17 January 2017

Free poster for you, carry proudly in the Women's March on Washington.

You're marching, right? Even if you're not in Washington, I bet a city near you has a Women's March on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of women will be marching, in Washington and in every single state of the union that day. The point is, to send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights.

Since, among so many other things, the new president thinks it's allright to grab ladies by the pussy. Maybe you knitted your pink pussy ear hat. I didn't. I can't knit. It's cool.

We'll be marching in the Santa Cruz march at 1:30pm, starting at Santa Cruz City Hall. If you want to park near my house and walk there with me, me and Otterpop are leaving at 1pm sharp. Otterpop is the best parade dog. The other dogs are staying home. Otterpop can ride in my backpack if it's too crazy down there. Gustavo's afraid of loud noises and I'm pretty sure Banksy would blow all of her gaskets out in that kind of mayhem.

Here's a file you can print if you need a poster. I left a blank spot so you can add anything else to this you want. A little paint, some pens, some glitter, you're good to go. I'm covering mine with clear packing tape because it's supposed to rain.

The files will be a little blurry since I made them shrimpy for ez downloading. But just trace over all the lines with a black sharpie and you're good.

Here's the 11x17" file.

Here's the 18x24" file.

15 January 2017

Dog Training Tips for the NewRegime, Dominance theory is the new black!

Hey dog trainers! Too busy to read the news and train your dogs in the busy week leading up to the inauguration? Guess what? Now you can download 8 useful dog training tips for the NewRegime right here in FREE E-BOOK format! You are welcome!

03 January 2017

The ethics are now disbanded, gloves are off, just do it.

They have voted to disband the ethics. Screw it. Dog training, we're done.

From now on, if Banksy finds a box in the bushes full of one thousand rotten sandwiches by the railroad tracks, go for it. Eat them all. Resource guard away. Eat in excess til you heave your insides out your eyeballs, heave them all over the bedclothes.

Gustavo, if you want to run out the crack in the front gate and run away to the neighbor's house looking for the skunk, just do it. Go for it. See ya' later. Was nice knowing you.

Otterpop. Free reign for evil. You want to climb on the footstool and enjoy my dinner? Sample a ravioli and knock over the wineglass? Be my guest. Bite the UPS guy? Have at it. Bark at the asshat aussie that walks by every single morning and will probably be released by their ethics committee anyway to tear your throat out next time it sees you on the corner? There you go. Your swamp is drained and you can be the alligator lurking in the mud, springing out with wild glee to do your damage. Enjoy and win it all.

Ruby will abide. She's asleep on her chair. I will carry her down the stairs again before I leave the house. She squats, she pees, and I carry her back up. Good morning, and good night.

02 January 2017

2017, here we are.

Now it's 2017.

We spent New Years at a dog show. Banksy ran pretty great. We messed up in places, but she always runs pretty great. Banksy hates laying on the tables and waiting on a startline. Other than that, she's amazing.

Gooey had three runs. He ran amazing. He had all E's. If I see him starting to go around something, I don't fix, we just keep going. He runs very, very fast, and is very, very happy to do it and each run he ran by one jump, and I didn't care a lick. Gooey is pretty great.

Ruby came with us. Of course Otterpop did too. Ruby sat in the car and got out for tiny, shaky walks. That's pretty much her whole life right now, sleep and take shaky little walks. Otterpop did her usual thing. She's losing her hearing, and her knees look worse, and she wanted to spend most of her time in the car, in her bed, wearing a her big fluffy coat. So that's what Otterpop did.

In 2017, Banksy will turn 3, exactly. Gustavo will turn 11ish. Otterpop will turn 14ish. Ruby will turn 17ish. I will turn 50ish. We are all feeling our ages.

I have all these golden sunlight photos in my phone from dawn and dusk. They always look a little creepy to me, the dawn and dusk light photos, like someone's pointing a hose of yellow so bright as to squint you, at all the subjects.

Nothing gold can stay. If my words did glow, with the gold of sunshine. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

2017, coming in with that fool's gold. Be careful and don't blink. Move fast if anybody starts throwing glitter. 2017 is going to keep us on our toes.

18 December 2016

Running Dogwalk and the Brain Sickness

(originally published in Clean Run Magazine April, 2016)

I've never thought of myself as being particularly obsessive. I consider myself a normal, rational person with a sensible, gray station wagon who enjoys the company of dogs greatly. Greatly everywhere and greatly all the time. So greatly that I'm always greatly muddy with great amounts of cookies dribbling out my trouser pockets and that my fuel efficient compact wagon has no seats for humans due to all the dog crates. That's not obsessive, right? That's just dog lady? I know people who are obsessive. Maybe to the point of bordering on freaky. I may even have them living in my house. Obsessiveness is an extremely useful trait for things like pulling weeds. All the weeds. Really all the weeds. Even the teensy, tiniest ones that are barely visible to the human eye that haven't even sprouted yet, but will. Just you wait.

Lots of people have interests and hobbies that topple over to the dark side of the moon, the place where the freaky begins. Dogs do this for some of us, suck out the crazy, like a turkey baster deployed to extract the ooky bits out of a festering wound. That's when you find yourself explaining to the heavily tattooed and bearded checker at the grocery store intimate details about your dog's recent urinary tract infection. Because he said, "How's it going today?" In the throes of obsession, there might not be any editing.

The good news is, the obsessive mind blocks out all other things, and suctions itself like one of those giant lipped parasite worms to the actions required for producing a job more than well done. Done the best. Done with magnificence and flair. Even if it's just a quick tidy of the living room. And you have to leave for the airport. Twenty seven minutes ago. But the plastic owls and snow globe collection on the cabinet, so CLEAN. Gleaming like a surgical suite. Used a q-tip. And an extra bit of vacuuming done, too. Everywhere. Under all the things.

The bad news is, that plane might be leaving without you. But really, that's not me.

The dog crazy part, super easy to slip into, this is a thing I'll admit. I drag at least one dog along everywhere I go, perhaps scooped under an armpit or following along at my heels or stuffed into a totebag. My whole life is based around our walkies schedule and it pains me to wear clothes that aren't shorts with tennis ball sized pockets accessorized with tall green rainboots.

Not being obsessive, usually I'm more of a sloppy big picture type than detail oriented. Details are hard. I am broad, swooping spray can strokes sprawled on with a crazy, fluffy tail. I talk by waving my arms around, and change course mid way through conversations and projects. I even change course mid way through courses because my brain ran over there into the wrong side of the tunnel. My socks don't match and this doesn't even bother me.

Dog training's no doorbuster sale at the Dollar Store where you just barge around at top speed in those mismatched socks and throw all the sparklies into your basket. I try to use patience and follow all the steps, but they don't necessarily follow ordinal numbers like stacking cones, big numbers always on the bottom. I don't want to be like that. I really, really try. But there's a knack that my knickers just knick off.

That said, training a running dogwalk seemed like a really good idea at the time.

Maybe decided makes it sound like I gave it a great deal of prudent thought, lists of pros and cons carefully lined up in little columns on a spreadsheet until the running one had more line items than the stopped one. Interviewing each candidate up close and personal, the great partisan debate between running vs. stopped. A very first world problem to be worked out here, deliberating over whether the dog should run fast over the yellow bits, or stop on them with a minimum of one toe holding tight. I had been thinking about it, sort of. Maybe along the lines of, hoping Banksy had good contacts when she grew up and became a champion. Beyond that, perhaps a bit fuzzy round the edges, a blob of vaseline smeared on the lens of what they'd actually look like.

Also, I've never made a spreadsheet in my life. Isn't that what backs of receipts, tape, and sharpies are for?

Really what happened was that one of my friends, who incidentally has super long legs and is a very fast runner, was training her border collie puppy running contacts and she casually threw out, "You should teach Banksy to do a running dogwalk."

And I thought about it for a minute. "Naw. That would never work, she's too fast. I'd be totally screwed." I imagined myself trying to keep up with Banksy as she ran down the planks. Very tortoise and the hare and not in the charmingly illustrated fable telling metaphor kind of way where the tortoise is the colossal winner of all things based on it's slow, plodding gait. More like, the hare is kicking some serious tortoise ass there and leaving it in the dust. Bye bye says the bunny.

