23 June 2016

Otterpop's feeling better.

I'm not making Otterpop eat beets. Or beetlejuice. But I am trying to get her to eat because during the Otterpop is sick era of the last couple of weeks she got very, very skinny. She would like you to know she's feeling much better, and has a fantastic new diet that includes cooked chicken, dog food from a can that has sweet potatoes in it, and some cheap kibble that looks like cheerios. For some reason, this agrees with her so this is what she eats.

I now have 4 dogs who all eat completely different foods. Banksy gets way more high octane kibble. Gustavo is a vegan with extra added goopy medicine sauce. Ruby likes canned dog food with these nifty little chicken sprinkles, and Otterpop needs the menu mentioned above so she doesn't barf. When that's all done, I just make myself a burrito with whatever came in the farm box.

Otterpop also got very clean this week. Is it bad to teach kids to paint on animals? I just bring out the patient ones who stand still even if someone's trying to paint a rainbow. Scrubbing off paint really gets the dirt out too, so even the dustiest horses come out looking sparkly and shiny.

The days are long and the days are hot. Evening walk has kind of morphed into this thing where we go to the school field and sit in the shade. We walk around a couple of times, as fast as Ruby can go, which is like a very, very slow creep, with occasional blasts of running in the wrong direction. We all go running after her and get her turned around, then we go sit in the shade and send Banksy around the backstop for the ball. This is an arrangement everyone agrees with right now. So this is what we do.

21 June 2016

For now we sit under the shady trees.

Here's where we sit under the shady trees. They made an opening, for now, in the new fence, so even Ruby learned how to walk across the knoll and find the gap. So we can go to the field and walk around, for now. Everything is for now. Soon the whole school will be razed and something else put in. The neighbors are mad. We're resigned. For now we sit under the shady trees for a while. Because we can. For now, it doesn't get dark til late, for now, there's still some grass and still some trees. For now's better than never will be or never was.

19 June 2016

Hot hot hot usdaa.

Usually it's not too hot in Prunedale, summer home of local USDAA trials. Today it was too hot. So hot that at the end of the day dragging garbage and packing up rings into trailers and tearing down the canopies, I realized what was too hot. This was it. Global warming, this is probably your fault. And I'm still driving my piece of shit super polluting VW so, what can I say. We have majorly messed up as a society, us humans.

The dog agility? It was an interesting bag. Banksy's really fast. I think she's getting faster. I would come out of the ring, after an error riddled run, and be greeted with many remarks about, "Wow, she's fast." And sometimes, "She's so pretty."

I think that's after a run that involved the wrong tunnel. And had a bar. Or two.

I haven't trained the fastness good enough and I don't handle the fastness good enough. There in lie the error riddlings. We have a great many things to work out. Or else just have really fast runs where she selects the wrong side of the tunnel or the wrong tunnel or has a crazy a-frame or hits some bars. That's how it is for now, but I would like to keep the fastness and add some more cleanness.

Every run had some spectacular pieces to them, far more spectacular pieces than pieces of shit. But a low Q rate, that was for sure. All her Qs fit into one of my pockets. Even with a bar she had an beautiful Steeplechase first round, then I messed up a tunnel/aframe discrimination in the second round. A bar in Grand Prix. A SuperQ in snooker, then not a super Q after the calculations got recalculated. A bar at the end of a flawless jumpers. So that kind of weekend.

It doesn't make me sad. If it keeps happening in a few months, then I might be sad. Banksy's a really good girl, she goes where I tell her and I tell her to go on the wrong line quite often. So there. You go.

Gustavo had 2 nice jumpers run, one was in the hot hot hot and I had to wake him up from a sleepy day in the crate and send him out into the hot, he ran fine but not his super winningest self. The super winningest self run had a wrong tunnel but I told him he was the WINNER!

He told me he wanted some more runs in the morning. So next time, some more runs in the morning it is. No hot runs in the afternoon, please.

Which was exactly how I felt, the last couple of runs. Kind of funny in the head, kind of vibratey, kind of like laying down in the shade with a big slushy glass of cold anything. Poor Gooey, if that's how he feels on all the hot days, I need to keep him in a vat of water or something. Banksy was even able to lay ringside, in the shade of the score table, and lay there for quiet a while with pretty good behavior.  Heat is amazing, what it can do.

We all survived, we have another trial in a couple of weeks. Three days, maybe more heat because, global warming. We'll try again, we'll try our hardest, and we'll see how it all goes.

