30 November 2015

One of these things is not like the other.

Banksy is always going to stick out like a thumb. Not a sore one, but just the kind that sticks out. Also, they're putting the Kitchen Brothers' Court of Mysteries back on the market. Last time it listed for over two million and nobody bought it. It's a graffiti covered mess on a busy street. But I sure do wish it could be our new team headquarters. The towers can speak with submarines! There's room for weave poles and a dogwalk on the grounds. We'll see if they lower the price. By a lot. Anybody wants to buy it, we'll be happy to take care of it for you and repaint the creepy, gangster graffiti'ed interior for you in chippery bright animal murals.

So we went to a fun match the other day. I skipped work and ran Banksy and Gustavo. Gustavo ran great and had the best time ever and did little mini courses beautifully and super fast and no freakies. We love us some fun matches.

Banksy, we had a different kind of day. I tried an experiment called what if I let her hang out closer to the ring, adjacent to dogs doing agility and let her tug for a while before her turn? This was a huge failure. She got so wound up that we had a big zero of team work in the ring. Huge big fat zero. Brain explosion. Bars. The blue tunnel way over there every time. She also got super freaky scared in the parking lot, I think because of a lot of barking dogs in cars near ours. To where she said at one point, don't make me get out of the car. Freaky paranoia attack Banksy has been making appearances lately and made a dramatic appearance at the fun match. Real fun. Then there were the zero good running dogwalk contacts. Big fat zero. And she snapped at a friend's dog. And when we were playing ball with another friend's dog, decided to not let me put her leash on when the game was over. Oh, and I threw her toy early in the weave poles once and she popped the last pole to get it and after that, multiple more pops out of the poles. Which is like, so six months ago.


So the sun was shining, we were in Carmel Valley which is like the most beautiful place ever, loads of my friends were there, I was having a self imposed holiday off work, there was pie, and it was that kind of day. Multiple training failures every where I turned.

I felt like paranoia attack Banksy feels. Backed into a corner and all, INCOMING FROM EVERYWHERE!

So I came out of the ring off one of my turns, I think where I was just doing an easy loop with an easy dogwalk approach, trying to find her hit, which we didn't, and one of my friends who I haven't seen in a long time is grinning widely.

She's all, "I am so happy you got your border collie! That was awesome!"

I reply, "Oh my god. That was a disaster. Total disaster. Did you see her dogwalk?" I'm dragging Banksy away to recover behind a bush because of the earlier disaster of letting her stay too close to the ring and fit throwing over threshold brain explosion.

"That was awesome! Laura, you have your fast high drive dog! You got the dog you needed!"

Every time someone's told me that thing, You Get the Dog You Need, I always think it means crazy Banksy. When she's throwing a fit, or having a weirdo attack, or telling me she should be able to go chase that blowing leaf across the road and then take out the Mercedes driving by at the same time. I'm pretty sure this isn't what I needed. And usually I wanna deck 'em. But I don't. Because manners. And jail.

But when you look at it that way, yeah, I did. Just came with some extra value added complications I didn't know were part of the package. But they are. And off we go. To practice some more dogwalks right now. Me and the dog I needed. Not sure she needed me, but I'm all she got, so there we go.

27 November 2015

Thanksgiving for every wrong move.

photo by Channan Fosty
We hope you had a good Thanksgiving. We did. There was agility, forest walking, friends, and a huge dinner including pie all in one day. Not a single ounce of things to complain about. Although I bet for some of you, it totally sucked, and I'm sorry for that.

The worst thing that happened to us that day was ice on the dogwalk. Which melted. So really, nothing to complain about. You know what I'm not going to gripe about? A slightly moist dogwalk.

Some days are good. Some days aren't. From where I'm sitting, we're doing pretty much a-ok compared to a lot of other places out there. So there you go.

Remember these guys? Poi Dog from the 80's? They're still around. Thanksgiving for every wrong move.

24 November 2015

RDW! RF! RDW! RF! RDW! RF! Come and join us!

Perhaps you know my friend Silvia? I've only met her in person once, a few years back when she came to California, all the way from Slovenia, to teach a seminar. Me and Gooey muddled our way through, and had a great time and learned a lot.

I started taking her online classes with Banksy, we started with Foundation Level, which was amazing, and then somehow I found myself teaching a very fast running border collie running contacts with her. To say I'm a little obsessed with running contacts at this point would be like saying I slightly enjoy pie. How about that I set up my work schedule around driving 25 minutes out of my way in order to let Banksy run across the dogwalk 12 or so times, then drive back home 25 minutes and upload my videos in slow motion to see if her feet are hitting the yellow the same as I thought they were when we were both running by as fast as we could, and then go to work. As often as I can?

It's a little weird. We have moderate success with it. I mess Banksy up all the time, though, and have to go back and fix it a lot. Which is why I'm going back in the class. I am not ashamed to admit that I'm repeating the 5th grade. That's just who I am. Banksy is a super star. She just does what I show her. Silvia is very, very patient, uses little happy faces in her emails, and always has really good advice.

Wouldn't you like to come and join us? Because Silvia's starting her class again on December 8. If you want to see what it all looks like, there are only about 40 thousand videos in my youtube,  https://www.youtube.com/user/teamsmalldog/videos. Some people have baby scrapbooks, I have a youtube full of slow motion dog videos. Running dogwalks are about Banksy's favorite thing that exist. If they involve going in a tunnel, even better.

Sign up now on Silvia's website, lolabuland! See you there!

22 November 2015

Boringness, a thing we strive for, an illustrated guide featuring Banksy and Gustavo just laying there on the kitchen rug.

Sweeping the floor is the opposite of boring for Banksy. Sweeping the floor is a giant fiasco of the brain, because, THE BROOM IS MOVING! And the broom makes blowers then the blowers move and the broom is sweeping up all the potential blowers everywhere and it is used on smooth places, and can you just imagine? The sweeping, it is all those things.

Also, I don't tell them to look at the camera like that. They just do that. They need agents.

Who knew basic household sweeping was like running into Tim Gun in the airport? Winning the lottery where they deliver a 19' Fiberglass Escape Travel Trailer into your driveway? Carrie and Fred call you up to take you to cocktails? Just seeing the broom, MY GOD, IT'S THE BROOM! Don't try to sneak it out the cupboard. Don't even try a teensy bit because, MY GOD, IT'S THE BROOM! Just the sight of it causes tremors and waves and attacking and biting and running and leaping, all at the same time. Blowers! Sweeping! THE BROOM!

So, because it drives me insane when Banksy looks insane, staring at specks and then with extra added broom attacking and the speck pouncing alternating between broom chomping, which is just really, totally insane, we had to do boringness lessons of sweeping. Poor Tim Gunn if I ever run into him in an airport. In a real dog trainer's kitchen, teaching Banksy to do the sweeping without posessing opposable thumbs would have been the more advanced and way cooler dog training solution. You should probably teach your dog that one.

