06 July 2015

Here we are at the dog show.

Here we are at the dog show, that's Sunday's Grand Prix run.

Oops, missed it. And Banksy had to miss everything. But Gustavo and Otterpop got to have a best day of beach walk at low tide in no sun, a little nap during brunch, then back up to the trains for another walk around the woods.

We did not tell Banksy. This is what a lot of Banksy's life has been looking like, although she is spending less time in the xpen because she's getting the idea that running and jumping is totally not cool for one more week. The cone has been on more because she's also decided she's ready for those stitches to be OUT. NOW.

She's laying here by my feet in a cone right now. She is most of the time being a pretty good patient. At this exact moment in time, model patient. Some of the time though, she's not, there are times of complete patient of rottenness. Hopefully the rotten goes away with the stitches and this will all be a funny story for the future. Dog birth control, not as easy as you think.

Banksy's life of no run no jump no play worked well for July 4 Weekend, the National Holiday of Loud Bombs by the Beach. We just sat in the living room most of the day with the stereo on and 2 loud fans. Gustavo did the best he's ever done, which isn't saying much, but at least he didn't have a seizure. He stayed in my lap and while terrified, I think having all the other dogs totally not care about the bursting in air and so forth, and the additional loud fans helped.

He also got to run in a dog show Saturday morning pre explosions. He was VERY excited about this and ran really, really fast. Way faster than I, and my whole handling strategy with Gustavo is stay way ahead at all times, so in standard there was right away a wrong side of the tunnel. Because I was definitely not way ahead at all times. There was a great teeter and table, always a bonus. Our new handling strategy also allowed him to do several extra obstacles of his own choice in gamblers for a plethora of opening points. He also did his very own gamble for the close.

I'm running a little better, but I would say the knee still has a ways to go. We'll try again later. It was fun to get out there and run, even if it was somewhat out of control.

Gustavo's friend Kirk carried the drinks in her little orange backpack on our walk. She also brought Banksy a big box of exotic chewies to chew on while cone wearing. We like to walk with our border collie friends. Their people have many good advices for border collie challenges. Banksy would have had a good time. Kirk, Brave and Banksy are all about the same age, and all such different dogs who see the world in different ways. Brave will be spending a year abroad learning to be Welsh. Kirk is probably going to have her MACH and ADCh by the time Banksy's ready to step into the show ring. Banksy and I will keep working on working on things! All the things.

Right now I'm happy she's quietly laying by my feet. All stitches intact. Good girl, Banksy.

30 June 2015

Peace, love and understanding, trying to catch a break with Banksy.

She's been on a training break while I've been working out how to dial down the apeshits. Because they are really not a funny joke. There are apeshits, and there are apeshits, and hers are really apeshit. So do not laugh at hers.

I am trying here. Banksy is a challenge, and in many things with me and Banksy, we are not quite figuring out how best to keep moving forward. So we've been on break, doing some hiking and some swimming and some foundational skills of learning how to quiet one's brain at opportune times.

During this break, Banksy was scheduled to have a fancy surgery of the delicate female nature. Called laparoscopic ovariectomy, a tiny camera pokes through 2 tiny holes of your doggy's soft belly, and the ovaries are carefully decimated. The tiny camera and tiny decimator are carefully removed through the tiny holes, and your dog is good as new in a couple days.

Far more humane and invasive than the old skool spay, where a giant incision is incised through muscle and skin and tissue and the entire reproduction kitchen sink and it's caboodle are yanked out, then the whole thing stitched tight shut. A full hysterectomy, also no laughing matter, and who wants that?

We drove up to the highly recommended vet clinic, an hour from my house, in rush hour traffic full of Teslas and miraculously clean and washed BMW and Mercedes mini suv's, through Silicon Valley ground zero, to the fancy doctor office, where the fancy doctor would use his fancy camera to pull out Banksy's ovaries ever so gently, and return her to me by the end of the day, good as new.

Except here's where we finally caught our break. But not in a good way. The fancy tiny camera scope broke mid first ovary. No picture, no bueno. The doctor all of a sudden working without a net in a blindfold. The only way she could get herself out of that pickle was a giant incision, and pull everything out all old skool.

I was sick. Banksy is now sick. Drugged up and addled and with a huge ass stitch job running up her abdomen. Be-coned and be-shirted, she's sleeping away the day in a crate in a corner of my living room, which will be her job for the next 2 weeks. No run. No jump. No play. No nothing. Do not disturb that scar or the innards that lie inside her on top of it. A teensy San Andreas sealed with some crazy glue on top of the sutures.

So far, she's not happy about this arrangement. She would prefer not to have me or the other dogs very near her. Get AWAY, she has expressed. She is carried down the steps to have a potty.

Wish us luck. This is going to be quite an interesting couple of weeks.

19 June 2015

This little guy.

Gustavo goes along unnoticed a lot, now. Under appreciated, and that's just wrong. I've been having so many troubles with Banksy, and having three easy dogs is something I am hanging on to right now. Not sure what's going on with Banksy, her behavior has taken a terrible backslide down into a murky and scary abyss. We are trying to work some things out.

In the meantime, I am making sure Gustavo knows how important he is. I am very lucky to have a Gustavo.

Gustavo leads the way in the forest. He may sometimes chase a squirrel or a turkey, but not for long and not for far. The other dogs don't chase things, this is true. But it's something I allow him, because he always comes screaming back in when I whistle and walk on.

He's our coyote detector, he comes back and finds me when they're near. I always trust Gustavo. He's a dependable forest creature.

The other day, the asshat neighbor dogs came running towards us out on a walk. They hate Otterpop. I picked her up, and Gustavo and Banksy went and charmed the heck out of them. Little evil Shadow, with her hackles up can't resist Gustavo. And this is a skill he's taught Banksy. Kill 'em with the kindness. So now I have 2 of them who seem to work their magic on funny little mean dogs.

Gustavo's never met anyone that isn't his new best friend. No one. Nobody. He doesn't care who you are. He loves you.

Gustavo's always happy. All the time. Except for during fireworks. Explosions are still hell for him, but the other night when they went off, it being firework season now in my neighborhood for the next month, he was able to stay on my lap and not completely go to a catatonic meltdown state. I think because he has complete trust in me that I will not let anything hurt him.

He just can do no wrong.

He's had no agility for many months, between me always training Banksy and my knee. I decided to pull Banksy from agility class and let Gustavo go back to his old class instead. I run him with not the quickest of legs now, and he doesn't care. If anything his agility's gotten better. He's just happy to have a turn, and the luxury of having a dog sitting waiting his turn quietly, chilling in a plastic chair, makes me incredibly grateful for Gustavo.

During the day, he's decided he likes to sleep under the couch. He stays home with Banksy and is her very best friend.

At night, he sits on my lap. Always. He knows all the words to the Orange is the New Black song. And yes. Gustavo sleeps in the bed.

Gustavo used to have hallucinations. He would bolt out of the woods. I never thought I'd be able to train him. At agility, he'd scream in his crate, and could run away at any given time. He was so cute. But oh, so impossible.

I try to remember how much of a challenge he was, every time I think I'll never figure out Banksy. She seems to be a hundred million times the challenge he was. I try to remember how hard it was for me to train Otterpop to deal with other dogs. At the time it seemed impossible. But even Otterpop's an easy dog now. Pretty much. Same thing with Ruby. Who's beyond easy now, Ruby is actually Perfect Saint Sister Mary Ruby of the Perfect Perfection.

So this little guy, he's helping me remember. Somehow there's a way to figure all this out.

09 June 2015

Banksy is 16 months old.

Here's what Banksy likes to do, she could do this all day long. Every day. Maybe with breaks for a run in the forest. Then a nap on the saddle blanket under my desk. Then a swim in the pond. But not all the way to the middle. If I throw the ball to the middle, she thinks that's too far and Otterpop has to go in to save the ball. Otterpop would never, ever let the tennis ball be abandoned to the pond.

I hope we can do this in a trial one day. It may look like I'm running in the movie, but in real life I move pretty slow. Before we start trialing I'd like to run better. I'd like her poles to look better. I'd like her dogwalk more consistent. I'd like her to be about a million times more calm when other dogs are running. I'd like her call to hand to call to my hand even when the tunnel is right there. I'd like her teeter more confident. I'd like her backside of the jump more independent.

There's a lot of agility things to get better! That's a forever thing. Here's to a lot more forever for us, Banksy.

08 June 2015

There are the ups, then there are the downs.

There were a lot of ups and downs this week.

In one practice I broke Banksy's dogwalk contact, a-frame contact, and poles.

Then I fixed them in 3 other practices.

Banksy had a complete PTSD meltdown at the vet's office and it was one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

But she let me touch her foot yesterday. And I was able to dremel 2 nails today. And she's learned to lay on her rug when I sweep without attacking the broom or staring at the blowers.

Gustavo is perfect.

Except he has itchy fleas and he had to have a bath.

Otterpop is driving us all insane with her barking and non stop manic behavior.

But she swam twice out to where Banksy abandoned her tennis ball in the pond to save the tennis balls.

Also I stuck her in the bathtub with Gustavo and they both stood there perfectly still except for their little dog shivering and didn't try to jump out of the tub.

Ruby is perfect.

Except for when she wanders around and bugs the other dogs with her wandering and does an apeshit happy dance of barking at meal time which drives the other dogs crazy because they're all supposed to sit there quietly on the rug or the step and there's apeshit happy Ruby running around barking and how do you explain that to her?

Banksy did a loud and super slammy teeter the other night at an indoor agility place and got a little scared.

But she did awesome teeters today except for tried a 4 feet on instead of 2 feet on 2 feet off. So I got out a tuggy ball and the 2 on 2 off came back.

Otterpop and Banksy had a kerscuffle in the house the other night. It freaked me out and I thought our world was over and I yelled and stuck everybody in crates, and I thought what have I done? How can we have 4 dogs if 2 of them don't get along?

Everybody has been happy campers since.

The list goes on and on, the list goes up and down.

05 June 2015

01 June 2015

Banksy visits the dog show.

Banksy got to visit a trial this weekend. She's now old enough to run in AKC, although I still haven't registered her in AKC. I guess I should do this. She'll be able to run in USDAA by the end of the summer. Will she? This remains to be seen. Her best frenemy Kirk and most of her brothers and sisters have just started the AKC and are tearing it up in there.

We are on the someday plan right now.

However! She was able to completely hold her shit together and hang out somewhat near a ring. With dogs running. With dogs running that we know, even. That she could see.

Not a no brainer for Banksy. Holding her shit together at agility is not a thing yet. We started out far away, sitting under a shady tree. With a stick of string cheese. Where you could see the agility but it was far, far away. There was also a pond nearby! We did not try to add a pond into this equation. Maybe next time. Or maybe not. Maybe I want her never to know there's a pond near the agility is actually what I'm thinking for now.

We creeped closer. Once we got too close. If you don't know Banksy up close and personal, here's what too close gets you. Extremely embarrassing dog screaming, leash lunging, full blown apeshit going and really scary toy attacking. Is not nice. Is a thing we work on a lot, a lot, a lot.

We ended up just outside Masters Snooker with the little dogs running. Laying down quietly for cheese snacks. Banksy, not me. Bigger dogs started running, and this continued. Me and Banksy were actually at a trial, watching dogs run. People I don't know would walk by and tell her how pretty she was. There are a lot of people I don't know at dog agility now! Since I haven't been there all year. I guess 6 months in agility time is a long time. I'm now like the ghost of agility past.

People I do know walked by and noticed how calm she was. 3 sticks of string cheese calm. Or they didn't notice and just figured she's a nice, calm, pretty, fox dog all the time. This is the vibe we are going for here.

I don't think she was calm deep down inside. I think she was a bundle of nerves. However. She would eat the string cheese. And lay down quietly. So huge improvement. She's been able to do this at home for broom sweeping and vacuuming, which are almost the same as agility but not quite. Those things make blowers on the floor which are the things she stares at and the staring and the apeshits all seem to be connected. So as the staring gets better, so will all the apeshits. She's got to keep her impulses to herself, and this is the thing I'm helping her to understand.

And that's when her dog shows someday will start.

29 May 2015

Beautiful forest dogs, photos by Heather.

photo by the amazing Heather Christensen.

photo by the amazing Heather Christensen.

photo by the amazing Heather Christensen.

photo by the amazing Heather Christensen.

24 May 2015

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes. Take a tour of the field with Otterpop.

Otterpop is on a roll. Maybe being a tour guide could be her next thing. Would anyone give Otterpop money to give them tours? Show of hands.

Indeed. What I thought. Regardless, let's go visit our neighborhood field. To recap, The UC will build a chunk of campus to teach students about biology and conserving the sea here. To do so, they are bulldozing and road building and habitat destroying not just loads of animals who I see every day named bunnies, birds, coyotes, lizards but a walking field for regular old people and their dogs. Who have walked around in here for like 30 years, some of us.

Here's where the goddamn gate will go. Otterpop is rolling her eyes. Otterpop finds SO MUCH IRONY here that her eyeballs cannot stop rolling and might one day just keep going and fall out her ears and roll down the hill and into the sea.

Running fence, running Banksy.

Pink stick at site of a turn in the new road. Here's a quote that one of the big cheese asshats of the project told us, us being citizens at large who are all, You asshats, don't throw the dogs out with the UC water. Of course saying way nicer than that with nice letters and meeting and useless petitions and all that crap. He, who is a big cheese asshat, said we have to make adjustments to better align our actions with our goals for the tangible benefits. All the buildings, parking lots, roads, and people who will use them are tangible benefits. Us meaning, us who use the field now by walking around in it, their dogs, the bunnies, coyotes, birds, lizards, gophers, animals we don't even know personally, and probably even the snakes are who have to align our actions with our goals.

Even the big ass stork birds. He probably doesn't see them because they are only there really, really early in the morning when it's raining out. Got that storks? Start aligning. You will get your slice of coastal prairie, wedged between the parking lot and the mobile home park, and that little wedge will be free from dogs.

Caution tape fence thingies. Don't go in here because it's been graded. There is zero nothing here anymore except dirt before the paving begins, so just move on. The dozers got all the animals to move on already. Actually here's who I saw in there. Some ducks were wandering around all dazed and confused in there.

It's cool. I was all, "Hey ducks! Just make adjustments to better align our actions with our goals for the tangible benefits!"

The ducks just kept wandering around.

Righty-o! Otterpop hopes to continue to entertain you with tours of her field as construction continues. If it doesn't cost me. There are child soldier cops out there with permission to grant hefty fines upon d-o-g-s, and the really strong people proofed fences will be going up next week. Feel free to toss her a bone. She currently provides her services for free, but you know. Sometime you might have to make an adjustment to better align your action with my goals for some tangible benefits. Whatever those are.

22 May 2015

Take a tour of the town with Otterpop!

Santa Cruz is best after dark when it's closed. Pretty much the only time it's nice here. Otterpop can show you where all the drug dealers lurk and then it's time to go to sleep.

How could this be any nicer? Only if Steve Buscemi was here to enjoy it with Otterpop. Viva la Boardwalk Empire of Otterpop. Keep the boardwalk closed forever.

These are some of Otterpop's friends and not friends on the log. Not friends came to visit. They are border collies and Otterpop was made to wear a leash near them because she is like the worse hostess ever. Otterpop the Hostess is like Betty Draper when they run out of cigarettes at the liquor store. Otterpop the Hostess is like Joaquin Phoenix when they run out of vegan sides at the pig roast. Otterpop the hostess is like The MuthaTrucken OIL SLICK MOVING ON SHORE RIGHT NOW ASSHAT OIL SLICKERS. The not friends got on Otterpop's logs. Otterpop was unimpressed.

Lucky clovers! As lucky as it gets when they are all 3 leafed clover. Otterpop will not tell you where this secret clover spot is when she takes you on a tour of the town.

Banksy showed the not friends where the creek was. Banksy is all "I'm a Good Hostess! I'm a Good Hostess!" Border collies. This is supposed to be a river but because of the drought it is a little trickle of water and it's pretty stupid so let the border collies have it. Stupid border collies. Stupid drought. Who needs it.

