Seeger’s Masters Gamblers

I spent the weekend judging courses that were not mine. I volunteered for the assignment at the absolutely last minute and so there was no time to change courses. And I would not have changed them if I could because running them is a bit of a final tribute to Dave Seeger, a fine man who did an amazing amount of work to create and shape the world of dog agility in his part of the world, Columbus, Ohio.

I want to share with you Dave Seeger’s Masters Gamblers course and distance challenge from Saturday. It had a very low qualifying rate but was a fair and appropriate challenge for the Masters class.

It’s really fun to watch 80 dogs and handlers attempt the same riddle. Just about everything that can happen, will happen. And the judge, you should know, has the unblinking eye. He has to watch every grizzly moment of every performance.

The gamble itself is actually very doable. Like all distance work there will be a reliance on prerequisite skills. The obvious thing is that the dog should know how to weave with the handler working at a modest distance. But more of the challenge in this gamble was getting the dog to the weave poles at all.

With dog-on-right the handler is sending his dog on a line that is incongruent with both the containment line and the plane of the first jump at about a 45˚ angle. So a lot of handlers rushing at the line and slamming on the brakes at the corner of the jump were disappointed in their ambition to send the dog forward while giving a turning/stopping precue.

Dog-on-left on the approach to the first jump of the gamble allows the handler to give more pressure of movement in sending the dog on to jump #2; of course it also gives the dog a natural cue to turn back to the side the handler is working after jump #2 (and turning to the right is not actually the direction of the next obstacle). The handler had best have an absolute directional in his arsenal to turn left after jump #2. Some who worked this side, by the way, were successful in that they had a Post & Tandem precue to their ambition to turn to the left. Remind me some day… and I’ll explain to you what that means.

I was a little disappointed by the low success rate in those whose dogs did get to jump #2 and did turn to the left. And here was the chief problem… for the most part they did not so much as face the first pole of the weave poles and instead went running off towards jump #5 in the gamble as though there was some fire down there they were running to put out. Why would the dog take the weave poles while the handler shows no interest in them himself? You know what they say about assuming?

By the way, turning to the right was not completely unsuccessful at all. While there was a lot that could go wrong, if the handler has a bit of an Out in his repertoire it gave the dog a good square approach to the weave poles. I did note that turning to the right was a drag on the dog’s time; time goes tick tick ticking by in a gamble, don’t you know.

More on the Home Front

The folks at WAG were very fun to work with. But it was a hard-working weekend as USDAA trials tend to be. The courses were designed with little thought to nesting; and like so many USDAA trials many exhibitors disdain the thought of ever pitching in to help.

I got in touch with long lost relatives and had an evening and morning to meet and hug them all. I wound up on a red-eye trip that gets me home on Tuesday morning. I got a good fare on the plane ticket by sacrificing my body and a bit of my life. I really am getting too old for the red-eye.

Marsha told me that Kory has been absolutely despondent in my absence. He runs between the two places in the house where he’ll usually finds me, or he stands at the back gate mooning down towards the training building or maybe the pond… as though I’d be down there fishing without him.

I’m really heartbroken that my boy misses me and I’m not there for him. I can’t help but calculate some of the other travel obligations I have up and coming. I’ll be back in Oregon soon; I have to go to Wisconsin; and I’m going to Boise, ID. And for all of these, I’ve got to leave my poor boy at home.

I’m calculating now reinventing my life a bit. I’d like to be with my family and with my dogs. So I reckon I need to get a travel trailer or an RV and accept only those obligations that allow me to drag my world with me.

I volunteered for this fill-in assignment without a moment’s hesitation. It’s one of the few things I can do to give back to the agility community in an unselfish manner. I’ve taken dozens of these over the years. Though you know, I remember last year I took a similar emergency judging assignment down in Florida. Over the weekend I heard somebody suggest that… I did it for the money. It pained me then; and on looking back at it now I’m in conflict my obligation to give back, if I am going to be so misunderstood. If you think I’m about money, then you don’t know me at all.

Marsha doesn’t really like the idea of an RV. She’ll remind me of… and I poignantly remember nearly killing myself wrecking my Suburban last January while driving through an ice storm in Indianapolis. I’m confident that we can compromise; we’ll just do it my way, for a change.


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

3 Responses to “Seeger’s Masters Gamblers”

  1. Greg Says:

    Poor Kory – I know that feeling, as when that rare occasion arises where I have to travel for work, my BC Skye will lay by the door for 2 to 3 days before giving up. I wish there was a way to tell them that we have to be gone for a few days but we are returning.

    Interesting gamble, one that I think I will setup to practice. I would have been inclined to time the buzzer so I was on a run to the jump before #1 with the dog ahead so as to not have to hit the brakes at #1. Then turning my shoulders to the weaves and giving the weave command, I think the rest would have been fine, provided the weave distance and lateral motion away didnt encourage a weave pop.

  2. Christine Stephansen Says:

    At least Kory is with family while you are gone. I am on “vacation” now and my favorite family member is in a kennel. This is day #6 and I’m physically sick – I miss him so much.
    I am with you and the RV – that is my dream! Go South in winter and North in the summer 🙂 no ice storms!
    Looking forward to next Friday in Knife River, MN

    • budhouston Says:

      Hi Christine,

      Yah, kennels are tough. There was a time in my life that was my only option. RV & the gypsy life sounds kinda fun. Tho I am a creature of comfortable habit. The trick would be how to lead such a life without a feeling of constant upheaval and displacement.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: