Waning Poetic

Jeez I’m pretty tired now. At the end of day-one-of-six… it’s really a little early to be getting tired. But you know, after a small camp last week surrounded as it were with me being busy with chores on the homestead… it’s like I’ve been going non-stop for ten days already.


This week we have a camp for small dogs and, quite specifically, for TDAA dogs. In addition to the usual handling topics I’m going to spend a good deal of time on the games we’re going to play at the Petit Prix. I repeat that formula on Saturday and Sunday (with a large percentage of the same student by the way) as we will do a trial / seminar format.

The trial / seminar is unique to the TDAA right now. Participants actually get to run a standard course each day and play games that will count towards TDAA titling. Intermixed with the trial will be lecture and practice content much as you would get at a regular seminar. The thing I really have to watch is that we don’t actually practice the standard courses or the games. So much of our discussion will come after the qualifying events. And if you think about it, the bit that actually counts is the part that I would usually call the entertainment round.

We have a full house of about 12 dogs participating in the four day camp. This is absolutely my upper limit these days. I’ve done weekend seminars at which the host insisted on putting 15 or 18 dogs into working slots. But nobody ever gets enough work. 12 is a good number (but in the back of my head I really like 10 or even 8).

As you can see, there simply is no economy of scale to the working seminar.

I’m happy to have Vicki and Don Wolff here this week (with their pack of terriers). Don is the pro bono guru of our electronic scoring systems and our web master (www.k9tdaa.com). He and I had a nice long talk this evening about the scoring system for the 2009 Petit Prix.

At some point I have to sit down with membership and explain the scoring system. What we are actually trying to do is give balance and equity to the dogs that make it into the championship round.

The Illusion of the Expiration of the Handler’s Path

There are riddles in agility that seem quite simple and obvious to me that I find myself having to teach to others. After I have stated it… you should find it obvious to you too.


It’s a straight line from jump #3 to the tire at #4. Right? So why does the dog tuck in behind the handler and miss the #3 jump as in this illustration? The handler is working the straight line diligently (handler and dog paths in red). What went wrong?


And the answer is… it is not a straight line from jump #3 to the tire at #4. The dog’s path is dictated by the angle of approach. And you can clearly see here that the dog’s path is more “vee” like in nature and is not very straight at all. For the handler to fail to appreciate the shape of the dog’s path is an invitation to refuse the jump.

I’ve gratuitously added the green paths to the drawing… showing a handler who pulls forward of the dog into a Blind Cross to help shape the true path of the dog. Of course if the handler wanted to keep dog on left for the approach to the tire… then a Front Cross (or Blind Cross) simply wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

Paul Harvey



Look at the sea. What does it care about offences?

– James Joyce, Ulysses


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.


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