The Murder of a Beautiful Theory by a Gang of Brutal Facts

May 8, 2019

Donald Trump will win the 2020 election for President of the United States. While the Blue Wave carried the House of Representatives to Democratic control, it is an emasculated legislative body. And the Blue Wave is an imperfect harbinger of prospects for the 2020 election.

Republican voters fit onto their heads a MAGA hat in spirit of their cherished tribe and union sacrée as a gesture of optimism, and hope for reaffirmed destiny. But they have been fooled into supporting those who most deeply betray them. I don’t presume to blame it all on the Republicans who have been the chief sponsors of policy that screws the average American. Money handily buys Democrats with equal finality.

Our country, our Democracy, our nation of constitutional law has been taken over by the ultra-rich, the “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower warned about. The once great American middle class has been betrayed; those we have elected to represent us have not been serving us… they’ve been serving their rich industrial masters. They feast on the carcass of the American middle class.

I could make a long list of how the American middle-class has been betrayed by our Republican leadership. But let me share one little bit with you.

Ronald Reagan changed the accounting rules for retirement funds. He removed the exemption for corporate retirement plan to be safe from liquidation in bankruptcy. So, when the bankruptcy trustee obtains control over all of the business’s assets and: liquidates these assets to pay creditors the Retirement Plan is no longer guaranteed to the employees who worked their whole lives for that promise.

Taking it another step… a Pharmaceutical company in Connecticut decides to move their manufacturing to China. Corporate lawyers split the corporate entity into different buckets. The profitable bucket goes over to China (who, by the way, demands ownership of the technology); the unprofitable bit, owning the corporate Retirement Plan, goes bankrupt… and screws all of their former employees out of their retirements.

The Argument for Trump Winning

Argument 1 ~ It’s the economy, stupid! A chief indicator of who will win Presidential election has reliably been the effectiveness of the economy. It is true that we have nearly record employment. The sad truth is that of every 10 jobs created in the past two years, six of them do not yield a living wage (less than $30K/year). And two of them yield a salary of $90K+, which is the province of the highly educated and stilled worker. That leaves a narrow sliver for “middle class”.

Argument 2 ~ Dark money in politics will provide overwhelming advantage to the politicians that serve their ultra-rich masters. The Supreme Court has ruled that “Corporations are People Too”; which ensures that the ultra-rich can buy the representation that attends to their needs.

Argument 3 ~ Propaganda will provide broad misinformation and misdirection. When Ronald Reagan overturned the “Fairness Doctrine” he threw open the doors to partisan-political propaganda. He made possible Fox News. The most apt description of Fox was made by Colonel Peters, a longtime analyst for Fox News who left the network, saying that he could not “in good conscience” remain with an organization that, he argued, “is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit. In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration”

Argument 4 ~ Our constitution is broken. The Executive and the Judicial branches and half of the Legislative of our government have been taken over by the Republican party, servants of the ultra-rich. They will continue to subvert any legal or legislative measure to protect American people and hold accountable criminal acts against American Democracy.

Argument 5 ~ Subversion of voting rights is a powerful and ongoing problem. Gerrymandered voting districts, purging of voter registrations, removing voting resources, disenfranchisement laws, physical intimidation at voting sites are all tools that are being used by the Republicans. Legal challenges are being subverted by a Judiciary that has been populated by so-called conservative judges. (“so-called” because, they aren’t “conservative” at all. They too serve their corporate masters.)

Argument 6 ~ Meddling by foreign powers will continue. The Russian attack on our Democracy that was so effective in 2016 will continue with great vigor and enthusiasm. Other players like China and South Korea will get in the act. Our President has refused to bring Putin to task for his masterminding the social media attack on our country. Indeed, Trump has done everything he can to subvert our capability to prevent the same from happening in 2020.

Argument 7 ~ The Electoral College will over-ride the popular vote. In 2016 Trump won the Presidential election but lost the popular vote by significant margin. The Electoral College was established by our crafty forefathers who anticipated that the landed gentry might lose control of the country to the rabble.

A Fat Chance for the Optimist

Donald Trump has so been so completely incompetent and destructive to American institutions that a new generation of leadership has emerged; almost exclusively in the Democratic party. These people, a curious mix of young and old, promote a radical departure from the “business as usual” politics that has dominated government in this country at least since the days of pappy Bush.

