24 August 2015

I woke up and it was the future.

When I woke up in the morning, it was the future already.

I thought the future was going to be cooler. I thought I would have thought of that sentence instead of that eighties-ish electronica singers who sing that song on the radio. I thought I would be skinnier with better skin and I'd have a big living room and an airstream trailer and a huge barnful of adorable ponies with nice manners and my own tv show and one of those buckle pouch things in army drab that is kind of like a military style fanny pack for your leg.

It was the future and while I was out practicing some aframes various people were shot with firearms and the stock market plummeted and everything is still on fire and Donald Trump is thinking to become president of the USA.

And I'm all, Yay, that Right Tunnel is working swell. I think that in my head and my voice just goes, YAY and I throw my dog the toy.

Dog agility future of running aframe, it is here. Dog agility takes up a lot of brain space about the future. Opiates of the masses number seven hundred and seventy three. Somewhat behind cross fit and burning man but ahead of plushie conventions and book clubs devoted to guinea pigs. Then Jeb Bush and global warming and the bulldozers out in the field creep back in and share with running aframe.

Then it is golden. Say good morning to the future.

20 August 2015

The road not taken.

If you take the road less traveled, you might run smack, literally, into a drug dealer hiding his product in the bushes, wrapped carefully in a white plastic bag. He may pretend you're invisible. Which is cool, because you're all, invisible! He shuffles off on his bike, a crappy bike indeed. Except then when the other guy comes to get the drugs out of the bushes he realizes you're not invisible and it's just, awkward.

No matter how bad you want to go back and claim the bag, it's best to listen to the voice that says this is a poor choice. Not the voice that says, Go Get the Bag!

Then you got your private property. And your public property which is only public for the public who isn't dogs. This sometimes is very confusing, and for just in case, the best you can hope for is a misdemeanor of which you could just pay a fine from jolly big coffers and move on.

Or you just stay out of there. Unless it's a good fast running day for you, and you're willing to roll the dice.

Fifty hundred million.

This is what I've been doing with Banksy.

But this is what Banksy's been doing.

I thought switching to a stopped dogwalk was cool. Dismaland is about forty million times cooler. Fifty million. Fifty hundred million. All the millions.

All the millions go to Banksy.

If you're in England, I hope you're going to Dismaland.

Naturally, we're thrilled.

Gloomy, damp coolness is back.

Naturally, we're thrilled. Who DOESN'T wake up, look out to a thick gray mist glomming heavy in the morning and think, Yay for Us!

Some random facts for today shall include:

Banksy's thinking this stopping on the dogwalk business, pretty cool. I am thinking, this is a much better plan than the whole running like a goddamn freight train missile while I am floundering around somewhere way back there. She also has taken to dropping this shredded up old plastic ball that she LOVES behind pieces of furniture where it gets wedged in and hidden, then making sad monkey noises until a human with opposable thumbs and a long stick can get it out for her. Then she finds a new piece of furniture to hide it behind and commence sad monkey noises. Border collies are cool.

Gustavo puffs up like a toy fluffy bunny when he gets a bath and is so soft. Banksy and Otterpop like to stare at him when he gets a bath. They don't get baths. Only Gustavo. He is SO HAPPY to go to the beach and run in straight lines as fast as he can! He has stopped sitting in the closet all day and has moved back under the bed. Only Gustavo will ever understand, why Gustavo does what Gustavo does.

I was walking all the dogs down the street the other day and a lady with a box of groceries put it down to pet all the dogs. Well, all the dogs except for Otterpop. Don't pet the Otterpop. Gustavo wants the most petting. He leaned against her box for more petting. Then it looked so cozy inside there with the groceries he just wanted to get in and curl up for more petting. I wish I could carry Gustavo around in my pocket.

Otterpop feels great again and wow is our house loud. She's the only one that barks. She barks enough for everybody. A lot. All the time. This is just part of the joy that is having an Otterpop. There are so many other joys of having an Otterpop. Too many to list. Only Otterpop.

Ruby doesn't get to go to the beach. But sometimes I drive there and let her stay in the car with a really good chewy. This seems like an ok tradeoff for her. Ruby sleeps through a lot of things. But she still always wants to go along with everybody else. I wish Ruby could float along with me like a little balloon and I could tie her string to my pants and pull her along in the breeze. But she can't. It's good she loves chewies so much. We love Ruby. We wish she could do everything again.

See you at the beach.

16 August 2015

Otterpop feels better.

Otterpop's feeling better. Good enough to go for a walk. In the shady cool of before 7am and after 7pm. Hell's bells. What's happened to our weather? And where's Gustavo in this photo? Why do the squirrels call only to him?

And why do I say things like hell's bells now? This is a thing that goes with my new birthday? I will also remember that all the musicians of Black Flag also have birthdays and we're all in this together. And that ACDC is still touring and the guitar player still wears shorts.

Otterpop has resigned herself to riding in the bike basket. Now if only Banksy could believe that the bike is not a broom. She no longer believes I'm an evil witch, I've been upgraded to either a Dorothy or Auntie Em, but the broom and bike thing still stands. She is equally freakazoid over them both and I believe it will be a very long time until she can run next to my bike.

Because have you seen her when the broom is sweeping?

Probably not. Flying monkeys is all I can tell you. With Banksy around, I sweep very little. Although her hair shedding, very much everywhere.

Not sure where she picked up this whole Wizard of Oz thing, but she does hail from the midwest and she does reside in her own personal Munchkinland. Perhaps her blowers predict tornadoes and she's actually been seeking a way home all this time?

Not going to happen. She's officially a California girl, and until she decides that the bike is less evil than the broom, it's just me and Otterpop for an evening ride to find a little ocean breeze.

And as soon as it's cool, we'll ride down to the shore and I will sing her as much as I can remember of Billy Joel's the Pianoman. Just me and Otterpop.

13 August 2015

The face of painful chihuahua syndrome.

Otterpop's back is bad again. It's heartbreaking to see an Otterpop in pain. It's weird to have a quiet house with no barking, and without the constant movement of Otterpop, who's less still than a border collie around the house. I try to keep her activity level low, Otterpop is all about less since this has started happening. She spends a lot of time on a leash. Less run, less play, less hike, just a lot of less. Maybe one dash to a ball too many, a hop down the stairs, a run across the living room with a border collie, who knows. Drugs and crate and we'll see if she feels better in a few days.

Get well soon, Otterpop. It's a little bit creepy to have this much quiet. Everybody feels sad for Otterpop.

Gustavo not shown. He's sleeping in his closet.

12 August 2015

How to play ball with team small dog.

Throw Ball.

If Banksy gets ball, lie down, hand off ball to Otterpop. Ball comes back to me.

Throw Ball.

If Otterpop gets ball, hand off ball to me. If somebody else is throwing ball, ball will not go back to somebody else. Ball might be layed down on by Otterpop. Or chewed on while stink eyeing non-me ball thrower. I have to go over there and get the ball.

Throw Ball.

If Otterpop is holded on to by me, Banksy can get ball. Ball comes back to me.

Throw Ball.

Oh look! Gustavo's running towards the ball! Maybe he'll get it!

No. Nobody saw where ball went. Gustavo knows, he saw, but he's just running little circles of excitement because he chased a ball! It was flying! He chased it! Wheeeee! Let Otterpop go. Give her magic instruction words like, "No! Over There! Left Left Left!" and she will always find the ball. Ball comes back to me.

Throw Ball.

This time I'll throw it over there where Banksy for sure sees it and I'll throw it really far and Otterpop is all, Way too Far so she'll just wait for Banksy to bring it to her for the hand off.

Throw Ball.

Ruh roh. Banksy ran after ball too many times in a row and she got the ball and she's doing the brain overload thing where she can't drop the ball she tries and she tries and she tries she tries she tries she tries and the ball is stuck stuck stuck stuck because her teeth are stuck chomp chomp chomp and she has that glazed over look and her mind is going ball ball ball ball ball ball ball ball and then it stops and she drops the ball. Hands off to Otterpop. Ball comes back to me.

Throw Ball.

Where's Ruby? There's Ruby. Don't let Ruby wander off. Where's the ball, Otterpop?

And so on.

PS. Gustavo has made a nest under some wrapping paper and old tote bags in the back of my closet and likes to spend part of his day every day in that nest. It is REALLY hard to get in there because, hoarders, and he has a secret path and likes to sleep there. Is this weird? I hope not. OK.

09 August 2015

Legal USDAAing age, except we're off playing sheep hooky.

Banksy's legally ready for USDAA.

I'm not ready for Banksy though. And instead of getting more ready, working on contacts and recalls and off switches and just every single agility thing in general, I found myself driving out in Hollister to the dusty sheep roundpen again.

I handled Banksy more on my own this weekend with the sheep. Not pictured here! Some of the time my turns went a little bit better. Once my bad timing and poor positioning resulted in her splitting off that cute little paint style baby sheep and scaring the beejeebus out of me that she was going to bite him.

