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The Overview from USDAA
USDAA Message

By Kenneth Tatsch

USDAA PresidentApril was active with international competitions for IFCS. Certainly of interest at these events was the focus on course design. These events follow the European-style, often requiring a high degree of managed control. It is this style that the Masters Challenge program and the new Masters Challenge Biathlon seek to present, adding another dimension to the class offerings at events. It won't be for everyone, but it is fascinating nonetheless.

We have outlined the essence of Masters Challenge course designs in our latest issue of the Judges' Briefing newsletter, a relatively new electronic periodical published for our judging corps. This issue is our third month of publication of the Judges' Briefing and it focuses on how challenges are used to achieve the European-style. There are no challenges that we are not familiar with in USDAA events; the difference is in the way they are presented in the course design in a compounding effect and utilizing varied spacing. You might be surprised to learn that we have had the European-style presented in course designs as far back as the early 1990s. I review a bit of history in my column in this issue of the Judges' Briefing. Check out this and the other issues of the Judges' Briefing beginning in June in the Forms & Documents library on

Eyes now are turning focus on Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the 2013 Cynosport World Games. We are entering the summer months for regional events, a number of which will be streamed live on free of charge. Follow the action beginning with the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regionals in June, and follow the results on the news pages for all the events at

Congratulations to the Winners of the First Ever IFCS Continental Championship of the Americas!

On April 26-28, the USDAA hosted the 2013 IFCS Continental Championship of the Americas in Ft. Worth, Texas. Full results of all the medalists can be found on, but check out the winners of the Triathlon, Biathlon, and Individual All-Around standings below:

Triathlon Winners

1 USA Team 4: Linda Womer & Sonic, Asley Anderson & Psi, Mike Padgett & Kona
2 USA Team 1: Andy Mueller & Crackers, Stuart Mah & Ares, Tracy Hirsch & Silver
3 USA Team 2: Maureen Waldron & Mickle, Jennifer Crank & Sonic, Lori Michaels & Solei

IFCS Biathlon Winners
30cm - Andy Mueller & Crackers 55cm - Mary Ellen Barry & Maizy
40cm - Jennifer Crank & Kaboo 65cm - Lori Michaels & Solei

Individual All-Around Winners
30cm - Daneen Fox & Masher 55cm - Stuart Mah & Ares
40cm - Jennifer Thomas & Rodeo 65cm - Lori Michaels and Solei

Congratulations to all the winners!

Training Corner: Tunnel Test
By Deborah Davidson Harpur

This course was designed to test your skills on a double tunnel placement. It also serves to evaluate your abilities when sending to the correct end of a tunnel when a table is nested in the center of that tunnel.

In this course, your tunnel discrimination skills are first tested at #5. It's easy to send the dog wide to the outer opening, especially if the dog is inexperienced. Be sure to have your shoulders and feet pointed toward the inner tunnel rather than the outer one. Watch your dog and be prepared to judge if he is swinging wide toward the wrong tunnel. If your dog makes a mistake here, consider using a reverse flow pivot (where you turn in to your dog as if you were going to turn around and go in the other direction, grabbing his attention and then redirecting him to #5).

Then, at #8, you need to go to the outer tunnel. If you're too far behind, does your dog send to the correct opening or does he look back and then end up in the wrong tunnel or even on the table? Drive to #8 and don't peel off to move to the next obstacle until your dog is committed to the correct tunnel.

At #9, you have to decide how to pull into #10. Do you go to the right? To the left? Keep it simple or go for a fancy move? Remember that after the turn, your dog will need to go into the correct tunnel entrance, so plan accordingly. Will a simple front cross, pulling the dog between #9 and #11, work? Try out your options here and see what works best for you.

For easier and more challenging versions of this course, click here.

Event Report: Playing Agility With Style (PAWS)
By Sandi Bixler

Spring finally arrived in New England and with it the first outdoor USDAA trial of the season hosted by Playing Agility with Style, a.k.a. PAWS, on April 27-28, 2013. The trial was held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and was the first ever USDAA trial for PAWS. Sunscreen was needed as Mother Nature cooperated giving us warm temps and sunny days.

