Real Dogs Don’t Wear Tags!

After a seminar day at QCDTC I stayed over for the weekend AKC trial hosted by the Greater Cincinnati Poodle Club. The morning started with a very fun romp of a jumpers course designed by AKC judge Karen Wlodarski. I got to run both Hazard and Kory on this. Hazard ran clean tho not terribly fast. Kory is a different matter altogether in terms of both speed and challenge. I must say that the course went exactly as planned; we escaped all the subtle options (I’ll describe below). He gave me a stunning run, according to plan.

The judge NQ’d us anyhow, because I failed to take his tags off before the run. The judge was very nice about it and didn’t blow the whistle until after our run. I was nonetheless very pleased with Kory and don’t care that much about the Q anyhow, as it turns out. Just to make myself feel better about it I phoned home and blamed Marsha for not reminding me as I walked out the door, as she usually does.

Those of you who run more than one dog are familiar with the idea that you can take very different views of course strategies based on the individual needs and quirks off your dogs. In my whole agility career I’ve never run two dogs who were so dramatically different than Hazard, who I drag laboriously through the course, and Kory who I push great distance with little effort, and a lot of conversational handling.

The first half of the course is dog-on-left which might seem unimaginative. It is, in fact, a speed building rip that has a couple subtle wrong-course options for the unwary. While these options weren’t so compelling for the smaller dogs a number of the big dogs demonstrated the possibilities. After jump #3 is the triple in a nice straight line. And after jump #4 is the gratuitous and flatly presented dummy jump.

The technical part of the program begins on the dismount of the weave poles with, again, a couple wrong-course options when entering the pinwheel.

As it turns out the real challenge in this course was the awkward approach to the #18 jump. A simple analysis of the dog’s path in this course will show a line that slices by the #18 jump for a refusal. We saw that plenty today, even with the small dogs. What I did with Kory at this point was turn him to the right as though we were going back to the weave poles, then flip him left as the approach to the jump opened up. Funny thing, I had also agonized about the final wrong course  option, presented by jump #1.

The Standard Course

I Q’d both Hazard and Kory in the standard course, so, not a bad day. With any luck my pups will have the same edge tomorrow!


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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5 Responses to “Real Dogs Don’t Wear Tags!”

  1. my3fundogs Says:


  2. Erica Says:

    Just in case you wondered, Kory won today’s Excellent B 24″ class handily. Not a bad showing for his first run in B! Your blue ribbon will be on its way.

    There’s a sweet irony in Kory’s attire issues given his full name.

  3. Linda Says:

    Karen Wlodarski is a kind and understanding judge, and is also well-known as an outstanding competitor here in the South. Last October in Columbia SC, my generally slow-poke (but steady) 10-yr-old Cairngirl Piper earned her EXA PrefStd title (finally) under Karen–with 3 seconds under time. And, under Karen, a 2d leg in NovPref FAST. Karen is judging Columbia’s April AKC, and I am looking forward to competing with Piper and my 4yr-old Cairnboy Andy. I believe most of us running more than one dog, particularly if they are in the same class, have to walk courses two different ways. Andy is faster–and also less attentive– than Piper, so his Novice FAST run last October did not go as well as Piper’s. My strategy for Piper didn’t work with Andy. Lesson learned.

    • budhouston Says:

      Thanks for the note Linda. Karen was a fine judge, with humor and humility, and gave us flowing (and challenging) courses. I’d love to show under her again.


  4. Linda Says:

    Karen Wlodarski is not going to judge in Columbia SC in April. I guess I was thinking about my club’s AKC Memorial Day weekend trial, where she will be a judge. Senior moment!

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