13 April 2014

The Breeders.

The last time I talked to the Breeders, before this time, was at the 7-11 downtown, sometime in the early '90's. It was after the Pixies broke up, and Kim and Kelley Deal were touring on their own. I think with Josephine Wiggs as well. She wore boots and the Deals wore Converse. It was late at night, and Kelley Deal walked in that bright light ding-ding door, next to the Asteroids machine. Why did we need to be at 7-11 at 2am? I had just seen them play at a club nearby, so I recognized her right away. She was the sister that didn't know how to play guitar. I always wanted to be as cool as Kim Deal (footnote-Dandy Warhols, 1997). This was a long time ago, but I think our whole conversation went like this, we were back there by the beer cooler and Kelley wanted to know where to buy some kinda drug, and I wasn't sure where to send her. I was not helpful to our tourism industry. She seemed pretty nice though. I bet we both had messy hair.

Now I'm talking with the Breeders on the phone. We send each other lengthy emails, and short little messages you type into the message window on facebook. About puppies. Puppies! Litters of them. Not as in the cigarette packs and red solo cups I stuff in my backpack along the trail, but a flock of baby puppies that may soon pop out in the middle of a living room somewhere across the country. Everything's about the litter. When's the litter? Where's the litter? Who's the bitch?

I have to write all this down so I remember who is related to who. So now there's little scraps of paper fluttering around like the springtime butterflies have busted out their cocoons and flown the chyrsallis. I call these spreadsheets and they live in piles on the floor. I ask the Breeders a lot of questions. I think they like answering them. But I'm not really sure. I have probably sent you a message on facebook, because you have a relative. A sister of the mom. A son of the daddy's first litter with the mom from the second litter. The dad's dad was your puppy's mom from the first one, although only seen him on youtube.

Do we say Grandpa when we're talking about puppies? I believe somebody knows an auntie. Ya wanna know how are her hips? There's my friend told her friend who talked to her friend and then all of a sudden I'm talking to somebody about puppies in Canada. I have visited a few puppies a short car ride away. Do I want any of the puppies I can easily drive to in the car? To hold on my lap in person, and see if they like to play with the toy? Of course not. Because I like the future puppies who don't even exist yet that involve airplane rides to far off lands. You know how I got Otterpop? Opened the car door right down the road from our ranch and there she was. A lady dropped Gustavo off at my house. Ruby I bailed out of jail. Before, dogs were who you just ran into and then they were your dog.

Now the idea is, puppies involve cheap tickets on Southwest and rental cars. You are purchasing your next family member instead of picking them up on the street. Talking to the Breeders. Maybe this time a lower chance of meanness, bad eyes, bad legs, bad liver, ammonia in the brain. Who knows? Anything is possible.

Somebody else says stay away from those. Somebody else says stay away from these. I cross my fingers nobody is telling the breeders to stay away from me.

OK, computer. Fitter, happier, more productive. (footnote-Radiohead, 1997). Patch the ears and temperament of this one onto the super drive of this one to the happy friendly this one and the structure of this one over here and maybe it could be black and white spotty at the end of it all and measure exactly under 16". I am thinking about science every day. Order up. Maybe someday, there's a puppy.

06 April 2014

Some places we have been.

Whale watching. Exactly zero whales watched. We see more walking on our regular beach walk on the way to work. There were sticks and it was spring. Don't always have to see what you were setting out to look for to have a good day.

There's our regular beach. There was a tiny bit of rain, for like, one day. We are still in drought. You have exactly one minute for your shower. Hope you're not too thirsty.

An agility trial during the week. I took a couple days off work right in the middle of the week and we went to Dixon for team. And we picked up that elusive team Q. Even though I may have E'd. Thank you team mates of excellent talent and patience. This means Gustavo is now qualified to run in every event at this year's nationals-Grand Prix, Steeplechase, Fancy Challenge, and Team.

Who woulda thunk?

We took at walk in our old walk outside the grad building at UCDavis. Where I went to grad school 20 years ago, and where I took Timmy duck chasing almost every morning with a giant plastic mug of coffee. He'd chase the ducks, and I'd chase him. I went to our old warehouse, and knocked in the door. The students there were just like we were. Nothing much has changed. Except they have facebook. I was just some creepy old former artist in sporty pants walking a bunch of dogs. I felt like a ghost from the future. I babbled to them about Kurt Cobain's death and the forest and manifestos.

One of them wanted to know, did I end up a happy person?

Yeah. I did.

Facebook. We are there a lot now. I am embracing and posting things. Because it is helping me with my new project. Which is I'm looking for a puppy. I have fallen down the puppy hole. All my dogs have always come from the pound or the side of the road or somebody who found them on the side of the road. I've been looking in those places and none of them seem right anymore.

So now I am talking with breeders. And puppy relatives. It's confusing and overwhelming and I have probably talked with you at some point and watched cute videos of your dog. I don't remember now. Who is related to who?

I'm ready to train a new dog. And I want to start with a puppy. And I want a puppy that has a chance of learning to get good at agility with me. I want to do a good job. Future puppy may be the biggest member of team small dog, but hopefully not too big. And I think it might be a girl. And it might not be black. I don't know. I'm trying not to expect too much.

I've been on first dates with puppies in rescue. I have seen a million videos. I can read a pedigree tree. I may go flying away on a plane. And I might have to wait and wait and wait. Hopefully not too long. But I am pretty sure that in my future, there's a puppy out there that's perfect to join our team.

I'll let you know how it goes.

27 March 2014

Somebody needs this little guy!

This little guy is a 16 week cattle dog corgi chihuahua, who knows what. He's been in an awesome foster family in the East Bay, learning tricks and just being an awesome puppy. Somebody needs this puppy! What a great little dog agility prospect!

For more info on him, Herd it Through the Grapevine rescue.

24 March 2014

Danger faces, a primer in teaching a smokin' recall in the woods.

I will confess that the way I have explained to the dogs that nobody chases things that run in the forest, unless it's somebody amongst ourselves doing the running, is that running things are Danger. So this works pretty good if we hear deer or see a bobcat (ok hasn't always worked on bobcat) or a coyote or the worst one, trio of coyote, which is a pack of equal amounts but perhaps unequal life skilz since the coyote trio lives in a rougher neighborhood than us.

I whisper to everybody, "Come here you guys DANGER." When I whisper danger it is a long drawn out hiss, I try to sound like a chainsmoking hundred year old gas station owner who keeps an ax right there in plain view behind the cash wrap. I will cackle if I have to.

This usually does the trick. Danger faces on and we all sit there quiet until we know the deer have passed or while I am using psychic waves to move the coyote and we will move quietly as a unified group towards safer grounds. I use this on all snakes, I assume any snake is guilty even if you were to prove it innocent to me. We use the Danger if we don't know what it was we heard. Everybody shares the forest.

I now know how to orient via a compass and straight lines, using magnetic north and a map, that clearly delineates where the best places are to hide. I have exactly enough knowledge to probably get myself into a heap of trouble if I ever took these skills to genuine wilderness where there isn't a road within 6 miles. I also have learned that the way we move through the woods sometimes is called tracking, but was warned to watch out with this knowledge, because we may be tracking anarchists who have covered up their tracks. Oops. We're just in there walking. That's just what we like to do.

16 March 2014

Achieving success without high quality training.

Hey. Who are these NeverMind Dogs people?

Statistically speaking, you'll qualify eventually.

Like today, we were having this rad standard run. I don't even hardly enter standard. Entered it today for no good reason. Whatever. Gustavo was super fast. Great startline. Got through the hard discrimination, great a-frame, around the bend and a smoking dogwalk. Laid down on that table and stayed put for the whole 5 count. Super awesome teeter totter. Rad! Flew into the poles and then we were almost to the end and then I went off course.

Oh well. Whatever. Nevermind.

Amazing MC Standard. Except for the part where he got scared of the chute and ran a couple circles around it.

Oh well.

Oh yeah. And his MC Jumpers had 2 wide turns that cost us a .3 or something second time fault.


Awesome double running dogwalks in the gamble opening, he was flying. We racked up a lot of points. I got way out of place and screwed up his gamble. Otterpop got this gamble no problem, but I was way the hell somewhere else when the buzzer went off so she was over time .3 or something seconds, like her little toes were just about to go thru the timer but they didn't.

Never mind.

11 March 2014

Walking to the old growth, where everybody knows your name.

Hola Otterpop! You look full. Did you just fill up with shaved porcini, rocket, and brioche crumbs on chrysantemum blood sesame sausage with sunchokes? Cheddar can be added, but not just any cheddar. Fiscalini cheddar, that somebody's mom smuggled in from a secret Marin cheesery that's run by some realtors on the lam from Nevada. It's not clear where the vegans stand on this topic. Vegans are so 2011, so the rennet and blood may not be an issue.

It's all about priorities.

The cheesery is a speakeasy. Where you need to know the password to get your cage free, free range, range rover organic spirits. Terri Gross let it slip on NPR, and I'm pretty sure New York Mag was sprouting it out all over the internet as well. If you have soft gray hair, a soft gray voice, and a Patagonia jacket, you already know the password. Whisper it to your friends, woven baskets laid gently across their arms, gliding through the farmer's market. See them? Just beyond the banjo guys.

Banjos. So 2012.

Here we are in yoga class. Down dog. Everybody goes, down in the gulch. Everybody in our neighborhood queues up to get in, waiting for the teacher with the tattoos on his feet. Everybody in our neighborhood has a tattoo. Not necessarily on your foot, though, right neighbor? Have you noticed this on the Westside? We all got the same haircut in 2013.

Everything used to be so hard. We had to teach our dogs to jump in the barn aisle over brooms, throwing hunks of shepherd size milkbones into the air. Now it's all online and everyone is doing it. This makes blending super easy! Use colors that match your outfit. Remember that it's Bohemian to wear white past Labor Day these days. Use the smallest brush, and apply thin coats until it appears luminous. Smudge with a kleenex. Jaakko between 5-6, or just use the effen post turn.

Click the confirm button. You are done.

10 March 2014

Stickerpacks, because who doesn't need these?

You know what you probably need? A stickerpack to stickon yer dog crate. Or something. You can stick these everywhere. Six bucks gets you a 4 pack, red and black.

Go get em' tigers: Clicker for stickers.

02 March 2014

Oscar Party Live Tweets with Hashtag TeamSmallDog.

Ruby is live tweeting the Oscars. Live blogging is so 2012. We are over it. Blogging is for receding hairline old ladies wearing progressive lenses and muddy pants. Hashtag CreepyPeopleMommyBloggers. Also, Ruby is water proof. It is something about her fur. Impervious to the damp, no matter how wet it gets. Hashtag GlampingWhileDry. Let it rain on the red carpet, we don't care. Hashtag TheWetLookJaredLetoHair.

To ensure public safety, homeland security will be shutting down Hollywod Boulevard from La Brea all the way down to Caheunga. Do not even try to walk there. The limos will pick you up in Santa Monica, somewhere south of Lincoln Boulevard. If you miss the limo, you will need to walk. Even if it's raining. Get a move on, everybody. Oscar time is here and we have a long ways to go. Hashtag DampJaredLetoManBun.

It's a hard choice between the closed toe Christian Louboutins or the powder-blue laceup combat boots, luckily everyone loves an ingenue. Hey! Somebody get those dogs off that log. Who are you wearing? Hashtag JenniferLawrenceTotallyWins.

Commercial Break. Ryan Seacrest has a smoke and Kelly Osbourne fluffs up whatever needs some fluffing. Purple Hair! Juice pulp! Everybody needs more juice pulp. Kale is the official food of the Oscars and Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires. Hashtag BeyonceIsAVegan. Hashtag EllenIsAVegan.

Is Romy and Michele's High School Reunion nominated? Because that is what Ruby selects for the win. You wouldn't think she would go for this kind of movie, but she totally does. Everybody going on and on about Mathew McConaughey losing all that weight and so forth Hashtag NeverWearsAShirt but Ruby has cast her vote for Lisa Kudrow. Hashtag BlondeHairBlackRoots.

Otterpop stars as Ellen Degeneres in the biopic mini series about her tumultuous relationship to Portia De Rossi, their eating disorders, puppies, and Porsche collection in their Beverly Hills compound. Otterpop tolerates the sweater vests and sensible men's shoes better than you'd think. She didn't see 12 Years a Slave. Nor Nebraska. None of them. Just Gravity, which was like the worst picture and she's not voting for that one, no way. She has to wait for them to get to Netflix. Otterpop would like to host the Oscars one day, but she didn't even make it as far as Santa Monica Boulevard. Didn't even go to the dog show in the rain. Hashtag CanineFreestyleTakesOscarsByStorm.

23 February 2014

Too far down the hill for Ruby.

If you walk all the way down to the river, the paths there have names. Dead Camper, Sick and Twisted. The names are there for reasons. It's a steep hill, walking down that side of the mountain. Nobody is supposed to be there. But we like picking our way down that hill, in the shade.

