Archive for October, 2011

Speaking of Mecklenburg…

October 31, 2011

Since Linda commented on my yesterday blog… I really should respond to her in an open forum rather than burying my response in a “reply” to a “comment”. It’s like being at one of my seminars… if you raise your hand, you’re up next; (I see Sue Sternberg over in the corner telling those around her after I’ve asked a question to the group “Don’t raise your hand! Don’t raise your hand!”)

Linda, I was saddened to hear that Awesome is gone. He was a sweet, talented and wonderful dog. And he was my friend.

Just so everyone knows Linda Mecklenburg is probably one of the true dog agility training geniuses in our sport. I’ve known her for many years; and I’m well aware of both her accomplishments and her methodologies. She has forged the way for many of us in terms of methods and practices. There are many “top players” in the field who stand on the shoulders of the true innovators in our sport and have never actually contributed to the body of knowledge themselves. And Linda has broad shoulders.

As a player “at the top” Linda’s accomplishments are probably without peer. She’s won multiple national championships and in international competition has represented for the US of A with distinction and honors (and only the occasional faux pas).

www.awesomepaws.us

Discussion

What drives me really nuts these days is people who subscribe to “The Mecklenburg Handling System” and don’t even come close to understanding it. I can watch handlers in the ring only one time and pretty much tell if they get it at all. And a whole bunch of them just don’t get it. Between you & me and the wall, Leanne Baird gets it perfectly. She’s great out there!

I was kidding with Linda once at a trial I was judging that she was about the only one in the class that included a bunch of her students who understood how to create the corner in a technical handling moment. She said “They’re just being lazy.” No Linda, they just don’t get it.

The important thing, as an instructor, is to understand that it really takes awhile for people to learn a thing. Heck, it takes me about two years to teach a handler to do a perfect Front Cross. I’m pretty sure I could teach it in about 20 minutes with a shock collar. But I’m compelled to take the long view in these matters. In any case, imagine how long it really takes to learn a complex handling system that’s based on about 25 years of experience; not to mention the development of amazing extemporaneous instinct!

NEWS FLASH… it will take more than a single generation of dogs.

The part that drives me nuts, then, is the handler/student who is resistant to learning a simple bone-headed obvious skill because they subscribe to a system they don’t come close to understanding. It’s almost impossible to teach these people.

We also have out in the world seminarists who teach The Mecklenburg Handling System. And I say “Why don’t you get Mecklenburg?” And they say “She’s too expensive.” Here’s the fun irony. I’ve seen them in competition. For the most part they don’t get Mecklenburg at all.

It’s hard to get it from Linda’s Clean Run articles. You need to do sentence diagramming to figure out what she’s saying; (you’ve always needed a good editor Linda). I joke out in the world that when I write an article for Clean Run they edit me for political correctness (imagine that). They don’t even edit Linda for readability. I guess they’re afraid of her.

There’s only one thing that Linda’s ardent disciples and imitators really manage to get right and practice with true perfection: Never lifting a hand to help at an agility trial. And it’s a goddamn shame that this is the only thing that large numbers of handlers really manage to get right in their imitation of Linda.

Important Observations

When I speak of a BC handler who runs back to slam the dog in a crate after a run… I’m not talking about Linda. I know Linda and have seen her with her dogs. She has real affection and devotion to all of them; and any dog in Mecklenburg’s house will live a wonderful active life with lots of loving care.

You can’t really get Mecklenburg or her “handling system” without understanding her principles of dog training; which, as far as I can tell she doesn’t really teach with the same ardent attention that she teaches handling skills. I heard Mike Ditka, speaking of the quality of Jim Harbaugh as a tough coach, say “There’s an old saying in life… you get what you tolerate.” This describes Linda in a nutshell. As a dog trainer Linda is very clear on what she will tolerate and holds to her criteria for behavior and performance with unflinching diligence. Further, she does so without being abusive and harsh with her dogs.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

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Duquesne Pilsener Diatribe

October 29, 2011

I’m in Latrobe, PA judging a TDAA trial. They’re growing a nice ‘n healthy teacup dogs agility community. It reminds me of how USDAA used to be, back in the day, everybody having fun, applause from the peanut gallery, and people running their family dogs. The course work is really fun to watch as the challenges are actually appropriate to small dogs.

Lately I’ve been bad about writing to my blog. Around about the Petit Prix I got all jammed up on my work. And I’ve had something going just about every weekend. So it means days on the road spanning the weekend, then a couple days at home, and back out on the road. There are about three or four of those lined up for me in the immediate future. But finally my calendar will settle down for the long cold winter. I’ll catch up then.