11 June 2016

Paging Dr. Otterpop.

Otterpop had a ok sleepover at the hospital. But maybe not all that bad. She made one new friend, Nurse Marika. She did not make friends with anybody else, but also used excellent judgement and didn't bite any of the not friends. But for some reason, she decided Nurse Marika was a-ok and ate some food out of her hand and would climb into her arms to get out of her cage and have a walk with her. In exchange, Nurse Marika gave her a stuffed tiger and some chicken.

When I came to visit her, she said she was REALLY READY to go home. She had to spend the night with an iv in her getting pumped full of fluids and other healthifying things.

One of the techs told me they all liked Otterpop. "She's crazy smart," she said.

"Yeah, like a monkey. She can be a real pain in the ass," I told her.

"No, we all loved having her. She speaks english! She knew everything we were talking about," she replied.

That's my Otterpop. I think they let her out because she started throwing out alternative diagnoses to the on call surgeon. They aren't sure what's wrong with her, some kind of gastrointestinal disease that will be better diagnosed with incredibly high priced procedures such as ultrasound and scoping. So for now, since she seems to be eating food and keeping it down, I'll keep her on her little arsenal of pills and try to find some foods she will eat and we'll roll on the maybe just go away on it's own premise.

Today, no way on the boiled organic skinless range roaming cage free chicken breast. But a-ok on a few bites of good old fashioned milk bones. The baby food was popular for 5 minutes a couple days ago, but she thinks that's so last week right now. Tiny rice ball in broth, Otterpop? Maybe tomorrow. She just ate some stale charliebears out of my pocket, and we're calling that dinner.

Feel better Otterpop! But we're very glad you're home.

10 June 2016

Otterpop visits the hospital.

Well, Otterpop didn't get well yet. Just the opposite, she got sicker. All week she's been sick, not so sick, very sick, better, worse, sicker, and then today it was the sickest again, the sickest I've ever seen her. So her doctor said, take her to the hospital and the hospital doc said that she had to stay. Something is wrong in her guts, maybe an ulcer, maybe an infection, well, yes, there is an infection. Otterpop is tough as nails but her guts are saying, not so much.

She isn't going to die. Otterpop wouldn't do that. But she does have to stay there for at least a day, maybe two. And I can't go visit her til tomorrow. I told the doctor how she would like her blankets arranged in her cage, and I handed her off to a tech in full xray garb, hand my credit card over to the receptionist, then I had to leave her there and drive home. A night without an Otterpop, none of us know what to do.

Ruby didn't know where to walk in the park. Gustavo doesn't have anyone to share the couch with. Banksy is following me around like a shadow. We have had something removed, and we don't like it, and we want it back. With guts feeling happier, maybe that will make for a happier Otterpop.

Hurry, Otterpop, feel better soon. We all need you back.

09 June 2016

Get well soon, Otterpop!

Maybe you're wondering, where is Otterpop, isn't that her small sized orange ball? The one that fits perfectly in a pocket on the way to and from the beach and dries off so the pocket is not just a soggy wet ass pant sag?

Without an Otterpop there, the ball ends up all the time in the surf. Otterpop and Banksy have an arrangement. Banksy wins by running faster and snapping the ball up in her snappers, but she drops it for Otterpop and Otterpop delivers to me. She's the ball roomba hooverator. So Banksy's retrieve at the beach is, just drop in the surf. Otterpop will get it.

Otterpop is sick! Very bad tummy! SubQ fluids and pills and sad, sad Otterpop laying in her bed trying to feel better. She did howl a little this morning, which I think means she's on the mend, but she still says she can't eat even a teensy bit of food. Get well soon Otterpop! We need you!

06 June 2016

Morgan Hill UKI Trial

Hot, hot, hot. We're not used to so much hot.

Gustavo just did 1 run each day. This is just how it goes now for him. It was way too hot for Gustavo. He made a lot of trips to dip into the water, and got to hang out with the kids in the shade. Gustavo liked that part a lot. His runs were awesome, he ran his fastest, and did many if not all the weave poles. UKI has a thing called Speedstakes which is Gustavo's new best thing, maybe we will have to travel around and find UKI trials that offer Speedstakes just for Gustavo. He thinks it's called Speed Steaks, he runs as if there's meat for him at the end. Which there isn't, poor guy, but it's the kind of course that makes him very happy.

