Out of Doors

It’s been something like three weeks since I’ve written to my web log. Before too long I should secure a thing or two that has gone adrift in my brain. For now, I just want to share a thought or two.

The picture above, by the way, I took out of the driver’s side window as I made the trip from home to Durham, NC. Phone / camera thingies are outrageous technology and allow you to do silly things … like taking random pictures when you should be concentrating on things like wending your way down a mountain road. The picture manages to capture two states. In the foreground is West Virginia, little bits of hill on a mountain side. Sprawling out down below is North Carolina.

This is a small trial, really. It’s USDAA, with something like 12 classes a day. We’re running two rings and one judge. The local exhibitors like this format because they never have conflicts and can watch every performance and have kind of a laid back experience. For the judge, however, it is an awesome task running from ring to ring. On Saturday the temperature soared to about 95°; today was somewhat better as it only reached about 87°. Tomorrow there may be showers.

I feel like I’m living through the demise of the out-of-doors agility trial. Although well-maintained turf is the most excellent surface for agility, other factors make working outside unpopular. With the temperature soaring it can be downright uncomfortable; and keeping our dogs from over-heating is problematic and worrisome.

And you know… tomorrow it could rain. The remnants of that darned hurricane that swamped Louisiana is drifting cross country. While I haven’t been current on my television watching and weather channel obsessing… I know there’s the possibility. I brought my dryz-a-bone with me. So I’m prepared or this indignity too.

An Agility Fix

I am getting my agility fix. As the judge I get to be an unblinking witness to every bit of every performance. I was happy to see Stuart and Pati Mah. They’re both always a treat to watch; keen and collected and playing a high octane game. I’m kind of disappointed not to see the Fontaines here. I’m hoping they don’t wimp out on out-of-doors trials. That would be disappointing.

For the most part the dogs and handlers here play with a wide variety of skill and training. I’m struck by the positive nature of most of the players. I mean they were having fun, and treating their dogs wonderfully no matter how grand or messy their moment in the sun.

In the past couple of years I’ve been struggling with the notion of what kind of coach I can be in dog agility if I can’t be the kind of coach I’ve always been. What I’ve been, mind you is kind of a hands on “let me show you” kind of guy. I’ll pick up a student’s dog and demonstrate the thing I’ve been trying to teach. But painful and debilitating arthritis have taken away the basic physical prowess that defined “my kind of coach”.

In the play of the game I see every small error now with a peculiar clarity.

The weekend has been uplifting for me because I can see my way to what I will be as a coach. I just won’t be hands on. I get to give the whole concept a nice work-out on the second weekend of October as I do a nice weekend seminar with Sue Sternberg’s bunch out in Grand Junction, Colorado.

I might have loved to give some of the folks this weekend a bit of coaching. But that’s not what I’m here for.

Looking at the quiet winter months coming at us I want to make a schedule of workshops for the handful of local players who’ve ever trained with me. We could all use a regular agility fix.


Reading back over my rambling above… I have to observe that two days in the North Carolina sun wearing a rabbit-skin Akubra hat is a good way to bake a brain. So you’ll have to excuse my fuzzy notions.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running.  www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.


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3 Responses to “Out of Doors”

  1. Erica Says:

    Hope you’ll also share your concept with the Cincinnati group next Friday! We always enjoy your critical eye, as well as your critical thinking.

  2. Josie Says:

    A hot horse barn is no picnic if there isn’t adequate circulation

  3. Kim Says:

    lovely photo composition….looking onto that endless view could make anyone get lost in their thoughts

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