But it isn’t just schedule that’s kept me away. I think I’m undergoing a very important change of life. While my personal values respective to the agility world haven’t changed considerably lately or, over the years; I find that the agility world itself has changed vis-à-vis my personal values.

You know, I’m probably going to hang with the USDAA with Kory until he gets his ADCh; and then I’ll retire from the venue. I’ll probably hang with AKC until Kory has his MACh, and then I’ll retire from the venue. It is not my intention to spend my life in the time over money grind. Neither are recreational venues; and I’m doing this for recreation.

The Truth About Border Collies

The truth is that a Border Collie is so remarkably easy to train that it’s nearly inescapable that the handler/owner/trainer is conned into believing that he’s a fucking dog training genius. And very soon he (the genius dog trainer) turns into one of those smarmy know-it-alls sitting outside the ring too important to set a jump bar or fluff a chute. You gotta admit, setting jump bars is kind of demeaning work for a genius.

And I’ve watched them on a couple weekends now running back as quick as possible after their nearly a minute in the ring to slam the dog into a crate. After I die, should I come back as a Border Collie (fat chance of that)… there’s a bunch of them I wouldn’t want to be their dog.

I kid about Kory with people saying that “he’s going to make me look a lot smarter than I really am. And you know how important that is, when you’re in the business!” Except, you should know, I’m not really kidding. I’m telling the truth.

To give you an example, it took me two days to train Kory to do the weave poles. Two days. This is not an exaggeration. Kory is what he is. What I really should do if I were serious about locking myself into your consciousness as a very important and very impressive dog trainer, is actually allow you to believe that I’m a fucking dog training genius.

With a Border Collie as with most any breed you can be lucky or unlucky. For example not all Border Collies are relentless speed demons. Not all Border Collies respect the jump bar. Not all Border Collies are wicked brilliant smart. But the thing about the Border Collie that most people who own them know… the percentage chances of them being relentless speed demons, respectful of the jump bar, and wicked brilliant smart, are considerably higher than with any other breed… bar none.

There’s a bunch of Border Collie people who I absolutely adore for their passion and care for the breed, their sportsmanship, and their work ethic. This “bunch” is a complete minority.

Iron Man

I wrote a letter to Stan Lee at Marvel Comics. I told him that the real problem with the second Iron Man movie is that our heroes should not be assholes. In the first Iron Man movie certainly Tony Stark started out as a spoiled asshole; but through the movie we saw growth and maturity and a real shot at redemption. But in the second Iron Man movie, Stark was right back to being an asshole. I was completely bummed (being an old Iron Man fan from the Silver Age of comics). Stan has not responded to my rude observation.

Funny thing… it was my observations of the agility world that had me examining my problem with the second Iron Man movie.

My wife Marsha has a Border Collie pup named Tempest who is a year younger than Kory. Tempest is no respecter of the jump bar; and so far doesn’t have nearly the distance skills that Kory has. Recently Marsha told me that she wants to turn Tempest over to me for some of his important training.

I’ve gotta give a big dramatic sigh here. <SIGH>

Kory is what he is. Yes he’s been trained; and I will earnestly endeavor to do much of the same with Tempest. But here’s the deal. Tempest is what he is, as well. There’s an old dog trainer’s axiom that goes something like this: “The Nature of the dog cannot be amended by training alone.” We can get into long philosophical discussions of the old “Nature vs Nurture” question. But at the end of the day the nature of any dog is nothing but luck of the draw.

So a dog has a bar dropping problem. In the agility world we know absolutely nothing about fixing the bar dropper. Its fine to observe that a dog “flattens out” or the dog has “ETS”. Anybody that says they can fix it is a fool. And I ain’t planning on being anybody’s fool.

I remember years ago when I picked up a copy of the Zink/Daniels book Jumping A to Z; I was thrilled to find that there was a chapter on “Problem Jumpers”. I leapt to that chapter to find some words of wisdom, and I found…. nothing. Ever since, I’ve called it “the Empty Chapter”. Well, Zink and Daniels aren’t fools either. Basically what they acknowledge is that there are dogs who are problem jumpers. And I’ve never seen a program of cavaletti conditioning or Salvoesque conflagulations that actually represent any kind of cure. You can make up a scientific sounding term like “Early Take-Off Syndrome”… but that doesn’t mean you have the slightest clue how to solve it. Hell, for all you know it’s a vision problem. Fix that, fool.

I’ll tell you how [insert the name of your favorite agility guru] would deal with the problem jumper. They’d get rid of that dog and get themselves another that would validate their standing in the world as guru/genius. I mean, they’ve been doing it for years and years; why would they change now?

For Marsha, I’m sorry to see that she’s taken Tempest’s competitive weakness as a personal failure. But that’s how it works in the world. Similarly, I’m sorry about students of mine who might have slower Border Collies maybe believing that it’s some personal failure of theirs that caused it.

I wrote in the Book of Agility Games that all rules at their core are irrational. Rules, like those faulting a dropped bar, are arbitrarily intended to score and place and measure. And it’s okay… I understand the function of rules and believe you me I have a lot of fun with their application.

What we’re missing though is the essential spirit of the game. I just want to get out there and have some fun with a willing partner. I want to do agility for fun and recreation. And I want to teach people how to be as successful as possible with the family animal. I want to go into the world with my students as friends and equals and play agility as a game in the park.

And today, as I write this, that venue does not exist.

I have found my next mission. And I will embark on it, effective tomorrow.

Does It Really Need Words?

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

The Shootist!

October 24, 2011

I was in Springfield IL this past weekend for a TDAA trial with a judges’ clinic wrapped around it. I think that I should like to do another handling clinic in that part of the world… oh, indeed I am scheduled to do so soon. As a long time coach in this sport, from time to time I really wanted to stop the trial and put on a good clinic. But you know, one should always be aware of what uniform he is wearing. I was neither invited for the weekend to be a seminar leader (nor was I paid to be so). Consequently I just let my observations burn a smoldering hole in the back of my brain.

We played a game invented by Marquand Cheek called Group Choice. It is the object of this game to do all of the equipment on the field in three distinct groups: contact obstacles; weave poles; and everything else. The handler’s job is to complete each group (in any order) without repeating any equipment or leaving any out. It’s clearly a game related to What’s My Line, but with a slightly more evil slant.

We had a set on the floor that included an arrangement that resembled this. Of course it was set with teacup equipment and so the size of the equipment and spacing between it all was considerably smaller. I just drew it big so that people who own big dogs can relate to the riddle.

What the handler wants to do here is the dogwalk… then the teeter, and then the A-frame. The dog going into the pipe tunnel between the dogwalk and the teeter, or over the jump between the teeter and the A-frame would be a major fault.

The class was nearly skunked for handlers not knowing how to cue their dogs to give a piece of equipment a pass. So let’s study the subject. Anybody who plays Snooker will want to understand this…

What I’m trying to demonstrate here is the handler initiative that would precisely communicate direction to the dog. The handler initially draws the dog off the dogwalk as though going to the pipe tunnel (black figures). Then the handler will do a Front Cross (red figures). As the dog moves out of danger of the pipe tunnel Major Fault the handler will turn back in a second Front Cross… resuming the approach to the teeter.

The common name for this combination movement (Front Cross to Front Cross) is: RFP.

If you really want to wow the crowd, do the counter-rotation movement as a Flip rather than an RFP. The Flip is: Front Cross to Blind Cross. The Flip is a finesse movement and a racing movement. Contrast that to the RFP which is a stodgy control movement.

A Teaching Moment

It might be that a handler can get his dog past these wrong-course obstacles as he makes his way in snookeresque fashion without resorting to any sort of counter-rotation, either an RFP or a Flip.

Think of the counter-rotation as an “insurance movement”. You see? It’s kind of like fire insurance. Think of the money you could save if you didn’t have the extra expense of insurance every month. But know this too… they’re unlikely to sell you the policy while your barn is burning down.

Cultivate a powerful instinct for counter-rotation. The simple purpose of the RFP is to draw the dog sharply towards the handler. If this performance characteristic is ever desirable… then the RFP is the correct tool.

Bud’s Google-Proof Trivia Contest

Aside from the dubious honor of inventing the game Group Choice what is Marq Cheek’s claim to fame in the history agility in America?

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

October 19, 2011

On my way to Springfield, IL this morning I drove through a town in Ohio. Some fellow had released a bunch of wild animals from his private zoo and committed suicide after. The police dealt with the problem in predictable fashion. They shot all they could find. Our relationship with the wild animal kingdom isn’t all that swell. At the end of the day I believe only a monkey and a wolf were still at large. With any luck the wolf will make it up into Canada. The monkey will probably freeze in the winter.

No, I didn’t see any wild animals driving through Zanesville.

Notes from Nowhere: The Course Design College

It was never my intention for the posts to the TDAA course design college to become codified into Judges’ Guidelines. The original intention is to share comments that I make over and over again to TDAA judges as I review their courses. They don’t actually all read my blog.

In the next year I want to attend to a philosophy of course design in the TDAA that favors nice flowing courses with a central technical challenge. It’s a tip of the hat to the NADAC philosophy, without being quite so histrionically wimpy about technical challenges on the course.

This likely means that the nature of the course design college will ultimately be more about course design, as originally intended. Hopefully we’ve got most of the obvious stuff out of the way.

Speaking of obvious stuff… allow me to share with you some of the observations I’ve made in course review over the past week.

The Pretty Page

I often get courses like this for review:

Orientation of the Course

This course is actually upside down. It’s disorienting to the handler who when facing into the course has to turn the page around in the direction he’s facing. Consequently all the numbers are upside down. If you insist on portrait presentation you should flip the course around. I personally favor landscape presentation, which isn’t nearly as disorienting to the exhibitor.

Start and Finish Lines

You should always show start & finish lines on all of your games and courses; (the exception being, if you’ve indicated that time stops on the table, it doesn’t need the additional clutter of a finish line passing through it). By visualizing the start and finish lines you can (and should) calculate where the time-keeper will have to sit to have a clear sharp view of both lines.

On this course I indicated the position of the time-keeper. You don’t really have to do this on your courses (unless you’re judging for one of those really anal agility organizations). It is useful to go through the mental exercise.

Sloppy Numbering

The course designer should be neat in the placement of numbers on course. You should place numbers very much as you would set out number cones: neat, out of the way. Sometimes if an obstacle is performed multiple times I’ll crowd and stack the numbers neatly in front of the obstacle.

Course ID Information

This course came to me with no course ID information. I have several rules personally for applying course ID information:

  • Put in the name of the class and the suite number. Anticipating making copies of the courses I’ll elevate the point size and make the name of the class bold. This makes identifying the course easy for exhibitors picking up their course maps.
  • Include the name of the host club.
  • Include the date of the event.
  • Identify yourself (the judge). As a bit of color, include your home town.
  • Don’t put the course ID information on the course where the text has to compete with the placement of obstacles. Instead, open a border on the page and put it in the border.
  • Don’t put boxes around your course ID information. Boxes are just clutter.

Background Lines

The course should be numbered from a corner. Numbering from the center is intended for the master course builder and only if the club is using the baseline method. If  you’re really thoughtful you could ask in advance if the field already has foot markers and, if so, from what corner the numbers begin.

Dog’s Path

The dog’s path is useful for the course designer to conduct basic analysis; things like measuring the interval between obstacles. It is of little to no use to the exhibitor and just clutters the page.

By the way CRCD includes a little widget that allows you to make the dog’s path invisible so that you don’t have to re-specify the properties of the line every time you want to see it. It’s okay to have lines… but you should turn them off before printing exhibitor copies of your courses.

Borders

I will typically put a 2’ border around the course, except for the border reserved for course ID information, which needs to be opened up enough to contain the information traditionally used to identify a course for posterity. Adding borders is really a finishing touch that brings the course into definition, and neatens it up; kinda like tucking in your shirt.

Note that when you’re numbering a course, the number can overlap onto the border with is a convenient way of keeping the number from crowding the course.

The Finished Product

Better! Don’t you think?

Time Plus Faults Scoring

A thing I see all too often when reviewing courses: The briefing says the scoring basis is Time Plus Faults. Then under qualifying the briefing will advise something like:

  • Games I – is allowed 2 faults
  • Games II – is allowed 1 fault
  • Games III – Clean Run -no faults allowed

When you have Time, Plus Faults scoring you set the qualifying bar when you establish the Qualifying Course Time (QCT). That means it doesn’t matter how many faults the dog earns so long as when you add the dog’s time to the dogs faults (converted to seconds) the number is less than or equal to the established course time.

Consequently what the handler should find interesting is the times that are set by the judge. Note that in a perfectly nested game we differentiate both by level and by jump height. The judge uses the rates of travel from the standard classes.

Specifying Faults for a Game

Often enough the judge will in a briefing list the faults for a game. For example a game came across my desk with the notation: “Off-courses and knocked bar.  Each fault adds 5 points to your score.” (sic)

It would be better to say that the game (a numbered course) will be judged under the performance rules from the standard classes. We all know what that means. We fault refusals on contacts for GII and GIII, and subscribe to the Four Paw Safety Rule for GI; and we have three definitions for weave pole performance respective to GI, GIII and GIII.

Sometimes it’s important to indicate the exception to performance rules in a briefing. For example in Black Hole refusals are (traditionally) not faulted. And this should be so noted in the briefing.

In Strategic Pairs wrong courses are not faulted. And this should be so noted in the briefing.

Course Design College ~ An Index?

I suppose at some point I should create an index to the Course Design College postings I’ve put on my blog. The purpose of the Course Design College is to make share observations that I have to make over and over again to judges when doing course reviews; with the optimistic goal that TDAA judges will read them, understand them, implement them… and save me from repeating myself, over and over again.

A couple days ago I was reviewing a set of courses based on a long narrow field. The course designer fell into the trap of creating long oscillating waves with the dog’s path, without so much as a crossing pattern. I searched back through the Course Design College postings to find Twist and Twine ~ Superior Course Challenge (http://wp.me/pmSZZ-vR). I also had a posting in which I ventured that the secret to designing in a small space is in repeating obstacles (naturally creating crossing patterns). But I don’t remember what I called it; and it was eluded text searches on my computer.

Bud’s Google-Proof Trivia Contest

What was the town in Ohio I drove through this morning where they were on the look-out for wild animals released from a private zoo?

Blog776

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Player Piano

October 18, 2011

The rhythm of agility has ever fascinated me; the handler and dog moving with ease and grace in harmonic symphony. The course itself is like the scroll of a pianola, dictating the beat, a composition enticing dancers on the floor into anything from an elegant waltz to an upbeat quick-step (50 bars/minute).

Sometimes the course itself introduces a jangling tone that disturbs the beat. It’s like hearing bad music; the listener winces at the discordant moment. Was it the course… or was it the dancer?

The composer might be completely bloody minded.

Bloody-minded Jumpers!

Being too lazy to move the contact equipment I wanted to put up a Jumpers With Weaves course. I could not help but wince at the discordant moments in this course. I’ve been occupying myself with a course design riddle that we see all too often in agility these days (particularly in USDAA courses) in which the fast dog handler is obligated to be in two places at once, if not three. Certainly the day goes to the young athletic handler who can race his dog from corner to corner to establish handler proximity in the technical moments.

For the rest of us, the mantra is train… don’t complain.

This is a bit of a cowardly notion I suppose. I’ll set this course up for league play. Then I won’t be here to run the course with my boy. I’m off to Springfield, IL in the morning to conduct a four-day TDAA judges’ clinic.

There are three very technical moments in this course. The first bit is in the transition from jump #7 to #8. The handler has a scarce 8 to 10′ to turn the dog with a looming tunnel option. Then the handler has to get to the opposite side of the floor to solve the same sort of option (with the dogwalk looming) in the turn from jump #10 to #11. This is really the tough bit because ideally the handler wants to come out of the turn with dog on right; calling for a perfectly executed serpentine Front Cross. Now the question is whether the handler can establish proximal position for the tricky threadle turn from jump #12 to #13. Ah, bloody-minded indeed.

Without a Paddle

Just so I don’t leave everyone “up the creek”, as it were, I should suggest my handling solution to the course. In order to compete with the young long-legged athletes in our sport some of us old-timers need to rely on superior training and handling skills. That is not to say that we would all succeed with the plan (or even I would succeed). But without a plan we are up the creek, and without a paddle.

A thing I’ve always said about pinwheels is the faster the dog is; the farther ahead the handler gets (and if you’ve been training your dogs for independent work in pinwheels in the exhaustive exercises I put up for this purpose in The Jokers Notebook distance training series… this should be no problem for you.) In this part of the course the handler has to pick the dog up out of the tunnel, sending him forward to “own the pinwheel”. This allows the handler the position he needs to precue the turn from jump #7 to #8.

I show the handler with dog on right coming out of the pipe tunnel. Getting this position might be its own sort of riddle, especially if the handler has to step in to the entry of the pipe tunnel at #3 so closely that he can touch it.

Note too that I show the handler layering at a distance while the dog is engaged in the performance of the weave poles in order to gain the next technical handling position.

Again the handler has a position forward of his dog to precue the turn. The cruel part about this moment is that the handler has to draw the dog around carefully to set the line through jumps #11 and #12. This is a type of Front Cross that I call a serpentine Front Cross. Truly it is a combination movement: Front Cross to Post Turn. The key to the successful Post is to release on the line. Release too soon and the dog is over jump #6. Release too soon and the dog goes from #11 to #4.

The tough part about surviving this moment is that it leaves the handler woefully behind the dog on the approach to jump #12 which is immediately followed by a difficult transition.

At jump #12 the handler is left behind the dog. I’m showing here a Post & Tandem approach to the #13 jump (optimistically showing the dog avoiding the run-out plane of jump #13). The Post needs to be a static Post, with the handler showing brakes to draw the dog back as though going to the dogwalk. At just the right moment the handler will flip the dog away in a Tandem Turn. I may have over-elaborated the turn (dog’s red line). In fact the handler really has to hold the Post opening up the approach to the jump.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Alphabet Drills ~ Letter E

At the heart of our set of obstacles on the floor is a jumping configuration for the letter E, taken from Nancy Gyes alphabet drills. The workbook and CD are available from Clean Run Productions if you’d like to play along. I’ll be going through all of the drills in the next year.

This is a great set of jumps, exploring the relationship between two adjoined pinwheels. I will leave our instructor with a page or two of drills, right out of Gyes’ Alphabet workbook.

The Book of Agility Games

The Book of Agility Games, 3d ed (beta) is now available in our web store.

I have yet to add all of the hypertext links and enable loading of a course directly into CRCD simply by clicking on the picture. However, I’m being besieged by queries after the book. This is a one-of-a-kind reference to all manner of games played in agility, around the world.

Please note that everyone who buys a legal copy will get a coupon towards the Final draft reimbursing you for the cost of the beta.

518 pp.

Follow this link: http://www.dogagility.org/Newstore/

Bud’s Google-Proof Trivia Contest

In what movie based on semi-autographical book by Earnest Hemingway did a notoriously gay actor play the part that was presumably Hemingway? Who was the actor?

Though I’m a huge fan of Hemingway the writer; he was a notorious homophobe, racist and sexist. I suppose he’s rolling over in his grave about the casting in the movie.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Tunnel Tangle

October 17, 2011

I was reviewing courses by TDAA judge Victor Garcia last week… and thought it would be fun to steal his set for a Tunnelers class and plunk it in the middle of a game that we’ll have to call Tunnel Tangle. This is not the Tunnel Tangle that was run at the Petit Prix… but, it was Wednesday, and I had to do my Wednesday night class. This seems like a nice ‘n easy maybe even relaxing kind of game to play after the drama of the Petit Prix.

This was the course I set up. We mostly ran it clean in league. We ran the game Faults, Then Time.

The Book of Agility Games

The Book of Agility Games, 3d ed (beta) is now available in our web store.

I have yet to add all of the hypertext links and enable loading of a course directly into CRCD simply by clicking on the picture. However, I’m being besieged by queries after the book. This is a one-of-a-kind reference to all manner of games played in agility, around the world.

Please note that everyone who buys a legal copy will get a coupon towards the Final draft reimbursing you for the cost of the beta.

518 pp.

Follow this link: http://www.dogagility.org/Newstore/

Bud’s Google-Proof Trivia Contest

I was wondering at the pressure of competition that makes people’s brains explode. It reminded me of an old “law” of gasses suggesting that increased pressure and reduces volume and increased volume reduces pressure. What is the name given that law?

Blog774

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

F*2 = MC2

October 12, 2011

I had an interesting discussion with a TDAA judge recently about the fault incurred on a dog when the handler picks up the dog in the ring before crossing the finish line. In this era of multiple venues we’re often influenced by rules for performance from those other venues. This judge’s automatic response was to “E” the dog. What should the judge do when a handler picks up his dog in the ring?

And the answer is… it depends.

The real question you have to ask yourself, as the judge, is whether the time is a part of the qualifying criteria. For example, in a standard course we set SCT for the dog. That means the dog is required to cross the finish line under his own power in an established time—based on level and jump height—in order to earn a qualifying score. In this case the judge should E the dog for picking him up before crossing the finish line.

Sometimes the briefing for a game clearly indicates that “time is a tie-breaker only.” This is true of games like Snooker. In a game like this if the handler picks up the dog the judge should advise the scribe to mark the dog’s scribe-sheet as NT, or No Time.

Picking up the dog and carrying him out of the ring is really not a great strategy for the handler. It’s either an act of resignation or just complete thoughtlessness. In any game with a finite number of possible scores time as a tie-breaker can be vital in terms of placement. The “NT” plunges the dog to the bottom of the stack for all scores of the same value.

By the way… as you review the Petit Prix game Run ‘til You Drop, below, what would be the judge’s call if the handler picks up his dog before stopping time?


Run ‘Til You Drop

Also known as “Ralphie’s” Run ‘til You Drop this game is a variation of Just In Time with a grand bonus for correctly estimating the dog’s rate of travel.

Quarter Finals

Briefing

The objective of Run ‘til You Drop is to score as many points as possible the time allotted. The obstacles can be taken in any order and direction. The teeter has no point value and must be performed as the last obstacle; hence the name of the game. If your drops the plank of the teeter before time expires, then all of the dog’s points will be doubled. Otherwise, there’s no penalty for going overtime, except that the dog cannot earn the bonus.

Obstacles can be taken only twice for points. Back-to-back is permitted. If the dog drops a bar, that jump is out of play. Point values for obstacles performed without fault are:

  • Jumps – 1 point
  • Tunnels and tire – 2 points
  • Contacts and Weave Poles – 3 points

Your job is to determine how many obstacles your dog can successfully complete within the time allotted. If you complete the teeter before the whistle blows, your score will be doubled. Standard course times will be as follows:

  • 4″ dogs 30 seconds
  • 8″ dogs 28 seconds
  • 12″ dogs 26 seconds
  • 16″ dogs 25 seconds

Qualifying

Run ‘til You Drop is scored Points, Then Time. 18 points are required to qualify.

Results from the Petit Prix

4″ Division
Run ’til You Drop

Call Name

Breed

Owner

TIME

PTS

Emma Yorkshire Terrier Lindsay Decker

27.37

40

Riggins All American Renee Roth

28.83

40

Maggie Dachshund Chris Moore

24.63

34

Gypsy
All American
Wayne Carlson
29.50
34
Seeker
Miniature Dachshund
Pam Giles
28.95
30
Schilling
Miniature Dachshund
Joan Kimmel
25.43
28
Oliver
Yorkshire Terrier
Rick Decker
21.37
26
Zach
Miniature Dachshund
Amy LaDew
23.22
24
8″ Division
Run ’til You Drop
Call Name
Breed
Owner
TIME
PTS
Pete
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Richard Petersen
27.93
60
Winn
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Chris Mosley
26.14
52
Wynne
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Robin Finley
26.13
46
Trisket
Swedish Vallhund
Deb Schneider
25.57
44
Chessie
Papillon
Charlotte Garsteck
26.64
42
Toby
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Kim Wittig
27.79
42
Sammy
Dachshund
Greg Canak
23.33
40
Kate
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Dana Bull
25.59
40
Riley
Papillon
Mary Hostetter
19.69
38
Haylee
Miniature Poodle
Vickie Tillman
25.64
38
Shadow
Miniature Poodle
Debbie Rodman
18.87
36
Mattie
Yorkshire Terrier
Pat Kay
20.37
36
Topaz
Yorkshire Terrier
Donald Wolff
20.89
36
Beau
Papillon
Lovanne Horsman
22.59
36
Luke
French Bulldog
Andrea Morden-Moore
25.66
36
Callie
All American
Sarah Adams
26.40
36
Jasmine
Shetland Sheepdog
Sue Krieske
27.30
36
Toby
Chihuahua
Mary BonDurant
17.96
34
Gigi
Miniature Poodle
Nancy Mersot
18.44
34
Mani
Papillon
Selina Fluker
21.13
34
Shadow
Rat Terrier
Ramona Stanfield
21.50
34
Oliver
Papillon
Lovanne Horsman
23.71
34
Mini
All American
Shawn Keller
23.84
34
Pearlina
Pomeranian
Wayne Carlson
24.43
34
Tiffany
Miniature Schnauzer
April Johnson-Mozzetti
26.47
34
Angel
Pug
Danielle Stuber
26.66
34
Casey
Chihuahua
Barbara Jeleski
21.21
32
Hazard
Shetland Sheepdog
Marsha Houston
21.54
32
Daisy
Pug
Dennis Vogel
23.92
32
Oliver
West Highland White Terrier
Jennifer Hammett
24.15
32
Barnaby
Toy Poodle
Andy Frederick
24.70
32
Petee
Papillon
Vickie Tillman
25.26
32
Me-Me!
Toy Poodle
Michele Cash
25.57
32
Toby
All American
John Finley
26.36
32
Drew
All American
Amy Sikorski
18.00
30
Teagan
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Deb Schneider
18.87
30
Zippy
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Jennifer Balinsky
18.91
30
Shaili
Pug
Kelly McFaul-Solem
22.62
30
Maggie Mae
All American
Kathleen Partin
18.95
28
Poco
Dachshund
Amy Sikorski
24.54
26
Russell
Dachshund
Jan Sund
24.99
26
Angel
West Highland White Terrier
Pat Kay
25.50
26
Rizzi
Toy Poodle
Melinda Doerfler
29.63
25
Joshua
Toy Poodle
Allison Day
30.46
25
Tinkerbelle
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Debra Lynch
30.91
25
Sparkle
Papillon
Sue Krieske
28.12
24
Francine
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Courtney Keys
28.70
23
Skinner
Chihuahua
Yoriko Kozuki
28.99
23
Katie
All American
Allison Day
32.06
23
12″ Division
Run ’til You Drop
Call Name
Breed
Owner
TIME
PTS
Ebby
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Mark Wittig
24.65
62
Abbey
Shetland Sheepdog
Jonelle Wolf
22.90
48
Tazer
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Richard Petersen
23.13
46
Tammie
Beagle
Marsha Smunt
24.81
46
Elmer
Beagle
Vickie Davis
19.22
42
Quigley
Beagle
Vickie Davis
19.91
42
Chloe
All American
Lisa Schwellinger
22.81
42
Harley
Miniature Schnauzer
Cindy Bankston
20.90
40
Trudy
Miniature Schnauzer
April Johnson-Mozzetti
22.24
40
Cammi
Cavalier King Charles
Kara Hinsman
24.58
40
KD
Shetland Sheepdog
Diane Cook
25.14
40
Heidi
Shetland Sheepdog
Lynn Moore
20.84
38
Baxter
Miniature Pinscher
Jacquelne Spanner
22.55
36
Bogart
Chinese Crested
Wayne Carlson
22.62
34
Kiki
Alaskan Klee Kai
Denise Johnson
22.71
34
Bailey
Cavalier King Charles
Kara Hinsman
25.46
34
Cujo
Miniature Poodle
Ted Schuld
19.68
30
Brumby
Miniature Poodle
Michele Cash
28.36
25
Kinzi
Norwegian Buhund
Jasmine Tata
21.45
24
Kylie
Papillon
Charlotte Garsteck
26.87
23
Sofie
Cocker Spaniel
Jenna Heilman
30.22
23
16″ Division
Run ’til You Drop
Call Name
Breed
Owner
TIME
PTS
Siren
All American
Kelly McFaul-Solem
24.32
46
Monty
Shetland Sheepdog
Sandy Langan
23.89
36
Desi
Shetland Sheepdog
Barbara Jeleski
24.76
36
Tyler
Shetland Sheepdog
Lynn Moore
17.37
30
Izzy
Miniature Schnauzer
Erin Vincent
17.87
28
Java
Australian Shepherd
Nicole Dresen
20.74
26