Almost everything this radical new generation promotes will be decried as “Socialism” by the Republican party, in service to the ultra-rich who now own our country. For example: affordable health care, investment in education, equal pay for equal work, improving infrastructure, getting dark money out of politics, making everyone pay their share of taxes, and protecting our environment. These policies will be stalwartly opposed by the Republicans.

Our rich masters intend to pay for nothing. They are the masters of the universe.

The only hope for Democracy is for us to take back control of our country by the exercise of our right to vote.

Quoth

PUBLIC OPINION (1921)
BY WALTER LIPPMANN

THE WORLD OUTSIDE AND THE PICTURES IN OUR HEADS

“.. we can best understand the furies of war and politics by remembering that almost the whole of each party believes absolutely in its picture of the opposition, that it takes as fact, not what is, but what it supposes to be the fact.

 

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

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A Moment in Amber

March 31, 2019

The National Dog Agility League is an ongoing project and passion for me these days. I want to pause a moment and share a bit of a vision statement.

A one-dimensional view of the NDAL is our ongoing league play. Each month we have a couple dozen clubs, mostly in North America, that engage in four separate competitions. The courses are closely nested so a club can compete in more than one without a lot of equipment movement. Results for these competitions are all rolled up together as a single competition. Most of these results are graced with a link to a YouTube recording so that we can all watch how other dogs and handlers solved these games and courses.

A Larger View

Recording is a time-consuming manual task. I serve as the NDAL Secretary which means that I give up a couple night’s sleep each month to report results and standings for the ongoing leagues.

But, don’t you know, the games we play and the courses we run have been set up as “open” competitions. That means I can rerun a course that was run a year ago… or ten years ago, and add my new results to that competition… including a YouTube recording.

This makes the NDAL game an interesting training tool. An instructor can compare student performances for a year or two ago, to their performances now, and get a good insight into how the skill of the handler and the training of the dog have improved.

With your young dog, you might compete with a dog you loved and worked with 15 or 20 years ago… and watch the recordings of both dogs, side-by-side.

We ran an agility league at Dogwood Training Center, up near Columbus, OH for about eight years. My boys Bogie & Birdie, and several other dogs from my household competed in that league. And, today I don’t have a scrap of recollection aside from my faulty memory to revisit those hundreds of moments of agility play. I have copies of the games and courses we played; but beyond that, not even our scores.

A Future Vision

I intend to put the NDAL catalog of games and courses online, so a person can download a course or game, and score-keeping worksheet. Then they can play the game or run the course, and then join their dogs’ scores to all the scores of all the dog that ever played it. Hopefully the new performance will be graced with a link to a YouTube recording.

For this job we need the services of a skillful programmer analyst who can create the necessary Internet tools and front-end interfaces to make it work.

Be very clear there’s not a big pot of money to compensate a programmer. A more compelling notion would be to establish a partnership share for original development and for on-going support.

That being said, this is not an endeavor intended to “make a lot of money”. We will establish upper limits to income for employees to the NDAL. The NDAL is already painfully inexpensive. But if the NDAL performed at $40K a month (don’t laugh… it’s possible); then a significant chunk of the gross should be returned to established franchises or, more realistically, reduction of cost.

Cost

Presently cost of playing in the NDAL can be summarized as:

  • Dog Registration ~ $10 for a dog. Only paid once, when the dog first competes in the NDAL
  • Recording Fee ~ $1 per run.

Performance Standard and Scoring Basis

The rules for performance in the NDAL are dramatically different than the accepted International standard. International really sucks, if you think about it. Any error is an “E” and the team must slink away in ignominious defeat.

What we do instead is give a 5-point fault to just about everything that might happen: dropped bar; wrong course; missed contact; weave pole fault… and so forth. 20 faults for failure to perform an obstacle. This allows a basic granularity for comparing performance.

And… the scoring basis is Time, Plus Faults. This is, you’ll recognize, the opposite of the Faults, Then Time scoring basis. And if you really think about it… a dog that runs a course in 48 seconds and misses a down-side contact by a half an inch really should not get a score inferior to the dog that ran the same course 20 seconds slower, without a performance fault.

The League Play Team

A League Play Team score in the NDAL is comprised from the top five scores for each franchise for the competition. A dog earns Lifetime Performance Points (LPP) which equals the number of dogs with an inferior score. So, if the game had 101 dogs playing, the first-place dog would earn 100 points; the second-place dog 99 points, and so forth.

It’s a tougher system than it sounds like. A club with only 7 or 8 players might be competing with a franchise that runs 50 or 60 dogs each month. Statistically, the bigger club has advantage.

