Who Dares Wins

I should begin by thanking our Petit Prix judges Paul Jensen and Beth Moline for some fantastic courses at the 2009 Petit Prix in Racine, WI. This was clearly our most exciting and competitive national tournament ever.

I want to spend a moment with the finals game… Who Dares Wins. This was an unusual sort of game; and what I call a leveling game. It simply was not enough to have a fast dog… which is usually what you get in any national tournament offering. This required both the fast dog and the canny handler, clearly a hallmark of the TDAA dog and handler team.

And the winners were:

4” – Emma – Lindsay Decker – Rochester, MN

8” – Winn – Chris Mosley – Prior Lake, MN

12” – Ebby – Mark Wittig – Muskego, WI

16” – Kipr – Diane Barlau – Duluth, MN

It looks to me like Minnesota had quite a showing.

The crowd was fairly electric throughout the final championship round, giving applause and cheers for everyone. But the great performances roused the spectators and set us all on the edge of our seats.

Chris Mosley’s run with Winn might have been the finest run of the evening… as the final buzzer announced her perfect strategy about a half second before her dog hit the bar of the finish jump. It was amazing. I think she’ll remember that the rest of her days.

Mark Wittig with his fine little Corgi girl Ebby actually sat out the semi-final rounds, resting on the weight of his quarter-final points. Ebby burned her pads off on the carpet in the early rounds. So he coolly rested up for the final round knowing that Ebby’s early points would carry her into the finals. I’ve known Mark for a number of years now, and he has trained with me from time to time. He has come a long way since I first met him; and has turned into one of the exceptional handlers in this game.



The object of Who Dares Wins is to accurately estimate how many points your dog will score in the standard course time of 50 seconds. After walking the course all handlers must submit their estimate of the number of points their team will earn in the 50 second course time, using a 3-2-1 scoring system,

• 3 points for contact obstacles

• 2 points for tunnel, and tire, and a set of 6 weave poles

• 1 point for jumps

The handler and dog may complete more than one circuit of the course and the first circuit may start anywhere on the course.  All obstacles must be taken in the order and direction indicated by the judge. Handlers must provide their written estimate to the assistant scribe prior to any dog running the course.

Handlers are not allowed to use their wristwatches or stopwatches or any other timing aid during their run or walkthrough. Any and all types of Outside assistance is disallowed and if used will be faulted.  In their turn, each team proceeds to their chosen starting point on the course. Teams may start anywhere on the course and my complete more than one turn through the course.  Dogs are started with the timekeeper’s horn.

Points are awarded for correct performance of the obstacle, faults will not be called.  No points are awarded for faulted obstacles.  A dog must attempt every obstacle in turn. There are no refusal faults. Jump bars are not replaced. However a dog must run between the uprights if attempting a hurdle with a dropped bar a second or subsequent time.  If the dog fails to attempt an obstacle and “goes on” it is off course.  No points are awarded for off course obstacles.  The dog is not considered “back on course” until it has attempted the “skipped” obstacle.  Points will not be awarded for jumps that had their bar dropped during the previous round. There are no specific faults associated with the weave poles. However, the handler must correct an improper entry or a missed pole in order to earn points for that obstacle. The handler may restart the weaves as a means of correcting the performance as many times as they wish.  No points are awarded for any partial performance of the weave poles, and continuing without an attempt at completing the performance will be deemed a wrong course.  An attempt is defined as 4 attempts at the correct entry or 50% completed correctly.

The timekeeper’s horn will signal the end of point accumulation time at 50 seconds. No points may be earned after the 50 second horn.  Time stops when the dog cross the finish jump. The finish jump is bi-directional. A dog loitering in the general area of the finish jump near the end of the team’s 50 second run will earn a 10 point penalty for unproductive loitering.  This 10 point penalty is added to the dog’s time efforts.

The judge will call the points earned for each obstacle. (1, 2, or 3)  The judge will not call faults.

Scoring and Qualification

Who Dares Wins is scored points only. The dog with the most points (highest score) wins. The tiebreaker is the dog with the highest estimate. 30 points are required to qualify.

Score calculation

  • Point errors – the difference between the estimated points and the points scored for the run.
  • Time Errors – The difference between the dog’s time and the standard course time is calculated. The dog’s time is rounded down to the nearest second.  If the dog has earned a loitering penalty, the 10 faults are added to the time errors. Thus increasing the total time errors by 10 for this dog.
  • Total Errors = Time errors + Point errors
  • Points Earned = Points the dog earned for successful performance of obstacles on course.
  • Score = Points Earned – Total errors. This total score determines placements.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available at www.dogagility.org/store.


