… back from Dallas. The Top Secret project is nearing fruition; requiring only the definition and fulfillment of prudent project planning steps. Yah it’s still Top Secret and I have no agency to make it otherwise. I will say only that it’s the end of the world as we know it.

I have not written to my Blog in awhile. I will argue that while on the road the “T” the “G” and the “B” keys on my laptop have gone unresponsive. While in Dallas I borrowed a plug-in keyboard for note-making purposes during the day. But now I have to wait til I get home to res my old laptop back into production. (I’ve clearly done so… as I am writing this with a complete alphabet.)

It was a mad rush coming home from the USDAA trial at BRAG this past weekend and packing up to scurry off to Dallas. I left the Blog notes in the middle of an incomplete sentence I am sure and no real updates as to my boy Kory’s performance on the weekend.

Okay, he did swell.

For the Benefit of Mr. Kite

It struck me more than once through the weekend that I was practicing a different game from virtually everyone around me. If you’ve followed by Blog notes at all over the past couple of years you know that I’ve resolved to train Kory to work at a distance. So whilst everyone around me took to every sequence as a cheek-to-cheek two-step with their dogs, I had my boy on trampoline as I worked from the conductor’s pit.

Okay, I admit, I’m a new conductor more novice than virtuoso. It is new music, after all. But it’s clear that with a bit of the magical mystery ingredient we’re on our way to Carnegie Hall.

Zing Go the Strings

I’ve known a thing intellectually for quite some time… that when working with a great distance dog my job as handler and provocateur of the plan is to find the control positions on course to solve its various elements. On the weekend I found myself practicing the skill, indeed bringing the ephemeral theory into solid form and practice. I was elated to find that virtually without exception the control-position focus worked exactly as plotted on the drawing board.

You’ll have to trust me, I’m not getting cocky here. Holding a paint brush doesn’t make you Da Vinci.

I’d like to put some of my control-position control theory stuff on video to share on YouTube because the two-dimensional qualities of pictures and words can’t really tell the story. That won’t be today for sure. So let me instead numb your mind with a bit of theory.

Control-Position Theory

The Control Position is a vantage point on course in which the handler applies transitional leverage to direct the dog. It could be simplified or summarized as a moment of “micro-management”… but in a broader sense the handler is like an air traffic controller directing the dog’s flow in (landing?) and releasing the dog again for work away (a “takeoff”).

In the analysis of any course-work the control-position handler has to identify those positions on the course at which he will be  correctly positioned to be a successful traffic controller; that is manage a series of take-offs and landings without air-ships crashing and killing everyone aboard.

The traditional logic in dog agility is that the handler will tie the dog to his hip and then run run run scraping the animal off on obstacles along the way. This is a fine plan and exactly right for any springy legged young thing who is actually faster (factoring in clever cheats) than his dog. To put the handling plan into perspective, the 19 obstacle course will have 19 control positions. It seems to defy any economy of scale.

In order for the dog’s speed to mean anything he has to be released to work and unencumbered by the plodding pace of the handler.

Post Script

I’m OMW now to Medina Swarm for a USDAA trial this weekend. The weather guy promises temps in the lower 70s. That should be delightful. I was cooked in Columbus and frankly quite concerned about my black & white pup in 90+ temps. I did everything I could to keep him as cool as possible. But I think both of us were a bit heat-struck by the end of the weekend.


Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

One of the number keys on my keyboard has also gone “unresponsive”. Which one?

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running.


5 Responses to “OMW”

  1. katie Says:

    Congrats on a successful USDAA debut. Yeah, go Kory!!

  2. arrowheadsmalldogagility Says:

    I understand the missing key thing. The R on my laptop was removed by our cat and it is interesting to work a letter that is different – just a metal thingie in a hole – and more interesting how many words have ‘r’s.

  3. susan eastwood Says:


  4. Rose Says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing the video.

    I have been analyzing all my NADAC courses to determine if I can tackle them by only moving about 20′ in total. My DH was kind enough to set up a Jumpers course for me last Tuesday. Here is video of our efforts.

    Belle is doing pretty good with the concept, but I’m not happy that circumstances have reduced my mobility so drastically. Belle runs at Elite in AKC and PIII in USDAA, so we won’t be tackling any of those courses with or without distance until I’m more mobile. I already use our distance skills in those venues when I can, but I’m also planning to train Belle to work off of blind crosses if I’m ever able to run again.

    Would the number key be “5”?

  5. Marsha Nix Says:

    Catching up on all of your blog posts – do you have anything on youtube yet? I was able to do some distance work with Dylan at the NADAC trial we entered a few weeks ago. I still felt like I needed oxygen when I got done, but it was pretty cool to see him go out and take 4 obstacles without me being there…

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