on JFF Notebook #30. Okay, I know… I said that I was done with the Notebook. But you know, I’ve written a lot of stuff that needs to be kept. This issue will be called “100 Days of Solitude”. If you’ve really followed along with my blog, you’ll know what that means.

I’m going to go geek on this issue. I’ll rig all of the CRCD drawings so that the reader can click on the upper right corner, and spawn the drawing into Course Designer. I reckon I owe a bunch of people a free copy for their online support of Small Universe. I hope I’ll be able to remember them all.

Misdirection

Misdirection is one of the favorite tools of the course designer. The dog is set on an implicit path towards an obstacle… but the course veers away to another.

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Here is a course that shows almost constant misdirection. If you trace the path of the dog it is fairly smooth and flowing. And yet, the dog is constantly offered wrong course opportunities should the dog care to allow the direction of his movement to come to a logical conclusion.

The Opening: #1 to #4

You’ll note also that handling options have been limited. For example, the handler cannot easily V-set the turn from jump #2 to jump #3 in order to line up jump #3 and the A‑frame because of the looming presence of the wrong-course pipe tunnel after jump #2.

However, the handler might V-set the turn from jump #1 to jump #2 in order to take the pipe tunnel out of the picture altogether. This opening is a bit problematic and risky because hard-right dismount of the A-frame. If the handler is caught with dog on right at the A-frame then the dog had better have a pretty good “stick” position at the bottom so that the handler can bend around to redirect the dog to jump #5.

It’s worth remembering that the A-frame is an accelerator. The dog will be about as easy to turn as a bowling ball if the handler is on the side away from the turn.

It could be what the handler really needs in the opening is a K.I.S. approach (Keep It Simple[1]): dog-on-right through the first three obstacles into a Front Cross on the landing side of jump #3.

Midcourse: #4 to #7

In the opening the handler has already considered risk reward scenarios for the A-frame. It will be easier to turn the dog away from the pipe tunnel to jump #5 if the handler is on the dog’s right side. However, if the dog has a pretty good stick at the bottom contact the handler might work the A-frame dog-on-right and then step in front of the dog on the dismount to bend the dog away.

The turn from jump #5 to the pipe tunnel at #6 warrants some discussion. The handler might simply Post Turn the dog to the jump. This is about the weakest signal for a turn the handler might give[2], no matter how logical or intuitive it seems. I’ll leave it to your imagination what all might happen when the handler gives too weak of a signal as the dog is dismounting an accelerating obstacle with a pipe tunnel looming.

The handler could, with dog-on-left use an RFP to convince the dog into the turn. So whether the handler uses a Post Turn (that actually works) or with an RFP for insurance, he makes the approach to jump #5 with the dog on his left side. The handler’s options are now to use a Back/Rear Cross at jump #5 (risking bar down, refusal, or inefficient turn) or a Tandem Turn (landing-side cross). It’s worth pausing a moment to consider the attributes of both of these turns. The Back Cross when well-executed creates a tightened turn on the landing side of the jump. The Tandem tends to sweep wide.

Another approach to solving the dismount of the A-frame would be for the handler to use a Front Cross as the dog comes down. This would at least predispose the handler to the dog’s left side, making the turn to the pipe tunnel at #6 logical to the dog. The difficulty in performance will have to do with the dog’s speed relative to the handler’s speed and, once again, the dog’s ability to stick the bottom performance. The handler cannot cross in front of the dog if the handler isn’t actually in front of the dog.

Midcourse: #7 to #11

This is a lot more difficult than it looks[3]. The tire looming in the dog’s path after jump #8 is an obvious misdirection option. However, it is so obvious that not many handlers will overlook it, and will successfully turn their dogs to jump #9. But that’s where the fun starts. If the handler is on the inside of the curve then the dog will come off of jump #9 looking very hard at the A-frame. And even if the handler successfully turns the dog off of the A-frame if the dogs turn goes too wide then he’ll be thinking of the left side of the tunnel.

For the handler who can outrace his dog, this sequence is no great challenge. It could be and should be solved using slow dog handling (putting turning movements forward of the dog). The handler can simply Front Cross after jump #8 to draw the dog back in line for jumps #9 and #10.

What’s not too obvious is that jumps #8 through #10 line up very nicely for the handler clever enough to set the corner of the approach.

The handler taking the dog out of the pipe tunnel at #6 is faced with a long transitional stretch of real estate and will have to know precisely how to set the corner of approach. The handler might pick up the dog on left after jump #7 and push out for a Post Turn approach. Or, the handler could draw the dog through jump #7 on his right side to set the corner with a Tandem on the flat. In either case the handler is predisposed to the dog’s right side. So, the dog had better have a pretty good directional turn cue for jump #10 or the handler had better be prepared with a deft Back Cross.

The Closing: #11 to #16

There might be several pretty good solutions for the closing. The easiest thing might be to simply layer to the landing side of jump #9 for a Front Cross. Now the handler will have dog-on-left for an easy finish. The most persistent error in this handling plan will be for the handler to prematurely pull to get into position for the landing-side Front Cross, consequently drawing the dog away from the tire, and earning a refusal. A bit of discipline, keeping focus on the tire is not too dear a price to pay.

The “fast dog” handlers are more inclined to keep dog on right from the exit of the pipe tunnel at #11 through jump #14.

It’s worthwhile at jump #14 to reexamine the attributes of the Back Cross and the Tandem Turn. The most important attributes of the Back Cross (cross on the take-off side) is that it creates a tightened turn on the landing side of the jump. The Tandem Turn (cross on the landing side) tends to create a wide sweeping turn. A very high percentage of dogs compelled into the turn with a Back Cross will earn a refusal at jump #15. The Tandem Turn is almost certainly a better option. However, if the dog drifts wide after jump #13… then the handler will actually want to tighten the turn after jump #14.

Additional Training Sequences

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BLOG436 – BLOG25

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at www.dogagility.org/store.


[1] I never mention the second “S”

[2] The weakest possible signal would be “talking”.

[3] It’s the kind of sequence that I will very often put in my own courses because it asks of every smart aleck with a Border Collie to prove that the dog has a handler.

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