12 March 2018

Grand Prix Finals, Day 3.

This was just the best course. It was fun to walk it because I knew it would be fun to run it. It was. Banksy had a bar, we came in 2nd. This is the kind of course I could run all day and so could Banksy. We like wide open spaces and tricky little turns mixed in, this course did not disappoint! And a tunnel start to boot, doesn't get any better. Running this was the highlight of our weekend, even with a bar down.

Grand Prix finals course. A lot of E's. It walked pretty good, but I knew from the beginning we were not going to win or even place. The dogwalk was further to the right, and going to a blank space with a big white plywood wall at the end of the ring. The number 12 jump wasn't anywhere within view for Banksy. That is her worst thing to ever see coming down a dogwalk and she will miss her hit, guaranteed, when it's to a blank space with a wall beyond.

I was correct! There are things Banksy likes and things she doesn't like, and getting her to like seeing this when she's flying down her running dogwalk is something I don't know how to do. I don't like avocados, and no one's ever changing my mind about that. So there.

She had a beautiful run, only four of the 20" dogs made it through. But missed her dogwalk hit. She would have taken 2nd had she not. It wasn't stressful or nervous making to run though, because I knew if she hit the dogwalk contact it would be a complete fluke. Still a nice run, we had a good time, that was that, and then packed up the car and drove back across the desert.

10 March 2018

Wild West Regional, Day 2.

View from my spot in the carpark.

Me and the dogs spend the day in and out of the car, in a dusty carpark at a fancy rodeo grounds in Queen Creek, Arizona. The Regional is an extra fancy dog show, my goal was to come and run great and do well. The desert gave us a hot day in the 80's and blazing sun, and a chilly day with rain drops and some big winds. The desert has a good personality.

So far, after day two, humbling learning experience is more what happened. There was some great, some pretty good, just like the rain that came in on Saturday afternoon, a bit of a surprise of a shit storm.

Banksy's magic superpower skill is not to hit bars. Hitting a bar in practice or a dog show is a few and far between event. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. In the last two days, over 7 runs, 5 bars.

Two of the were in in the first round of Steeplechase. Even with her fast time, two bars on top of that, 10 seconds added on to her time, five each bar put her a few dogs below the cut off line. Her first time not making it to a second round steeplechase. That's her thing, where she shines. That was a goal, to make the final and do very well, and very much not accomplished. Ouch.

There was a bar in Biathalon Jumpers, Biathalon Standard, Team Standard. The Biathalon standard bar cost her the win. All three of those runs were great, she ran beautifully, but I couldn't make a save on the two Es. Her Biathalon standard run was on a course that made me so happy, because it was the kind of course Banksy shines on. I wasn't wrong, so we had a great time on it and maybe that will be the highlight of the weekend. Nice lines on big wide open spaces, with tricky little turns in between.

When we E, I know where it comes from. We E in practice, I go back and redo. I don't know how to run her perfect. Sometimes it happens, but a lot of times it doesn't. So an E just verifies that, we're not there yet, there are flaws, and we have a whole lot further to go to get better.

I tried to not freak out about the bars. I talked to friends who had their opinions on the footing, so very different than what we've run on before, and that I should try to run her a bit differently than normal on it, which actually helped a lot. So that was good, instead of freaking out and scratching her from all her runs, I tried to run her a bit lighter than I normally do and it didn't eliminate the bars but certainly helped. I love my agility friends, they are smart and reasonable and give me good advice.

My other humbling moment was my low pressure team. Since they were not hell bent for a Q, I decided to not run trying to Q, like I tend to do in team. I picked out strategy courses that I thought Banksy would like, not to get the top points. I was successful in that and had really nice Team Snooker and Gamblers runs, super fast, no bars, and decent points but not winning. And a very happy Banksy for the lines I picked for her.

Not so great in Team Jumpers or Standard, the Standard run was a shit storm and we barely survived. That's happened before, on a weirdly similar course. I hate dogwalks into stupid walls with tunnels nearby. The Jumpers just had one fatal error, costing an E. I believe that our team came in last place, we didn't stay to run the relay.

Banksy coming in last place. That was the other ouch. I don't fault my team mates, I fault myself for not bringing the team up! That's what teams are for. Sorry casual agenda, karma is a bitch.

One more day, just Grand Prix finals for us. Banksy is amazing, I can only hope to run well enough to try and help her win! Win or lose, we always leave the ring the same way, first me literally dragging her out, then we run to get her toy and a piece of cheese and we take a nice walk together where I tell her what a star she is. So no matter what, she knows how amazing I think she is. Thanks Banks! 

Arizona roadtrip.

Last minute roadtrip to the Arizona Regional! A three day dog show in Queen Creek, southeast of Phoneix. A quick twelve hour drive from my house right to the door of the fanciest Motel 6 I've ever seen.

