Posts Tagged ‘teacup agility’

2-minute-dog-trainer, TDAA ideas

December 24, 2010

We’re tinkering with a couple of ideas for TDAA programs.  Bud and I both believe that our number one customer, our primary focus, needs to be the TDAA host clubs.

Our first emphasis when all the TDAA materials and files arrive is to establish a working list of clubs currently offering TDAA trials.  Where there are no TDAA clubs we’ll work with interested small dog people to get clubs started.

Where there are clubs working hard to offer TDAA trials, we will work to help them profit (or, at least, break even) on their TDAA trials.  Note … we’re eliminating the overly-intrusive judge’s reimbursement plan and — to help clubs control their bottom line better — also eliminating the limitations on hiring judges. Also, we’re offering deeply discounted recording fees (the money you pay TDAA for each dog’s run) for small, less profitable, trials.

We are committing to visiting each TDAA trial group every year.

This will be more than just a visit, as Bud or I will provide one day of FREE teacup workshops at TDAA host club locations. These should be scheduled before or after a trial weekend. One of us will arrive (with our teacup Sheltie, Hazard, in tow whenever possible) and teach a teacup workshop.

We will pay for our own travel expenses, our own room and board, and will run Hazard in your trial. Your free workshop can take place at your trial site, or at your training site.

You may allow your students and trial exhibitors to attend for free, or you may charge enough to break even or profit from the workshop.

At the same time, we’re striving to provide the best possible customer service to those hundreds of agility enthusiasts who currently show in TDAA.

2-minute-dog-trainer, the touble with Tempest

December 19, 2010

Sometimes training isn’t so much about teaching skills or behaviors.

Sometimes it’s about attitude adjustments.

Tempest has decided that he’s got time on his hands while he runs, jumps, enters tunnels, and does contact equipment.

In his spare time he wants to “buzz” his handler and bite her.  Well, not actually bite, just snap his teeth in a very happy, threatening, and loud manner in the general neighborhood of my hands and butt.

He started this behavior a week ago and it escalated this past Thursday. 

We’ve actually helped people with their biting dogs for many years. I created a training protocol for Banner (in 1999) called “My Dog Bites Me” through which Tempest will get to work.

My philosophy behind “My Dog Bites Me” is that:  1) the dog doesn’t automatically know that we don’t like his inappropriate herding behavior, and  2) we can apply positive reinforcement and negative punishment to influence the biting dog’s behavior.

In this training protocol we set up equipment in a large oval, the shape of a simple race track. The training, afterall, needn’t involve “handling,” no fancy sequencing.

Instead, we focus on simple movement forward without biting (or barking for that matter), and the simple race track allows us to focus on the dog, not the equipment.

We begin by performing ONE obstacle, and rewarding the dog for not biting or barking during that performance.

If the dog bites or barks, we turn our back (“shunning” the dog) and walk away. We return to the start line, at which time we again focus on the dog and bring him to his spot on the take-off side of obstacle one.

We repeat obstacle one perhaps a dozen times, rewarding the dog with food when he performs quietly, focused on the work, and shunning the dog, returning to the take-off side of obstacle one without comment when he barks or bites.

The more we repeat obstacle one, the stronger our dog’s understanding will be regarding the behavior we want versus the behavior we don’t want. We certainly do not want to hurry through this phase of the training.

When our dog is performing obstacle one quietly and with focus, we add obstacle two. Increasing the sequence at this point is going to no doubt result in barking and biting. When we know what to expect we can be prepared for it.

The instant we hear barking or see biting or snapping, we shun the dog and walk back to the take-off side of obstacle one. We repeat obstacle one – reward or shun – repeat obstacle one – reward or shun – repeat obstacle one until the dog has successfully repeated obstacle one 3 times without biting or barking.

Then we try to add obstacle two to the sequence again.

We build the sequence in this manner.  After three successful performances of a particular sequence we add another obstacle.  If the dog fails at the larger sequence we return to the smaller sequence and try for three successful performances.

We build, and build, and build until the dog understands that the entire sequence is to be done quietly and with focus on the work.

