Sunday, December 26, 2010

Response From AKC and My Rebuttal

Hi Jessica – I am sorry if you are having difficulty finding trials and that you have been treated rudely at some AKC events. The AKC cares very much about all our dogs and owners and we never want any exhibitors to be treated badly – especially those that are new to AKC. The number of events open to dogs listed with AKC Canine Partners continues to grow – and I know that many clubs are very mixed- breed friendly and welcome the Canine Partners competitors.

It appears that there were 14 obedience/rally trials in Arizona open to Canine Partners in 2010 and that currently there are 16 planned for 2011. AKC is contacting clubs that have not opened their entries and encouraging them to do so – and we will contact the clubs on the Fiesta Cluster and find out what their reasons were.

I also can assure you that the AKC cares very much about the AKC Canine Partners program and many of us worked hard for many years to bring it into existence. I am a mixed- breed dog owner and competitor – and have been out competing with my “Canine Partner” in AKC agility and rally. I am happy to say that I have been accepted very well by the clubs hosting events in my area, as have my fellow mixed- breeds competitors in NC.

I hope that you will reconsider not entering any more AKC events because the best way to make it better is to get out there and compete and have a voice in the process.

I received another email from you requesting a refund of your registration fees and I cannot issue a refund - but I would like to send you a Canine Partners goody bag and t-shirt if you will send me your mailing address. Please keep me posted on how you and your dogs are doing!

Penny Leigh
Program Manager
AKC Canine Partners

So a T-shirt and a goodie bag are supposed to make up for the $35 per dog I spent only to be unable to enter trials. Hmmm...

I only participate in agility. My dogs are not even welcome at the Fiesta Cluster show site.

The AKC event calendar does not properly list events open to mixed breeds. This is my ONLY source for planning trials, and it is WRONG. It states that Scottsdale Dog Fanciers Assn (the other sponsor of Fiesta Cluster) is friendly. It is not. Cactus State Miniature Schnauzer is friendly, but the AKC website doesn't show this.

It is absolutely DISGUSTING to have members of the Superstition Kennel Club beg me to donate my time and resources to making tugs as donations for an event, only to be snubbed at another event of theirs. They host four events in Arizona. As I am boycotting them, I have limited my AKC agility options.

I contacted Superstition Kennel Club, and have yet to receive a response.

My boycott, publicly available via my agility blog and Facebook, has garnered plenty of support. Deb Davidson Harpur, a friend of mine from California, will not attend Fiesta Cluster. She runs anywhere from 8 to 15 dogs. Multiply that by the entry fees, and Fiesta Cluster is losing easy money. Fiesta Cluster has never filled.

Traveling to complete titles should be an option, not a requirement. It appears my choice, especially since I am boycotting Superstition Kennel Club, is to travel. I'd rather save my money and stick with USDAA, a venue where my dogs are openly welcome and not treated with disdain.

I am withdrawing from Arizona Wags for Wishes. I'd just as soon make a donation directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation than to allow Superstition Kennel Club receive any credit for my money and labor.

I want my money back. I can be treated like a second-class citizen for free. I am more than willing to return my titles. I couldn't even use all the "values" that come with registration since I had a 10-year-old dog, and the Home Again would not register for the other dog.

You can send a goody bag and T-shirt if you want to. I will turn around and donate it to charity. I am not supporting AKC in anyway, shape or form from this point forward, purebred or mixed breed. I would rather have my money back.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

AKC Canine Partners - DON'T DO IT!

I received a bunch of support via Facebook.

The Superstition Kennel Club hosts Arizona's Wags For Wishes. All the proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sounds like a good cause, right? I am withdrawing from the trial. I REFUSE to allow Superstition Kennel Club take any credit for fundraising with MY MONEY. I'll make a donation directly to Make-A-Wish.

In addition, I agreed to make tugs for their raffle. I was going to make at least 10 more tugs this week. It will not happen. I will donate the tugs that I have made, but I, once again, REFUSE to let Superstition Kennel Club get any credit for fundraising using MY LABOR, MY MATERIALS, and MY MONEY.

My Letter to Jumping Chollas, the apparent victim of my Facebook Post. I also copied Superstition Kennel Club and Scottsdale Dog Fanciers.

I didn't realize the poo storm that a Facebook message would cause. You and Wendy have been supportive of my dogs participating in AKC since our first trial. I appreciate that. There are over 30 responses to my Facebook post in support of me and my dogs. There are people in California, Utah and New Mexico refusing to enter this trial in support of my dogs.

My dogs were welcomed at Kachina, which was a large agility show with breed. I really don't see the difference.

I am really disappointed about not being allowed to enter Fiesta Cluster, especially since Superstition Kennel Club sponsors the majority of the local AKC trials. I volunteered to make tugs for the Wags raffle baskets. Diane will receive what tugs I have made, but my production has stopped. I absolutely REFUSE to allow SKC and AKC to take credit for fundraising using MY LABOR and MY TIME, especially when my Canine Partners are not welcome at Fiesta Cluster. I intend to withdraw from Wags because of Superstition's sponsorship. I'd rather donate directly to Make-A-Wish than to have SKC and AKC get any credit for my dollars.

I had also agreed to help a Golden Retriever club with tug donations for Fiesta Cluster. I just informed them today that I will not support Fiesta Cluster in any way.

Here are screenshots of the Facebook Love:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Done with AKC

Since my kind are not allowed at a large, local AKC event, I'm done with AKC agility. Completely done. AKC Canine Partners is a waste of $35.

My letter:

There are really not that many mixed breeds that participate in AKC. From what I understood, AKC invited the mixed breeds in part to prove that AKC dogs are superior athletes and to encourage people like me to buy an AKC dog. Seems to me like a large dog show like the Fiesta Cluster would be the perfect place to drive this point home to people like me.

I will be withdrawing from Wags and not entering future AKC events. When my participation is limited because of those that have contempt for my dogs, then I will take my money elsewhere. And trust me, I've overheard those people who think that mixed breed participation is a "travesty", have had gate stewards snarl about being unable to recognize a mixed breed, and received glares because of what is attached at the end of my leashes. At the end of my leashes are two dogs that have champion titles in USDAA and are both Top Ten dogs.

Also, the AKC website shows that CSMSC is not mixed-friendly, but that Scottsdale Dog (2 days of Fiesta Cluster) is. It's pretty bad when an organization that supposedly welcomes you does not maintain an accurate event calendar so that the lowlife Canine Partners can plan how they spend their agility money.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Foundation Work

Just open up any Clean Run magazine to find articles on "Foundation". All are about foundation for the dog. What about the handler?

I had an interesting conversation with my friend, Gail, this weekend about handling. We came to the same conclusion: Everything we needed to know about handling we learned growing up playing basketball.

Here are some basketball skills:
Working as a team
Reading body language
Hand/eye coordination

These are all important agility skills!

  • In basketball, you always know where the ball is, but use your peripheral vision for movement from other players.
  • In agility, you keep your eye on the dog.
  • When you get the basketball, you either dribble, pivot, or shoot.
  • Is a pivot any different than a front cross? No!
  • Is passing or shooting a basketball any different than sending your dog out to an obstacle? No!
  • Basketball is a lot of stop and go movement. Can you say "acceleration" and "deceleration"? I knew you could!
When I played basketball, I learned how to use my peripheral vision, see what was around me, and anticipate "things", like other players cutting through the lane, the recipient of the pass (since the passer usually looks at the recipient), who is going to shoot, etc. I do the same thing in agility. I walk a course. I see what my dog may see at each obstacle. I know if I twitch, my dog may react to the twitch by popping weaves or pulling off a jump. Yet most handlers blame the dog!

As a handler you are both the coach and a player. You guide your dog through the play. It is your job to anticipate the off-course potential. You send your dog on in gamblers. You snake your dog though a snooker. And you do this without flailing your arms and screaming.

It may be worth having a handler foundation class on a basketball court. A few bonks in the head by a basketball (trust me, it hurts), may be what some people need to get into the game.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why this AKC show sucked -OR- What is wrong with the business model for agility trials

I attended my second AKC agility trial this weekend with my two Canine Partners (aka non-purebred dogs). This trial offered Standard, Jumpers with weaves, and FAST. Quite a few people do not enter FAST because it is NOT a titling requirement for a MACH/PAX. I did not enter it.

My issue is holding competitors hostage for free labor.

I ran both dogs by 9:30am on Saturday, and waited around until 5:30pm for their second run. It's extremely painful, especially since I have always heard about how terrific AKC is. Yes, it was my choice to be held hostage, but is it reasonable and fair to treat competitors, your customers this way? No. I'm tempted to NEVER enter another AKC agility trial based on this one.

I know why the host club did this: to coerce competitors into "volunteering",uh, I mean working. This is my biggest issue, not just with this incident, but agility trials in general.

I am a software engineer. I interviewed and landed a good job. I provide my company my services in exchange for a paycheck. If I need a plumber, I call one, he comes to my house and fixes something in exchange for a check. See where I am headed?

At agility trials, a club offers a service - a trial - and I write a check to pay for those services. However, I am also expected to provide free labor to the club to make it a "success".


A plumber doesn't come to my house and hand me a plunger to unclog my own toilet, and then expect me to pay for it. Why do clubs expect the same? I do not have an MBA, but it seems to be a crappy business model for the consumer.

Dangling a carrot, like, "Hey! We have a crappy raffle that you don't have a snowball's chance in hell to win!" is not sufficient. Neither is, "We provide a salmonella-laced hot dog from our questionable vendor". Unless your organization is tax exempt, and can prove it to me, I am not donating my time without payment. If you want me to get off my arse and set bars, pay me. It's not like I am asking for $100k a year, medical benefits, and a 401k or pension. Give a worker coupon, maybe worth $4/hour. It's a win-win situation - you staff your trial AND you have someone who will enter your shows again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Now this is a good Snooker

The following course is Tammi Stone's, ran at Happy Dog Agility on March 7, 2010.

Here's why I like it:

  1. Three OF Four. Handlers must pay attention to the details.
  2. The #7 Combo must be taken as marked.
  3. The #7 Combo is NOT easy to handle.
Sure, you could go for all sevens - some people did. Most were not successful.

As for flow, the ONLY option I liked to enter #2 nicely into the closing was the #7 combo. There are two reds on the map (bottom reds) that open to either nothing, or no points. If you started with Red #2 (bottom right), it opened to some small points. I try to only do fives, sizes and sevens in 3-Red snooker. I discounted that strategy.

Other than all sevens or starting with a low value obstacle, I saw only one flow course with points: 6-6-7.
It was flow enough for both dogs to win their jump heights.

Monday, April 26, 2010

USDAA Performance Titles

Here's an excellent blog entry about the title names for USDAA's Performance program.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good Dog Agility - Team Gamblers

Uh, yeah. There was a nice, steady rain the evening before, and the ring was muddy. Judge Martin Gadsby changed the obstacles locations. The rules were as follows:

  1. Same opening and closing times.
  2. Closing points are doubled if you cross the finish jump before the buzzer.
  3. Back-to-Back contacts ok
  4. No consecutive contacts (e.g. teeter to A-frame)
Hey! A straight time gamble!

Normally, I'd go for 16-17 magic points in a 30-second opening with Scout. However, given the MUD (and she slid out of a tunnel in snooker on her belly), I thought 15 was more fair. It was a 1-3-5-7 system with no 7-point obstacle, no consecutive contacts, back-to-back contacts okay. When you watch the video, you'll find that the teeter is near the finish jump. The teeter was an ideal obstacle to take twice and get the heck out because of this, and it was worth 20 points (5 pts x taken twice x multiplier of 2 for closing). This video demonstrates a PERFECTLY TIMED gamble using magic points (point-time estimation).