Day one, pretty ok. Three runs, two e's. They were great runs, though, but for the little e part. E. Big E. One extra blue tunnel in Biathalon Jumpers, one extra jump when I moved too fast and sent her over it in Team Jumpers. Don't e in team. Except for when you do. So we're out of it for Biathalon, and team is another day.

Nice Team Snooker, but I did chicken out and the part where I should have gone 5-5-7-7 swapped into 5-5-7-3. You don't have to do agility to know 7 over 3 is probably better when competing. We did make it easily through the 7 in the close though, so that's fine, probably gave me a somewhere in the middle final score.

Banksy's running great. It's possible to leave dogs in the car all day in the eighty degrees with my insulated car and all the silver shade clothes draping over it. I brought all my own food and a cooler full of ice. But we did go out to Frank and Lupe's fine Mexican dining last night just because. Some of my great agility pals are here and there are flush toilets and coffee for sale three bucks at the on the very plush and dusty horse show grounds.

Off we go to another day!

27 February 2018

A little practice.

We got to do a little practice on Sunday. Somehow this was the only video clip that made it. We tried. We had some good attempts and some not so good, ran some lovely open jumpers courses. Hooray for agility practice!

Our walking options are slowly shrinking. It's the way of the neighborhood. More people, more cars, less space. More tents every morning on the edge of town, wedged between the fences and trees on the side of the highway. We lost our cinderblock path out to the bluffs this year, not to tents but to development, and the pond except for on weekends, lost to the parking and cars. We can walk to the beach, but the tides are high and rough in the winter, and the tourists are thick in the summer. For a reliable and quick walk, we've always gone to a big local school with a park and a mostly abandoned soccer field.

It was always the same group, for so many years. Neighbors and their dogs, they sit at the picnic tables and sometimes bring their wine. They toss the ball, their dogs are chill. They know everybody and everything that goes on there. The skaters stay by the skate bowl, the kids play on the play ground, everybody gets along fine. The crazy guy from the blue house monitors the play ground equipment for teenagers gone wild who hide in the jungle gym for a smoke. Just goes in and drags them out, then throws the ball again for his shepherd.

Then they built the fence. Ostensibly to keep the homeless sleepers out of the school, that was a neighbor problem. A lot of nooks and crannies in there for someone needing a spot. The fence has a gate, and all of a sudden it gave the park the look of a dog park. A gate! Before it was just open land, not really under the control of anybody, probably not legal for dogs but flying under the radar.

The skaters sometimes bring dogs that roam, when we see the asshat cattle dog with the rope wrapped round his waist, we always move along to another section. Or when the blonde girls with the pack of shrieking cattle dogs are coming, we now know to get the hell out of there. You can hear those dogs coming a mile away. For the most part it's calm and quiet and a nice place to walk the dogs and throw a ball, but lately, like the other places, it is turning different. Maybe it's on instragram? A yelp review of our park? Did you see it on facebook? Change is hard.

The cattle dogs have gone after Banksy before. That's the only time though that a dog's been mean to her at the park. Something about her has Target written on it. She's scared of other dogs, and this gets her picked on. She just wants to be on her own. The park's been our nice neighborhood quiet sanctuary, everybody there always gets along.

We were over there tonight, had the ball out and were just ambling around, walking, doing some stays, and some ball. There were a couple girls I've never seen with three bc types, one was a big black dog hackles up dog. Every time Banksy was running I could see her watching her and a couple times chasing after her. I always feel safe when it's other border collies, but I guess that's kind of stupid.

The girls with the dogs were taking pictures and doing phone stuff when the black one and the smooth red and white one came over, quite a ways across the field to where we were. I put Banksy on a down, when other dogs give me concern that's usually a nice way to make her boring and usually diffuses dogs that might want to chase her. She gets a clarity of what to do when someone might be an ass. Always has worked in the past.

The black one though, marched up to her, where she was laying motionless in her down and jumped her, right then and there. I freaked out and screamed, Banksy jumped up and started snapping teeth, and the black dog jumped her again. It was much bigger. I ran the other way calling all the dogs, and they seperated themselves. Gustavo had eyes as big as his head. Banksy so scared though, standing there and snapping her teeth, her hackles up, ready to defend. This is what she doesn't get, how to get herself out of the situation. Running might get her chased, she doesn't know how to diffuse.

When yelled across the field to the girls, they didn't believe me. They looked at Banksy, lurching back to me. "She's not an aggressive dog," one girl yelled across the field.

Five minutes later I saw them pull her off a big, friendly pitbull. I see him every time I go there. I love him.

More cars, more people, it's how it works as time goes by. The new push out the old, somebody ends up living in the culvert on the side of the road. New buildings have room only to stack up, go high and block out the sky. Somehow we all have to share. Welcome to our neighborhood.

26 February 2018

Burn patch.

We clomped through the burn ash to stand them on the stump. The tractors go through now, clearing more space. Not for the buildings, those will be later. But just to clear paths for the inevitable fires that will want to come through. Maybe not this year, maybe not next, but one year it's going to rip through here so they come in to rake out defensible space. That is our woods, they shrink some more every single day.