We’ll see what Tempest makes of this training protocol. <g>

In other news, I’m working on a few TDAA projects:

1) establishing a new mailing group for our host clubs. Cheryl Hoffman already has one list, with 58 members.  There are 71 host clubs, so I’d like to get everyone on the list, obviously, so we can post new programs and processes as they occur.  Not so obvious is Cheryl’s dislike of Bud (and me, by association), so establishing a new trial host list was a necessary duplication of effort.

2) working with the membership roster (680+ members) and getting invitations sent to as many as possible to join our list.  The list currently has only 268 members, so lots of folks have chosen not to join the membership e-mail list. We want to emphasize the benefits of membership, including:  1) involvement — receipt of the TDAA newsletter AND the ability to submit positive ideas for programs and processes, as well as  2) perks — such as access to on-line dog records, and a guaranteed invitation to the annual Petit Prix.

3) collection of TDAA tasks and jobs to our place in Ohio. The jobs of TDAA have been scattered to the four winds, with three satellite offices in Illinois, one or two satellite offices in Wisconsin, one satellite office in Oregon, etc.  The work is getting done, but every query involves countless e-mails and lots of digging through old files. As soon as everything is at our place we’ll be documenting systems and figuring out how to streamline them.

4) working on the 2011 Petit Prix — we’re days from an announcement of location, a few weeks from a premium. I’m so proud of our dedicated host clubs who have stepped up asking to host this national event. TDAA club owners are energetic, intelligent, and highly driven — like our little dogs. <g>

Details will be coming later to our various lists ….

2-minute dog trainer, toys-for-work continues

December 16, 2010

Tempest’s enjoyment of toys and tugging overrides all his foundation training, so I’m minimizing the use of toys in his training for now.

At 9 months of age he’s at that fractious age where he needs consistency from me, and a reminder of his early lessons.

He’s got tons of drive and really enjoys working, so there’s a temptation to do more, and more, and more. But I remind myself that his body is still growing and maturing, and now is a good time to revisit all the basic stuff.

Our agility lessons in the building are mostly performed for string cheese. Tempest is coming together nicely for 4-5 obstacles in a sequence.

He can remember his foundation training for the 15 seconds required to finish that small sequence. Then his head explodes. <g>

His 2-minute-dog-training at breakfast and dinner focuses on two key elements:

1)  foundation skills, including sit, down, stay — Tempest has a lovely sit (a little slow) and stay (a little “iffy”), but his “lie down” had begun to deteriorate the most because I wasn’t using it over much.

His new mealtime routine began with an up-close lie down. I held his food bowl in my right hand, laid my left hand gently on his withers, and immediately fed him for lying down.

At first Tempest wanted to jump back up when the bowl of food came in, but I gradually convinced him that continuing to lie down led to continued eating. If he hopped up I’d remove the food bowl.

I didn’t tell him stay, necessarily. It’s an assumed stay — that is, “if I tell you to lie down I want you to lie down until I tell you something else.”

As usual, Tempest was a clever student who loves his chow, so it only took about 3 days for him to slam immediately into a down at the words “lie down,” and staying in a down while he eats.

By the way, he quickly began anticipating my verbal cue, so I’d have to return to him and get him into a sit or stand. I want “lie down” to be an action cue — it means to move immediately into a down and wait for further instructions.

2) foundation skills, building distance — I asked Tempest to lie down from 6 inches away, from 1 foot away, and — most recently — from 6-8 feet away.

If he offers the lie down before I can cue it, I return to him and put him in a sit or stand again.

3) foundation skills, building distraction — another issue Tempest faces is being distracted by our other dogs eating while he’s working.

Sometimes I put the other dogs’ food bowls down and have Tempest practice his sit/stays in the midst of all that gobbling.

I set him up on the edge of the eating dogs, have him sit, tell him “stay,” and walk through the gobbling dogs to the far edge of the eating activity.

He has to sit and stay for a few seconds with all that distraction going on between us. If he gets up I simply walk back, put him back in his proper place, and return to the far side of the activity.

4) foundation skills, building duration — while Tempest is working on impulse control around distraction, and a little bit of distance, I will not build duration for the skill.

That is, I may ask him to sit/stay around the distraction of the dogs eating, or I may ask him to “lie down” from 8 feet away, but I won’t ask him to hold any position for more than a second or two.

