Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Find a Flow Course. I dare you.

Seriously, I couldn't find a flow course with this one. It was, perhaps, the lowest qualifying snooker course I've ever witnessed.

The seven had to be taken as indicated, and it's a TON of handling. So the seven was out of the question.

All the other obstacles surrounding the cluster of reds were not worth many points. Those are out of the question.

There's a one near the number six obstacle, weaves. I avoid weaves. It was out of the question.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The ONE Run

I'm not going to say much other than I was in shock. Scout had been blowing me off on weave gambles. I didn't bother having anyone film it because I assumed that it would be another weave gamble failure.

I was wrong.

This 4th place run earned the LAA-Bronze and APD-Bronze.

Scout's USDAA Statistics
Standard Level - 39
Gamblers Level 3 - 16
Jumpers Level 3 - 31
Snooker Level 3 - 41
Relay Level 3 - 21
Performance Speed Jumping - 7
Performance Versatility Pairs - 6
Performance National Standard - 22
PVP Standard - 2
PVP Gamblers - 2
PVP Jumpers - 1
PVP Snooker - 4
GRAND TOTAL: 192 PIII Qualifiers!

And something else pretty cool... Scout appears in the San Gabriel (CA) Tribune.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Things Were Meant to Be, I guess

I've had handlers fuss at me for going for a Super Q when I don't need one. Sometimes I go for them because the current leaders huff and puff over my shoulder at the score table. Sometimes I get them on accident. In any case, I told just about everyone in this class what my course was going to be.

This is the Masters Snooker course by Jim Hibbard, at Agility Club of San Diego in June 2009.

What is most noticeable is that two of the reds are also part of a numbered combo. This requires the handler to have to remember to get that jump twice. Trust me, I forgot this when Bug back-jumped one of these.

Anyhow, when I looked at this course map, I liked the flow into the closing from either the #4 or #5 tunnel/jump combo. The other thing I noticed was how vertical the course was. In order the get all four reds with minimum running, the key was to ping-pong the course. For example, an opening of 7 to 6 means you are running without taking obstacles about the width of the ring. That's wasted time. However, a 7 to 5 looks pretty nice, that is, if you want to weave.

I ran both of my dog: the veteran and the baby. I don't want the baby to find back-jumping acceptable. (I'll back-to-back jump the tire in gamblers with the veteran). My course was a simple ping-pong.

The reds are in the corners of the map. I'll address them by their location:
BR - Bottom Right
BL - Bottom Left
TR - Top Right
TL - Top Left

I chose two 5's and two 4's. I knew I had to be careful with the #5 straight tunnel (puppy cannon) because it may lead to an off-course. My alternative course was three 5's and a four. I know that this course is not a whole passel of points. I usually try to stick with fives, sixes, and sevens. However, in this snooker, the dog would have to do a lot of running without the reward of an obstacle.

Points Magic Points
BR + 5 6 3
TR + 5 6 4
BL + 4 5 3
TL + 4 5 3
Opening 22 13
Closing 27 13
Total 49 26

Scout's time: 52.5s, almost double the magic point value. When I estimate what I can get done in the allotted time, I multiply the magic point value by two. My estimate was 52s.

  • I led out, making a front cross half way between the BR and 5a. Dog is on left.
  • I pulled the dog through the two off-course sixes, and over TR red. Dog turned right toward. Front Cross and dog is on right.
  • Completed 5b and 5a. Had dog extend past 5a to get BR red.
  • Front cross at 4b tunnel. Dog still on right.
  • Called dog out of 4b tunnel, over 4a and TR.
  • Left wrap and front cross at TR, and straight shot to 4a and 4b. Dog on Left.
  • Allowed dog to extend out of 4b tunnel and then turn to #2 in the closing. Dog on Left.
  • #3 and #4a were easy. I put in a front cross at 4b so my dog would come out of the tunnel, look for me on the left, and see 5a better. This front cross was KEY. If the handler was on the other side of the tunnel, the dog got a refusal at 5a.
  • In hindsight, I should have front crossed at 5b. I front crossed between 6a and 6b.
  • 6c to 7a to 7b was a straight shot.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I enjoy eavesdropping on handlers' snooker conversations. Take this course, from Tami McClung, at Happy Dog Agility on 05/25/09.

