29 April 2016

Stay at home dog.

Leaving Ruby at home when we go for a walk makes me very sad. She loves walking and hates to be left alone. But her back legs are shaky and she needs to walk very, very slow. Until she realizes she wants to run, and then runs so fast she slams into something and topples over upside down. Ouch. So more and more, I'm finding I need to leave her at home when the other dogs really need to GO.

I realized today just how slow we've been walking. Especially me. The dogs sort of do their thing and tear around as needed, but today I realized I hadn't run in the forest in a long time. I used to run all the way to the creek then walk back from there. Ha! Can't do that anymore! So Ruby will have to stay home a few times every week and my goal is running to the creek again in the next couple of weeks.

Sorry Ruby! I'll leave you lots of treats in your blue chair! And I promise we'll be home soon.

27 April 2016

Emergency evacuation plan.

I love our market across the street. It's owned by a very nice Korean family, and no one in the family even looks up from their soap opera behind the counter when I show up in pajamas at 10pm to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Which seems to be priced randomly depending on who's working. Everyone in the neighborhood goes to the market for beer and coffee and candy and baking soda.

Mornings at the market are coffee stops for everyone off to work, or breaktime for the sewage guys in the giant sewer sucking truck. Kids stop in on their bikes, maybe to buy candy for school? Or beer? Not sure. I live on a busy little street. This morning when I was coming back from our walk, we rounded the corner just 3 houses til home, right across from the market, and a doberman tied outside took a good long look at me and the dogs and started chewing on it's leash.

Dobermans scare me a little. I've had 2 very sweet ones in agility classes, but something about dobermans still gives me the heebie jeebies. I'm kind of a dog weenie, living in my little dog and border collie filled world. I figured though, he's tied to a post in front of the store. We're only 3 houses away, 30 seconds. How fast can a doberman chew through a leash? And he's probably friendly, right? People don't tie full on Cujo dogs to posts in front of the market, do they?

He had on a big thick prong collar and a harness, but loads of people in my neighborhood use prong collars. Even on yorkies. Stabbing your dog's neck with sharp pointy things is a very popular dog walking method around here. I know one reason, I got kicked out of a popular and cheap dog training class at the local pet store once for not being willing to use one. All kinds of dog training methods around here. So whatever. And at least he was tied on to the post from the harness.

That look and the leash chewing, though, gave me pause. Pause enough to consider, can I make it down to my driveway, just 3 houses away? In case he really does want to go after us? Or do I need to reverse right now and walk all the way back around the block. Which takes about 13 minutes when Ruby's with us. I had places to go. People to see. 3 houses, that's as far as I needed to get.

Calmy and swiftly, not even looking at him, we keep on moving towards home. We almost made it. But guess what? Here's a good quiz question. How long does it take for a doberman to chew through a leash that's tied on to a post? Surprise if you thought more than just a few seconds. Because just before we reached our driveway, here he comes.

I heard him before I could see him. There was a beer truck parked taking up half the street, and a bellowing loud barking started that I knew was him. And when I turned around, here he comes from behind the beer truck.

He didn't look happy. He sounded loud. And he was moving really fast.

Loose dogs in our neighborhood are pretty common and rarely are they out to get us. On the other side of the street, we regularly run into the german shepherd that runs out the door at the pot grower's house, and there's the lab that jumps out of the front yard with the teensy short fence. There's a boxer that sometimes goes awol, and don't get me started on Rio next door. I have beat off a pit bull once with a board I found in the street, but that was years ago when a meth addled pro surfer lived on the corner and that dog went away with him. Otherwise, our neighborhood is pretty chill. Our block has a fireman, a bus driver, a cop, a guy who works at the dump (that would be my husband), a mailman, a nurse, a librarian, UCSC students, junior college teachers, drug dealers, pot growers, a contractor, a photographer, an electrician, retired couples, hardworking single moms, families with tiny kids, dirt bike dudes, computer guys, millionaires slumming it renovating a beach shack, and homeless people who collect our cans. Those are just the neighbors I thought of first. It's a pretty ok neighborhood.

Lots of them have dogs. Most of them aren't trained. They're big and they're small, a lot of them bark, some of them are leash reactive. Some of them are super sweet. Some are asshats, especially the blonde chihuahua down at the end of the street and the aussie the retired lady with the plastic flowers in her front yard is always yelling at. There's the black dog that pulls his kid on a skateboards really fast. Shortie and Rio never wear leashes and always run smack into the middle of my dogs. We just deal with it. That's our neighborhood.

The doberman, though, he was new and he was coming at us and I wasn't getting a good feeling. He was the red and tan kind, and had big floppy ears. But he really wasn't cute. He was on a mission.

Luckily I have a plan for when this happens. In general, I don't plan ahead. When the big one hits, or zombie apocalypse, or some kind of religious armageddon, we have exactly zero jugs of drinking water and non perishable canned goods stored in the garage. My bank account does not reflect a lovely retirement nest egg for my golden years of retired agility lady in a fancy RV who goes to trials every weekend and posts margarita selfies on facebook. I don't know what I'm having for dinner tonight.

But I do have a plan for bad dog attempted attack on my dogs. I think about it every time something like this might happen. But rarely have I had to actually do it.

Even though it was a busy morning with cars going by, I let the dogs go right when the dog got to us. Ruby first, then Gooey, then Banksy. Ruby may not be able to see, but she knows that walk around our block by heart and can easily find our driveway by dog GPS, so off she went. Gooey, ambassador of good vibes for many wayward dogs, ran right out into the street. Banksy I put on a lie down on the sidewalk and I grabbed up Otterpop and held on tight.

Otterpop is a catalyst of badness. Her brain goes to the dark side in situations like this and all 12lbs of her has no problem launching a full assault on whatever level of attack an asshat dog has planned. She is very, very, not useful in situations like this. Luckily she is extremely portable and likes being wedged under my armpit.

I moved right towards him, shoving my inner dog weenie to the back of the bus to muster some bravery at the charging doberman. "Hey good buddy! Hi good boy! Whatcha doing?" seemed better than yelling at him because he was pretty riled up already. Maybe the happy words would throw him off kilter a little.

I think this scattering of dogs also threw him. Where four were now was just Banksy laying in the sidewalk, my snarling arm bundle, and a donut spinning Gooey. So he barreled in towards Banksy. She looked terrified on her lie down, she's so nervous of big dogs I think her energy and crazy eyes can be a spark for bad situations, it's happened before. Bless her little trained heart, she just layed there staring at me, Otterpop in my arms starting to lose it and I pushed back into him to move him back as Gooey did a flying drive by. I was really, really hoping he wouldn't try to take a chunk out of me, and that nobody was going to get hit by a car, but I think if he was going to bite, he would have done it on the first pass. And the cars were slowing down for the spectacle.

Everybody loves Gooey, usually. He has some kind of magic power that can deflect weird dog energy and this dog looked baffled for a minute, like was he supposed to chase Gooey who was by now running back into the street. It all turned into mayhem, he'd go for Banksy, who now got up and looked completely confused and snapped at him, or go for Gooey who was just doing donuts in the street. The street! He never gets to run free in the street! Yay! Gooey lives on planet oblivion sometimes. Still no biting, just charging. This was a good thing. He might have been a loud asshat who didn't like my herd of dogs walking by but it looked like he didn't want to attack any of us.

But then he came in and started circling us and growling like a big red shark. This was unnerving.

Ruby was nowhere to be seen, but she's a pro at finding our driveway, so I wasn't worried about her. Gooey officially lost his mind but in some ways, I think that was helping, the big dog didn't have a clear target of who he should be going for. The funny little dog running in and out of the street, the ballistic missile in my arms, or the confused border collie standing up and lying down with a completely terrified look on her face. I just kept telling him how lovely he was and firmly suggested he go home.