Blog773

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Private Thoughts

October 10, 2011

We return from the 2011 TDAA Petit Prix invigorated by a fine competition and an absolute minimum of controversial drama. I worked as a score-keeper all weekend and so for the first time ever was neither a competitor nor a spectator at the Petit Prix. I assure you that I had an interesting and vicarious view of the competition portrayed by numbers and notations on a river of scribe sheets.

I’d share with you our score-keeping methods; but nobody really wants to know how sausage is made. I’m proud to say that we advanced a terrific field of dogs into the final round.

Beginning tomorrow I’ll be actively seeking two or three sites for the 2012 Petit Prix. It’s true that we are determined to go to a regional format so that a considerably larger number of players will have affordable access to the championship venue.

Lessons Learned

The host clubs, Agility Acres and Happy Feet, Karen and Gloria, Wayne, Deb, Kim and Mark, and a host of volunteers were responsible for an amazingly well-run national event. I’ll be after their organizational notes as the basis for the model for running the Petit Prix in future years.

Except for a couple very brief moments I pretty much stayed away from the microphone over the weekend. I felt that I should not create even the hint of illusion that this event was anything but the effort of Agility Acres and Happy Feet.

Marsha bravely took on the role of Petit Prix Liaison Person. Even while attending the Petit Prix as a competitor (she ran our girl Hazard) Marsha did an amazing and important job dealing with a variety of problems in a very level headed manner. Marsha identified and fixed some important logistical problems, managed the correction of scoring errors in an organized manner, and deflected unreasonable nattering.

While the business model for the Petit Prix allows the host to pick the games to be played, I confess that I had a strong hand in the selection of the game we played in the final round. Several years ago I had the interesting notion that since we are a games-oriented venue we shouldn’t be shy about putting up a game as the final event. I think the concept worked really well with Who Dares Wins. But you know it hasn’t worked much since. In 2010 we played a dog’s choice game in Auburn that was hard to follow from a spectator’s point of view. And our game this year involved distance challenges that nearly skunked the field and wasn’t much of a showcase.

Completely chagrined by my own vision, I’m really thinking that all the “grinding” stuff needs to be in the quarter finals, and maybe the semis. But the final round should be a straight-forward though challenging standard course. This will allow the simple showcasing of skill in the game. I promise that’s where we’re going.

Competition has a way of bringing out the both the best and the worst in people. I understand that. Soccer moms have nothing on us. However, I’m especially mindful of the behavior of TDAA judges when in competition. I know it is very tough for one to separate his private ambitions as a competitor from his real obligation to be a role model and representative of sportsmanship, dog agility, and the TDAA. Nonetheless, we should all make the effort.

Back to the Blog

My most hectic season is winding down. I have a TDAA judges’ clinic in a couple weeks in Illinois; and I’m doing a seminar/judging gig in central PA in three.

I’m unlikely to put it on the road this winter, especially after totaling my Suburban and being a reluctant head trauma patient in a hospital in Indianapolis last winter. Home seems like a nice safe place.

The cold and quiet months hold some appeal to me right now, mostly because I have some dog training objectives that need to be tended. I’ll return to my blog and the documentation of handling and training in dog agility which is all I ever wanted to do with it (the blog). Every now and again I slow down and share a private thought or two… and pray that it doesn’t get me in trouble.

Blog772

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.