Lifetime Performance Points

The notion of a game or course being a “historical artifact” makes the LPP earned by a dog an elastic number. For example, if you decide you want to run a course that was played five years ago. There are 200 performances recorded for that course. Let’s say that your dog comes in at 100th place. That means your dog will earn 100 Lifetime Performance Points (LPP).

The interesting thing is… the 99 dogs that had a superior score will advance their LPP by one point, because of the new score you have added. That means dogs that mightn’t even be alive will have an accrued LPP that will continue to grow over time.

YouTube

Part of the score-keeping includes a field for a YouTube link. While we are running each competition around the country (and around the world) the performances of most dogs are graced with a recording of that minute in the ring. It’s marvelous to watch how different dog and handlers approached solving the riddle of a course.

Footprint

The four leagues we run each month in the NDAL are based on the size of working space. The largest space is 60′ x 90′. And in this, we run the 60×90 Masters league. Each league has a theme that sets the intended level of challenge. Our leagues are:

  • 54×70 Games
  • 50×70 Fast & Fun
  • 60×90 Masters
  • 36×85 Fast & Fun

The NDAL is open to new leagues with more diverse footprint and level of challenge. For example, it’s only a matter of time before we have a 10K league (100′ x 100′).

For awhile we had a 50′ x 50′ International league. But it went away because the club for which we created it went away. And anyhow, International challenges are about as much fun as sticking sticks in your eye. [Just saying].

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Snooklers :: Games of the 2019 Petit Prix

January 3, 2019

Designing a Snooklers course can be a challenge to the course designer. A Snooker course is bad enough. But in Snooklers rather than using red hurdles the designer will use distance challenge: [ergo Snooker/Gamblers, or Snooklers.]

These distance challenges should be modest in nature. A tough distance challenge might skunk half the class in USDAA’s Gamblers or in the AKC’s FAST class… and so we should NOT have three distance challenges, each of which invite the proverbial skunk.

I’ll share with you a sample design for this class. I’m assuming TDAA equipment and spacing, on a field that measures 60′ by 70′.

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What strikes me immediately about this class is that the designer and judge must explain the distance challenges in the written briefing. Clarity should not be left to the verbal briefing. I will attempt to describe the three distance challenges in this sample course:

  • Red #1/2 ~ This gamble consists of two jumps only. From the front of the ring it can be taken as 1a to 1b or as 2a to 2b.

    While this distance challenge was originally designed to be taken from the front of the ring only, I decided that design would constrain the number of possible solutions to the game. So, I added a line at the back, making this distance challenge bi-directional. From the back, the distance challenge can be taken 1b to 1a or from 2b to 2a.

  • Red #3 ~ Send the dog into the pipe tunnel from behind one of the surrounding containment lines. #3 is bi-directional.

    While the handler must be behind the containment line, the dog is not required to originate from behind that line. For example, the dog might make the approach to the tunnel from the dogwalk.  If the handler can turn the dog from the dogwalk and into the tunnel—while the handler is on the other side of a containment line—then the dog can turn neat into the tunnel and satisfy the distance challenge.

  • Red #4 ~ Send the dog from jump to tire from behind the line. This distance challenge is also bi-directional; and from the opposite direction the challenge is from tire to jump while the handler remains behind the containment line.

Other performance issues should be addressed in the briefing. For example, on this course the judge might stipulate:

  • All obstacles are bi-directional in the opening excepting #6, a combination obstacle, which must be taken as numbered.
  • All obstacles must be taken as numbered in the closing excepting #2, which is bi-directional.

The Briefing

Modeled after Snooker the written briefing for Snooklers is likely to run a couple pages of dense prose. While there are a lot of Snooker players in the world that only need a couple lines of explanation, the novice Snooker/Snooklers player might very well need the dense text.

Rather than sharing with you the mind-numbing intro to the game, I will show my old “Candy Store” briefing (adapted for this variation of the game):

Candy Store Coupon (Snooklers) Briefing

You’ve been given three coupons for free candy at a chain-store. Only one coupon can be redeemed at any store. Being a clever devil, you decide to visit a different store to redeem each coupon. The three red distance challenges on the course allow you to present the coupons for candy.

