03 March 2015

The goats, they mock me. Welcome to my unmotion based handling system.


The saddest insult so far was to hobble all the way down the path at an excruciatingly slowest ever pace, just to be waylaid by 450 bleating goats upon arriving at the other side of the field. My walking speed is now 1mph, a personal best verified by an app, which equates to, yes, 1 hour to walk the loop around the bluff that used to be a few minutes of jog dash walk run. If I wanted, my app could upload this speed into a cloud and I'd online race with anonymous others on the internet. But I'm not agonna do that. Right? Because nobody else is that freaking SLOW, for goshsakes, and now there's goats here. All that shuffling along, and then the field's full of creep faced, serial killer eyed goats as far as you can see.

The goats are there to eat the brush which in turn will be scraped into dust by a backhoe to become the new parking lot to get ready for the new construction of the all the new buildings. So that makes the goats that much worse. They're not just goats. They're the beginning of a paved paradise for a parking lot ending.

Knee surgery could totally be teaching me lessons in patience and persistence and change. We must learn to bend and flex like the bamboo, grasshopper, not sit around and whine like a drunk lady in soiled trousers under the pier. Like I am lucky to even have a knee, right? Some people don't get to keep 'em. They lop em out and the de-kneed walk on stumps and the fact that mine is still in there is an effing gratitude. Righty-o, cranky pants? I am all about healthy eating of greens and best use of anti-inflammatories and tumeric. Everybody keeps telling me about the tumeric. Did you eat the tumeric? As if an expensive root is going to fix this situation. But I'll gag it down, mashed up in my tofu. And excellence of dog training. Are you creatively coming up with conniving ways to exercise the crafty mind of a young border collie who is used to galloping several miles a day up, over, and through steep forest terrain? How good are those circus dog tricks looking?

Instead, I've learned that if the rotten teethed meth people are blocking the entrance to the park, their beater Suburban overflowing with damaged goods, do not hobble by them. Same when you turn the corner down by the pond and the homeless guys and accompanying pitbulls tethered on various short pieces of twine are gathered together, having a smoke. Do not hobble by them. Always in the past, I knew that if it came down to it, I could run really fast and the dogs would run and if something shady is about to go down, off we go. Or perhaps a ranger who would be directing me to get the hell out of where I am. But now, 1 mph looks really different from where I'm standing and I defer to the meth people and the pitbull dudes and we go looking for somewhere else to walk.

Dog agility, can happen, sort of. Not really. Not how we ever used to know it. My border collie has been learning weave poles and her running dogwalk while I am posted in a stationary position. Unmotion based handling system. To do a few runs across the dogwalk, which by runs I mean only her, while I stand perfectly still and I send her across the field to a tunnel. This new skill of a go on to a tunnel nearly 30 meters away will surely bite me in the ass at a later date, but for now it's a nifty party trick that gets her on the dogwalk. I throw a toy, she brings it back, but there is mostly the moving of many equipments hither and tither. The dirty, hidden side of dog agility. The dragging and the carrying. I never really noticed how much I drag stuff around before. At the rate of 1 tunnel bag per hour, a tunnel moved into a new position is an all day project.

There are videos on the internet of a handler standing stock still in the middle of a field while their border collie speeds around a tricky course on 100% verbal cues and subtle licks of a lip or a finger brushing the air. Right, it will be so great for your distance skills! I will tell you right now, my dogs like me to run. At the very least, for me to move faster than a sad little sand turtle about to be plucked off by a turtle bird.

You know who always wins that one? The turtle bird. Every time.

The grocery store, the pet store, these places that used to be quick stops, now an plodding, toiling exercise in gritted teeth and strong determination that just 3 more steps makes it across the parking lot. How did a bag of blueberries and string cheese get so goddamn heavy? I look around and it's me and the grandma types, us in our sturdy shoes with questionable walking skills and now I get it. I am one of them! I am their people now, us in our sweat pants and kind, supportive yet very ugly sandals, slowly just trying to get something done.

The next slow grandma type I see, I give her the celebrity nod. I read this in Interview magazine once, it's how celebrities give each other knowing glances when they see their kin across the crowded brunch room at the Chateau Marmont. You go sort of squinty eyed and slowly drop your chin. Make the eye contact from all the way on the edge of your eye. I use it on the next limping, gray haired lady, in pullup denim slacks and Birkentocks. She averts her eyes. I am that grotesque.

Health and well being. Just an ice pack away.

I have cerveza and fresh tangerine juice. Oxycontin and the cute little tylenol/codeine mashup one. A Costco sized jar of advils. Hand made hard apple cider caramels. Vintage fantagraphics comics and netflix documentaries about African mountain gorillas. I can't get enough of mountain gorillas. I have lap sitting dog and a comedian dog and an unexercised dog who has now chased both trucks and helicopters far, far away. But on the bright side, did not die! The senior citizen dog averts her eyes when I hobble by, she slowly climbs up into her chair. This is as good as it gets.

Dog agility pals, if the surgeries haven't happened to you, they very well might one day. Who woulda thunk it would ever be me in the crutches and knee brace crowd, me be the one with a business gone down the shitter, discussing arthritis meds and coupons. I wasn't even sure I was a grown up, and then I got upgraded all the way to senior citizen with one chop of the hatchet.