You can see that I was doing some math.

Anyhow, what I kept overhearing was, "You HAVE to do four sevens." All I can say is, "Really?"

Course Times


Course Choices, besides Four 7's
I considered two nice flow courses:
1-4, 1-7, 1-7, 1-7 + closing
1-7, 1-7, 1-4, 1-4.

The first choice involved quite a bit of running to get the last seven. The ones would be taken, essentially, from left to right.

The Math
Scout's "Magic Point" rate in Gambers is 17.5 for 30 seconds. Theoretically, in 50 seconds her magic point count is ( 17.5 mp / 30 sec ) * 50 sec = 29, rounded down. A very fast border collie I know is 22 magic points in 30 sec. This would be 36.7 magic points.

When I plan a snooker course, I subtract two seconds from the course time to account for any extra handling I may need to do. Thus, Scout's new maximum magic point count is (17.5 / 30 )* 48 = 28.

The Closing, as noted on the course map for Scout is 11mp, since I counted the weaves as 2mp. For fast weaving dogs, this closing is 10mp. The seven obstacle is 4 mp, 3 for the obstacles, and 1 for extra distance to complete.

There are four ones on the map. The leftmost will be referred to as L1. The rightmost will be referred to as R1. The bottom, center will be referred to a M1. The one in the center of the page is C1.

Four Sevens Opening
L1 + 7, 6mp
C1 + 7, 5mp
M1 + 7, 5mp
R1 + 7, 9mp (accounting for a LOT of running)
25 Opening Magic Points + 10 closing = 36 magic points. My theoretical very fast BC should be able to finish, barely, assuming NO handler error. I think ONE dog made it with 4 sevens, and it was very close.

Three Sevens, One Four Opening
L1 + 4, 2mp
M1 + 7, 5mp
C1 + 7, 5mp
R1 + 7, 9mp
21 opening magic points + 10 closing = 31 magic points (32 for Scout). Uh-oh. I am going for no more than 28. This course will not work for Scout, aside from Scout's handler not wanting to do all that running on the last seven. This course will, and did, work for a lot of BCs.

Two Sevens, Two Fours Opening
R1 + 7, 5mp
C1 + 7, 5mp
M1 + 4, 2mp
L1 + 4, 2.5mp
14.5 opening magic points + 10 (or 11) closing = 25.5 (or 26.5). Obviously, this course should work for my dog, and it did. The horn sounded as she crossed the finish line. Scout took second to a dog that was able to run the three 7's course above.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Next? Drag your dog's corpse around a course?

I'm not going to name names or venues, but some people are just stupid. If your dog is NOT CAPABLE of performing the obstacles, perhaps it's time to retire the dog, or find something else to entertain both you and your dog.

My point of contention is lowering an A-Frame for obese dogs, geriatric dogs, and otherwise physically unable dogs. If you are dragging and coaxing a 12.5-year-old dog around the course, the A-Frame height doesn't make a damn bit of difference.

"Lowering the A-frame for my grand-vet dog made a huge difference. Everyone knew the A-frame would be lowered , when it would be lowered and I felt the time to lower it was not detrimental in slowing the run order down"
The person who posted this has an old BC that, I'm being nice here, trotted through a course. Watching this dog was like having my eyes raped. It was pure torture.

If you have a fat, legless dog, chances are pretty good it's not fast enough to propel itself up the A-Frame. Heck, why stop at legless - how about just plain fat. And the handler is torturing their dog and spectators because...? Cruelty? His misguided belief that it's agility or else? Why?

Agility is not for all dogs, just as no sport is, nor ever will be for all people. Every professional athlete has RETIRED at some point. Our dogs, however, do not not get to make this choice for themselves. Our dogs rely on their owners to determine when it's time.
  • If your dog cannot meet the performance standards, it's time.
  • If your dog cannot keep low jump bars up, it's time.
  • If your dog cannot run any longer, it's time.
  • If your dog is physically incapable (like hip dysplasia), it's time.
I suspect that there are some people out there whose desire for running their dog is so great that they will leash their dog's corpse and drag the dog's lifeless body around an agility course.