Finally his guy came running out of the store looking like OH SHIT. He made a run for it and the dog took off. So then we had much dog chasing in the street. Banksy went back in her lie down, Gooey ran back to me and I hung on to Otterpop for dear life. I didn't want to attract his attention back to us and bring him up our driveway where I was hoping Ruby was, so we just stayed put. After a few minutes of doberman chasing, I couldn't stand it so I yelled to the guy, "Just stop chasing him! Stand still!"

He sat down on the curb. Traffic was stopping for the various dogs. The dog came eventually came back into him and he captured it.

"Hey!" I yelled. "You know your dog just went for all my dogs?"

The guy was freaked. He just grabbed the dog by the collar and took off the other way. Left the end of the leash tied to the post. It's still out there.

We dodged the doberman bullet. I'll keep my eyes out for him. And next time we come around that corner and get the stink eye from a dog tied outside the market, maybe next time we take the slow way back around the block.

24 April 2016

USDAA in Morgan Hill weekend.

These three spent a long weekend stuffed in car crates at the dog show. Two of them are very tired, and one of them is not. Otterpop. Otterpop needs a hobby.

Gustavo was amazing. His new hobby is having these unbelievable Masters Jumpers runs. He is so fast, and so happy, and I just run ahead screaming either Goooeee Gooooeeee Goooooeeee or tunnel tunnel tunnel. And somehow this does the trick and I only blind cross and then he wins.

I could not be more proud of Banksy. Not only was her behavior lovely and reasonably calm, but she was SO GOOD! She is like a beautifully trained dog! Now she needs a handler to match. She moved up to all Masters and got her first Masters Qs. I also made errors in some of her runs. I want to figure out how to run perfectly for Banksy because she sort of is perfect. Any mistake she made was just a handling error from me. Maybe not the one dogwalk miss, but she had beautiful running dogwalks on all the others and beautiful aframes. But other than that, she can do no wrong.

Banksy is like a real, genuine agility dog now! I can't believe I have a dog like Banksy as a partner. I think I'm very, very lucky. Now to figure out how to stop making mistakes!

21 April 2016

Cool shades.

Otterpop wears them the best.

I got the shades for Ruby, but she's so blind she sees worse in them. I just wanted to shade her eyes since they don't dilate. Sun makes her eyes hurt. Gustavo thought they were pretty good.

Um,  Banksy, not sure if they work so well for you. Nice try though. Don't be surprised if you see Otterpop sporting shades. Just because.

Goodnight sweet prince.

NYTimes declares a return of the '80's and don't say we didn't see it coming.

18 April 2016

Here are some mundane things, from my quiet mundane week.

This is all because I had to go to Costco. Being a card carrying Costco member makes me very sad, sometimes one trip to Costco makes me depressed for days. Today I went to Costco. Life will go on.

Here's what $650,000 buys you in our real estate market. Not Otterpop and a stick on the sand trails, that costs priceless. How about 6 acres on Bear Creek road with a house that burned down 25 years ago. There is a neglected mobile home on the property and a derelict pool filled with vines. Do not enter the neglected mobile home, stay far, far away from the pool. Otterpop is all, whatever. Stack the branches, we'll be fine.

Gustavo and Otterpop had a doctor's appointment together. Gustavo loves the doctors! Best fun ever! They touch you! It's amazing! I hang on to Otterpop and show the doctor her teeth myself. Otterpop growls at the doctor, but if I am holding her, has very reasonable manners. We just use that old saying, "Don't touch the Otterpop." Everyone comes out alive.

I ordered Ruby a fly mask for dogs. Her eyes hurt when they're in the sun and I think her legs wobble more when her eyes hurt. I'll let you know when it arrives. It's bright orange, so she'll look like a Lady Gaga Giants fan, is my hope. Please don't laugh at Ruby. We want her to be able to enjoy some walks. It's sun season around here, there's only so much shade we can find.

