Posted by: jility | March 4, 2013

…And Hitler Was a Tweeker


This time the subject for this DABAD agility blogging day is “Internationalization.” To read all the blogs on this subject, visit:

The following is my interpretation of “Internationalization.”

England gave us The Beattles and bangers, but most importantly, AGILITY (THANK YOU ENGLAND!!!)

France gave us the Statue of Liberty, the guillotine and Napoleon.

Canada gave us hockey, curling and the Mckenzie Brothers.

Italy gave us pizza, the Lamborghini, and Mussolini.

China gave us silk, pasta and TOTALLY AWESOME takeout food.

Finland gave us the sauna.

Germany gave us Beethoven, Mercedes and Bratwurst.

Spain gave us bullfighting, tapas and Antonio Banderas.

And Austria gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adolph Hitler.

Now, depending on your point of view, you may hate or love the things listed above. One person’s elixir may be another’s poison. I happen to think the Lamborghini is the coolest car ever made. I would have loved to own one in my lifetime, but, alas, I am now too old and, thanks to dog agility, too poor. I am sure Sir Cussalot would love to drive one, but the last thing I want to see is my 75 year old husband driving 110 miles per hour in a Lamborghini  on a twisty mountainous road! Some things are best left to the young and/or professionals.


Just because something comes from a foreign country, it is not by definition a good thing! Some things that come to us from other countries are awesome, while other things not so much.

How many times did one of your parents ask that age old question: “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, should you?”


When was the last time you heard an Olympic hurdler or steeplechase runner whine because the courses were not challenging enough? They go around in a mindless circle leaping over the same jumps in the same way, yet you never hear them complain about the courses being too easy. They run harder and try to set new records, win a medal or beat their personal best!

Not too long ago I was talking to my friend Uncle Jef, star of Jef’s Guide to Dog Agility, about this subject. He brought up some great points.

  1. If the runners started complaining that the courses were boring and not worth running, perhaps the Olympic committee could spice things up by putting alligators in the water jumps or making them take the backside of jumps.
  2. Or maybe they could have people positioned around the track with bows and arrows shooting at the runners. That would make it more challenging.
  3. They could have cars driving on the courses in a figure eight pattern so the runners had to LITERALLY run for their lives.

alligator hurdler

So would all those things make track and field more interesting and challenging or just more dangerous? The gold might go to the bravest runner rather than the fastest.

For many dogs, back sides of jumps, super tight turn after super tight turn and other International challenges, are just plain demotivating. I know I find them demotivating! There are some dogs that just don’t have what it takes to keep going in the face of physically demanding challenges seen on some of the International courses. I am a pretty dang good dog motivator, but trying to get my 25 1/2 “ standard Poodle to wrap jump after jump after jump from the front or the back side would just take its toll on her very large body and very fragile mind. Her agility career would be over before it started.  These tight and demanding courses favor a smaller and more nimble type of dog, like a Border Collie and not everyone wants to own or run a Border Collie

Our little Border Collie, Crush, would do those tight maneuvers all day long and never quit or even slow down. If the courses continue to go in the direction they have, the only dogs we will see in agility are Border Collies and other highly motivated breeds. Just go to any USDAA trial and watch the 22” and 26” classes. Count the number of breeds seen that are not Border Collies.

Now, before you yell at me that there are plenty of “off” breeds that excel in USDAA, I will tell you that yes, we had a standard Poodle who, in her prime, could whoop the best of them of any breed! She was one of a kind. Dogs like that don’t come along every day and we were blessed to have such a dog. My point is that these freak dogs are few and far between. It is like racing an Appaloosa against a Thoroughbred. Pretty soon, people get sick of beating their heads against the wall and either get themselves a Thoroughbred or quit the sport.

AKC is my organization of choice. I don’t want to go to a different organization to get my agility fix. As the courses get more and more International-like in design, I am finding it more and more difficult to physically get through them. Those of us who are handicapped and can’t run, or if we run an off breed that is not gifted in the drive department, will eventually get so frustrated, agility will lose its luster for us.