At our house, we use the kitchen rug. This is the boring place. Any time I'm implementing boringness lock down, Banksy gets the kitchen rug. That thing is filthy. Please wash your kitchen rug. You can see Banksy's crazy eyes turning back on because she is watching THE BROOM.

Gustavo at some point figured out that there are potential cookies during boringness lockdown. Gustavo has never and will never attack a broom. I can guarantee that. He has to hide outside in the bushes when the vacuum is on. Everybody else thinks the vacuum is fantastic because of vacuum cookies. Even Banksy. Vacuums are just like normal to her. Not like MUTHATRUCKIN' WACKAMOONDO BROOM! Which is what she's thinking, but she's also remembering to be boring.

Nowadays, there aren't really even broom cookies anymore. Brooms at some point equal boringness. Especially when Gary has the broom. When Gary has the broom, Banksy can even walk around and just do normal things, as in Life Goes On When There's Blowers. Amazing. I have to still use boringness on the rug. So this actually works out fantastic for me so I can just take photos of boringness or have a snack while he does the sweeping.

Or go draw somebody's dog. Thank you if you ordered a dog drawing and I promise, I'm working on it. Or will be soon. All these dog drawings equal things like, a sleepover dog show this month with a night for me and the dogs at Motel 6! The one by the casino with the crack smoking hookers! Exciting news!

Oops, back to boring. Didn't mean to have anything exciting here. Just laying on the kitchen rug. Working on the boring.

18 November 2015

Very patient dogs, basically.

Some very sad, neglected small dogs. Who at least got to walk to Bear Mountain. Which isn't actually a mountain at all. But better than nothing.

After we practice, we always make time for even a teensy walk. Practice now equals just Banksy do some dogwalks, or Banksy does some poles. Or I figure out how to not do a freaky forced front cross, there should be no freaky in there, ever at all. There is so much potential for being good at agility with Banksy, actually it's not Banksy who needs the practice, it's me. Banksy's already good at agility. So good at it that she amplifies my suck.

Poor Gooey. Poor Otterpop. Poor Ruby. Practice used to be this whole team thing, everybody with a turn, even if it was for some heeling around tunnels. Or cookies for playing ball. One little gamble. Everyone screaming on the log, waiting for their turn. Now it's like a run run run up the hill, stay in the car, hope there's no ice, set up the video, do some dogwalks, figure out why the misses happen, try to fix quickly, and then time is up.

Banksy of course loves it no matter what we do. Banksy, Banksy, Banksy.

My work is funny now, my business is still so very slow after the giant ranch implosion of last spring. I became a part time designer and illustrator again. I've been hustling up underbid jobs to do in my spare time. Perhaps you have one for me? Now scheduling illustration projects for after the holidays. Squooshed in between the barn and practicing and forest walks. Minimum wage by the time I'm done! But some money is some money, how else do I pay for my dogwalk running time? And some trials! Maybe even one with a fancy night at Motel 6! Goretex shoes with nubby bottoms? A vegan burrito at the deli? All of these things now fall into the luxury bucket, and these are all things I like very much. So squooshed life it is, always on the run again.

The dogs are very patient. They've seen this happen before. No matter what, there's time for a little run up the hill. Then we run down, get back in the car, and wait for the next one.

16 November 2015

Oh the holidays, here they come.

Righty-o. The holiday season is nearly upon us. Got your recipes in hand? Travel dates sewn up? Taking a little time off work? Because how much holiday cheer do your elves ned to start whipping up? We know what our priorities are. So here we go. Holiday preparations, off and ready! Border collie work ethic! Festive gourds abound!

Centerpieces. Who doesn't want one of those? For thanksgiving, we plan to collect some rocks and sticks and fallen branches. Lovely table toppers, all of them. You know that part in the Blair Witch movie with the rock piles? And Josh moves the wrong one and the next thing you know, there's ectoplasm and his bloody teeth? All downhill from there. Many soggy leaves. Is that a centerpiece?

Festive trees. We're using the train stick thing this year. Here's our tree. It's not even a tree. What do you call the train stick? What does it do there, anyways? We see a lot of trees and for goshsake, why cut them down? One almost fell down on my head recently and I'm forever dragging branches off the path. Festive trees my ass. Just go enjoy a train stick.

Shining angel lights. North stars. Baby Jesus in the sky. Shiny star thing up on your train stick. Use the right camera angle with your phone, just point it up into the sun. Because who even has a camera anymore? Just stick your phone in somebody's face and that's called a selfie. Is it a selfie if I took it of Otterpop?

Silent night. Quiet, mystical night. Not really. It's the trestle. But I did leave Otterpop at home with the other dogs the other night. Most people can do that, leave all the dogs at home. However, welcome to Otterpop. She used to scare baby Banksy with her barking and manic separation anxiety behavior so I just started bringing Otterpop with me, all the time. Really all the time. Banksy magically loves being left home with Ruby and Gustavo since that time. I have three lovely quiet dogs who you tell them you're leaving and they understand you'll be back.

Sure, they'd like to go along, too. But they get it. And they go to sleep.

Since Banksy is a grown up now, or at least as grown up as a 20 month old dog can be, I've tried leaving Otterpop at home occasionally. Ha. Not a silent night. Otterpop freaks out and scares the other dogs and I come home to a manic Otterpop out of her mind and a quaking everybody else, looking all shell shocked. So Otterpop comes along with me. If you're wondering why, at the holiday gathering, I have an Otterpop stuffed into a purse.

Also, can you see the cave up there in the top right corner of the photo? Bonus if you made it this far. Gustavo says there's an animal living in there. Secret little den. We'll come look for it again. Do you see perhaps how my holidays go here?

Weird events.

We saw Yo La Tengo last night. Apparently the first time we saw them was something like 26 years ago in a tiny club that was a tiny house in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. One of those places that's somebody's house on a barren, stripped lot, walls painted black inside, and one day so many bands have played there, it's a thing. All of a sudden it's a club. But the beer's still in a keg. No one can ever use those floors in the day light again. I can barely remember a club like this, and certainly don't remember Yo La Tengo there, so many bands ago, but I know I've seen them a lot of times since, even though they live in New Jersey. Georgia sings like a beautiful angel, and they're all a little older than I am.

From a little ways back from the stage now, Georgia looks the same, but then when I walked up front, in my clogs because my foot hurts enough not to stay up front the whole time, she had the same kind of skin in her neck that mine turned into this year. Kind of crinkly and loose and doesn't look like my real skin. It just showed up one day and now I see it if I look at my own neck with glasses on. Georgia seems calm about this, at least that's how it looks on stage.

At the end, super late, like 10:30pm, past people our age's sleep time, they did one song in French, already the whole time I couldn't help but to think about all the people in the club in Paris, having the same kind of night as us until they didn't. I'm pretty sure every single person in there was thinking the same thing.