"Oh, come on. Just try it," she replied. "It'll be fun."

I thought of this for a minute. It kind of made sense, not having to teach those stupid stopping kind of contacts, two feet on and two feet off and always being irritated when the feet aren't lined up or stopped or whatever. And running contacts are just so cool. Everyone flying along and the dog sails over that yellow like a dangerous submarine missile and the judge is huffing and puffing to get up there to view it. Awesome!

I'm pretty easy. For no good reason other than it sounded rad, and rumor had it you got an a-frame for free in the deal, I changed my mind to ok. Really. That's all it took. In case you've been quandering this idea yourself.

So I signed up for an online class with my patron saint of running contacts, Silvia Trkman. And that was the beginning of the end.

Running dogwalks happened at a funny time in my life. Funny as in, code word for not really ha ha ha. My knee had crapped out and required surgery. Some monkey wrenches got thrown at my business and my business kind of tanked. My puppy was crazy some of the time. And I was turning fifty years old. My personal vision of being a successful twenty six year old who moves like a wrinkle free gazelle while dressed in little belly button exposing shirts was just that. A vision. A misty vapor from the past that could only come to life conjured up in a seance. Like the myth of skinny jeans. I'd turned old, couldn't run, was nearly unemployed and was having a hard time training my border collie.

But there was one thing I could do. Walk out on the field and throw the ball, and my dog would run. She'd run really fast up and over those planks and coming down the downhill ramp, she'd extend like a racehorse on the home stretch, and in that stretch she'd hit the yellow part of the plank with her feet.

This was something that was going to go right. Everything else might have been falling apart, but I was going to do this thing. Get these running contacts.

I think this is where I started down the rabbit hole. Falling and falling, just like Alice, into another dimension where nothing else matters except chasing a darn white rabbit. Talk about a tale fraught with confusing philosophical life themes. Darn white rabbit. DWR. You think it's a coincidence our code for running dogwalk is RDW?

I think not. The truth is out there.

Basically, the whole idea is pretty simple. All you have to do is make sure your dog remembers, while running full tilt warp speed over a skinny, shoulder high bridge, to touch some feet in the yellow colored rubber on the very end. You start with the dogwalk lowered down flat as a pancake, throw a ball to get your dog running really fast, and click the clicker at the exact moment they splat their feet on the yellow part. The thing is, you might have to do this 50 million times. With a whole bunch of very precise steps and increments. Without making errors. And figure out what to do when they don't hit the yellow part. Which is going to be a lot of the time.

It's hard to see, dog feet whizzing by like a Tesla stealth sedan on it's way back to the magic millionaire castle on Fantasy Island. Especially when you're caught behind in the dust. This fact means it's helpful to also become a cameraman and video editor of Oscar nominated excellence to see it on slo-mo playback. Or at least learn the digital editing skills that most toddlers are apparently born with now. So there was the procurement of a video camera and learning how to use it for the sole purpose of endlessly fascinating movies of slow motion dog running. How many little movies? 147 to date and still counting. Good film has a narrative arc, and the narrative here was, will the back feet hit the yellow this time? Will this be the time she splays her legs open in wild abandon and full extension, and lands them squarely in the middle of the contact zone? And will it happen in 5 strides?

You get the picture. This is niche entertainment not appealing to everyone. Only the obsessed.

I started going to work late. I don't have a yard and I was using up all my money renting dogwalk time from a friend. Up the mountain to her field I'd go, bright and early, ice, sun, rain, it didn't matter. And then speed home in time to edit the video and and study it carefully, posting it so that Silvia could take a look from the mothership in Slovenia. Silvia was the leader of what soon became clear was a bit of a cult. We had a secret language that was spoken only by the other RDW fans all around the world. My RDW buddies and I were like ship wreck survivors marooned on our island, swapping our stories of joy and failure, and ways to keep the planks from jiggling. Our planks that lived in a world traveler's dream of gardens, arenas, front yards, and snow covered fields, propped up on crates, sand bags, tables, chairs and chicken coops.

We all had the sickness, we were all enveloped into the coven, slurping the Kool-aid up with long, thirsty tongues. Because how else would we get our dogs running over that yellow zone with back feet hitting, most of the time?

It's not like I was a complete beginner at this. Gustavo has running contacts, and teaching him to run that dogwalk wasn't easy. The same routine, a lot of early mornings, stopping at a friend's field on the way to work and taking apart the dogwalk and putting it back together, breaking fingernails and really a lot of work for a few minutes of running. His isn't super consistent to this day, misses happen. And I know why. I know I skipped some steps. All those broken nails and bruised shins and showing up lates grew tiresome. Even though Gooey's fast, he's little, and what I've found is there's a huge difference between running him at top speed and a running a border collie sized torpedo twice as big. Think horn rimmed art school kid on a somewhat dangerous Vespa joyride vs. truly life threatening murderous crotch rocket biker in a skin tight leather crash suit coming up behind you in the rear view mirror. Coming up fast.

After my knee surgery, I hobbled around the field on my crutches. My training buddies and I compared feet separation notes via texts that looked spy code corrupted by smiley face heart emoji virus. We poured over Silvia's advices. I memorized the training DVD and started to speak with a Slovenian accent. I'd stay up late watching my classmates from other countries run their dogs in slow motion on youtube. Gyoooowhoawhoawhoa Gyoooowhoawhoawhoa Gyoooowhoawhoawhoa was normal background music in my living room, because the slow motion playback of my super original dogwalk word, Go Go Go sounds like drunk evil spirits satanically flushing goats up up from their graves. I killed my borrowed video camera from overuse and missing training days caused painful withdrawal symptoms like headache and bloating. All this while raising the planks 11cm after every 3 successful sessions of 80% excellent hits.

There were missteps. The era of the front foot hits, the equivalent of mixing cocktails with bottom shelf liquor. Vaguely barfy. The time I panicked and tried to train a stop. Think Van Halen and the Dead Kennedys when they switched singers. Not like replacing a drummer. Just a bad idea for so many reasons. Any ill timed clicking caused poor Banksy's eyeballs to spin out of her skull. What a mess. But we persevered. My knee doctor shook his head. I spent more time online with Slovenia than I did trying to rebuild my business. Because who wants to go to work when you could be training dogwalks?

It's been about a year now, that I've had this sickness. I may admit to obsession. I managed to find time to train other things useful for dog agility, stuff like jumps and handling and weave poles and a start line stay. Maybe I got the brain sickness for some of those, too. We've even put the running dogwalk to use in real life, competing in a handful of trials. Where the very first thing I do is find a course map to study the dogwalk approach and exit jump strategy. Which sometimes entails an emergency text back to the mothership. Call to hand or collection turn?

It's still very much a work in progress. There are good days and bad days. It has a mind of it's own, this thing. On the bad days, I drag my gloomy cloud around behind me seeing sea levels rising everywhere and the demise of civilization as we know it. Hopefully, nobody asks how my day's going, because the answer could be terrifying. "Ugh. My dog's leaping off the plank on stride 4 because she's looking over at me." The horror of it all.

But on the good days? When I send her into that tunnel and take off running, yelling, "Go Go Go!" over my shoulder and my damaged tortoise legs pump as fast as they can, trying to beat her to the end? And I see her back feet hit the yellow just right, and she sails along to the next obstacle like it's something she's done a million times? Absolutely magnificent. A priceless artifact of truth and beauty. Wouldn't trade it for all the black dogs on Led Zeppelin IV. Elation is the only word when things go right.

I'll watch the video that night on my computer, hitting replay over and over. Gyoooowhoawhoawhoa Gyoooowhoawhoawhoa Gyoooowhoawhoawhoa. Satan's goat call. Counting strides, looking for the clues as to how to make it even better.

Which just makes me want to train some more. I wake up in the morning with running dogwalks on the brain. So it's back to the practice field bright and early, dragging my jumps and tunnels around for the perfect setup. Late for work already. Double check that I turned the video camera on, and there we go. Our world has taken flight, and we're flying above it, faster than the speed of light. Hopefully, it's a hit.

