This is an open invitation to join our league. While it’s late to actually compete in the inaugural league, the final course of that league (July) would be a good way to introduce in your agility center, and be ready to roll with the Summer League (rules and stipulations to be released by the end of July).
I’m having a great time with play in the National Dog Agility League (NDAL). Our first official season is clearly being dominated by Team Canada. But don’t you know, somebody’s got to win, and they play a pretty rough and rugged game up there.
However, I understand that Nancy Gyes and Power Paws will be joining in league play. So Team Canada will have competition. This is going to be fun to watch. [We encourage YouTube recording of NDAL runs. So indeed, we get to watch.]
What Makes NDAL Distinct?
One of the real differences between play in the National Dog Agility League and any of the agility organizations that demand mastery of the sport (USDAA, AKC, FCI) is that every single error doesn’t have fatal consequence. Think about it, in AKC Excellent if the dog makes any error the dog and handler are eliminated and dismissed ignominiously. It’s not enough to deny the Q. The score is scratched as though it never even existed.
In the NDAL we’ve adopted a system that provides a granularity of scoring so that a performance can be measured against the field of players. For example, a dog might miss a contact. Under our rules he has earned 5 faults. And this might very well place that dog in the upper 7% of dogs who competed. And so the performance is honored and celebrated, rather than dismissed.
Small but Happy
We’re looking to grow the National Dog Agility League. The long-term view is that we’ll have a national championship tournament that features the top 64 teams (kind of like the NCAA basketball tournament). Well, we won’t have to worry about that for awhile as we are a long way from having a field of 64 teams. Right now we’ll content ourselves with being small, but happy.
The only source of income is in recording fees which is, precisely, $1 per run. I’m happy to say that we have enough of a small income that I can apply those funds to a small Clean Run ad each month. Perhaps we’ll be able to attract a few new clubs and continue to grow.
An International Flavor
The spring league certainly has had a strong international flavor. That means that each course was a tough riddle featuring challenges that would daunt the timid. Below I will share each of those courses with you.
I really love the problem solving that goes into these course. I suppose I love USDAA Masters Challenge courses for the same reason, though I’ve learned (the hard way) that the traditional “8 minute walk-through” really isn’t enough time to solve. I like the idea of publishing a course well in advance so that the competitor can pour over the course map and develop a plan that has the highest probability of success.
May NDAL Course
Steve Schwarz asked me for a critique of his design effort kind of early on. But I declined to do so. I don’t really want to constrain or even influence the approach we take to course design in the NDAL. It is what it is.
I’m happy to share my review comments now. I’ll start with a couple of warning flags:
- The course is a bit bottom heavy. You’ll note that 2/3ds of the obstacle performances are on the lower1/3d of the field.
- The transitions between some of the obstacles are very short. When combined with the technical challenges of the course, there’s not a lot of opportunity for a dog to be working in full extension.
“Warning flags” aside, the course turned out to be a fine romp. The course probably favors quick little dogs with tight turning skills.
You can still run this course and add your dog’s scores to the historical record of the course, though it’s now too late to submit league scores for the course. Download the May 2015 scorekeeping worksheet.
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I will review the June NDAL courses tomorrow.
Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.