The rest of the weekend was dog show, the rest of the weekend was work and playing with the dogs. It was windy and cold, and I had the best walk with Banksy because when she started to stare at the blowers, I told her let's just walk, and she did.

So it's funny out there now, we're all hoping to get old, but freaked out about it too. And then catastrophic events happen, so many deaths so nobody can even try to get old so they can get freaked out about it. We're lucky to have Yo La Tengo to remind us just to keep going, we're lucky to have dogs, they do the same thing. We're lucky to have an icy clear day to walk out into and just keep going.

14 November 2015

A blue card day.

First of all, this is a Blue Card. It is a precious thing. You see those numbers with 17on the side that are all equal or less than 17.4"? Those numbers mean that Banksy is an 18" dog. At least until she's 3, in which case, one more measure. Or if I want to go to akc. In which case, 2 more times. Poor Banksy.

When it's time to measure, she flops over onto the ground, upside down, and looks like she wants to die. I have to reach down and pick her up and plop her onto the table and hang on to her shaking and my friend Karla shovels very excellent things like gizzards down her gullet while the judge waits for her to stand still. She really thinks she's going to die.

Why this is a big deal, terrifying Banksy with this measuring, is that if she can stay at this size forever, low a-frame for Banksy. I actually kind of like her jumping better at 22". But lower jumps and lower a-frame seem like the makings of a nice long time of jumping and climbing for Banksy.

It was hard to measure her. She needs a judge with the patience of a saint. Thanks, all patient judges. We did it, she didn't die, and she's short. I can never, ever lose that Blue Card.

Another trip out to Turlock, just for a day. Some Q's, Banksy's first Steeplechase Q. Her Grand Prix run was beautiful, except that run included her first missed dogwalk contact. Probably not her last. Her running dogwalk is a little messed up. She hit all the rest of them the rest of the day, that was a happy thing. I mucked up a couple things handling-wise, but did some good things, too. Banksy loves dog shows. Now I want to go to more! She is still in Starters, the run I mucked up? Starters Standard.

I would like to muck up less. True fact. How do I do that?

Gustavo just ran Steeplechase. And he ran it good, we were at Turlock and this is a hard place for him. Poor Gooey. That's all I entered him in. He tried hard, and he ran fast. Thanks, Gooey!

Ruby and Otterpop came, of course. Ruby has decided she will go EVERYWHERE with us, so everywhere she comes. Even though she wants to nap in the car the entire day. It was a dark o'clock day, and Ruby is still right there at the door, first in the car. And as if I'd ever go anywhere without Otterpop. The team stands together.

This is Maira Kalman. Maybe that's not a big deal to you, it was a big deal to me. This photo doesn't match anything, it's a total fan photo. That's how big a deal it was to me, that I save a plain old fan photo here. But how cool was it to talk to Maira Kalman and listen to her talk? She's just a regular New York lady, now whenever I think about her, I'll know this. Usually when you meet an idol, that's how it turns out to be.

I tried to bring Otterpop, but she wouldn't sit in a purse. Otterpop might have to practice that and channel some inner chihuahua. You can't just shove a dog in a backpack when you're wearing nicer shoes. Even if they're clogs. It was disturbing that most of the crowd at the lecture looked like that big head in the photo. Very old and gray. Weird.

12 November 2015

Happy Birthday Neil Young and there's ice on the dogwalk.

In the morning now, when I drive up the hill early in the morning to visit our borrowed dogwalk, there's ice on it when I arrive. Well, not on Monday, when the storm cloud broke open the minute I got out of the car. That was a quick trip. Winter is coming. Banksy can't run across an ice slick, she'd slide across and scramble through the air and fall to the ground. I can see it now on the slow-mo, scrambling for the footing and spinning and sliding from no more running footfalls, off the plank into nothing, hanging across the air before hitting the crispy grass. So I scrape the ice a little, and try to have some patience for the air to heat up just enough past freezing to melt it into water.

Running dogwalks are a project, no matter how you slice them. Banksy's best frienemy, Kirk, doesn't seem to bat an eye at dogwalk challenges, but Banksy still has a very long list of things that are difficult with hers. In the grand scheme of things, I hope a few weeks of misses or weird turns or bad separation, is only a little bobble for a lifetime of agility. She's not even two years old. We'll be chasing this one for a long time, me and her.

Neil Young was a long haired flannel shirt wearing guy when he used to show up downtown and play at a local club, just because he could. He lives in the mountains a little ways up the coast from from here, local lore reports he has a miniature train on his massive property and a lot of cars. One time when he showed up here, I had to use a fake ID to get in. Might have been in my prairie dress period, Doc Martens and a prairie dress over an old striped t-shirt. That was a long time ago.

High on the list of broken dogwalk things to fix is my grand idea of sometimes asking for a stop. I broke her running so bad that Silvia yelled at me with all caps and little frowny faces. And there's the idea that if I'm asking for a very wide turn sometimes she takes the thing on the other side if it's closer. Banksy's dogwalk is kind of doing it's own thing with her right now. Who could fathom how hard it would be to teach a border collie to run a straight line down a plank?

The ice took a long time to melt. The sun was barely reaching the edge on one side, I kept scraping it with my nail. Fussy, fussy, fussy. It's hard to be patient when this might be the day of no misses. The day I don't mess up Banksy. It could be. I tied the carpet back on, we haven't seen the old carpet since the knee surgery period of sending to the tunnel from a mile away. A little more ice melted and ran down the rubbery board.

Neil Young's birthday was today, a birthday for seventy years old. The last photo I saw of him, his face skin was saggy and jowly, kind of like how mine started to do this year.  Your hair gets really weird when you get old, too. So if he was forty when I had to use a fake ID, that means he was still younger than I am now. And here I am, waiting for the ice to melt off a little bridge for dogs.

Stupid ice. I kept finding other little patches. Scrape some more with a very cold nail.

When the planks were defrosted, we let it rip. Yeah. Still a miss here and there, still turning herself to the closest jump on the left when I wanted a further turn out there. Some messed up striding. I'm a pretty shitty dog trainer, for the most part. Can't make it clear enough for her to understand the things I want. She had a few good hits, too. So all isn't lost. I'm a miner for that perfect hit.

Happy Birthday, Neil Young. Did you have a party, up there in your personal redwoods, with your train? Or did you just go out to the barn and work on the cars, work on some songs, still searching for whatever it is you need to find? We celebrated for you when the ice melted, ran that dogwalk over and over again, looking for that hit. Let's hope there's many more.

10 November 2015

A little sort of adsy thing from yer pals at Clean Run.

A little letter from Clean Run. I am forwarding it here because, wow, agility people, what the hell. It's the only agility magazine, right?  Maybe I let my subscription lapse for a while there, it's true. I already have massive piles of The New Yorker all over my living room. But I remember once when me and Ruby's photo was in there, I don't remember why, now. It was that long ago. It was on an article showing good connection between dog and handler, and I was wearing my favorite red plaid shirt and those weird jeans that had to be rolled up. That was, like, a big deal. These people put out the ONLY magazine about the Thing we're all obsessed with.

