09 October 2015

Sticking to the flatlands.

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

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

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

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

04 October 2015

What a difference a day makes.

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

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

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

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

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

03 October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

30 September 2015

Your dog will never learn anything that way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different ways of training.

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

It's just not my thing.

How to survive killer bee attacks.

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

If you come upon killer bees, start running.

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

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

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

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

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

Killer bees swarm and sting til you die.

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

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


28 September 2015

Spooky visitations.

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

Not everyone always gets to go.

Mood lighting.

27 September 2015

Banksy's very first trial, the real deal.

Well, it was UKI and I did bring a toy in most of the runs and it was only a 1 ring trial. Does this still count? I loved rewarding her startlines, especially since several of them involved jumps staring right at straight tunnels. All startlines held!

There were perfect weave poles, there were perfect teeters, there were awesome aframes. The jumps were 16"! Banksy is a teensy pocket collie. There was only 1 dogwalk in her 4 runs, which I stopped and in hindsight should have run it and tunnel waiting there as an off course be damned because she did a creeper on her down ramp. This is a thing I would like to erase this month, her new habit of getting creepy when she does her stop, the very thing I most never, ever wanted on a stopped dogwalk and now we got it.

Like stomach fat. The last thing you ever, ever want attached to your person. And then all of a sudden it's there.

Hopefully we can become a successful both running and stopped dogwalk team. Both! Options! But I want that creepiness to go away when she stops.

Some off course tunnels. All but one caused by crappy handling. One caused by Banksy! So this is a thing, it's a thing we already have, she is fast and I am slow and these happen. Story of my life.

There were little airplanes flying overhead every so often, there's a little airport down the road. No airplane chasing, not even a hint. No apeshits. I did try to go last in my jump height, but she did great dealing with being near the agility and not throwing fits. I was impressed.

And relieved.

Hooray for Banksy. I was so glad we could do this with the toy in hand, because next Saturday we're going to a far more busy and crowded 2 ring USDAA trial. Next to a train. Yes. A train.

I think Banksy is ready. I think I am too. I hope we are. I think we have agility!

22 September 2015

Gustavo is the winner.

Gustavo is the winner. We go to the beach, he never leaves my sight. We go to the forest, he's the leader and he flits up a squirrel hill and down to the creek but when I call, he's right there. At home, he sits on my lap. Agility demo with sheep and german shepherds and food trucks? No problem. He's who always plays with Banksy, and who loves every kid on my street to pet his soft fur and take for a little walk. He never complains about getting left home. He barks maybe once per week. He sits on the rug and doesn't budge when I make his food until it's his turn.

There are things Gustavo can't do as well as everybody else. Screw that, I don't care. He sleeps on my pillow every single night.

Also, I let him have ice cream from my spoon. You know who else gets ice cream from my spoon? NOBODY ELSE. That's some disgusting shit, letting your dog have ice cream from your spoon.

Only Gustavo.

He will never earn an ADCh. I'd have to run him in pairs for that and Gooey don't have to do pairs. You know what Gooey likes? Steeplechases. Gustavo gets to do all the Steeplechases! And Jumpers! That's his Thing.

Gustavo wasn't supposed to live very long. Guess how old Gustavo is? Which I am doing too because  I have no idea how old he is. My guess is 9 years old. NINE YEARS OLD!

Gustavo is the winner. Hands down.

20 September 2015

Big dog training fail we shall always remember as the time the ring next door contained the Sheep.

We spent the day doing an agility demo at a fundraiser for the BirchBark Foundation. They raise money to help people who can't afford vet bills on their animals. Gustavo's liver doctor started this organization, so we were so happy we could help out.

Otterpop was kind of whatever about it all, but when I pulled out her frisbee and she got to do a little bit of agility, she was all, WOW because she never gets to do any agility ever at all. Gooey was a good boy, he was happy to be at a Festival! Festival with Agility! And food trucks!

There was iced coffee at the food trucks! Not a bad way to spend the day.

Banksy had a little problem helping out. A big problem, actually. A tremendous problem, to be honestly truthful. There were all kinds of demonstrations happening, cop dogs, search and rescue, canine freestyle, and, ha ha ha ha ha. Wait for it.

Sheep Herding.

Yes, the herding demo was held in the ring exactly adjacent to agility, and turns out, Huge Gigantic, Biggest Ever Dog Training Fail on my part. Banksy was able to do a little agility. Until she couldn't and I spent a lot of time dragging her around on her leash because she could not stop staring at the sheep. At least she was willing to lie down to stare at them, so that was sort of a plus.

But if we ever have agility on a sheep farm with sheep outside the ring and border collies moving them around, we are totally screwed.

Gary came and rescued Banksy and she got to spend the day driving around with him in the truck and then laying in front of a fan at home with Ruby. So, ok. We have a lot to work on.

Cop dogs! That was exciting.

These were our local Santa Cruz police doing a Get the Bad Guy demonstration. This was a serious bad ass dog. He did not care about the sheep, nor did any of my friends' border collies. This dog had amazing focus and drive. I would like Banksy to have this much focus. She may already have this much drive. OK, maybe a little less. But so that she can do the agility near the sheep. Not want to eat them.

That bad ass dog totally took this guy out. He was wearing a muzzle because the Bad Guy wasn't wearing a suit.

Please please please please please. Let us never, ever, ever have an agility trial with sheep next to the ring. Please please please please please.

Always something to work on, that's for sure.

17 September 2015

Could it really be?

This little babiest of a thing, (shown here with her dear friend, Ancient Crinkly Water Bottle) is ready to run in a dog show?

We are getting ready.

Since I'm a wishy washy trainer, we now have running and stopped dogwalks. I'm not sure how that's going to go. First I was all running running running, who wouldn't want a running? So much fun! Then the reality of running with Banksy able to run about 100mph faster than my new speed of very slow started to set in on real courses. Scary. So I started training a stopped. This was fun for a while. Then I realized the reality of stopping. While useful, it's a little…boring.

No offense, dogwalk stoppers of the universe. Which also include me. Sort of like when you could go in the closet and get out the really good boots! And wear 3 dresses on top of each other and call it layers and a camo knit hat and swagger out the door to stroll around the block, or just put on sneakers and go. Right now, at this moment in time, theoretically, at the practice field, we have both.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. We'll see how this goes.

Don't even get me started on this. Why did I do this? Bad, bad, bad idea...it's just one little cookie, how could that go wrong?

For the dogshow, Banksy may not enter many classes with dogwalks is how I'll start out seeing how this goes. We're going to a small UKI in 2 weeks, then the weekend after that a few classes out in Turlock on a Saturday.

Measuring terror is still an issue. Apeshits are still an issue. Both are better, but works in progress.

Ready, set, off we go!

14 September 2015

Not a coyote to be seen in my neighborhood.

For some reason, all I keep hearing on the radio, reading on the internet, is all about The Nineties. Blah blah blah The Nineties. September is the month of the Nineties. The nineties can be up to 25 years ago and that makes it a quarter of a century and that is officially, really, really old. Old enough to have tribute bands and parties and festivals.

The festivals feature aging rappers and smooth skinned Lisa Loeb and Carson Daly and neon clothes.

Neon clothes? Who was wearing that in the Nineties?

Girls in ironic plaid shirts and weird sunglasses are saying, "Yeah, my MOM wore this!" as they bust out in hilarious giggle fits then fist pump and shout, "Who's down with OPP?"

"Yeah, you know me." Every last homie.

The nineties is when we bought our house. We never thought we'd live here very long. Because we were going to buy a ranch. Beautiful acreage near forests and probably ocean views from the ridge. It would have hardwood floors and a lot of flat, sunny acreage and it would be so quiet up there on our ranch. That's what we talked about in the Nineties.

