16 December 2014

Getting ready for Christmas, swamp style.

Here we are, finally doing some Christmas shopping. We got to the mall pretty early and Banksy is good at finding parking spots. I think Otterpop was in line at Starbucks already, they have those nice red holiday cups this time of year. I believe that this was a good shopping day. You know what they say. Red sky at morning, you have the best chance of making it out of the car park alive.

This is about as close as we've gotten to Christmas decorations this year. We're using a lot of water and mud. It's been too warm for icicles. The halls are looking pretty decked and the stocking are hung near the dryer. Remember to turn your Christmas boots upside down to drain, unless you want soggy reindeer socks.

Oh look! Eggnog and Elf on the Shelf! Good morning and what's your favorite color? Here are two of Santa's fluffiest little elves after knocking back their Starbucks at the mall. Don't feed elves caffeine. They prefer cotton balls and shredded fish bodies that the giant white stork birds drop in the swamp. When they take flight I release the elves to herd them from the ground, Santa says this is a great way to cross train them for pulling the sled.

11 December 2014

Banksy is 10 months old, doesn't that sound old?

Ten Months Old. We have plans. They involve the running dogwalk. And not going apeshit during the agilities of others. And not jumping up on people when they give her luvvies. Those are the big plans this month. They are unwieldy. Running dogwalks when you don't have a dogwalk or a place to put one! A great amount of apeshit to undo! And the luvvies. Everyone loves Banksy, except for people that don't like big fluffy muddy paws jumping up to express her manic and insane love for them.

Impulse control is a thing that we are not excellent at here. I should have done 100 more hours of crate games. So much fluffiness, and so little time. I can clip and dremel her nails though, with her laying upside down in a flippy flop, and brush that tail with a mind of it's own. She can go into the vet's office and have happy fits to visit there now. So minor victories and everything is a constant work in progress.

Banksy is the most happy about the weather. She's a rain dog. Flash flood warnings are her thing. So rain jacket on and off we go. Every day there is a forest or a field or a beach. If you have a border collie, I think every day at least once there needs to be some running and jumping and climbing up hills and into creeks and splashing in waves. Border collies need trees and grasses and mud and slopey hills with rocks and stumps that look like one armed slashers in the dark. They need drainage ditches that plug up and rise up waist high, they need flocks of birds flying off into the breeze, they need high winds that blow the ball higher and further and faster. Border collies want some weather.

Today was a rain that wouldn't stop, just like the old days, when decoupage was a thing and people wore suede a lot. She's not allowed to run loose at the ranch, ever since the truck chasing incident, which is very much a Thing, but she stays in her dry pen in the hayroom. The rain pounds loud on the ceiling there and then she came out for a while to help me deal with some flooding. Rain is just a big pond everywhere for her and she's happiest when she's wet and muddy and running, add a tennis ball and that's a happy dog. I have tall green rain boots and a new rain coat. Me and Otterpop, we go out with Banksy.

How did we not have a border collie before this? Everyone here loves Banksy, even though she can drive us all crazy sometimes. She wants to stare at dust and eat sofa pillows and 16x20 black and white gelatin silver prints and she can make Otterpop VERY mad with her big fluffy love face. She stayed loose in the house with Gustavo and Ruby the other night while we were out. Otterpop comes with me, she's like the meanest little tote bag dog now and has lost a lot of privileges such as staying home with everybody else. We came home to nothing eaten and quiet dogs laying around. This is a big deal of ten months old.

We're very structured agility practicers these days. I'm lucky to have friends to practice with, our puppies are all at about the same level and we are all mad for Silvia. We cik and tap and serp, and we have just started pushing and threadling. We are teetering and 2o2offing, we are running thru wide open channels and coming to hand. We are staying everywhere and on everything. We could do this all day. We wish we could do this all day. Every little practice is a gift, so much to do and so hardly any time to do it in. The running dogwalk part of practicing, of the future, commuting to a dogwalk, with all the slow-mo video and obsessing over feet, that part is coming next, and it's a little bit exciting.

I sure am lucky to have a Banksy. Not sure what did did without one, before.

03 December 2014

Continuing Ed Norton and having zero of unhelpful unlearning.

Hola. This is Laura speaking. Here's what I look like in the rain and without my wrinkles photoshopped out.

Here's my puppy. She's 9 months old and like many, many people who are super irritating but I just smile anyways because, that's what I do, like to remind me, I am one of those people who goes-to-the-dark-side-had-a-little-slow-dog-wants-to-do-better-in-agility-she's-so-clueless-gets-a-border collie.

If I was to hashtag that, it would look like this:


Now I'm really tweeting. Fly away, little birdies.

Judgers, judge away. Haters, hate away. Because a number one thing in my continuing ed, special ed, muthaflicking Ed Norton Education of dog agility is first of all, I don't care what you think.

Like Ed Norton told us in Fight Club, "What happens in dog agility, stays in dog agility, because stays come from crate games and this is the foundation of dog agility."

Michael Keaton could have done this in Birdman but instead he did something else. That's cool.