Of course because it's hot, and there is so much traffic driving home, we have to stop for a swim. We pulled off here, because in the slow moving traffic, a huge hawk flew out of the brush on the side of the highway and deliberately nearly bashed into the truck in front of me. The guy driving looked at me in the rear view mirror, waving his arms, like, did you see that? I waved my arms back, that was crazy, man. It flew off across the traffic jam. It hated that truck, it hated that traffic, and I did too, and I knew it meant, get off here, get the dogs in the water.

Me and Banksy had a harder time at the trial. The first day, the courses were exactly not the kind of courses either me or Banksy would like to run. There were too many approaches and lines that I worried I'd crash her through things. We survived, but barely. Her rdw, not looking so hot.

The second day, we loved the courses. They were fantastic. Lines and approaches that neither one of us were worried about. Having different judges each day really makes you think about how people approach agility and what the heck they're designing courses for. Banksy's rdw, though, looked worse. She had so many slips while running, and I think only hit 3 of 7 dogwalks she did all weekend. This is, of course, bad news. Today I'll walk around sighing a lot. Will we ever get this to stick?

We had some nice runs, we had some runs where I made some mistakes. It was that kind of weekend, sort of like the last trial we went to. My learning curve is a very slow curve with Banksy, it's taking a while to remember to do all the things, while running. My thought is, she doesn't care a whole lot when I screw up. So far, anyways, I don't think screwing up is a good idea, overall. She did screw herself up, popping out of weave pole number eleven, and she's well aware that there are twelve of them. I did tell her then, HEY, let's go do that again. So we did.

She was the happiest to get in the water at the end of the day. Agility needs more ponds and swimming holes, that would be as good as improvement as no weird crashy lines for dogs. We like UKI, the trials are small, Banksy can be near the rings and not freak out. Everybody helps out, most people there are people who want to get home before too late, so the trials move quick and we get a lot of runs in. We'll keep going, as much as we can, and hope for happy courses.

04 June 2016

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

I don't like boxing, I don't like watching people beat each other up. I liked Muhammad Ali, he stood up for what he believed in and threw away a lot of his career because he defied the draft.

"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-call Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs."

The Jim Crow laws were real. He took so many punches. But he just kept on going as long as he could. He was the Greatest.

Banksy's dogwalk is broken again. She started doing her head check again a couple of weeks ago, all it took was once, I got too far behind in my class and she looked for me and now she looks over and misses.

The way to fix it is I have to fix it. I try this and that, I drive up to the field and try this ball or put the toy there or move a jump over here and she misses and I watch her miss and try something else. There's no magic solution, although I keep looking for one. The only way to fix it is to just be patient and fix it, over time. Sometimes a lot of time.

In agility, a dogwalk's just one thing. There's a lot of fish to fry out there on the field, the dogwalk just shows up once in a run, some runs don't have it. It's a lot to do, to keep on going, just to make sure she doesn't tilt her head to the side and mess up her striding while she's running full speed. It's an odd thing to spend so much time on. The most time. I could spend all my time doing this, if there weren't other things. Nobody will ever call us the Greatest, definitely I won't.

We'll stay out there and dance around, as long as we can. Maybe that strategy of outlasting something, maybe if every time there's a  miss I dance around it and find a hit and keep finding them, and then one day, she has it.

"Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see."

Don't look over Banksy, just hit it with your feet. Run ahead, run straight and true, run the feet through the yellow as fast as you can, don't look sideways, only move ahead. That's when she'll have it, when she can do that. We'll hold on til then, keep dancing around out there, til we win.

03 June 2016

“It’s going to be a big, fat, beautiful wall!”

I took Otterpop to see Bernie on Tuesday. She mostly napped in the basket on my bike but I woke her up when he got out of the truck to speak, we were outside the stadium but he gave everybody outside a mini speech before he went inside for the big speech. So she was tired, but I didn't want her to miss something historic. We've never had a presidential candidate come to our neighborhood before. Bernie's a nice man, he wants people to have access to things like health care and education. He believes in human rights for all humans, no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or income level, and he wants to help stop climate change.

We didn't go see Trump. He was in San Jose last night. Not exactly my neighborhood, but I drive over there for agility class every week. Otterpop would probably like Trump. His platform's based on hate. He's a pompous, vulgar, racist demagogue who cares nothing about the planet as a whole and if he was a dog, he'd probably be like Otterpop. Someone that likes to bite everybody else just because they're an asshole. We already have an Otterpop, and I keep her in a basket on my bike and away from everybody else. She's carefully managed under my control most of the time and isn't allowed to just run around and be a jerk to everybody. Let's do the same thing with Trump.