I walked around this neighborhood with Timmy in the Nineties. Me and him spent a lot of time walking around LA and SF then driving back to Santa Cruz together in my old rusty truck without AC. Timmy didn't need AC or a dog crate. We just both sat on that seat together, on the seat covers I bought at the old flea market, and sometimes we did get hot but we had our windows open. One of the most supremely awesome cool things about buying our house was that it had a stackable washer and dryer. Our own house with our own washer and dryer. We got a new one a few years back when the original one died. Went to Sears and picked out the same kind. Delivery guys came and installed it in the same place. It still works good.

In the Nineties, we had the same neighbor we still do living on one side of us, and the other side was Richard, who listened to the History Channel turned up to 11 all day and typed on his old typewriter. Once he went to Antarctica and he used to leave lemons on our porch. He died in that house after they amputated one of his feet. Now there's a bunch of students crammed in there that scurry away when I see them because I got mad when they were throwing knives at our fence. I wasn't really being a bitch, who throws knives at their neighbor's fence? Huh? Who does that?

In the Nineties, there were the 2 sets of gangster kids who lived across the street from each other a little ways down the block and there were some shootings on our street then kids who had the pitbulls went to jail and the kid from the other family disappeared and his family moved away after the dad paved over the front yard to park his car there. Both their houses have been totally remodeled now, one is 2 stories tall and no more cigar smell, a family lives there, they walk by my house on the way to school. The other one has a lady with a Mercedes who got curtains instead of sheets for the living room window.

I say hi when I walk by with the dogs. There's a lot of little kids on our street. Always have been, just now in different houses. Most of the kids like to pet the dogs. Gustavo loves them all. Banksy loves all kids unless they are wearing those kid bike helmets that have plastic mohawks on top and they're riding tiny bikes. She cannot deal with plastic mohawk kids on tiny bikes at all. Ruby is sort of weirded out by petting these days. She looks squinchy and uncomfortable. And I always tell all kids, "Don't pet this one," and point to Otterpop. Who has already moved behind me and is laying down pretending the kids aren't there, as if they never existed at all. She only ever liked that wild kid from the far end of the block. Sometimes I see him, he's still short but he drives now instead of riding his scooter. He'd always throw it down in the middle of the street to see the dogs. I used to let him walk Gustavo with us down to check the surf. His parents never seemed to care he was gone.

Once a SWAT team had to close down our street. That was when our neighbor had some troubles and couldn't keep it together and the guy that flooded her house was still living there and either she tried to shoot him or he tried to shoot her. That guy was trouble. I tried to tell the cops she wouldn't shoot anybody and they yelled at me to get back in my house. My other neighbor across the street went out and tried to tell them the same thing and they made her 80 year old self take cover behind a car then later she went and brought out her dining room chairs for the SWAT team guys in case they got tired of hiding in the bushes. She died a long time ago, I went to her funeral and there was a bagpiper.

The old guy in the sea captain hat lived a few doors down on the other side of the street, he always had all these fine looking ladies living in his house. Then there were fewer ladies and a long string of shady looking dudes living there and camping out in his garage. One of then once climbed way up in his palm tree  with a machete and just stayed up there. Sea captain hat died and the house was empty for a while with a bunch of tarps over the roof and now there's a couple of people living there with a Golden and a little dog.

I pretty much know most of the dogs around here. The house around one corner has a super gnarly pitbull that they run away with when it sees other dogs. And on the other corner, in the house that only has a fence on 3 sides is the really old but really loud pitbull that charges the fence if we walk by. And there's the lady from around the block who finally started training her aussie to not go ballistic when it sees us. Took a long time but good for her. There's Mr. Lopez's teensy chihuahua that's outside barking in the afternoons and Ollie next door and the guy who lives in my friend Chris's old house got a new black dog when his old yellow one died. And the lady next door to the people with the big RV and the tiny car with glued on car eyelashes just got an aussie and wanted me to to walk it for her. Maybe too much dog for her. There was a mean dog at the house where the hash oil lab was, they went to jail when they blew up the living room, not sure who took their dog. The lady with the corgis lives across the street from there.

We never thought we'd still be here, across from the market, 3 houses from the corner. But this is where we are.

12 September 2015

Recently deceased and very much alive.

Me and Otterpop found this fox. She was recently deceased, I know this for a fact because I had to pet her soft fur.

People always say Banksy and Gustavo look like foxes. Not really.

She was somewhat near a fast driving road, I suppose she got hit and crawled down here to die. Me and Otterpop were crawling up a hill on our adventure walk. We've been doing some exploration in puma territory and during pot growing and mountain lion season, I'd like just one reliable dog only to help me look for new trails. Although it's always pot growing and mountain lion season here. Adventure walks are an area in which Otterpop shines. Her bad back and legs mean that these days I have to sometimes stick her in my backpack, but that's ok with me.

We always need new places to walk.


We were down at the pond the day before, Banksy swimming for her ball and Otterpop barking and Gustavo kind of faux swimming but not really and Ruby digging a hole. A guy climbed down the bank to where we were, clad in half camo and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. There's a lot of characters in the evenings at the pond, we're used to this, we all like to share.

"I'm looking for a deceased turtle in a tree." No shit, that's what he says to me. Also when he says it he has that great skill of not dropping out his smoke from the corner of his mouth.

I give him a good look. Really, really look at him, so he can see my eyes and I can see his. Otterpop, being Otterpop, starts to go after him. I grabbed her and said, "Huh?" I'm considering are there any good sticks in reach that could be a weapon, but I figure Otterpop's closest thing I've got.

"Have you seen it?" He kept climbing down, I considered letting loose the Otterpop. I looked around. No turtles in the trees there that I could see. Just in case that's actually a thing.

"Nope," I said, still hanging onto a very uncool Otterpop that was having none of this turtle business or camo guy down on our tiny pond beach.

"I just left it in one of these trees here," he says, poking around in the willows that surround the pond and sometimes trap lost tennis balls. He makes it down to our patch of mud and shuffles around in one tree and produces a giant, dead turtle.

"Wow!" This is me. I'm pretty excited. How often do you get a giant dead turtle from a tree? At our pond! Instantly I wished it was mine.

He tells me how he was paddling around in his boat doing a little fishing and found it on one of the old piers out there. Mummified or whatever, standing balanced on a pier. Who knows how long it had been out there. So he grabbed it, beached the boat, and put it in the tree. I'm not sure why, I guess so someone like me didn't steal it.

"I can't believe I never even noticed it," I tell him. "I would have wanted it too."

We examined the turtle. Wondered how it died. Was the size of a shoebox that would hold big sized shoes. He was pretty stoked at this find. I would have been too. Put it under his arm and climbed back up the hill.


Me and the dogs were done with our walk yesterday, very early in the morning because of the heat. Even in the forest, very early, it's been hot. Nobody had done anything bad, no run-ins with deer or creepers, and Ruby didn't over heat and start breathing weird. That's a summer thing for her now. We were walking back through the meadow to the car, and I put everybody on leashes. Because there's any number of things in meadows that cause problems for dogs.

Remember in Bambi? Always get out of the meadow and into the thicket. I hate meadows. That's where the problems always happen.

We're almost to the turn back to the road, and here comes the trouble. Two fast moving coyotes heading right at us. I feel like barfing right there on my shoes. I figure we are so completely screwed and don't know to drop the leashes and pick up Ruby and let everyone else fend for themselves or just stand my ground and keep my dogs contained and go down with the ship or what. The dogs go apeshit. Banksy is usually good about coyotes but so far in her life she's only seen very still coyotes or ones that are moving further away. Not ones running straight at us. Otterpop goes ballistic, Gustavo starts being Gustavo and Ruby has no idea what's going on, except she's stuck on her leash in the middle of mayhem all of a sudden.

They stop in front of us, pretty close but not so close that I'm sure they're considering taking a little dog. This seems like a good thing. They are considering the options. They look at us for a few very long seconds, and turn the opposite way down the path. I am thrilled. My dogs are still ballistic.

Then their two friends are just behind them, they come running in after them, and do the same thing.

So now we have four, just in front of us on the path. I have four, they have four. They're walking now, walk, turn, watch us, turn back and walk. Then stop. I like the walking better. Me and the dogs are still standing there, Banksy and Otterpop are still carrying on. I'm holding tight to the leashes, still not sure what to do. Four is a lot of coyotes. They're not the giant werewolf size, just the regular kind, but it's four between us and the road. Thank god it wasn't those werewolf ones. I'm not sure what those things are. These are plain old coyotes at least, the only upside to a sticky situation.

They put a little space between us them,  but then stand their ground and face us.

I yelled at them, they started to move off a little more. Yelling isn't the best option with dogs losing their shit on leashes, but seemed like the most useful thing to try. This worked good so we moved forward.  There wasn't anything near me to throw. I suppose Banksy and Otterpop's freakout helped a little bit to back them off, so I figured we keep pushing forward, an inch at a time. I very much wanted to get to my car and put 4 dogs back inside.

I know the coyotes over closer to town don't back off. I think they see a lot more people over there, scrounging around homeless camps, and don't see much of a threat in humans. A lady recently told me she beat one off her dog with a stick when a whole pack came down the hill where she was walking. I haven't been walking over there in a long time. One coyote is one thing. A whole pack is entirely different, and I figure four traveling together is a pack.

I walked slow and got Banksy to do nose touches in heel position. Works with coyotes! Gustavo was making funny noises, Otterpop came to her senses because I was hissing at her to knock it off, and I just drug Ruby along. My four watching those four. Us creeping forward, them creeping back.

And then poof. Off they run. Away from us, into the trees.

We go fast, hustle to the road. Four dogs thrown fast in the car.

And everybody's cool. Another day, another dogwalk.

10 September 2015

Do not trip do not trip do not trip.

Ha! Here's the first round of steeplechase at the Regional. The whole thing was, do not go in the wrong tunnel. There were A LOT of wrong tunnels. Only so much you can do. I decided to risk breaking my neck by running through the gauntlet of tunnel chains down the middle of the 2 tunnels. I didn't die the first time so I took a chance and tried it again. Success!

There's Gooey wearing his medal from the second round.

Someone broke into our house yesterday by taking apart a window. Presumably to get Gooey's medal collection. He has several now. Known guard dog, barker at all things all the time Otterpop, was with me at work. Somehow between Ruby, Gustavo and Banksy, the robber's robbery attempt was thwarted as nothing was taken. Who woulda thunk?

06 September 2015

Bay Team Regional, day 3, Steeplechase Day.

Gooey came in 3rd in Steeplechase. See that fan next to him in the photo? When I went to get him out of the car, it was making a weird noise and he was obsessed with the fact that IT WAS MAKING A WEIRD NOISE! Then we went to run and I had a feeling it was possibly going to be not the run of our dreams. Because he was still kind of on about THE WEIRD NOISE. He had decided the teeter, poles and chute were all poisoned early in the day in Masters Challenge and when Gooey is having that kind of day, it's an adventure.

So we had an adventure run. I'm totally used to this with Gustavo, so doesn't even phase me any more to be out there kind of doing our own thing. One of my friends said I looked panicked. This was probably true. When Gooey's running on his own personal paper thin ice, all bets are off what's going to happen. He held it together kind of sorta, we screamed and careened around and made it through with a couple of errors that put us in third place.

I ran Fable the Amazing Poodle and the Amazing Legendary Icon today. That was fun. They did good! They always do. Well, except Fable's first run when she thought I was kidnapping her and ran away back to Holly. Once she got over that, she was great!

Here's my friend Jen. She didn't win Steeplechase either. Every run she has, she runs her ass of and so does Tonic and sometimes, shit happens.

That happened to Rob, too. Rob ran 3 Tervs in SO MANY RUNS. Some of them were awesome, some of them have shit happen. Rob always runs his ass off. My god, the places Rob can get on course. Unbelievable. You win some, you lose some.

You know who else it happened to? Carlos and Kooza. I just want Carlos and Kooza to WIN one of these days. There was just this moment and then kapow. Carlos finished up in style, and, hell hell shit hell. He didn't win.

These 3 are some of the best teams out there, as well as some of my best agility pals. You should see them run. They're amazing. If I could be like .006% as good as them, I'd be pretty happy. But sometimes, shit happens and they don't win. I'm not sure why. They should. Just goes to show you, you can be that good, and SHIT STILL HAPPENS! But they just pick up and move on. Well, sometimes Jen curses. Then she moves on. We all still like agility. Another day tomorrow.

05 September 2015

Bay Team Western Regional Days 1 and 2, a brief reportage.

A lot has been happening in 2 days of the big dog show. Banksy spent a lot of time in her crate. Gustavo too. He popped a pole in Grand Prix, but came in 2nd in the first round of Steeplechase. Hooray for Gooey! He ran his fastest and so did I. Steeplechase is our favorite.

There was an alien invasion in the equipment trailer where I keep the toilet paper for the whole entire dog show! That was scary.

Guns and lassos saved the day. I still don't budge on my stance about gun control. There is no proof that assault rifles can save us from alien invasion. I'm not sure where Donald Trump stands on this.

Never Mind Dogs looks not very impressed.

There was also some actual agility. Lots of it!

Even Banksy got to do a little run for a fundraising fun run at the end of the day. Where I got to bring in my toy. I felt a lot better carrying a little security blanket piece of rope. I didn't have time to walk a course, so just did some little pieces. Stopped dogwalk, a work in progress. But I was mostly happy that Banksy was super focused and didn't care about the other dogs around. It was the end of the day so the other rings were done, but it gave me hope that Banksy will be able to do this soon without blowing a gasket.

30 August 2015

Dramatic, terrorized wicketphobia and a little piece of cheese.

Banksy loves to sit in the pond. She doesn't float exactly, more like semi-hovers on the rocks and wants you to Throw The Ball. She jumbles herself back up to the shore and lays there shivering, where she even more Really Wants You To THROW THE BALL.

Banksy doesn't love to sit in the car. Although, she sat in there for 2 days just now and nobody exploded. I didn't hear any screaming, barking, or monkey clucking. She sat in the car for much of 2 days parked on a dirt fire road outside the agility trial with a metallic sparkle space cloth draped over her crate and slept. Just like an astronaut, locked into a solar tank in outerspace. That's what I tell her, anyways. An impossible made possible, Banksy chilled at a trial.

She even gets a bed in her crate now. Could it be the days of bed shaking and shredding in displeasure of being jailed in the car all day are gone?

Probably I just jinxed myself. I'll be sad if the camouflage store bought dog bed spontaneously combusts next weekend But so far so good, Banksy.

There was drama. She's nearly ready to compete herself, in a big shiny dog show in the Starters ring. Coming soon to a dead grass field near you. Hold on to your hats and I'll try not to pee in my pants. Part of being ready is the measuring. Banksy is little. So little I think she may be able to compete in what seems to me like the coolest place to be, the USDAA 18" division. For dogs not over 17.5" at the withers. Banksy is just below that. Where me and many of my friends have measured her just for fun at many dog shows for the last year. Because it's tricky when your dog is just there at the cut off zone.

I REALLY want her to measure into the lower division. Lower jumps, lower aframe. Seems like a good thing for longevity of tendons and muscles and bones.

We practice this measure skill every chance we have. Always be prepared. Shouldn't be a problem, right?

Ha, ha, ha.

At the dog show, simple little measuring became a terror worse than worst terror of all, dreaded trip to the vet. To stand on beloved dog agility table with a little metal wicket that has to just touch dog withers long enough to read the measuring number. With a stranger, even a nice friendly stranger with a little piece of cheese. Not so much to ask. We have prepped and practiced and trained this skill. Banksy was ready.

Ha! Ready to bolt across the show grounds, even with the upgrade of large amounts of greasy, grass fed happy pig fed bacon being shoved into her face. Even when her BFFrenemy Kirk stands there all by herself with her big girl pants on for her measurement. Banksy said no way, and never and not happening.

It takes a village and many village members and hours later, Judge Erik the Saint of Patient Judges, bacon in hand, was able to get a measurement. I am pretty lucky to have a village who all realizes MY GOD WE NEED TO GET THESE MEASUREMENTS! Much table and wicket and dog dragging around the trial grounds this weekend. Thank you, village friends and especially Judge Erik Patient Saint of Patient Measuring Judges.

You know who had no drama? Gustavo, that's who. He just gets out of the car, goes to the ring, runs fast and then we're good. I give him a piece of cheese. He got some Qs. He got some didn't Qs. I don't really care. I had hoped for his Grand Prix Q but he popped a pole at the very end. Well hell. He'll do that every so often. Piece of cheese! I kind of don't give a rats ass what he does as long as he's a drama free, happy camper of a fast runner.

His crate is next to Banksy's in the car. He gets a little glamor fan to blow his hair in the wind and sits under the space panel too. He has a little dog bed and a soft red saddle pad and a big dog size bucket of water to drink from. He just does this now, and he has patience.

Gustavo always enjoyed being measured, as I recall. Who wouldn't? Just not Banksy.

I realized, I haven't checked Gustavo's Qs in years. He has received some paper certificates in the mail over the years for things in Gold and Silver with never earning an ADCh because I've never run him in pairs. As far as I recall, he has zero pairs Qs in masters agility. Maybe someday we'll try this. Or maybe not. Another thing I could give a rats ass of. With Otterpop, these things mattered because I was always trying to be Number One Winner. With Banksy, I suspect I'll keep careful track in a little notebook with a pen. With Gustavo, piece of cheese and a walk in the shade, and then we go home and go to the pond.

24 August 2015

I woke up and it was the future.

When I woke up in the morning, it was the future already.

I thought the future was going to be cooler. I thought I would have thought of that sentence instead of that eighties-ish electronica singers who sing that song on the radio. I thought I would be skinnier with better skin and I'd have a big living room and an airstream trailer and a huge barnful of adorable ponies with nice manners and my own tv show and one of those buckle pouch things in army drab that is kind of like a military style fanny pack for your leg.

It was the future and while I was out practicing some aframes various people were shot with firearms and the stock market plummeted and everything is still on fire and Donald Trump is thinking to become president of the USA.

And I'm all, Yay, that Right Tunnel is working swell. I think that in my head and my voice just goes, YAY and I throw my dog the toy.

Dog agility future of running aframe, it is here. Dog agility takes up a lot of brain space about the future. Opiates of the masses number seven hundred and seventy three. Somewhat behind cross fit and burning man but ahead of plushie conventions and book clubs devoted to guinea pigs. Then Jeb Bush and global warming and the bulldozers out in the field creep back in and share with running aframe.

Then it is golden. Say good morning to the future.

20 August 2015

The road not taken.

If you take the road less traveled, you might run smack, literally, into a drug dealer hiding his product in the bushes, wrapped carefully in a white plastic bag. He may pretend you're invisible. Which is cool, because you're all, invisible! He shuffles off on his bike, a crappy bike indeed. Except then when the other guy comes to get the drugs out of the bushes he realizes you're not invisible and it's just, awkward.

No matter how bad you want to go back and claim the bag, it's best to listen to the voice that says this is a poor choice. Not the voice that says, Go Get the Bag!

Then you got your private property. And your public property which is only public for the public who isn't dogs. This sometimes is very confusing, and for just in case, the best you can hope for is a misdemeanor of which you could just pay a fine from jolly big coffers and move on.

Or you just stay out of there. Unless it's a good fast running day for you, and you're willing to roll the dice.

Fifty hundred million.

This is what I've been doing with Banksy.

But this is what Banksy's been doing.

I thought switching to a stopped dogwalk was cool. Dismaland is about forty million times cooler. Fifty million. Fifty hundred million. All the millions.

All the millions go to Banksy.

If you're in England, I hope you're going to Dismaland.

Naturally, we're thrilled.

Gloomy, damp coolness is back.

Naturally, we're thrilled. Who DOESN'T wake up, look out to a thick gray mist glomming heavy in the morning and think, Yay for Us!

