Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Death Throes of the American Dream

June 4, 2012

I’m watching the political drama in Wisconsin as it unfolds. There is an important vote in the next 24 hours in the recall election of Scott Walker (and several of his criminal cronies).

This all began way back when the Republicans committed to their “Contract on America”. The movement began with stunning success. Newt Gingrich spat on the Great Society, and shat on the American Dream.

What happens in Wisconsin tomorrow is a test of whether democracy can survive against emerging fascism in America. There is huge outside money overmatching the local populist opposition at a ratio of 16:1. It’s a fire-sale on democracy.

I’m not terribly optimistic. The media assault of propaganda, misinformation, fabrication, hate mongering, and confusion has been terrific and unrelenting.

The pathetic toad of a human Rush Limbaugh is certainly the icon; but the entire Fox pretend-News machine has certainly been an important instrument in confusing and misleading those who are otherwise good people. In fooling these people… Limbagh, Fox, et al are also betraying them.

You know what is my favorite story of the Republican Fascist party? Down in Texas the Republican machine approved a plan to put a nuclear waste dump on land that is a part of the Ogallala Aquifer [http://collindemsnews.blogspot.com/2011/01/texas-welcomes-nuclear-waste-dump-over.html]. To allay the concerns of environmentalists Republican “experts” managed to redefine the boundaries of the Ogallala aquifer so that the waste dump is technically not sitting on it anymore. This is environmental gerrymandering. Very slick you fascist pricks.

Oh, by the way. When the radioactive waste gets into the aquifer, which it will, it will contaminate the drinking water/and crop irrigation for about one-third of continental America. And you know the fun part? The tax payer will get to pay for the clean-up (if it’s even possible), while the rich Republican scum-bag who owns the waste-dump bears no real responsibility.

Pardon my rant. I’m just so excited by what’s going on in Wisconsin in the next 24 hours, I had to vent. The Walker recall vote will be a measure of how many Americans own brains. Like I said… I’m not optimistic.

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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.

The Morning Fawn

May 31, 2012

This morning I took the riding lawn mower down to the lower cabin. When I let myself into the fenced yard something in the grass moved. A young fawn bolted and tried to squeeze through the wire fence. She got herself maybe halfway through the 4″ square and became very stuck.

It was a bit of a puzzle. I quickly realized I couldn’t pull her back through the fence, so I went outside of the fence to help her get through.

As I handled her she bleated very loudly a couple times. Just so you know, it sounds kinda like a goat on steroids. The mother deer showed up, but at a distance of 50 or 60 yards. She circled around, but kept that distance.

The fawn held her legs out stiff, and were actually more difficult to get through the fence than the main part of her body. But I got her out. I carried her away, into a small meadow and let her down. Funny, she didn’t run. Instead she folded up and tried to act invisible, even though I was standing right there.

I left her there, and went down to the pond for a bit and did some landscape work around the dock. When I went back up to the cabin the fawn was gone. I presume mom came in and walked her out of there.

I’m sorry I didn’t take my droid with me. I would have liked to get a picture.

An Interesting Sequence

Last night was my last public weekly class in my own training center. After more than twenty years of teaching weekly classes we are moving on to something new and different.

This was one of several sequences I put on the floor. It is subtly more difficult than it looks.

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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.

Give Me My Rat!!

May 9, 2012

After work study camp, something over a week ago now, I went up to Cleveland for a two-day seminar at Ohio Air Dogs. And then this weekend past I was in Columbus for a two-day at ARF. I only got a couple days at home. Today I drove to Nashville, TN. I’ll be starting a TDAA four-day judging clinic at Happy Dog Ranch. As I look at my calendar my weekends are fairly booked for quite awhile…

In my days at home, when I’m not traveling or giving a seminar somewhere, I stay pretty busy with chores around the property. I have my garden in. I think I’ll expand it a little bit this next week. It’s been a strange wet start to the spring. I also moved a number of trees here and there on the property. I find young seedlings in the late fall that clearly won’t survive where they’re coming up. So I’ll dig them up and find a new home for them in the spring.