I might for a minute think I care what you think, then I don't anymore. This was a really good lesson that helped me learn more. And then we go work on some more stays.

You used to know me as teamsmalldog. That's what a teamsmalldog looks like.

If I was to hashtag, #teamsmalldog.

Done hashtagging. That was plenty.

Now teamsmalldog looks like this. I don't know if you know me anymore as teamsmalldog. But still teamsmalldog. With addition of a border collie puppy. She's pretty small as border collies go. I don't know how small. I am asked this a lot. Sometimes by people who tell me I am one of those people who goes-to-the-dark-side-had-a-little-slow-dog-wants-to-do-better-in-agility-so-clueless-so-gets-a-border-collie.

Before I got a border collie puppy, I spent about 2 years deciding should I get a puppy. My brain looked like this all the time.

Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy. Get a puppy. Don't get a puppy.

Good thing I'm not doing hashtags anymore. That would clog up the hashtag part of the internet. Like going tweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweet. Then I would break the internet.

Because I am good at breaking things! Especially in dog training! Because all the dogs I've had for agility, namely and exactly, teamsmalldog, came to me as rescues with some weird problems and in my fixing of the weird problems and teaching of the agilities, I ended up breaking a lot of things good for agility. Because I started with weird problems, alrighty, this is confusing to know if this stuff was stuff I taught them.

For example, Ruby started out weird and feral and chased all things that moved and hated being on a leash. That got fixed but in agility she had weird jumping problems and always got hurt and sometimes would shut down and other times go too fast and zoom around and then her eyes didn't work and then she retired. I think I am demonstrating a non teeter fly-off here. She did have a VERY FAST teeter totter.

For example, Otterpop started out chasing trucks, hating all people except for 6 of them, hating all dogs except for 6 of them, getting really good at agility, then having bad legs, then starting to shut down in the ring, then becoming a superstar of gamblers, then becoming a number one top ten dog, then having sore legs, then shutting down in the ring, then she retired. Here I am demonstrating some weave pole proofing via hulahoop gamblers.

For example Gustavo started out being super cute but sort of a weirdo and hard to train, then doing pretty good in agility except having problems with complex things such as agility and hallucinating and seizures, then he felt better, then I changed how we did our agility, then he got better at agility if I pretended to be Slovenian and never, ever let him have meat. He isn't retired. Here is us demonstrating some nice fast running.

I got better at teaching my dogs the more I did agility, but many times agility got the better of me. Darn you, agilities! I have had a lot of help along the ways for improvement. For some reason, I am pretty much obsessed with getting better and better at agility. I have had the opportunity to run some amazing dogs that were way better at agility than I was and have had a lot of amazing instruction.

Um, so where was I?

So long story short and many future puppies of many breeds later, I got a puppy. A border collie puppy.

And now I'm training my puppy. She came to me as a puppy! Not a weird dog with weird problems! She is completely awesome and she has some challenging problems, maybe due to lady who just had little slow dogs going to the darkside and getting a border collie because she wants to do better in agility and starting out by breaking things! Or else she's just a border collie and I keep getting used to things they do. Here we are demonstrating some turn and burn.

She has not eaten a couch!

We are working on all the challenges! We are trying to learn! We love to be around people who help us learn, not people who unhelp us unlearn! I have NO TIME anymore for unhelpful unlearning. I have no time for hardly anything so unhelpful unlearning is the last thing I have time for.

I have some of the best teachers in the world helping us, too. Nancy Gyes helps us with USA type things. Silvia Trkman helps us with Slovenian type things. Sometimes Susan Garrett helps us with Canadian things and Jaako and Janita help us with Finnish things and they don't even know it! I have Oregonian and Washingtonian and Floridan and all kinds of other state-ians helping me with all kinds of stuff in the internet.

Plus I have a long list of California practice buddies and friends and classmates who are some of the best agility champs around who are secretly teaching me Californian things by just being good friends and sometimes mentioning things like, Um, Don't You Think You Should Just Start Again Because You Just Rewarded That Huge Gigantic Error You Just Made? Or just because they did it right and I saw what they did or they did it wrong and I saw what they did.

Or they casually throw out, Use Your Other Hand. It's sometimes as easy as that.

So my education is continuing. With a puppy, many days it still feels like it's just starting and I do feel clueless a lot of the time. Although anyone other than me mentioning this or tsk tsk tsking it on the sidelines just has bad manners. I don't actually think I'm clueless, by the way. I think it's just that wanting to do better thing. My puppy loves agility and she loves hiking and she loves the beach and she loves playing and she loves doing tricks so we're probably doing ok.

We can do better. I am always trying to do better. So when you see something we're doing that looks like a trainwreck, Yep. I know. And we're working on it. I am really trying not to untrain my puppy with unhelpful unlearning. I want to get this right!

Here's a photo direct from my brain of how I learn agility. I am a continuing ed and I probably always will be. I think some of us  are never gonna be super champs. But you know what? We might still be trying. Yeah, we have not perfected crate games, Susan Garrett! And while I'm writing this my puppy is staring at the dust again, unhelpful unlearning DARN YOU! Some things I'll never learn. So yes. Continuing Education. And now I gotta go train my puppy.

For more agility blogs on continuing education, find 'em here, thanks Steve!
http://dogagilityblogevents. wordpress.com/continuing- education/

26 November 2014

A Thanksgiving poem about Banksy who I am super most thankful for even though totally shallow to be thankful for your puppy but very social norm for a dog lady.

Tis the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house
I already ate the pumpkin pie and
can't decide how to teach Banksy contacts.
Not a creature is stirring not even Banksy
because we got done at work early
and there was a long walk and many super fun stays.
Stays are fun! We have a million and ten ways to stay!
There are no stockings hung because damn we have way more
shopping days til Christmas
and also sometimes Banksy eats socks.
When up through the something or other there arose such a clatter.
That's the sound that sometimes happens
when Gary falls over the driveway xpen in the dark.
It might make him curse. Hopefully he didn't drop the other pie.
Because it's the night before Thanksgiving and I haven't even gone to
the store yet. Or even decided what to make. Someone gave me that
damn pie and it's half et already.
We are gonna need that other pie.
Thank you giant turkey for granting me a Banksy.
And would a free running a-frame be too much to ask for too?
The end.

24 November 2014

Big fluffy weirdo.

Banksy is a big fluffy weirdo. That photo says it all. She is a crazy goofball. You turn on her serious side, and my god, the intensity. A very intense work ethic that can go to a darkside of manic obsession, aka I drag my puppy away sometimes. But when she's off duty, it's just all floppy, furry, flippy, floppy unicorn loving, princess dress chompin' love muffin.

So yes. We do this a lot. Darkness be damned. We do go down to the beach in the dark, I figure, what the hell. Nothing to run into. No wild beach animals to eat us. You can't see the sandy wetness climbing into the car so much in the dark. So there's enough running. Just running in the dark. Never with scissors.

Otterpop is the weak link of our family is what I've figured out. She does not always have privileges anymore. She does get to go everywhere with me, the evil one is my sidekick and when she's being a sidekick, no evilness. Sometimes she does some agility. My god. Her agility. It only gets better. Maybe she can do gamblers in a trial again someday. We will do the whole course as a gamble and I'll sit in a chair. She mostly just wants to ride on the tractor. I let her do this. Everybody needs an evil sidekick.

Gooey is just a good dog all the time. Him and Ruby, I feel a little bad for sometimes. They're just so good and easy. So sometimes they get forgot about. Otterpop is DEMANDING and Banksy is LEARNING and Gustavo and Ruby are sitting there on the couch hoping they get to do something nice today. Gooey comes out and does some agility and he knocks it out of the park. Yet sometimes can't get across the ring at a trial. We have a great time playing Slovenians in class though.

This kiddo. Wow. Just wow. When she's being wow, wow. Yeah, there's still weird staring some of the time. And when she goes over threshold of over the top, happy white Jesus's birthday. She gets dragged out to the car. I try to shove a toy in that mouth like a cork but it only works some of the time. It's just at agility. Because she LOVES the agility TOO much of NO CONTROL. We work on this a lot. It's embarrassing and what good is an agility dog who can't go to agility because she has on naughty pants all over her head? Have I mentioned we work on this a lot? A lot.

I am currently in contact quandry land. So I'm teaching the basics of running dogwalk, slowly, since I don't have a good way to this in the comfort of my own home. And working on a blazing nose touch on little boxes and stuff. I am head in the sand procrastinating what to do with contacts. A long, flat grass patch of my own and my own dogwalk would make this an easier decision. So for now we just waffle around in contactless limbo. She is only 9 months. There is time. We are having fun! Very, very much fun. Currently I'm answering all my questions with, What Would Silvia Do? And off we go.

10 November 2014

Silvia homework this week.

A good day is a day where you can do the dog homework. AND still have time to vacuum out the dog car.

09 November 2014

Banksy turns 9 months old, and we celebrated by going to the Turlock Travelodge.

Teamsmalldog says motels with a puppy, somewhat overrated.

Have you been to Turlock? We visit there several times per year. You drive out towards the central valley, but don't go to Los Banos. Turn away from Fresno towards Gustine and Hilmar, if you see the thirsty cows, you're going the right way. They line up in the feeders, sharing scraps of hay. There's no more grass in California. The fields are all covered in dust now, with clusters of tumbleweeds just waiting there, hoping for a breeze to carry them somewhere else.

I tried to explain to the motel clerk, the guy with the giant, blue plastic diamond gauges that shone under the fluorescent lights, just where the dog shows are in Turlock. You know those things? Earrings that make your earlobes the size of my sneaker. The whole time I'm explaining, I'm hypnotizing on his ears. Like looking deep into the sea, into those big diamonds that send his lobes like little elephant trunks down to his shoulders. An amazing, brilliant blue, that you don't always see in the front lobby of an old motel, sitting there where the almond orchards used to be.