There’s time to build duration later. Right now I want instant response and perfect clarity on his part.

Tempest’s other 9-month-old issues include some pottying issues. 

He’s become a poop-eater, so I try to pick up feces as soon as possible.  Additionally, he’s found one place in the yard he likes to toilet and he puts pile on top of pile if given the chance.

With horses, I believe they call these “stallion piles” and it’s the horse’s way of designating territory. Tempest’s pile is at a point along the fence where rabbits and other critters come through the fence. Interesting ……

When time and weather permit I’m going to return to the exploding pinwheel to increase his obstacle focus and help him understand he should gather before and after jumping.

In the meantime, he loves to work, loves food, loves toys, loves me, and is everything I’d hoped for in a puppy!

In other news, Bud has a judging assignment this weekend in Indianapolis and will be coming home with a trailer load of TDAA work. We’re creating our advisory committee and preparing the “member guest suite” for TDAA members wanting to come play with their dogs and work for TDAA.

We’re going to ask the clubs who are currently showing interest in hosting the 2011 Petit Prix to find ways to cut costs.

I’m really serious about having TDAA “go green,” and want to reduce our carbon footprint considerably.

For example, TDAA has numerous electronic filing systems, yet all the paper records for 10 years have been saved as well.

We’re looking at creating electronic membership forms, dog registration forms, height cards, host club applications, trial applications, etc. Ensuring access to the records — making sure nothing gets lost — will be job #1 over the next weeks.

2-minute dog trainer – toys for work solutions

November 24, 2010

I began this morning with the journey of finding a solution to Tempest’s misunderstanding about his “toy entitlement.”

I wanted my training to address 3 scenarios:

   1)  stationery exercise, release and reward with toy … with Tempest on the ottoman at the base of our bed, I asked for a down … Tempest assumes a down position and I tell him “stay” … I toss the toy onto the bed … I say “okay” to release Tempest and “get it!” to encourage him to jump on his toy … I immediately grab part of the toy to engage him in tugging with me.

   2)  moving exercise, reward with toy … I ask Tempest to hop off the bed onto the ottoman … I tell him “hup up” onto the bed and toss the toy … I say “get it!” … I immediately grab part of the toy to engage him in tugging with me.

   3)  retrieval of toy for tug game … with Tempest on the bed watching me, I randomly toss the toy saying “get it!” … when he hops on the toy I immediately grab part of the toy to engage him in tugging with me.

Verbal cues I use include “Get it!” which means get the toy and bring it to me for tugging, “hup up” which means perform a moving exercise which corresponds with the physical cues I’m providing (ex: pointing at the bed, tossing the toy, etc), and “stay” which means hold that position even if I move, point, toss the toy, etc.

Missing elements might include:

   4)  stationery exercise, reward with toy in place, no release from stay

   5)  moving exercise with different equipment and longer sequences

   6)  retrieving different toys for tugging as well as for treats

In other news, the hullabaloo surrounding the membership vote to restore TDAA to private ownership versus member ownership and board of directors is dying down. With this vote we’re expecting a member mandate to assume leadership roles and institute some policy changes.

A couple of clubs have expressed interest in hosting the 2011 Petit Prix and we’re brainstorming improvements to the annual event.

We’re also considering clarification or changes to on-going programs such as judges’ code of ethics, limitations on judging assignments, and club-building weekends (formerly known as working seminars).

In the meantime, registrations, memberships, and jump height cards are being processed daily.

All these functions, as well as trial approvals / advertisement / premiums, trial results postings, and title certificates are being scrutinized to ensure that members are getting the best possible service for their TDAA investment.

2-minute dog trainer – adapting to change

November 7, 2010

Tough economy, hard times for potential students, new work schedules, decreased time for dog training, etc., etc., etc.

I still have an 8-month old puppy needing attention and training, and this is work I’m committed to.

The 2-minute dog training protocols are perfect for this situation. Regardless of how busy my schedule is, Tempest still gets trained each day on:

Absolute directions — with the potential for great speed, and my desire to ensure he fulfills this potential, we’re training Tempest to know “left” and “right” just as Kory knows them.