I love the courses just the way they are now in AKC. My husband, the infamous Sir Cussalot, prefers USDAA. I have no interest in it. He prefers more of a challenge than I do. Even at 75 years old, he is pretty darn athletic and a billion times faster and better handler than I am. I am a pretty good dog trainer, but I really don’t want to train any harder than I already do. I am too old, too fat and too lazy.

Hopefully, AKC will start running that Excellent C class for the “bees” and the “wannabees.” They can then put all the marksmen, cars and alligators they want on course and leave the rest of us to run the same “boring” courses we have come to know and love. We can then go for speed rather than turning our agility dogs into contortionists. Putting all those twists and turns into a course bleeds off speed. That leaves the door open to those who can run like the wind and lead their dogs around by the nose. Dogs on super tight courses don’t need to have the foot speed a wide open course requires, but they need to be able to turn on a dime, accelerate and decelerate easily. Neither my 25 ½” Poodle nor I can do that.

The other advantage to an Excellent C class is that I won’t have to listen to anyone complain that the courses are too easy and how they are just too cool to bother running them, or how I need to challenge myself more. I am SIXTY FREAKIN THREE YEARS OLD! I don’t have to challenge myself or my dog. I just want to go out there and have fun in AKC agility. For me, International courses are no fun at all. I find them tedious, boring and requiring much too much handler athleticism and speed. I grew up riding hunters,  jumpers and foxhunting. My favorite thing to do was to ride full speed over a steeplechase course. I much preferred that to a twisty jumper course. I feel the same about dog agility. I think having the dog be able to run full out over a jumper course is much more exhilarating than cranking the dog around jump after jump after jump. What I also hate are the LONG ass runs followed by a challenge that requires me to be there to handle. I just can’t! My polio riddled body just won’t allow that to happen, and I find those challenges just plain mean for those of us who can’t move.

Did you know that crystal meth was invented during WW II? Did you know that Adolph Hitler was injected with meth daily? Did you know that his officers and soldiers used it as well? Look it up! Read about how crazed those soldiers were. We all know that Hitler completely insane! It sure explains a lot don’t you think?

So what does Hitler being a tweeker have to do with internationalization? Well…



  1. Helen, do you think the courses we’ve been seeing have “international” aspects to them? IMO they’ve been really fun to run with some appropriate challenges.

    I get tired of hearing people complain about how difficult the Excellent/Masters courses are… Hello? It’s Masters!

    Didn’t see this blog post before – so I know I’m late with this comment… Will miss you guys this summer! Hurry back!

    • Brenda I think the courses we see down here in SoCal are great! The ones I don’t like are those that require athleticism of the handler. We some of those last weekend in Pomona. I just couldn’t physically get there to manage things in a few of those runs. Those are demotivating for ME LOL. I love the openness of the courses, but I need to be able to get within a certain distance for some things (like that serp in JWW on Sunday I think it was).
      I will miss you guys! We entered the Flatcoat trial in Medford. I hope we see you there!

  2. I have read some excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how so much attempt you set to make this kind
    of magnificent informative web site.

  3. Hey you forgot the most important contribution!

    England gave you Agility! 😉

    • OMG! YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!! I have corrected this horrible wrong! Thank you for bringing ti to my attention. I don’t know how on earth I could have overlooked the MOST important thing!

  4. Hey! You forgot the most important!

    England gave you agility! 😉

  5. Loved your post! So good to read someone else’s thoughts that so closely resemble mine. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa, we are the silent majority!

  6. So, where does that leave me? Lumped in as an agility Hitler?

    • LOL Daisy! You missed my point completely!