He was thinking to go out there, maybe find some dog lady to help him train his husky. Yeah, a husky. Good luck with that, beautiful shining blue earlobes. I told him to turn at the Chevron station, drive west towards the train tracks and on the road called Golf, where I've never seen no golf, drive north towards the mobile home parks. There's a giant cocker spaniel sign, high up in the sky, and if you get to the hydraulic shop with all the scrap metal dumpsters, you've gone too far.

That's where we were for some of the weekend. Gustavo burned it up on both rounds of Steeplechase. Super fast, super good runs. Smokin' the poles, flying a-frames. Not a wobble or a bobble, could not have run any better than he did. Won us nearly the cost of the motel room. So this was awesome, too bad he couldn't run in the other ring. Just not feeling the love in there. No go at the far end. Nada. That was all. I walked some good courses, but we couldn't run them, couldn't get past that far end.

So yeah. Gustavo still does that. It was hot, he felt funny, weird cat smells, whatever it was, was no dealing with the far end of the ring. We went home early and drove home to the beach, where the fog was in and it was cool and he ran first thing into the water and stayed there for a little while. At least he doesn't get afraid of the Turlock train anymore, at least not for now, so I can watch it pass, admire the painting on the cars, wonder who painted those, in the dark of night.

Banksy was allright. I still can't get her near the agilities. She still goes apeshit, nutso, out of control, barking crazy eyes popping out of her head. I skulk around the edges with her, and she got to play a lot in the fenced in paddock by the shady trees. Many ciks/caps around the garbage can out there. Much frisbees and stays and circle work and good times with the other dogs. There is a lot of good dog in there. Only focused on me when we played there in the paddock. About her dark sides, everyone says, Oh, she'll grow out of that. I edge closer to the rings but people and dogs running near agility stuff makes her crazy like nothing else. We work on it and I sure do hope she grows out of it. I seem to have a theme with my dogs and distractions. I would like to untheme this but so far it isn't working.

Banksy's manners at the motel were pretty much the manners she has at home. Pretty good except for when they're not. She was quiet though and didn't destroy anything and slept all night in the bed. Her and Otterpop had a scuffle that this time involved a chewie. Otterpop and Banksy share toys and share wide open spaces. As of now, that's it. I have had some concerning events with the two of them in tight spaces and with food and I am shutting that shit down. I think there is some shifting of power as Banksy grows up and I am now doing some fierce micromanaging of who eats what and where. Otterpop is a shit disturber and hard to live with and this is something I don't want passed to her big fluffy sister with the crazy eyes.

So happy birthday Banksy. I'm glad you liked the Travelodge, and that you didn't eat the chairs there. Nine months old sounds pretty old to me. Like time to be getting some of this together, maybe a little more than we have. Nine months though, in border collie time, not a very long while. Banksy has the mind of a genius, which can have murky depths here and there, so busy thinking great thoughts that there are lot of things to filter out. I want her to shine like big blue plastic diamonds, clear and brilliant and tremendous. A dramatic statement that sticks out in a beautiful way from the dark. I know she has that in her, just have to keep figuring out how to bring it out.

03 November 2014

Silvia homework for this week.

We are doing what we can. We have a long way to go. We are no Silvia, that's for sure.

Banksy spent the afternoon today with her Auntie Wendy. The other dogs were all, Can she stay there FOREVER? I do have to say, so much quieter here and so easy to get stuff done. Wow. In just one afternoon I did everything I haven't been able to do for the past 6 months. I vacuumed so much I broke the vacuum. I painted some stuff. I cleaned the bathroom. I put away the clothes.

Auntie Wendy describes Banksy as Busy. Very Busy. She is an auntie with border collies, which is the only kind Banksy can have. Not all aunties would get what to do with her. And no staring! Thank you Auntie Wendy!

Banksy sighting, not a hoax.

Banksy is turning 9 months old in a week. This seems like a number that is less puppy and a little more dog. A few weeks ago I thought she was graduating from puppy to dog. The staring transfixness was improving to where some days, no staring. Even walking near breezy leaves and on smooth floors. Her manners were getting good. She was doing her baby agility like a champ. There were stays and focus during puppy class. She didn't try to eat anything in the house. Every recall was happening every time. She was coming near me for petting for no reason other than just because. There was fur brushing of all furs and even mutual consensus on shortening of fingernails. I was in continual shock and awe of the amazing transformation.

Every little thing she did, so GOOD!

Then we had last week! Ha ha ha! HA HA HA! First there was the chasing of a truck across our entire ranch, out the big front pasture and down a busy rural road. Very far, very unexpected, VERY DANGEROUS! Then there was the new fixation on trucks! TO CHASE THEM! Then there was the staring resumed again, left off where she left it last month. Bad staring, the kind where you can't unstare her if except by picking her up and moving her. The fingernails, NO WAY! The leaping on the people of love, which is every person in the universe, even if she has never seen them in their life and they are wearing a smart little black suit of fabric which dog dirt and hair should not be on. A snarfuffle with Otterpop over a treat dropped on the floor. Many times stink eye of guardiness to Otterpop. Chewing of things in the house including the quilt, the rug, the leg of the little wood chest, and several mysterious pieces of paper that hopefully won't be necessary for something of import in the future. Weirdo house barking and lamp attacking for hearing mysterious sounds.

