Queen City

My weekends now are full of agility trialing which is very cool. However, the pressure on the weekends compresses into the middle of the week where chores I might have otherwise have done on the weekends require attention. Summer has come into full bloom which means constant work with lawn mowers and weed whackers. Also I have several “spring cleaning” kinds of projects from things that got out of hand over the winter.

Last weekend I showed Kory up at the USDAA trial in Medina, Ohio. It was quite fun. And he managed to finish three of his Novice titles. My next outing in the USDAA will be at Pawsitive Partners in Indianapolis. In the meanwhile, this weekend I’ll be at an AKC trial in Cincinnati. Marsha will be making her debut with Tempest. And Kory will be in the Open class for the first time.

Vision of Chi

Time has passed between the previous paragraph, and this. Kory got qualifying scores in Jumpers and FAST yesterday, and in Standard today. Tomorrow we’ll get another go both at Standard and Jumpers.

I’ve been scribbling a diverse hodgepodge of notes (yes, even on napkins); but nothing substantial enough for publishing to the web-log. I’ve been wrestling with the paradox of the training and handling system I’m working with Kory dog.

I dragged out my old Agility Chi notes… and a thrill went through me as I realized that I’d already begun the work there and through some unconscious process have been practicing those elements of training and handling.

I’ve known all along that I need to document training objectives and methods, and very clearly outline the handling system philosophy. Agility Chi will be the foundation, and my scraps of notes will have to come into form around it in some coherent fashion. Objective-wise, I don’t want to write a thick and erudite volume, but a sleek and concise workbook, easy to digest and implement. It’ll be The Art of War for a game in the park with a dog.

So there’s my vision statement. I’ll put audience, purpose, and scope under separate cover and get to work on it right away. That’s what I needed, another project.

What’s My Line

This was last week’s league play game: What’s My Line

The objective of What’s My Line is to perform all of the obstacles on the field without repeating any or leaving any out.

The dog earns one point for each obstacle performed successfully.

If an obstacle is repeated the dog loses a point.

There is no standard course time.


What’s My Line is scored points then time. Time is a tie-breaker only. The team with the most points will win.

Course Design and Judging

Obstacles may be numbered at the judge’s discretion. These numbers are for the judge’s reference only and in no way suggest a sequence for running the course.

When a limited number of obstacles are used for more advanced classes, the judge can stipulate a standard course time that will challenge the field to solve the course in a specific timeframe.

What’s My Line can be nested easily with another game requiring only minimal tweaking. This doesn’t really deprive the course designer the pleasure of designing a delightful riddle. Design the What’s My Line riddle first then nest the standard course or other game to it. Don’t be hoisted on your own petard.


The handler’s job is to find the most economical path for the dog to perform all of the obstacles. In any game with a finite number of possible scores time will be the ultimate tie-breaker. The dog’s path should be both economical and as flowing as possible.

Qualifying and Titles

Qualification must be based on the number of obstacles on the course. The question for the judge is whether to require a perfect game to qualify; or to give the field leeway for qualifying, leaving the perfect game to the intrepid.

In the sample course above there are 15 obstacles. The perfect game would require 15 points. And time is the ultimate tie-breaker. Qualifying would be:

  • Superior 15 points
  • Intermediate 14 points
  • Beginner 13 points

If the judge wanted to be more lenient qualifying might be:

  • Superior 14 points
  • Intermediate 13 points
  • Beginner 12 points


  • Traditional ~ In this variation scoring ceases upon the repetition of any obstacle.
  • Never Cross the Line variation – In this variation, invented by Helix Fairweather, in addition to the stipulation that the dog cannot repeat any obstacle, he is not allowed to cross his own line (meaning, no crossing patterns).
  • Zero Value Obstacle – The judge mentions the zero value of the obstacle in the general briefing. Whether the handler directs his dog to perform the obstacle depends upon whether he was paying attention in the briefing or whether he wants to give the dog time on the obstacle as a warm-up for a later class. There is no penalty for the dog performing the zero-valued obstacle. Frequently, the valueless obstacle is the dogwalk.
  • Scoring variation – Another scoring variation is to award the obstacle point values as in Gamblers, instead of just 1 point. More difficult numbers are assigned to the more difficult obstacles. The more obstacles on course, the higher the maximum possible score. This assignment of numbers might affect the handler’s strategy, as the handler might attempt the higher point values earlier in the solution to the course.


Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

In the movie Man Hunt Thorndyke (Walter Pidgeon) was trapped in a cave by a Gestapo thug. How did Thorndyke make his escape?

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore.


%d bloggers like this: