Snow Day

It had been our intention to show our dogs at an AKC trial up in Zanesville this weekend. Indeed, I had the alarm set for 4:30 am. Marsha took a look outside and suggested we should go back to bed… we had about 6″ of snow, and it was snowing heavily still.


Unfortunately our route to Zanesville is about 40 miles of driving along a dark Route 60, wending through the boonies… and no guarantees that it has been scraped or salted.

I would be a little cockier about driving in ice and snow had I not about killed myself a couple years ago in a winter driving accident. The trial entries aren’t that much money to blow off. So, we’ll stay at home for the weekend. And I’ll just goof off.

Goofing Off

I’ve spent a couple weeks now mostly goofing off. It’s not that I haven’t had work to do, mind you. For the holiday season I thought I’d buy myself a little bit of goofing off time. Goofing off is not a natural condition for me. Though, I remember when I actually used to work for a living; I’d come home, take off my tie, and turn off any thought of work. I could go out and play with my dogs, or sit and watch a football game, and wouldn’t have to engage in work again until the alarm got me up the next morning. Goofing off was like half my life.

I work for myself now. And we all know what that means. The fun thing, of course, is that I’ve been consumed by my favorite hobby, and turned it into something of a living.

When a person is young, say in his 30’s or 40’s there’s a lot of thought and energy that go into making career choices, and preparing for the future. I mean almost everything we do is geared towards ensuring that we aren’t sleeping under a bridge when we get old enough to retire.

Giving Back to the Sport

Okay, in a couple of days it will be a new year and I will begin earnest marketing of Top Dog Agility Players. I’ve done some sample marketing. The reception has been lukewarm. And I’m okay with that.

I have this simple ambition… to sponsor the largest agility competition in the world. All the players might not be in the same place… but they will all run the same course or play the same game. This ambition is complicated and furthered by the notion that I want it to be so inexpensive that anybody with a trained dog can play. It’s not about money, after all.

A complication all along has been the idea that a recreational approach to dog agility is without ambition and without profit. Roll those words around your mouth a bit: “Ambition” and “Profit”… notably two of the driving forces of our sport (and driving forces of the whole world).

In the Top Dog model attempts to enhance the potential for profit for the host club, and to reduce risk. If you really think about it the host club has ever been the hero of dog agility competition, to a greater extent than the venue ever could be. The venue provides sanction and certification and, with any luck, training of judges. The host club, however, takes all the financial risks and does all the work. What a deal that is for the venue.

Visit the Top Dog web site for more information: I’m also blogging for Top Dog at: And today (!) I started a Facebook page for Top Dog: I’ll really have to work at sorting out what kind of information goes in each. Oh my! On top of all that, I believe I need a Yahoo group for planning and discussions.

Okay, I have to admit that we wanted to make this really attractive for the player as well. Imagine how fun it could be to compete against a thousand other dogs every week! Okay, it’s not nearly that big yet. But you can see where I’m trying to go with this. Remember the statement of ambition… to sponsor the largest agility competition in the world. It might take a couple years to get there. I’ll be patient.


Our young pup is just about the cutest thing in the world.


This isn’t a great picture, sorry. Katniss is darker than her shadow. She has little white tips on her toes, and a modest white tie on her neck. I suppose should get some pictures of her out in the snow so there’s a little background contrast.

Ah, and she likes to tug!

That’s Phoenix she’s tugging with. Phoenix is our one year-old rescue BC. I’m busy teaching him left & right as a winter project. I want him to hit the ground running when it’s time for him to enter competition. Frankly I’m hoping for a good workout with weekly Top Dog games.


Pardon the cryptic heading… that’s the fancy language of Top Dog. It begins with a date stamp… and ends with the size of the competition area. This is a numbered course that manages 15 numbered obstacles in a modest 60′ by 80′ space.

BLOG889_03 This was my warm-up course for the AKC trial we were supposed to be at this weekend… before we decided to wimp out on account of snow. I’m working with Kory’s contact protocol (given to me by Pati Mah). I really wanted to test in competition that Kory is showing the same 2o2o composure that he shows in his own training building.

Anyhow, Kory ran this course in 38.57 with no faults.

The tricky bit, as you can imagine, is the wicked little turn from jump #10 into the weave poles. On the dismount of the weave poles, mind you, I wanted dog-on-right so I could control his approach to the correct tunnel entry at #12. I guarantee you that the backside of #2 would be as enticing as the correct entry to #12 if I were turning him away from me coming out of the weave poles.


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.

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2 Responses to “Snow Day”

  1. Pam Mackinnon Says:

    I love your latest blog. And the idea of dogs competing around the world is brilliant. I know all about helping people have fun with their dogs without profit. I am co-founder of Talking Dogs Rally. Inspired by Bud Kramer’s rally, we have adapted and, in our opinion, improved it with the sole aim of helping pet dog owners have more motivation and fun training their dogs in order to give dogs and owners more fulfilled lives and to help dogs integrate into an ever more anti-dog society by being able to cope and behave well in public and at home. I would be very interested in knowing more about your idea so will go to your website and read up about it. In the meantime, enjoy your unscheduled goofing off time – these gifts don’t come to us that often.

  2. Erica Says:

    Missed you and Marsha today, but better to miss you one weekend than a lifetime. Enjoy the comfort of your home and critters.

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