When Bud’s here and I’m at work he’s in charge of dinner training. Bud works on absolute directionals with no equipment involved other than a hungry puppy and a bowl of dog kibble.

Bud began this training with luring, repeating “right” – “right” – “right” – “right” and assisting (then allowing) Tempest to spin clockwise — and immediately giving a positive marker (“YES!”) and feeding part of his meal. 

With one bowl of food there are a dozen or so opportunities per meal.  If time is an issue Bud will do just 3-4 repetitions and let Tempest finish his food.

When Tempest became 90% reliable on “right” Bud introduced “left.”

At first there was great confusion but Bud persisted, repeating “left” – “left” – “left” – “left” and assisting (later allowing) Tempest to spin counter-clockwise.

When Tempest became 90% reliable on left Bud introduced “right” again.

Some observations — when given a choice, Tempest will revert to the first cue he learned (“right”).

Also, I believe the verbal cue “right” is more dog-friendly than “left.”  “Right” is a stronger-sounding word, that it, it has a hard vowel sound versus the soft vowel sound in “left.”

I believe this accounts for Tempest’s preference to performing “right.”  He simply gets it easier.

We will persist.

Sequencing — the hoops had to be withdrawn from the dog yard, so it takes more time and effort to get Tempest working on “hoop – go on – touch – hoop – go on.”

I found one of Bud’s new hoops (NADAC-style) chewed, with the PVC base deconstructed. My first fear was that Tempest had chewed it to destruction, but I was able to put it back together.

Still the hoop portion is nearly chewed into 2 pieces, so the hoops were taken out of the yard.

However, with his breakfast, Tempest gets to work a little on sequencing. Considering that sequencing is simply doing one thing after doing another, with the reward coming after all the work is done, Tempest is doing sequences of just 2 events.

I have him either in front of me or beside me, with his contract trainer off his opposite shoulder from where I’m standing.  (For example, contact trainer with Tempest standing off to the right of it, and ME standing off to the right of Tempest.)

I want to use his absolute directional training to get him to turn away from me, with the idea in mind that I can use body position to turn him toward me in most situations, but a turn away from me at a distance might be more probable if he understands an absolute directional to move away.

With Tempest, then the contact trainer, on my LEFT, my cues are “LEFT – WALK IT.”

Tempest gets a positive marker (“Yes!”) for making the correct turn, and gets to eat for hitting his 2-on-2-off position on the contact trainer.

Then, with Tempest, then the contact trainer, on my RIGHT, my cues are “RIGHT – WALK IT.”

Tempest gets another positive marker (“Yes!”) for making the correct turn, and gets to eat for hitting his 2-on-2-off position on the contact trainer.

Interesting Note:  Tempest is 100% reliable on his absolute directionals when the contact trainer is the target, or the end of the sequence.

The problem, of course, is that I may be inadvertently providing a physical cue of turning in the direction of the contact trainer. I try to stand still but old habits die hard.

In other news, TDAA business is now being handled by a small army of volunteers. 

Several people in Illinois are collecting the suite of agility equipment and office supplies, transferring responsibility for the bank accounts, arranging for audits, and arranging for other services to continue or improve.

Bud continues to receive proxies, and we’re preparing the TDAA Member Guest Suite in our house.

Opponents continue to bad-mouth Bud (me too, probably) to anyone who will listen, but the number of people willing to listen is limited. We’ve actually received proxies from some folks who have first-hand knowledge of this behavior.

I realize that all politics are local, and that every endeavor is political in some way, but can’t we all agree that Dog Agility (for God’s sake) should be an enjoyable activity, as devoid as possible of politics?

We continue to work toward establishing protocols for speedy delivery of dog registrations, trial premium approvals, trial date publication, trial record uploading, dog record keeping and publication, and title certificate distribution.

Additionally, we’ll be looking at “who should pay for what” in our efforts to build TDAA clubs and support the hard-working individuals who are currently supporting the TDAA organization.

We want to enable all clubs to grow, and assist financially when possible, without bankrupting TDAA as an organization. This is not, however, a time to be stingy with the organization’s resources.