Eat your glucosamines, do your yoga. Be happy you even got legs. Your dogs are going to be just fine, they'll probably live without that massage. Just when you thought everything was going to be fine, it might not be. So buck up and deal with it. Or not. Today's cheery thoughts brought to you by: https://dogagilityblogevents.wordpress.com/health/

19 February 2015

Doing the things that used to be tiny little things that were so small you could fit a hundred in your pocket.

Here is something that never seemed like a monumental thing before. Worthy of an Oscar. And a gift bag. Somebody for sure watching this should have appeared with a gift bag. Or a decorative plant in a tasteful and reusable pot.

Just for doing things that before were little tiny things the size of nubbins and used just a minute in a day and now should be a prize winning thing of notice and grandeur and scale of one of those ice cream sundaes built in a trough the size of 10 backhoes dragging along the lifeless carcasses of long extinct hairy elephants.

But here is the deal. If you are an older lady, because now this is what it's come to, and you limp along sadly in your sweatpants, with a ratty old crutch wedged under your armpit and moving about half the speed of the slowest end of everybody else's non-winning time, you are automatically rendered invisible. Even if you figured out how to take a shower without getting your leg wet thanks to copious amounts of Saran Wrap and you brushed your hair. And teeth! Don't matter none because you just went invisible and even if you have enough rendering for some people to see a transparent outline, they will avert their eyes.

Try it sometime, agility ladies. It's a little bit creepy. Maybe this has already happened to you, except, I didn't notice. The thing that one of my so-called good friends from the nineties used to say, like he said this all the time, "Nobody Actually Cares About You," is fully in effect. You are on your own. You are no longer relevant.

And blog comments that mention using a walker are actually chilling amd cause squinty eyes staring at them and the sending of very unpleasant vibes up the wifi and into the cloud. Iam working here with a vintage crutch rescued out of a garage from behind paint cans and dog food bags. Walker my ass.

So off you go.

Here is what I didn't get an Emmy for. Not invited to the Golden Globes for. Even as a table filler for the saddest D-list table in the back. It may not sound like a lot. But you are welcome to gasp and wonder if you should try to purchase the movie rights to the story now, rather than later.

Put leashes on the dogs.
Get them in the car.
Which is located in the driveway.
Which is down 4 steps from the back door.
Get in the car.
Drive it to the field.
Get out of the car.
Unload dogs. Have 2 on leashes and sort of send the others freely on their way.
Unclip Banksy. Not Otterpop. She's the bodyguard.
Walk with the dogs approximately .2 miles. Maybe not even .2. Just to the middle path and down this a ways before turning back around.
Produce tennis ball from pocket. Unclip Otterpop.
Have all dogs behave brilliantly.
Except for an incident involving a wayward pug asking the bodyguard dog for an autograph.
That won't happen again. Sorry pug.
Clip Otterpop back on her leash.
Come back to the start. Where normally there would have been a loop. Loop! Ha. Funnyish.
Put the leashes back on most of them.
Re-load all dogs into the car.
Get in the car.
Drive to the store. The one with tiny shopping carts. The tinier the shopping cart the more expensive the store.
Get out of the car.
Get a little shopping cart. Slowly push around store. With all the new people in the store. Who knew this world existed of fancy store shoppers in the middle of the day?
Fill with expensive items. Even though you are not working thus not making money. $8 strawberries? RIGHT ON!
$52.68 of tiny cart right on. Pain killers make grocery shopping sparkly and fabulous.
Push cart to car. Lift tiny bag into car. Push cart back for next fancy shopper.
Get in car.
Drive home.
Get out of car.
Unload dogs.

Knee surgery basically sucks. 

Wait. Did I even get the tiny bag of groceries back in the house? Eventually. Eventually drug that massive badboy of a navy blue reusable grocery bag up the driveway and up the 4 stairs and into the kitchen. Then it's like, who can even eat this stuff? Back on the couch more ice more pills more ice more pills. 

A bright note is we have started one year old dog 2x2 weave training! This is possible to do without really moving. And all the dogs are proving to be perfect, helpful good dogs. It's actually a little bit curious. They all could have easily mutinied or jumped ship. All are hanging in there and walking very slowly as needed. The unbright note is knee puffs up again more ice more pills more ice more pills sit back down on the couch.

The next monumental thing is going back to work. This is a bit laughable, given my line of work, but it is what it is and this is where you'll now find me.

In case I'm the big winner. I'm totally ready for my prize.

17 February 2015

Patience.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnn0vpB1lP0

Banksy is learning a lesson this week called Patience. Patience, patience, patience. Patience.

15 February 2015

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, kind of tardy.

Because this is how it is in 2015 we celebrated a happy Friday the Thirteenth. This is how you celebrate that fine holiday as in The last thing I remember is a tall, pasty skinned man with a long name in a flat paper hat putting the oxygen mask over my mouth with the chatty nurse holding me down and unexplained mutton chop guy staring at me. Hipster fella in scrubs kept telling me it would all be fine. All be fine. An oxygen mask coming in for landing in slow motion until it settled over my face and they are still insisting everything would be fine. Over and over. Like they were all in the same cult and inviting me to their party.

It'll be fine.

Don't freak out.

Then I woke up and a lady was shooting me up with pain killers and rattling on about that shit they pulled out of my knee was chunks of bone the size of big fat grapes. She didn't say it like that. I did.

Muthatruckin' knee surgery my friends. Welcome to the future. You pay up front and they send you home with a little bag of ice and complimentary socks that I'll never wear again except I paid a lot for those socks so I took 'em. Wore them right out the door. Where my Otterpop was waiting for me.

Say what you will about Otterpop. Not my shining glory of dog training. She does not want you to touch her and sure as hell doesnt want to say hi to yer goddamn labradoodle. But I will tell you this. We brought her along to knee surgery and she slept in the car during the procedure. I knew right where she was, just on the other side of the surgery wall where I was laying all humiliating hospital gown and cafeteria lady head piece on a skinny cot asking for more pain meds. She saw the nurse load me out of a wheelchair into the car seat in a floppy, slow moving pile. And that dog has not and will not leave my side since. There no walks for her. No hanging out anywhere other than exactly next to me so that we are always touching. I finally had to force her to to go outside to pee, otherwise she was planning on holding it forever. Every excrutiating, slow motion trip I make somewhere across my tiny house she moves along, too. That is one loyal companion sidekick thug for life. For a side of the road, sick joke of sub standard chihuahua and cattle dog genes with bad knees herself, I have one constant for better and for worse companion that I know is going to be there for me, twentyfourseven.

Now I float along in a foggy sunshine of painkillers and ice. I'm strapped on to a borrowed motorized icewater cooler with a blue rubber hose that velcros around my knee, propped up on to a dog haired couch pillow with holes in it exactly the size of Banksy's teeth.

Banksy has gone on holiday to Camp Auntie Wendy's house. She has taken over Kicks!'s little outdoor cot and I guess is pretty much playing nice except for a snarky incident with the boyfriend's lab and some howling. The howling is a thing. A little sad face text comes along with the news of howling Banksy who misses me. I may be an evil witch but she misses the evil witch enough to keep everybody awake at night with her very sad Joni Mitchell coyote song.

I have 2 little nurses that share the couch. Actually a loveseat. We all fit, arranged exactly so. One little dog on each side. Gustavo enjoys his pillows. Ruby is just Ruby. She already lives in a foggy mist most of her days, just doing her thing and announcing the next meal by running around in circles and bumping into things. She is like having a crazy nurse who whines. Gary is the best husband nurse ever and now takes care of all of us, feeding me kale juice and high end chocolates from a little box tied with red satin ribbon. And goddamn, my otterpop. Glued on to me just like my ice machine. And she never drips.

In the near future, crutches and the hope of some weight bearing in a few days. The far future, back to some running after months of painfully slow rehab. Much slow and careful and everything taking a long, long time, for a long time. Beyond that, more knee surgery as those big chunks of bone all came from my disintegrating knee cap. Not much of it left. Go figure. I would say to you, if your knee hurts now, bones can vanish within your skin, and this is something I don't wish on anybody.

It's an agility cliche. The older lady in the knee brace, pointing at stuff while the border collie runs around and does as much as she can without spinning out. Not who I thought I would ever be. Not my preferred way of handling but perhaps what's coming for me. Banksy will come home in a couple days when I'm ready for a speedy blur dashing through the house again. Forest walks and the beach and walking down to the pond remain elusive, we aren't quite sure how this is going to work. Work itself, running a business which involves 1100 lb animals, another problem. These are things not quite yet figured out, but there has to be a way. Right?

For now, it's me and Otterpop and a stack of pillows and the couch and my good friend ipad. I might not remember what I just said, but I have half a bottle of tiny white pills and a raymond pettibon sonic youth and nirvana show flyer that make everything seem a-ok.

08 February 2015

Banksy is one year old.


Banksy is my only dog with a birthday. She's the only one with an astrology, she gets Aquarius. All the Aquarians I know don't believe in astrology. Or chew up dog beds. Banksy is one year old and she will never, ever, ever chew up another dog bed again. Maybe.

I'm not one of those dog cupcake maker party havers. If we're lucky, the rain will stop for her birthday and we might get to practice some running dogwalks. Have a walk. Work on things that you can work on with a handler who can only hobble. Something Banksy did not ask for on her birthday was an agility trainer who currently can barely walk. But luckily who can walk enough to drag some jumps and a little board out to a field in the rain and still work on some jump skills and her alt-move, 2o2o.


Banksy is a weirdo. She stares at blowers and pieces of dust. She has extremely strong preferences about fur brushing and fingernail grinding and being touched by human hands. She hates getting in the car when the fun is over. She is super quiet 99% of the time EXCEPT when there is agility happening and then she is an over the top screamer freak and sounds like Cujo in her crate. Her toy control skillz suck. She can turn her eyeballs into laser beam Crazy Xray Eyes and totally freak you out by staring right through you. Burn right through your clothes. Some intense shit, those crazy eyes.

She is also amazing. Her spirit animals are Tina Fey, Kim Gordon, Carrie Brownstein, Kim Deal and the artist known as Banksy. She is super sweet and super smart and super funny and super beautiful and likes to stir shit up. She carries around a frisbee that she custom chewed through the middle on and wears it over her head like a hat. She's a religious zealot who worships feverishly at the cult of Tennis Ball. She has a PhD in everything. She eats SO MUCH FOOD and stays oh so skinny.