If your dog cleanly performs the distance challenge, that means the cashier accepted your coupon. You get to redeem the coupon! There are six different candies in the store, each having a different value, from 2 points to 7 points. You can get any one you want (even the same candy for each different coupon!) You are entitled only to one box of candy only. If you get more than one, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

If your dog faults the distance challenge, that means the clerk tore up your coupon, and you need to go to a different store. If you go out and get a box of candy anyway, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

After redeeming, or attempting to redeem all three coupons, you decide you love the candies and so you will go into the store and buy them all! You’ll pick them up in order, starting with #2 and finishing with #7. If in your haste you break one of the candies (fault an obstacle) your game will be over at that point (and you head to the exit).

 

Setting the Qualifying Course Time

As a general rule of thumb a little extra time should be accorded for each technical obstacle. The same rule might be applied an any distance challenge. This Snookler’s course will require a longish QCT. The course designer/judge might measure a modest strategy and base course time on that estimation.

For this game, consider something like this:

  • GI small 75 sec ~ tall 70 sec
  • GII small 70 sec ~ tall 65 sec
  • GIII small 65 sec ~ tall 60 sec

At the Petit Prix we’ll use the GIII times only, as all games and courses are judged using Superior rules for performance and rates of travel.

Qualifying, however, might be more generous to the lower levels than the requirements typically used for Snooker, mostly because of the distance challenges. Consider a schedule like this:

  • GI 31 points
  • GII 34 points
  • GIII 37 points

Designing Snooklers ~ A Found Poem

One of the biggest errors course designers make with games like this is failing to nest the game with courses that run before or after. Un-nested courses tend to add 30 minutes to an hour to the length of the competition day.

A better approach: study the adjoining standard course or game and “find” the game, with minimal equipment movement. This requires some mental gymnastics. But it’s better for the course designer to sweat and fret for an hour than to demand that all the exhibitors endure the long wait between courses that aren’t adequately nested.

The sample Snooklers course I’ve used here is based very literally on this sample TDAA Standard course:

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The course designer should resist the temptation to remove the contact obstacles to find the Snooklers or Snooker course. Hauling contact equipment in and out of the ring by definition is a time-consuming and tedious chore.

On this course we removed the weave poles, a couple jumps, and all the number cones… making the transition between classes something on the order of five minutes.

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BLOG1376 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speesches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

A Quick Lesson in Fast Dog Handling

December 10, 2018

This is a JWW run taken by Laurie Moe and Cleo.

Cleo JWW

She started the run with an awesome dead-away send down a straight line of jumps into a pipe tunnel. This was right out of the homework we did for a distance seminar a few months ago.

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Laurie’s solution for #9 to #12 was to do a layered Front Cross on the landing side of jump #10. Unfortunately, Cleo didn’t “feel” the line, and curled back to the handler’s position after jump #11, surely earning a refusal at jump #12.

Indeed, Cleo ran past the true turning point for a square approach to jump #10, and somewhat spoiled the straight-line send.

Sometimes the shape of the dog’s path suggested by the set of equipment is a complete illusion. #10 to #12 looks very much like a straight line. Right? Well, that’s the illusion. Consider the next picture.

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Given the trajectory of the dog’s approach to jump #10, after the dismount of #9, the dog’s path is more logically a “Z” shape, or certainly serpentine. Rather than fighting against the true shape, you should use it to advantage.

You probably could have done the Front Cross after jump #10, as planned. To find the corners and lines of the “Z” the corner of the turn should have drawn the dog more to the left. But the evil judge as plunked a completely gratuitous dummy jump in that bit of space, surely offering a wrong course option to the dog.

So, let’s try it as “Fast Dog Handling”.

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Rather than a Front Cross the handler will keep the dog on Post from jump #9 to #11. The threat of the wrong course option at the gratuitous dummy jump remains.

But the crafty handler will allow the corner after jump #10 to be a bit shallow. And then, after jump #11 will draw the dog more to the right and cross behind the dog after that jump (a Tandem Turn). The cross should be timed and placed to set a corner that will neatly line up jumps #12 and #13.

You should practice this in your training center, so that you own it in competition.

A Name for your Next Dog

Laurie, your next dog should be named “Curly Joe”, so that when you step up to the line the announcer will say; “This is Laurie Moe and Curly Joe!”

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

54X70 Charitable ~ November 2018

November 11, 2018

Our mission is to donate to non-profit organizations that provide relief from disasters that arise from a changing global climate.

To that end, all income from recording fees go to charitable donation. Of special interest are organizations aiding people, domestic and farm animals, and wildlife that are affected by flooding, fires, hurricanes and rising sea levels.