2-minute dog trainer – back to my puppy

October 30, 2010

During this period of TDAA upheaval and anxiety, with a small number of teacup enthusiasts finding pleasure in jabbing at Bud and I with a combination of untruths and malice, I find comfort in training my puppy and seeing his progress with my own eyes. He’s a real treasure to me right now.

In the meantime, I want to get Tempest prepared for participation in our classes and workshops this winter. In order for him to be ready he needs to get away from herding me (stopping, facing me, staring at me) and start running with me or moving through obstacles on his own.

“HOOP — GO ON” — I first set up three hoops in a very tight pinwheel. The inner uprights of the hoops were touching, in fact.

The lesson is that, once I’ve said “hoop,” Tempest is to go through the first hoop and then “go on” and do the rest of the pinwheel.

Over the course of a week the pinwheel enlarged until the inner uprights were approximately 15 feet apart (making the entire pinwheel about 30′ x 18′).

During the second week of “hoop — go on” training, the pinwheel began to flatten. Instead of remaining a pinwheel it became a 3-hoop crescent shape.

Next week the 3-hoop crescent shape will become as close to a straight line as we can get.

“TOUCH” — I want an equal amount of attention to the opposite skills.  The opposite of distance skills are tight, technical skills.

I began by teaching a simple “touch” command to my hands. I quickly moved from a standard “touch” presentation, with Tempest facing me and moving to my hand at my side, to a random presentation. Sometimes he’s asked to come to my left hand, sometimes my right hand, sometimes with me facing him, sometimes with me facing away, sometimes with me moving away.

“HOOP — GO ON — TOUCH — HOOP — GO ON” — when I felt Tempest was ready (when he was 80% consistent on behaviors) I began to combine the two.

I set him up at hoop one and cued “hoop,” then “go on” to hoops two and three, then “touch” followed by “hoop” and “go on” in another direction.

The order in which I do the hoops doesn’t really matter at this point. I want him to understand that distance and close-up are equally relevant and equally rewarding.

This training has taken place, for the most part, in 2-minute increments during breakfast and dinner.

Tempest does hoops 1-2-3-touch-into-a-front-cross-then-hoop 1 again …. eats half his breakfast.  Tempest does hoops 3-2-1-touch-into-a-front-cross-then-hoop 3 again … eats the rest of his breakfast.

Soon I’ll start switching from sending him to 3 hoops to sending to just 2 hoops and crossing before he has a chance to go on to hoop 3.

Agility delivers an ever-changing picture to the dog and I want Tempest to understand that I hold the key to the puzzle.

2-min. dog trainer, proposals to improve TDAA

October 28, 2010

Here are some of my suggestions for moving TDAA from an organization led by a political body (the former Board of Directors) to an organization led by two individuals (Bud Houston and I) with constant input from membership.

First, communication between the leadership and membership will improve, with the leadership becoming transparent and accountable, and members’ voices being heard through a couple of standard processes, including but not limited to:

All TDAA members will be encouraged to join and read the TDAA members’ list (or subscribe to a new TDAA News site or facebook page) as their way to communicate with leadership. About 7-10 days before an advisor’s meeting is scheduled, the secretary or members’ liason will inform the list as to what new topic the board will be brainstorming. Members will have 7-10 days to post their ideas, argue publicly about them, combine them, and discuss. Members may choose to just send their brainstorm ideas to their board representative, their member liason person, or directly to leadership.

Instead of a call for “New Business?” (followed by board members’ pet project ideas, or crickets chirping) the board will have two standard bits of new business at EACH meeting.

   STAGE 1, they’ll be presented with the month’s brainstorm topic (if they’re reading TDAA news lists they’ll already know what the topic is) and their ideas will be joined by the ideas put forth by members. Board members’ ideas will carry the same weight as members’ ideas in this initial brainstorming session. There will be no discussion or critique of any idea — this is brainstorming only.  Board members may make personal notes of ideas that tickle their fancy and which they personally wish to consider further.

  STAGE 2 — the TDAA board of advisors will be asked for their input regarding the previous month’s brainstorming session. They’ll have had at least 30 days to consider implications, extract really valuable ideas, create idea combos and alliances, and pull from the previous months’ session the really valuable portions of the brainstorm. Endless discuss may occur, or assignments will be made for further work on any valuable ideas.