Please be fair to your dog.

Here are some of my words on the topic:
"I have both a small dog and a veteran dog. Neither have problems with the 5'6" A-Frame.

With any sport, human or dog, there is the inherent chance of injury. The best way to prevent injury is conditioning, corrective action (weight loss, surgery) or to not participate. Just as not all humans are capable of playing sports, it is reasonable to assume the same of dogs.

My orthopedic surgeon doesn't want to see me again. Ever. So he told me to give up basketball, volleyball and treadmills. It really sucks, but it's best for me. I know that Scout will tell me when her body is ready to retire from agility. It will suck, but I will do what is best for my dog."
And some more, regarding safety:
"Why stop with the A-Frame? What about teeter and its bounce? Check out the article on weaves in this month's Clean Run. Get rid of those! By the time all the concessions are made for each dog's need, what is left? Is there anything safe? No.

Not everyone, dogs included, are cut out for sports. Don't assume a tall person is a basketball player. Don't assume a really, really big dude is a sumo wrestler. Don't assume that every dog is capable of agility. Agility is NOT going to be for all dogs, as much as the handler desires it to be. What's best for some dogs is to not participate.

I am aware that I have a 9.5 year old dog. I am aware that her retirement is in the near future. I will be devastated when that day arrives. However, I will do what is best for her: stop participating."
And finally:
"The only problem I have is watching people torture their old or obese or otherwise incapable dog into doing agility because the HANDLER wants it sooooo bad. Did these people force their children into T-ball and soccer? My mom coerced me into playing volleyball when I was in fifth grade. All I had to do was stick it out one season. The decision to continue was my own. Dogs don't get to make this decision.

I took Scout lure coursing one weekend. Even though mentally she still wanted to go, physically she was done. Did I keep running her? No. I did what was best for my dog.

As I stated before, not all dogs are cut out for the sport. I played four years varsity basketball and volleyball in high school. I had try outs every year. I watched tons of girls get cut. I watched varsity players from the year before get cut the next. Not everyone is capable of playing, or of playing well enough to be on the team.

If you are going to lower the A-Frame, do it for all the dogs or none."

The Case Against the High-Point Gamble Obstacle

Marketers know how to tempt consumers: offer something that seems like a better value. The same can be said for the top point (5 or 7) obstacle(s) in the gamblers class. This obstacle seems like a good deal, right? It offers more points! Gamblers is about points! Well, points and successfully performing the distance challenge. This special obstacle is definitely worth it, right?

Not always.

In DOCNA, the gamblers is always 1-3-5-7, and the 7-point obstacle is always the long set of weaves. The short set(s) of weaves are worth 5 points.

Case 1: Only one high value obstacle
1 long set of weaves: 7 points
2 short sets (back-to-back): 10 points, slightly more time
Contact/Tunnel sequence: 8 points

Case 2: Back-to-back high value obstacle
2 long sets of weaves: 14 points
Flow course with short weaves and contacts : 15 points

In Case 2, there is only a one-point difference. However, my theory is that the flow course will yield more points.

I am going to start recording opening sequences to test the following theory: a flow course, with or without the high value obstacle, will yield more opening points with a non-blazing dog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pairs Rules

Here's what I hate about pairs: my partner.

Sometimes you get a good draw, other times... well, your partner needs to be taken behind a barn. With an older dog, you make every run count. When your partner racks up 20 faults because she's running a dog that was LAME two weeks ago, then how is that fair to me? This nitwit was late to the gate because she was too concerned about getting her hot chocolate for the morning.

I have only run my little dude in enough Pairs to fast track him to the next level: one Q. Why? Because he is young. Sometimes he does what he wants. Is running amok fair to my partner? No.

Like everyone else, I am out to "have fun" with my dog. However, unlike everyone else, my fun involves receiving a QUALIFYING ribbon.

