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The Overview from USDAA
USDAA Message

By Kenneth Tatsch

USDAA President

Cynosport® 2013 is rapidly approaching, as is the start of the 2014 tournament season. Tournament rules for the 2014 season will be posted in the next couple of days. Particularly watch for rule changes in Team that have been necessitated by the additional jump heights. A new structure for team and versatility pairs tournaments is in the works for 2014 and 2015. We will be surveying competitors before the end of this year with some structure options. Also, pay particular attention to the Steeplechase and Performance Speed Jumping rules, where the combination of award classes is being discontinued to simplify the scorekeeping process. Each award class will be assured of its own winner being qualified for advancement.

Cynosport® 2013 also serves as the second of two IFCS team selection criteria. The IFCS has just announced a number of changes, which I announced tentatively in the last issue of The OVERview™. Those changes did receive approval and are included in the list of announcements below:

• An IFCS World Agility Championship (WAC) will be held annually starting in 2014
 o World Agility Championships 2014 (WAC14) will be held in the Netherlands between 7th to 11th May 2014.
 o World Agility Championships 2015 (WAC15) will be held near Milan in Italy in April - May 2015.
• The 7th IFCS World Agility Championships will be held over five (5) days between May 7-11, 2014, in the Netherlands at Manege De Spreng, Priesnitzlaan 17, 6957 DD Laag-Soeren, Netherlands. Warm-ups, check-in, and the welcome dinner will be on the 7th, with FHN special classes on the 8th, and WAC classes on Friday through Sunday. If the WAC entries are large enough, some classes may be held on the 8th along with FHN classes.
• IFCS will restrict a sportsman or sportswoman (handler) to one dog in any one height award class (i.e., 300mm class, 400mm class, 550mm class or 650mm award class).
• IFCS has increased the number of sportsman or sportswoman that a member nation can send as part of their team to 16 competitors from 12, with a maximum potential of 20, provided four are past IFCS medal winners.
• IFCS has removed the limit of three (3) competitors per award class, thus permitting more flexibility in each nation selected team members. A mixture of small and large dogs is still required for participation in the Triathlon, as in prior years.

In light of these changes, USDAA will be amending the 2014 selection criteria to address the increased number of participants. These amendments will be published before the beginning of Cynosport® 2013 in late October.

On a more solemn note, as a physical sport, there will occasionally be injuries. It is quite unfortunate when they occur, and everyone should be vigilant in watching for safety conditions. We, of course, are currently reviewing jump construction specifications and will have some new rulings in place by January 1, some of which were previously announced, and others that were withheld, pending some final study. In any case, we do not take safety for granted, nor do we take it lightly. As such, I cannot stress enough how important it is that injuries, if and when they occur, be reported to the USDAA office on the official Injury Reporting form. Learning about an injury on Facebook or other indirect communication medium does not provide us with sufficient information that enables us to adequately evaluate the conditions surrounding such injury. It is important too, to report any injury that may occur at a practice or training session, or in some cases, even other venues. Video, photos, knowing precisely the jump or obstacle construction, course design, and other information can help us evaluate exposures and causes. While some types of injuries may be the result of insufficient training or conditioning or merely a “freak accident,” as can be found in any sport of a physical nature, our goal is to identify any exposed hazards that may result in injury under foreseeable circumstances. The more complete information we have, the better we can make evaluations on specifications or other regulations.

As an administrative note on a different topic, temporary measurement cards are now being mailed to all competitors who have logged a qualifying or placement score since January 1, 2011, and who have previously received permanent cards at 16" and 22" where the actual height on record falls between 13" and 14¼" or 16½" and 17¾", respectively. Please note the following:
• For those who meet the above criteria but wish to continue competing at 16" or 22", no action is required and the new temporary card may be disregarded.
• Those who do not meet the criteria referenced above and who believe their dog may be eligible for these new categories should request a judge measure their dog and send the request for re-measurement to the USDAA office. Also, certified measuring judges will be available at Cynosport® 2013 during check-in for this purpose. Look at your confirmation for scheduled times.
• Dogs with measurements certified over 12" and less than 13", or over 16" and less than 16½" will be reissued permanent cards at the appropriate jump height category. These cards will be issued in December 2013.