Also, I really like the part about the brilliant and funny blogger of myself, who will be writing for them next year. They had me at brilliant.


From Monica Percival, Editor of Clean Run Magazine:

Magazine publishing is a challenging world these days. Advertising dollars are way down and publishing expenses keep climbing. For many years now, we have been absorbing all the increases without raising the price of a subscription. But we have gone past the point of just breaking even and now the printed magazine is losing money each month. To keep producing the printed version of the magazine, we need to get 1,000 new subscribers in the next few months. If we can’t achieve this, then we will have to publish Clean Run in just the digital format.

We’ve done several surveys of both existing and lapsed subscribers in the process of developing content for 2016. One of our challenges every year is providing content relevant to the many different levels of agility competitors. We would like to share with you some of the new additions we’re really excited about. We hope that existing subscribers will be inspired to renew and we hope the rest of you will consider subscribing for the first time or re-subscribing if your subscription has lapsed. And, at the end of this letter, you’ll find a special subscription offer.

In 2016…

We’ll be keeping the very popular Backyard Dogs series going as well as the Power Paws Drills series, although Nancy will be alternating longer drill setups with shorter ones.

We’re bringing back The Construction Zone so we can share some of the great obstacle construction plans developed by all the do-it-yourselfers out there.

One of the most popular agility bloggers out there, Tori Self, will be joining us her “Sense of Self” contributions. And another brilliant and funny blogger, Laura Hartwick of Team Small Dog, will be doing some writing for us.

Kristy Netzer is doing a 12-part series starting in March on how to train incredible distance lead-outs. We have a video of her and some of her students doing lead-outs so you can examples of what she’ll be teaching.

We know that there are many of you out there who aren’t shopping for a Border Collie or planning your next trip to a national event. But that doesn’t mean you aren't looking to put your best foot forward every time you train or compete with your dog. Sandy Rogers’ Survival Guide series is for those of you who are serious enough about your training that you want to see some steady improvement, but who are not living and breathing to tighten every turn and shave off tenths of seconds.

Frankie Joiris & Chris Ott will be sharing tips for raising your next performance puppy.

British behaviorist Tom Mitchell will be answering subscriber’s questions about how to solve their dog’s behavior problems.

Cindy Elliott Deak will be writing a series called The Judge’s Eye that will discuss how and why judges design courses the way they do and how knowing a bit about course design can help handlers identify challenges on course during the walk-through.

These are just some of the regular series. There will be lots of specialized feature articles as well.

A Special Subscription Offer

Until Thanksgiving Day, if you subscribe to the magazine or renew your subscription, you will receive a PDF version of the most popular issue Clean Run has ever published, the Special Focus Issue on Puppies! To take advantage of this offer, first add your subscription or renewal to the shopping cart. When you do this, the website will display the shopping cart page. Notice the box in the bottom left corner for entering a coupon code or a gift certificate number. In the box, type


and then click the Apply button next to the box. The special issue will appear in your cart.

We encourage people to check out our new all-access subscription: http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?category=359. For an additional $10 over the regular subscription price, you get the printed magazine plus the digital edition. And we now have both an iOS app and an Android app so you can read your issues easily on your favorite device.

If you are current subscriber and you wish to add the digital edition for $10, just contact info@cleanrun.com and customer service will be happy to take care of it for you.

To give the perfect holiday gift - http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?category=992

Monica Percival


08 November 2015

Banksy goes to a trial again, actually we all go.

Banksy's first trip around Gamblers! Very fun to do the many things!

Banksy loves dog shows. This is a cool fact. She stays patient in the car and doesn't throw fits. She had nice manners, and was incredibly chill. She did little tricks before her turn, she took nice walks around the ranch. She did only one very naughty thing and escaped at the very end of the weekend, but luckily Holly flung herself on top of her just as I screamed LIEDOWN and we captured her. Her only low point. I am buying Holly cocktails for that one.

The rest of the weekend, the biggest problems were a refusal, a couple bars, one off course tunnel. stuff like that. Those are problems I can deal with. There were a handful of Qs and big fun running around the Starters ring and Grand Prix and Steeplechase.

Now I want to go go go to all the dog shows!

Gustavo ran a little bit too. He had a just say no to poles weekend, but for his Standard on Sunday. He somehow did all the poles and did all the things, there was just a refusal but no vortexes, no corks blowing, just all fast around the things in the right order.

Running Banksy is a lot less complicated than running Gooey. That is a fact. There were all contacts. There were all weave poles. There were all the things. His cork blows a lot. Hers blew a little at the very end of the day and that's when she did her great escape, 2 days of dogshow doing a lot of things is probably still a little too much for her. We'll do less things next time.

Gustavo did the yellow tunnel wrapped around the dogwalk in Masters Challenge Standard 5 times until I convinced him to come on out and  do a teeter, take a jump and exit the ring like the class act he is. It was a vortex. His steeplechase is usually his happy place and there were all sorts of tunnels and things happening in there. Sometimes he decides the weave poles in the dirt are diseased, that was happening this weekend.

I love Gustavo THE BEST. So it's cool when this happens. He's the only dog that sleeps under the covers. I had thought perhaps we should qualify for Nationals. Now I just think, I don't know what I think. I think it's very fun to do agility with a dog like Banksy who you just go in the ring with and do some agility. Get Qs. Not see dead people, not have corks blow, not have things touch the feet that feel funny, just go in and do all the things.

I think me and Banksy are going to like this agility thing together.

01 November 2015

Slow and boring insomnia fighting herding day.

If you have insomnia, you should watch this video. It's Banksy doing her sheep herding in a super boring way. She lies down. She waits. She patiently goes round the sheep. Not once did she split, hug, or eat any of them. Which is saying a lot because it was National Sheep Hugging Day. I think. Or else Channan made that up.

I was pretty happy. I would say we are not the most talented sheep herders out there. I'm not sure how much better either of us will get. But if she can go round and organize the sheep quietly and then lie down, I am declaring victory.

Hope you got as bored as me watching it!

The factory is open.

The window for holiday portrait ordering is currently open, but it's going to close quick. If you're thinking you need to order any dog portraiture for your beloved ones, do it now because when the window closes, it's closed until after the holidays. I can only keep my bleeding fingered elves chained to their tables for so long. At some point they have to be set free.

Everything you need to know about ordering, find on my website right here. Easy peasiest xmas gifts that you don't have to go shopping for. Who doesn't need one of these?

30 October 2015

Good morning, agility Banksy.

Agility Banksy wakes up with a smile on her face. Going to go to the agilities today?

We are working hard on all the things. Banksy is very fast! I am not so much. We work on the handling, on Banksy not just selecting the next thing over THERE because I was too slow to specify, over here.

The contacts! There are so many things with the contacts.

