I’ve been entranced by the Olympics for the past several days. I haven’t been entirely jingoistic in my delight for the competition. It’s so cool to watch these young athletes in a competition they’ve been working towards for years and years into a small sliver of time, a single chance, a summary moment.

All athletes have a relationship with a coach working to prepare them in the pursuit of perfection. The relationships young athletes have with their coaches is of special interest to me. I suppose you get to see interaction between player and coach more clearly in sports like gymnastics.

What I like about gymnastics especially is watching these grizzled old men who coach young men and women towards amazing athletic perfection.

Getting Real

After something like 20 years of being a “here, let me show you” kind of coach, I find myself physically incapable of the kind of movement and grace that is fundamental to a wicked partnership with an athletic, well-trained dog. I am afflicted by a condition called “osteoarthritis”. Yes, there are meds for this condition. What the meds actually do is allow me to go through the day without excruciating pain; they allow me to sleep at night. Unfortunately the bones move with creaky precarious wobblediness; as though every major joint has a minor sprain. Without the meds, it’s more like every joint has a major sprain.

As a coach I can tell a student what they need to do to take their game to the next level. I can put that student on handling exercises and on the pertinent dog training mission. I can show little bits; but I won’t be running to arrive at that bit.

I have few local students, one or two capable of world class; they are caught up in the drama of their personal lives and probably will not pursue or finish the killer agility career, and approach agility only as an expensive hobby. Nationally I have a number of students that follow my teaching closely. Working with them is a spotty and occasional matter. They get their “Bud fix” ever year or so. That’s not the same thing as working with me relentlessly, daily or weekly, for a span of years.

I’ve considered bringing my nephew down to teach him the game and to run my dogs. He’s a young, slender athletic boy… he could outrun most competitors in the game today. It would break your heart if I told you how important that is.

At any rate, my life has been taken over by the work of the TDAA, in nurturing and improving that organization. I’m having fun doing this. But it’s work; it’s a job. And, it’s not my first love.


The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” ~ Bobby Knight, coaching the USA men’s basketball, 1984 gold medal team.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

6 Responses to “Coach”

  1. Ali Says:

    I would love to have a coach like you! Unfortunately can’t move to Ohio. Your nephew is very lucky!

  2. Erica Says:

    We may not be able to work with you “relentlessly” but we do take our time with you seriously (sometimes to a fault). I’d rather run (I use the term loosely) my own dog poorly than stand on the sidelines and watch someone else steal my fun. After all, I’ve been taught that it’s only a game we play with our dogs.

    • budhouston Says:

      Yah, don’t get me wrong Erica. for the little trial out in the hinterlands I’ll have pure delight in having a romp with my dog. But if I wanted him to excel in (say, for example) a national tournament the only way to rise above the 2% probability that I could out-compete the long legged flat belly youngsters… then I should obtain the services of a handler surrogate. Just being real.

      You’re right. It’s all just a game. Just remember that on my blog I amuse myself with wild rambling thoughts.


      • Erica Says:

        As long as you don’t give up on yourself and your ability to handle that wild hare of yours. You’ve never let me give up – I hold you to the same standard. What we may lack physically we make up for with cunning and guile, isn’t that how you put it?

  3. Debbie Says:

    Shortly after I started running agility I realized that a great number of senior handlers — including those with wrapped limbs and scooters — were there because they loved the sport and loved their dogs… not because they could out-maneuver and out-run everyone else. Yes, it’s fun to watch a great team smoke a course, but we are all in this together, for better or worse.

    Welcome to the world of the common handler. We don’t think any less of you.

    Debbie (and Ripley who is way faster and fitter than I)

  4. Vicki Says:

    I do miss your coaching….. 😦 Felt very fortunate to have been able to share 7 years of that coaching.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: