23 May 2016

Sign me up, she says, as her little dogs run away across the field.


Lately at the dog park, I am the lady with the little pack. Word got out that I'm a "Dog Trainer," and apparently, a dog genie of whispering pines. Word got out like this. I think I had all the dogs except Ruby on stays and they have to do their name to get the ball. Or Gooey has to do his name to do something that's not a ball. Then they go back to their stays.

A lady said, Wow, how'd you learn to do that? And I said, I'm a dog trainer. And the pines began to whisper. She's a Dog Trainer.

Mostly I walk around with my trained dogs. If it's a busy day at the dog park, Otterpop gets to drag a leash. Nobody whispered to her, Do Not Bite Mugsy, and this would be her wish. Bite the little f&%$ker. So that kind of trained. Or bite the 3,000lb grizzly bear-esque dog that wanders over on his own, in from the cul de sac. It's a cul de sac kind of dog park. That was one big ass dog. Otterpop took one look at it and said, Bite it. Damn you, Otterpop. I know your every thought. And they are bad, black thoughts. Gutter thoughts. Don't belong at the end of a cul de sac, where people have jeeps and boats and faded rvs parked in their spacious driveways, waiting to escape.


Ruby likes to just follow us around, she sticks close, and Gustavo alternates between playing with the little f&%$kers and the big poodle and then sometimes runs off to the bushes to just do something else, then comes back in when I call. He's a really good boy. He likes to sit on the people laps whenever possible. There could never be another dog such as Gustavo. Ruby is so happy to walk slowly along in the grass, in the shade as much as we can. This is her thing, this is her best walk right now. It's an amble. That's her perfect speed.


Banksy has her ball. Her ball. Her ball. She has to do things like send across the park and run around the porta potty, or the backstop, or lie down, or left or right or beep beep beep or any of her tricks to get it, so hence the proof of pudding how I got the Dog Trainer name, I think. The through the legs is a good one. If only people knew, border collies, they just do this.

They're a good group. Aside from Otterpop. The dogs and the people. The park is wedged between a playground and a skateboard bowl. It's busy. The people are nice, they explain to me all the names of the dogs and things about them. Oh, that Cassie. She's a live wire. They have all made sure to memorize my dogs' names and don't give Gustavo any treats. I hear one of the ladies tell this to another lady. Don't give him a treat, he has something wrong with his liver. They all have tennis ball launchers, but their dogs don't all fetch real fast.


Banksy tolerates all this like she's been a dog park dog all her life. Dogs bark in her face, she doesn't care. She's seemingly bombproof at the dog park, so far. She kind of exists in a bubble. A german shepherd went charging after her today, and I just yell at her to lie down when I see him charging across the field. I've seen him before, I don't think he's dangerous, I just don't think he's that well behaved.

She does her sheep stalk, for the invisible sheep, and drops to the grass. German shepherd just goes away. We use Lie Down a lot at the dog park, whenever dicey dogs are around. Seems to confuse them when she just drops into a pancake in the grass, into her bubble of nothing else is there but the sheep. The ball. Her sheep.

I see the German Shepherd lady put his pinch collar back on, and lead him away. Sigh. Maybe she'll sign up for a class. I have a new foundation class starting this Thursday, and a Friday one will start in June. I tell all the dog park ladies how much fun their dogs could have, learning tricks, how it will help their recalls and whatever else they want to help. Sign me up! one lady said today, as her 2 little dogs charged across the field to the swings, no intention of coming back, ever. Sign me up!

21 May 2016

On this great day occurred.


A great day occurred on this day. A great feat was accomplished of greatness and joy, as we approached the happy squirrel family. An entire family of squirrels vacationing on the fire road through the trees, vacationing slowly, shuffling along, big bushy black tails held high. High enough to realize, HEY GUSTAVO NOT SQUIRRELS! And my best squirrel chaser of all came running back in as we raced away from one of the most dreaded forest animals of them all, entire family of skunks.


A great day occurred on this day. A great feat was accomplished of greatness and joy, the day Banksy decided to learn to body surf. The day she selected included high tide, a rip current, and very harsh, choppy blown out conditions, but the problem here was the ball, she dropped it to drink some sea water, and on dropping it got immediately pulled out so in a valiant effort taught to her by valiant efforting Otterpop, herself who is very smart as to select which water conditions to effort in, Banksy dives in to get it because tennis balls must be saved. She is pummeled and thrown and pulled a bit out, and as I started to see her life flash before my eyes, she surfed back in and jumped back on the sand shaking off the water. And the ball got spit back out too.


A great day occurred on this day. As we walked to the park or field or illegal school yard, all terms of equivalence in my mind if not the people in charge, the new fence has been stalled for now, incomplete in it's install, perhaps because of the stupidity of fencing in the sleepers and gang bangers and drug sellers, and out the kids and soccer players and dogs who like to play ball. Not sure how long this will be but for now it has unfinished gaps and the dogs partook in much ball playing and walking along in the grass, while kids played some baseball and other dogs fetched their balls, which we will all call enjoy it while we can.

17 May 2016

Deer activation switch, on.


It's been my understanding, so far, that border collies don't chase deer. Sheep, yes. Trucks, yes. Tiny kids with tiny plastic mohawk bike helmets on tiny bikes, yes. But deer, off their radar. I just thought it was a thing, and we'd never have to worry about deer chasing with Banksy.

Um, yeah.

This morning we were walking in the woods, on the edge of the meadow where we frequently see deer and coyote. I keep my radars up there, where there are deer, there are usually coyotes, and this is a very coyote section of the forest. We went this way because 2 bad dogs found something with bones on the other path and were VERY naughty about not eating whatever or whoever it was and at least as of right this minute there is no barfing.

So we are walking briskly along, even Ruby, who is on her long rope, and just to the right of me, like JUST to the right, is a large, very casual boy deer. Banksy and Gustavo were ahead and didn't notice him. He looked right at us, apparently his radars were up too, and he was all, oh, the dog lady, and didn't really care.

He was very close, and I had no idea if he had the whole family in tow. So I called the dogs and put everybody on a leash. Just seemed like a good thing to do. Which was super because he stepped right out in the path in front of us. RIGHT out in front, and casually walked into the meadow.

He's all, Oh HI guys.

He was big. And fat. Not used to seeing big, fat deer but here's one and he's just standing there in front of us, giving us the once over.

I'm thinking, is this deer crazy? What deer ever do this? Rabies? On drugs? Twitterpated?

So all along, in her long 2 year life of forest walking, Banksy has been pretty chill about deer chasing. I ask her to lie down, hold on to Otterpop, and call Gustavo back because he is a forest creature and he loves to chase him some deer and some squirrels. He doesn't chase long or far, and he always comes in pretty quick. So Banksy's never chased a deer.

Oh BOY OH BOY did she want to chase this one.

He finally stepped off the path and casually sauntered out through the brush towards the meadow.

Let's just say Banksy got everybody riled up. She hasn't popped a cork in a long time, thought that was a thing she's grown out of, but yeah, I guess she still does it. Everyone started popping corks, champagne exploding all around me. Except for Ruby, who had no idea what all the hulabaloo was, and just kept trucking along behind us. I finally dragged everybody away, and we headed back on the path, up towards the other meadow. The other meadow where we see a lot of deer, usually at more of a distance. Soon as we got to that meadow, off goes Banksy.

Like she was gathering up a huge herd of sheep on a giant outrun, off she goes around the meadow, where we've all seen deer many times. There weren't any in there, but she was scouring that meadow at top speed, knowing now those things we see in there that usually mean Banksy lie down, are DEER!

She now apparently has a deer switch, and it's been turned ON.

She came back in after zooming around the whole meadow once. With crazy eyes and a big sideways tongue.

I predict some interesting hikes coming up in our future. Deer radar, now on.

16 May 2016

First USDAA trial at the Paso Robles Horse Park.


See all that grass? You think you're hallucinating but you are seeing correctly. It's the pristine Grand Prix field at the Paso Robles Horse Park, and that's where we went to agility last Sunday.


It is fancy. I would like to go to all the agility trials there now, please.


My car is not fancy. It sort of embarrassed the pretty parking lot to have the shade shanty out there. And the high winds dismantled my nice shade thing my friend Ivette gave me. So we will be less shady in the future.


But the dogs stayed cool


Pretty cool. There was standing in the tub.



Our Q rate was low! This video does not show some of the large handling errors I made, crashing Banksy through one jump pretty hard, a lot of wrong tunnels. I edited out the bad parts and just put in my favorites for more happy making for me. And because I can. But we're doing ok. I think we just have to practice more. I worked on driving hard through all the lines and tried to keep moving at all times. So sometimes, still have to decel! She hit all her contacts, and some of the dogwalks were HARD.

Gooey got to run, he didn't win his Jumpers, his winning streak is broken. My sending dogs to wrong sides of tunnel was a Thing all weekend. We still had fun, I love running Gooey in Jumpers. We tried Steeplechase but he said NO NO NO to the poles, and what can I do? It's Gooey. Gooey can do no wrong.

We hope we can go back soon!

13 May 2016

The big new fence.


This is our friendly, neighborhood school field where we go to play. We are actually criminals when we're there, because dogs aren't allowed. The school's closed down, so it's mostly just people playing soccer, homeless people sleeping in nooks and crannies, and neighbors throwing balls for their dogs. All are criminal activity, officially.


Here's a security cam video still of some criminals. The thing is, the more of this criminal activity, the less of the drug addled kind that goes on where the people sleep near the buildings.


We all have been sharing, and it seemed like an ok thing to me. Except they put a fence in today. It's almost done. Inspired by Trump's refugee wall of vacuum sealed USA. All the criminals, including the dogs, don't get to use the field any more. This is where baby Banksy learned to cik and tap. Where she learned left and right and go by and away around the trees and the backstops. Where I drag my weave poles out to for practicing the hard entries. Where we all go and play ball and work on stays and run around and then lay in the shade and take rests. And especially, play ball.


Yep. You heard me Otterpop. We have just lost our ball field for good. No mas. Big chainlink fence. Nobody gets to use the field anymore.


That's what I said, too, Otterpop. $%#@&&*!!! Muthatrucking asshat foodtrucking muthatruckers. Another special neighborhood spot, gone in a blink of an eye. This is just where we walk to and chill and play ball. Doesn't everybody need that in their neighborhood?

We don't need much. Just some space to play. This on the tail of our princess neighbor yelling at us to stop talking in our own backyard. "Stop talking!" she cries from her window which is basically in our yard. Don't let the dogs bark, wouldn't want them to have any fun in your own backyard.

Our open space keeps shrinking and shrinking and shrinking. Once it shrinks all the way, there won't be nothing left but little shriveled up sad hearts, driving everywhere on the freeway. Driving and driving to find the space that might not be anywhere, anymore.

Where's the Ball?


Nobody bossed them around today about which bathroom they had to use. They just worked it out for themselves. All the time, I tell Gustavo what a good girl he is, and most people think Otterpop is a boy. Nobody cares. Everybody finds a good spot to pee, sometimes they all share one tree. Or seaweed clump. Sometimes Banksy likes to scurry off into the bushes to go. Nobody cares.


We have a few major bipartisan issues in our little corner of the world. There's the Ball Party and the No Ball Party. Gustavo can sometimes get a little bit loud about it. "What's so great about the Ball? Chase ME! Chase ME!" he can scream, usually just into the wind.


Otterpop can get pretty worked up about the Ball. She's not rising above any issues ever, she's pretty obsessed about the Ball and can actually be kind of an ass about having everything her way. Banksy thinks the Ball is tremendous, and that it should rule the world. Everything about it is tremendous! But she doesn't make fun of Otterpop's tiny hands, or decide that Gustavo should go pee on some tree somewhere else and she doesn't give a crap about who marries who.


Everybody who wants the Ball gets a turn with the ball, and everybody runs around together and work it out. This is quite nice and lets me look for whales and dolphins and sometimes I run the other way when they're getting the ball and they can run faster than me but I'm cool with that.


They're pretty lucky, they don't have to worry about cops shooting them, or taking 3 buses to get where they have to be, and they have a house to go home to every evening that has 1 loveseat, 2 chairs, 2 dog crates, a futon, and a queen sized bed. Every single one of those things has a soft blanket on it and they can sleep wherever they want.


Sometimes there can still be bossy crap about the Ball. Or somebody wanted to sleep on somebody else's chair. They're good dogs, but they're far from perfect. I might yell at them, or the princess neighbor whose bedroom window looks straight down into my yard might yell about them barking or whatever then I freak out on her.

Settle down, everybody. We're all in this together and we have to work it out. Telling the neighbor she's a princess or that somebody can't have the Ball isn't worth it. So hard to remember! So hard. But we try. Maybe everybody should just try to live more like dogs. I'll try that today.

So where's the Ball you guys? Huh huh huh??

08 May 2016

Top Ten Things about the FCI AKC World Team Tryouts


10. Driving to the site of the tryouts, through the soulless, semi-abandoned office park corridor peppered with great fields that had been once paved over old fruit orchards, now covered in scotch broom and neck high foxtail plants caused a general feeling hopelessness and malaise to wash over me before reaching the sports complex.

9. The sports complex where they were held, called Silver Creek Sports Complex, had no creeks anywhere near that I could see, just massive blocks of smoked glass buildings surrounded by huge carparks and a freeway, where presumably pieces and bits of technology are manufactured or dreamed into reality by exhausted employees who would rather be somewhere else.

8. The creek may still exist somewhere but if it does, it must live underneath the copious amounts of asphalt to create the circuitous streets, that mimic in a probably non-ironic way, the circuitry on chips that power up computers or cause them to know what your fingers are doing as they glide across the track pad or double click Photoshop or something unknowable like that.

7. The Silver Creek Sports Complex is an expansive, outdated shopping mall sized behemoth housing a sports bar, fast food enterprise, row of pinball machines, ice hockey rink, two faux turf soccer fields, some kind of colorful, inflatable playground equipment, many restrooms, and sad, dim, fluorescent bulb lit rooms where children hold temperature controlled birthday celebrations with crinkly, mylar ballon masking the cold gray walls and attempting to bring joy and cheer to the wan indoor pallor.

6. Coffee is available for purchase from the sports bar where fake creamer is available in tiny, single use disposable cups.

5. Upon questioning if tips are appropriate for a $1.75 cup of coffee, since it's being served by a bartender at a bar where giant television sets are suspended as if by angel wings from the ceiling, the bartender quietly shrugs, and offers, "Up to you," and turns his eyes skyward again to one of the several floating screens.

4. The judge from Spain may have never gotten to eat his lunch, he had ordered the pesto tortellini with chicken, and the restaurant staff, who perhaps had difficulty discerning his accent, presented him with a chicken sandwich and fries, and the medium dogs were about to begin running.

3. Two judges were needed in every standard run so that one could be stationed near the up contact on the dogwalk and one could be stationed on the down contact of the dogwalk and create a judge sandwich for each dog who ran through their laser eyed gauntlet.

3. Going to an agility trial and not working or running is actually quite a nice thing to do on a Sunday when many of your agility friends and colleagues who are wearing casual regular clothes, not agility sporting attire also attend and sit together on bleachers, drinking coffee and talking about, what else, agility.

2. Seeing so many of your friends who are accomplished agility trainers and handlers negotiate crazy hard courses with their dogs and go nearly clean except with the occasional bar or weird contact thing or regular old missed contact or off course tunnel or off course jump or missed pole entrance is very exciting, except for when you wish for them that their run had been clean, damnit, the cleanest and fastest and had not an error because you tried to think only fast and clean thoughts for them on their run, you tried, and you realized for some that your brain waves used in such a way to your best ability, was a futile attempt, but that you still found their runs, quite amazing, even with an error here and there.

1. Seeing so many of your friends actually go fast and clean on crazy hard courses, because they train and practice so hard and have amazing dogs and their amazing dogs love them and they love their amazing dogs and the hard work, which does not go unnoticed, pays off and causes winning or, at least, close to winning.

06 May 2016

Bipartisan parting of the ways.


I ran into the pitbull rescue girl on one of Banksy's first trips to the busy, local dog beach. Hadn't seen the pitbull girl in a long time. She gets rescues and turns them into rock solid, bombproof family dogs. I wouldn't call us friends, but she lives in my neighborhood, and we had this thing in common, finding dogs that might not do well in shelters, and giving them a good life. Her dogs are big and gray, mine were small and black.

Until I got Banksy.

A little while ago, I saw her walking down by the beach. She had on her little skort. I've never seen her in anything other than a tiny little skort. Pitbull girl doesn't age.

She looked us up and down. "Four dogs? When did you get that dog? " she asked.

"Gosh, she's almost 2, and I got her as a puppy. So a while. We just haven't been coming to this beach til she was older."

"Why did you need another dog?"

I snorted. Last thing I needed was another dog. "I didn't really NEED another dog," I replied. "I wanted another dog. I like to do agility and I really wanted to train my next partner from puppy age."

"Oh, what. She's some kind of Special Agility Dog?"

"Well, I hope she'll be a special agility dog. But she's a regular border collie."

"Purebred?"

"Yep."

"You got her from a breeder?" She had a tone here. She actually always has a tone, one of those people with chronic looking like the rolled out from the scowly side of the bed, even when they're walking their dog on the beach.

"Uh huh."

"Nice." She said that like a hiss, the way a giant snake hisses super loud, and it's a warning that it's about to strike. Right between your eyes. "Purebred dog." She said that in a snarl, pushing the air out her lips so it was almost like a spit, except as she said it she turned tail and marched away from us.

I ran our conversation through Google Translator, from Passive Aggressive to English. Here's how it came out:

Pitbull Girl: "You have too many dogs."

Me: "No I don't."

Pitbull Girl: "What's wrong with you, creepy dog lady, to have so many? Since in the past, it's been proven that my dogs have much better manners than yours."

Me: "I NEEDED this dog. If I can't do agility my soul will shrivel up like a rotting slug in the sun."

Pitbull Girl: "So you had to go out and buy with loads of money some fancy pants dog to do your abusive dog sport thing with and probably also crate her and torture her whenever nobody's not looking?

Me: "Fuck you."

Pitbull Girl: "And you're a traitor to the whole groovy dog saving world of dog rescue, too."

Me: "No I'm not."

Pitbull Girl: "You're going to hell and I'm a card carrying PETA member and if I wouldn't go to hell and jail I'd come fire bomb your house."

03 May 2016

Team Small Dog at the Met Gala.


We were so fortunate to be invited! Team Small Dog loves red carpet events. Otterpop's gown was inspired by Madonna's bondage wear which was obviously inspired by the Mother of Dragons. Now there's a dog who can definitely pull off a train.


Banksy's wearing Prada. Tail not shown.


Gustavo is in Alexander McQueen. It took a lot to get him to be ok with the scary bear teeth, but I think he totally pulled it off. Bravo, Gustavo! No word on who styled the tree as of this writing, but we are working on it.

29 April 2016

Stay at home dog.


Leaving Ruby at home when we go for a walk makes me very sad. She loves walking and hates to be left alone. But her back legs are shaky and she needs to walk very, very slow. Until she realizes she wants to run, and then runs so fast she slams into something and topples over upside down. Ouch. So more and more, I'm finding I need to leave her at home when the other dogs really need to GO.

I realized today just how slow we've been walking. Especially me. The dogs sort of do their thing and tear around as needed, but today I realized I hadn't run in the forest in a long time. I used to run all the way to the creek then walk back from there. Ha! Can't do that anymore! So Ruby will have to stay home a few times every week and my goal is running to the creek again in the next couple of weeks.

Sorry Ruby! I'll leave you lots of treats in your blue chair! And I promise we'll be home soon.

27 April 2016

Emergency evacuation plan.


I love our market across the street. It's owned by a very nice Korean family, and no one in the family even looks up from their soap opera behind the counter when I show up in pajamas at 10pm to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Which seems to be priced randomly depending on who's working. Everyone in the neighborhood goes to the market for beer and coffee and candy and baking soda.

Mornings at the market are coffee stops for everyone off to work, or breaktime for the sewage guys in the giant sewer sucking truck. Kids stop in on their bikes, maybe to buy candy for school? Or beer? Not sure. I live on a busy little street. This morning when I was coming back from our walk, we rounded the corner just 3 houses til home, right across from the market, and a doberman tied outside took a good long look at me and the dogs and started chewing on it's leash.

Dobermans scare me a little. I've had 2 very sweet ones in agility classes, but something about dobermans still gives me the heebie jeebies. I'm kind of a dog weenie, living in my little dog and border collie filled world. I figured though, he's tied to a post in front of the store. We're only 3 houses away, 30 seconds. How fast can a doberman chew through a leash? And he's probably friendly, right? People don't tie full on Cujo dogs to posts in front of the market, do they?

He had on a big thick prong collar and a harness, but loads of people in my neighborhood use prong collars. Even on yorkies. Stabbing your dog's neck with sharp pointy things is a very popular dog walking method around here. I know one reason, I got kicked out of a popular and cheap dog training class at the local pet store once for not being willing to use one. All kinds of dog training methods around here. So whatever. And at least he was tied on to the post from the harness.

That look and the leash chewing, though, gave me pause. Pause enough to consider, can I make it down to my driveway, just 3 houses away? In case he really does want to go after us? Or do I need to reverse right now and walk all the way back around the block. Which takes about 13 minutes when Ruby's with us. I had places to go. People to see. 3 houses, that's as far as I needed to get.

Calmy and swiftly, not even looking at him, we keep on moving towards home. We almost made it. But guess what? Here's a good quiz question. How long does it take for a doberman to chew through a leash that's tied on to a post? Surprise if you thought more than just a few seconds. Because just before we reached our driveway, here he comes.

I heard him before I could see him. There was a beer truck parked taking up half the street, and a bellowing loud barking started that I knew was him. And when I turned around, here he comes from behind the beer truck.

He didn't look happy. He sounded loud. And he was moving really fast.

Loose dogs in our neighborhood are pretty common and rarely are they out to get us. On the other side of the street, we regularly run into the german shepherd that runs out the door at the pot grower's house, and there's the lab that jumps out of the front yard with the teensy short fence. There's a boxer that sometimes goes awol, and don't get me started on Rio next door. I have beat off a pit bull once with a board I found in the street, but that was years ago when a meth addled pro surfer lived on the corner and that dog went away with him. Otherwise, our neighborhood is pretty chill. Our block has a fireman, a bus driver, a cop, a guy who works at the dump (that would be my husband), a mailman, a nurse, a librarian, UCSC students, junior college teachers, drug dealers, pot growers, a contractor, a photographer, an electrician, retired couples, hardworking single moms, families with tiny kids, dirt bike dudes, computer guys, millionaires slumming it renovating a beach shack, and homeless people who collect our cans. Those are just the neighbors I thought of first. It's a pretty ok neighborhood.

Lots of them have dogs. Most of them aren't trained. They're big and they're small, a lot of them bark, some of them are leash reactive. Some of them are super sweet. Some are asshats, especially the blonde chihuahua down at the end of the street and the aussie the retired lady with the plastic flowers in her front yard is always yelling at. There's the black dog that pulls his kid on a skateboards really fast. Shortie and Rio never wear leashes and always run smack into the middle of my dogs. We just deal with it. That's our neighborhood.

The doberman, though, he was new and he was coming at us and I wasn't getting a good feeling. He was the red and tan kind, and had big floppy ears. But he really wasn't cute. He was on a mission.

Luckily I have a plan for when this happens. In general, I don't plan ahead. When the big one hits, or zombie apocalypse, or some kind of religious armageddon, we have exactly zero jugs of drinking water and non perishable canned goods stored in the garage. My bank account does not reflect a lovely retirement nest egg for my golden years of retired agility lady in a fancy RV who goes to trials every weekend and posts margarita selfies on facebook. I don't know what I'm having for dinner tonight.

But I do have a plan for bad dog attempted attack on my dogs. I think about it every time something like this might happen. But rarely have I had to actually do it.

Even though it was a busy morning with cars going by, I let the dogs go right when the dog got to us. Ruby first, then Gooey, then Banksy. Ruby may not be able to see, but she knows that walk around our block by heart and can easily find our driveway by dog GPS, so off she went. Gooey, ambassador of good vibes for many wayward dogs, ran right out into the street. Banksy I put on a lie down on the sidewalk and I grabbed up Otterpop and held on tight.

Otterpop is a catalyst of badness. Her brain goes to the dark side in situations like this and all 12lbs of her has no problem launching a full assault on whatever level of attack an asshat dog has planned. She is very, very, not useful in situations like this. Luckily she is extremely portable and likes being wedged under my armpit.

I moved right towards him, shoving my inner dog weenie to the back of the bus to muster some bravery at the charging doberman. "Hey good buddy! Hi good boy! Whatcha doing?" seemed better than yelling at him because he was pretty riled up already. Maybe the happy words would throw him off kilter a little.

I think this scattering of dogs also threw him. Where four were now was just Banksy laying in the sidewalk, my snarling arm bundle, and a donut spinning Gooey. So he barreled in towards Banksy. She looked terrified on her lie down, she's so nervous of big dogs I think her energy and crazy eyes can be a spark for bad situations, it's happened before. Bless her little trained heart, she just layed there staring at me, Otterpop in my arms starting to lose it and I pushed back into him to move him back as Gooey did a flying drive by. I was really, really hoping he wouldn't try to take a chunk out of me, and that nobody was going to get hit by a car, but I think if he was going to bite, he would have done it on the first pass. And the cars were slowing down for the spectacle.

Everybody loves Gooey, usually. He has some kind of magic power that can deflect weird dog energy and this dog looked baffled for a minute, like was he supposed to chase Gooey who was by now running back into the street. It all turned into mayhem, he'd go for Banksy, who now got up and looked completely confused and snapped at him, or go for Gooey who was just doing donuts in the street. The street! He never gets to run free in the street! Yay! Gooey lives on planet oblivion sometimes. Still no biting, just charging. This was a good thing. He might have been a loud asshat who didn't like my herd of dogs walking by but it looked like he didn't want to attack any of us.

But then he came in and started circling us and growling like a big red shark. This was unnerving.

Ruby was nowhere to be seen, but she's a pro at finding our driveway, so I wasn't worried about her. Gooey officially lost his mind but in some ways, I think that was helping, the big dog didn't have a clear target of who he should be going for. The funny little dog running in and out of the street, the ballistic missile in my arms, or the confused border collie standing up and lying down with a completely terrified look on her face. I just kept telling him how lovely he was and firmly suggested he go home.

Finally his guy came running out of the store looking like OH SHIT. He made a run for it and the dog took off. So then we had much dog chasing in the street. Banksy went back in her lie down, Gooey ran back to me and I hung on to Otterpop for dear life. I didn't want to attract his attention back to us and bring him up our driveway where I was hoping Ruby was, so we just stayed put. After a few minutes of doberman chasing, I couldn't stand it so I yelled to the guy, "Just stop chasing him! Stand still!"

He sat down on the curb. Traffic was stopping for the various dogs. The dog came eventually came back into him and he captured it.

"Hey!" I yelled. "You know your dog just went for all my dogs?"

The guy was freaked. He just grabbed the dog by the collar and took off the other way. Left the end of the leash tied to the post. It's still out there.

We dodged the doberman bullet. I'll keep my eyes out for him. And next time we come around that corner and get the stink eye from a dog tied outside the market, maybe next time we take the slow way back around the block.

24 April 2016

USDAA in Morgan Hill weekend.


These three spent a long weekend stuffed in car crates at the dog show. Two of them are very tired, and one of them is not. Otterpop. Otterpop needs a hobby.

Gustavo was amazing. His new hobby is having these unbelievable Masters Jumpers runs. He is so fast, and so happy, and I just run ahead screaming either Goooeee Gooooeeee Goooooeeee or tunnel tunnel tunnel. And somehow this does the trick and I only blind cross and then he wins.

I could not be more proud of Banksy. Not only was her behavior lovely and reasonably calm, but she was SO GOOD! She is like a beautifully trained dog! Now she needs a handler to match. She moved up to all Masters and got her first Masters Qs. I also made errors in some of her runs. I want to figure out how to run perfectly for Banksy because she sort of is perfect. Any mistake she made was just a handling error from me. Maybe not the one dogwalk miss, but she had beautiful running dogwalks on all the others and beautiful aframes. But other than that, she can do no wrong.

Banksy is like a real, genuine agility dog now! I can't believe I have a dog like Banksy as a partner. I think I'm very, very lucky. Now to figure out how to stop making mistakes!

21 April 2016

Cool shades.


Otterpop wears them the best.


I got the shades for Ruby, but she's so blind she sees worse in them. I just wanted to shade her eyes since they don't dilate. Sun makes her eyes hurt. Gustavo thought they were pretty good.


Um,  Banksy, not sure if they work so well for you. Nice try though. Don't be surprised if you see Otterpop sporting shades. Just because.

Goodnight sweet prince.


NYTimes declares a return of the '80's and don't say we didn't see it coming.




18 April 2016

Here are some mundane things, from my quiet mundane week.


This is all because I had to go to Costco. Being a card carrying Costco member makes me very sad, sometimes one trip to Costco makes me depressed for days. Today I went to Costco. Life will go on.

Here's what $650,000 buys you in our real estate market. Not Otterpop and a stick on the sand trails, that costs priceless. How about 6 acres on Bear Creek road with a house that burned down 25 years ago. There is a neglected mobile home on the property and a derelict pool filled with vines. Do not enter the neglected mobile home, stay far, far away from the pool. Otterpop is all, whatever. Stack the branches, we'll be fine.


Gustavo and Otterpop had a doctor's appointment together. Gustavo loves the doctors! Best fun ever! They touch you! It's amazing! I hang on to Otterpop and show the doctor her teeth myself. Otterpop growls at the doctor, but if I am holding her, has very reasonable manners. We just use that old saying, "Don't touch the Otterpop." Everyone comes out alive.

I ordered Ruby a fly mask for dogs. Her eyes hurt when they're in the sun and I think her legs wobble more when her eyes hurt. I'll let you know when it arrives. It's bright orange, so she'll look like a Lady Gaga Giants fan, is my hope. Please don't laugh at Ruby. We want her to be able to enjoy some walks. It's sun season around here, there's only so much shade we can find.


Banksy is Banksy. She does like to go to parties. However, the sight of the neighbors lifting kettle balls high above their heads which are higher than our fence, and the other neighbors coming and going up their back porch steps is too much for her to bear. They move! And they're not part of our yard. So much drama from Banksy, Banksy's trigger is a tiny hair and she can pitch a fit with the best of 'em.

She is learning to deal with asshat dogs on the beach stairs. Why most people think it's fine to launch a mean dog straight down a steep set of stairs exactly into a group of leashed dogs trying to make their way up is beyond me. The people are either tourists or assholes or possibly both. Frequently the dogs are definitely asshats. This is what we got now though, the foxtails are too prickly and abundant everywhere else, and it's hot, so to the beach we go.

And we practice. And practice, and practice and practice. Would you like to see our 150 at least running dogwalk videos? Why, here's one just from today. It really is going smashing, as long as we ONLY GO STRAIGHT. We have a lot of time to practice, I'm officially only working part time, which is a nice way of saying business really sucks. If you're thinking of ordering a dog portrait, now is a great time. I'm all about moving back to a lifestyle of creative angst and low wages. Dog portraits are cheap! Get three!

Do you know anyone nearby looking to start agility classes? I'm starting some new ones at Heart Dog Agility, send them my way! We'll have a grand time, let's fill the classes! Order the portraits! Bring your kid to ride. Let's start boosting this economy a little bit, get those dog dental appointments paid off, let me buy some new sneakers. Wouldn't you want to read a team small dog book? Are you a publisher? Send one my way.

Over and out, see you soon. Yer pals, Laura & team small dog.

Not for everybody but probably for YOU!


You know you want a portrait, right? Am I right?

Coming soon are 18x24" color giclee prints! Wow! So big so bright so, Not for Everybody! But probably, FOR YOU! Cost a little more, but so worth it.

And of course, you can always get a black and white drawing, too.

You know where to find me...you can always order portraits or get good shirts and stickers at http://www.teamsmalldog.com . See you there!

You know, sometimes when I'm not here, I might be over at Mark Zuckerberg's house. Or at least on the Team Small Dog page on Facebook. Since I heard facebook is like taking over the world or whatever, I'm over there a lot more.

06 April 2016

USDAA TurtleMania is coming!


USDAA recently announced a new Big Dog Show, called TurtleMania!


Apparently it's held at the pond and you need to win at least one turtle to be able to try out for the IFCS team. That's International Fancy Canine Snappers, in case you don't speak agility.


Otterpop is not eligible. So get that snout out of the snapper, Otterpop.


It may be important to note that we will not be attending this event. Because Ruby is the only one who wasn't afraid of the turtle. She smacked it a good one and tried to chew on it's face. Gustavo and Banksy, normally brave, or at least braveish, competitors, needed to stay far enough away of the turtle. Apparently in a past life, turtle mania was not a positive experience for either of them. Otterpop did try to run back and bite it and then she had to go on a leash.