The other excitement is that we’ve adopted a ninth chicken. And it has complicated my life. A former agility student, who is also a college professor down in town, hatched an egg in one of her classes. The prospective foster home fell through… and so she got in touch to see if I wanted the baby chick. Unfortunately all of my growing chickens, nearly full size now, are completely cannibalistic so I have to raise the chick in segregation. And like adult chickens, baby chickens are idiots, only more so.

Oh, I have to tell this story… at ARF this past weekend I loaned a young lady Kory to run in an exercise because her dog came up lame or sick or something. I hander her Kory’s rat and told her to have a game of tug with him as reward when they were done with the sequence. She asked if he had a word to drop it and give it to her. I told her “Just tell him ‘Give me my rat!’” It was really fun to watch as they were done. He tugged with her and she said “Give me my rat!”… over and over again; because he tugged more furiously and just would not let go. Truth be known… that’s what I tell him when I want him to continue tugging. Like I said, it was fun to watch.

I should have my camera/smartphone ready as I travel. This morning as I bumped along the shores of the Ohio River driving across Route 7, I saw a station wagon planted, three-quarters buried in somebody’s front yard down around Ironton. Maybe I’ll get a picture of it on the way back through.

Sketch of a Lesson Plan

I left Marsha with this set of the floor… and no numbered sequences. She had to teach the Wednesday night classes.

The bombshell of the evening is that Marsha announced that we will discontinue operating as a training center. After something like 20 years of teaching classes I’m ready to call it quits.

We’d like to make the facility available as something of a “social club” for local agility fans. Our vision is that it will be more of a community thing; but clearly without the structured classes that is so much a part of my blood. I think that many people want structure, and teaching, and mentoring. We’ll see how it goes. There’s plenty of structure across the river. But from now on, I’m just going to be one of the guys.

I intend to change the set of the building every week; and make available training sequences. And I’ll plan on training with whoever wants to show up on Wednesday evenings. It will be a bit of a different relationship.

We’ll see how it goes. It could be that in a month, it’ll just be me and Marsha training out there.

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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.

Suspenders

April 12, 2012

I’m not much of a fashion icon and that’s for sure. I dress for utility and comfort and wouldn’t know a fashion trend if I sat on one. Here’s a man, for example, who buys three dozen white tube socks all of the precise same size and make and throws away all the old socks all at once when packing the new ones into the drawer.

Lately I’ve resumed the habit of wearing suspenders. More accurately I’ve taken to wearing suspenders in lieu of a belt. Any man that wears both belt and suspenders trundles through life with a honking display of primal insecurity; the fear of losing one’s pants!

In the past few decades I’ve noticed in younger men especially a habit for wearing pants low, in major slippage, and prone to a display of arse cleavage; with the roomy bit that should cover the buttocks sagging half-way down the upper leg like an infant’s poopy diapers. No man with any sense of dignity whatsoever would slough through life in this fashion.

Back in my early 20s I wore suspenders, mostly because a belt wouldn’t really do the trick. I was a lean thing then with narrow hips and no ass to speak of. When using a belt it would have to be cinched mightily, else my pants would droop away like a baggy sock that has lost all its elastic.

Then, as my body assumed the musculature of a mature man, it became an easy and practical matter to wear a belt. A waist subtly slighter than the hips is what makes it work.

I miss the suspenders of my youth. Those were the just-post-hippy days and even mundane things were flamboyant and colorful. I had a pair of suspenders colored like a rainbow; and another like an American flag. I also had neat dress suspenders that attached to buttons on the waistbands of my suits. I loved the button suspenders because I always thought of the ones with metal clips to be cheats, kind of like a clip-on bow tie.

Here I am in my late 50s and I find myself returning to suspenders. While I’d be thrilled to report that my hips and ass have dissolved to a narrow 28”; I honestly can’t tell that lie.