Everything she did, so BAD!

Last week was the week of much badness. The truck thing, most disturbing and unexpected and put me in great fear of her jumping out of the dog run to go after trucks. Some how magically at work I need a new solution of where Banksy will live. And no more agility field at work til this has been undone, since there's not really a way to fence our little field. This one sure seemed to come from nowhere. In Banksy's brain, though, somewhere, and now it's there. I suspect the rest of the badness goes along with it somehow.

Because I don't freak out anymore, I will go along and train her and we will work it all out. It's a bump in the road and there will be more. The last few weeks of goodness gives me something to work towards again, something I know that is in there. So off I go again, time to go train Banksy.

30 October 2014

No coyotes here.

Once the weather changes, we like to go down to the beach more. We hurry out of work to get there while the sun is still a little bit in the sky. It's low, but it's there.

Not so many people now. No hot dog leftovers. Just a lot of beach.

These 3 are a wild bunch together. Ruby has to sit out some beach trips because I worry she'll get run down. She doesn't mind. There's a chewie for her in the car.

If we can get there before the sun goes down, there is a lot of this.

Then this happens, and we walk up in the dark.

27 October 2014

Silvia foundation class, lesson 3.

We are having loads of fun in the Silvia class. I do wish I had taken it as a participant, although the video stuff is a big pain. Here's a little bit from this week's lesson. We just started Lesson 3 today, so maybe in a week it will look better! I think that the more we do the less hesitant Banksy looks, I probably need to be more confident too. More balls! More straight tunnels! More chasing. We also need to get going on contacts, Banksy is nose touching on a board and they look ok. Not great. A lot of work ahead of us!

26 October 2014

The forest of the biggest animals.

We saw the biggest, scariest coyote I've ever seen in my life the other night. I had no ideas coyotes come in size XXXL. This was one bad ass coyote and I freaked out and we had to backtrack all the way back through the forest with me yelling and throwing rocks for a while. There are no wolves or bears in our woods. So it had to be a coyote.

Or a werewolf. Just great. Whatever it is, we are staying out of that quadrant for a while. Big. Ass. Giant. Mean. Not moving. Coyote.

It was just up the meadow from where we saw the Big Ass Super Giant Deer, father of Bambi, a few weeks ago. Who was also of the mindset of nobody especially not dogs doesn't pass by me.

Something is up in those woods.

There's no photo because I still can't find my battery charger and I am not taking my phone into the woods. So there's Otterpop sitting in the corn instead. Just picture a big huge brown werewolf standing on 4 legs. This is what we saw. A coyote times 10. I am not going to stop talking about this for a while.

There's a lot of Giants going on around here. Hey. Did I tell you about the giant coyote we saw the other night that totally freaked me out?

It rained. Turns out border collies are closely related to pigs. Will get very interesting around here if we get rain this winter. Border collies are also scared of coyotes that look like that werewolf thing we saw the other night. Banksy just froze up and let me put a leash on her and drag her back into the woods.

Otterpop got to be in every picture. Which isn't really fair, especially since she has been on my shit list. Otterpop has been in a rotten mood lately. Otterpop would like the whole world to be a movie starring Otterpop with nobody else in it. Just OTTERPOP. Otterpop saw the big coyote first with me. She stayed quiet. Did I mention how BIG it was?

We all escaped. Gustavo started spinning in little circles til I got him clipped on a leash, he was super freaked out. Me yelling at it probably didn't help much. It sure wasn't scared of me. That thing was BIG. Maybe he was guarding a kill or something, don't know. He was huge and he wasn't budging and we went the other way and I hope we never run into him again.

20 October 2014

Banksy's very happy that the big dog show is done.

This is Banksy's homework from the last couple of weeks. We're auditing the Silvia Foundation class. We have a little dirt patch at work to play in, and then rent Kathleen's beautiful grassy field. I wish we had that much space all the time, I think on our little dirt patch she wants more space to run. We're working on faster and tighter turns. More faster at the same time as more tighter. We have a long ways to go!

Cynosport 2014-I think it's all done.

That's a wrap. We didn't have to get up at ass-crack of dawn and into the car and drive fast in the dark for 45 minutes with 2 coffees and then out of the car for sleepy walk throughs in the dark this morning. Banksy doesn't have to spend the day in a crate going insane watching all the other dogs run around as fast as they can. And Gustavo gets a rest.

We didn't win anything or stand on the podium. We didn't make it into any of the finals. I made some errors in my runs. There was a teeter refusal, twice popped poles, and a couple off courses due to aggressive-let's-try-THIS handling or a disconnect. One weirdo thingy in Steeplechase Semifinals that I think I made him do because I was nervous.

Gustavo ran in everything. Team, Steeplechase, Grand Prix and Masters Challenge Biathalon. Every single run, every single event, Gustavo ran fast and tried his best. I'm not kidding about that. He didn't space out or do anything weird. He was having a great time and pranced out to that ring like he owned it every run. All contacts, all poles but for 2 sets with pops, all teeters, all fast. All.

The days were long. Our brains got fried. Banksy's got really deep crispy fried. We made a bunch of new friends, and got to hang out with our old ones, sometimes only for just a minute, because everything was so big and hurry up and wait. A minute better than nothing, right? We're there doing agility runs that take half that time!

We loved the tents and the grass and the coffees and the smoothies and the lure coursing and the grandstands and the cheering and our teammates. We loved seeing so many of our friends running in the finals and standing up there on the podium. With pumpkins! Otterpop loved wearing a hat in the halloween parade.

Nobody freaked out. Maybe me the teensiest bit just before Steeplechase and I will try to never feel like that again around poor Gustavo. I am the very and most proudest of Gustavo. I never thought in his life he would compete at a dog show like this. And the way that he ran, he sure deserved me not making any errors because he was a superstar champion. I have to get better for him. He's a pretty low key guy, no diva action, comes out and runs and then is happy to go do whatever and hopefully get a run in the forest before it's dark. He's cool that it's done, he'd be cool to go back again.

Here's a little movie, taken in the stands while we were cheering our friends during the Grand Prix finals, the very end of the last day. Just keep hitting repeat if you want to see what it's like to be there. See everybody next time!


17 October 2014

USDAA Cynosport 2014 Day of Saturday-Don't freak out, even a little.

Thanks Ellen for the photo! Featuring us in the USDAA Nationals parking lot. My camera battery has died and I hope Banksy didn't eat the battery charger because I can't find it anywhere. If you see us tomorrow, please take a photo! So we have something commemorative of this week?

I'm not saying I freaked out, but let's say that Gustavo has been running great, and that I was so hoping to do really good in the Steeplechase Semi-Final round. This is his thing. And even if we didn't make the final cut, I just wanted us to DO REALLY GOOD. And he had such a speedy and spot on Team Gamblers run in the morning. But then also, how awesome, I am trying not to think, would it be for him to make the finals?

Oooh. Shiney. Pretty. Shiney. Thoughts. In the brain. Too much. Thinking.

That is so not how it works. Because those thoughts are like mental mangements for me and then Gustavo can tell there are crazy psychic waves lapping at the shore and then he acts weird and then I can tell he's acting weird and then, next thing you know, he turns and runs over to stare at a banner flapping in the breeze instead of turning into the poles. So this is not good and this is a large error and back in the poles he goes but you know. It's too late.

So pressure is off. The invisible mind pressure that I invented for us. Poor little guy. We have some more runs Saturday and Sunday, Masters Challenge and Team Jumpers, we go back to being all chill and just running and hopefully he doesn't have any freaky mental scars. As soon as that little incident was over, he popped a pole and that was like the champagne cork popping out of your ear and back he went to speedy, happy little guy.

16 October 2014

USDAA Cynosport World Games 2014-Day of Thursday.

Otterpop would like you to know this fact. The best thing of EVER. More than swimstick. More than riding the tractor. More than ANYTHING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF OTTERPOP is the lure coursing. If you are a dog you chase a damn little ratty ass fur thing on a string around a little course. I have never in the history of Otterpop seen her more out of her skull of insane nuttity than the lure coursing. She might not be able to walk after a couple more turns but I'm letting her go again anyways. Lure coursing causes her to yodel and leap and then she catches the ratty thing and does not want to let go. LURE COURSING LURE COURSING LURE COURSING LURE COURSING LURE COURSING LURE COURSING LURE COURSING.

But this is actually about Gustavo. He's running like a million bucks. I have made a handling error on every single run. That's how it goes. But he could not be running any better or faster or happier. I would say champion quality, even though we are far from being champions. Aside from each little error,  errory enough that they have cost us an E in Team Standard (oh that tunnely vortex bit under the dogwalk) and finishing the close on Team Snooker from my wide turn between 4 and 5, a million bucks. Two million bucks. He loves the crowds, he loves the fun, he prances into the ring with a big smile and takes off like Otterpop's damn little ratty ass fur thing over in the lure coursing and we just run. He has found his thing. Really big dog shows!

Ruby is staying home. There is too much of everything here for her. Banksy is in a CAGE. I take her out a lot but she is like a tiger in there. She can smell the agilities nearby and wants to GET THEM ALL. I would say her training excellence is not much excellent because so much border collies all the time with toys and running. We just go and tug and sort of run around with me hanging on to her leash for dear life and get not too close to the agilities. They are everywhere this week. She is the fluffiest border collie there. She keeps growing MORE HAIR. Just when I think she has the most hair possible she grows MORE HAIR. We are hard to miss, the hairy wild thing with crazy eyes, Do not judge. I am trying. Avert your eyes, say hola to Gustavo then come watch Otterpop do some LURE COURSING.

15 October 2014

USDAA Cynosports 2014-Just say no.

Gustavo had just one run today, Grand Prix quarterfinals. He ran GREAT! However, there was a just say no to the teeter, then a fly-off when he changed his mind and said yes. So that's that for him in Grand Prix. We have loads more runs this week though, and no worries. We're just happy to be out there running.

Today's the day, Day one of USDAA Cynosport World Games!

