08 January 2018

Don't break shit.


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

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

31 December 2017

SMART New Years Trial, Goodbye to 2017.


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


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

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

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

Happy New Years, friends.

27 November 2017

Happy Dog Moorpark USDAA


photo credit Mia Grant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21 November 2017

Many of the things, in one place.

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

Team Small Dog Shirts on Teespring

13 November 2017

You should be more scared.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turlock USDAA Sunday stickers.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 October 2017

Top dogs.


These two...


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

10 October 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

08 October 2017

Turlock Tom Petty USDAA October 2017


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

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

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

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

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


02 October 2017

Freefalling.


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

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

Fifty dead in the massacre.


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

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

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


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


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

24 September 2017

Morgan Hill October USDAA trial book report.


photo by Heather Christensen

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

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

Success!

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

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

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

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

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

13 September 2017

Clever Confidence Camp at Oregon School for Clever Dogs.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Wilderness hiking. Very HOT! Look out for snakes!


Wilderness hikers, proof!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

27 August 2017

SMART USDAA Butterfly Attack.


Banksy is known to be a weirdo sometimes. A beautiful, fluffy, sweet weirdo. I think Channan took this photo. It is very Banksy.


She got attacked by a butterfly at the dog show. On the start line of snooker. I didn’t see this attack happen, I just saw pawing and dramatic upsetness by Banksy. Who can be very, very weird about bugs that TOUCH her.

I tried to run her, but something was off, she was all stressed out and acting weird.

Because, butterfly attack.

She showed that butterfly. Tried to gulp it down in one bite and ran a chunk of snooker with it in her mouth. When I abandoned ship because something seemed terribly not right, she spit it out in the grass on the way to her leash. Alive. A giant yellow butterfly looking all spitty and shell shocked from just taking a ride around a snooker course in a border collie mouth.

Dogs are weird.

Banksy had good runs. Some bars, some handler induced errors. A chip made in her countdown to all the pairs Qs she needs for her ADCh. Three more. Not that I’m obsessed.

Gooey had good runs. For Gooey. Speedy and messed up poles. He was happy.

Otterpop had a good run, in the senior citizen special event for old dogs. She forgot how to do the tunnel but had a great time zooming around the jumps which were just bars on the ground and then I threw her ball and her life was grander than it’s been in a long time. Well, since last time I threw her ball. Which was like 2 hours ago.

We were all happy to go to a trial again! And guess what, we’re going again next week! Hoping for less handler induced errors and no hitting bars.

21 August 2017

Dress for the success.



It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a dog agility competitor in possession of a good dog, must be in want of an excellent capsule wardrobe that mixes and matches based on weather conditions and dog personality disorders. A capsule collection limits you to thirty seven, give or take a halter top or two, most excellent mix and match articles of clothing that hang right, come in your favorite colors, facilitate extra fast running, and make your mid section look fine. Say it like this. F-i-i-i-i-n-e. There are no muffin top lumpy bits in the well constructed capsule wardrobe.

Kind of like the tiny houses, and Japanese de-cluttering, fewer clothes is clearing out space in life for more time to spend with dogs, or is just quantifying what some of us have known all along. The not wealthy have smaller houses and fewer things. Either way, it's called simplifying. Days are shorter than what they used to be. A capsule wardrobe requires no brain cells at dark o’clock of getting dressed, so brain cels have the golden opportunity to stay relegated to much more stimulating topics like fixing weird dispositional quirks of dogs. You just reach in the drawer, grab the first thing on top of the stack, and you’re guaranteed to look and feel fantastic. Just like how we want our dogs to feel. It’s what every busy dog trainer needs, not to worry about what to wear, but simultaneously not to look like a Crocs footed, mismatched psychopath strolling down the street in a little number both inside out and backwards, with visible mud prints and a tear in the sleeve the shape of dog teeth.

It’s also a truth universally acknowledged that everybody’s stressed out these days. Did you already mutter how you're “So stressed out” today? Truer words never spoken. Isn’t this one of the reasons we have dogs? Walking the dogs. Playing with the dogs. Petting the dogs. Supposedly lowering the cortisol levels as a healthier alternative to over eating massive amounts of sheet cake or having an opioid crisis.

Except that, now the dogs are stressed out, too. It's supposed to be exactly the opposite, dog agility causing prancing around proclaiming, “I feel great! I feel amazing! I feel like a true patriot!” while the dogs are earnestly slobbering and wagging their tails and flying off the startlines with ease. After calmly staying in place.

Instead, there are the dogs who come to the start line fade and go flat. Their bubbly effervescence fizzles like a sugary death drink left out to congeal in the sun. A lazy “S” of wrongness vapor visibly leaking out their ears whispers, “I've had enough. Get me off this start line. Get me out of this dog show. Get me to a beach or a couch or anywhere but here.”

Or the dog who comes roaring into the ring in a blaze of over the tippy top wackadoodle bug eyed frenzy. Who can’t hold it together enough to even sit down at the start line, who prefers up down and sideways all at the same time to sit, who’s wrongness vapor is jolting electrified hotwire zapping willy nilly also up down and sideways. Eyes bugging so far out of head that they are close to dangling in the turf, and their incomplete sentences just trail off at, “Get me...”

And how might one dress for this, you may ask? A good stylist always starts from the bottom.

Foundation is key in dog agility. It’s not all pivots and spinning round cones and contact positions on boxes. There’s no one size fits all way to train it. Maybe the dog who tends to flatline needs a lot more rewards for enthusiastic attempts. Maybe the dog who tends towards high volume explosive frazzling needs a lot more rewarding for a calmly thinking things through. Look deep in your heart to figure out what drives your dog’s pulse, then go deep inside your underwear drawer and find that one sports bra that fits just so, perfect. It’s a lady thing, gentlemen. Maybe you have a pair of boxer briefs that make you feel the same. You feel incomplete on wash day.

I don’t think there can ever be enough foundation in dog agility. More impulse control for the crazed. More playing for the undemonstrative. More sports bra for the jigglers. More fun, more tricks, more reinforcing the things that you’ll need forever that you don’t want to break. More noticing. Training things you didn’t even know you wanted. Things that you had a little feeling about, and then glossed over.

Do more of those things, because, oh snap, is that glossing going to come back and get you. Your future self is weeping, like they did when that one perfect pair of underpants was on sale, and past self didn't buy them in every single color (you do get a pass on underpants numbers when curating your capsule). The elastic will eventually fray and you’re left thinking, I knew this was going to happen, as the startline disintegrates before your eyes. More with the crazy puppy impulse control. So much more. More toys and games with the low key puppy. More playing! More love, more snuggles, more of everything. Mind the gaps and fill them up.

Maybe if you can help your dog feel like a million bucks, dress for success not the stress, there’s less fading. Less crazies. They know you got their back covered. You can cover yours with an upmarket athleisure hoodie with a pocket big enough to hide the toy and you're ready to go.

There’s a look at agility. Sporty and sensible, with the occasional tutu paraded out during team events. Not so many blouses and slacks. Tank tops and stretch bottoms stitched from fabrics bestowed with drag queen names containing the letter X. Lux Treme. Sup Plex. Moxie Flex. Cool Max. Junior cuts for the slim and wide cuts for the less so. All bodies are equally valuable. It took me a long time to become cool with dog agility-wear. While the ease of sloppiness was rad, the footwear thing and appropriate sporty pants was hard to get into. I ran in jeans and boots for a long time. Sometimes my beautiful dog Ruby, she of the crazy jumping, would crash through a jump and vanish to chase gophers outside the ring. It was embarrassing and I just wanted to blend. The subliminal art of camouflage was the ticket, if I could look the part of dog agility, maybe I could successfully play the part of dog agility. I bought neon colored running shoes with grippy soles and shorts that weren’t cut off jeans.

But my dogs still got stressed out.

Otterpop always wished all the other dogs would just go away. Agility trials would have been so much nicer for just her and her alone. Otterpop wanted to do all the things, and win all the things, but she wanted all the other dogs invisible. The more she had to deal with, the more stressed out she got. She sometimes fizzled flat until her very first tunnel. Once in a tunnel, the tube of invisibility, the other dogs disappeared and she was good to go. Never really fixed that problem. Just looked for the most convenient first tunnel and that was that.

Sometimes, too, we used the element of surprise. If I thought she was having a bad day, feeling a little overwhelmed, I’d leave her frisbee outside the ring somewhere random, and part way through a course, where she felt fast and confident, we’d just dive out under the ring tape without even blowing a kiss to the judge, and run off to frisbee. An investment in that confidence bucket, the potential of a course ending somewhere, anywhere, not just the very end, went a long way with Otterpop, who everywhere else in life, acted like she didn't give a f&*k. Almost always, I wore a pearl snap long tailed short sleeve cowgirl shirt when I ran Otterpop. Or a long sleeve t-shirt with her drawing on the chest. Looking like I didn't give a f&*k. That seemed like the right way to deal with her stress, and easy to procure without shopping at establishments governed by corporate robber baron management.

Gustavo, oh Gustavo. He of the on course alien communicados, he of the terrors of teeters and the tunnel vortexes. There isn’t just one outfit that goes with that. I tried expensive sweat pants from the snobby yoga lady store, I tried old work jeans and boots, I even entered the universe of gore tex waterproofing, not just water resistance, for Gustavo. I bought abundant red white and blue European dog team shirts from plethoras of fundraisers for the questionable cause of flying dogs on planes, and even started wearing shirts with cartoon dogs on them. I found the perfect shorts, during the peak of Gustavo’s agility career. Clam diggers, pedal pushers cargo style capris, call them what you will. Their breezy, bohemian chic thigh covering, plentiful in pockets channeled seaside afternoons sprawled, cocktail in hand, in hand painted Adirondack chairs at a Hamptons beach cottage and I had three pairs.

Eventually Gustavo learned how to negotiate the scarier things in life. The waistband got tight on those long shorts. The trade off wasn't too bad, years of carrying around cookies for random rewards had rendered the pockets stained and the organic cotton layers reached mid thigh. The agility became Gustavo's cookie and he was happy and confident to do all the things. Well, maybe not tables in public. But everything else.