8 Responses to “Who Dares Wins”

  1. Chris Mosley Says:

    Bud, thank you so much for your kind words. Indeed I will remember this run for the rest of my life. I walked my course with all those strategic elements in my head and in my feet, and it felt good. But running it with Winn was just an amazing experience, an immersion into that rare zone: where the river flows, the gods smile and two hearts beat as one. Wow.

    • budhouston Says:

      Hey Chris… get in touch when you have the chance. We need to get an interview from you for an article in Dogsports magazine.

      I’m wondering how you arrived at your points guess. Was it a SWAG? Or do you have a scientific approach?

  2. Chris Mosley Says:

    I’ll send you a note for the interview so that you have my e mail.
    I was a little scientific, and of course lucky too! I’d neglected to remember to try the paces-per-second all weekend…but through experience I’ve gotten better at figuring YPS and also # of obstacles in a time allowed. When the course for Who Dares Win was built, it seemed a lot bigger so I paced it using a 1 pace = 1 yard track (roughly).
    I found a course that fit my pace, and my # of obstacles, and walked it twice and it just “felt right”. I think I know my dog pretty well and it worked out this time. When I watched the 12″ dogs, I knew we’d have to run fast, so that was my only thought on the start line. Then the run took over.

  3. Pugahontas Says:

    I have to admit I had some reservations at first glance of WDW but the closer it got to the finals on Sunday, the more excited I got — I was so happy to get a chance to play that game!! I always love courses that make me WANT to run them again ( unlike Quidditch! -teehee)… Our timing was actually pretty darn good, but I started pushing my dog harder than normal and incurred a teeter error when I took my eye off of her — thusly losing 3 points…BUMMER! Chris & I had pretty much come up with the same plan – each on our own — just “on paper” — that was pretty cool! I think most people started around the backside of the course, but not all. Winn rocked it!

    Two things that should be enforced with this game

    1. be certain the display is turned off both during the walking and running of the game.

    2. Have separate pieces of paper for the top secret guesses you make — a number of people were waiting in the wings and holding back to see what other people wrote down — and since the highest score estimated could be a tie-breaker, it seems it should remain hidden…or maybe that is more strategy…

    Had I not had to run right away, I believe I would have changed my plan a teensy bit after watching some of the teams- instead of starting with the chute — I would have gone up to the next obstacle…figuring that my points and time would have meshed out better… that is the cool thing — you do have to turn in your time, but not your starting position…so, it is yet another element!
    I definitely want to play this again!!!
    Winn’s run was PERFECT!!!!!

    • budhouston Says:

      Good observations about the play of the game. I’ll add them to the notes on conduct of the competition. Tradition actually has it that the round should be seeded so that the dogs with the smaller guess go first… right up to the dog’s with the most aggressive guess… the logic being that no dog should have a losing score before he even begins his run.

      It’s true to that guesses should have been private. I wonder how many competitors might have changed their guesses based on what they saw/heard others making.

      I share your excitement for the game. I won the game with my old boy Bogie the first time we ever played it in league (a field of competition somewhat larger than the final round of the Petit Prix). I remember that run to this very day.

      It was good seeing you in competition again Kelly. You’re a fun player.


    • Diane Says:

      I felt the same way, that the guesses should have been private and I was one of the holdouts that waited towards the end to write mine down… not so I could see anyone else’s, but so they couldn’t see mine.

      Knowing what someone else had planned would not have changed what I had planned with Kipr… we run how we run and that’s what we do. Maybe not very “gamey” but I accept it for what it is. If it works for us that day or not, we’re both good with it.

      I actually discovered a math error in my initial calculations… had everything all mapped out, but was counting the chute as 3 instead of 2. Ooops! Oh well, as it was, the aframe was our biggest problem and that put us off more than anything. Best laid plans and all that…

      Still was a fun game and we also look forward to playing it again. I think it was a great pick for the Finals and it really could have gone to anybody right up to the end. Guess that’s why they call it the Finals!

      And how cool to be there in person to witness Winn’s finish! That’s the stuff we all aspire to. A very worthwhile weekend.

      Diane & Kipr

  4. Barb Cunningham Says:

    I didn’t even think of “peeking” at other people’s guesses – and I was one of the last people to turn in a guess – nor did I consider to pause to check out the time clock…but I can see how both tactics could be used by someone to try to get an advantage.

    At a trial I was at before the PP, they offered this game. They had the exhibitors write their guess on their scribe sheet before the class started. Wish I had played it that weekend for some practice!

    I agree that it was a great game and I too would love to play it again.

    Louie Annie and Teddy

    • budhouston Says:

      I’m with you on the idea of “peeking”. Even if I were to see other people’s guesses I’d know that my own was based on my best estimate of my dog’s working speed; so I would be uninfluenced by what anyone else guessed.

      It was fun. And I reckon we’ll see it from time to time in week-end play in the TDAA.


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