The Pace of the Music

I’ve long maintained that play in the TDAA will improve the skills of the small dog handler. The short transition distances between obstacles literally requires the handler to have the same kinds of skills and timing as the big fast dog handler must have in the big dog venues. Look at it like this… it’s the pace of the music. If there are 10′ between the jumps the quick little Corgi will be three strides in the line and 5 in the turn. If there are 21′ between obstacles the same quick little Corgi will be 7 in the line and 9 in the turn.

I don’t really care how fast your little dog is. It’s a huge jump to go from the band that plays a slow-tempo waltz onto a dance floor where they’re playing a quickstep.

What happens to us in competition is what I like to call the $20 a minute lesson. Any fault and foible or even wobbly moment is simply information. It is a test both of the training foundation you’ve put on your dog and the execution of your canny handling plan.

What did you learn in your lesson?

Start-Line Puzzle

This was the opening to my Superior standard 2 class yesterday. By my own reckoning I pretty much set up a sweet little slam into the pipe tunnel from the opening. I figured the riddle was more of a test of the handler’s rear cross (if the dog is quick) at jump #5, as the course veers right after jump #5.

I was ultimately treated to an analysis of how the handler managed the two tricky turns between jumps #1 and #2 and between jumps #2 and #3. As you can see if the turn between jumps #2 and #3 goes too wide the dog’s path will swing around to bring the A-frame into focus rather more generously than the pipe tunnel.

Anything that actually works is right (that’s what I always say). So if this plan works for you, then bless your pointy little head. But don’t you know… there are times when something just a teeny bit different will actually work better.

I know some of you saw this right away and put up with my teasing about handling the two turns in the opening line of jumps. Yep… you had your $20 a minute lesson on this a long time ago.

The opening is a straight line and, as I had intended, a simple slam dunk into the pipe tunnel.

The Intermediate standard class was carefully nested with the Superior. You’ll note that I rotated a couple jumps in the opening so that the opening line should have been easier to see. (I rotated the jumps myself and muttered to myself as I did so “this’ll make it easier for them to see”).

Then, I’ll be darned if the first two handlers who approached the line squared their dogs up with jump #1 and earned a wrong course to the table after jump #1. Too bad I used the title “Just Shoot Me” for my blog a couple days ago. I could use it again. Eh?


I had dreams last night. And I wanted to write it down while the images and impressions are still with me. My weblog seems like a good place to do it.

It was nothing more than watching a woman run her dog. She was the amorphous could-be-anybody handler and the dog was a fuzzy dark blur. I watched the same run over and over again and it was nearly in slow motion. There are two bits that I still retain (you know how details in a dream will fade away from you after you awake); In the first part the handler is moving forward intent on a send forward. As the dog surpasses her position she’s putting on the brakes in her forward movement and swinging back with her inside arm (to point in exactly the opposite direction she’s trying to send the dog, mind you). And I can feel the dog in the dream curling back to her, as the handler’s cues manage to produce exactly the opposite effect as intended.

In the second bit the dog is working a magnificent distance from the handler and must make a tight wrapping turn towards the handler. The handler’s response (from this magnificent distance) is simply to turn her body to face the direction the dog needs to turn. Meanwhile the dog casts out in a huge inefficient arc and is slowly enticed out of obstacle focus (magnificent obstacle focus, mind you) by the growing realization that the handler has turned her back on the work and is giving some vague cue for performance while doing so.

As the dog offers performance of some obstacle out there the handler throws out her arms (in the international signal for WTF!) and announces to the world “I had my feet right! I had my feet right!”

Oh, did you now?

I’m pretty sure it was the Fettuccini Alfredo I had for dinner last night. I adore a rich white sauce; but you know it doesn’t always sit well over night. So a tinge of heartburn pushes me out of deep and restful sleep into that state of near awake in which I become easy prey to dreams and haunts.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What is the common name of this bird?

First correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the June Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – June 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special05” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

7 Responses to “The Pace of the Music”

  1. mark & ebby Says:

    Seagull covered with Gulf oil

  2. Kim Says:

    Double-crested cormorant

  3. Kara Says:


  4. Lisa Says:

    Good Eats!

  5. Rose Says:

    Little Pied Cormorant

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