      • Maybe, but I will say that as somebody in the minority, I did find it a bit…startling. And, although the courses we see may seem different (the overseas ones), I remain convinced that the handling we’ve come up with RIGHT HERE IN THE USA is above and beyond anything in the rest of the world 🙂

  7. I love your post! I also am happy with the AKC courses the way they are.. AKC is also my venue of choice. I don’t run a border collie (I used to, couldn’t keep up, so he did flyball instead). My agility breeds of choice are my smooth collie and my Danish-Swedish Farmdog… While the DSF is small and limber, the collies are big, square dogs whom I love to live with and train.. but are not limber enough to do twisty turny courses. Plus, even on the flowing ‘easy’ AKC courses, half the dogs don’t qualify anyway.. so why make them harder? Bleh! I just want to run and have fun with my dogs. Get some ribbons (maybe a MACH someday) and so far AKC provides that for me.

  8. Helen – You are hilarious as usual!!! Make me LMAO! Another way to put it:
    LSHMSFOAIDMT google it 🙂

  9. I’m soooo conflicted! I like ASCA (reflecting what NADAC started out as) with its wide-open courses–fast is fun! I like CPE for its variety and lack of pressure–love that Full House! And I like USDAA for its challenges. But I’m also not thrilled about back-side jumping. My dogs handle it OK (BC and aussie mix), but it really is harder on the handler. Just adding my thoughts to the general discussion.

  10. Floweing courses with lower jump heights and lots of positive reinforcement = NADAC. That’s why it is my venue of choice. The extreme distance isn’t for everyone, but NADAC doesn’t require it. You can go with your dog or handle from small distances (for those of us who don’t move so fast) and be successful. You compete for the Q and it is all about teamwork.

    • AKC is my organization of choice. I used to do NADAC way back when, before they started changing the rules every five minutes. I like to tug my dog into and out of the ring and NADAC doesn’t allow that. Not being able to have food or toys within 10 feet of the ring is a deal breaker for me.
      I use a ton of distance. I just prefer to use my distance in AKC :).

      • You’ve been away from NADAC for a long time. They let you take food in the ring now. Nope, not making that new rule up.

        I liked NADAC, but they lost me when they stopped staking weaves down for the sake of safety. So my big dog has to torque and flex the bejeesus out of his back to manage NADAC poles. And even though my BSD runs with border collie speed, he’s 7 now. Per the latest rule changes he’ll be required to run in veterans beginning next year. No thank you; you do not know my dog better than I do. I’ll keep the money I used to spend on NADAC.

        Like you, I like AKC and want challenging, do-able courses. Let’s hope they keep in mind how much money that formula has been earning over the past few years.

  11. Here, here! I feel the same way. I have a non-traditional breed & I’m 66, enough already!

  12. The twisty-turny demotivations…for sure! Too many people don’t take structure into account when assessing courses. I’m still steamed over the trial where the weave poles were set up backwards/inside out (well, not in the correct order for the sections), and it resulted in poles slanting counter to the dog’s movement through them–and pushed many surprised dogs out of the weaves, including mine. BC folks–with their slender, slab-sided and bendy dogs–went into supercilious mode, making noises about how any well-trained/proofed dog could have done those weaves, with all the attendant implications that the dogs who hadn’t simply weren’t adequately trained. Seriously? How ignorant is it to suggest that structure doesn’t play a role? Those of us who have square-built and barrel-bodied dogs know better.

    Which is all to say that while I’m happy to examine the European moves and see where and how they might be useful in training, I don’t see myself running those courses. Not because I can’t–or my dogs can’t–but because I won’t.

    • (Don’t ask me what happened with my name, there. Sort of went Roseanne Rosannadanna on me.)

  13. Agreed. AKC should not push the casual competitor aside. I do agility for my physical health and mental exercise. It’s a hobby to be enjoyed with my dogs. 2 years ago I urged AKC to provide another class, C, Competition or other name, for those seeking higher challenges. Each has it’s value.

  14. This is an excellent take on it! I have a dog who gets super demotivated by a lot of twisty turny stuff. She’s not a drivey dog. She doesn’t have a ton of confidence. She’s slow. She LOVES wide open courses that require a lot of running forward with the occasional turn. We’ll never compete at the top levels and the International twisty-turny stuff is beyond both of us. I’m glad that others recognize not every dog has the drive and motivation to be an “International” dog.