Gustavo doesn't care. Doesn't matter if the path goes straight up or straight down. He is running and he runs up and down and up and down and up and down some more. He never slows down, unless he thinks a certain tree is for certain a dead person. But as soon as he can be convinced to pass by the spectre, he's off and running again.

Otterpop doesn't care about steep either, but if I see her start to limp some, I tie her on to me. Always carry a rope. She'll carry her personal tree branch and run every up and down with Gustavo if I let her, and then her leg starts to dangle and I worry will fall right off.

I have no means to re-attach this. So sometimes she has to stay tied on to me.

Ruby and me walk. But if I pick the wrong path, such as down to the river, and I see her start to hobble, I know it was the wrong path for the wrong day. I myself fell down twice, not sure how I thought Ruby would make it down in one piece. And if we're all the way down, we have to make it back up. Dogs have 4 wheel drive, so if one leg stops working, they have 3 more to climb back to the ridge.

Ruby would rather 3 wheel it than ever let me carry her, so that is how we go. Slowly back up to the top. A long, slow walk. When we get home, she carries on if I try to touch her, so I watch her hobble slow back into the house. Don't try to touch Ruby when something is broken on her or she'll hide under the bathroom sink. I get out the hospital crate, and throw in a blanket, and in she goes. Sometimes, it's very hard to be Ruby. We sure do hope she gets well soon.

16 February 2014

Something spooky, creeping through fashion week.

New York fashion week requires bravery. You have to set a grim look over your mug and walk like you know rustic. You are rushing between venues, Rodarte right after Marc Jacobs (plaid, plaid, plaid) and then there is a tree branch there that possibly wasn't there and possibly actually isn't even a branch. Is it a twig? Is it a limb? A limb of a person? A dead person? An undead person? Could it be the coyote that chased us the evening before, causing us all to have to double back the long way as it was growing darker, because it started trotting towards us all up the hill and then we all had to run and what if that is what the twig is going to do?

On closer inspection, it appears that it's possibly a rock. It is not making a sound. It could have been a rock but it probably isn't so there is quaking. If he was wearing boots, cooler, edgier, Alexander Wang boots in a vegan leatherette that are a staple for a timeless wardrobe for fall, they would have been quaking. Quaking most definitely, but without the right boots it is frozen standing in one place and not moving a muscle. Because of spookiness. It is fashion week and it is spooky and there is a danger every single place you look.

Fall 2014's forests are bare from leaves and everything even sounds different. Tinny, not muffled, because the sound travels straight across the bare glens like an arrow shot towards your forehead. The subway runs under the sandy wash and the noise it makes is excruciating, like a vole screaming out it's last breath when the coyote snaps it in two. The boney deer that are still barely alive creep around, them and the teenage runway models with their hip bones poking out, they think we can't hear them but we do. Just the other day one of their bones poked Ruby in the eye, was sticking out so far. Now she can't see nothing out that side. If a hungry puma jumps out of the tree, she'll never even know it was coming.

Otterpop runs back down to inspect and confirms he's crying wolf. She's no dummy, she right away knows if the invisible problem is a predator. Spooking at a dead leaf provides shape and movement, structured inside a boxy silhouette. Everybody goes hungry in the drought, unless some storms come in. A GIRL CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY JACKETS, that's what she tells him, but Gustavo still doesn't move. Not that she would handle the situation any better if it wasn't a false alarm. A badass can still be a knucklehead. Otterpop is the one who would stand up to the coyote, in jewel toned metallics and a leather wrap around belt. This would be a mistake. She has a little bit too much meat on her bones.

Eventually, Gustavo makes it to the next venue, but it's the same old problem. Another twig, another branch, another rock, all potentially going to kill us all. He just wants to live. It might have been the Stella McCartney houndstooth. Surely smells like coyote pee. Eventually we had to leave him there and move on, but as soon as we got to the top of the hill he unfroze, ran by us, and was back into the lead again. Jason Wu was showing asymetrical fox pelts, and we didn't want to be late for that.

Double axel toe loop camel fakie air facing stalefish.

Gustavo takes the slopestyle with his double.

09 February 2014

Sunday at the Turlock USDAA, where we actually weren't there.

Here we are driving to Turlock on Sunday morning. When the alarm went off, the idea was to leap out of bed and jump into the car for a 2 hour drive through a potential rainstorm arriving in time to run jumpers without walking the course and staying til the end of the day, perhaps huddling all damp and clammy under somebody's tarp if the downpours did indeed occur. Except that, when the alarm went off, I decided to throw $59 hard earned dollars of entry fees down the toilet and go back to bed and wait for the light, to go and see what had happened in our forest from the rain.

The dogs liked this idea. A rainy dog show just sounded like a lot of wet dog car car car wet car. The forest has streams now! Newly fallen tree rootballs! Tiny ponds with quicksand! The rain is back and walks are an adventure. Maybe not as exciting as finding taxi cabs in New York City with dogs in the snow, carrying massive blue ribbons the size of dog heads, but probably nearly as good.

I have these boots now. The outside has the wet look but they are dry and warm inside. Even when you step in a quicksand pond. I never knew there were shoes such as these. I got them when doctors number one and two were telling me my foot was broken and doctor number three was saying it wasn't. During their fight, I went out and got some boots and carried on as if nobody was stabbing my foot with a knife all day. The final doctor answer for the win, which I have indeed paid for, doctors who love to keep on billing forevermore, is that part of my foot has nerve damage with tendonitis mucking up the other part, and that doctor number two was a nearsighted dummy. I don't really care because my foot feels better when I pop loads of pills, and these boots are a super nifty item for walking around in the rain.

A thing about winter is that what is up comes down, maybe on top of our heads. Whole trees fall down, old friends we used to know as standing only the day before, now laying down across the path. Even with no wind. The downers are pine, madrone and bay, I can identify exactly 7 breeds of trees with my bare hands. It was dry, then it was wet, and the trees don't know what to do except come crashing down to the ground. We keep our eyes up and ears open and hope this doesn't occur at the very moment exact we're walking underneath. An online quiz of which David Bowie Are You says that I am a Ziggy Stardust. This is the David Bowie who is never crushed with a limb.

It sounds different up there when it's wet. We listen hard, listening for a downer. The streams are moving, everything has a drip. Nobody minded missing the dog show, not hardly at all. Maybe a little. But not all that much.

Maybe not even at all.

08 February 2014

Did you see the dog agility on the teevee?

We ended our rain walk early to get home for the dog agility on tv. The Westminster AKC Biggest, Fanciest Dog Show of all had agility for the very first time. We raced home and dried off and waited for the basketball game to be done and the agility to start. It took a while to dry off. Good thing for basketball overtime. Once you're walking in the rain, when it starts raining hard and you're soaked through, then you might as well just keep walking.

Two of our friends were the winners of 16" and 24"! They had awesome runs. I was pretty sure they would win. They got to fly all the way to New York City in the snow to compete. Hooray for Dashy and Roo!

I'm not sure how this event worked exactly. Ashley and Stacey had beautiful runs, but some of the other runs were less inspired. Dogs couldn't find the backside of a jump right off the a-frame, a lot of off courses, a lot of slow runs. Some of the runs were a little bit sad. They reminded me of Otterpop when she didn't want anyone to see her. Did they get scared in the finals with the tv cameras and crowds? I saw Carrie in a pantsuit smiling at everyone going to the line, maybe telling them don't be scared of the big hair lady in a blue dress who will come and stick her mic in your face at the ending, when you sit in the big black chair. Or was there some kind of scoring that involved sending a variety of breeds into the finals? There was incredible dog diversity in the finals, I think this is an AKC thing, Afghans and Malteses and a naked dog with little hair wristbands, but they didn't all look to me like dogs that would be in a final round to win a big silver cup. There was a need for speed at the Westminster.

It was dry though, in the agility building of the Westminster Dog Show of New York. Dry and heated and everyone wearing matching Purina Dog Food shirts, running on the fake turf. Maybe they rode in cabs. Here in our drought, it's raining, a drop in the bucket but rain nonetheless, the inside of my car smells like moldering dog again, the special car smell of winter.

So do I drive in the rain out to Turlock, 2 hours for agility in the rain, smelling the smell of wet dogs? Or stay home and just walk in our forest instead?

02 February 2014

Another team day at USDAA.

Steeplechase this weekend, Gustavo loves steeplechasing.

Gustavo had some good runs this weekend, and some not so good. I teamed him with some very consistent friends, and our name was Teeters for G-man. Ironically, he had no problems with teeters this weekend, even the one he had to do in the relay. He's so random. He did have tremendous problems doing weave poles all weekend. Go figure.

Our team didn't Q. Shit happens to us all. But even without the team Q, he is now qualified enough to compete in the Nationals. Which will be held next fall just 5 minutes away from where this trial was. If he gets a team Q before then, super. If not, no big. We'll do the other stuff and be very happy to be able to compete at all. That is a pretty big achievement for a little guy like Gustavo.

Grand Prix with guest appearance of teeter totter.

I ran Grand Prix with all rear crosses. Not sure why that happened other than some shock and awe over a successful teeter which snowballed into an alternative handling universe. But we still made it around. There were a few very hard courses over the weekend, a Team Snooker, MC Jumpers and Team Jumpers that had dogs and people wiping out right and left. We wiped out big time in the snookers, but barely squeaked through the jumpers courses. Some screaming and hair raising moments with Gustavo barely hanging onto those poles.

His stress always has to blow somewhere, so this weekend it was blowing out the poles. Sometimes it's the no teeter, no way problem. Sometimes it's running away to find the nearest meaty bones. By the end of this weekend, there were no startlines and no weave poles. 5 runs a day is way too many for his brain to handle, we need to go a little bit kinder and gentler for Gustavo. I see it as a giant victory that he was back to being friends with the teeter totter. Not that I take this for granted, or expect that this will necessarily occur again.

Gustavo is a tiny blue moon, orbiting in his own solar system. On the days he comes in for a landing, I am grateful to have him there for however long he wants to stay.

29 January 2014

There are no bees in winter, they are supposed to be asleep, a story by Ruby.

This is not really a story by Ruby. But she was walking with me, and we were the ones that didn't mess with the bees.

This is one of our forests. In the wintertime, the skinny little creek that we cross on the wiggly log is usually a very loud and scary river. Nobody is allowed to go down to the river in the winter because if you are a dog and you don't totally get it that it's winter and you decided to leap in, you would DIE. But looky here. The river is a trickle and we can cross it on the wiggly log where usually we couldn't even cross, even in summer. This is our drought.

When we walk, me and Ruby actually walk. This is known as going for a walk. If you were to ask Gustavo and Otterpop about going for a walk, Otterpop would start barking and Gustavo would start spinning in circles then once you were in the forest they would start running up the path and back to us on the path and up the path and back and so on and so forth. And sometimes off the path to a tree or up the hill or down the hill or to the creek and so on.

Me and Ruby would just be walking. Looking at trees and counting the rings. See the wide rings? A good rainy winter and the tree, it did grow. See the skinny rings? Not so much rain. And then one winter, the tree, it did fall down and somebody ripped through it with the chainsaw and now we can count the rings and measure it's width.

We are having a super skinny ring drought winter and I am not even wearing a jacket. Ruby is cool having tree science. Because it's going for a walk.

So when we were walking today Otterpop and Gustavo ran down to this tree. It's a big old growther with a tree cave. Also known as a goosepen. Big enough to hold some calves or a towering stack of giant Costco toilet papers. Hard to tell in this photo but it's one of the biggest ones in the forest. And while visiting it, Ottepop woke up the nest of bees. Or wasps. Or hornets. If it's a bug with teeth I'm calling it a bee and so is Otterpop. Next thing I see, here goes Otterpop running by me 100mp with a bunch of bees attached to her back. And there goes Gustavo.

Lucky we're heading back down towards the creek and by the time me and Ruby get down there, Otterpop's on the other side looking pretty miserable and running in miserable circles of miserable. No sign of the G. I yell at Otterpop, "Come to me, I'll help you!" and she comes swimming back across and puts her muddy pathetic wet tail dragging shaking self into my arms. Gustavo shows up then too. Lucky he didn't get eaten by bees like her because he would have been in the next county by now. He was just going for a run with Otterpop. Ignorance is bliss. And then Otterpop had to walk her miserable pathetic muddy wet tail dragging self all the way back out the forest and she lives to see another day. Another day when probably, she will soon find herself some more bees.

Otterpop is always the one that the bees go for. Every single bee tree. Bees that usually sleep in the winter. Now they are all awake.

Jumpers Champion Gold

Gustavo doesn't win a lot of awards. Agility is a whole different thing than it was with Otterpop. I don't keep track of his Qs. It's just not something I need to notice with him. Sometimes award things come in the mail, and they are always a surprise. This one was. That is 35 clean runs for the little guy. This makes me very proud.

27 January 2014

Walking round my block.

So the other day I was walking down the street round back from mine, where the plastic shingled horder house is, with it's own giant shipping container set up in the yard next to the toilets. We walk on that side of the street because of the big spotty dogs that slam into their fence at the house that has the refrigerator inside the front door and all the ivy, next to the clipper ship house. Just up from there, past the bars on the windows house where you hear all the yappy dogs going ballistic from wherever they're holed up, is the peely stucco house with black sheets duct taped up for window coverings.

This is where it's ok to cross back to our side of the street. A couple of windows are draped with old dark green and red plaid sheets, sealed tight with more duct tape. That house leans a little bit to the side, and someone has built a fence out of, well, stuff. Some boards, some other things, pieced together to barricade in the residents. There's a truck pulled up to the front door, resting on the weeds.

Over the wall, maybe standing up on some of the stuff, is a little blonde child with a ghost white face. She's staring at me and I stare back. We do this for a while, until she wins and I look away. Because look out for cars on that corner, that's the spot where the fedora guy tried to run me down the other morning, driving his big 70's car up on the sidewalk, flashing me a peace sign as he peeled off and drove down towards the beach.

 There's a man behind the ghost kid holding a shovel raised up over his head. As I get closer, I can hear him bludgeoning something. You hear that
and I can see the shovel rise and fall.

"You're killing it! You're killing it!" wails a voice from another kid that I can't see from behind the wall.


The blonde girl doesn't seem that concerned about the execution by shovel that just occurred. She's just watching the neighborhood go by. I am pretty late for agility. Or maybe I was going to wash the dogs that day. They've been so dirty. So I don't stop and be neighborly, and just walk the rest of the way home.

26 January 2014

How to have Friday night for dog geeks.

I remember a lot of Friday nights where me and my friends would sit out back of the bar. I always had the fewest tattoos. There were some tables out there and you could bring a dog, and the tamale lady would come make the rounds with her cooler. The fog would be coming in, but there would be beer and tamales and a loud jukebox inside. Then maybe later it was an art opening somewhere and then another bar. It would go on til late. Always, there were dogs.

Now a Friday night is my friends and I rent a fancy indoor dog place in downtown San Jose. Always all the money goes to dog agility. We set some courses and practice international handling, just in case we need to go do some runs in Finland or Spain or Hungary, somewhere across the ocean with cobblestones and fewer vegan dinner options. I am the friend that never actually goes to Europe for dog agility, but I can practice like I do at least. There's coffee instead of beer now, and we don't practice too late, because we're old and tired and have a long drive ahead, and some of us get up for work the next day. Always, there are dogs.

The little house in the thicket.

When we are out walking, we are usually walking on the path. Or we are running.

Or something. It isn't out of the question somebody climbs up a tree.

I have walked these woods for a long time. I am their cartographer. I like to think I know all the parts. Every so often though, I do notice what is maybe a path that maybe wasn't always there. Maybe I don't even discover it. Maybe it's one of the dogs sticks there nose there and, behold.

Because I am who I am, we need to know exactly where every path goes. This is how you learn the forest. It's the only way I know how. You just start down and move carefully and see where it's headed.

Even if it goes into a thicket. The manzanita thickets are pluckery and if you get stuck in one on a false track, it is hard to get back out. Sometimes this is where the paths go, they belong only to rabbits and foxes who are very short and I may spend a good deal of time crawling out on hands and knees to escape the thicket.

This time though, I knew from looking at the sky that there was a big tree way in there and that the crawling might take us there. So through the thicket we went. Once you are part way there, you might as well keep going, even when you realize it was probably a bad idea.

It's hard to see beyond the big tree, but yo, behold, it is a tiny house there. Somebody lives down the rabbit path in this thicket. Somebody who is ok to crawl to their home. I guess. I didn't see no human tracks, which is a little creepy when there is a residence and no sign of the resident.

It always scares me to find a camp. This one was somewhat permanent, there was real wood used to build some black tarp hobbit walls. It's back there in the dark. I didn't stay long enough to tweedle around in the f-stops in hopes of a better shot. Because I was crawling backwards to get back out of the thicket the second I saw the hut. The dogs were out just as fast as me. This is our good plan when we run into a camp. Scissorshand chainsaw creepy crawlers could live there who eat little dogs and girl scoutish types alive. Me and the dogs never have had to discuss this plan, we just all know that get out fast is the very best thing to do. We are the best anti-neighbors that an anti-neighbor could have.

We did indeed make it to the tree I thought was there, just didn't know it belonged to somebody already. We will stay out of this thicket. But it is now noted on my map.