Agility Organizations

Today, don’t you know, Dog Agility Action Bloggers has challenged the bloggers in our sport with the topic “Improving Agility Organizations”. That’s pretty close to home. I’m involved in the management of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association and have slowly been working at the beginnings of Top Dog Agility Players (a low key recreational venue).

Okay, I’ve just come back from a judging clinic in Salt Lake City for the TDAA. So I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that developing the quality of the judging corps is paramount to improving any agility organization. Running a close second is the education of course designers.

I’ll look forward to perusing blog posts on this subject. I believe that any organization should be mindful of both perception and attitude of the enthusiasts who support them (and even those who enthusiastically damn them). It’s just good business. If you’d like to peruse as well, you can find all of the posts on this topic here: Improving Agility Organizations.

Since you are here, I’ll say a word about Top Dog. Believe it or not, I’ve been working at starting this organization for something like 15 years. Clearly I’m not in enough of a hurry. Dog Agility is for everybody. It should be as inexpensive and natural as a pick-up game of baseball in the corner lot. So here’s an agility organization that doesn’t charge anything to play… no memberships, no applications, no registrations. Play the game, and send in your results. Oh my! It’s pretty crazy right? I’m working hard at finding the right people to be our Directors; and clubs who want to play.

Think of Top Dog as an “Open System”. The model will ultimately be defined by those who play. If you want to look at the basic model, visit our web page at: Top Dog.

No Joy in Mudville

At the risk of sounding slightly retarded I’ve only just realized that for the purpose of obtaining an exhibitor’s course map I’ve not bothered to embrace the new technology and, as a consequence, have kept my life unnecessarily complicated. You see, I have a phone in my pocket that is also a camera. Don’t you know I grab these little pieces of paper at the trial site, and I obsess on them while I’m there (because they are my course maps and my duty is to obsess over them); and then I take them home and sometimes, if the course is wicked or very interesting I will ponderously recreate the course in the Clean Run Course Designer so that I can slap it up on my Blog and talk about it.

But like I said, I have a phone in my pocket that is also a camera. This means that I didn’t even really have to pick up the piece of paper at all. I might have just leaned over it and taken the quick snap; and then I would have the course for the cross purposes of obsession, and blogging.

I know there’s some youngster who might read this and have a good smirk at my “slow on the uptake” grasp of today’s technology. In my day I was a mimeograph operator and an AB Dick operator. Hell, I even worked with a guy who threw hot lead for newspaper copy. That was cutting edge technology, don’t you know, back in the day. Okay… I’m getting off-track here (and slightly defensive about my age and technical abilities).

Last Weekend

I’ve been in Salt Lake City for a TDAA Judges’ Clinic over the weekend; having just returned from an AKC trial at Queen City in Cincinnati the weekend before that.

Kory was good in Queen City. I had a blast every time onto the field; though every run we were haunted by one small error; usually a dropped bar, but once a wrong course. I’m liking our teamwork right now because we’re solving some very technical courses, and usually while working quite a distance apart. Compared to where we were this time last year I’m happy.

Here are a couple courses from the weekend, complete with MOV files taken by my friend Erica (presumably moved to YouTube when I get home because while you can count on a microwave oven in the lobby of a La Quinta, you can’t really count on working WiFi):

Sunday JWW

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Oh My

I just realized that the video I have is not matched to the course map. I’ll share both with you but you need to know what one has little to do with the other. First I’ll show you the video of the Monday Jumpers run: Monday Jumpers. Note that the Sunday jumpers started with a three jump serpentine… the Monday Jumpers started with a four jump serpentine. Oh my.

Here’s the course map I wanted to share with you:

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The bit I wanted to talk about here is at the back-left of the course. You’ll note yet another serpentine, with the dog destined for a wrong course approach to the u-shaped pipe tunnel. You know, I did a couple “back passes” here that were the best exhibition of those movements I’ve ever accomplished; and I was really too far from any side of the ring from which a good video could be taken and far too close to the judge who had absolutely no idea what she was seeing. A shame that.

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From the dogwalk I went him into the serpentine which I conducted with simple Right & Left instructions (all verbal). I stepped into position as he was coming over the third jump and told him “Come By”… and he wrapped neatly around me for the proper approach to the tunnel.

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While he was in the tunnel I moved to a new position so that as he came out I gave him a command to “Switch” (come around my body in a counter-clockwise direction). I used this to line up the jump to the weave poles. As it turns out, in the running of the class, that jump and the approach to the weaves were a popular source of NQ scores if the handler just gave the dog a straight line out of the tunnel. The bar got dropped on a fair percentage, and bad approaches to the weaves didn’t help as much either. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have handled it with the switch. But I was content to make it square and make it work.

Just so you know, on this course I had a wrong course fault after the #11 jump as Kory went ahead into the #19 pipe tunnel. At the height of laziness I sent him from the table to do the four jumps, wanting to rely on directional control. I’d have done much better to step into the pocket and show him the turn.

Calling all Back Passers

I’d very much like to find out who else is using the Back Pass in agility. I find this an extraordinary “movement” that solves a number of interesting riddles in agility. And, I’d very much like to compare notes with others who are using it.

La Quinta Woes

As I begin to write this… it’s my last night in Salt Lake City and I’m holed up in air Airport hotel (La Quinta) so that I can get an early ayem shuttle. The airport/hotel area is a bleak region of hotel upon hotel; a desert of concrete and bad landscaping. And the Wifi at the La Quinta is broken. I’ll have a lot of work to do when I get home… since I can’t actually do it here. How about a movie?

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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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