The running is good. But I am still sure I want her stopping on the very hard places, which are a lot of them. But we practice so many running, trying to show her feet that it's always just HERE, where to touch the yellow on that run down.

The biggest challenge with the stopped dogwalk is not getting creepies on the downramp. We have off and on success and failure at this.

Her teeter got a big creepy, so we've been practicing goofy fun teeter slamming and a little bit lower teeter. So far success.

Her a-frame! Her hit is high but it's always there. Hmmm.

The hard things, are everything. Handling her beautifully like she deserves, Banksy needs very early information. I try to be like Silvia. We improve in tiny little patches every day we practice, like a tiny rash that spreads up your arm. A tiny bit every day. Til someday we are as excellent as full body, festering, itchy hives!

Photos by the amazing Channan Fosty. Video by the brilliant videographer of running dogwalk slo-mo Laura.

29 October 2015

Recruitment resume for Team Small Dog.

I know, I know, I keep saying I'm staying out of the forest.

But here we go again.

Is there a job like this? Like it's your job to go to the forest, and ask your dogs to jump on things and take their photos?

Like you would get up, have a banana with your coffee in the car, go do this, go home, take the photos out of your camera while the dogs snooze under the desk, fix the pictures up however they need fixing, send them into the internet, repeat the whole process after lunch, and then you get a paycheck for it?

Maybe that job's called lottery ticket. Amazing windfall you didn't see coming. Retirement?

Also on that job there's no coyotes. Or meth addicts in rain boots waving tennis rackets. Or cops. Or lady with the two mean dogs straining in huge pinch collars that are just this close to breaking free of her even though she's got them pulled off to the side shouting, "JUST GO BY, I GOT 'EM!" over their very loud roars. Or human poops shoved under leaves right on the trail. Or pumas. Or drone parties in the air over the meadow on random Monday evenings. Or dirt bikers screaming down the logging road. Or rancid water puddles where the creek used to be.

Or even if the job had those things, I'd still take it. Does anybody know this job? Consider this my application, you know where to find me.

19 October 2015

Normal things dogs do.

Look! It's the dog park.

We went to the one in the more fancy neighborhood. It's sort of like a nice hill surrounded by prison fencing. We're not used to fences.

There were your basic little yappy dogs, little pestery dogs, huge thug dogs, medium size fetching dogs, and a couple giant old dogs. The secret to bringing Otterpop to a mixed race dog park is give her the little Orange Ball and do not let her lose it. If she is holding on to the ball, the pestery dogs and the yappy dogs and the thugs will not make her INSANE by TOUCHING HER so she wants to bite them.

Small and pestery is her biggest peeve. Otterpop has to use enormous amounts of impulse control to keep her shit together at the dog park. And her Orange Ball.

Gustavo and Banksy kind of love the dog park. They both know how to negotiate the mosh pit of the thugs, prance around with the yappers, spaz out with the pesterers, fetch with the fetchers and be very sweet to the old dogs. They are actually good at how-to-do dog parks.

Otterpop mostly had to follow me around with me hissing at her, "Hold on to that Orange Ball…"

She's not so bad if she can just be near the fetching dogs and nobody wants to touch her. This is just going to be something Otterpop has to do while the coyotes and tweakers are occupying our normal walking zones.

Ruby can't go to the dogpark. I get too worried the thugs might run her down. She gets a chewy in the car.

It's not so bad at the dog park. It's big and hilly and I just marched around up and down the hills while everybody else chatted in their sandals and mindlessly chuck-itted their balls. Everyone there was nice and even the thug dogs were very nice thugs. I was the most not normal one there, clomping up and down the hills hissing about the Orange Ball half the time.

I waited til all the people left the chatty picnic table to put the dogs there. It's a very chatty dog park.

Banksy did another normal dog thing today. Went to a new vet who's office was not contaminated by Satan Horror Virus! She was kind of scared but normal dog scared and let the doctor stick the thing in her ear and stethoscope her and touch her teeth and her stomach and run the microchip scanner over her. I won't say Banksy loved it, but she wasn't all, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!

She even ate the vet's treats. It was extremely no big deal. Total within the realm of your basic nervous dog at the vet. I am very excited about Banksy's new vet!

We had a nice day just doing normal things that normal dogs do.

Almost out of fuel and the magic kind of coyote.

When I drove up the hill, cracking of dawn over dusty, dry trees, I remembered the fuel light had been on in my car. I do this. I put off getting diesel until I have to eek down the mountain, coasting slow mile by slow mile, praying quiet little prayers that we can make it all the way to the highway and fill up while the little hand on the dial keeps creepy through the red zone. I also tend to drive without my wallet, so once we get to the gas station, there is creeping through the seats, looking for loose dollars and quarters to purchase just one gallon.

I do this more than I'd like to. But for some reason I can't stop.

It was darker than I like when we slunk into the woods. Not having enough fuel to get up the mountain far enough to where I wanted to go, I had to settle for a walk that didn't feel right so early, passing through several known coyote alleyways.

Another thing I do more than I'd like to. But same thing, I can't stop.

I took a stupid turn, and had to backtrack off a fire road. They've been trying to get the brush down up there, it already feels naked with no foilage left at all. Dried up and dropped off, then dozers have been in there preparing fuel breaks for the inevitable. It's a race against time right now, which will happen first, the Dreaded Blaze or the El NiƱo? It's a different forest than we've ever known, and the coyotes think so, too.

So I wasn't that surprised when Gustavo came running back to us, coyote chasing behind. He ran first to Banksy, and stopped nearly touching her. That's a sight where a panic slices through you while you see the actual moment of how things can change in an instant. Gustavo. Chased. Coyote. The coyote saw us all frozen, and he stopped as well.

I don't know if he was a he or a she, but whichever, also a dead ringer for Banksy. We joke about how she looks like a coyote, but here he was. The real deal doppleganger, brother from another mother, sister from another mister. Standing there staring at us all, no big blue bug eyes, though. His only looked black from where I was standing. Here he was, now part of our group, and we all had to decide what to do. He was beautiful and furry, looking more magical than most do. Never, ever seen one that looked so much like Banksy . Did fairies bring him to us? Was he even real? A spirit animal delivered for a reason?

Whatever. I got done with that line of thinking real quick. He was a coyote and he was standing right there. I used my favorite coyote yell. It sounds like a cartoon bear doing a karate chop. HA! HA! HA! I also use my special coyote banishing karate chop hand signals with it. He was so close, I didn't dare bend down to get a throwing stick, also throwing sticks has backfired recently because Banksy is all, TOY!,  not getting it that this toy is supposed to be a dangerous weapon, aimed at the coyote's head.

Nobody play with the coyote. Nobody chase the coyote. Nobody move. Just the coyote.


Sometimes yelling doesn't work. Definitely not on the werewolf variety, they've proven immune to my best voices. Also yelling hurts Banksy's feelings. That's why I yell like a cartoon bear. I figure coyotes haven't seen cartoons, they'll be scared. But Banksy lives in a house with a tv, although the only cartoon I ever watch is South Park. I should try to yell like Cartman. That level of potty mouth would definitely hurt Banksy's feelings, though.

Yelling isn't working for this coyote, anyways. He's not budging. Gustavo looks like his eyes are going to fall out of his head and Banksy's just standing there and Otterpop and Ruby are leashed up exactly by my feet, ready to exit.

I channel my inner Kung Fun Panda again. HA!! HA!! HHHAAAAA!!! I wave both arms around in karate chops. I am trying to look like a super bad ass Bruce Lee. All the dogs are disturbed maybe more by this than the coyote which is way too close.

He's eventually scared off, and I'm brave enough to take off the other direction at a pretty fast clip. I look over my shoulder a lot. I also reach down and grab a good throwing stick with a sharp end. For just in case.

Once again. Nobody eaten. But the close calls keep getting closer.

Later on, I also made it down the mountain without running out of gas. Barely. Just barely.

That night, I took the dogs to a dog park. The good old fashioned kind in a fence that keeps wild animals out and that had doodles and schnauzers and labs running up and down the hill chasing balls and kids. You drive your dogs up and stand around in sandals and chat and an old guy walks around and feeds cookies to all the dogs and pets them.

Otterpop thought she had gone to hell. Ruby stayed in the car. And Banksy and Gustavo ran and played and rolled around in the dirt with corgis and spaniels and everybody and I think we'll go back there today.

17 October 2015

Practicing weave poles with the team, someday we'll figure this out.

Before I set up some poles for Banksy to practice, we were walking around the pond. A little caravan of bikes with trailers carrying things and a couple of dogs arrived to the pond path, too. All kinds of people go to the pond to fish, to walk their dogs, to swim their dogs, to drink, to walk around, to paddle little boats, to look at birds, to smoke, to shoot drugs, to sleep. Surrounded by the farm where I get my vegetables, the train tracks over the willowy swamp, some office buildings, some industrial buildings, just down from the huge gummy bear factory.

When you eat gummy bears, they might come from near our pond. It's a nice spot we all share. We're lucky to have it. A little slice of unregulated space.

On a Friday night, almost dark, there are mostly guys fishing and drinking and fighting down there, all the swim spots were busy. So we were just walking the path to the trestle, then I thought I'd get the poles out of the car for Banksy to practice on the dirt patch that used to be a lawn. That stupid right angle soft side entrance we have such a hard time with, that is the one that still eludes us. I keep some poles in the car I can stick in the dirt and I stick them every place I can find.

The leader of the caravan is a woman. I see them sometimes, pushing their bikes down the highway, not sure if they come from the ravine or one of the RVs that park on the dirt shoulders til they get ticketed enough times to move. Their dogs ride in their trailers. Good dogs, probably way better manners than mind, they ride so nice in those little bike trailers.

Most space is regulated around here. We're so glad to have a free spot. No cops or rules, just a free spot where everybody can be.

When she saw all of us walking towards the swim spot she wanted, she got real mad.

I hadn't wanted the swim spot anyways. Too cold for dogs to swim, and there were already some guys fishing there. Dog swimming and fishing poles doesn't work together. We were walking away. Sometimes it takes some convincing to get Banksy to walk away, she's last one to get it when it's a no swim day.

The lady was mad though. Tweaker style mad.

"This is our private place! These dogpark people! Like this is a dogpark!" she starts screaming, to nobody exactly. Maybe the guys in her caravan.

Maybe at me. Because she grabs a tennis racket out of her trailer where her little dog rides, and shakes it at me, "People think this is a dogpark! Our private place!"

I don't think much of it. Crazy people abound. She was wearing rainboots. I was happy to move on.

We walked for a while, then I went back up to my car and got out 6 poles, stuck them in the ground. I can see the caravan lady now's built a little nest in some weeds near the only flat place where the dirt is soft enough for my poles. It's one of my main practice areas. Maybe not exactly allowed to practice dog agility there, but not exactly allowed to build a resting nest in it's weeds either. It's just a space.

Weave poles aren't real loud, but I do yell YAY a lot. Every time that soft side hard angle entry goes swell. It goes swell most of the times, except for a few that don't. Maybe as loud as the guys I heard brawling from the fishing dock earlier, but their yelling went on longer. The sun is almost down. Ten good times through the poles is plenty. That's not so many yays.

A few, though, that's enough for the lady. She jumps up and screams, "This is my PRIVATE PLACE! I AM TRYING TO HAVE SOME ALONE TIME! EVERY PLACE HERE YOU PICK THIS PLACE MY PRIVATE PLACE!"

I have to think about this a second. I did pick her private place. It also happens to be mine.

Usually it's a good plan with the meth people, just don't engage. A trio of tweakers shot two people a bit further north last week, one of them just out walking his dog. I've been thinking about this a lot, since our house got broken into and since I'm up here in the north a lot more instead of working down south. It's different up here now, where I've lived for so long.

I call back, "This is the public space! We share! Land for everybody!"

In hindsight, that was reasonable, and reasoning with people who's minds may be working different doesn't usually work. She starts freaking out and screaming more stuff, especially GOD BLESS YOU GOD BLESS YOU GOD BLESS YOU, and packs up her area. I do a few more poles, just wanted a few before the sun was all the way down.

She storms out with her bike and her dog and her stuff, and stops at the bottom of the hill to stand and scream, really loud. She's met her friends again down there, pointing up at me, and stares at me and starts screaming. Kind of like a coyote. I toss the ball a few more times. That was our enough. Really didn't mean to mess up her chill, just trying to get those weave poles down before someday.

I packed up the poles and carried them back to the car. Gustavo loves to find the car, that's one of his good tricks. He runs there really fast and waits to jump in the back. Means we're going Home! Saw the caravan pushing their bikes back up towards the highway in the dark, not sure where they were headed, I suspect a very different kind of home than us.

15 October 2015

Real conversations I didn't make up.

A guy with sweat pants, very little hair, and a big crystal around his neck smiles beatifically as he approaches me walking all the dogs. He's really tan, even his mostly bald head. Is that good to have a tan bald head?

"Blessings!" he says, with a smile.

This seems about right to me, that's a big ass crystal hanging round his neck.

"That's a lot of dogs! Can I say hi?"

That's a common saying and common request. I am the freak show of the neighborhood, all clown shoes and dogs and unflattering shirts.

"Sure, they're all friendly except this one," pointing at Otterpop who already is in her people-want-to-pet-me position which is laying down behind me facing away from the nice people. Otterpop is extremely clear, even if she's a jerk.

"My dog transitioned this year," he tells me.

At first I'm all thinking, like graduated? Like he's going to be elected president of something? Then, maybe, he means dead?

"Like, he died?"

He has such a beatific smile. I didn't even know that word til I tried to think of a word for his smile. His shirt is the kind a 16th century lute player might wear. He probably sewed it himself out of organic hemp and native grasses grown on his sustainable back porch.