He was so cute and little! He had spotty legs and a sweet face! I don't even especially like sheep that much. But when I'm in charge of their safety, and I let them down, poor little guy!

That's the thing about herding as a sport that I am not loving. Those poor sheep. They are stuck out there trying to find safety from the human and if the human messes up and the dog gets going, ruh roh little sheep. George is really great, he protects the sheep. I'm trying, but once Banksy gets going, it can get a little dicey.

There are wooly little mammal faces attached to my learning curve.

The dogs don't choose to do this, just like any dog sport we do. Banksy and some of her friends love it. LOVE IT. I think sheep are exactly up there with agility and pond tennis balls of favorite Banksy things ever now. Sheep and agility, Banksy's Very Best Things.

If you were to ask her, you wanna go see the sheep? Do some agility? I can guarantee you, without a doubt, her answer would be YEEEESSSSS!!!!!! Unequivocal. Definite. One hundred and ten percent. She'd vote for Donald Trump if it got her a ticket to one more turn in the round pen with the sheep.


Some of her border collie friends have just said no to sheep. Either scared of them, or they just don't care. No big. They don't have to go back in there if they don't want.

The sheep though, they don't get a vote in this at all. This is the part of it I'm not quite sure about. A little bit like roping. They have no job except to just get chased.

I'm trying to learn quick to protect my stock. Trying to show Banksy EXACTLY how to move them around, which is quietly and slowly and NOT SCARING THE SHIT OUT OF THE SHEEP, Banksy. Apparently, the only way to get better is to practice, how about that? She's pretty good at it already, she has a somewhat unconfident instinct at work. But for me to show her how to do it a little more confidently and mannerly, I need to get a lot better. Not sure if I'm comfortable scaring sheep to get there though.

I'll let you know how it goes. Because we'll be back there in a couple of weeks...

08 August 2015

Banksy is 18 months old, one and a half years.

Otterpop always goes everywhere with me. EVERYWHERE. Literally, everywhere. That's who Otterpop is now. My right arm.

Me and her were sitting in the barn the other night when a thunder and lightening storm came along. What were the chances of that? Not hardly any rain to change the drought, but lightning strikes all around in the mountains that surely caused fires somewhere. We just sat and listened and watched the flashes.

A neighbor down the street from us dyed their dead lawn a brilliant viridian green. It glows through the foggy mornings and makes it look deader than it really is when we walk by on our morning walk. Our forest hermit club is becoming more social. The pumas have scared us down to town. We can count how many houses have ripped out dead lawns for little cactus gardens or flattened dirt patches. We walk by a lot.

Banksy's the new It Girl of the Neighborhood Party Circuit, of the beach and the de facto dog park at a neighborhood soccer field. Social butterfly Banksy runs and plays and flips and flops, and has made oodles of neighborhood buddies. At the school field her recall works every single time. Except for when she's playing with the jack russell who has a tennis ball launcher. Uh oh. Super social butterfly Banksy at the beach also does not have a recall when things come in multiples - as in multiple tennis balls, multiple labs, and multiple border collies. Social butterfly Banksy wants to stay in the water til last call. Oh my.

She has become Popular. It's going to her head. Is that what they mean by a Barbie Collie?

Recall not working is a problem, but at least it's a problem I have the skills to fix. I think. I'm happy she's making so many friends. Reworking her recall, a work in progress.

Banksy's blossoming into a socialite has been a surprising feature of the lady dog plumbing getting torn out. Plumbingless Banksy is fun and has nice manners, she's like a dog you'd see in a commercial for tampons or orange juice, an easy, breezy covergirl of a pal. Minus the occasional recall. I figure if she gets to play and run with exciting wild dogs, and is running and playing dogs on a regular basis, maybe the dogs running and playing at agility won't be quite as exciting. We'll find out. Her recall breaking was an unexpected bonus of this theory.

She was able to quietly lay down and watch a marimba concert on the church lawn around the corner this afternoon. After we stopped to watch the drum rehearsal in the tiny gospel church around the other corner. Stuff like this, she just lays down and chills. A blowy shadow of a butterfly flitting across the grass, or perhaps a tiny leaf blowing across the sidewalk, another problem entirely. A huge problem. 6 massive marimbas with dancing, maraca wielding hippies and kids in flowing, golden capes, not an issue.

We've been able to have smooth floors at home! All the costco rugs, everywhere on every surface, gone. Gone! Her staring has ceased indoors. It's still bad outside when the wind picks up or when little shadows sway in the breeze, but at home inside, No Staring!

