Box Threadles & 270’s

Returning to the letter A…

The dog and handler step into the ring as a team. The judge’s riddle will offer both curious passage and unexpected twist for the team to solve all in a rush in an aura of palpable expectancy.

What I intend to develop with my boy Kory as we work through the alphabet drills is teamwork, pure and simple. Technical practice is the key. I must know how to give the instruction/word by movement or verbalization for whatever confronts us in the moment. And Kory must know his working response.

The Alphabet Drills are like practice at sword play, like Samurai’s sparring, developing instinct, understanding, and muscle memory.

The Box Threadle

With Kory this was far simpler than I’d imagined. I begin with a slight cross-the-body precue; and pull it off neatly with an RFP in which I never bother to give full rotation. The key to this handling challenge (to any?) is understanding the dog’s path.

Here, I’ve drawn the box threadle movement. It’s important to see the three lines of the dog’s path in the movement, and the two corners. The handler must support the dog in every line. And corners are always timing events. Without seeing the lines, and corners, it’s pretty hard to do your job.

The 270s

270s in box work might have a variety of handling solutions. What’s good for the fast dog handler is almost surely a disaster of lackluster handler participation for the slow dog handler.


For me and Kory this went to the fast dog end of the scale. The tricky bit for me was bringing my boy into the box in a way that establishes the line straight through the box; rather than offering the wrong-course corner-cut.

Ah! If the 270 is a corner-cut it’s a considerably easier exercise. The handler can constantly hedge the line to ensure the corner-of-the-box performance. But don’t you know, this is not a true 270° turn.

Following Along?

A compilation volume of Nancy Gyes’ Alphabet Drills has been published by Clean Run Productions. I’m sure you can find a copy on the web store; www.cleanrun.com. The price is $29.95.

I’ll be working through the alphabet drills (and inflicting them on my own students). I hope you get the book and follow along. There is a cd with the book that has the exercises in Course Designer .agl format.

Home Front

Life has been hectic recently what with our ramped up trialing adventures. I have other obligations as well: judging, seminars, and clinics. As I write this I’m outbound for Eugene, OR. I stepped in to cover a judging assignment for Dave Seeger who died of a heart attack nearly two weeks ago.

My chores have bunched up on me a bit. Have you ever felt guilty for doing what you’re doing even though it needed doing just because there’s something else that needed doing too? Yah, it’s kind of like that.

Last Tuesday I spent four hours in the morning with our yard help. This is a kid we’ve hired to do mowing and other miscellaneous chores. You know how it is with kids! This boy works for two minutes and then rests for five. So I set out to lead by example, and show him what work looks like.

Our mission was to clear downed limbs and branches on either side of about ¼ mile of road on our property. We dragged the stuff onto the road into piles, then I’d come through with the tractor and wagon, load it, and haul it down to the burn pile by the pond.

About a half hour into the job I stopped to point out that I’d made this great big huge pile; while he’d made a couple dinky little piles of twigs. So I gave him a short talk about how he shouldn’t be getting outworked by a 60 year old man.

On the last load of the day I took the kid down with me to the pond. When we were done unloading that last haul I pointed at the huge pile we’d made. He was pretty impressed. I told him that all work is measurable. And in this world he needs to learn to make bigger piles than anyone elses’s.

There endeth the lesson.

Oh, I paid for my hubris alright. For the next couple days I was feeling the effect of spending four hours in the sun outworking a 14 year old boy. On top of my arthritis meds I had to take a couple OTC pain pills for my aching body.

BLOG749

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Which of Shakespeare’s characters called down the tempest?

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

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7 Responses to “Box Threadles & 270’s”

  1. 2mindogtrainer Says:

    You’re away from class this week so I’ll be presenting something besides “B” in class tonight. Alphabet resumes next week. Marsha

  2. Erica Says:

    Prospero?

  3. Michelle Says:

    Where in Eugene OR are you judging? What club? I see Fleet Feet in Turner has a trial scheduled, but it is for Aug 27, 28. I might come up to watch and work if you tell me where it is.

  4. Debbie Brewster Says:

    Ariel ?

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