If any of these apply to you/your dog, then SCRATCH from your pairs run, or partner with someone else from this list:

  • Your dog was recently lame. Thanks for running a 21" dog that took down THREE 16" bars! My 17" dog doesn't take down bars unless I am in the way! At least your dog can step over them!
  • You start a sentence with, "I am retraining...". Don't retrain on my dime! I paid $10 to run with your sorry rump. Perhaps you should RECONSIDER trialing while you remaster whatever you are retraining.
  • You and your dog off-course elimination more than you Q. I got stuck with one of these. The dog would have been fine if not for the handler. It's also a bad sign when the people in your area arrange pairs partners WAY in advance to avoid you. The entry form has a line that says. "Please don't pair me with: (dog/handler)". I just write the handler's name. I don't want to pair with either of her dogs.
  • You start a sentence with, "My dog can't...". Wow! Your dog CAN'T do something out there? It's the same stuff out there, different order. How did you get in MASTERS/PIII? I know I can take my dog out there and do it all. I expect the same at the Masters/PIII level.
  • Your dog hates agility. How can I tell? Refusals at obstacles and refusals to move. Pairs typically has a generous course time, allowing you and your partner a fault or two. When a turtle can outrun your dog, perhaps it is time to stop torturing your dog with agility.

Friday, March 20, 2009


This course has FIVE reds. Choose three or four. What's there to complain about?

Aside from Amy threatening to go all Tonya Harding on my team, I just was not comprehending the complaints I (over)heard.

The other thing that just killed me is the quantity of people that enter an event without understanding the rules. A 16" PERFORMANCE dog is not the same as a 16" CHAMPIONSHIP dog. How hard is that to understand? I explained it to someone, and then had the judge do so. She was still in disbelief. What's the big deal? The amount of time! These people thought they had 50 seconds (a very long time on what is essentially a jumpers course) versus 46 seconds (still quite a bit of time).

However, my favorite complaint was this: "There just isn't enough time to do four reds."

Huh? Talk about selling yourself short. If you and your dog can complete a 20 obstacle jumpers course in 30 seconds or less, you can definitely do four reds on this course. I am just missing the logic here...

Anyhow, that #5 was most popular. It was surrounded by reds, and, if the last obstacle, led nicely into the closing. It was very easy to find flow in this snooker.

Popular Courses:

Monday, March 16, 2009

A March Weekend with Scott Chamberlain

Maybe I should preface this by saying that I am biased. I like Scott Chamberlain's courses. They are fair, have good challenges, and require handler thought.

Saturday Snooker

I got a little help from my friend, Maureen. This course was 3 or 4 reds, but a helluva lot of distance to cover. A nice flow is 1-3 (or 4), 1-5, 1-7, 1-7 to the closing. 7a and b were actually more awkward to handle in reality than on paper. Some people went for 4 sevens, but did not complete the closing. Fortunately the 7 combo did not have any special rules in the opening.

Maureen suggested 3 sevens for Scout, and that's what we did.

The time allowed was 52 seconds. That's about 26 magic points for Scout. The closing is worth about 13 for her (3 on the weaves, and extra for handling the seven). I can have at most 13 magic points in the opening.

I started with the #1 at the lower left of the page, ran by #2 and into 7b to 7a. This is about 5 magic points. I directed Scout to the #1 at the top right, and back through the 7 combo. About 4 magic points. The last red was the obvious - the bottom right. The last 7 went from A to B into the closing. This was about 4 magic points. All these values take into account some travel time without obstacles. Opening Magic Points: 13. Finish Time: 51.89 seconds. Worked. Could I have done all four reds? Maybe, but my initial calculation with four reds said no.

Sunday Gamblers
Sometimes you get a little help from your friends. Like when you know how to make your gamble opening, but just don't like it. Here's the course map:

To paraphrase Christopher Walken, what this course needs is more tunnel. I like tunnels because they are fast and cheap. The rules included no contact-to-contact and no contact-to-weaves, or weaves-to-contact, back-to-back okay.

Fortunately I have a friend in California that likes to discuss these strategic things with me. Yay! We discussed taking the tire twice, and that it was best NOT to teach the dog that it is okay to back jump. In the end, for my opening, she and I decided to take the tire forward and backward. (Tire is cheap! That's a quick 6 points!) I just made sure Scout could land safely and turn and do it again. If I ever do something that feels as demoralizing as that, I like it best at the beginning of the sequence, before the dog is running full steam. That's why I will not do that teeter back-to-back. Demoralizing.