You can review the Charitable league rules and stipulations here:  http://wp.me/P75niR-zD

54X70 Charitable ~ November 2018

The 54X70 Charitable League is dedicated to a variety of agility games. You can download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet110118A54x70.xls

If you already registered with the NDAL, the League Secretary wil be happy to provide you with the scorekeeping worksheet set up with your existing roster. The 55×70 Charitable league for November 2018 features the game Jumplers Looper.

Jumplers Looper

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This is a combination of two… or maybe even three agility games.

A Looper is a numbered course or sequence that must be performed twice by the dog, without stopping.

Jumplers is a made-up word for Jumpers course with a Gamblers challenge; ergo “Jumplers”.

On this course the dog will earn 5 bonus points on each pass if handler remains in the boxed area; The dog will earn an additional 10 bonus points on each pass if the handler remains in only one side of the boxed area. [Each pass is scored independently]. Consequently 30 bonus points are possible.

The dog may earn only 5 bonus points on one pass; but the full 15 bonus points on the other; or zero in one pass, and 5 or 15 in the other. The handler may switch side between passes (changing sides in the transition from jump #10 back to jump #1) and be eligible for the 15 point bonus.

Scoring

Jumplers Looper is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus.

There is no established course time.

Historical Games and Courses

Previous 54×70 Charitable league games and courses are closed to league scores. HOWEVER, these are all open to any club or individual that would like to play. Your scores will be added to the original scores and ALL recording fees will be paid to the 54×70 charities.

54X70 Charitable ~ October 2018

The 55×70 Charitable league featured the game Beginners Quidditch. You can download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet100118A54x70.xls

If you already registered with the NDAL, the League Secretary will be happy to provide you with the scorekeeping worksheet set up with your existing roster.

Beginners Quidditch

Hairy Pawter’s Quidditch is the invention of Becky Dean and Jean MacKenzie. The game was played for the first time at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio (circa 2002). The Beginner variation is the invention of our Game Master for play in the NDAL.

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The objective of Quidditch is to perform three sequences. The black-circles begin play, and the second two in any order. The handler will attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each:

  • White circles – 15 points; as numbered.
  • Black circles – 20 points; as numbered
  • Green squares – 25 points, sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional; and a wrong course shall not be faulted in this sequence.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the table to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted you can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 5 bonus points for the Beater (tire). A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault; (except for the green square sequence).
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the table (to stop time)

The Golden Snitch

A 5-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns all three Beater bonuses.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

There is no established course time in Beginner Quidditch.

Game Master Note

We haven’t before played such a complicated game in NDAL league play. This variation represents a simplification of the more robust version that is played in the TDAA.

It’s worth noting that the simplified RULES are for beginners to the game… while the technical sequences might be somewhat advanced.

There will likely be scoring dramas between league teams as this game is introduced. So the first month of the NDAL’s Charitable 54×70 should be approached with some humor. Remember that the income is going to a good cause. And be mindful of Rule #8, which you can find in our rule book:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRules3.5.pdf

An Open Invitation for New League Franchises

New clubs are always welcome to join ongoing play. Our leagues are organized by the size of the competition space and the complexity of challenge. Contact our league secretary if you are interested in playing your favorite sport in the NDAL: Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com.

BLOG1350 NDAL

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

 

Your Vote Counts

November 5, 2018

Michael Moore spoke on television the other night. What he said chilled me. He said, there’s no certainty that we will have a democracy two years from now. Moore, I’ll remind you, predicted that Donald Trump would be elected, back in 2016.

So, quite a bit is at stake.

We know that if Republicans win there will be no infrastructure spending. And I don’t mean just roads and bridges… we should include the sewer systems and water systems, electrical… everything.

We know that if Republicans win affordable health care is gone. There won’t be price controls; and forget it if you have pre-existing conditions. Medicare and Medicaid will go away. Women dying from back alley abortions will be a “thing” again.

We know that if Republicans win we’ll get a continued assault on “job killing” regulations… like regulations that keep big companies from poisoning our air and water… like regulations that protect consumers.

We know that if Republicans win, they’ll work to privatize everything. “Privatize” means allowing a big company to take charge, make a huge profit, and deliver shabby results: Education, the military, Prisons, … the Veterans Administration.

We know that if Republicans win, they’ll subvert protection for a free press granted by the First Amendment.

We know that if Republicans win violent white supremacists will become ever bolder and extreme… and unchecked.

We know that if Republicans win the environment is screwed. And we will be faced with an existential crises.