The 2014 rule book is currently under revision to reflect announced changes. Watch for posts in the next few months for final rulings on jump specifications, some of which were tabled pending further technical review, and other matters.

NEAT Beginnings
By Sandy Cody

Many years ago, Jean MacKenzie in Rhode Island and Julie Daniels in New Hampshire were able to "see the future" and formed an agility club. In 1988, they registered their group with USDAA as the New England Agility Team (NEAT).

NEAT was started with a particular plan in mind. Daniels says, "When we drew up our charter, it was unanimous that NEAT would welcome all dogs, no pedigree required, and we would not ever support an organization that would not accept all dogs."

Ronnie and Cheryl Pitkin and Brenda Buja, friends of Daniels, joined the group later. Daniels had been teaching training classes at a school gymnasium in Newton, New Hampshire, and met Monica Percival (editor of agility magazine Clean Run), who also joined the group.

MacKenzie was teaching at Mt. Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, where NEAT held a "show 'n go." Daniels tells the story: "It was very cold, and snowy, and windy. Hazel and JC Thompson [who were innovators in early agility events] had driven all the way up from North Carolina. Hazel said to me 'I am wearing everything I own!' Jean and I were the judges. Tom Thompson from Connecticut was also there, as was Judy Davis. But that was in 1989, before there were recognized trials."

Daniels made the drive to Keene, New Hampshire, to give a presentation and demo to Judy Davis and her friends. They later became the Canine Agility Training Society (CATS). They were very impressed with Jessy, Daniel's Rottweiler, doing the weave poles.

A Springer Spaniel named Arrow, owned by Julie Daniels, demonstrates an early agility weave pole performance. Photo courtesy of Julie Daniels.

NEAT's first events were exciting experiences. Percival remembers, "I believe the first trial was at the [University of New Hampshire] arena.... Then our next trial was in a hotel parking lot in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We had to move the trial off the grass and onto the pavement because the grass was so muddy."

According to USDAA records, NEAT has held 26 sanctioned trials over the years. On May 18-19 in Greenland, New Hampshire, the club held its 26th USDAA trial. It was great fun to have founding member Jean MacKenzie judging in one ring, past president Maureen Sullivan judging in the other, and our other founder, Julie Daniels, turning in stellar runs. Then, adding to the history book, NEAT became the site for the presentation of the first "Spirit of Agility Award," given to Rich Dennison.

Thanks to all the competitors that have supported NEAT through the years, and thanks to Jean and Julie for having the foresight and dedication to this great sport that we share with our dogs

Has your club celebrated a milestone anniversary recently? Or are you involved in one of the clubs that started with USDAA agility in the late 80s and early 90s? If so, send us a note about it at and  we might feature your club here on!

See more photos from early NEAT events here.

Training Corner: Choices, Choices, Choices
By Deborah Davidson Harpur 

This course was a "handler request course." Students in my class told me what elements they wanted to work and I incorporated their requests into the course design. The first request was a "full speed discrimination." The second was "serpentine with a tight off course exit." The third was "a discrimination where you needed to push past an obstacle and end up on the opposite side after you took the correct obstacle." The fourth was "a tight turn off or onto a contact obstacle" and the fifth was "a tight handling sequence that was not a box."

I addressed the full speed discriminations at #3–#4 and again at #4-#5. The serpentine with a tight exit is #6-#9. The discrimination where you have to push past something and end up on the other side can be found at #9-#10. The tight turn onto a contact appears at #15-#16 and the tight handling sequence that is not a box is from #17-#20.
I chose to break the course up into sections (#1-#6/#6-#13/#14-#20) and then have them run the whole thing. I wanted to verify that the method of handling each skill was well thought out by each handler and confirm that each of them came up with multiple options to handle the same sequence.
In section one (#1-#6), the most common handling error was #3-#4. The single bar jump forced handlers to either send to the tunnel from #3 and cross to #4 with the jump to their right, or they had to run in and pass in front of it, keeping the jump to the handler's left. Most people that were experienced sent their dogs and passed behind that jump (layering it keeping it on their right), but newer people or those with Velcro-type dogs had to run in closer to the tunnel and handle with that jump on the left. Of course, I made everyone try it both ways.