We've started back with training. She hasn't missed a beat. If no shadows blow her way. We have one big new thing, stopping on the dogwalk. My new slow running speed, and my desire to train her in a less obsessive way means we are trying this novel idea out. So far she thinks it's a pretty fun game to have to listen whether it's a Go Go Get It or a Climb It Two. There are no dogwalks in courses right now, we haven't tried this yet at full speed. And I'm hoping it doesn't muck up her a-frame. This is the experiment of the month.

How cool would it be to have both?

I just jumped in to doing some little courses with poles and teeters thrown in here and there. So far so good on all fronts. Practicing is different now, very short, very sweet, a lot of lie downs and a lot of heeling to transition between things. Tugging just enough, no more over the tops. New and improved Banksy keeps her apeshits toned down.

Maybe her new friends the sheepies have something to do with this. Maybe not. We practice a lot of things, me and her.

Last week she got to demo some skills in the agility class I'm teaching, big class with lots of wild young dogs in it, and once again, she didn't miss a beat. No barking in the car, no fits, just came out, happily did her thing, and happily got back in the car afterwards. We're working towards her staying out on the field quietly. Quietly. But that will be far in the future.

Off switches. Our new thing. Banksy is learning to use hers whenever possible. She uses it a lot now as part of the stay at home team when me and Otterpop go to work. Banksy's taken Gustavo and Ruby's cues of how to be a complete couch potato. She loves to mush herself into little dog crates. Usually when we get home, those 3 are sacked out. I suspect anyone that ever tried to break into our house would be greeted after busting in by 3 sleeping dogs who are overjoyed to greet them if awoken. But who might not even wake up. I like it that Banksy's brain can sleep so soundly, it seems like if it can do that, it can learn a lot more things like not staring at blowing dust balls.

Banksy is growing up. Eighteen months is OLD! I think I needed Banksy to get old. And lose her hormones. Happy half Birthday Banksy!

03 August 2015

Don't freak out. Again.

Did you miss out on these last time around? I know a lot of you did.

I told you not to freak out, right? And here they are, more!

Now in more colors, more styles, more!

Super soft 100% cotton girly cut (ie, tight as shit if you gotta beer paunch but super adorable if you don't) in asphalt and olive with awesome PINK Otterpop skully face.

Or super soft 100% cotton man cut on the slim size but actually so much more awesome than your run of the mill crappy t-shirt. In classic black and army with SF Giants orange Otterpop skully face.

Order here, easy peasy on your paypal and I'll ship it out to you asap! Quantities are limited! Order soon! Wear my best advice EVER proudly.

02 August 2015

Because who doesn't need more hobbies? That involve livestock. And biting.

Banksy got to go try herding again. She did great!

She did so great she got to take a turn with me driving. I don't have this on video.

Which is a shame.

Because you would have seen us be a great team. For about 20 seconds. Then you would have seen us implode and the next thing you know, SUPER fast running Banksy flying around out of control flashing teeth at the poor sheepies.

Oh my.

This is not as easy as it looks on tv. Not by a long shot.

Sheep herding. Oh my. I think we're going again, though.

31 July 2015

Grove of Titans.

There's no words that can really explain how big these trees are. Certainly no photos. I tried and tried and nothing came out. Even if I had the fanciest camera that I don't know how to use, you can only see how big they are with your eyes. It does not compute.

These are the biggest trees there are. They are 2000 years old. Two thousand years old. TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD. That would be like happy birthday baby Jesus and happy birthday to these trees. Which are still standing there, standing up strong. Fifty years old is one tiny little drop in a muck bucket compared to those trees. Fifty? Maybe the age of that flutey little branch over there. A sapling. Two thousand is solid.

30 feet in diameter. Take 10 giant steps down your driveway. That is how wide Screaming Titan is. Really big steps. Look back. The tree is that wide. And higher than 300 feet tall. Way higher. Maybe 350. That's maybe a 30 story building. Go look outside and up next time you're in a downtown. That's higher than you think. The highest volume of wood. What's their volume? I don't mothertrucking know. Take 100 godzillas and shove them into a coffin made out of one of the grand old office buildings in downtown LA, zipped up by fire escapes threaded down it's side. Throw it out to sea and see how big it splashes. Tsunami. Evacuate immediately. Move to higher ground. That's their volume.

The Titans are secret, but not so secret. If you work a little bit, you can find them. We had research and maps and a detective notebook. We took some wrong turns. We may have had dogs with us more interested in finding the creek than the trees. It may have been very early o'clock, as early as donuts in the dark. We tried to be gentle on the land but every footstep that goes in there disturbs some land. Redwood roots are shallow. Tread lightly if you go find them yourself.