15 December 2016

Guerilla archiving, tinsel, light, fight and flight.

Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.

Mr. Putin’s bloody actions — the bombing of civilian neighborhoods, the destruction of hospitals, the refusal to allow noncombatants to receive food, fuel and medical supplies — are all in violation of international law.

I didn't write those sentences, they're pulled from Washington Post and New York Times. I'm having a hard time with sentence writing this month, there are so many ones I read that floor me and stop my brain.

12 December 2016

Dogs of three, leave them be.

For three days we had rain. For three days I didn't have a phone. For three days I didn't have a computer. They were all different three days mixed together into one seven day week.

It wasn't too bad. I did lose almost every single phone number I've collected over many years. And almost every single email I've collected over many years. Causing great inconvenience, but really, worst things could have been lost. I'll feel it most come tax time, because my invoicing and tax system relied on folders of email, due to my terrible business accounting skills. I'll worry about it then. Procrastinating is one of my very best skills, waiting for that shoe to drop later, when future me then realizes past me definitely blew it.

Loss of data, a worry, but it's easy to make more. Doesn't live and breathe. Can't worry about losing something like that.

It was tremendous after three days of rain to get back out on a walk. The good of this outweighed the bad of missing data. Only three dogs walk now. We didn't even walk far, certainly not far enough for those three. Just enough to stretch our legs and look at all the streams rushing down the hills. My waterproof boots don't fit anymore, I just put on thick socks and have wet feet by the end of it all, one walk is as far as I can go til I'm tired of the wet.

When there's three days of rain, I'm glad Banksy has transformed into a grown up dog. Grown up dogs just sleep away rainy days, they don't stare at specks and chew on rugs and chair legs. They lay around patiently and snore. In a few months she'll be three, three years old sounds very grown up.

Three little black dogs don't mind the rain at all. Gustavo prefers not to get wet, unless it involves a creek. He has a mysterious ability to not pee for very, very long stretches of time. Ruby gets carried down the three steps down to the yard, set down to pee, then carried back up and set in her blue chair. She doesn't walk far at all now, but can be lifted out of places and set down. Every so often she busts out in a shaky, wobbly run and tears across the field while we all watch in horror and amazement, because it's not going to end well, she'll topple over and cry. So I do a lot of lifting.

We went to the neighbor's for a drunken holiday sing-a-long on one of the rainy nights. Madonna was on the caroling list, they're my new favorite neighbors. Only there for a few hours, but Otterpop sat in our window sill and howled for all three hours. I never leave her home anymore, this is what she'll do. So she gets tucked under my arm and toted along, and has to sleep in the car. She's skinny now, I barely feel her weight, little underarm tote-along dog. Otterpop's no less the shit disturber now than she's always been.

The other three stay home, sleep away the hours, no big deal. I walk back in, we own three pieces of furniture, one for each stay at home dog. Exactly the right number, when one dog comes along. Eventually we'll be three dogs, the blue chair will be empty. Not yet, though. But I practice right now, to start counting things in threes.

05 December 2016

A lot of mistakes, big pictures take patience.

We made a lot of mistakes over the weekend in Santa Rosa. Here's what it looks like, warts, open sores, and all. The sun was out, I sequestered the dogs in my car near a little grassy park spot where they could jump out all the time and run around, and it wasn't an unpleasant weekend. We had a boring night at Motel 6, me and the dogs huddled in one bed, and I made some new friends by talking to strangers at the Amy's vegetarian diner for dinner.

Our friends went to a dog show in Pennsylvania over the weekend. They made mistakes too. It's less worse to send your dog in the wrong tunnel a couple hours from home than an airplane ride's away, that's for sure. We all just try to get better, no matter where we're at.

The Ghost Ship fire happened while we were there. I know those warehouses, I didn't have direct ties to this building and it's people, but I've known ones that came before. They are important places, not scoured and exfoliated, open festering spaces full of things, with room for ideas inside, not a vacuum seal for sucking the life out of interesting brains. This one went up in flames and killed everyone left inside.

