a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: CPE Hang-The-Handler Rule

Monday, March 26, 2007

CPE Hang-The-Handler Rule

SUMMARY: You must tell the judge what course you're running or be penalized.

Here's a new CPE rule for 2007, one that seems to go counter to CPE's professed goal of making agility fun and encouraging Qs.

Background: The Colors class consists of two intertwined courses, of maybe 9-12 obstacles each. You pick one, state which one you're doing, and do it. The judge can design them so that they start either on the same obstacle or on different obstacles. Used to be, if they started on the same obstacle, judge or scribe or someone would ask if you forgot to say which one you were intending to do.

New rule: If you do not tell the judge which color you're doing, you get a 5-point fault. This is particularly painful if you're at Level C, where you're not allowed any faults: you could have a perfect run but NQ because you forgot to say it and no one prompted you. This weekend it was even more painful because the two courses started on completely opposite sides of the field, so there was no chance whatsoever for misunderstanding which you were intending to do.

I don't think there's anything in the rules prohibiting the judge or scribe or someone from asking what color you're intending to do, but based on how many faults were given for not stating your color, it seems to me that people are thinking that they don't dare say anything because it would be outside help. At our next trial, I'll try to remember to make sure that the ring crews for the Colors courses are prompted to help the competitors remember.

OK, have I been burned by this? Twice! I remembered for Boost this weekend, but although it was in my head when I walked out with Tika, then someone yelled something behind me and I turned around to see what it was, then Tika got distracted by a dog in the field outside the ring, then when I put her in a sit she kept standing up, and so then when I finally looked up for my first obstacle, the thought had escaped. After 11 years of agility (that's 2,366 runs, only 50 of which have been Colors, and most preceding this rule), my instincts have been trained to focus on my dog, the timer's "go when ready," and my course. It's going to take a lot of unlearning to remember to do this thing.

I did notice that the Level 1 and 2 dogs, and even at times the Level 3, were much better at remembering CPE's nonstandard rules like this and like the "go to the table to stop the clock" rules after you've already completed a Snooker course or a Jackpot gamble. And we talked about how it's because those are the only rules they've ever known; unlike the more experienced handlers, they don't have years of experience telling them how to do things--which go counter to CPE rules.


  1. What's the reason for this new rule? Were scores getting messed up because no one knew which course the handler was going to do?

    Otherwise, why fault people for not remembering to tell the scorers which course they're going to run? why don't they just indicate it when they check in and then it can go on the scribe sheet?

    I can understand it being the handler's responsibility but not when you're on the startline. If that's the only way to do it then don't design the courses so that they both start on the same jump.

    Sheesh! Sounds like AKC or NADAC or something.

  2. When CPE overreacted and banned victory laps for championships for a year or more (now they're OK under very specific instructions), apparently what happened was that the president of CPE was at a trial where some handler inadvertently bonked their dog with their championship bar while doing the victory lap.

    My guess is that someone somewhere ended up doing a different course from what the judge thought they were doing and complained about not getting a Q, and this is the overreaction.


  3. Yep, like I said, it sounds like NADAC.