This was a 4th place and LAA Q run.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Okay, so everyone loses interest in things.  It happens.  To everyone. 

I lost interest in some agility venues. 

For the most part, I have been quiet about my displeasure, and just slowly faded off into the sunset.  I owe no one any reasons.   I just stated that I am not interested.  End of story, right?


I have made up my mind:  you cannot polish a turd - it will always be a turd.  Yet, in the small world of agility, I still have people cornering me,  droning on about how great venues are in which I hold no obvious interest.  Unless I have vested interest (READ: I own stock or have other financial incentive), I have no loyalty to much of anything.  Your venue doesn't love you - just your checkbook.  So what is the motive for people without any incentive to try and get me to rejoin the cult?

I just don't get it.  Please, just be respectful of others, okay?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I've got a couple of things going on right now:

  • Trial Secretary business for SWAT
  • Old Dinosaur Cake for a friend's 50th Birthday Party
I have some upcoming trials, and I hope to get my video camera out for some strategic runs.

Monday, March 1, 2010

If you have nothing nice to say...

I have two dogs, both are rescues from animal control.  I love them to pieces.

What irritates the hell out of me are people who are such losers that the denigrate my dogs.

Every dog, whether rescued or purchased as a puppy, has a set of challenges.  My challenges including fixing issues that some asshole created.  Scout has "space issues" - she doesn't enjoy the company of 99% of other dogs, and will react to that 99% 100% of the time.  I manage these issues, and most people do not realize that there is one.

At Good Dog Agility's trial this past weekend, they have a Parade of Veterans for dogs 8 years of age or older.  At the end of the parade, an award is presented to a dog that:

  1. Contributes to the community
  2. and/or has overcome some issue
There is a point system for the award that includes the essay for the above, and points for accumulated standard qualifying runs and titles earned.  Most of the award is purely mathematical.  The essay, of course, is subjective.

Scout won the award in 2009.  It was especially sweet since she was tossed from the club.   The 2010 winner was rescued as a puppy and performs community service by visiting nursing homes and hospitals.

There was one VERY sore loser.  This loser has stated before, at USDAA trials, in front of others, that "all rescue dogs deserve to be euthanized" and that "all rescue dogs have issues."  Loser here has two purebred, purchased-as-puppy dogs.  Loser entered the older one in the contest.  Loser was convinced that you HAD to have a rescue dog to win.

Not true.  The 2008 winner was a purebred, purchased-as-a-puppy that went deaf.

Loser's older dog makes Scout look like a saint most of the time. Loser's dog has attacked and drawn blood on at least one other dog.

My dogs:
  • I never had the opportunity to meet the parents and see their temperament
  • I have never seen the pedigree
  • I have no idea if the parents were healthy or have any known genetic defects for which there are tests
  • I risked having to fix problems someone else created
Loser's Dogs:
  • Loser was able to meet the parents and the breeder and preview temperament
  • Loser can view the pedigree
  • Loser has documentation as to potential genetic defects
  • Loser had the opportunity to create the dog she wanted
Notice any differences?  Loser got a puppy and had every opportunity in the world to shape the dog's behaviors and attitude as she saw fit, yet Loser chose to create a nasty one, perhaps in her own likeness.  The only reasonable thing Loser did was not make HER mistake the problem for someone like me. Despite having the potential to create a well-rounded dog, Loser chose to create a "dog with issues", overcame the issues SHE created, and still expects to be rewarded for it?

I FIXED two dogs that someone like Loser ruined.  I don't expect to be rewarded externally for it.  My reward is the love I get from these two critters of mine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Flow is Helpful. Somtimes, It Wins.