We passed a group of tourists on the trail when we hiked out. They were carrying tote bags and paired off in twos, and they didn't know what was in there, in that grove. There's a lot of groovy trees everywhere, so it's not like you're not getting a good slap of majestic nature just walking down the main trail. But we saw them walking right past the path to the grove and they had no idea. We didn't say anything. I don't think that was wrong or cruel. I think it was correct.

There's a lot of things you can do with your time. Go to work. Do some dog agility. Pick some beets. Try to figure out the sales tax. Sweep the floor. Everybody has their things. You could also go find the Grove. Walk in. Walk around. Hang out with the trees. Pretend they're your friends. And then say goodbye and hope they're fine, hope they're ok, til next you see them again.

28 July 2015

Loud and screaming birthday.

This year was a birthday that slams into you like a heavy icepick.

Lots of people have this birthday. I didn't know how to be one of them.

It's not that big of a deal. You have it. Then it's done.

And that's how old you are.

Watched carefully how the sun set the night before.

And watched carefully how it rose the next day. The day of.

Everything was pretty much the same after it happened.

So there you go. Life goes on.

This is in the Grove of the Titans.

Not everybody goes there. Not everybody can find it. Probably hardly any dogs ever have.

Tammy and Fred helped us find it. Tammy is basically a detective of trees.

A lot of roadtrip in not very many days.

A motel with a graveyard for a backyard.

Way up in the north country.

We like places where there's surf and turf.

The turf is pretty dry everywhere.

Sorry Big Diamond. Don't know how many birthdays you had.

Gary and the other dogs met us way up on top of a ridge later on.

Gustavo shouldn't really be around bears.

We all survived the birthday and we came home with a new age. I'm getting used to it.

Sort of.

21 July 2015

The grove.

Somewhere, far to the north of here in Del Norte County is the Grove of the Titans. It's exact location is vague. The trees in the grove are possibly the biggest coast redwoods ever measured. They have names. They are secret. That's all I can say now and I'm saying this in a whisper. Sshhh.

19 July 2015

Hot and lazy and looking for some shade.

It's true that our hot here might not be quite as hot as your hot there. We are whiny sissies of weather here in California, a little dip or rise in the temperature is cause for some serious alarm. Even the neighbor that hates you the most is ready to talk about weird weather. Global warming, a great way to make friends with the crazy guy across the street.

Pretty much all I want to do when it's hot is lie around under some shady trees. The dogs like to get wet in the pond. Since I got Gustavo his fireworks loud fans, laying around in the house in front a fan isn't so bad either.

When we went to the beach in the morning on Sunday, we could see a rainstorm across the bay. Exactly where we were supposed to go for some agility later in the day. Not just any rain storm. Lightning strikes, and thunder booms making it all the way across the water. This isn't normal here. Climate change keeps us hopping.

I wasn't sure if we really wanted to go down to Monterey. I entered Gustavo in 2 classes. And had thought to walk Banksy around and see if she could be calmish ringside. Calmish is all I ask.

I figured maybe the rain would dust the cobwebs and dirt off my car, so I drove down there. I'm supposed to love going to agility trials. Missed the rain but got some kind of crazy hot humid southern muggy sweat weather. Banksy took some walks around and laid down quietly and calmly to watch some agility from not too close. Worked pretty good. A work in progress. I would say calmish definitely accomplished. Just not too close yet. Gustavo ran his snookers, all three sevens meant running across the whole field for 3 in a row tunnels 3 times over again. We were winded. We made a boo boo at number 5 in the close and ran out.

Just before his next turn, when I went to go get him, he was panting hard and didn't seem exactly right. He just looked really hot and uncomfortable. He makes those little squinty eyes and hangs his mouth open when he doesn't feel good. He's never been good at doing anything in the heat, especially not agility. He's good at frolicking in water and sitting in my lap. That's about it.

We stepped to the line in Grand Prix. Off we went, 1-2-3-4-5 into a tunnel. He came out of the tunnel, he went back in, wheezing and reverse sneezing and standing there looking very sad. I pulled him out. The judge came over to see if he was ok. I shrugged and told her he was having some kind of little attack. And then carried him down to a little baby pool to cool off. He was still panting hard and I took him for a drink and poor little guy looked sad and miserable.

So we went home and all the dogs laid in front of a fan. Me too. Sometimes I don't know about this whole agility thing. Maybe we should have just stayed at the beach longer, then gone home to lay in front of the fan. Maybe next time.