"He was a kind soul. Lived to be 16. I love dogs." All the dogs love him, too. Well, not Otterpop. Banksy will go off with almost anyone who pets her on a walk. She's ready to go home with Mr. Crystal.

I tell him my dog Timmy died when he was 16. And it was so sad. We shared a little sad moment then off we went, me towards the beach and he the other way. He didn't just walk, he sort of floated, all the way down the sidewalk when I looked back.


We were walking back from the pond the other day, when a big, wet lab came running by us with a crinkly pack of something in his mouth. He dropped it on the dirt near us, a pack of Ritz crackers, I think. Maybe some other morsels. He starts ripping up the paper and diving right in to the crackers. And looks like some cheese, too.

I saw a lady standing near where he came from, and called out, "Hey, you know your dog's eating garbage over there?"

She scowled at me and yells back, "That's not garbage! That's my daughter's lunch."

She just stood there and stared at him while he ate through the paper and chowed down on cheese and crackers.

"He stole it!" She sounds really pissed off. At me. Your dog's Ritz cracker thing, not on me, lady.

"Oh. OK," I call back as we walk by. Thinking, um, maybe you should steal it back?

When I turn around to look back, she's still standing there watching her dog eat the lunch. Her daughter was playing alone in the mud down by the pond. I guess he was really hungry.


So I'm (illegally) walking my dogs on the little hill above the tennis courts. A lady who's also (illegally) walking her dogs goes in the tennis court to yell at some kids (illegally) skateboarding in there.

"You need to stop skateboarding in there right now!" she yells. Yelling is legal.

Three of the kids stop, one doesn't.

"You need to stop skateboarding in the tennis courts RIGHT NOW!"

This has caught my attention so I (illegally) walk the dogs over closer so I can hear. Banksy loves it near the tennis courts, she thinks watching tennis is as awesome as I think evesdropping is. Also sometimes she finds balls in the shrubbery.

"You are NOT allowed to skateboard in here!"

The kid still skating rolls over to her and her dogs and says, "You're not my mom. You can't tell me what to do!"

Her dogs are now (illegally) inside the tennis courts, too.

There's some muffled, low kid voiced sounds, I can't hear what he's saying anymore. His friends are not backing him up. They've totally shrunk into a little pile and are backing off the yelling lady.

"That's it. You don't need to be so rude. I'm calling 911!"

I'm thinking, Hello, 911? I'd like to report some rudeness?

She does, too, as far as I can tell. She whips that phone out and has it up to her ear and the kids all grab their boards and leave. Not very fast. They saunter. The cops never show up out here. They cruise by me where I'm tossing the ball to the dogs and one of them gives me the finger. I just grin and wave.

"Hi guys!" They just keep walking. Muthatrucken old ladies with dogs.

The lady lets her dogs run around in the tennis courts for a while. The cops never show up. But I keep an eye out, just in case we need to make a run for it. We don't.

09 October 2015

Sticking to the flatlands.

We keep finding ourselves at the pond. It's a puzzle to find the right place to walk when two dogs need to run, one dog wants to run and shouldn't, and one dog can get run over if the other dogs are running. And when dark's now coming soon, instead of waiting a couple hours. I can't quite work the math out on this one.

The forest up the hill has always been our spot, but I had another coyote run-in the other day. This time it was the big werewolf one. Just one, but it's big enough to count as four. I don't know what that thing is. My patented Gustavo alert system knew there were coyotes near, so I got everybody in on a leash and hoped for the best. And then there he was, just ahead of us on the path, right in the light of day. Big, big, big coyote.

They tend to run off, but they've been so bold and out at such odd times and in such odd places, that I'm not so sure about them anymore. This one took a while to leave, I've seen him before and I'm scared of him. Her? I don't know. He's always been alone, but I don't know that he doesn't have accomplices waiting in the wings. He's also just so big, has different colored fur than the others. He's a different thing entirely.

A nice walk for us is three or four miles. Gustavo and Banksy run most of that, I like to run a bit, too. Not as fast as them. Otterpop and Ruby have to go whatever speed I do. Round the pond isn't even spitting distance. But as the days get shorter and while the days stay drier, I think we have to stick to the flatlands. Sorry about that, dogs.

04 October 2015

What a difference a day makes.

They look tired, but they are totally faking it. These three love to practice. We got our puppy practice group back together today to run some Silvia courses. Oh my.

I had great difficulties! I am doing online handling class with Silvia again, and I need a lot of help. I can see some patterns here.

Banksy is fast, I am slow.
Banksy loves to go in tunnels.
Banksy is fast, I am slow.
Banksy is already in the tunnel.
Banksy is fast, I am slow.
Banksy is already over the jump.

Hopefully Silvia will help us, we have an awful lot of practicing to do in the meantime. Also in the meantime, I'll be entering Starters level courses in the USA. An entirely different universe than the "easy" courses Silvia gives us online.

I know this is never easy, just sometimes it's really extra very hard!

03 October 2015

It takes a village, Banksy's first USDAA trial.

How many agility people does it take to measure a little dog with a wicket? Try 2 judges, 6 friends, 4 measuring attempts and about 3lbs of the freeze dried organic turkey gizzards or whatever it was that Karla shoved down Banksy's gullet until Patron Saint of Super Patient Measuring Judges Bill got her measured. One seven point five. We are still in the 18" division.

That was stressful. That totally sucked. However, nothing else sucked about our day. Not the off course tunnel, the off course jump, or the 3 bars. Not my complete brain screwed on backwards handling in jumpers and snooker. All her contacts and poles, wonderful. All of her manners and focus and determination, perfect. Hiking back and forth to our Jetta Sportwagen diesel super polluter crate through rvs and canopies and practice jumps in the 90 degree sun, awesome! All my friends and new friends of the Starters Advanced Ring, so much fun!

We got a Pairs Q with her best frenemy Kirk. That was the best! So not stressful!

It's official. Banksy loves agility. Game on, we are so ready to roll!

30 September 2015

Your dog will never learn anything that way.

Banksy goes to her first USDAA trial this Saturday. Observe her alter ego, couch potato extraordinaire.

I'm a little nervous. I don't think she'll be, though.

We've borrowed a measuring thingie so she can do loads of measuring practice, her agility's looking great, we are Ready!

I enrolled her in a Level 2 Obedience class with a local dog training club. The class meets nearby, is at a good time for my life, and I used to teach agility for their club. And it was cheap. I figured how could I go wrong? Get her in a small space with a lot of dogs heeling and staying and we could work on lovely on leash manners in close quarters with all kinds of dogs.

This is stuff we work on a lot and she's been doing great. Banksy now can be watching agility and not going insane. Pretty much. And has graduated to sitting in her soft crate during class. Yeah, there's a blanket on it. But still. That's been a long way. No soft crate eating as of yet and no screamy fits.

We still have a ways to go, but she's made huge improvement and I know she's on the right track.