Banksy is Banksy. She does like to go to parties. However, the sight of the neighbors lifting kettle balls high above their heads which are higher than our fence, and the other neighbors coming and going up their back porch steps is too much for her to bear. They move! And they're not part of our yard. So much drama from Banksy, Banksy's trigger is a tiny hair and she can pitch a fit with the best of 'em.

She is learning to deal with asshat dogs on the beach stairs. Why most people think it's fine to launch a mean dog straight down a steep set of stairs exactly into a group of leashed dogs trying to make their way up is beyond me. The people are either tourists or assholes or possibly both. Frequently the dogs are definitely asshats. This is what we got now though, the foxtails are too prickly and abundant everywhere else, and it's hot, so to the beach we go.

And we practice. And practice, and practice and practice. Would you like to see our 150 at least running dogwalk videos? Why, here's one just from today. It really is going smashing, as long as we ONLY GO STRAIGHT. We have a lot of time to practice, I'm officially only working part time, which is a nice way of saying business really sucks. If you're thinking of ordering a dog portrait, now is a great time. I'm all about moving back to a lifestyle of creative angst and low wages. Dog portraits are cheap! Get three!

Do you know anyone nearby looking to start agility classes? I'm starting some new ones at Heart Dog Agility, send them my way! We'll have a grand time, let's fill the classes! Order the portraits! Bring your kid to ride. Let's start boosting this economy a little bit, get those dog dental appointments paid off, let me buy some new sneakers. Wouldn't you want to read a team small dog book? Are you a publisher? Send one my way.

Over and out, see you soon. Yer pals, Laura & team small dog.

Not for everybody but probably for YOU!

You know you want a portrait, right? Am I right?

Coming soon are 18x24" color giclee prints! Wow! So big so bright so, Not for Everybody! But probably, FOR YOU! Cost a little more, but so worth it.

And of course, you can always get a black and white drawing, too.

You know where to find me...you can always order portraits or get good shirts and stickers at http://www.teamsmalldog.com . See you there!

You know, sometimes when I'm not here, I might be over at Mark Zuckerberg's house. Or at least on the Team Small Dog page on Facebook. Since I heard facebook is like taking over the world or whatever, I'm over there a lot more.

06 April 2016

USDAA TurtleMania is coming!

USDAA recently announced a new Big Dog Show, called TurtleMania!

Apparently it's held at the pond and you need to win at least one turtle to be able to try out for the IFCS team. That's International Fancy Canine Snappers, in case you don't speak agility.

Otterpop is not eligible. So get that snout out of the snapper, Otterpop.

It may be important to note that we will not be attending this event. Because Ruby is the only one who wasn't afraid of the turtle. She smacked it a good one and tried to chew on it's face. Gustavo and Banksy, normally brave, or at least braveish, competitors, needed to stay far enough away of the turtle. Apparently in a past life, turtle mania was not a positive experience for either of them. Otterpop did try to run back and bite it and then she had to go on a leash.

Banksy's graduation video.

We're graduates, sort of. This is Banksy's graduation video from her Silvia Trkman class. Pretty much, if I'm not at the barn I'm running around with the dogs in the forest. In this case, not exactly tromping through the woods. It's those running contacts. They're stuck in my brain.

If you follow this link: http://www.lolabuland.com/graduation-rc-december-2015/comment-page-2/#comment-159367
it will take you to the same video on Silvia's site. There's a little "Like" button below it, and if you click it, we have a chance at winning another class with Silvia. God knows we need it.

04 April 2016

Places we go and people we see.

There are some walks we all go on together still. Sedate strolls in shady woods with a friend, and around the block. Forests with no hills. But here's a thing of Ruby, today, this week, this month. She's old. Her back legs wobble and shake, and when the sun is bright it hurts her eyes and for some reason her legs wobble more in the sun too. To walk all the way to the ocean is not so easy for her, maybe she can do it on a foggy morning but the speed at which she goes now, it's not fast.

