Archive for April, 2014

The Show

April 19, 2014

I spent most of the winter, somewhat casually mind you, putting together the human elements to make an Agility television show. Okay, I’m just old enough that I want to call it a television show. In fact, realistically it’s going to be an internet-based recording. But, it’s going to be agility.

The idea is to put together something kind of schmaltzy and reality show-like. Frankly if it were another Animal Planet talking heads look at the sport, it would be drop dead boring. What I’ve wanted to capture is the human part of the game at its gritty best and worst. We want to be entertained!

Anyhow, I’m thinking that I have most of the elements in place. Vendors are easy to find. I don’t want vendors. I want partners. It’s really hard putting together a core group of risk-takers. I’m beginning to think that we aren’t exactly a generation of risk-takers.

Concept

Initially we will schedule a six-week run in a top ten player format. The Show will feature a single course or agility game. The five top players will go on to the next week; and the bottom five might drop off and be replaced by others waiting (and competing) in the wings. The objective is to stay on The Show by holding together in the competition.

We’ll interview each of the players before and after the competition.

Invitational

The course or game that we play will be published a week before the airing of The Show. Anyone and everyone will be invited to play along and submit their results. We have a real opportunity here to have a shared community experience among players from around the world. This invitational will have its own rules and will include qualifying and titling from the ongoing competition.

Objectives

What we mostly want here is to have a bit of fun with our sport. If it’s not fun, why even bother? At the same time, serendipitously, we have a real opportunity to launch an amazingly inexpensive variation on the agility game… something just about anybody can afford. And that too, is worth the effort.

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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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Slightly Crazy

April 18, 2014

I am in Cincinnati this weekend, showing both Kory and Marsha’s young boy Phoenix. It’s been a tough week for us. We lost our old boy Dash. So this evning I’m unlikely to be either pithy or elegant in my writing.

This weekend past I was in Grand Junction, Colorado for a handling seminar. My seminars in that area are typically arranged by a long time student and friend, Sue Sternberg. I will end a seminar with a chat in which I ask each person who participated what they learned.

What I learned, I take home with me.

An interesting development… I have had a protocol for the introduction of a jump (bar hurdle) to a dog for something over 20 years. And now I’m going to change it. It’s not that I didn’t think it through. I just didn’t understand that the world was going to go slightly crazy; an event which needs to be accommodated in our agility foundation.

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The intro protocol I’ve used forever goes something like this:

  • The handler presents the jump on his right
  • The handler presents the jump on his left
  • The handler leads out and calls the dog over on his right
  • The handler leads out and calls the dog over on his left
  • The handler sends the dog to jump on his right
  • The handler sends the dog to jump on his left

On first glance it looks like I have everything covered. You’ll note that even this short list is full of prerequisite skills. The obvious stuff is a dog who will stay while the handler leads out… and a dog who will go away to jump. Less obvious is the tantalizing shaping of a handler who doesn’t know which arm/hand to use.

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The addition to the jump introduction protocol is:

  • The handler draws the dog around on his right side and presents the jump from the backside
  • The handler draws the dog around on his left side and presents the jump from the backside

This too has an interesting prerequisite skill which is by no means automatic and will have fruitful consequences to the handler who practices: the ability for the handler to draw a dog tightly around his body.

I say the world went slightly crazy. Well, the blind approach jump or the backside approach surely is a skill worth putting into a dog’s foundation as well as the handler’s. We compete in a slightly crazy world.

What have you learned today?

I said that I left Grand Junction with a shortlist of what I learned. I learned (reaffirmation actually) that a conditioned performance of a jump is one of the most overlooked skills in the sport of dog agility. Ironically, the jump is the last obstacle in agility for which the dog truly learns focus.

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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.