Archive for July, 2019

Send Around the Barrel

July 25, 2019

We have a new young dog in our house, a rescue Aussie that we’ve named Marty McFly.

I’ve been working on a catalog of YouTube videos that I intend to use to update the Joker’s Notebook foundation issue. One of the exercises I’ve overlooked, in terms of video documentation, is the “Send Around the Barrel” exercise. This is actually the very first thing I teach a young dog.

And so, having a new dog in the house allows me to capture the painful first steps of the training.

Too often a novice dog trainer will give up the ambition to teach a dog a thing because success doesn’t just leap up out of the dog. It’s work. And, in the early going failure is as much a feature of training dog as is success.

Patience and humor are fundamental to the art of dog training.

An underlying objective of the Send-Around-the-Barrel exercise is to teach the dog to work independently. An agility dog needs to feel free to break away from the handler for obstacle performance.

The Intro ~ Marty Send Around the Barrel

First session the trainer lures the dog around the barrel

Marty Send Around the Barrel 2

Second time out is pretty much a matter of continuing the introduction, still luring around the barrel.

Marty Send Around the Barrel 3

This time we’re giving a modest “send” around the barrel rather than luring.

The fourth time out was not recorded. At this point in the training the handler wants to gradually and modestly increase the distance of the send around the barre.

Marty Send Around the Barrel 5

Fifth time out Marty is showing some understanding of what he needs to do to earn the food treat.


In practicing a Send-Around-the-Barrel we have established with a young dog a training relationship. We will regularly practice unique behaviors or performances and introduce a vocabulary to elicit them.

Five sessions showed some progress. But mastery will come from several dozen more sessions. And, like all foundation skills, the Send-Around-the-Barrel should be practiced regularly, over time.

** ** **

Early on I was on a mission with Marty to evaluate him. How fast is he going to be? How powerful? How keen to do play the game? My ambition is to allow him to be the best he can be.



Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Fare Thee Well Jane McManus

July 15, 2019

Jane McManus has retired! And we wish her all the best.

One of the unsung heroes of dog agility, Jane belongs to a generation of pioneers who followed a passion for training dogs and playing at agility. She provided a place to play for her community. Last century, Jane established Pine Meadows, an agility training center in South Boardman, Michigan. Pine Meadows became a dog agility community center in a small town far north and away from the world.

Pine Meadows was a Teacup Dogs Agility Association member club. Jane built her club and a strong Teacup community supporting her students, creating training classes specifically for her teacup enthusiasts. She trained up judges and sponsored competition. They don’t make them like Jane any more.

Jane McManus belonged to that generation that created the sport of agility in this country. She owned from the beginning a canny ability to grow her community, like a master gardener, by care and nurturing.

In retirement, Jane begins a new chapter in her life. She’s moved down to Florida, leaving behind the harsh Michigan winters. And she leaves behind an awesome legacy, and the community of dog agility enthusiasts that she created. They will surely miss her.



Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Jokers Notebook, a series of comprehensive training workbooks intended to teach a dog powerful skills of independent performance. –


Humpty Dumpty

July 5, 2019

Democracy is an expression of belief systems. Vladimir Putin’s attack on America relies on the principle that the human brain is mushy and malleable. Man will adopt as a closely held truth a suggestion that is repeated over and over in his sight and in his hearing. It doesn’t matter that the suggestion is completely ridiculous.

In our own history, in the last 100 years, we see plenty of evidence that the technology of mass communication will shape the belief systems that become the rudder of the ship of state. JFK had television. FDR had radio. We got into the Spanish American war on account of newspaper propaganda. Walter Lippmann (Public Opinion 1922) describes a massive program of millions of posters that helped convince Americans that we should fight in World War I.

To say that mass telecom “sways” the belief systems of the electorate is inadequate. Mass telecom creates the belief systems of the electorate.

Social Media is Mass Media on steroids.

Putin the Wicked Magician of Social Media

Vladimir Putin was terrified of the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming President. She would have kicked his butt. She was his incentive, his passion, his target.

In 2016 a thousand Russian agents worked full time spinning a divisive attack on America using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube (and other stuff). Our social media was flooded with millions of crafty messages intended to shape the mush of our malleable brains. It worked like a charm.

Hillary Clinton was assassinated by a campaign of misinformation, and Putin got his boy elected in the United States. Donald Trump is President of the United States, and the greatest disaster that has afflicted us since the Civil War.

Putin had help in America.

Go to the Facebook page of a pro-trump friend or family member. You who I mean. Flip back to 2016 and you will see them sharing hundreds of completely ridiculous posts that were authored by some guy in Romania or Moscow. And so, by extension, they become tertiary agents of Putin.

Like any virulent disease the conditions were perfect for Putin’s attack. The FOX Network has worked hard to put lipstick on this pig from the very beginning. FOX is the propaganda network. They rely on fundamentally that their viewers never fact check a thing, and probably don’t know how.

Trump lies with flair and indifference to fact-checking. The lie has been elevated to Olympic heights. The godlike lie is truly Trumpian.

It is stunning how much damage Trump has done to everyone in this country in the lower 99% of income. Our news media reports on what he does. But simple reporting of what Trump does on a daily basis is deflected as “fake news”.

The Republican party is owned by big industry. The rich and greedy are busy feasting on the carcass of the once mighty American middle class. Trump is their useful idiot. While the Republicans despise him, they aren’t going to rock the boat sailing them to glory land.

Elections Have Consequences

In a world gone crazy the American election in 2020 shall be the big test… don’t you think?

My interest in politics has always been about the environment and, fundamentally, our ability to sustain life on this planet. We are at a point in time that we need really smart people shaping our policy. America might have been the leader, promoting methods and policy that could save the planet.

But instead… we got Trump.

Trump in the next week intends to fire all of the scientists that work for the USDA.  This is perhaps the most significant science agency in the world. He’s firing them because disclosure of science creates bad political optics for his actions, and contradicts his lies.

Count on FOX to tell Trump voters what to think of this crime. And they’ll believe every word FOX tells them to believe. They always do.

We must stop focusing only on the environmental disasters that are sitting on our heads, like global warming. There are a dozen more disasters of greater magnitude getting ready to afflict us… acidification of the oceans; degradation of the earth’s skin/topsoil; depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer; the imminent extinction of four million species. The list goes on.

Humpty Dumpty is in big trouble. And I don’t know if we can put him back together again.


“For the most part we do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see. In the great blooming, buzzing confusion of the outer world we pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture.”

― Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston FUBAR