Truth is, the girth of my midsection has overpowered my hips. My belly literally wants to push down the waistband of my trousers to a lower latitude no matter how tightly the belt is cinched. Once again suspenders have become the practical accoutrement.

Nearly my whole wardrobe of trousers will go into a box now. I’ll put a big label on it that says “38″” and should my appetite for exercise ever overbalance my love of ice cream, comfort foods and certain beverages… I may get to open that box and assume the bygone wardrobe.

In the meantime I’ll work at building a comfortable and dignified wardrobe that works with the body I have. And, I’ll wear suspenders.

Course Design

Someone asked what I meant by “bloody minded” in my minor diatribe a day or two ago. To tell you the truth it’s an expression a lady from the U.K. used in a discussion with me about course designs that demand the handler to be an Olympic athlete in order to attend a dog through control challenges on a course. Often these challenges are positioned in opposite corners of the ring with a sharp and fast transition from one to the other. At any rate I took a fanciful liking to the expression. So now it’s mine.

You can just imagine the course designer/agility judge sitting at his computer, smoking a cigar (and complaining about his suspenders), feeling arrogantly superior because he designs a wickedly bloody-minded contraption of a course. After the course runs he’ll point out how a handful of 20-somethings managed the course just dandy; and so “train don’t complain” yadda yadda yadda.

Technical courses are guilty pleasures for me. Here’s a bit I concocted using some of the interesting challenge configurations we see in competition these days. And since I design to my own strengths (as I’ve previously confessed) I try to take care to manage the transitions between technical moments so that the dog can continue to be directed to work without onerous trick ‘n trap while giving the handler a reasonable opportunity to come back together with the dog for the next technical moment.

I guess what I’m after is a sense of course design that puts the old folks in our sport on the same technical footing as the young athletic 20-somethings; allowing the cunning and guile of the aging dog trainer to come to balance with the long legs of young kids. The game is about the training foundation and athletic skill of the dog… and shouldn’t require the same from the handler.

I’ll attempt to explain how that philosophy works in this course. You’ll note that the first technical bit really begins on the dismount from the teeter. The handler pushes the dog into a 270° turn from #7 to #8 while maintaining a position for the pull-through after jump #9 back into the teeth of the discrimination riddle. Now thank heavens the handler can rest a bit while the dog is directed at some distance from jump #11 all the way back to the collapsed tunnel at #15. The handler will be in position for sweetening the approach to the weave poles and will race the dog down the length of the poles to attend yet another pull-through from jump #17 back to the pipe tunnel at #18.

Are you following my logic?

Chances Are

Chances are that I will relent when putting this course into competition. This is a terribly challenging design and should be held back for a super-class that tests mettle against mettle and in which nobody cries about the unfairness of life and not getting a Q. Sounds like a job for the USDAA Masters Challenge class to me!

I admire the wide open simplicity of NADAC-style courses for a fine romp with the dog. So at the back of my mind I’m always trying to incorporate expansive flow into a course. And of course in NADAC we have the most awesome distance trained dogs in our sport.

On the other hand, I dismiss the NADAC notion that agility courses should not have technical challenge.

If you want technical, the USDAA is the venue that will curl the hair on the back of your neck. Often USDAA courses are so relentlessly technical that “releasing the dog to work” is a negligible element of the game. I strive for a design somewhere between the magnificent flow of NADAC and the technical challenge of USDAA.

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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.

Music for Dog Agility

March 31, 2012

What’s the right music for dog agility? Music can express both a mood and a moment in a way that the dull spoken word never can. I reckon the answer isn’t the same for everyone.

I know this is a silly departure from my usual. It’s the weekend though and the beginning of Spring. So go, have fun. Dance.

