A solemn day

Today was pretty much given over to the funeral of James Martin, my father in-law. He was 89 years old. He served his country honorably in World War II. And he was a good provider for his family. A large number of family and friends attended to pay their respects.

When I die, I would not like a funeral. Maybe I’ll donate my body to science. If they can find any usable parts, take them with my blessings. I’m sure I won’t need them.

Instead of a funeral or a wake, my friends will have an agility trial and run some of the toughest courses I’ve ever designed. Then I can go on to my final rest with people cursing me and behaving pretty much as they did when I was alive. I’d like that.

Those that don’t actually have dogs can be put to productive use… you know, leash running and fluffing the chute.

No Cheating

Okay, I promised to write a new blog entry for 100 days in a row, repeating an exercise I did a few years ago. I want to cover some new ground… I’m especially interested in giving good documentation to the Back Pass, including some video to make my training points for me.

There’s a book I’ve wanted to write for several years to cover the fundamentals of agility handling. The working title has been Agility Chi. I’ve actually written most of it already. The material needs to be gathered up, organized, and presented in a consistent voice.

The thing about fundamentals is that fundamentals never change. Consequently the need for the exposition of the basic science of agility handling is, if anything, as relevant today as it has ever been. I’ll let you know how that project progresses.

I have another project up and coming. We are going to endeavor to launch a Top Dog agility league in southern California in the February/March 2015 timeframe. I’m ever the optimist.

Errors in the Tandem

This is a variation of the Tandem that I call the “New Jersey Left,” or the “Whiplash Turn.” Have you ever driven a car in New Jersey? In order to turn left you actually have to turn right three times.

BLOG04_06Sure, it gets the job done. The handler changes lead hands and goes on without mishap. The bad part of this movement is that it uses about three seconds without actually going anywhere.

Sometimes the New Jersey left is done intentionally. Sometimes it’s done by accident. Refer to the same drawing, above. The handler picks up his counter-arm and points the wrong direction. Sometimes the handler will actually lean in the opposite direction of the turn, or take a little sidestep that way, before pushing into the turn.

The only fix for this is to demonstrate how a person turns a corner. You move to the corner, and then you turn and go in the direction of the turn. What you don’t do is flap your arms, or lean away from the turn. The handler, in a Tandem Turn, should turn the corner the very same way he’s been turning corners his entire life.

BLOG04_07This illustration shows the handler stepping in front of the dog, intruding on the dog’s path, turning the dog more sharply than intended. This is not a Tandem Turn. The handler isn’t in position to do anything about it. The Tandem is a cross “behind” the dog. If there’s any question of anatomy, the “behind” is the bit with the tail, a difficult concept for those who own Aussies or Corgis.

When teaching the dog the Tandem a handler who consistently steps in front of the dog rather than behind the dog may shut the dog down. Great care should be taken to avoid stepping in front of the dog.

BLOG04_08In this illustration the dog has taken the off course jump. The Tandem Turn tends to go wide in the presence of an “option” or a “trap.”

This might be saved first of all by showing a very aggressive rotation of the handler’s shoulders. In the illustration the handler is using an inside-arm Tandem. It might be better to use the counter-arm so that the turn goes hard and deep.

The real problem here is the selection of movements. On the approach the handler probably should plan on a Back Cross rather than a Tandem. One of the attributes of a Back Cross is a tightened turn on the landing side of the jump. This is an instance in which a tightened turn might be desirable.

The Tandem Turn is fast dog handing. The handler is mostly behind and pushing.

The handler should practice with both the counter-arm signal and the inside-arm signal.

Blog990 13-of-100

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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One Response to “A solemn day”

  1. Jane Guidinger Says:

    I am with you on the funeral thing, but ashes spread after donation and cremation on the favorite agility fields

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