In about ten days we get in the car to drive to Arizona. It was a whim. A third Grand Prix bye for the year put it in my head, why not try for another Regional? I've already been planning to go to Camarillo in April, that was already a big deal. Days of work! Motel 6! But why not add another? A quick twelve hour dash down there in the car. To stay at a Motel 6 for three nights. I'm bringing a cooler and my own coffee setup and a large bag of fruit.

Things maybe they don't have in Arizona? Bananas? Apples?  Not taking any chances.

As adventures go, in the grand scheme of adventuring, this one is pretty mild. I'll get my oil changed first and bring plentiful bedding. A polar exploration or climbing of Machu Pichu it isn't. By any stretch. No monkeys, no rain forest. Just a lot of dogs in the car and waiting for runs under hopefully sunny but not sweltering skies.

Adventure? Maybe not. Maybe only a little. Really small holding my fingers apart less than a centimeter little. But it's a thing we've never done and Banksy's ready to do it, so off we'll go and have some runs. Wish us luck!

25 February 2018

Record setting lows.

This is what my new outfit is:

Long sleeve shirt
Fleece Vest, that has only one pocket now.
Flannel shirt jacket with puffy lining, that's a bit tight round the bottom.
Puffy warm jacket that now strains across the seams.
Biggest, heaviest goretexest rain coat.

That's the garment for the walk, and at work. Yes, I do look puffy.

It's a fine thing to be post recession. I had added jobs during the downturn, I teach more agility classes now, write a monthly magazine article, illustrate things for other people, freelance portraits and other designy things. And work full time at the barn. Full time plus, a lot of hours now to keep it all ticking. So it's a seven day week where the balls are really flying around.

I liked my hobby of watching the skating at night. Liked, not loved, really only a little. Mostly I wished to design some costumes, and wished the programs were more like one minute, with a bit more chatting of the behind the scenes between each one. What DO you really do at night, ice dancers? Do you drive a Prius? Do you keep several cats or several dogs? How do you keep your leg warmers from bunching down around the laces at inopportune times?

Mostly a good excuse to just sit there and wait for the next day where it's out the door in all the things from the closet, a fast trip through the woods, then to start it all again.

19 February 2018

Banksy Turlock USDAA

We entered last minute. It's been a bit agility lite around here, so I thought to just go do a few runs at Turlock. I like to support Turlock! We see cows and blooming fruit trees on our drive there, and pass over a misty bird swamp on the way. And a windmill.

My only goal was to try to get out of the car and run my first course just like how I walked it. That's always hard. Aside from one out of place and a wide turn, we did pretty good and Banksy won Jumpers.

I was uninspired by snooker until my best agility pal threw down 4 sevens. That was all it took. As soon as I latched on to the 4 sevens, we realized it didn't look altogether possible. She switched to a 6. I held on to the promise of fast running to make the sevens. And she was running after me so could readjust if I ran clean. Her dog is faster and she handles better, but a good challenge gives me a reason to try hard!

I tried hard! I didn't go clean! A breathtaking off course while I was running my fastest to get up there. But it was more fun than going out and just trying to knock out a Q. She won with the replacement 6. Which was hard enough to get through. I wished I had gotten further just to see if I could have done it.

We ran Grand Prix and got another bye, so maybe a third regional for us. We'll see. I could decide tonite to drive to Arizona next month for their regional, that would be a whole new thing, and a really expensive and time consuming way to do something new. I'm ready to do somethings new. Not so much for the expensive and time consuming way to do it, but I think right now that might be how it goes. We shall see!

09 February 2018

Happy Birthday Banksy!

I'm not sure how, but somehow this...

Turned into this.

Happy Birthday Banksy!

Banksy is four. She spent her day like all of us old people do on birthdays now. Not doing anything that great. I went to work, she slept on the couch. I told her it was her birthday a lot before I went to work. She thought that sounded pretty great!

She showed her great age though, when we were walking home from the beach in the morning, not only did she sit quietly and eat treats when a skateboarding guy with a galloping golden retriever flew by on a flexi leash, but then soon after was the lady who bikes with her baby in one of those handlebar things while her tan pitbull races ahead of them on the sidewalk. I spied that one coming and got to the other side of the street but Banksy sat there, stared at them, and ate some treats.

This is not what she used to do. At all. In the slightest. She's four now, and can take things in stride. Usually.

Happy Birthday Banksy!

22 January 2018

Wet day walking.

The only aspiration is to amble along on unpredictable paths, with frequent pauses to watch the sunspots wake up the sides of trees and listen to mysterious animal footsteps in the brush, and hoist the dogs up onto stumps shaped like raging ogres. Some of them hoist themselves, some I do the hoisting. It's wet, I wear boots, the dogs are muddy. To not be in a hurry, to not almost be late for work, to not have a lot of bikers flying through, to not have the old timey tweed hat guy chase me down the hill. Just to have time to amble.

08 January 2018

Don't break shit.

I was making all these goals for Banksy this year. Maybe try a few more far away shows, bigger shows, travel to more Regionals. With her ADCh all finished, and her qualifications for Nationals nearly done, we can do whatever we want. No dumb gambles. No stupid tall tables in standard. Run pairs with friends and not get stressed out. Maybe try to win more Grand Prix. Get cleaner Q's in Biathalons. Win all the Steeplechases. Embrace my very own snooker plans.

Then I went and broke her weave poles. That'll show me.

31 December 2017

SMART New Years Trial, Goodbye to 2017.

Banksy said Happy New Years early, on Friday night she earned her ADCh! Under one of our favorite judges, Judge Paco from Mexico. We have been slow to gather pairs Qs, Banksy isn't exactly calm out there in the arena when a pal is running. Banksy would like to all the agility all the time and not wait her turn. But she's learned how to do this, we started running the pairs, and now she is an Agility Dog Champion. We were thankful to run with our friends Carol and Bo, they kept their end together and we finished up clean!

A lot of Qs, Banksy is now all qualified for Cynosports but for one more Team Q and one more titling Q. All the Biathalons, Grand Prix and Steeplechases all done, with 2 Grand Prix byes so we can go to 2 regionals. Phew. I wasn't the best team player, made some mistakes, but our team still came in 5th place with a Q. Thank goodness.

Gustavo got to run, too. He had an amazing Steeplechase, and won 8" Jumpers. My little buddy is 11 years old and still runs his heart out, as fast as he can. Banksy is only 3, I hope she's still running like that when she's 11 years old. Gooey gets the shaft, he hates the long days sitting in the car with not enough fun and not enough running, but he's soooo VERY happy when he finally gets his turn.

There were too many bad things about 2018. Dog agility was not one of them. I guess though, it was the year of Banksy's injury and her 6 months off, so even dog agility got kind of bad in there. Could have been a lot worse. I suspect that 2018 will have a lot of badness, that's our lot for a few more years. So we just look for where we can find the happy and where we can find the good. Friends and families and dogs and horses and forests and beaches. Appreciate them all while we still got them.

Happy New Years, friends.

27 November 2017

Happy Dog Moorpark USDAA

photo credit Mia Grant

We tried an experiment, a quick trip after Thankgiving to my family's house in Socal with a dog show on the drive home, stopping in Moorpark for a few runs at Happy Dog. The goal was our other Biathalon Q and a third Grand Prix bye. Maybe a couple titling Qs for Nationals too, we still need 3.

Hmmm. Maybe too lofty goals. Banksy ran great though, me, not so perfect.

Perfect Jumpers with a bar. Not so perfect. I don't know why she hit it, I didn't even see it come down.

Into the tunnel instead of turning tight to the weave poles in Biathalon Jumpers, so an E in the first half rendering the second round a fun run. I watched a lot of dogs do this afterwards, I tried to hold on tight but it wasn't tight enough.

Beautiful Standard with a bar. And then an E because I turned Banksy nice and tight and didn't let her go into the tunnel. Which was a genius idea after biathalon! Except I walked the course wrong and made it much harder than it should have been. Oops. She even laid down on the giant table.

Beautiful perfect Grand Prix! With a hard turn off the dogwalk! Another bye? Nope because at the very end I pushed on her line too hard and wrong side of a jump heading to the ending after the straight tunnel. Oops. That would be an E.

We went home instead of running Biathalon Standard. We had a nice time, it's a nice and easy site just 6 hours from my house if I want to go again. There are palm trees and ocean breezes that blow up the valley. But just an hour and a half from my parents house! So maybe another time.

21 November 2017

Many of the things, in one place.

Have you lost an old Team Small Dog shirt? Or it got old and fadey? Here's a whole bunch of classics, now available in one reliable place. Maybe a weekend sale coming up, stay tuned!

Team Small Dog Shirts on Teespring

13 November 2017

You should be more scared.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley
“Welcome to the grand illusion.” Styx

Dog agility, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Not really. Dog agility, you’re the sunshine in my bag, sticking out of my shoe and dribbling yellow tracks behind me, sunny little cookie crumbles pointing the way for the men in black suits to find me at a more convenient time.

I don’t have much to complain about, dog agility. My startline, yeah, that could use a little work. There are far grander train wrecks crashing around out there, hovering around on the periphery of dog training. The economy’s a gig where parched and tired masses are programmed to crouch down to hold up the bright and shiny optimism of a very few. We have disposable immigrants to do the dirty work. Everything is disposable! So many, many paper cups, with so many misspelled names scrawled across the tops! Inventors are currently programming drones to express deliver my next batch of dog food by flinging it out of the sky onto my roof. We can't wait! There’s even an app to pick you out an online puppy, a little bell will ding when it’s ready to go, just like an angel losing it’s wings.

Fact. Dog agility is a game we play with dogs.
Alternative Fact: My dog has a rock solid stay on the startline.

It’s just so convenient to ignore things. Solid as a rock, we take it for granted that nothing's going to melt. Are you watching your startline very carefully while you lead out? Do you see your dog get a little hunchy, like she’s ducking under the shadow of a pointy witch finger? Did you ignore it? Then it turned into a foot shifting just one millimeter forward? And you ignored that? Then you didn’t notice the foot move a little more and the hunch go a little hunchier then the butt scooched up just a bit. But you kept walking. You were all, what’s a millimeter? What’s one more disposable plastic thingamajig going into the trash can? I’m no litterbug. I throw it in the trash! And then all of a sudden, the earth is too hot for human habitation and you’re all, Why’d she break that startline?

Fact: Your release word can be anything you want but probably not curse words.
Alternative Fact: My dog’s stay is perfect at home.

So actually, dog agility, you couldn’t be better. Technology has made you fat and happy, and your podium pictures sparkle across social media every single weekend, beaming radiance and shiny hair, carefully protected by sun hats with extra added SPF, across the globe. Not just one but TWO sun hats! They're on sale and made in China! Or Canada! Global! Nobody running dog agility grumps with a pouty face all by themselves in the isolationist corner. In fact, in dog agility, everybody is friends with everybody! On social media, I just click you. Super easy. Now I know what your backyard looks like and what you had for dinner at the festive restaurant after the big dog show when you were drinking with all your friends. Ha, ha, yeah, that was an awkward one! You have never heard the sound of my voice and I probably hid you so I don’t have to see your emojis anymore.

Oh, I just let her go on that one. I saw her scooch, but it was only a little ways, but I REALLY wanted to run that course.

Fact: Distance, duration, distraction, I believe in that exact order.
Alternative Fact: My dog knows she’s supposed to stay.

Oh, so now your dog kind of creeps into her sit on the startline? And her foot does this little thing where it bends and picks up and hovers like an alien craft before it sets back down on the turf one more centimeter out front? And it happened at the trial last weekend? But you were really hoping to get that QQ so you just ignored it, just that once? Or twice? Because really, she knows she’s supposed to stay there. She’s just a little too excited, being at the trial and all. And you mostly enforce it at practice, unless you’re in a bit of a hurry, or sometimes you can’t exactly see it, she’s so fast and you’re so slow so you’re already off and running. But, she knows she's supposed to stay there. We’ve trained it a lot.

An iceberg the size of an island with Mai-Tai service direct to your palapa just broke off of Antartica. Looks like when a dog takes a bite of dog bed, gives it a shake, and a chunk comes off, all the fluff scattering across the floor. It’s cool, you can get another one on sale, just sweep it up and order online, robots are anxiously awaiting your call.

Fact. Impulse control works best when it’s the dog’s choice to stay.
Alternative Fact: Is it ok if I carry my toy?

David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear in 1985. Surprise! It didn’t really disappear, it was a magic trick. He wasn’t even wearing a cape, just a silver Members Only jacket and slacks. Let’s call it an illusion. It looked like it was gone, but really, it wasn’t.

Post apocalyptic desert children in hoodies will one day be huddled for warmth around a creepy skull lit by whatever will around to make future candles with, probably spit and melted Pokemons and the gunk that oozes from festering sores. They won’t have any puka shell necklaces! No video joysticks! No arugula! You know what they’re not going to be doing? Dog agility. Because the a-frames have all been repurposed into tiny house walls to keep the acid raindrops off leathery, prematurely aged skin. The shiplap and wide plank hardwood floors burned up a long time ago. Jumps have all been melted down for the curative properties found in pvc, since rainforest plants are off the table. And the dogs. Well, hopefully there are still dogs. Because if you’ve watched enough zombie apocalypse movies, the movies where oddly, all the trees are still alive because that’s where brain guzzling zombies hide, you know this. There are No More Dogs. You know what happened to them. Don’t make me say it.

Fact. Make clear the behavior you want.
Alternative Fact: Maybe if I try going back and giving a cookie.

You know what else didn’t happen in dog agility? Nobody in dog agility pulled out of the climate change accord. In dog agility, we happily drive big fat gas guzzling machines that are guzzling away at the fossil fuels being dug out of the earth while we play sad songs for polar bears on tiny violins. And the trash we throw away! Who needs the violins? Toss ‘em. So much trash! Hey dog agility, we are good people. So it doesn't count when we throw it away, right? We're the good guys!

So now, yeah, at home, her stay, it’s looking good. I clicker trained it. But then at class, her sit goes kind of stalky, like her air shocks are leaky and the low rider hydraulics are quietly taking their own damn time to lower down to the asphalt. Listen close, you can hear the hiss. When I walk out, her butt pops up. She's fluffy, so maybe you don't exactly see the air that now separates dog from sod. And then her feet move, sneaky like when someone breezily tosses out the phrase, “Oh, by the way,” the best passive aggressive way to start an attack. So I walk back. And re-sit. And walk back. And repeat, thinking, this wasn’t supposed to go down like this. I had a startline. It was So Good. It was a thing. I trained it.