  15. Helen – you rock!! Love your blog. 🙂

    -Lori in OR

  16. After another frustrating weekend of AKC, I find it does not give me enough “positive reinforcement”. I know that I will never be able to run for speed points for a MACH, so why bother. I prefer CPE agility where getting the Q is the goal, not how fast you can run the course. I also enjoy the challenge of coming up with my own course for the strategy games – based on how my dog runs. My little multicolored poodle stresses on the technical courses. If he’s not having fun, what’s the point? So, the majority of my money will be spent in CPE where it’s more fun and less stress and where my black & white poodle is accepted with open arms and cheers.

  17. You are such a hoot and I so agree with the twisty turny stuff! I love the courses that are built by judges that run big dogs – they usually leave a lot more room for me to get my slow fanny in place!! lolololo

  18. Excellent post and what a great idea with excellent C, everyone could be happy……well as happy as it would be possible to make everyone!

  19. Canada also gave us Red Green and the men’s prayer – “I’m a man. I can change if I have to, I guess.”

  20. I competed in agility 15 years ago. My dog passed away suddenly and I took a long break. Four years ago got myself a BC (wtf was I thinking?). I think my perspective is very different than most folks since I’ve been in agility longer than most but due to my long break have less experience than most. I see AKC courses as extremely tight, and really not a true test of the team’s ability. In AKC, pretty much every Master level course is snooker-ish. You need to be able to run with your dog and do a lot of close handling. FAST is too simple to be an adequate test of distance work. USDAA, with its pairs, snooker, gamblers, speed jumping, etc is a far better test of the team’s ability. And they don’t require tight twisty courses to get the job done. I just wish USDAA would lower the heights jumped. My BC is very long strided and has a long back–he’s a sheepman’s sheepdog. He can jump 26 but I will not let him. He often simply bounces between two jumps in AKC. Because of his structure, I do not want him to jump 26 or even 22. So, while I prefer USDAA, we do AKC simply because of the jump height.

  21. I do like where AKC is now….and it is a far cry from where it was ten years ago. I don’t mind a more “technical” course….but here is what I really want to say: I have an acquaintance who complains about “easy” courses or “boring” courses….and yet does not always qualify with her dogs. Go figure! I resist the urge to say “not so “easy” was it?” on a regular basis. AKC remains (and I hope will continue to be) a venue for all breeds….and all handlers. Another great blog, Helen!

  22. and Massachusetts gave us Helen! That is international isn’t it? It’s on the other side of the rockies…….

  23. As always, enjoyed the adventures of the Global Warmer !

    Ron King

  24. Well said!
    (from another “old” person”)

  25. I totally agree. My dog is my friend and pet first….athlete second.

  26. Can you send this to the AKC? Please!

  27. Thank you!!

  28. I’m with you on every aspect of your post, I am an old person too.
    I think some of the courses I’ve seen lately put a significant amount of strain on the dog’s body. thank you for your always thoughtful blog comments.

  29. AMEN.

    • Helen, you don’t give yourself enough credit. I watched you a few days ago at Silverado in JWW, on Monday I believe, do a phenomenal 3-4 jump lead out that no one else did. So you do a pretty damn good job of working around those challenges. Doesn’t mean you have to like it though I guess.

      I am in my 30s, pretty fit, with a ridiculously fast dog. Hes not a BC, but is an anomaly. I HATE those speed-line-to-tight-turn challenges as much as you do. And I agree that when he’s taking one stride consistently between jumps that they prob are too close together.

      All that said, I love the intl’ stuff and agree a Masters C class would be a great solution. Thanks for the insight.

      • Thank you. When you are an old crippled such as me, you must be a better dog trainer in order to get around ;). I really have no interest in the tight courses. Yes, I can do them, but no, I don’t want to! I HATE THEM! I LOVE speed and they do not promote speed of the dog, just the ability to be cranked around.

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