Here is Judge Karen Gloor's Masters Snooker course from Driven Dogs on Janurary 29, 2010.

It's four reds (more strategic), with two combos, #5 and #7. My older dog, Scout, will either retire or semi-retire this year. I am no longer going for Top Ten, which she has been in for the past two years. My little guy, Bug, typically gets the same course as his sister because it's easiest one me, though I have been known to run different courses. This time, I chose the same course.

At first I thought I liked the #5 combo. It turns out I didn't, as it covers a lot of yardage. I avoided the #7 combo: jump, weaves, jump. 7c opens to the 5a tunnel. 7a, heading north, opens to the 5a tunnel. 7b heading north opens to the 5a tunnel. See a pattern?

I considered starting out with 1-6 and 1-6. While time was on my side (50-something seconds for jumpers with weaves), I chose something nice for my dogs. It was not a high-point course.

I chose, starting from the left, 1-3, 1-3, 1-5 and 1-4. I ran the outside of the 5a tunnel to get to #4. Combo #7 and #4 were the best entries into the closing.

Most people bit it in the opening, handling the #7 combo. When I said that the combo opened to tunnels, the dogs took the tunnel. Heck, Bug took the tunnel in the closing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Magic Points: Video Example

This is Lisa Jarvis's Masters Gamblers course at Agility Club of San Diego in January. This post is not about the gamble - it's about the opening.

I filmed several dogs with the intent of showing point-time estimation, aka Magic Points. I filmed Performance dogs, so please don't snort at them. Most of these dogs are older but still have the spunk and desire to play.

Most medium to fast dogs need 15-20 magic points in a 30 second opening. I was unable to add the magic point text to the clips.

When you watch these dogs and see how I counted the magic points, you'll understand why it is often better to avoid the high-point obstacle.

Chute: 1
Jump: 1
Teeter: 2.5 (Most dogs are about a 2 on the teeter)
Jump: 1
Dogwalk: 4
Dogwalk: 4
Tunnel: 1
Jump: 1
Jump: 1
TOTAL MP for 30sec opening: 16.5

Chute: 1
Jump: 1
Teeter: 2
Jump: 1
Dogwalk: 3
Tunnel: 2 (It's a 20' tunnel more than 20' from the dogwalk)
Dogwalk: 3
Tunnel: 1
A-Frame: 2
TOTAL MP for 30sec opening: 16

Chute: 1
Jump: 1
Teeter: 2
Jump: 1
Dogwalk: 3
Messing around after dogwalk: 1
Dogwalk: 3
Tunnel: 1
Tunnel: 1
Tunnel: 2 (Consider the distance between the tunnel under the dogwalk to the one in the corner)
Tunnel: 1
TOTAL MP for 30sec opening: 17

Chute: 1
Jump: 1
Chute: 2 (obstacle completion plus time to get there)
Jump: 1
Teeter: 2
Teeter: 3 (obstacle completion plus time to get there)
Jump: 1
Dogwalk: 3
Tunnel: 1
Tunnel: 1
A-Frame: 2
A-Frame: 2
TOTAL MP for 30sec opening: 20

Chute: 1
Jump: 1
Teeter: 2.5
Jump: 1
Dogwalk: 4
Dogwalk: 4
Tunnel: 1
A-Frame: 2
Jump: 1
Jump: 1
TOTAL MP for 30sec opening: 18.5

The Case Against the Dogwalk
I have one dog that is about a 3 on the dogwalk and one that is a 4. For the same seven points, I can do two tunnels and a jump (look at the tunnel under the dogwalk!) for the same points and 3 magic points instead of 4. Add an extra jump in the mix, and I have 8 points in the same amount of time I can do the dogwalk and get 7 points.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Yes, I know, I have neglected this blog. I am currently focused on Scout's retirement plan, and a possible leather tug side business, aside from baking cakes. I have a few older courses reserved for the blog. I hope to get to them shortly.

aka AgilityEngineer