Aside from a huge Democratic victory in tomorrow’s election, about the only check and balance our democracy has left to protect us is the FBI. The FBI might make a case to hold Trump accountable for his conduct. But it’s not a sure bet. Trump and the Republicans have a plan to destroy what is ultimately our last protector. And that plan will unfold after the election.

I can’t say I blame people who voted for Trump. They are for the most part honest people who want a better world for their families. But they accept Trump’s constant torrent of lies. Trump has the propaganda network (Fox) to spin those lies and so shape the “truth” accepted by his supporters.

If Dems win this election. We might be able to fix the many things that Trump has broken. If Republicans win… well, we just might not get another chance at a fair election.

Your vote counts.

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

~ Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

NDAL Introduces the 54×70 Charitable

September 20, 2018

This is a cross-posted blog. When I write the official blog for the NDAL I’ll take out this giddy front-matter.

I want the followers of my blog to understand how excited I am to be involved in establishing a league that raises funds for charitable donation. Last year we donated league income to hurricane Harvey relief and then along came Maria; and this year we have Florence. All of them have been terrible. And of course I worry after the dogs (and wildlife, frankly) that fall victim to these disasters; and want to support first responder organizations.

We live in wicked times and the world is paying for the consequence of global warming. For the most part I feel helpless before the awesome task of charitable giving. But, I intend to do what I am able.

Naturally I invite like-minded agility enthusiasts to get out of the egoistic titling rut, and come play for fun. Establish an NDAL league franchise. We would love to have you join us.

I commence …

*** ** ***

The National Dog Agility League is proud to present agility league play with the 54×70 Charitable.

League rules are quite simple:

  • Cost to play is $2.00 per run. $1.00 for recording fee, and $1.00 to the charitable fund.
  • The league series shall consist of three games or courses, played one each month for three months, beginning in October, 2018
  • One half of the charitable fund will go (each month) to a specified Primary Charity for the series (to be paid each month). Our first Primary Charity shall be the American Humane Team. You can visit their web-site here:

    https://www.americanhumane.org/program/animal-rescue/

  • The other half of the chartable fund will go (each month) to a charity chosen by the team that wins the league competition for that month. The only real restriction is that it must be a not-for-profit charity.
  • The Series winning team shall choose the Primary Charity for the Winter 2019 series; (Jan-Feb-Mar).
  • Dogs must be registered with the NDAL to play in the league. You can find the registration form here:

    http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRegistration.pdf

    $5.00 of the registration fee will go to the Primary Charity for any dog that registers for the first time playing in the Charitable league.

  • A YouTube link in the results for each performance is required for dogs earning team placement points. Team placement points are earned by the top five scoring dogs for a franchise.
  • New teams are always welcome to join us for league play. You can download a score-keeping worksheet for the October 54×70 Charitable here:

    http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet100118A54x70.xls

There is no franchise fee for new clubs.

 

The October 54×70 ~ Beginners Quidditch

Hairy Pawter’s Quidditch is the invention of Becky Dean and Jean MacKenzie. The game was played for the first time at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio (circa 2002). The Beginner variation is the invention of our Game Master for play in the NDAL.

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The objective of Quidditch is to perform three sequences. The black-circles begin play, and the second two in any order. The handler will attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each:

  • White circles – 15 points; as numbered.
  • Black circles – 20 points; as numbered
  • Green squares – 25 points, sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional; and a wrong course shall not be faulted in this sequence.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the table to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted you can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 5 bonus points for the Beater (tire). A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault; (except for the green square sequence).
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the table (to stop time)

The Golden Snitch

A 5-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns all three Beater bonuses.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

There is no established course time in Beginner Quidditch.

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Game Master Note

We haven’t before played such a complicated game in NDAL league play. This variation represents a simplification of the more robust version that is played in the TDAA.

It’s worth noting that the simplified RULES are for beginners to the game… while the technical sequences might be somewhat advanced.

There will likely be scoring dramas between league teams as this game is introduced. So the first month of the NDAL’s Charitable 54×70 should be approached with some humor. Remember that the income is going to a good cause. And be mindful of Rule #8, which you can find in our rule book:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRules3.5.pdf

NDAL Secretary Note

The 50×50 Premier league has been abandoned as the foundation club has withdrawn from play; and the International challenges theme wasn’t very inviting to the recreational player.

The remaindering franchises that made up the 50×50 engaged in the development of this new Charitable league. And the 54×70 footprint (size of the floor) was ultimately the lowest common denominator among these clubs. Trust that it will be nearly perfect nested with the 50×70 Fast & Fun league.