The Ghost Ship is a personal tragedy to everyone involved, I am just one person removed from some of the lost lives. It's a black omen for what may start to happen come January. Progress and forward motion may come grinding to a painful collapse in the darkness. Something will rise out of the flames, but it will be ugly and a lot of grief first.

December is a month of waiting. It should be a month of action, I'd like it to be, but something told me to just wait it out. The smoke of the Ghost Ship confirmed it. Even the dogs get it, they're pretty good with laying around right now, spending the day draped over the furniture. Peering through the windows out of almost closed eyes for the scores of Amazon delivery guys driving up and down the street in giant golf carts filled with Prime deliveries of instant Christmas cheer. Ho ho! Beanie babies on the stoop as if by magic, shrink wrapped and hermetically sealed guaranteed germ free.

When we were running this weekend, I had some pointed goals. Win the Grand Prix. Get the last Q's to finish Banksy's ADCh before the end of the year, a Championship while she's two. Neither of these happened. I did however, think back to one year past. This trial last year she was afraid of motel rooms and tried to bite me at the end of the runs. She couldn't lay down quietly outside the ring while she waited her turn and I never knew if she'd hit her dogwalk contact. She did win her first Grand Prix one year ago and took two extra tunnels in her Grand Prix this weekend, but I can see tremendous difference in the confidence of our running looking at those videos. I am very sure we're not moving backwards, which is more than I can say of our country. I was wearing the exact same outfit this weekend, although I think it fits a little more tight and there are a couple teeth holes left in the sleeves.

Big pictures take patience. There's movement forward and back. We can't lose our minds on the backwards, we need to take a moment and think and plan, then get to work and fix it. December is our thinking month. Think about how to not go in the tunnel. How to not lose health insurance. How to have a startline. How to not watch progressive democratic society go down the shitter. Then go try to go forward, not backward.

24 November 2016

Perils of climate change could swamp coastal real estate happy thanksgiving.

Taking action, the time will be soon.

First by listening very carefully. Watching for any sign of movement, any sign of breath. Waiting carefully, but not too long.

Then ready to spring into the fray.

Today will be an unremarkable day. Take a shower, feed the horses, walk the dogs. Catch up on the drawings I've put off, try to finish up some things. I haven't felt like being funny or smart or drawing much since the election, although that's exactly the upside down response of what would be productive.

The bad orange man, his glow's starting to emanate from the east to the west. We're not blinded by it yet, it's just stinging eye flashes so far, but enough to warrant thoughts of brexiting, thoughts of bunkers, thoughts of hibernating in a damp goose pen tree down by the darkest part of the creek, where the hill's the steepest and not too many people venture down into where no wifi signal could ever reach to broadcast another ugly headline about Syria or Alt-rights or frozen pipeline protestors.

Problem being, he's surrounding himself with a growing army of soon to be oompa loompas with their own voices and beliefs, some definitely stronger and more vile than orange man's quest to just be the biggest dick in the pantaloons and keep his empire of towers growing at the fastest rate he can. He's got the mic now, to drive the bus in any direction that strikes his fancy, like a cattle prod taser taking out each and every animal in the endless procession into the slaughter hall.

Thankful on this day for all that's right, like in a leftish way, rainbows shooting out of mouths way, not an alt-way. Thankful for our sun here, that isn't orange, that's bright enough to dry up the mud and let us walk down to the creek for a while, where we can't get the cel signal, where no news can reach us, where we can have a moment to regroup before we climb back up.

16 November 2016

Teaching turns, do dogs need to know an alt-right?

For agility, we have a left and right.

It's pretty easy to teach, I used started by throwing a ball each direction, then I put a word on it. Left, toss the ball, right, toss the ball.

I didn't even know what an alt-right was, until I read about one being inside the White House. With it's own office. I think it's probably pretty easy to teach, probably even while tossing a ball.

From the New York Times:

It's a brand of far-right conservatism that generally embraces and promotes white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. The alt-right supports the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and protectionist trade policies. It opposes feminism, diversity, gay rights, globalism, gun control and civil rights.