Fact. Mechanics include reward placement, frequency, and timing.
Alternative Fact: She’s up? I thought she was still sitting? Dang.

I’m moving like a giant spider right now, exploring options with all my legs, but with the caveat of occasionally dropping my head into the sand. You know what they say. Facts don’t vanish into thin air just because they get noses turned up at them, willing them away. But it happens all the time. I’m losing my edge, just like James Murphy did. I’m early basking on the beach of late capitalism. I thought what I was doing was spreading love, compassion and kindness, watching my dog with a smile on my face. Maybe I can still spread this by clicking the little heart icon, located conveniently below your slightly blurry and not well composed dog photo. It’s just there, drag the mouse finger three millimeters at the most and you’ll find it in a jiffy. Just click, and your heart goes on. Isn't that what they meant by calling it the Summer of Love? Which may have actually been a Season of Discontent?

The next time I see that scooch, I’m all, Ha HAAA! Gotcha! You sit! She looks at me with the smoke of confusion rolling like a lazy river up and out her ears. Life in a leaky house with the river rising.

Dig this list, all the places with the stays. At the top of the stairs at the beach. On the grassy dog park with the tennis balls flying and the dogs flinging themselves around with wild abandon. On the hill above the creek. In the driveway. By the taco shack on pulled pork day. Before every meal. On the couch. At the derelict soccer field that screams out, Run Here, don't mind the homeless sleepers. That's so many places, right? You'd think that would be enough, right?

You had me at sit. There was a different vibe before. It’s hard to explain how it felt. It felt like yes we can and no nasty women. Didn’t feel like I’m pulling my hair out and wondering where we went so wrong. It didn’t used to feel so, hard. I simply said, Sit, and walked, not a worry in the world.

Is the vibe ever going to come back? And will there be healthcare if it does? I present as a gift of good vibes, an outpouring of love, like lei covered watermen paddling out during high tide to honor their dead, holding hands as they gently bob on their boards, hearts swelling in love of the dear departed. Like when I strode across the field, taking for granted the ease of my stride. A passage of an icon now gone, a passing of a vibe that may now be obsolete. We were smack in the middle of a golden era and we didn't even know we used up the last golden ticket.

Fact. My stay was actually just an illusion.
Alternative Fact: Dog agility is a game we play with dogs.

Turlock USDAA Sunday stickers.

This is not Turlock. This is where they burned the meadow. Sometimes you need to burn things before they burn you.

We went to Turlock on Sunday to try and win a Grand Prix. It's hard for me and Banksy to show up and run and do well, so we went to practice that as well. And to get a Masters Pairs Q.

Three goals somewhat accomplished! It didn't start well, though. I stepped on Banksy's foot in Jumpers, she felt crazy on the start, my start plan flew out the plane window, and then I stepped on her foot and she got scared and that was over.

Also she stepped on a very pointy sticker where we parked, and the rest of the day to walk to and fro car to ring car to ring was frought with peril. Stepping on a sticker! Dogs playing! It was not a pleasant day, pretty much, to do anything other than the actual agility. Once Banksy thinks the ground could stab her, she has a hard time putting her feet on the ground, which is an important part of walking. So seeing her try to walk without touching the ground is a little funny, and a little sad. Banksy lives her life with great drama, and sometimes this makes her life hard.

Aside from the disaster jumpers run, not so bad! A great snooker! A no time because she ran to her leash instead of taking the timer jump, but still an excellent run! A great Grand Prix! Which she won, with the fastest time in the whole dog show. A couple scary spots where I hung on and tried hard and we made it work. A great Masters Pairs! So one more Pairs Q for an ADCh for Banksy. We have been trying for one year to collect the pairs. Someday we will get the last one.

Banksy has no startline. Especially if we run after a very fast dog that makes her excited. It doesn't upset me. I know she doesn't like to have a startline. So we just run together and frequently this works fine. And if it doesn't, it doesn't. The Jumpers run was a doesn't, hopefully I don't stomp on her foot ever again.

So we did ok, to show up and get in the ring and just go. Out of the car and battling the crazies and into the ring and do good. Just one disaster run first to shake off the feelings then get in there and go. Banksy can do it, if I can.

16 October 2017

Top dogs.

These two...

Who knew? Snooker Top Ten is pretty random, and I didn't hardly run Gooey last year, but these came in the mail today.

10 October 2017

We’ve been finding a lot of bones in the woods.

We’ve been finding a lot of bones in the woods. We, as in I find them in the dogs’ mouths, the dogs find them scattered in the brushy sides of paths. Banksy found a small section of a rib cage this morning, maybe ripped from a little deer. She extracted herself a section, and had no interest in yielding it to me, so on we walked.

I’ve been steering clear of the brook because of the gray hair man sitting on the downed tree where the path winds to the top of the hill. He doesn’t want us in there, and he’s large, although I doubt he could move all that fast. It’s just him in his tweed and his small valise, he’s spectacled and far older than I. He got up as if to chase us last time I saw him, but we ran as fast as we could. I could hear his yelling all the way down the hill to the brook.

Today I thought to try to walk down to the brook. We miss it. The fires have taken away most of Santa Rosa, they’re burning after the hurricanes, after the earthquakes, and people and animals are still missing. Thousands of houses burned in minutes, flames appearing from nowhere in the dead of night. That’s why we wanted to walk to the brook. I figured if the gray hair man was there we could run by again as fast as we could and at least run over the bridge and see the brook, run by the old charred tank where I drew a giant sparkling ruby.

But on the path that way, the smell of death started. It grew into a wall. I don’t know what corpse does that, not something small, a deer someone didn’t finish, my best guess. The dogs picked up the smell before I did, noses to the air with with thrill of something to come. It started small, like all the dead things do, but grew so big as we trotted on that Banksy stopped in her tracks, rib still hanging out her mouth. Like she could see it, eyes big, taking in the smell. Then she turned around and ran. That was enough for me, no adventuring in to see if it was killed by puma or coyote.

For some reason, we’re supposed to stay away from the brook.

We followed her backtracking and decided to run all that way back to the meadow. Somewhere on the way, Banksy gave me the rib cage and I traded her back a little apple cookie for dogs. Not a fair trade, but that’s how it goes. I hung the rib cage in a tree just off the path. If someone else wants it, they can get it there.

08 October 2017

Turlock Tom Petty USDAA October 2017

She was an American girl. Jumpers. Train wreck. She couldn’t stop thinkin’ that there was a little more to life, somewhere else. After all, it was a great big world, with lots of place to run to. Banksy does not do the drive to trial in the nick of time, sit in car while I walk, then get out run thing. Note to self. She needs a long walk. Even if it’s alongside a freeway. A first run of the day for her is a useless exercise in managing a deranged demon around the ring. Cray cray. Right now, it feels so real to you, but it's one of those things you gotta feel to be true.

Free falling, out into nothing. MC Jumpers was so so fresh, until I couldn’t get the blind in and she took the backside instead of the front side of that jump by the tunnel on the way out to the end. She’s a good girl, loves her mama, loves Jesus, and American too. Oh well.

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out. One point snooker. We don’t back down. We left the ring proudly. Not everyone can do that.

And, if she had to die tryin' to, she had one little promise she was gonna keep. Except for then another jump where I showed her the backside instead of the front side, otherwise a picture perfect contact hitting, hard weave pole entrance getting Grand Prix. Some wideness on the start and it was over before it was over. So much for my plan of fast drive to Turlock, run a few runs and catch a Q. Something that’s so close, but so far out of reach.

Take it easy baby, let it last all night. So what. We drove home. And stopped at the creek on the way. We sang our goodbyes to Tom Petty through the car stereo. No Qs, not a one. But we all survivied. This doesn't have to be the big get even, this doesn't have to be anything at all. RIP Tom Petty.Grand Prix Q's, we'll have another chance sometime else.

02 October 2017


I left the house, at practice Banksy could not hit a rdw contact to save her soul. We did the weavies, tried again, she still couldn't hit. Whatever.

She didn't want to leave and ran over to an illegal xpen with a soft bed in it. Illegal because her plan is to throw a hissy fit and start shaking the bed. She still does that sometimes. I yelled at her and she jumped out, but  she caught her leg like an arctic fox in a trap in the gate, started screaming and thrashing and almost took her leg off before I could get over there. She somehow slipped it out, I thought it was broke. We sat there for a long time.

Fifty dead in the massacre.

We walked up to Eagle Rock, which is at the very top. Climbed through the fence, didn't hike down the mountain. Too tired. Leg maybe not right, although it looked fine.

Some disasters you can avert, some you can't.

We sat on the rock for a long time, looking out to the sea. You can see everywhere and everyone from up there. Then drove back down the mountain. Even more dead, and then Tom Petty cardiac arrest brain dead off life support.

Tom Petty. Some things don't die. But they do.

You belong among the wildflowers. You belong somewhere close to me. Far away from your trouble and worry. You belong somewhere you feel free. RIP, all the souls of October.

24 September 2017

Morgan Hill October USDAA trial book report.

photo by Heather Christensen

This photo isn't even from the trial. Or any trial! It's from Oregon. But I didn't get any videos.

This was the first trial of the qualifying season. First weekend of Autumn. First time competing on a dirt surface since Banksy wiped out last spring.


She got a giant start on her qualifications for Nationals! And had 4 of her best runs she has ever had. I almost couldn't believe it. She won Grand Prix, had an amazing 2nd place in Steeplechase and won the second round. She got a Biathalon Q, a Super Q, a regular Snooker Q, and one more Pairs Q on her ADCh countdown. Two more pairs to go.