We were over at an illegal grassy lawn this morning doing some training stuff on some stairs by the building there, and cik/caps around the fire hydrant. And stays. My god do we work on the stays. Nobody is supposed to have dogs on that field but it was Sunday and it was raining and no cops gonna come out there on Sunday morning in the rain. And this car pulled up and unloaded 3 giant poodles and their tennis ball. And another car pulled up and unloaded 2 labs and their tennis ball and they all went to town on the ball and chasing each other and running mayhem fiasco through our little training session.

And Banksy, she looks at those dogs and she looks at their tennis balls and she goes back up to the top of the stairs because she's all, screw that. She's all about 2o2offing on the stairs and then we are tugging and she is all business, this Banksy lady. She is doing her thing and the poodles are all, HOLA and the labs are all HOLA and Banksy is one big work ethic. She has selected agility as her Major and her dissertation is titled Do the Agility All the Time Even Faster.

She'll take a break for flopping around with Ruby. Or watching Gary do the laundry. Or barking at a stump with Gustavo. Or moving tennis balls with Otterpop and their joint psychic brain waves. Weirdos. Or laying under my chair. Banksy likes to be where she can see me. I may be an Evil Witch, but I am definitely HER evil witch. I'm growing on her. She lets me scritch her chest now and sometimes gives me kisses.

Happy Birthday Banksy. We sure are lucky to have you.

05 February 2015

Otterpop has some words of wisdom for you. For ye. Olde skool wordz for ye.


Security breaches in this day and age are unavoidable. If you have been breached, and you have, you probably need an Otterpop to do some good old fashioned kicking of thee ass. Buttock regions. Kicking of thee buttock regions to regain thee olde tennis ballz. Hard ballz.


Here is who else who will have thee ass regionals kicked. Anyone who says, and is quoted say-ING, "the sellers had perfect taste, parallel to our own" in reference to buying a gentrified f*&king condo where artists used to live and now is some douchebag that says stuff like that buying a million dollar "Loft". Hells bells. Hold on to yer balls. You know who buys shit like this? For millions dollars? Ha. Ha. Ha.


Drone users. Throw tennis balls at the drones. ALL THE TENNIS BALLS EVEN IF THERE ARE ZERO LEFT FOR OTTERPOP. This is war. Retaliation of the War on the creative class! War of the cultural no class! Otterpop may not have any class but she has a tennis ball.  She knows her rights, man. That song about some douchebag being a piano man will bring a tear to her eye except there are no more piano mans. Right? They got kicked out of their damn lofts to make a condo that made a loft. Then their identity got stolen and where are they now? In the navy if they're named Davy? In the YMCA? DO NOT USE HUES TO ENHANCE YOUR HOME! LOVE THIS DEAL? ARE YOU F%$KING KIDDING OTTERPOP?


Otterpop would only sing along with Billy Joel under duress because it plays on the f#@king corporate space radio. Which is a trick. Otterpop isn't listening anymore and she can't see you. She will now get in the dog crate. And good night.

04 February 2015

Standing still, quietly, and being exactly the same.


We are up here on the mountain top, where the wind sounds different. It's loud when it catches on the oaks. We can sit here and wait for the weather to come in. It's not a bad way to pass the time.


The oaks have been here longer than anyone. I'm not sure how you guess their age. They cling to these hills, holding on tight because it's all they know. Holding on tight even when part of them comes crashing down to slowly rot on the hillside. It happens. The wind gets big enough one night, the drought made it sick, the rain got too wet. But mostly they hang on.


Gustavo's the only dog that chases deer now, and he comes back pretty quick. The deer out here look different, and they travel in singles. Ruby is a miracle, walking along with us every time. A long time ago in these hills, she got kicked by a deer, flung up onto the side of the hill after a small dog ambush on a trio of deer, and her ribs hurt for weeks. This time, Gustavo's come up limping, after he ran all the way down to the creek. The deer, long gone. From high up on the hill, we could see her jump down the cliff and across the creek and up the other side of the mountain. Gustavo came back in, holding up his sore foot.


Banksy does't much care about deer. Because there are birds. She'll chase a buzzard for miles, tracking it in the air. We can see her off in the distance, and then she comes back in if we whistle loud enough. We let her do it. Not always a chance for her to let her hair out and run like she was born to.


She was born to run these hills. Although most of the time she does it with a ball in her mouth, carried gently and everywhere like her baby. Only abandoned when the flock of vultures heads back in and flies low for a minute. Ball baby is dropped like a sick potato and she's off across the terrain. It's something to watch her run. How she finds the ball again is just plain weird.


And how she never tires, even weirder. Border collies are freaks of nature.


Some of us can barely make it to the creek. But I do, and I've tied Otterpop on to me so I have company. My bones are as old as an oak, I guess and both my legs are not wanting to make it to their next birthday. This throws a wrinkle in a lot of plans. Shit happens. But one foot in front of the other, I can still make it a few miles. It just takes a long really time. An ice age to walk to the pond. A global warming event. But I can do it. The knee gets operated on in a few weeks. Maybe they make it good as new. The other leg has it's new bionic attachment. For now I take shuffly little steps and the dogs humor me and stick pretty close.


Banksy doesn't mind. For every mile I walk, she runs maybe 12. If we could stay up here in the hills all the time, she wouldn't care how slow I moved.


She also has Gary. Boy, does Banksy love Gary. She doesn't listen to him, and she knows exactly how to get him to throw the ball. It's my chair she picks to sleep under, and it's my whistle she comes in to. But wow, does she love Gary.


I'm not sure why we don't live here all the time. Oh yeah, actually I do. There's no jobs and the land here isn't cheap, there are grapes just up the valley. Costs loads to bring up the electric and do the grading and money, it don't grow on trees. Only grape vines. You can't pick up and build a teensy cabin with giant windows on a mountain top just because that's what you want. You can't always get what you want, you know? Things, they change so slow up here, up here on the mountain. Down in the tiny, little town. Maybe that's the thing we want, just as much as the big windows and big spaces and the mist blowing up the valley. Nothing to be different, every tree in it's place. Every single leaf that blows off, a new one grows exactly where the wind ripped off the one before it. Nothing to say goodbye to up here, so far. Nothing, and everything. Couldn't this be the one place where that's stuck, year after year? That's a real thing, right? Standing still, quietly, and being exactly the same.

29 January 2015

Team Small Dog's way of just sayin' hola.


Well, good morning. Have you remembered to focus on what you DO have today, and eaten enough dark leafy greens? Did you just say not to the donut and shove a handful of glucosamine tabs down your swallow? Slather your skin with horse lotion, strap on a prosthetic device then send the dogs for a run around a wet field? Wet from the dew, not rain, as the drought has come home and there are toxic pollens and mushrooms floating around in the breeze.


Charlie Hebdo has come and gone. Banksy is still a girl. Take the time to review a load of criminal cases, reading every section carefully and mindfully. Then load on a disco playlist and just try not to dance. I dare you. Even when the rave music comes on and you didn't bring a lightstick. There's no beat when the rave music starts. You're supposed to just follow along. Don't make any noise because the dogs are still asleep. All of them.


I went to home depot and bought a roll of fake grass. The old skool kind, cheap astroturf made in China, near the river colored red with thick toxic goo. I went to bed early and I got up early. I saw that Sly Stone was living in a van. I watched a documentary about sink holes. About how they form deep underneath in the limestone. They soak up all the water, through every single crack and fissure. They start with a little hole and they start sucking in the dirt above. Especially the clay. They suck it down and from up above, you would never ever know this. And then one day, every single thing above the hole gets sucked down in and they never recovered the body or the bed it was sleeping in. And a bulldozer comes and tears down the structure and a fence is erected and it stays like that forever. Everybody moves on, and goes somewhere new. Good morning!

19 January 2015

Father John Misty sings the song of running dogwalks.


Father John Misty started off his latest tour playing a show in a humble redwood hall at our little local steam train station the other night. Whether you think he's an artist deconstructing hipsterism from the performative position of a 30-something shamanic, white guy indie rocker, or just a douchebag, depends on how you look at things.

I like Father John Misty. I always like to look at things by tearing them up at the seams a little bit, and always trying to peek backstage. This is what artists are supposed to do. Even from a little redwood hall up in the mountains.

Backstage at that show was a cold patio, where you could hear a lot of frogs. That was it. There was nothing there. The band stood outside in the cold, having a smoke, because there's always a backstage. Even if there isn't. I spent the show leaning against the wall, just next to the door to the frog patio.


I laid down in an MRI tube recently. Have you ever done this? It's pretty awesome. A big plastic donut with a giant GE logo floating over your head. Something about protons and magnetic radio waves, courtesy of GENERAL ELECTRIC. That giant, happy, scripty logo beaming down at your skull. You're strapped in and for 30 minutes you hear these amazing sounds from the protons and the magnets and they bounce around and take a 3-D picture of somewhere in your body. It's mindblowing and soothing at the same time, like LCD Soundsystem stripped down to just James Murphy and a little tin bucket, trapped inside a white plastic spaceship that shrinks you down to the size of a Monsanto and flies you away into an atom.


These are the sounds I hear when I slow-mo our running dogwalk homeworks. Banksy runs like the wind with her legs driving for her ball, and the sound detritus on the movies I make for Silvia are like nothing else. Demonic and rhythmical all at once. I could listen to these movies, and watch them all day long. Turning the little switch and slowing down the time. If you slowed down the loungey voice of Father John Misty, at one of his most diva moments, I think it would make the best soundtrack to running dogwalk videos, and you could slow down his dancing and play it over the dogwalk planks.


I had a dream that Banksy, the person, not Banksy the puppy, was a short, older lady with red Sally Jesse Raphael glasses hanging off her neck on a beaded chain. I wasn't supposed to discover this, but one of my friends was one of her people and I stumbled onto the secret of who was Banksy. Me and Banksy, the puppy, not the person, are just now learning who each other are, and how to mold ourselves into agility partners. I think she likes doing agility with me exactly as much as I like doing it with her. It's going to take a long time to have perfect togetherness, the kind of connection that Father John Misty croons how you both hate all the same things. There's a lot of ups and downs, and there's never enough time to do everything, and there's no time for anything other than her, and we have a long, magnificent trip ahead of us.

We could train together all day, me and her, if only time was more on our side.


If we're not practicing at Kathleen's field, Banksy wishes we could run together in the forest for hours, not just 45 minutes. That when we take the tennis ball out to the bluffs to work on Waits while we're walking, I wouldn't have to send her off into the bush so much to sniff things and collect mud for her fur, because we would have all day out there in the dew. She likes it after practice, we go with our friends for a little loop in the forest, which happens to be on the same land as the steam train, just above the little redwood hall with the crappy sound system and beer in plastic cups, the last place you'd ever expect L.A. rockdivas to show up on a Friday night. Loads of border collies and not border collies run up and down the banks. Although I think she wants to head back up the field straight after and have some more goes on the dogwalk planks.


Banksy will turn one year old next month. Ready for more training! Weave poles will start and moving up the jump heights will start and we'll get going on that teeter totter again and the dogwalk will start turns and we'll add an a-frame in and the sequences will get even harder.

The only glitch is, the MRI says I have a knee surgery right after her birthday. It's a bit of a stop gap, to suck out a bunch of bone chips that are floating around in the joint. All my bones turned really old this year, far older than me, and it's gotten very hard to run and walk. It hurts. Hopefully this helps me get a little more life out of that knee. Before they fill me with bionics. My future is to become a cyborg, a rattling robot with metallic joints.

So there will be crutches and no walking. No running once there is walking. No running fast once there is running. Then the hope is, one day some fast running again. I haven' t yet explained this to Banksy. I'm trying to look at it a little bit more upside down and sideways, there are far worse things in life than surgeries on one's knees. Months aren't all that long. Didn't I have a tiny little puppy just a month or two ago? Silvia says I can keep training her dogwalk from a couch. Banksy the artist probably has loads of help climbing up walls, especially if he is a short, blonde lady with ugly glasses.

And Father John Misty would probably laugh at the irony, of such a fine, first world "problem". And he would use big ass airquotes, taller than a full size dogwalk. I'm making some of them now, high above my head. Maybe you can see my arms waving from google maps on your phone. Then he'd snort a line of horse antihistimine off of a raggedy old frisbee, and move on to better venues.


11 January 2015

Morgan Hill USDAA, Jan 2015


Morgan Hill is where Cynosports was this year. Sometimes we have trials there, at the roping arena. It's a good place. Not too far away, lots of space with a roof, and the dogs can sit in the car in the breeze. Mt. Madonna's on the way home for a nice steep walk up the oak tree hill to the redwoods.

There's Otterpop on  Smarty the Plastic Ropin' Cow. You can visit the real ones out back. Banksy is very just say no to cows.


Gustavo ran real good. Not perfect. Plenty fast. Some Q's, some runs with 5 faults. All teeter totters all the time, albeit one with a flyoff. He was super into perky little startline stays, and walking to the line without his leash on. And running right to me at the end of the run to get his leash on. Those are new ones. He's become kind of easy these days.


Not that there wasn't one run like this. But it cracked me up. So I needed to see it. It's just so Gustavo. This is the one with the teeter flyoff. It's cool. If he goes up it, I'm good.

Banksy was like a trained dog. She was able to keep it together near the agility. Holy smokes! She could hang out ringside during Starters classes while the little dogs were running, and within reasonable distance of the Masters rings with border collies and tervs running. Oh the barking of the tervs! We worked on 2 skills that I think will be useful - tugging while I'm standing up, and laying quietly while I sat in a chair. I was impressed.

I was way too afraid to ever let her off her leash, though. A work in progress. But it was very exciting to have 100% Zero of Apeshits and the ability to walk around, like we just walk around dog agility all the time, calmly on a leash. Or with a tuggy in the mouth.

Also there was some cake.

OK, and also I mucked up my biathalon Q at the second to the last jump. Life goes on! Banksy laying in the dirt quietly! And a hike at the end of the day. Not a bad weekend at all.

08 January 2015

Banksy is 11 months old.


Let me tell you an important skill Banksy's learning, maybe the one I'm most proud of right now.
Called: Laying Quietly on the Deck at Work while Horse are in the Arena Cantering and Jumping. Attached to a longline for just in case.

We have been working hard on this, called the patience. Having the patience. Having the Patience! Even when things are moving really fast. Patience happens at home too. You lay on that boring rug in the kitchen and you don't stare at dust and you don't get up and you just lay there til it's time to not lay there.

It's really not that bad. Patience.

There is more and more falling asleep by my feet on a quiet evening in the house. There's a clear understanding now of what is contraband of dog chewing.

There have been some personality conflicts and pushing of boundaries, and I have had to SHUT SOME OF THAT SHIT DOWN. I will say that, sometimes now, Otterpop has to be on a leash attached to me in the house, a leash which I like to call the happy good energy string of excellent vibes and white light, and when she is on that string, all dogs in the house have lovely and harmonious namaste together.

Yeah. Otterpop hates that hippie shit. Tough luck, Otterpop. We are training this puppy right. No bad karma.


There is the tennis ball brain. Tennis balls are kind of like OK WOW BRAIN OF WHAAATT?? for Banksy, so when we can work through tennis ball, right on. Otterpop and Banksy are sisters of the tennis ball, that's for sure. They have a little routine that is weird but they use cooperation and even if it means Banksy retrieves tennis balls to Otterpop when we're at the beach, I'll take it.