The remaining leagues – 50×70 Fast & Fun, 60×90 Masters and 35×85 Fast & Fun are not charitable leagues. And play/dog will remain $1.00 for those leagues.

NDAL leagues are closely nested and based primarily on the 60×90 Masters.

 

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

The Agility Community

September 19, 2018

Today we’re preparing to host the 2018 Petit Prix, which is the national championship event of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association. This is my favorite agility competition each year, by far.

The Petit Prix is never really a huge event numbers-wise. Taken on balance it’s about the size of your average neighborhood agility trial, and certainly nowhere near the maddeningly huge national events hosted by the big agility organizations in America.

We’re past the closing date, and I have nothing to sell. But, I have something to say that has been gnawing at me for a time.

Pioneers and Champions

Participation in dog agility isn’t really growing in this country. Indeed, it is modestly shrinking just about everywhere. It’s all about money, which should be no surprise. But it’s a more complicated problem than just cost.

We are losing our champions, the pioneers who embraced this sport back in the 1980’s and 90’s. We have lost people like Ruth Van Keuren, and Zona Butler, and will soon lose Jane McManus (when she finds a buyer for her property up in South Boardman, Michigan. This is not an exhaustive list. Agility people all around the country remember the early champions of the sport that created the agility world and inspired them to train dogs and play the game.

Zona Butler’s name when I first met here was Zona Tooke. So I’ll always think of her as a heroic Hobbit, like Bilbo. She was the unstoppable force in Colorado who turned her small farm into an agility training center; spent weekends running around the state to do agility demonstrations; carved out agility events at county fairs and the state fair. She was an early advocate for the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA). The history is more colorful and complicated than that. But it’s important to remember Zona as a heroic Hobbit.

When she retired, Zona and I had a chat. She complained to me that a lot of new agility training centers had popped up around Denver. And their chief marketing strategy was to denigrate her, bad-mouth her, and so steal her students.

I reminded her of something I had read. In East of Eden Steinbeck wrote that pioneers came to Salinas Valley, California and scratched civilization into the poor land and established streets and farms, commerce and a community of families. But they were poorly remembered by those who came after and were swept aside by whores and bankers who profited from the now fruitful place.

The Complicated Market-Place

What’s really dragging down our sport is that we don’t focus on “community”. Instead, the focus is on profit. Hang out the shingle and rake in the dough seems to be the primary motivation.

Ruth Van Keuren was a marvelous champion of our sport. I co-authored a book with her back in the day, that focused on how to train dogs for our sport. But it’s very important to understand that her primary motivation was to bring children into our sport and use dog agility to teach them to be dog trainers, and dog lovers and compassionate caretakers of their canine charges. She had a huge family oriented 4H program that literally created the next generation of agility players in Minnesota.

When we lost Ruth, we also lost her vision and her motivation. So where are the young people in our sport today? Without Ruth, and moreover, without her motivation, then we are lost.

The Expense

Okay, dog agility is too expensive for the young player. And in our depressed economy we’ll define “young player” as someone into his or her 30’s.

The typically American agility player is a bit of a woos. So, trial and training must to be heated and air conditioned; we need to have turf; equipment has to be rubberized. And as we’re pretty much lost the pitch-in-and-help generation, an agility trial must have “paid” workers. This is a recipe for expense that cannot be avoided or mitigated.

I have a lot of compassion for and understanding of the agility training entrepreneur. You have lots of money invested in building , fixtures and equipment. You have bills to pay every month. And if you rent your facility… then you are trapped by inescapable recurring expenses.

What to do?

And, by the Way

Thunder Pawz is hosting an Invitational Tournament in Peoria, IL on October 20 and 21, 2018. Entries are about half the cost of any traditional agility trial. And, because the club isn’t beholding to any agility organization half of their income will go back to exhibitors in a fun sweepstakes format.

You can download the premium here:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/POTCThunderPawsPremium.pdf

The Thunder Paws sweepstakes tournament is an experiment in growing their agility community. If you have the weekend off, this might be a lot more fun that mowing the lawn.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Call To and Around-The-Clock

September 16, 2018

It has been a very busy month for me. So the homework I had intended for a seminar at In Contact next month hasn’t been coming along at a furious pace. That’s fine, I’m sure. It’s always hard to cram two years of dog training into a couple short months.