Second, each month, separate from any other report from the leadership, a board member will post to TDAA News lists on at least 3 items:  1) “here’s what I’m working on now for TDAA members,”  2) “here’s how TDAA is doing in my part of the country,”  and  3) “here’s what’s going on in my personal agility life (or life in general).”  Leadership may report on assignments they’ve received after stage 2 brainstorming as well as on-going tasks they perform for TDAA.

Third, the leadership activities will become transparent. Minutes of meetings will be posted to the members’ news lists within days of the meeting. Whether TDAA remains a member-owned organization or if Bud and I happen to “own” it, the membership should hear everything that affects them. Knowing that their comments are going to be posted, verbatum, to the TDAA News, may also make for a more civil meeting. Back-biting and personal attacks will probably decrease when true minutes are distributed.

Fourth, we’re reconfiguring our home’s interior to turn one room into the TDAA office and members’ guest suite.  ANY member has the option of spending their vacation with us, working for the organization. (ASCA, an incredibly long-running single-breed registry based in TX, has done this for years — except I believe you have to provide for your own accommodations when you travel to TX and work for ASCA.)

Bring your dogs and play with them in the 64′ x 120′, fully matted training building when you’re not working.  Schedule lessons in agility or obedience or rally, or visit our pond and meadow to relax a little.

But when you’re working for TDAA you may be doing data entry, posting new activities to various on-line agility bulletin boards, printing certificates, shredding outdated documents, filing, calling members, processing accounts receivable or payable, or updating the website (etc.). 

You stay in the members’ guest suite with a separate entrance, satellite TV, a full bath, and a kitchenette.  The official TDAA office will be IN this suite. We’ll picture this on the website as “Your TDAA office and member suite.”

I’d love to see this members’ suite occupied 25-50% of the time. You work for us, we work for you!

Bud and I have said this in many contexts, and in many ways, but I believe the biggest benefit to members is going to be a benevolent leadership that shares work with members — as equals.

We’ll listen to your concerns, shamelessly steal your great ideas, implement the best of them, and ask for your support when we take responsibility for the results.

Bud Houston’s been doing agility for 25 years. I’ve been doing agility for 15 years. We’ve both been in customer-service oriented businesses for 35 years.

I believe members will find our TDAA leadership a solid foundation from which to launch a successful teacup agility career.

2-minute dog trainer, proxies and leadership

October 22, 2010

I’d like to mount my soapbox for a few minutes on two subjects — proxies and leadership.

Proxies — we’ve had several people say they’d never assign a proxy. That their vote is precious and they’d never give it up.

Well, I assign my proxy every 2 years or so.  I assign it to a state representative, a state senator, a president of the United States, a governing body for my state or nation.

We don’t each vote on every bill and resolution that passes through the state or national legislature — instead, we assign our PROXY to an individual whom we trust with that precious vote.

We find an individual whom we trust, in whom we believe, and we say “I’M WITH YOU!” 

Our accumulated proxies build a majority, or a loud minority, but they build a POWERFUL GROUP.

When Bud and I ask for your proxy, we’re asking you to trust us to hold your best interests, and those of TDAA as an organization, foremost in our minds.  We already do that.

When Bud and I ask for your proxy, we’re asking you to allow this transition to take place over the course of a week or two rather than over 6 months’ time.  We’re hoping for a smooth transition and a future for TDAA where decisions about the organization are made by Bud and I after careful consideration of the opinions of both our board of advisors and all our customers — the TDAA membership.

When Bud and I ask for your proxy, we’re not saying you’ll never get to vote again on TDAA business.  Instead, when we assume leadership of the organization you’ll constantly be asked your opinion, and we’ll be adjusting our policies and plans to accommodate the majority of our customers — the member host clubs and the members themselves.

Leadership — it has been said of Bud that he’s an “idea guy” with no capacity for details and day-to-day drone work.

Well, maybe — probably — certainly!  (Though some argument could be made that a fellow who reviews 60-100 TDAA courses in one day, responding to each judge with comments on each, repeating himself dozens of times while instructing classes, judging hundreds of dogs on a single course, briefing exhibitors dozens of times over the course of a weekend with nearly identical information, is a detail-guy. And he does it all with a smile on his face. And he’ll give anyone — including his competition — advice on agility handling or strategy if asked.)