30 May 2016

A hot walk in the forest where I don't bring the dogs any water.

This is a real thing. Trump told a Fresno campaign rally, there is no drought. He wasn't joking, he said the state's diverting the plentiful water to save an endangered fish. It's a contextual problem, the drought's caused groundwater to go dry in the valley and there are ugly water rights issues going on. Not enough water to grow crops anymore, you see it when you're out there, huge fields of nothing but dust. The drought is real, and the drought is everywhere, and the drought's the reason there's no water.

Trump's presented climate change as a hoax. And would pull the USA out of the Paris climate accord. Science has already proven climate change, and it's the reason for the drought. It's hot and it doesn't rain, the weather's really messed up, year after year. Not just here but everywhere. It's already unstoppable.

We walked around the upper edge of the woods yesterday, in the afternoon. Haven't been walking in there lately, thought it would be nice. It's Civil War weekend, and the re-enactors have realistic muskets and a real cannon that shoot something that doesn't kill people but booms for miles around. Thought maybe up higher on the ridge was further and it would be quieter.

It wasn't. Gustavo did just fine, I brought along some cookies and there were cookies for every boom and he made it. I think he's gotten better. He's scared of the booms but not like he used to be. Up there on the ridge, there's nothing left. All the years of hot and no rain, even after this rainy year, it's thin and sparse and there's shade from the dead looking oaks and bays and scrubby pines, so many of them have gone down though. We couldn't walk all the way to the river, too busy of a hiking day to sneak down that way with so many dogs. So I told the dogs there's water in the car, just deal with it and everyone will have a drink when we're done. We were all thirsty on this walk, made Ruby wheeze and Banksy's tongue hung sideways the whole time with drool slobbering down.

For about an hour around noon, we could hear the commemorative battle between the bipartisan north and south. Gray and navy coated devotees to remembering when one country was split over something so wrong, so split they all started killing each other. Happens all the time. They gather out on the lawn, with the cannon and the guns and fight out a precisely choreographed battle. Nobody dies for real in this one, the guns are all for show. The cannon is immense, not sure who brings the cannon, does it live in someone's garage the rest of the year? After being shot, or bayonetted through the heart they just play dead, everyone laying there motionless in the sun while the booms blast through the woods. It only lasts an hour, then the dead people get up and collect their stuff and high five and say nice job and everyone else goes back to their cars and drives home. Then it's quiet again and we keep walking along the ridge, where everything's so dead we can see clear through the forest to the other side and back to our car where the water is and then we drive home.

27 May 2016

Rehearsing a behavior, trying to get it right, all the time in the world.

Here's what entails a freakout in my life, for the moment. At dog class, Banksy missed her running dogwalk several times in a row. Major freakout, my head exploded.

Dog class is serious stuff. My classmates try out for the World Team. My teacher is the coach. We are in this to excel. That dogwalk is loud and bouncy, and I had a too far behind run at it up the hill, and I could hear each and every of her four, not five strides clattering and she missed the contact.

The world was ending.

She missed again later, on what should have been an easy run of it, and I had to work hard to extrude this out my ears and get out of my head and just pile back in the car and drive back over the mountain through the black.

There were dolphins at the beach in the morning. Three of them. While I'm throwing the ball I can see them doing their thing, coming up and going back down, over and over. They make an arc, the fin pops up, and if you're lucky and they dive, you see their tail make a vertical plunge straight down.

Top three news stories of the morning. One for each dolphin.

Barack Obama is solemn, not apologizing, because how could he know what was in Truman's head when he gave the greenlight to bomb Hiroshima, and Obama meets with the survivors. The thought is, something like this would never happen again, that this was a horrible thing for human history.

Woman gets lost on the Appalachian trail, she has a poor sense of direction and is found in her campsite just two miles from the trail, her remains wrapped in her sleeping bag, with a detailed journal entry of each day leading to her death. She was known to suffer from panic attacks, and had attempted to text her husband for help over and over, however there is no cel reception in the woods.

Body of a toddler in a casket, thought to be 145 years old found beneath a house in San Francisco, thought to be there from when a cemetery was relocated in the early 1900's to Coloma. All this time, she lay under the house, nobody knew she was there.

We will go work on that dogwalk again this morning. Rehearsing a behavior, trying to get it right.

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."



"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.