Sub-title: Dog Training 101 ~ part 3

Today I made a recording for the In Contact students… and put it on YouTube. I had to… after all, in a moment of Zen… I share the Secret of Dog Training, for the first time, ever.

The objective of this exercise is to practice equipment (especially the technical equipment) with the dog coming toward your position. I showed this exercise using the set of the floor for the NDAL 50×50 Premium course for September. And I’m not abashed to admit that I want this skill for this particular course.

Cedar Come to Training:

It strikes me as I look at the recording that my work with Cedar incorporate a variety of skills all of which have their own training objectives and steps. In addition to the “Come To” I was working on a Back Pass (which was substantially failing in this recording); a modest “Around the Clock” approach to the tire; as well as Left and Right directional.

I will share with you the “Around the Clock” training basics, below.

Around the Clock

The first rule of distance training is that the dog needs to understand the performance of the obstacle. What we have to do in the training of the dog is to ask the question… “do you know how to do this obstacle?”

In the discussion below I show the handler making the introduction of a “hoop” to the dog. In case you don’t know the hoop is an obstacle used by NADAC. I find it to be an excellent obstacle for training a very young dog because there won’t be any stress from jumping. Later we’ll transfer the same method to jumps, and to the tire.

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This is around-the-clock training. It is also a progressive sending exercise. Though clearly as we begin the send might only be a matter of inches. Because we want the dog to go forward of the handler to go through the hoop we might introduce the directional command “Go On!”

I show in the drawing clock positions #6 back through #3. These correspond with the numbers on a clock and are only intended as rough references. While sending the dog forward to go through the hoop the handler/dog trainer might move only in small incremental steps around the circumference of the clock.

One of the benefits of this training is to teach the dog to “square up” a bit for the performance of an obstacle. With hoops it isn’t a very dramatic action. By the time we introduce the tire (using the same method) squaring up will be considerably more important.

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There is a point in training that we can be pretty confident that the dog understands his job… the performance of the obstacle. In this drawing I show the handler making his start with the dog roughly 25′ from the center of the clock. Under my rules of “asking the question” I begin with my dog at side facing neatly in the direction of the hoop and take a single step, while pointing forward, telling my dog to “go on, hoop!”

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

 

Dog Training 101 ~ part 2

September 3, 2018

I was tickled to see that several of the seminar participants for my up & coming at In Contact had a training evening for the Back Pass. I received an email with .MOV (movie) files of these students teaching their dogs this skill. I don’t really have permission to publish them in my blog. But, a couple observations:

  • Reward the dog immediately as he comes around
  • Begin fading the hand and arm signal, reducing it to a verbal command. That is not to say that you won’t use the hand and arm signal; but you want the verbal to entice the dog immediately into handler focus.

I want to share a couple of my runs in the NDAL 50×50 Premier league in August. Mostly I want to demonstrate how often I might incorporate the back pass into a handling strategy, especially to solve “international” agility challenges.

This is Kory, who finished the course with zero faults in 42.38 seconds:

And Katniss, who finished the course with zero faults in 47.26 seconds:

Progressive Sending

New homework. One of the most important skills in agility is the ability to send the dog forward. This is lesson #1.

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Fundamental to any progressive sending exercise is that a) the dog is sent to the performance, and not dragged, b) the handler should send from a progressively greater distance; and c) each send should be slightly farther than the last (it can’t be a progressive exercise without progression).

When we engage in such training we are in “dog trainer mode”. That means the handler/trainer should be equipped with a good marker for performance (a clicker should do nicely, however a good verbal marker is just hunky dory); and a reward for the dog, whether that be a food treat or a game with a toy.

The devil is in the details.

  • A distance send really has nothing to do with standing still. Indeed, slamming on the brakes or slowing dramatically are apt to draw the dog back into handler focus and away from the target obstacle.
  • Flapping one’s arm when sending is a small detail that is apt to draw the dog back into handler focus, and away from the target obstacle.
  • The handler should give the target obstacle all of his focus when sending the dog. That means the handler looks at it, points at it, and moves towards it. Note that the pointing is more significant by the handler’s feet… than the arm and hands. The dog pays close attention to the direction the handler’s feet are facing/pointing.

Make your sends from as far away as you are comfortable. Progress only modestly to assure that the dog is able to succeed. Be mindful that failing to mark the performance or being late in rewarding the dog for the performance will confuse your dogs’ understanding of the object lesson.

 “To understanding the importance of timing of the reward all you have to do is count: one-thousand one, one-thousand too … late!”.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.