In case you were wondering exactly what it covers.

We have a cik and cap too. That's a tighter left and right, to wrap as tightly as possible, turning in the air. I taught that shaping a head turn around a post with a clicker and a cookie, then taught it faster and faster with a ball or a tuggy. Taught it til Banksy could spin around and around any tree or post or jump I'd point her to.

In agility, our alt-left and right. Wrap and run. In agility, we like to go both directions evenly, work on the turns til they both go on to perfect lines. More like a yin and yang. In real life, doesn't work like that, more like a pendulum that swings both ways.  Swinging hard, swinging fast, swinging way past that last jump.

While we were at the park with the tennis ball, or spinning around trees near the creek, a great divide opened up, where everything only turns one way. Being immersed in dog spinning, didn't even notice. And now we'll see what happens when something big only turns one way.

15 November 2016

Traveling with dogs, the desert version, where a lot of things could kill you.

Whirly things. We learned that if the whirly things are on, Banksy will think she is dying. And do whatever she can to kill the whirly things, she will attempt. In the future, wherever we go, we will check on whirly things and make sure that they're off.

Cactus. Cover all cactus. One of our dog pals got some cactus in him and it hurt. Pools. Fence off the pools. The mayhem of the pool is beyond exciting. Even though Banksy isn't in the swim club, she very much enjoyed asking to go outside late at night to watch the floaty thing in the pool. The pool was amazing, if you are a dog. But watch out for cut pads if they swim and swim, then run and run.

Just don't bring guns. Bring comfortable shoes, instead.

Otterpop gave us the biggest scare. There was a dog scuffle in our tent, right by Otterpop. My guess is that this spooked her enough to figure out how to escape from her beloved home away from home, Travel Crate. During the Team Relay finals, the announcer interrupted with a Small Black Dog has escaped and is running up the mountain message.

I didn't think it was Otterpop, but then put the two and two together of the info I had just heard about dog scuffle. I hitched a ride on a golf cart and lo and behold, the Small Black Dog running up the mountain, towards the freeway was Otterpop. Luckily about 50 people started chasing her around the 400 acre horse show grounds. She may have run a couple of miles in 90 degree heat until we captured her by corralling her into some garbage cans. My great thanks still go out to the brave dog chasers who kept her from running onto a freeway, and helped chase her down.

She was perfectly fine. Jeezus beejezus, Otterpop. I think we were lucky on this one. Dodged a bullet, so good thing for the no firearms, too.

Dog friends and people friends. We had a lot. Two best people friends and five good dog friends. Not all the dogs were best friends, but they figured out how to live together for a week. We fed them in their own bedrooms and made sure Jo didn't steal any socks. Banksy has a split personality of OMG YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND to any dog including ones that don't want to be her best friend, but then can turn on them over something like a spicy bean and do snapping teeth. When spicy beans and socks were kept out of the mix, she did great. All the people friends had a swell time, although in this photo look quite tired. We were all quite tired, most of the time.

We got to see the super moon set during the sunrise. We had fled the desert by this point, and had a rest near the sea. It's less dangerous, there. Although Banksy did explore a busy road through an unlatched gate and gave everyone a scare. Anything can happen, anywhere, I guess.

Of course we visited the dinos. No trip to the desert is complete without them. They have tiny little hands and great big teeth.

The desert is hot and spiny and not a great place for dogs. So many pokey things to step on and such great heat. It's beautiful, in that desert way, but the dogs like someplace cooler and with softer ground. Just be careful, if you go the desert, that's what my dogs would tell you.

14 November 2016

Cynosports 2016, the wrapup of two National events, speak truth to power.

Banksy always speaks truth to power.

It was gobsmacking to wake up in the middle of a night, in an unfamiliar bed in a house with cactus and a swimming pool for a backyard, in a neighborhood of fancy shopping malls in the middle of a desert, and find out that Donald Trump was our new president. Then have to go do agility right after finding this out.