I haven't known what Banksy's "thing" is. For Otterpop, it was Gamblers, Grand Prix and Standard. For Gooey, Jumpers and Steeplechase. For Banksy, she's ok at gamblers, I'm mediocre at snooker, jumpers is fine, I'm boycotting standard because of the stupid new giant table she has to climb up on, and I've just found the bravery to start running pairs.

Tournaments are where she shines. This is her thing. Maybe because they are expensive to enter! Nice taste Banksy!

I love running her in Masters Challenge class. I love trying to beat the other dogs in her division in Grand Prix and Steeplechase. Two of them are very hard to beat. So I have to push to win and this is Banksy's thing. Banksy wants me to drive hard and WIN! It's not exciting to do that in, Masters Gamblers. Blah. Get all the sevens in snooker. Blah. I don't hate it, but it's just not thrilling.

So that's her thing. We will try to win tournaments. We'll run enough titling classes for her Nationals q's, and for something else to do as the mood strikes, but otherwise, Biathalon, Grand Prix, Steeplechase. I've figured out Banksy's thing.

13 September 2017

Clever Confidence Camp at Oregon School for Clever Dogs.

Hello, Oregon. We all took the long drive up there so I could teach at Dog Camp! We did not get to take the mushroom car. Also, everyone in Oregon does not drive mushroom cars. This is a misnomer. This was by the dog park in Sutherlin. I do not recommend this dog park.

This is not Oregon. It's the trail head for the Pacific Crest Trail in Shasta Trinity National Forest near the Castle Crags. It's also a shooting gallery, and in the background you can see a shot up washing machine! Also there are a LOT of bugs there and I would remind you never hike the Pacific Crest Trail without carrying water. We are rookies. No one was shot.

This is the trailer at the Oregon airbnb! We slept in the boat house next to the trailer. The huge great dane slept in the main house. I told the lady, my dogs will be terrified of the giant great dane. She said she'd keep him in the house. But he's friendly! She almost did keep him in the house, until she didn't and I was right! He was huge and my dogs all thought they were going to die. Nobody did though.

The trailer has Grateful Dead decals. They love the Grateful Dead. Very nice soap and towels. Beer with tangerine and tea in it, I gave them a good review but look out for that dog. He's friendly but the size of a baby elephant, in case your dogs are scared of giant dogs, too.

I'm at the river! The Sacramento River. This was the beach at our cabin near Mt. Shasta. Not in Oregon. The landlord was VERY DRUNK! At all times!

He looked a little like this, except creepier. Imagine the most drunk guy you've ever seen. That's the landlord! He did bring us some beer. He was expressive. And retired, so he liked to walk by the kitchen window a lot and look in. But there was awesome fishing decor.

And a train! This is the front yard. We don't mind trains, so that was cool.

Wilderness hiking. Very HOT! Look out for snakes!

Wilderness hikers, proof!

River fetching. Banksy would live here forever, she didn't mind the drunk landlord all that much. Although she didn't LOVE him and Banksy usually LOVES everyone. This river was pretty strong so I was glad she was afraid to swim beyond where she could touch. She also used bravery to walk over the No Trespassing bridge. I carried Gooey. Otterpop of course had no fear.

Clean Run was one of the sponsors of the camp. Toys for everyone! Socksmith sponsored the socks! There were soap sponsors, treat sponsors, so many sponsors! It was actually great fun, teaching at dog camp.

Tammy invented the camp with Heather. I just showed up and gave a lecture on Yacht Rock and taught some classes. Tammy and Heather are A+, A-1 primo dog agility teachers! I am not so much but I tried hard and I think some students learned some things. I think Ollie learned he liked the squeaky mousie and Patch the aussie learned to do some tugging! The princess sheltie learned how to merry go round on the lunge whip of furry toys. Hopefully some of the other dogs learned some things, all were quite clever, probably far more clever than I. I can already think of some better things to teach if I get invited back.

Here is Gary breaking two of Heather's dogs. They were giving Banksy border collie lessons and ended up with cut pads.

Drunk landlord cabin. Very cute! Many fishing things inside! I am standing where the trains drive by!

Abandonded, derelict market! Which was once a speakeasy, I think. There is history, up there on the river.

Another view of the cabin. We do like sitting around a lot in chairs. Sitting by the river was quite nice though. When we could do so without the incredibly drunk landlord sitting with us.

These guys got tired. We will start calling them grandma and grandpa. They would like to sit in AC and chairs more of the time for their next vacation.

Not tired! More vacation! More hikes! Less car! AC is great! No dogs on furniture, that causes a death penalty for us! This is a genuine drunk landlord quote. Now I feel bad, as he may be deceased from alcohol poisoning quite soon. Does that cause your veins to turn black? Also this was a no dogs allowed hike but screw it. We went anyways.

Working vacation! It was great, and way too short. Thanks for having me up to Oregon!