Here's what I did:
I would expect about 15 magic points in a 30 second opening. The math, where "mp" is "magic point", and "gp" is "gamble point":
#1 - 1 mp - 3 gp
#2 - 1 mp - 3 gp
#3 - 1 mp - 1 gp
#4 - 2 mp - 5 gp
#5 - 1.5 mp (accounting for the sprint) - 1 gp
#6 - 1 mp - 3 gp
#7 - 2.5 mp (obstacle & sprint) - 7 gp
#8 - 1.5 mp (obstacle & sprint) - 1 gp
#9 - 2 mp - 5 gp
#10 - 1 mp - 1 gp
#11 - 1 mp - 1 gp
#12 - 1 mp (horn blew before Scout landed)

Total Magic Points:
15.5 completed

Total Opening Gamble Points:

You might wonder why I chose to end 35 feet from the gamble line. In one of the openings Maureen and I came up with, my last obstacle would be the A-Frame. The speed and angle to the #1 gamble jump would be lacking and awkward. I chose to have a very straight, all out run to the #1. It worked well. As Scout completed the teeter, I positioned myself parallel to the correct tunnel entrance. As she approached between the correct tunnel entrance and me, I gave her a "left tunnel" command. When she took the tunnel, I was running to the #4 jump. Got it, and took third. (Maureen and her dog took first!)

Sunday Snooker
Maureen and I co-conspired on this one, even though our dogs are in the same jump height. The special rule on this one (thanks for not disappointing me, Scott!) was that the #7 combo had to be taken in direction, but either jump could be first. In other words, from the inside out. A nice course was all 6's, with a potential off-course at the #3 jump. A few people with blazing dogs attempted three 7's. Maureen and I concluded that 6-7-7 was the way to go, and that there was enough time. I entered both Bug and Scout, and both had 48 seconds.

Bug is a young dog who already has his Snooker Master title. I wanted this to be fun for him. I did all 6's. Instead of front crossing the first #6 to get the red at the top of the page, I met him outside the tunnel and essentially blocked his view of the #3 jump. I wrapped him around the right of the next red, and all he saw was tunnel. I ran the outside of the tunnel to pick him up for the last red (bottom right). I just had to be careful of all those tempting tunnel entrances to get him to the #2, and then ping-ponged out to #3. #3 to #4 was a change in focus. If the handler was not paying attention, the dog leapt from #3 to the off-course #1 in the closing. Another popular off-course was taking #4b instead of #4a. Most handlers front crossed between #4b and #5 to the correct tunnel entrance. #5 to #6 was fast and fun. Then came the tricky part: pick up at that tunnel into #7a. I made a front cross at the tunnel exit, but pulled Bug too much. The whistle blew for a runout. Still a qualifying run. Good boy!

Scout is collecting Q's, but I was feeling rather feisty. I went for the course that Maureen and I planned. The closing, in magic points, is about 9.5, which includes 0.5 for #2-#3 and 0.5 for the handling/distance between #6 and #7a.

The opening:
Red 1: 1mp
Distance to #6: 0.5mp
#6: 1mp
Distance to Top Red 1: 1mp
Distance/Handling to #7a: 1mp
#7a & #7b: 2.5mp
Last Red: 1mp
Distance to #7a: 1mp
#7a & #7b: 2.5mp
Distance to #2: 0.5mp
TOTAL Opening: 12mp
TOTAL For Course: 21.5, which would be about 43 seconds.

What I failed to realize when I walked this was the harsh angle from #7b to the #2. Most refusals occurred at the #2. I really had to work that approach better. After that, it was smooth sailing, except Scout didn't miss #7a like Bug did. She completed the course in a little over 44 seconds, and took first place.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where's Your Front Cross?

This jumpers from Dave Grubel at Contact Point 02/28/09 was fast and fun, utilizing a straight tunnel, also known as a puppy cannon.
I scribed Masters, so I got to watch where things went wrong.

