Monthly Archives: September 2009


CR180x160_agilityThis past weekend was our first trial of the season – It rained most of Saturday which wasn’t as bad as you might think since it wasn’t as hot as it normally is for this time of year in Central Florida. On Sunday it was hot and muggy with a few showers at the end of the day. The last trial we were at was probably last April, so I was anxious to see how we would do.  My dog Sullivan is one of those dogs that slows down in the heat, making it hard  to qualify in the Florida heat.

Jackpot has always been a favorite of ours.  We always love a challenge and with Jackpot, you never know what your dog is going to do.  There are two types of Jackpot (some venues call it Gamblers or Fast) in CPE.  Traditional and non-traditional.  In traditional Jackpot, there is an opening where the object is to collect a certain amount of points (depending on your level) before the whistle blows, then send your dog through 4 obstacles (the table is the last one) in an order determined by the course and at a distance – which is marked by a tape.  The handler cannot cross this tape once the whistle blows.  The dog must complete the obstacles in order. The first obstacle is 2 points, then the next one is 4 points, then the next is 6 points and the table (paw must be on) is the 8 points and when the clock stops.  You can complete the “jackpot” and still not qualify if you did not get enough points in the opening or took too long in the closing.  Your dog can cross the tape and go in and out of the area, but you cannot.

Non-traditional Jackpot is created by the judge and each one is different than the other one!  They will involve getting points and some sort of distance handling, but that’s about all that can be said upfront.  It is very important that you attend the briefing at Jackpot since many of the “rules” are what the judge dreamed up for that trial!

At this particular trial last weekend, Saturday was a traditional Jackpot, and Sunday was non-traditional.  The non-traditional allowed you to do part of the jackpot during the opening and then when the whistle blew you had 18 seconds to finish the last two obstacles (a tunnel and table) behind a tape.  If you took any contacts or a combination jump that he had set up you got double points after the whistle – but then you could run the risk of not finishing in time – so it was really fun.  I started out with my “perfect” plan, but Sullivan had other ideas and ran her own course – had I been able to count the points in my head I would have realized that we were one point short and could have taken an extra jump (worth one point) after the whistle since we finished with 10 seconds to spare.

On our traditional Jackpot, we did really well – collected enough points and completed the jackpot with relative ease = only to find out we missed the time by less than a second! UGH!!! So we did not qualify on either run this past weekend.  It was disappointing, but on to the next one!!

This is a video of our traditional Jackpot – you can here the judge calling out the point values (there is a jump combination that was worth 5 points).  You can also hear the first whistle when we are in the weaves.  We would have not gotten any points for them even if we had finished them, so when the whistle blew, we went straight for the jackpot!

CLICK TO SEE       Our video

Our next trial is Oct. 9 & 10 and we are hoping for a little cooler weather.  My Kala will be trialing for the first time so it will be very exciting!

click here for more agility!

click here for more agility!


Place or Qualify?

When I went to my first trial, I had no idea what it meant to place or qualify in a run.  In some agility venues you have to qualify in order to get a placement ribbon.  That’s not the case in CPE.  If you place, but did not qualify, you can still get a  ribbon for 1st – 4th place if you finished the course.  If you got an NT (no time) then you would not place.

What exactly does it mean to qualify – or to Q in agility speak?  To qualify means that you completed the course under the course time and within the amount of faults allowed on that course for your level.  In CPE there are 5 levels before Championship and you must qualify in so many runs before you move up to the next level.  You can take each level separately, so you could be Level 2 in  FullHouse and Level 3 in Standard.

While a high placement is nice (love those blue ribbons!), it is more important to focus on getting your Q’s if you want to get titles.  I have seen on occasion where something doesn’t go right on the course, say the timer didn’t function and the judge feels like it would have been a Q, the judge will offer the handler either a do over or a Q without placement – most people will take the Q without the placement, because they are looking to move up to the next level.

In CPE the levels are divided into Regular (Standard), Handler Games (Colors & Wildcard), Strategy Games (Jackpot & Snooker) and Fun Games (FullHouse & Jumpers).  When you get the necessary Q’s for each category you will receive a nice certificate from CPE.   For example we are in Level 5 in FullHouse and Level 4 in Jumpers – we will not receive our certificate until we get all Level 4 Q’ for Jumpers.

Once you have completed all of the Level 5 requirements you will receive a C-ATCH (CPE Agility Team Champion) title. This is very exciting!!  At most of the trials I have been too, the C-ATCH handler is rewarded with a decorated jump bar that is signed by everyone and even a cake!

CPE Qualifying Ribbon

CPE Qualifying Ribbon

CPE Placement Ribbons

CPE Placement Ribbons

I realize that when you get started, some of the lingo can be a little intimidating.  If you don’t know what something means – just ask!  Most handlers will be more than happy to explain it to you.  Everyone started out as a beginner.  Once you go to a few trials – you too will be telling everyone how many Q’s you had that day and how many more you need to get to that next level – have fun!



This past week we had a class just on FullHouse lead by one of our agility members that has done extremely well in CPE so it was a good opportunity to come out and learn a few new strategies.  FullHouse is one of the CPE games that is fairly easy to qualify in because you get to make your own course and there are only a few rules that you have to remember.

The course is set in no particular order of obstacles.  All levels run the same course and time.  Large dogs, 16″ and over have 30 seconds to accumulate points and small dogs have 35 seconds.  At this time a whistle is blown and you have 5 seconds to get to the table (pause table) to stop the clock.  For every full second after the 5, a point is deducted from your score.  Depending on your level, you will need 19-25 points.  Specialist and Enthusiast are lower.   Jumps are worth 1 point , circles (tire, chute & tunnels) are 3 points and the joker is worth 5 points.  There are usually at least 2 jokers.  Jokers can be contact obstacle (A-frame, dog walk, teeter), weaves (usually 6 poles), double or triple jumps, or combinations.  Aside from having to accumulate a certain number of points depending on your level, you must do at least 3 jumps, 2 circles and 1 joker.  You can have 30 points, but if you only took 2 jumps, you will not qualify.  Also, the table is live at all time, so if your dog goes to the table at any time during your run, you are done.

I usually walk the course thinking of it as a regular course and try a look for a path that will flow and get points.  All obstacles can be taken twice for points and contacts can be back to back if they are performed in a safe manner, so if there is an A-frame, you can go up one way and turn around and go the other way and collect 10 points.  I usually caution beginners against doing a jump and then back jumping over the same jump, since this is not a behavior you want to encourage.  I find it is usually better to find a small circle to do 3 or 4 things for double points as this will flow better for your dog.  If you end up taking something a third time, don’t worry as this does not count against you.  If you tell your dog to take a tunnel and they pass it by, don’t try and go back and fix it, this only wastes time, go on to the next thing.  Just be sure you take another circle to make up for it.

Another nice thing about FullHouse is that you can go to the table at anytime.  Many times once I know we have the required amount of points, we just go to the table.  This will get us a qualifier, but probably won’t place very high.  It depends on what you are looking for.  The last thing you want is to have the points and end up on the other side of the field when the whistle blows and lose points for taking over 5 seconds to get to the table.  I have seen it happen many times!  Also, in CPE your dog only has to get up on the table.  They don’t have to sit or lie down or stay there for any amount of time.

FullHouse is loads of fun and once you learn the few basic rules, you will have no trouble getting lots of Qualifiers even if you did a completely different course than the one you intended!