The Rip-Saw Tunnel

There is a configuration of equipment we see from time to time in agility that I call the “Rip-Saw” tunnel. It’s basically a course configuration that invites the handler to run into his dog on the exit of the pipe tunnel. I think that there are some fine handling options for the Rip-Saw. But beyond that I wonder at the riddle of the course that is: “Do you know how to do this without hurting yourself, or your dog?”

Here’s a sample from an old course that I dug up (you don’t have to rummage long to find examples). The dog will approach the pipe tunnel on the handler’s left side, into a left-turning sequence. Had the pipe tunnel actually been pointing at the #13 jump, it wouldn’t be a rip-saw at all. And the turning riddle would be shifted downfield to that jump.

Handling Options

Handling depends on a lot of things. Primarily everything begins with recognition. The handler, devout student of the dog’s path that he is, must recognize the possibility of collision on the dog’s exit from the pipe tunnel.

The next “depends” is if the handler feels obligated to step up on the approach to the tunnel-under-the-dogwalk discrimination riddle to take a blocking position on the dogwalk. This is going to put him in ideal position to run into the dog making his exit from the pipe tunnel.

What the handler might do, instead, is step up to the exit of the pipe tunnel, hiding himself from the dog; and then, as the dog usher’s past step behind the dog to convince the dog into the turn. This is what I call a technical Tandem.

Another option, for the same handler, is to strike a wide path that diminishes the risk of collision. In this drawing I show the handler running out into space to bend the dog into the turn from a somewhat comfortable distance. Now the handler will probably have to use a Rear Cross at jump #14 to get the turn to the dogwalk.

Finally we come to the old guy’s handling option. Now, with a well trained distance dog that has directionals and knows the difference between a pipe tunnel and a dogwalk without the handler having to be in close proximity… the handler can release the dog from the vicinity of the table. And now, having such an advantage in real estate the handler can either bend the dog on his left side, or step to the opposite side of the #13 jump to have dog on right in the transition to the dogwalk.

Cunning and Guile

I have to share this note with you.

Hi Bud,

I saw your blog about Old Guy Handling and wanted to let you know there are several “really” old guys out there still doing agility with fast dogs.  You probably know everyone in the photos, but you probably did not know Herb Gercke just turned 80 years old.  The 70 plus group, rt. Jim Hibbard, Dwight Cash (the youngest), Herb Gercke and Dick Watson.  We all meet at Jim’s on Thursday mornings, play agility with some younger folks, mostly woman and then go to lunch, followed by naps.

Herb and I had a team in league this year (Geezers Plus) and we came in 2nd of the 42 teams.  Herb and his BC, Zack, did an outstanding job, especially with the Non-Traditional Gamble, beating all but 2 of the 160 plus participants.

And, the Geezers would be very happy to test any of your Old Guy Handling techniques, that is the rare technique, the Geezers are not already using!

Take care,

Dwight Cash


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

2 Responses to “The Rip-Saw Tunnel”

  1. Linda Knowles Says:

    Hey go old guys, go! More power to ya! Hip, hip, hooray!


  2. Michelle Says:

    When I started agility in the 90’s I often traveled from the Seattle area to the Portland area to attend Columbia Agility Team trials. I watched all these guys handle their fast dogs with skill and teamwork. I learned a lot by watching them. They are amazing handlers, all of them! And all of them are kind and generous with new agility handlers. I applaud and admire them for still competing with fast dogs and doing very well in competitions. Here’s hoping I will still be as skilled and agile as they are when I am in my 70’s! The Pacific NW is lucky to have them; NW agility ROCKS!

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