Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday is the new Monday

...because I didn't get my CPE post in yesterday like I wanted to. Bad blogger! This is going to be a pretty cursory explanation; I know there are probably several of you who have been at this for a while and can no doubt add to or correct what I've written. Please do!! I want this to be a learning experience for all of us who are just getting started.

Anywho, I thought I'd start my "Newbie's Guide To The Agility Venues" with CPE (Canine Performance Events, Inc.) because that is the only venue that I've actually trialed in thus far. It, um, didn't go so well. Not because of anything having to do with CPE; Ian just preferred to be entertaining to actually running the course correctly. It might also have had a little bit to do with the fact that I am functionally retarded when you add an actual judge and an entry fee into the whole agility mix. I mean, a 15-foot green tunnel in the center of the course is an easy thing to miss, right? /facepalm/

My own debacles notwithstanding, I suspect CPE is perhaps the simplest and most "user-friendly" venue to start with. Membership is open to all purebred or mixed breed dogs age 15 months or older. There is a New Membership fee of $22 for one dog, $27 for two dogs, and add an additional $5 for each dog beyond that. Once you have paid the new membership fee, you do do not have to renew each year; once you have become a member, you are eligible to enter any dog you've registered. Dogs are registered for life.

Members have the option to pay an annual renewal fee of $15; renewals receive a current year rulebook and a 50% discount on adding a dog during that renewal year. New dogs are $10 for non-renewals, $5 if you have renewed. Since you can go to the website (http://www.k9cpe.com/) anytime and download a PDF of the current rulebook, yearly renewal probably doesn't make much sense unless you plan to add 2 or more dogs during that calendar year.

As of last week, there were 444 CPE agility trials scheduled for 2010, spread amongst 24 states. 78 of those are up here in New England. The entry fee runs around $14.00 per run.

Height cut-offs in CPE are a little different from most other venues, and are split into four divisions: Regular, Veterans, Enthusiast and Specialist. (I would love to show you this in table format, but I can't figure out how to make that work. Grr.)

8" and under: jumps 4" for all divisions
12" and under: jumps 8" for Regular, 4" for Veterans/Enthusiast/Specialist
16" and under: jumps 12" for Reg., 8" for Vet/Enth, 4" for Spec
20" and under: jumps 16" for Reg., 12" for Vet/Enth, 8" for Spec
24" and under: jumps 20" for Reg., 16" for Vet/Enth, 12" for Spec
Over 24": jumps 24" for Reg., 20" for Vet/Enth, 16" for Spec

Dogs under two years of age must be measured at each trial. After two years of age, they must have two official measurements, then they may receive a Permanent Height Card. In the event that the two measurements differ, there will be a third "tie-breaker," then the Height Card will be assigned.

There are four sub-titles at each level to earn before receiving the Title for that level, based on different course types that test skill, strategy, handling, and "fun." As a newbie myself, I'm only going to talk about Level 1 for now. The first subtitle is the CL1-R, which is earned by receiving two qualifying scores in the Regular (or standard) agility course. This is the typical numbered course of 12 to 16 obstacles. In CPE agility, Level 1 does NOT include weave poles or the teeter. Thus, a Level 1 Standard course will have 1 dogwalk, 1 A-frame, 1-4 tunnels (only 1 of which may be closed), 1-2 broad and/or double jumps, 1-3 tire jumps, and 3-12 bar jumps (with or without wings). Standard Course Time is based on 2-2.5 seconds per yard based on a dog that jumps 16". Therefore, dogs jumping in the 4, 8 or 12 inch height categories receive an additional 5 seconds for courses measuring under 150 yards, and an additional 10 seconds for courses over 150 yards. At Level 1, a dog can receive 10 faults and still qualify. A bar down is 5 faults, off course is 5 faults, and so on. Standard "contact rules" for contact obstacles apply.

The second sub-title is the CL1-H (Handler), which is earned by receiving one qualifying run in Colors and 1 qualifying run in Wildcard. Colors consists of two overlapping mini-courses of 8-12 obstacles each. The handler chooses one color course or the other. The two courses must overlap or cross paths at least 2-3 times, and the dog must stay the course his handler has chosen. There are no down bars allowed; dogs are allowed one off-course and one other fault before disqualifying. Wildcard consists of a modified Standard course with 10-12 numbered obstacles and 3 "Choice" obstacles. Dogs must complete two 1-point obstacles and one 2-point obstacles in addition to the numbered obstacles. When dog and handler come to the wildcard obstacles, there will be two choices: a 1-point or a 2-point, and the handler must decide which to take. A team can receive 10 faults and still qualify, but must achieve the minimum number of wildcard obstacles.

The third sub-title is the CL1-S (Strategy), which is earned by receiving one qualifying run in Snooker and one qualifying run in Jackpot. Snooker is run as a 2-part course. The first part, or opening sequence, consists of dog and handler attempting a "red" jump. If the attempt is successful, the team has earned the right to attempt a "color" jump of their choice. Different obstacles have a different point value, and the team must accumulate a minimum of 26 points to qualify. The procedure (red jump then color obstacle) repeats itself until the team has completed three reds and attempted or completed 3 colors. After that opening sequence is completed, the handler can choose colored obstacles at will to accumulate points. Point accumulation ends when an obstacle is faulted (bar down, 4-paw safety rule), when the dog goes off-course, or when the SCT ends. The timekeeper will blow their whistle, and the dog must then proceed to the pause table and touch it with at least one paw to stop the timer. Time faults apply. If the dog touches the pause table at any time during point accumulation, time immediately stops and the dog must leave the course whether they have accumulated the minimum number of points or not -- you have been Snookered. Jackpot is also run as a 2-part course. The first part consists of the team taking point-valued obstacles and accumulating at least the minimum number of point for the course. When the time whistle blows, the team can then attempt a series of "gambles." These gamble obstacles are set in an area where the dog will work but which the handler must stay outside of. The gamble obstacles must be taken in a designated order and without faults, then the dog must cross the finish line (or hit the pause table if that is being used in lieu of a finish line) to earn the gamble points, or "Jackpot."

The fourth sub-titles is the CL1-F (Fun), which is earned by one qualifying run in Jumpers and one qualifying run in Fullhouse. Jumpers is (not surprisingly) a course consisting only of jumps and tunnels. Course must be run in order with a maximum of 10 faults. Fullhouse consists of point valued obstacles, of which there need to be "three of a kind", "a pair", and a "joker". The team must score a minimum number of points within the alloted time. Time stops when the dog touches the pause table.

So there it is, the (perhaps over)simplified version of how to earn the CPE Level 1 title. For tomorrow: uh, whichever venue I study tonight.


  1. Great explanation! BTW, don't be too hard on Ian. Have you met Kris Jansen up there? She has Darwin, Ransom and Bette and does quite a bit of CPE. Sometime, ask her about Darwin's early trials and the "entertainment" factor.....

  2. I don't know her yet, but I bet I'll meet her if I start competing with Elli in the summer. And I did tell Ian that if he couldn't be good then at least be entertaining, so I guess he took it to heart. :-)

  3. If you don't meet her before, you will definitely meet her at the National. She's coming down for both herding and agility. I'll make it a point to introduce you.