Gustavo is at the circus! Everybody gets to squeeze into a little slot in the big white tents. Even Banksy.  I apologize in advance to my friends sitting next to me for Banksy and whatever she's going to do. This is going to be a long week for her. And me. I decided to drive back and forth every day, exactly 1 hour each way. No matter if I go over or around the mountain. We dropped off our stuff last night after work, it's not too far from work. We can always just sleep out there with the horses.

Today is one run, the Grand Prix quarterfinal for Gustavo. On springy and perfectly flat faux turf! It's like one big fiesta of tents and banners and excitement at those rings! Everyone arriving saying HOLA! Gustavo believes he is at one big-ass party, this is either a great thing or will be a crazy thing for agility, and today we'll find out which. Look at his photo, do you see the alien beacon sticking out of his head? Hopefully this keeps him on track and all communications happen with the mothership prior to stepping into the ring. 

Whatever happens, running with Gustavo, my littlest and bestest fella is going to be a whole lot of fun and I feel very lucky to compete this week at the Nationals with him. Off we go!

12 October 2014

Banksy is 8 months old.

My puppy's name isn't just Banksy, it's Challenger's Forest Banksy. That's a lot of name, a lengthy name befitting a dog with such a tremendously grande tail as she. We have it on a pedigree paper now, a long piece of paper listing all her grandma and grandpa dogs and so forth. The paper is longer than a regular piece of paper, but not as long as her tail. Her tail doesn't seem to stop growing, it gets fluffier and longer and when she runs it looks like she has an entire raccoon stuffed into her ass.

Since Banksy has jointed us, everything is always puppy puppy puppy. But at 8 months old, she now has moments of dog-ness. She sometimes lays around in the house. You don't have to think about her all the time on walks. She listens and doesn't think about jumping off cliffs even if there is a bird in the air. During the whole puppy puppy puppy period, there was no hope for any art projects, no painting could happen, even though her namesake would never let something get in the way of getting paint on walls.

So I just tried a little bit the other day, could she come on an outing when I bring art supplies along in my pack? It seemed so sad to think about Gustavo heading into a such a big, exciting competition this week without any kind of mural in his honor, even if it was just a teensy start of one to be finished at a later date. So Banksy had her first public art excursion. It's the dogs' job to watch for cops or weirdos or wild animals, and let me get on with my work. At the very least, they need to not run off.

It was a little nerve wracking. Being all rusty, I made some rookie mistakes and slopped paint onto my expensive new super supportive old lady trail hiking runner support shoes. I left an incriminating paint pot at the scene of the public art and had to hike a weird double long loop in a hot breeze with panty Ruby all the back round to reclaim it, lest someone trace a dirty, paint filled high end gelato jar back to me. I forgot to wear my hoodie. But Banksy did her job and chilled and we were in and out in a flash. A work is in progress. I think she's going to work out just fine.

09 October 2014

Just a few left, don't freak out and snap one up while you can!

How do you get a shirt like this?

$24 big ones, come say hola and pick up from me Cynosport Games or if you see me at the liquor store or whatever for zero shipping and handling. Orders that require shipping, $6 and to continental usa only! VERY LIMITED AMOUNTS! All payments via paypal or cold hard cash slapped in my hand.

Shirts are District Young Mens Concert t's. 4.3 ounce soft spun 100% cotton. Black only. Runs sort of smallish, beware if you don't like a little smallish and get a size up maybe. Photo features me in size medium.

06 October 2014

Otterpop is ready for Cynosports, too.

Otterpop will be at USDAA Nationals, too. Because, yeah right. Leave Otterpop home? Otterpop can help me with coverage for Mary. Because we are going to miss Mary! And Tammy! So I'll make sure Otterpop takes notes. I took her to the beauty parlor today to get ready. She was all, pedicure. But they don't have dremels at the beauty shop. They do have tiny alligator skulls though! Our kind of beauty shop. So Otterpop is pretty much ready to go. See you there!

Gustavo would like to remind you HOLA it's almost Cynosport!

Gustavo is running right now as good as he ever has! Gustavo might be as old as 8 years old! We have no idea! Gustavo who I never thought would learn to do weave poles, who speaks with aliens and witches, who sometimes just says no to teeter totters, and has hardly any teeth, Gustavo will be running in each and every event.

Gustavo won a bye to the Steeplechase semi finals at our Regional, but his just say no to teeter totter in the Grand Prix final cost him a bye for Grand Prix. Hola quarterfinals on Wednesday! You never know what Gustavo's going to do! He is unpredictable! He looks like a squirrel! He chases the cats at work! He might go in the tunnel! He is GUSTAVO! And we love him the bestest that there is.

In practicing, fantasticness of awesome fastrunning! His thing is fancy international superblinds of fancyhandling! This is what we love to do best together so we practice this when we practice. Not because we're going to compete somewhere of an international nature, just because it is our funnest! You throw us a crazy Russian crazy course, and we are going to HANDLE that mofo.