A lead out between 2 & 3 was popular. However if the handler was not positioned well enough for the dog to think he could land safely, bar #2 dropped. In lieu of the lead out, some handled with a rear cross at #4.

A front-cross between #6 and #7 was popular if 3-4-5 was handled with the dog on the left.

#10 to #11 was a little tricky. I read it as a front cross or, presuming I was well ahead of my dog, a threadle arm. #11 was a popular dropped bar.

There was a lot of chatter about the desire to get a front cross in between #14 and #15. I can attest, it was difficult. I had to put on the afterburners and not admire my dog. The reason there was so much talk about this front cross was getting to #17 without taking the off-course #2 jump.

#18 was a triple. Some that handled that as a rear cross had dropped bars.

I don't do start lines with Scout. I did walk out to #2, called her, and then front crossed between #2 and #3. Here's what I did:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Well-Timed Gamble

This is from Good Dog Agility's 2009 February Trial. It was the first run of the morning. Mark Wirant judged.

A very popular opening ran the jump-time-jump-gamble jump-tunnel. My dog drops bars if I do something stupid. If my dog dropped bars on her own, I wouldn't even contemplate taking a gamble jump.
I went for 14 magic points. My course was 13.5. The buzzer did sound when I was across the field from the #1, but it was a straight run, so that's not a big deal for a dog that is reasonably fast. It would be a deal-breaker for a slow dog.

The key to this gamble was how to handle that #2 and the turn into the teeter, especially with a very tempting tunnel entrance. The dogs and handlers that succeeded either had good directionals (a left!), or added a front cross between the #1 and #2, which I did.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Point-Time Estimation for Snooker

Using the point-time estimation works for snooker, too.

I did not run this course with the "magic points" in mind. Bug, a 16" Championship dog, had 50 seconds to complete the course. He would tell me what Scout, a 16" Performance dog could do. (At the time, I was going for Top Ten points for her). Both dogs run about the same speed, even though no one believes me.
Bug's Course
Opening: R1 + 4, R2 + 4, R3 + 7
Completed Closing and crossed the finish line: 47.29

Note that amount of hauling butt you need to do to cross the finish line. If Bug crossed the finish line before the timer sounded, then I had more time to get more points. It didn't matter because he took first, SuperQ and his Snooker Master title.

With a 50 seconds to get it all done, I can do 25 magic points. Let's add.
R1 + 4 + R2 + 4 = 4mp
The run to R3 = 1mp
The run to 7a = 2mp
7a, 7b, &c = 3mp
TOTAL = 10mp

2 through 5 = 5 mp
The distance to get to 6 = 1mp
A-Frame = 2mp
7 combo = 3mp
TOTAL = 11 mp

Bug's Total: 19mp.

Scout's Course
I changed plan for Scout - went for the #4 and two #7s in the opening. Let's do the math:
R1 + 4 + R2 = 3mp
7c, 7b, 7a = 3mp
Scooting to R3 = 2mp
R3 = 1mp
Scooting back to 7a= 2mp
7a, 7b, 7c = 3mp
TOTAL = 14mp

Same as Bug's, 11mp.

Scout's Total: 25mp

Alternative Openings
The dog that placed first ran R1-5b-5a, then the remaining reds and sevens. Scout could not have run faster than this dog, but let's compute her opening estimate anyway:
R1 + 5b +5a + a scoot + R2 = 5mp
7c, 7b, 7a = 3mp
Scooting to R3 = 2mp
R3 = 1mp
Scooting back to 7a= 2mp
7a, 7b, 7c = 3mp
TOTAL = 16mp

Time wise, this would have been cutting it awfully close to NOT finishing the #7 and, had we did finish, it still would have been second place.

Scout would have needed at least a 6-7-7 to win.
R1 + a scoot + 6 + a scoot + R2 = 6mp
7c, 7b, 7a = 3mp
Scooting to R3 = 2mp
R3 = 1mp
Scooting back to 7a= 2mp
7a, 7b, 7c = 3mp
TOTAL = 17mp

I don't think we could have successfully completed the #7 with this opening.

In 50 seconds, I expect to get 25 magic points with Scout. The course I happened to choose, without any analysis, worked. She crossed the finish line at 53.41 seconds. Scout took second and SuperQ'd.