She needs to creep. And I want her to creep. Sometimes she falls down goes boom if we go too fast for her. And she crashes into the curb. I want her to go exactly as fast as she needs to. The rest of the day she likes to sleep tucked away in a crate or in her special blue chair. That chair's reserved only for Ruby. NOBODY ELSE get to sit there. She gets to have something nice.

Her sniffer works good. She wishes Gary made her pancakes every day, she loves the smell of pancakes and then we cut them up and she even likes the blueberries. Ruby gets the most.

I hated that this day would come, when she has to stay home. But everybody else needs to go, we all need to walk and run. I've taken to walking everyone else down to the tourist dog beach. Gustavo loves it there, SO MANY DOGS! This is his thing. He's an ambassador, a concierge, he's networking and grooving, he's an international DJ and the drinks are all on Gustavo! He runs up and down and pees on sand and no dog isn't his best friend.

Banksy and Otterpop and me go to the anti social end and throw balls. If she has her ball, Otterpop can even deal with asshat jack russells that bark in her face. Banksy doesn't even notice that there's 50 other dogs there, running up and down for balls and mixing it up. She has a mission. She's turned into a pretty easy dog, tourist beach, no problem. Dog park, no big. Walk along West Cliff, not a problem. Some days she runs next to my cruiser, we go down to check the surf.

I wish it was always all of us. I thought maybe this would never happen, the day she has to stay home alone. But it has, and she'll get used to it. I hide treats in her special blue chair, and sneak the other dogs out the back door. I remember when I had to start leaving Timmy, the beginning of the end. I want Ruby to stay with us forever, waiting for us to come home, sound asleep in her blue chair.

Lifetime achievement awards, for dog agility and rap.

Dr. Dre, Dr. Who, and Otterpop.

Doggs squinting in bright sun.

22 March 2016

Team Small Dog explains the Bay Area Housing Crisis that is happening on my street and maybe yours, too.

It's been a while since we've done some splaining, so we got some splaining to do. Have you noticed some of your friends are having to flee from their homes? Maybe to a new home, but sometimes, sadly, to a car or another state, or somewhere we don't even know where.

Used to be, you went looking for a house to buy or rent. You checked it out, see if you like it. Maybe it's in a nice location with a woodsy yard, mature landscaping. Maybe it even has 2 bathrooms in it. Hopefully a good roof and strong walls, doesn't have to be fancy.

Maybe it had an outside deck, even, and is just a short distance from the beach. That would be the best case scenario, if you happened to have enormous luck. Everyone should have a good place to live.

The we had a thing called The Housing Bubble.

You know the bubble that Glinda the Good Witch floats around in? It's like a car if you're a fairy witch and riding a broom stick hurts your crotch. This is not that kind of bubble.

In this kind of bubble, everyone who works in the dotcom makes a million dollars at their job. It's not even called the dotcom anymore. That was last bubble. This one is from apps, I do believe. Or whatever. It comes from the valley of the Silicon, which is a short car ride away. So the dotcom appkins can buy 2 houses if they want. Or just pay a million dollar for whatever house they want.

Even if it was a shitty apartment that already had a family in there, kinda squeezed in and all, but they called it home.

So then they get squeezed some more, into a littler and crappier place.

Like maybe they are all squeezed on to a shitty little piece of wood that now has the cost of One Million Dollars, too, and it doesn't even have a roof or walls, or whatever. That'll be, One Million Dollars and wait in line and hopefully you don't have any pets or didn't want to keep your kids in the same school or even want to stay til the next millionaire comes along to buy this one too.

That's when, once again, everybody has to go, SCRAM. Scrambles for something new, something somewhere else. May the best millionaire win, and everybody else, good luck and best wishes to you on your new endeavor wherever and whatever that may be.