It came to me finally that I have different music depending on whether I’m training my dog or in competition. So I rummaged through the old musty chests of my eclectic musical interests and I came up with the following; I even went out to YouTube to find links to the music (YouTube is full of good stuff):

When Training the Dog: I’m Beginning to See the Light ~ Duke Ellington; I like this music because it sets a slow deliberate pace, like the very excellent dog trainer, not in a hurry at all. The idea of “I’m Beginning to See the Light” fits right in with what you’re after with your dog, the dawning of understanding as you fit performance to cue. The vocal on the soundtrack is less compelling than the instrumental. But I love the fact that the song was sung and recorded something like 80 years ago.

When in Competition: Minor Swing ~ Django Reinhardt; This is a great piece of music. The inspiring part is this feeling that “I’m supposed to be here!” It is rhythmic, smooth, and competent; exactly what you want in an agility performance. And, the artist is having fun. We can all learn from a guy like Django!

Okay, now it’s your turn. What is your agility music? (If you do Who Let the Dogs Out… you aren’t trying hard enough).

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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.

sweet dreams and flying machines

February 12, 2012

I’ve been obsessing a little bit on training sequences from around the world. I got this bit from a website in Argentina, Criadero Canino Sweetness Dreams.

You’ll have to bear with me a moment. We lost our boy Tempest yesterday after a cluster of epileptic seizures. He wasn’t two years old yet. The epilepsy showed itself only two months ago. But it feels like it’s been a year. Our lives have been turned upside down.

And now it’s over.

The name of the agility group down in Argentina struck me this morning and reminded me immediately of a James Taylor song, where he sings “sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground”. I went out and looked for it on YouTube and had a good cry for our sweet lost boy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOIo4lEpsPY

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Resolutions

January 1, 2012

Around Thanksgiving I was going to sit down and make a list of all the things I’m thankful for. Truthfully the first thing that occurred to me was to be thankful for not being at war… but we are at war. And it doesn’t make any sense to put such a thing on the list in spite of the fact that war is something I watch on television and isn’t in my back yard at all.

I remember back when I had a job. I’d work my 40 hours (or 60); then I’d come home and have at my other life. I used to enjoy gardening, going fishing, watching football on television, cooking, sitting and reading a book. This past year I put in a garden; but it got overgrown and unmanageable; I didn’t so much as go fishing or buy a fishing license; football on television is background noise as I pound away at the keyboard of my computer; cooking is mostly a matter of the microwave oven; and I read only one book all year long.

Resolved ~ I’m going to take my life back in 2012. Just the simple stuff, like I noted above. I’ll train my dog daily. And we’ll go on long walks across my property. And I’m going to get me some cold-weather-hardy laying hens.

Okay, that’s enough.

Oh Bernadette!

I haven’t kept up on my blog reading either. Bernadette took third at the FCI World Champs. Here’s a link to her blog: http://obayshelties.blogspot.com/2011/11/fci-world-agility-championships-wrap-up.html.

OMG check out this course:

You should read Bernadette’s discussion of the judge tweaking numbers on this course. It’s hilarious. I’m wondering how everyone managed the transition from jump #11 to the pipe tunnel at #12.

TDAA and the NoBirds!

I’ve been preparing for this day for several weeks. That’s why I’ve been so quiet on my blog. The lead-up to the New Year was kind of fun as we got to write checks for tens of thousands of dollars to the favorite charities of TDAA people as we divested the old corporation. But I had other practical matters to attend as well. Today I published a new Rule Book, and new Judges’ Guidelines; we announced the 2012 Petit Prix dates and locations; and I got out notes to over 100 judges querying their continued interest in judging for the TDAA.

I have more to do tomorrow.

Looking at the furor on Facebook the most controversial issue is that we’ve taken off the upper limit (used to be 17″) for participation in the TDAA.

This isn’t just a business decision (I’ll get to that in a second). It’s also a matter of fairness. We’ve been the only agility organization that places artificial limits on what dogs may participate in the venue. I know a bunch of very lovely animals that would thrive in the TDAA who have been locked out by the arbitrary cut-off measurement. I want to give those lovely dogs a place to play.

