In everyday life: I love meat. I love potatoes. I love cooking. I love good food (especially Filipino food).

In everyday dog agility: I love motion. I love position. I love handling. I love great teamwork.

I’m a wannabe chef. In my younger years, as I learned to cook, I understood I needed to master the basics before I could truly make a delicious meal. It took time. It took failures. It took repetition. It took consistency. I needed to learn ingredients: cuts of meat, types of vegetables/spices and their inherent qualities. I needed to learn how to slice/julienne/chop and how to saute/fry/bake.  The chefs in my family taught me mastering the basics created great food. There was no need for extravagant ingredients or special techniques in MOST great meals…because simple ingredients when combined to perfection typically created the type of meals I enjoyed most.

In my world, cooking+food and handling+results  have many parallels. In dog agility, the “basics” of a great handling must not be overlooked: position, motion, and shoulder rotations combined with consistency, smooth transitions, rewarding stellar response and impeccable timing create the types of runs that I enjoy most and more importantly my dogs enjoy most. Keeping things simple and knowing when there are specific circumstances that you’ll have to pull out your “special ingredient” (handling cue)…that’s my style.

This past weekend while walking an AKC Novice JWW course for Tackle, our youngest Golden Retriever, I noticed a variety of handling being rehearsed that seemed “beyond the basics.” What I saw as a simple decels and shoulder rotations was replaced by something much more complex. In my mind, simple course, with simple lines for my dogs equals a simple approach.

A few fellow competitors and I chatted about our various approaches and I never wavered from my “Meat and Potatoes” handling. Don’t over-complicate…just execute and perfect the core elements to handling. In due time and when ready as a handler + canine team, I understand I can expand my “pantry” of ingredients.

Here’s that same Novice JWW course and a quick breakdown with Tackle’s “recipe for success” on this particular course.


Meat and Potatoes. Perfect the core elements: Position, Motion, Shoulder Rotations combined with Consistency, TransitionsTiming, and Rewarding are the recipe for success in this sport. Don’t overlook them.

Now I’m hungry…with that said, here’s one of my favorite Meat and Potatoes Filipino Recipes: Beef Mechado.