How to get the dog in the tunnel and not on the dogwalk was a concern of many as they knew they were immediately turning to the left to get to the A-frame. Often they would turn early, stop short, or end up flat-footed trying to block the dogwalk. Many found the most successful way was to just keep pushing towards the fence and cueing the second tunnel very early.

To see how we handled sections two and three, and to see other courses with this same obstacle layout, click here.

Congratulations to the 2013 Eastern Canada Regional Champions!

The 2013 Eastern Canada Regional Championships were held at The Red Barn Event Centre in Barrie, Ontario. The event was hosted by Performance Dogs Canada and was judged by Tami McClung and Frank Holik. Check out some of the courses they ran here. Congratulations to the new Eastern Canada Regional Champions!

2013 Eastern Canada Regional Grand Prix of Dog Agility Champions
12"- Angie Benacquisto & Elvis 22"- Susan Garrett & Swagger
16"- Jessica Martin & Dice 26"- Louise Gaynor & Quizzer

2013 Eastern Canada Regional Performance Grand Prix Champions
8"- Barbara Bell & Sasha 16"- Dawn Fillips & Loud
12"- Mary Basu & Gus 22"- Jeremy Gerhard & Reveille

2013 Eastern Canada Regional $10,000 Steeplechase Champions
12"- Diane O'Reilly & Rauri Belle 22"- Sonja Davis & Hurricane
16"- Lynda Orton-Hill & Favor 26"- Marti McCann & Tic Tac

2013 Eastern Canada Regional Performance Speed Jumping Champions
8"- Angie Benaquisto & Duncan 16"- Dawn Fillips & Loud
12"- Mary Basu & Gus 22"- Donna Brian & Millie

2013 Eastern Canada Regional Dog Agility Masters Team Champions

Champions: Real LCBO - Chill and Tiffany Salmon, Bo and Sarah LeBlanc, & Lexus and Louise Cassleman

Also pictured: 2nd place Black and Gold - Hapi and Arlene Lehman, Rem and Don Hooper, Mochi & Linda Matsubayashi
3rd place Ready, Steady, Go - PD and Sue Bricker, Serena and Kathleen Desvigne, & Ammo and Dawn Kubichko

2013 Eastern Canada Regional Performance Versatility Pairs Champions

1 - Loud and Louder: Millie and Donna Brian/Moxie and Marshall Clark,
2 - Rev'n up Seeker: Seeker and Sheri Kaiser/Reveille and Jeremy Gerhard
3 - We Saved Latin: Gus and Mary Basu/Jus and Val Henry

See more results from this regional by clicking here. See the winners of the 2014 Central Regional here.

Canicross: The New "Secret Sauce" of Agility Training?
By Barbara Scanlan 

Have you ever wondered how those European handlers and dogs stay so fit and fast? One guess is a canine sports phenomenon that has caught fire in the United Kingdom and Europe, but has yet to catch on in the United States. It's called Canicross or CaniX in the UK.

If you haven't yet heard of it, you're not alone. It's most simply defined as running cross-country with dogs.

The handler wears a hands-free waist belt and the dog wears a pulling harness, similar to the ones sled dogs use. They're attached by means of a bungee-corded, shock-absorbing lead. Usually the running is done over natural trails.

Canicross offers a fun way to improve conditioning of both dog and handler. Because a dog in harness pulls some of the runner's weight, running feels more effortless. The signature Canicross belt saves yanking on the arms.

Because of the weight-pulling factor, a dog in a pulling harness builds strength and tires more easily. More conditioning can be accomplished with less time and distance.

Although Canicross events are few and far between in the US, the fun, festive races are booming in Europe, attracting a wide range of handlers and dogs. It's even an event at England's Crufts Dog Show.

Teams report that Canicross training can be an asset in managing and overcoming fear, aggression, distractibility, and reactivity issues. It's also being accepted as a conditioning and partnership building activity for active performance dogs.

Pulling in harness fulfills an often-underestimated need in dogs, the drive to run and pull. This integral part of the canine nature was a highly valued part of the human-dog contract for millennia. This sport can become a solution for exercise-starved pet dogs today.

You’ll need to understand some of the safety precautions and management strategies, and for an equipment cost about equal to a weekend agility trial, you'll be on your way!

Learn all about Canicross in a two-part, informative article article on Part one starts here.


