Wood Burner

I’ve been up since 4:00 am this morning. My usual wake-up is more about 8:00; but Kory was up pacing and I took him out. My mind started churning early about all the work I had to do. So I brewed a pot of coffee and got going with it and never did get back to bed. The Ohio Arkansas game is coming on in about a half an hour. I reckon that’ll keep me up for at least another three hours.

I’m heading for St. Louis for the weekend to work on some TDAA business. Trying to get ready for that has me occupied. Today I backed up my computer; and spent a couple hours moving an old antenna tower that I’ll put back up here at the house next week. Rather than hoisting a television antenna it’s going to hold up an internet band receiver; which is more like FM radio I suppose. It’s funny that an anachronistic feature of the 1950’s has an application in the 21st century.

Today I’m reviewing an agility game called “Basketball”. This is one of those not suitable for competition and titling games; and represents more of an interesting romp for a fun outing. Speaking of anachronisms… does anybody still have agility fun days? We’re all so serious these days.

I gave this game the same kind of attention I’ll give all of the “serious” titling games. It would be fun to play; though I’m thinking I might want to go train my boy to stay for a fetch until I release him. That’s just like me… to lament the good old fun agility days… and worry over training my dog to be competitive in a silly ball tossing agility game.


Basketball is the invention of John and Arlene Rhodes. The game was originally played on May 25, 2002 after the first fun match put on by Zippity Do Dogs Sports Club in Grand Junction, CO.


Basketball is a two-part game. The first part is the point-accumulation period. The second part is the basketball period where point scores can be multiplied.

Please note, there are two jumps marked SD for “Sudden Death.” If the dog takes either of these jumps at any time, sudden death occurs and the dog must run to the table to stop time. The dog retains any score earned up to that point but cannot earn any more.

To start, the handler must leave his dog on a stay behind the start line and then load two tennis balls on the table. If the dog breaks his stay and crosses the start line, the handler forfeits one ball and must repeat the loading sequence with only one ball. If the dog breaks again, he loses his second ball and cannot multiply his score by shooting baskets.

Point accumulation –Big dogs will have 50 seconds to accumulate points; small dogs have 55 seconds. Time starts when the dog crosses the start line; after the handler has “loaded” the table. Points are earned for each obstacle the dog successfully performs. No more than two obstacles may be taken on either side of the court without crossing center court (the red half-court line). If more than two are taken, no points will be earned for the extra obstacles. Jumps are not limited in the number of repetitions. Other scoring obstacles may be taken no more than twice.

During point accumulation, if the dog removes the ball or causes it to fall off the table, the handler must replace it before continuing. Point accumulation ends on the time whistle.

The basketball game – If any tennis balls are left on the table at the end of the opening period, the team will have 20 seconds to shoot baskets. A basket is made when the shooter tosses the tennis ball though the tire. If the shot is behind the 2‑point line, the team’s accumulated score is doubled; from behind the 3-point line the score is tripled.

Any tennis balls not forfeited in the opening round must be on the table when the basketball period begins. If both balls were forfeited the handler cannot multiply his score and must run to the table to stop time. If a ball rolled off during play or is carried off by the dog and the handler doesn’t replace it, the handler’s shot is forfeited. Also, the dog must be behind the 2-X line when the handler takes his shot. Otherwise the shot will not count and the score cannot be multiplied. It is permitted for the dog to be on the table, as it is behind the 2-X line; but the dog may not be on the table for the 3-X line.

To stop the time, the dog and one ball must be on the table. The ball may be in the dog’s mouth or simply touching the table. If the handler chose to throw both balls available to him, he may have to retrieve one of the balls and bring it to the table to stop the time.


Basketball is scored points then time. Time is a tiebreaker only. Scoring is:

•         1 point for jumps

•         3 for tunnels

•         5 for contacts and weave poles

•         minus 3 points for the tire in the point accumulation round

The basketball round only multiplies the score; it cannot add any points.

Course Design

In this sample course the judge stipulated that the collapsed tunnel and teeter may only be taken one time each. Note both are performed in the same direction (toward the starting line). This presents quite a problem because the only other obstacles in the transition to the back of the ring are the Sudden Death jumps (end of scoring) and the tire (-3 points).

The game can be varied by rearranging the obstacles. The arrangement of the tire and table are a required element of the game. The 2-point line is set at 7′ from the basket. The 3-point line is set 12′ from the basket.


Just to save time, a ring steward could place the tennis balls on the table, rather than requiring the handler to carry them out to the table with the dog in a stay.

Simplified Rules – There are several things to be done to simplify the rules of this game. This might not be a bad idea if it’s likely that a lot of rules make it hard for competitors to figure out exactly what they are supposed to do at any given moment.

•         Do away with the stipulation that a dog has to cross the “Center Court Line” after doing two obstacles on one side of the court.

•         Limit throwing the basketball (tennis ball) to one throw. The dog’s score is doubled if the handler throws the ball through the tire from behind the 2-point line. If he can then entice the dog to go through the tire to give chase to the ball, the dog’s score is tripled. In this variation of the game, there will be only one ball and one shot to the basket. There is no 3-point line.


It appears to be a very good idea to throw the ball through the tire; and from behind the 3-X line if possible. Does this really sound like a strategy? Or, is it wishful thinking.

Scoring ~ Qualifying

Basketball is scored Points Then Time.

Let’s be very clear ~ Basketball is not a game that should be used for titling purposes in any venue. The tennis balls add a complexity that creates a competitive disadvantage for certain types of dogs. And throwing the tennis balls can only lead to carnage and chaos.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Name the pilgrim who got his only Oscar on (about) his 60th movie. Oh, and while you’re at it. Who was the young lady who won an Oscar for her very first movie the same year?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training ~ Issue #0 ~ August 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: http://countrydream.wordpress.com/web-store/ . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special00” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

One Response to “Wood Burner”

  1. mariann jackson Says:

    john wayne for true grit and goldie hawn for catus flower.

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