Banksy has the over the top up-stress. I discovered stretchier nylon and spandex fibers for bottoms as my border collie grew along with my pants size from stress eating sheet cakes. Her craziness improved slowly, at about the same rate that I upgraded from size 8 to 10 to 12. I discovered, though, that those fibers with double XX names were more forgiving than Gustavo's cotton knee shorts. I have to run very, very fast with Banksy, so that nylon/spandex/vita mix blend served us both well. Now that I have stretchy shorts, I think I can handle a lot better. They also leave room for another beer.

It's time to make your capsule, if you dare. Empty your drawers, take all the things and throw them on the bed.What a mess! This is supposed to inspire you to start the editing and count down to the 37 items for success. So far, just in dog t-shirts alone I'm at 35. I also have 14 leashes and 26 totes and 3 really good sun hats. But only one pair of suitable sneakers. Not to be tacky, but what’s the worst thing thats gonna happen? Better dog training's gonna get you the best dressed award at the next trial? I finally will remember not to leave the house in Crocs? Dress for success, not for the stress. Avoid Ren Faire garb. God bless Crocs. And reward your dog accordingly.

13 July 2017

You Should Be More Scared.


Banksy's been declared clear by the fancy orthopedist from San Jose. She has his blessings to go out and jump again, and do so injury free. He laid his hands on her and said those words and we left the office feeling 11lbs lighter.


Dog agility, you’re the sunshine in my bag, sticking out of my shoe and dribbling yellow tracks behind me, sunny little cookie crumbles pointing the way for the men in black suits to find me at a more convenient time.


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


It’s just so convenient to ignore things. Are you watching your startline very carefully while you lead out? Do you see your dog get a little hunchy, like she’s ducking under the shadow of a pointy witch finger? Did you ignore it? Then it turned into a foot shifting just one millimeter forward? And you ignored that? Then you didn’t notice the foot move a little more and the hunch go a little hunchier then the butt scooched up just a bit. But you kept walking. You were all, what’s a millimeter? What’s one more disposable plastic thingamajig going into the trash can? I’m no litterbug. I throw it in the trash! And then all of a sudden, the earth is too hot for human habitation and you’re all, Why’d she break that startline?


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


So actually, dog agility, you couldn’t be better. Technology has made you fat and happy, and your podium pictures sparkle across social media every single weekend, beaming radiance and shiny hair, carefully protected by sun hats with extra added SPF across the globe. Nobody running dog agility grumps and pouts and sits in the isolationist corner. In fact in dog agility, everybody is friends with everybody! On social media, I just click you. Super easy. Now I know what your backyard looks like and what you had for dinner at that cute restaurant after the big dog show when you were drinking with all your friends. Ha, ha, yeah, that was an awkward one! I probably hid you so I don’t have to see your emojis anymore.


I’m moving like a pioneer right now, exploring options, but with the caveat of occasionally dropping my head into the sand. You know what they say. Facts don’t vanish into thin air just because they get noses turned up at them, willing them away. Yet it happens all the time. I’m losing my edge, Mr. President. I’m early basking on the beach of late capitalism. I thought what I was doing was spreading love, compassion and kindness, watching my dog with a smile on my face. I spread this by clicking the little heart icon, located conveniently below every single podium photo. It’s just there, drag the mouse finger three millimeters at the most and you’ll find it in a jiffy. Just click, and your heart goes on.


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


Oh, so now your dog kind of creeps into their sit on the startline? And their butt comes up a little higher more often? And it happened at the trial last weekend? But you were really hoping to get that QQ so you just ignored it, just that once? Or twice? Because really, she knows she’s supposed to stay there. She’s just a little too excited, being at the trial and all. And you mostly enforce it at practice, unless you’re in a bit of a hurry, or sometimes you can’t exactly see it, she’s so fast and you’re so slow so you’re already off and running. But, she knows, she’s smart. We’ve trained it a lot.


You should be more scared.


Magician David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear in 1985. She didn’t really disappear, it was a magic trick. He wasn’t even wearing a cape. Let’s call it an illusion.

An iceberg the size of a festive tropical island just broke off of Antartica. Looks like when a dog takes a bite of dog bed, gives it a shake, and a chunk comes off, all the fluff scattering across the floor. It’s cool, was made in China, just sweep it up and go get another. No capes, no magic, did that really just happen?


You had me at sit. There was a different vibe before. It’s hard to explain how it felt. It felt like yes we can and I don’t feel spread too thin. Didn’t feel like I’m pulling my hair out and waiting for the other shoe to drop down. It didn’t used to feel so, hard. Is the vibe ever going to come back? I present, these, dig, as a gift of good vibes, an outpouring of love, like lei covered watermen paddling out during high tide to honor their dead, holding hands as they gently bob on their boards, hearts swelling in love of the dear departed. A passage of an icon now gone, a passing of a vibe that may now be obsolete. We hit it smack in the middle of a golden era.