We haven't been competing. We haven't even been practicing too much, just going to class and doing some stuff here and there. Damn puppy sucker of dog practice time. Gustavo is HEALTHY! Gustavo is ALIVE! Gustavo is SITTING ON MY LAP! Gustavo doesn't know he's competing in a National event. That is happening on our hottest week in the hottest place on fake turf on the Anniversary of the EARTHQUAKE! Gustavo doesn't know any of this. He is just being GUSTAVO!!!! Come and say Hola to him at Cynosport because you are Gustavo's best friend. Everybody is Gustavo's best friend! Hola and see you there soon!

05 October 2014

Where did the Blue Ladies go, four forest chapters from the hot days.

Do you remember the Blue Ladies from a long time ago?

They drifted around town, both of them so tiny, swaddled in layers of powder blue, always topped with a blue hooded wind breaker tied tight around their little faces. They never talked, and they were always together, the two of them. I don't remember exactly, but they both looked like ladies but maybe were actually men. They were old. They were everywhere. But they lived in their own, tiny, blue world.

I remember, a long time ago, one of them died. This was the word on the street, anyways, maybe this is when we learned that she that died was really he, RIP. I don't know what happened to the other one, a tiny blue lady, left out there alone. I thought I saw them when I was driving down the mountain yesterday in the heat, coming out of the forest where it was about as hot as everywhere else, but it was just a tiny little couple of Chinese grandmas, making their way down the road. Not sure why, in that heat, too hot to be walking on the asphalt. At least they were together.


Sometimes on Sunday mornings, we've been running into the Lady Dogpack when we walk in the northwestern quadrant.

We've been out a bit later since I saw the mountain lion tracks. Beautifully preserved huge pawprints, and came up out of the bush and onto one of our trails. They were big, they were definitely cat. Seeing them was breathtaking, the big cat taking the same path as me, each footprint the size of a hand. They slunk along, then turned back to the bush. Animals have different ways when the heat strikes. For now we walk a bit later and somewhere else, in case the cat enjoys strolling that way at dawn.

The Lady Dogpack is 4 ladies who each have at least 2 dogs, some of them 3.  All the dogs are big, and some of them are mean. Specifically, do not get near the dalmation, the cattle dog, or the ridgeback. The rest are big, loud labs types, and all come running fast. The Lady Dogpack doesn't walk, they are a mass of fast runners and loud talkers. The ladies are strong, and can grab and hold onto those bad dogs quick and hold them really good.

When we see them, it's usually the black and brown labs that come around the bend first. I'm always ready, I can hear them from far away. I know now, just pick up Otterpop and carry her under my arm. Banksy always pops into her lie down to assess how many of them are out there, and Gustavo and Ruby quietly pick their way through. While the ladies hang on tight to the bad ones, somehow my 4 can always pass their 10, even on the narrow little track that wraps down the hill, past the biggest stumps, to the creek. We all had to share the creek today, to get the dogs to the only tiny little trickle of water.

After we pass, we can hear them running for a while. But they go fast, and we both go our separate ways. Then the forest goes back to quiet.


Gustavo came back with gray fur in his mouth.

I believe that Gustavo chased an old, sick, crippled squirrel up an old, fat,  redwood tree. I do believe that he must have caught a tip of tail in his mouth, his tiny little mouth that's missing most of it's teeth. I am sure he has never got this close to a squirrel, which is why I believe it must have been old, sick or crippled, maybe all of the above. We hear them chippering like monkeys when we walk, high above us in the branches. The rest of us waited for a long time at the bottom of the hill, and when Gustavo never showed up, we walked back up and there he was, running in circles around the trunk, trying to scale a redwood, taste of squirrel fur in his mouth for the first time.

Banksy was a good girl, never had the thought that this squirrel business was a good idea. Me and the lady dogs all waiting patiently for little guy who's lost his mind. I had to go in and yell at him, his worst thing ever. "BAD BOY, MISTER AND YOU BETTER GET OUT OF THERE NOW." Oh. This made him ever so sad and out he came.


We spend a lot of time walking in the forest, more than we used to, in the name of a good puppy is an exercised puppy and to be in the shade when the October earthquake weather hits us like a fireball.

I'm taking an online Silvia Trkman course with Banksy. Agility foundations. We have enough room at work for some tunnels and jumps, and I practice when I can. I already feel very, very behind. You go online and watch the homeworks, and try to be like how Silvia is on the video. I wish we could practice this 100 times a day. But practice has to squeeze into moments at work, and I think we are making progress at a snail's pace, not efficient like a champion would do it. I forgot to use a blind with come to hand. I haven't tried as many patterns as the other puppies have, and she is sticky on some of her sends. I thought we were doing great until I started watching the other puppies' homeworks.

Practicing is fun, but I do so wish we had some space to play at home. At work, you need to be doing the work, so there isn't always time for playing. But I'm grateful to have any space at all.

There's always time, though, for walking in the forest. Banksy always comes to me and walks in a close or side til I say, off you go. She doesn't go off on the squirrel hunt with Gustavo, and she patiently stands aside to let a mountain biker speed by. Maybe hiking skills will transfer to obstacle discrmination, and walking on my side will help with the come to hand. Maybe not. But it's shady in the forest, and that's where we were today.