Every day, there has to be these things between Banksy and the Evil Witch:

Some brushing of the magnificentageddon fur explosion of magnificence. Because whoa. The hair.

There is some nail dremelling. Every f&*king day because this is how you get morning food from the Evil Witch. Every little bit counts.

There is some running at the field with everybody then there is some special just Banksy and Evil Witch time of stays and circle works and releases and listening and not running off to play with the damn labradoodle that wears the jacket and has the tennis ball launching thing by the guy with the dapper cap.

There is some staying in the quiet special Banksy pen at work and not howling. There are bones there. There is some walks and patience having on the deck. There is heeling. There is more staying in the pen. Or the car if there is howling.

There is enough time for somewhere nice of fast running after work because there is a little bit of light at the end of the day which is useful for some excellent running. There is some more circles and toy controls and stops and stays and gos and waits. All this stuff is disguised as fast running games of fun so nobody thinks that it sucks to be doing some stays. There are dog races. Ruby sits in the car when it's dog race time.

If it's an extra lucky day, there are agilities. Banksy loves agility. How much does Banksy love agility? She loves it the most. The agility is the LOVE. The Evil Witch holds the keys to the agility.

Every night now, Banksy loves the Evil Witch enough to follow her to bed and sleep at her feet on a blanket at the foot of the bed, right next to Ruby.

The patience, it's a work in progress. The apeshits of apeshit during the agilities, has it's ups and downs. There's a little bit of improvement. Banksy has to endure a dog show this weekend, the last one was Cynosports and that pretty much dialed the apeshits up to 11. I'm hoping this one is a lot more chill and there can be a lot more good dog moments.

Most of the time Banksy is a floppy, goofy, fluffy doofball of manic excitement of joyous frenzy. Except for when she isn't. Like I said. Some times have happened of shutting that shit down. In her heart, Banksy wants to be a really good girl. Her nature is to be super duper sweet and all squiggle wiggle of love bug. There are lapses, but they are fewer and farther between.


11 months. That's almost a year. A lot of things are coming together, although I scratch my head and think, how did we get here? She keeps me on my toes. She changes the rules a lot, and she can change them fast. Good thing I have a lot of toes. I am gonna need them.

05 January 2015

Where we go and what we do.


I had no intentions of becoming good at making videos. This whole video thing just kind of happened. Now that I've learned how, my computer is sick and tired and full. Computerized dog agility, young dog and old computer.

This is kind of the whole deal right now. I am obsessed. Banksy says MORE MORE MORE! If she could do agility every minute, I think I'd have a very happy dog. We actually don't get to do a lot, so every second counts!

We're very lucky to have our training pals. Kathleen has an amazing facility, without it we would have no agility as we've no garden and Banksy's far outgrown our little spot at work. How did I do this before with the other dogs? We're hoping our puppies keep progressing together and we can keep raising our dogwalk heights together. Channan drives an hour for our practices, me about 30 minutes. It's hard to find the whens. But when we have one, we're there. Channan has the really good video and the best ideas.

All I bring to the table is the puppy that has to sit behind the bush.  I am lucky to have such good puppy friends.


Running contact class is starting tomorrow.  Yikes. This is going to be interesting. Banksy is a way faster runner than me, and I'm not sure a running dogwalk was such a good idea. But we're having so much fun training it, how could I stop?



We haven't done much with poles, just fly through open channels with a ball. In a couple of months, the real weave pole training can start. Another yikes. Teeter has just been getting a fast drive and the beginnings of a crouchy slide. We're training a stop on a box right now and then we'll mashup the 2 together eventually.

The agility takes a short time. The planning and the videos, a long time. The watching of videos and deciding where to go and when and what to do, watching the friends do it, the friends here and the new ones in the internet, a lot! A lot of time!

Here's where I've been and what I've been doing.

01 January 2015

Feral soothsayers for trying to bring in the new year just loud enough.


How does it work with soothsayers? Do you have to pay them to hear the future, or is clairvoyance a gift and one glance into a crystal ball lays out the plan in store?

We walked in the forest, first thing of the new year morning. Not exactly first thing. It was cold. We waited for the sun to a little ways up, melt the frost and make a few shining light patches. I was thinking this was the walk where I would hear a plan, the ghost of christmas new years would light a bomb between my ears and I would know what we were supposed to do.

Twenty Fifteen. This could be some year. There are some things about it already that feel like they could pop open if I could just find the key. Every time I close my eyes I look for it. Where's the freakin' KEY?

I've never been one to find any missing keys, let alone a metaphorical one. Didn't happen. No vision quest. We still had a nice walk. Although I think the guy who lives out there and parks his white car near mine has been shitting close in near one of our paths.

We did some agilities. Banksy's Auntie Wendy helped rev up our teeter totter, and Kathleen's dirt engineering put us back on track again with new and improved non tippy planks of running dogwalk. This was happy. Agility with Banksy is a thing now. Game on. There was some more forest walking. I wished my foot would stop hurting.