I'm not clear on what my purpose was, attending a National event. To be a champion, I guess. And I would like to brag about all my friends who did end up Champions. Too many too list! My agility BFF and Banksy's BFF, if you count one of her F's as Frenemy, won both the Steeplechase and Grand Prix finals, winning both is tremendous and a REALLY BIG DEAL. We celebrated by eating cheese and drinking wine on our patio for the week late at night. Then got up at 5am for more of the same.

Was I trying to prove something to me, to others? To Banksy? It's a lot of late nights and early mornings, travel time and fuzzy brains, frying dog brains, a lot of driving around in a desert, to be out in the open, exposed to the sun and so many people. Many people, all of the time. For someone who spends a lot of time hiding, there was a lot of exposure out there in Scottsdale. I have the sunburned lips to prove it.

I wasn't there just to have fun. I bought black sporty pants, for just in case I made a final. I was actually pretty sure I would, in Steeplechase. I was serious about this part. But I made a mistake, and that cost me time and threw me just out of the running. Eight dogs made the finals, my mistake made me number nine.

Been there before. I did that with Otterpop once and it knocked me out of the Grand Prix final, my first time as number nine. I still don't know how to not do this, after all this time. I recovered a lot quicker this time, once you make an error there's no undoing it, and you move on. Don't make the same mistake again, and try not to make any.

So I'm still not sure how to reconcile the two National Events that happened last week. Both were big deals, in their own big deal way. It was hard to do agility for about a day, I spent the post election grief day walking around collecting Trump hugs and weeping when I spotted the same grief faces on my friends. A lot of tears, tears from grownups that probably don't cry over very many things.

The problem was, usually at agility we have a bit of a bubble from Other Things, and the Other Things here really hit the fourth wall and festered open in our faces.

We were walking around a red state, there was a lot of wahoo going on too, happy red white and blue people who apparently are pleased about deporting immigrants and curtailing women's rights and human rights, wall builders who are happy to hear the racist and sexist rhetoric garbage spewing from the pinched lip little mouth of our new president. We were walking around with them and sharing porta potties with them and trying to beat their asses in every single class.

After a day, I put my head back into the game and ran my best. Banksy never considered not running her best. The first day she was hitting bars, which is unlike her and I chalk it up to my sad feelings and the craziness of the venue. So many dogs, so many people, so many golf carts, so many of everything.

The next day, she ran her heart out for me, and continued to do so every run after that. She hit every contact, blazed through all her poles, turned on a dime, and did some very hard things. The courses were hard. She did not put a foot wrong. OK, maybe some of her pushy startlines she did. But that was it.

I couldn't keep error free though. Several times, caught behind because of her blazing speed, caused a refusal or a wrong turn. Once lost my way for just the tiniest fraction of a second, but enough to muck up what may have been a dramatic win in team standard. And the Steeplechase Semi Final error really did break my heart, just for a few hours.

Things ended as they should. It may have been much easier to put agility into context, when the election events were hovering over them. It may have been easier because I've been there and done that before. It may have been easier because I had my friends there, who all have been there and done that. And it may have been easier because so many of my friends ran to greatness in their runs.

We all work hard for this. We all sometimes spend more time with our agility than we do on other things. The election may have woke us up like a slap in the face, we have to regroup and rethink and spend some time figuring out, what is our responsibility to keep the world from going to so much hate and wrong?

I drove across that desert in the heat, thinking how to be civic minded while still going for the prize? Last time I drove across that desert was in the wake of Rodney King. Those were some bad days. The election has the same sting, makes that desert seem tainted, still. But we got through it, although I don't know that things have really changed all that much since then.

I named my dog after Banksy, who always speaks truth to power. Who always speaks up for what's right, maybe just in different ways than everybody else. Me and her, we're a team. It's the gathering together of our minds that gives us this incredible gift, silly and tiny as it is, to run together as one. This is going to be the key for all our people, to move forward in days to come, days that are going to be black and ugly, no way around that, as we see what's to unfold come 2017.

We'll keep doing agility, we'll keep sorting all this out. Maybe we'll even go to another big event some day. Time will tell. It is what it is. There is a lot of thinking to do now, a lot of heart and bravery we'll be needing, a lot of voices that will need to be heard. We've left the desert and are ready to move forward.