And, in case you're wondering, Scout did make the 2008 Performance Top Ten for Snooker.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seeing the Point-Time Estimation Method in Action

Using "Magic Points" can easily help you with a Time Gamble.

Here is the USDAA DAM/PVP Time Gamble from Mark Wirant at Good Dog Agility in Tempe, AZ. In a nutshell, the ideal time to cross the finish jump was between 30.01 and 31 seconds in a 1-2-3-5 system.
A couple of considerations:

  1. In a 1-2-3-5 system, the value of the contacts and weaves, unless one is the 5-point obstacle, is not much compared to the jumps and round things. It is to your advantage in a 1-2-3-5 system to get the 5-point obstacle twice, and focus on round things (tire and tunnel). Round things and jumps are cheap and fast, usually faster than contacts and weaves.
  2. Tire is always your friend! It is fast and easy, and worth more points than a regular jump.
I ran this with my older, very consistent dog, Scout. She has a fast A-Frame, and, as luck would have it, that was the 5-point obstacle. I stressed because I wanted the tire twice but could not work that into a nice flow. I planned for 14-15 magic points, with the option of taking the tunnels on the left twice, depending on her speed.

I did a couple of things I would not normally do: 3 back-to-back obstacles. I did, however, allow Scout to safely exit the obstacle and nicely turn around to re-perform it.

Because of her speed on the tunnel-jump sequence that EVERYONE took on the exit, I opted to toss in a back-to-back tunnel by the exit jump.

Finish time: 30.30 seconds.
Opening Points: 28
Gamble Points: 15
Placement: 1st, P16 (my partner finished at 30.36 with extra jumps - the double the wrong direction, and a dropped bar), and highest in PVP Class

The following was my strategy, red text shows the sequence numbering and magic points, blue shows the obstacle values:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gamblers Opening Strategy

This is not my idea. It was given to me by someone else, who got it from someone else, who... well, you get the picture. I further tweaked the method.


  1. Each obstacle has a point value based on the relative amount of time it takes a dog to complete it. I call these "magic points".
  2. Obstacles are assumed to be spaced 15-20 feet.
  3. Any dead space greater than 20 feet in a sequence counts as a magic point.
  4. The better the flow, the more magic points needed.
  5. Almost every dog, regardless of size or speed, averages 12-16 magic points in a 30-second opening sequence.
  1. Each jump counts as one (1) magic point.
  2. Each contact counts as at least two (2) magic points. If the dog has a slow dog walk, then that obstacle may count as 2.5 or 3 magic points.
  3. A set of 6 weaves is one (1) magic point for a good weaver.
  4. A set of 12 weaves is two (2) magic points for a good weaver.
  5. Tunnels count as one (1) magic point.
  6. Any dead space distance greater than 20 feet counts as a magic point.
  7. Jumpers caveat: 4 consecutive jumps count as 3 magic points.
If you can't have someone track the obstacles you do in a set time, then use a standard run without a table. Count the magic points for each obstacle, divide by the time completed and multiply by 30. That is the number of magic points, on average, you need in your opening for gamblers.

The example I am posting is theoretical. Pretend that there is no table in this run:
There are 22 magic points. If I completed the course in 44 seconds, then I have averaged 0.5 magic points per second. Multiply by a 30 second opening, and that is 15 magic points.

The following is a Masters/PIII Gamblers course from 02/14/09, Saguaro Scramblers, with Sheri Boone as the judge. The opening is 25 seconds.
Scout and I sought 13 magic points (about half of 25, using my example ratio above). The buzzer blew right as she took what would be the 13th magic point. This left us with a nice entry into the gamble.
This method works nicely, of course, for time gambles, and for estimating what you can do in snooker.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Better Doggie Wheelchair

I found this link in the University of Louisville Alumni magazine. It's FREE instructions for a fully adjustable doggie wheelchair. I think the lady who came up with it said the parts all cost $200, and are readily available at your local hardware store.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Handy DOCNA and USDAA Worksheet

This worksheet computes the number of Qs you need to complete the championship titles.