One of the objections to allowing bigger dogs to play in the TDAA is that some exhibitors will feel a greater threat to their own little animals. And I understand that. In the same new rule book we’ve added a new section on aggressive dogs. We intend to be about ten times more diligent than any other agility organization in policing matters of aggression. It’s true… every dog deserves a safe place to play. That will be our top priority.

Now, down to business… we’re looking out for our host clubs here. This is a practical business matter that may double the entry for trials across the country. I apologize for insisting that we run the TDAA like a business. But that’s how it’s going to be.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Houston.Bud@gmail.com

December 16, 2011

It is painful to change your email address. But I’m endeavoring to do so right now. Since I was a wee lad I’ve allowed my email address to be dictated by my ISP. As I sloughed through a variety of providers over the years (AOL, Compuserve, Earthlink, Hughenet) I’ve been battered around with having to change email addresses from time to time.

I knew quite a few years ago that I should get an online email service like Yahoo or Gmail, but just never got around to it. The good thing about having an IMAP is that you can change your ISP and you don’t have to change your email identity.

So there it is… Houston.Bud@gmail.com. I have boatloads of work to do over the next few days just making sure that all official business that identifies me by my email address is switched over to this new address; never mind my social network of family, friends, accomplices and associates.

Update on Tempest

Tempest is coming along super. I shared with you my worst fears at a moment that my emotions were rubbed raw by watching our pup through a horrible cluster of seizures. The treatment itself was rough going. He’s now on maintenance meds that have him unsteady on his feet. It appears though that he’s rebounding nicely. And he seems not to be traumatized by events.

I’m sure that all the healing thoughts and prayers that came our way pulled Tempest through. It’s not really over. We’ll just call it … a new beginning.

The Roundabout Jump

The roundabout 360° turn (from jump #3 to #4) is something that I typically have to argue for with course reviewers. They don’t all understand the grace and simplicity of the challenge.

The challenge is elevated a bit in this simple sequence as we’ve offered the pipe tunnel as an option after jump #2. If the handler doesn’t vee-set the approach he certainly must have an answer to convincing the dog into the turn with a compelling pipe tunnel just ahead.

The Scientific Test

If the handler is forward of the dog a Front Cross might be the simple thing to do. But don’t you know a lot of handlers have a pretty terrible Front Cross. What I like to do here is conduct a scientific test. What would the dog do if the handler simply turns away after jump #2? Please note the elements of the scientific test: The handler begins with dog on left; the handler allows the dog to get up into the air before announcing the turn… but will rotate neatly in the moment before the dog hits the ground; the turn, or rotation, will be toward the dog… a counter-rotation.

It’s hard to say what the dog will actually do. You don’t get results from “stating” the scientific test. Results must come from “conducting” the scientific test. In any case, the picture I have in my mind is this one here… the dog will turn neatly and come alongside the handler.

The PB&J in the Roundabout

The handling I like for the roundabout is a simple Post & Blind transition. I recognize that you aren’t supposed to be able to do a Blind Cross with a Border Collie. So you’ll just have to humor me on this point. The timing cue for the Blind Cross, by the way, is the dog hitting the plane of the jump. Only at that point will we have an approach to the #4 performance of the jump.

I’ve drawn the timing line on the plane of the jump to be perfectly clear.

OTOH If  Behind

On the other hand, if the handler is behind the dog in this sequence… it’ll be like throwing cards into a hat on a windy day.

Perhaps the handler can pre-cue the intention to turn on the way to jump #2. But if we get the turn it’s a fairly simple matter. The handler draws on Post, and turns away with the Tandem. Note that the handler shouldn’t actually have to circle the jump with the dog. The handler should layer the jump, and then step up for a Front Cross.