Canicross offers dogs cardio-conditioning benefits combined with strength-building, harnessed pulling. Photo courtesy of Canadog (

Upcoming Events Calendar

Watch out for these events with entries closing in the coming months:
Dates Host Group Location Closing Date
09/20-09/22/2013 Happy Hounds Agility Team Prosper, TX 09/10
09/20-09/22/2013 Agility Workout Society of Mid-Michigan Waterford, MI 09/11
09/20-09/22/2013 Club-Doggie Mesa, AZ 09/11
09/21-09/22/2013 Happy Tails Agility Club Macedon, NY 09/11
09/28-09/29/2013 Lehigh Valley Dream Weaver Agility Club Barto, PA 09/11
09/26-09/29/2013 Dog Gone Fun TX College Station, TX 09/13
09/27-09/29/2013 K9 Sports of Tennessee Franklin, TN 09/13
09/28-09/29/2013 All Dogs Gym Agility Manchester, NH 09/13
10/04-10/06/2013 Panhandle Agility League Gulfport, MS 09/15
10/05-10/06/2013 Artful Dodgers Agility Group Millersville, MD 09/15
09/27-09/29/2013 Splash & Dash K9 Sports Latrobe, PA 09/16
09/27-09/29/2013 Redhot Rovers Auburn, WA 09/16
09/27-09/29/2013 Front Range Agility Club (FRAC) Brighton, CO 09/16
09/28-09/29/2013 All Dog Adventures Richmond, VA 09/16
10/04-10/06/2013 Contact Agility Club Hamden, CT 09/16
10/04-10/06/2013 All Colorado Agility Team Fountain, CO 09/18
10/04-10/06/2013 Top Notch Canines LLC Phoenix, AZ 09/20
10/05-10/06/2013 On The Run Canine Center Ham Lake, MN 09/22
10/05-10/06/2013 Columbia Agility Team Ridgefield, WA 09/22
10/04-10/06/2013 Travis Agility Group Belton, TX 09/23
10/05-10/06/2013 IncrediPAWS Columbus, OH 09/23
10/12-10/12/2013 Canine Capers Norcross, GA 09/24
10/04-10/06/2013 Think Pawsitive LLC New Berlin, WI 09/25
10/05-10/06/2013 Valley Agility Sports Team Turlock, CA 09/25
10/11-10/13/2013 BARK-NH! Manchester, NH 09/25
10/12-10/13/2013 Derby City Agility Club Lebanon Junction, KY 09/25
10/11-10/13/2013 Canine Combustion Dog Agility Club Canton, MI 09/27
10/11-10/13/2013 Club-Doggie Mesa, AZ 09/27
10/04-10/04/2013 KineticDog, LLC Barto, PA 09/29
10/11-10/13/2013 DrivenDogs Agility Camarillo, CA 09/30
10/11-10/13/2013 Agile Dogs Agility Training Stephentown, NY 09/30
10/12-10/13/2013 Las Vegas Dogs in Competitive Events (LV DICE) Boulder City, NV 09/30
10/12-10/13/2013 Just Jump It, LLC Reva, VA 09/30
10/12-10/13/2013 Haute Dawgs Dixon, CA 09/30
10/22-10/22/2013 United States Dog Agility Association, Inc. Murfreesboro, TN 09/30
10/11-10/13/2013 Arrowhead Agility Club Proctor, MN 10/01
10/12-10/13/2013 Keystone Agility Club Barto, PA 10/01
10/12-10/13/2013 DASH K9 Sports Geneva, IL 10/01
10/19-10/20/2013 Dallas Agility Working Group Denton, TX 10/01
10/12-10/13/2013 Lucky Dog Promotions Tyler, TX 10/02
10/12-10/13/2013 Four Seasons K9 Athlete Center, LLC Washingtonville, OH 10/02
10/19-10/20/2013 Saguaro Scramblers Marana, AZ 10/05
10/19-10/20/2013 Breeze Thru Agility Greenfield, MA 10/07
10/19-10/20/2013 Pawsitively Fun Dog Training Group Fort White, FL 10/07
11/01-11/03/2013 Sonlight Ranch LLC Brooksville, FL 10/09
11/01-11/03/2013 MAD CO, LLC Crozet, VA 10/13

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

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