How many organizations or businesses have you seen started by detail-guys, day-to-day-drones?  How many day-to-day-drones are the inspiration for national movements? 

Idea guys have big plans. Idea guys inspire us to think about what is possible. Idea guys draw detail guys to them like moths to a flame.

By the way — I’m a detail, day-to-day-drone lady. Just in case you thought I was putting them down. <g>  I carry into this leadership package 35 years’ experience in customer service, information dissemination, and day-to-day paper pushing.

When I get inspired by an idea guy I start thinking of the details that excite me. I find details sexy.  Efficiency is sexy. Like infrastructure is sexy. New bridges and improved interstate ramps are sexy.

I’m not one to stand and say “ARE YOU WITH ME?” 

Bud Houston IS.  And I’m with him100%.   We’re a solid leadership package — an idea guy and a detail lady.

2-minute dog trainer, TDAA politics

October 21, 2010
Dear (member’s name) —
I hear your frustration.  I believe this week will bring some answers to your questions.
I wasn’t at the Petit Prix, I’m not on the current BOD for TDAA, I’m not a software developer, and I’m not a member of the scoring team that worked so diligently in Washington.
I am, however, a long-time observer of people’s reactions when Bud Houston steps out of his “exhibitor” role and tries to right a wrong in a trial situation.
I can tell you for a fact that there would have been as many people angry at Bud if he’d stomped into the scoring area, changed the process, altered the software, instituted manual scoring, demanded to know why it wasn’t working, etc.  If the scoring was corrected using a manual process, the 3-4-hour delay would have meant dozens of angry exhibitors.
I’m certain that several people, seeing Bud and Hazard in the final round after the aforementioned stomping and demanding, would have said “he probably changed the rules to get there.”
Right or wrong, Bud chose to stay in exhibitor mode due to concerns about conflict-of-interest accusations, and regrets it now.  Hindsight is 20-20.
That doesn’t explain why everyone else responsible is silent, of course.
Regarding your questions on the Near and Far scoring, I believe an answer has been discovered and I’m certain those responsible are reading your post, this post, and will be anxious to clear up misconceptions.
Marsha’s Blog:
Marsha Houston @ Country Dream
<> webstore for electronic training books!

2-minute dog trainer, a short excursion into TDAA politics

October 21, 2010

I’m going to be posting some of my responses to TDAA members’ questions here on my blog. I hope to journal this transition and use my blog to develop my answers in greater depth than an e-mail list can provide.

I believe Bud and I would provide better leadership of TDAA for a number of reasons including, but not limited to:  

1) I believe Bud and I will provide TDAA with more responsive leadership (Bud was addressing the 2010 Petit Prix issues within 48 hours while the TDAA board of directors as a body has yet to respond to members’ frustration and concerns after 10+ days), 

2) I believe Bud and I know that where there is power there is responsibility (Bud hesitated to step out of exhibitor mode at the 2010 Petit Prix semi-finals and demand manual scoring because of conflict-of-interest concerns, a hesitation he regrets now), 

3) I believe that dog agility, whatever the flavor, whether we’re training or trialing, should be an enjoyable diversion from the stresses of day-to-day life (versus the angry recriminations, blame-laying, and personal attacks I’m witnessing from supporters or board members),  and

4) We believe that the strength of TDAA lies within the membership of TDAA host clubs, not a board of directions (after the transition we’ll keep a board of advisors and welcome member input into programs and systems).

Of the 7-8 agility organizations existing in the United States currently, many are privately-held businesses.  Organizations like USDAA, NADAC, CPE, and DOCNA are run by individuals with boards of advisors. Members of these organizations are encouraged to provide input. Members are treated as customers.

Please be reassured that our conflict is with the failure in project management by the TDAA Board of Directors, not with the input of the TDAA membership.

We ask that you transfer your voting proxy to Bud Houston for this transition, after which your voting privileges will be restored and your influence over TDAA programs and policies will be welcomed. Transfer your proxy to Bud by e-mailing him at or by e-mailing me at

More later …