Some random facts for today shall include:

Banksy's thinking this stopping on the dogwalk business, pretty cool. I am thinking, this is a much better plan than the whole running like a goddamn freight train missile while I am floundering around somewhere way back there. She also has taken to dropping this shredded up old plastic ball that she LOVES behind pieces of furniture where it gets wedged in and hidden, then making sad monkey noises until a human with opposable thumbs and a long stick can get it out for her. Then she finds a new piece of furniture to hide it behind and commence sad monkey noises. Border collies are cool.

Gustavo puffs up like a toy fluffy bunny when he gets a bath and is so soft. Banksy and Otterpop like to stare at him when he gets a bath. They don't get baths. Only Gustavo. He is SO HAPPY to go to the beach and run in straight lines as fast as he can! He has stopped sitting in the closet all day and has moved back under the bed. Only Gustavo will ever understand, why Gustavo does what Gustavo does.

I was walking all the dogs down the street the other day and a lady with a box of groceries put it down to pet all the dogs. Well, all the dogs except for Otterpop. Don't pet the Otterpop. Gustavo wants the most petting. He leaned against her box for more petting. Then it looked so cozy inside there with the groceries he just wanted to get in and curl up for more petting. I wish I could carry Gustavo around in my pocket.

Otterpop feels great again and wow is our house loud. She's the only one that barks. She barks enough for everybody. A lot. All the time. This is just part of the joy that is having an Otterpop. There are so many other joys of having an Otterpop. Too many to list. Only Otterpop.

Ruby doesn't get to go to the beach. But sometimes I drive there and let her stay in the car with a really good chewy. This seems like an ok tradeoff for her. Ruby sleeps through a lot of things. But she still always wants to go along with everybody else. I wish Ruby could float along with me like a little balloon and I could tie her string to my pants and pull her along in the breeze. But she can't. It's good she loves chewies so much. We love Ruby. We wish she could do everything again.

See you at the beach.

16 August 2015

Otterpop feels better.

Otterpop's feeling better. Good enough to go for a walk. In the shady cool of before 7am and after 7pm. Hell's bells. What's happened to our weather? And where's Gustavo in this photo? Why do the squirrels call only to him?

And why do I say things like hell's bells now? This is a thing that goes with my new birthday? I will also remember that all the musicians of Black Flag also have birthdays and we're all in this together. And that ACDC is still touring and the guitar player still wears shorts.

Otterpop has resigned herself to riding in the bike basket. Now if only Banksy could believe that the bike is not a broom. She no longer believes I'm an evil witch, I've been upgraded to either a Dorothy or Auntie Em, but the broom and bike thing still stands. She is equally freakazoid over them both and I believe it will be a very long time until she can run next to my bike.

Because have you seen her when the broom is sweeping?

Probably not. Flying monkeys is all I can tell you. With Banksy around, I sweep very little. Although her hair shedding, very much everywhere.

Not sure where she picked up this whole Wizard of Oz thing, but she does hail from the midwest and she does reside in her own personal Munchkinland. Perhaps her blowers predict tornadoes and she's actually been seeking a way home all this time?

Not going to happen. She's officially a California girl, and until she decides that the bike is less evil than the broom, it's just me and Otterpop for an evening ride to find a little ocean breeze.

And as soon as it's cool, we'll ride down to the shore and I will sing her as much as I can remember of Billy Joel's the Pianoman. Just me and Otterpop.

13 August 2015

The face of painful chihuahua syndrome.

Otterpop's back is bad again. It's heartbreaking to see an Otterpop in pain. It's weird to have a quiet house with no barking, and without the constant movement of Otterpop, who's less still than a border collie around the house. I try to keep her activity level low, Otterpop is all about less since this has started happening. She spends a lot of time on a leash. Less run, less play, less hike, just a lot of less. Maybe one dash to a ball too many, a hop down the stairs, a run across the living room with a border collie, who knows. Drugs and crate and we'll see if she feels better in a few days.

Get well soon, Otterpop. It's a little bit creepy to have this much quiet. Everybody feels sad for Otterpop.

Gustavo not shown. He's sleeping in his closet.