We walked on the bluffs later in the day. Even Ruby. Banksy joyfully leaped into the arms of a drunk party guy on the edge of the cliff, she loves her some drunk guys, public glasses of wine sloshing with gusto. Gustavo got covered in mud. I tried to stay quiet in case the fortune telling message was coming in on my radar, although I did kindly give excellent directions to the damp city guys who got caught by a high tide and had a long hike back to their car.

By dark, I had a comatose border collie. Sleeping small black dogs. But I never got the memo.


I've got to keep looking, I think if I stay just feral enough, maybe it will appear in the lines across my palm. Or maybe that's how I'm supposed to be. The one that's always crawling around, lifting up logs, and peering underneath. Usually not finding anything. Chaser of wild geese. Wandering aimlessly about, listening very carefully for just the right words. This is the year, though, that I very much want to find them.

Good luck on your 2015. Stay feral.

31 December 2014

This year, we dunno, so we are going to go to sleep.


We could only think of 7 things to be a top ten of 2014. Sleater-Kinney was one of them. Is that so bad? That we couldn't even count all the way to 10? And one of our things was recycled from the 90's? Maybe tomorrow we can count higher and fresher and newer, when 2015 comes scampering in and we've taken a holiday from work.

Ruby proved to us that we're all still alive. That's a pretty big deal, just to make it one more year.

Otterpop says, SCREW YOU, old year. Although she's looking at the new year the exact same way.

Gustavo is all, Yay! Hola! Yikes. Fireworks. Then he's under the bed. That's how he greets every new year at midnight, shaking like a leaf. It's cool. Because he'll be our leader in the forest when he wakes up.

Banksy was born in 2014. 2015 is a big year for her, a lot of first times for a lot of things. She celebrated tonight by laying quietly on a rug when I ate dinner.

See you in 2015. xox, yer pal, laura & teamsmalldog.

29 December 2014

Tonya and Nancy, the original frenemies of agility practice.


It's so nice to have our agility practice buddies.


We have a little dog practice, then we go for a little forest walk. The dogs are all, frolic frolic frolic after they learn to serp, threadle, and push. Outside of agility, Banksy loves everyone. She is a freaking rainbow unicorn of lovebugs outside of agility.


Banksy is not a good sport at practice though. She doesn't like to wait her turn, and pretty much she wants to go apeshit when the other puppies are running. They other puppies are well behaved and patient. Just MY puppy is the apeshit one.


Why are some dogs so complicated?


She sounds awful and horrible and mean during the apeshitting. And she goes from being a sharing, carebear of toys and sticks to an evil guardy monster when it is the agility. Big stink eye at the water bowl. The agility brings out her inner Tonya Hardingbeast.


So she does tricks behind the bush. When it's not her turn, she has to stay behind the bush. If she goes apeshit there, then it's back in the crate. Where she makes horrible sounds. Did Tonya have to sit behind bushes way back when she was a skate puppy in Portland, way before any Olympic star spangled tutu dresses and dreams of gold medals?


It is getting better. Slowly. We work on this a lot. I will never give Otterpop a bat. My goals are modest at this point in our agility career trajectory. Someday I dream of watching my friends practice from not behind a bush. That would be awesome.

26 December 2014

A Muthaflickin Story of Xmas, as explained by Otterpop.


Here is what it looks like at Christmas. For Christmas, there were 5 tennis balls and 2 dogs. Sometimes 3 dogs. But, ha HA HA HA! Gustavo and Ruby did not GET CHRISTMAS! Or any TENNIS BALLS! They had to stay at home with a housesitter and go to work and only Banksy and Otterpop got Christmas!


This is the evil dictator that Otterpop arranged this with. Otterpop's special Santa. She whispered in his ear that she was super good this year and should get arms and munitions and giant spiders in her stocking.


Otterpop let Banksy get some of the tennis balls but not too many. Otterpop says sorry if there was snow at your Christmas, because, HA HA! Jokes on you!!! We didn't even have sweaters at ours. Did she mention Ruby and Gustavo still had to go to work on Christmas and take stupid boring walks with leashes!!! Ha HA HAAAA!


This may have been one of the times with only 1 tennis ball. But don't worry. Otterpop made sure to train Gary to not let Banksy have too many turns. Banksy is always all, TENNIS BALL TENNIS BALL and it's easy for Otterpop to be shrewd and crafty because border collies are pretty much just robots of tennis ball and Banksy is only 10 months old and doesn't even know what a Christmas is.


Don't worry! Otterpop got the tennis ball! Otterpop got ALL THE TENNIS BALLS! Do you know how many tennis balls there were at the Christmas??? ALL THE TENNIS BALLS!!!!


The kids kind of prefer Banksy due to the rule DON'T PET OTTERPOP!


This is where Otterpop tried to sell Banksy to a guy she thought was Santa because Banksy would possibly be useful moving reindeers around and then you know who could have all the tennis balls. Joke's on you, Otterpop. Santa doesn't wear flip flops and a hawaiian shirt and drive a BMW x-whatever mini SUV. That's just what all the guys in Santa Barbara look like and they rarely carry that much arms or munitions or tennis balls on them.


Otterpop's happy place. Otterpop hopes your Christmas was as good as hers. HA HA! No she DOESN'T! Otterpop hopes your Christmas had spiders and one hundred percent ZERO TENNIS BALLS. Ho ho ho.