Another TDAA Course Review

You’ll have to bear with me on this. It’s not really important that I do a video review of a TDAA course; and it certainly doesn’t have to be shared in a public forum. I’m trying to learn my editing tools as I have other projects in mind down the road. Since a lot of work and study went into the production I’ll share it with you… if you have the bandwidth.

http://youtu.be/CrXpPuK4SXs

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

How Doctors Die

December 15, 2011

Marsha and I had a conversation in which we discussed living wills and how we might want to go when death kindly stops for us. Marsha had read this thing on the internet on how doctors die, which is a bit on how doctors choose to live their last days. The blog was easy to find in a Google query: http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/11/30/how-doctors-die/read/nexus/

Marsha and I are of a like mind that we have no intention of living in some antiseptic prison in our final days or weeks or months with a low quality of life and bleeding money to a compassionless medical assembly-line industry.

It’s Not Fair

Last night during our agility class Tempest had a seizure, and continued seizing in a cluster for nearly an hour. We counted ten events. During the cluster of terrible fits we drove him to the emergency vet clinic in Parkersburg, WV. They monitored him overnight; had him on IV filling him with drugs and painkillers.

This morning we moved him to our own vet in Marietta. Our vet is keeping an eye on him as he comes out from under the drugs. I sat with him a long while. He was vocalizing his despair and distress and was pretty much inconsolable. We’ll be going back around noon to bring him home. We’ll have a discussion with the vet about preventative maintenance.

Now I mention the bit on “How Doctors Die” above to provide the philosophical framework to our compassion for our own dogs. We will not prolong the existence of an animal if the cure represents a horrible diminishment in the quality of the dog’s life.

So we will see. We are both grief stricken. And we’re numbed by not knowing what will be next. It will either get better, or it will get worse.

I got this dog for Marsha as a birthday gift a couple years ago. All we really wanted was a dog who was eager to work. After a decade of rescue dogs and baggage projects it was fun and promising to go for a dog that comes from solid working stock. Like most dog sports people, we bring a dog into our house and he is family. Tempest has been Marsha’s best buddy and training partner.

And now this… it’s not fair.

Sorry to share all of this. I do know that all of the people reading my blog have a fair understanding of what we’re going through. We all know the love and grief we feel in the frail and short lives of our dogs.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Left-Over Turkey

December 5, 2011

This is a left-over from Thanksgiving week. I was busy that week and never got around to publishing it. Note that it’s a lazy adaptation of what we did the week before. But the rotation of the jumps from box to pinwheel gave it an entirely different flavor.

I’d share the interesting variety of training sequences we got out of this. But it’s all a but fuzzy right now. You’ll have to use your imagination.

Bud’s Atomic Beans

With two pounds of turkey meat left over I figured it would be a good add-in to my favorite pot o’ beans recipe. This recipe will require a sturdy 2 gallon pot with a lid. Let’s see, it goes something like this:

2 ham hocks

1 cup pinto beans

1 cup navy beans

1 cup black beans

½ cup kidney beans

½ cup lintels

½ cup split peas

1 white onion (finely diced)

1 bunch carrots (finely diced)

3 celery stalks (chopped)

2 t salt

2 t pepper

2 t Bay seasoning

and the left-over turkey, cut in chunks

After sorting through the beans to pick out rocks (you always do that part, right? It’ll save you a trip to the dentist); I’ll soak the beans overnight in +2” of water. The beans will swell to double-size. Do not add lentils and split peas yet.

Add the ham hocks and all the chopped veggies.

Bring to a boil; then simmer for 2 hours

Add pepper and Bay seasoning. Add lentils and split peas now.

Bring to a boil for about 20 minutes; then simmer for two more hours. Add the salt while simmering (if you add the salt too soon, the beans won’t get properly mushy.)

You can tell when beans are done by blowing on a spoonful. The skin of the beans will curl away if the bean is cooked. I like to simmer for an hour or more after they say they’re done; it thickens the soup.

Critic’s Note

The beans were fabulous. Funny thing, I could not see any evidence of the turkey. The vigorous boil and simmer apparently made it all fall apart into the stock. It’s good with hot sauce seasoning to taste, served with corn bread (or hot buttered French bread) and over white rice.

One of my favorite students

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4vVwQLtmDA&feature=colike

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.