Starter/Advanced judge Maureen Sullivan and Masters judge Lynn Sigman provided fun and challenging courses throughout the weekend. A little fun fact about Maureen: she is learning the fine art of cake decorating and brought us a delicious and beautifully decorated cake each day.

One of judge Maureen Sullivan's beautiful (and delicious) cakes! Photo by Maureen Sullivan.

We love our volunteers. They are simply the best! There was someone always ready to jump in where needed from set up to filling the chairs in the ring to break down after the last run of the trial. Thanks to everyone for helping the trial run without a hitch. Special thanks to our key workers who were in the ring for nearly every class all weekend long: Kris Dunn, John and Lisa Marcus, Nolan Ring, Diane Eagle, Steve Desilets, Dawn Kabuchko, Chris Frado, Kathy Clement and Ellen Zieski.

How could we not take advantage of the beautiful weather? After a smooth running day of agility on Saturday, the grills were lit and everyone pitched in for our pot luck picnic. Kris Dunn fired up the smoker and served up delicious BBQ beef brisket. We also feasted on chicken, grilled veggies, lots of side dishes, ending with hot apple betty and vanilla ice cream. We all ate, laughed, and talked well into the evening.

Of course the reason we were there was for agility! The dog and handler teams were awesome and many titles were earned over the weekend. Congratulations to them all:

Bunkey and Karen Lee - Agility Dog Champion
Bean and Shannon Kelly - Lifetime Achievement Award Silver
Kineo and Chris Lineberry - Starters Gambler
Hank and Barbara Hyde-Fleming - Master Agility Dog
Phoebe and Kate - Relay Master
Sport and Julie Daniels - Master Agility Dog
Zuni and Laurie Grace - Agility Dog
Snitch and Bob Aylott - Agility Dog
Rainey and Robin Goodman - Performance Dog
Sonoma and Crystal Porter - Agility Dog
Piper and Stephen McKay - Standard Agility Master
Beta and Scott Hinckley - Standard Agility Master
Roxy and Rick DeAmelio - Master Agility Dog
Jed and Sandy Cody - Advanced Snooker
Bud and Mike Nilsson - Advanced Agility Dog
Ozzie and Deb Harris - Jumpers Bronze

The PAWS Team (Valori Duff, Seth Dunn, and Sandi Bixler) says, "See everyone at our September trial!" For more photos and a course map from this trial, click here.

Sniff, Sniff: New Form of Animal Communication Discovered
By Claudia Bensimoun

Sniffing, a common behavior in dogs, cats, and other animals, has been observed to also serve as a method for rats to communicate. This is a fundamental discovery that may help scientists identify brain regions critical for interpreting communication cues and what brain malfunctions may cause some complex social disorders.

Sniffing is a specialized respiratory behavior that is essential for the acquisition of odors. No measures of sniffing among interacting animals are available. Not all sniffing is aimed at gathering scents. Some sniffing seems to be aimed at transmitting messages such as "I'm pack leader," or "Stay away."

Rats and other animals, like dogs, give off odors from their flanks, face and anogenital region. Dr. Wesson, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine found that when rats sniffed each other's flanks, their sniffing increased. By when the rats were sniffing each other's faces, their behavior depended on whether they were socially dominant or subordinate. Higher-ranking rats tended to speed up their sniffing and lower-ranked rats tended to slow down their own sniffing response. Wesson found that when subordinate rats did not decrease their sniffing, the dominant rat would pick a fight. Sniffing is a form of communication in rats, but only sniffing towards the face. Face sniffing is an incredibly vulnerable position for an animal to be in.

It would be "frankly silly" to discount the importance of smell in an animal's life, Dr.Wesson says.

Read the full article on this topic here.


Wesson, D. (2013). Sniffing Behavior Communicates Social Hierarchy Current Biology DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.012

Questions? Mail - USDAA, PO Box 850955, Richardson, TX 75085; Call - (972) 487 - 2200; Email -

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