So we showed up for the first class, held in the dog food store parking lot behind orange snow fencing. I've seen that little ring for years, every time I go buy dog food. Some big dogs on pinch collars dragging their ladies around, some little dogs trotting back and forth. A lab, a poodle, a hound, an aussie, a sheltie, a couple mutty looking dogs. Looked like a good class to me. I brought a toy and some treats in my pocket, and we warmed up on the edges, doing our thing. I put her in a harness because I had some concerns about the other dogs looking a little out of control, especially a couple young dogs with a bit of a wild look in their eye. And one with a very tiny older lady. I know that look. I wanted to be able to get Banksy out of any sticky situations quickly if big wild dogs got too much in her grill and freaked her out.

So I brought her in on a lovely heel, took my place on the end of the line, and had her relax in a down.

She showed exemplary, patient, relaxing behavior. Which was good because we started class with a long lecture.

The teacher told us she'd been training dogs since the 1970's and the thing wrong with dog training today is the same thing wrong with kid training. No boundaries and all this positive reinforcement crap doesn't work.

She looked right at me and talked about about all the border collies she'd trained and on about her obedience titles and sheltie breeding and her excellence in horse training. She spent a very long time telling us about her expertness. Apparently Santa Cruz is a hot bed for over permissive training and she just doesn't stand for that. Did you ever hear of a thing called Leash Breaking? Not enough dogs are leash broke around these parts.

Our teacher was queen of the dog trainers! She'd been doing it the longest, and doing it the best. This seemed pretty cool, even if she trained different than me, probably she had skills I could learn. She said she rewarded her dog with a toy. Awesome!

She did seem like she was in a bit of a cranky mood. Actually, a huge cranky mood. She was kind of a barker. I thought she kept giving me a stink eye. But probably I was just being paranoid. She couldn't have been talking about me in the positive training diatribe, because even though I was rewarding Banksy's good behavior, she had some of the loveliest resting behavior in the group. Every so often I'd let her break her down with a couple little tricks, a teensy tug, then a release and back into her down.

Wouldn't you love to have that from your agility students?

I gave her scritchies. I let her relax. Banksy was all good. This is thrilling to me, that Banksy can behave like this in a big group class of dogs.

Then our teacher went on about pinch collar fitting and at the very least using a martingale style collar, and how harnesses and haltis were just awful, no dogs could learn in those. A good, tight pinch collar, fitted right up on the top of their neck by their ears, that's how a dog could learn. And of course with a shock collar for off leash work for dogs that just don't listen.

I had a feeling this was maybe not going to be a good fit. The red flag of Ruh Roh sounded in my brain. But I was trying to be open minded. There are so many things about training dogs that I don't know yet. And really. I just wanted Banksy trotting around and relaxing in a group dog class. How bad could it be?

After about 20 minutes of lecturing, we started the heeling. Banksy demonstrated nothing but beautiful dog show heeling, ignoring the other dogs, me pivoting around when someone in front of us got stuck or pulled by their dogs, with Banksy in what I thought was a lovely heel and sit position.

She never put a foot wrong, or any kind of stink eye on another dog. Banksy loves this stuff. She prances around like she's in a parade and stares up at me and waves her crazy tail like a big fluffy flag.

HOWEVER. I wasn't doing it right because I didn't pop her leash to move her forward. She moves on a verbal release. Um, right? I had no idea people got their dogs to move forward by yanking them?

The teacher showed us how to do this, and I nodded. But I didn't try it, because, WTF? Pop the leash to make them go?

Also to stop them. In heel position, Banksy automatically stops in a sit and looks up at me. This seems like a useful feature for agility and we practice it all the time. I watch Denise Fenzi videos and try to make it look like that. Banksy loves this stuff. OK, yeah, it doesn't work at sheep herding. I'm the first to admit we have a long ways to go. And would we ever do genuine dog show obedience? I dunno. Probably not. I just like agility. And dogs that are easy to walk on leashes.

For walking around in a parking lot, though? Fantastic.


Also to keep them at your leg. Pop that leash. Hello, circle work? You know how much circle work Banksy's done since she was a teensy puppy? It's hardwired at this point. Banksy stays right there by my knee on either side when we do stuff like this.

So. I will admit I didn't follow directions. Story of my life. Sometimes I do try, but in this class, they didn't seem to pertain to me so I wasn't gonna follow them.

Finally, she stopped the class and asked me to remove my harness. Banksy was also wearing a loose flat collar that I could have put the leash on, but I wasn't convinced the other dogs were under control and I wanted to keep my harness in case I needed a speedy retreat. This wasn't something they wrote on the registration form or anything, no harnesses or haltis, she announced it during the lecture.

"I'd prefer to just keep my harness on." I said it nicely, no big deal, just this thing I prefer.

The teacher stared me right in the eye and said, "I don't allow those in my class. Your dog will never learn anything in a harness. If you won't remove it, please leave and ask them for a refund."

The money taking ladies were sitting at a table next to the ring.

So I apologized to the teacher and left. With Banksy in a beautiful focused heel position, weaving through the other dogs. The money ladies handed me my cash, no questions asked.

Yeah. Just like that, I got kicked out of dog training class. For my dog behaving too good. I think I may have been demonstrating that positive training actually has good results. Or maybe I'm just a no rule following bad student. Whichever it is, we're out.

To be fair, I don't allow pinch collars when I teach agility class. There are a lot of good reasons not to wear those, your dog catching it on equipment and pinching itself being one. And the fact that you can't yank a dog around an agility class. Students are usually stoked to get them off, and I try to nicely explain the benefits of teaching your dog without one.

Different ways of training.

But there it is. We've been kicked out of our first dog training class. I'm glad Silvia and Nancy let me be in theirs. This is a little embarrassing, but actually, not really. Now I know what goes on in that little orange snow fencing ring in the corner of the parking lot, and next time I go buy dog food, I won't wonder anymore.

It's just not my thing.

How to survive killer bee attacks.

Killer bees are now in the Bay Area. They have mingled with the regular kind, who quietly make your honey and buzz around the dahlias. Who you're not supposed to smash because they are near extinct. They mingled, and now they are here.

If you come upon killer bees, start running.

Run in a zig zag pattern to safety of a brightly lit, sealed room or car.

Know that they will chase you over 328 feet to get you. Regular bees only chase 33 feet.

Do not jump into water. They wait for you to come up for air.

Do not flail or wave your arms. This will agitate them and cause more stings.

Don't smash them. More bees come when they sense their mates smashed.

Killer bees swarm and sting til you die.

If you make it to safety, scrape stingers out sideways with a dull knife blade. Squeezing them out only releases more deadly venom to the sting.

Humans can survive 10 stings per pound of their body weight. The more you weigh, the less chance you have of death.


28 September 2015

Spooky visitations.

We were out looking at the eclipse and this beamed down.

Not everyone always gets to go.

Mood lighting.