Finally done with my taxes which were, like I said… very complicated this year. This is an annual ritual that reminds me of the Christmas movie with Darren McGavin (A Christmas Story) in which he goes down into the basement to make war with the furnace. It’s kinda like that.

Interesting thing though, I’m actually two weeks ahead of where I was last year. What was going on last year to make me so late?

Spring is Sprung

We make our transition this week to the spring training schedule; which means that we return to weekly evening classes and leave behind the once or twice a month Sunday mini-clinics. I know that’s not all that interesting. But to me it’s a change in the essential rhythms of life; and I must readjust.

Frankly I’m getting antsy now to put in my garden and even sneak away to the pond for an afternoon of catch ‘n release.

What I would like to do, in terms of training, is put up something in the building and something on the lower field and change up both every few days. There are lots of things that can be accomplished training-wise with subtle tweaks of equipment.

Here’s a bit I’ve been playing with:

Now, for all that the sequence has decently flowing lines for the dog there are some subtle challenges that I’m studying. From jump #3 there’s a solid discrimination with the tunnel tucked under the A-frame; the approach to the #5 jump is at an acute slant (and shouldn’t be taken for granted by the handler, at all); and on the dismount of the weave poles the handler has a blind or managed approach to shape the dog into the pinwheel at jump #7.

The blind/managed approach is becoming more an more popular in competition. So, we must practice.

Now renumbered… the lines seem a little angrier than the previous sequence. But it’s not so bad. Note the in-your-face options after jump #2 and #3. The approach to the A-frame is a managed approach, or should be. That approach is complicated by the discrimination.

Again, on the dismount of the weave poles, the handler is faced with a managed approach to jump #10. This isn’t really all that simple. The handler is trapped back at jump #10; and the dog may feel a little love for the pipe tunnel option. The more the allure of the pipe tunnel draws the dog the more the approach to jump #11 is spoiled. It’s certainly an interesting moment in this sequence.

Let’s Get Bloody-Minded

While I was pouring over the last sequence a couple things jumped out at me to which the sane little voice on my shoulder was saying… “don’t go there.” On the other shoulder is the evil little voice that says “Hey, train for the preposterous or be unprepared!”

I really had to laugh thinking about the evil voice on my shoulder. There was a SciFi movie way back I think in the 60’s with Ray Milland where he had a head sprouting like a growth on one shoulder (the head was Rosie Greer; a name football fans should remember). There’s nothing in this ridiculous image that furthers the discussion except to complete the portrait of evil.

The course designer is trying to stretch the handler between control moments. For example, the handler should manage the turn from the A-frame into the pipe tunnel and yet be available on the dismount of the pipe tunnel to manage the approach to jump #5. We repeat this theme on the managed approach to jump #9; a moment that clearly requires the handler to pick the dog out of the weave poles and shape the approach to the jump. And this bit is followed by a threadle between jumps #10 and #11.

I don’t really approve of the course design. When in training, however, whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

The Thing With Two Heads

I couldn’t help myself… I had to go find the picture. Funny… it’s not nearly as scary as I remember it. And frankly now that I look at it, Ray Milland looks much scarier and seems more to be the growth.


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.

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