These are not Otterpop's friends. They are Laura's friends, however. Heather and Tammy came to visit all the way from Oregon in Heather's groovy dog van. They didn't stay long enough to see everything in town so hopefully they come again. No matter what Otterpop thinks.

Just in case you were feeling too happy.

19 May 2015

These are all some things lost and found in the forest.

Otterpop found this friendly rock in the forest. I'm not sure what I think about people who decorate forest rocks with metallic silver sharpies and leave them laying around where just anybody could trip over them. It was in the rock area, so you know, all right.

Another case in point, things such as this ball. Banksy picked this up from behind a tree somewhere and walked approximately 2 miles with it in her mouth. She then dropped it into the spring box, dove into the spring box and climbed out, then became overcome with horror at having to jump back in the spring box to get it, and Otterpop was all, "Heh heh….heh."

It didn't seem right to leave it in there, as I have been grumbling about goddamn tennis balls don't belong in the forest for approximately 1.9 miles, so I fished it out, personally with my long pokey fingers. Then I gave it to Otterpop who carried it approximately .5 of a mile, to where the rocks were, and then last I saw Banksy dropped it in a blairwitch pile and it was never seen again.

Usually we don't see nobody in the forest. This is how I like it and how I like to set up my days to be optimally fantastic and if I do see somebody it's possible that we will all fade into the background to be unseen if we did the seeing first. Which is a little tricky in a drought forest that's bereft of almost all usual foliage except for abundantly healthful poison oak everywhere on the floor.

We did run into a guy a week or so ago who was looking for a specific tree. He was in the completely wrong quadrant and when I tried to start giving him directions to this specific tree, which is a tree of quiet notoriety of which nobody these days knows how to find. By chance he has run into me who knows where all the trees are, and I totally know this particular one, it's easy. It was also about a 2.5 mile walk from where he ran into us, and after a few minutes of me giving directions best followed by recognizing what the trees look like where paths wind in and out of each other like maze snakes, he has realized he has run into a crazy witch dog pack lady of the forest and he's gonna turn around because now he is so lost it's not even funny.

Well, funny ha ha to me. But I didn't laugh out loud. He decided to follow me out, rather than risk further lostness. He was young and skinny and had bad skin and I figured I could take him if it came to that. I told him one of my dogs bites, who was Otterpop and who I attached to me on a short little leash.

To look more menancing. Or whatever.

He asked me various questions as he tried to keep up with me, fast forest walking to the end of my walk which was at the edge of the forest where he'd be able to get unlost. I found that many of my answers did have a witchlike cackle and something like, "Well, back in the early eighties…" attached to them.

Which creeped me out even more than dragging out a poor lost little forest guy.

When he figured out where he was, he flashed me a peace sign, like they used to do in the '60's and he was gone. Off to find his tree. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Dog agility dark dystopian vision-34 moves to assemble the robot army.

I just read in Tammy's blog you can't use verbals. No seek/tap yelling in the future.

18 May 2015

Dog agility dark dystopian vision-episode dos, Drones.

If you ever see us walking and I am repeating over and over in a very quiet voice, "The future is here. The future is here. The future is here," it's because a drone just buzzed us.

Throw tennis balls at the drones. When possible. Or just run.

14 May 2015

As we drift back in time.

Banksy has approximately 40 million videos of all her training at this point. Almost ever dogwalk she's run over has been carefully slowed down and studied and documented for which foot hits where and when and how many feet and how she hits the up and so on and so forth. All handling, carefully studied by me to see exactly how I suck and if this is something I can patch up next time.

I used to sometimes, sorta video the Original teamsmalldogs.

Now I realize, not enough. Sure, it would have helped with their training. But now I just want to see 'em go.

11 May 2015

Banksy does a big girl dogwalk now!

Every week, learning something new!

The bridge in the forest where the trees are dying.

This is where the forest is so dry the trees are starting to fall down the hill. There's only a trickle of rancid water down in the gulch. The forest is bare so you can see all the way through it, to what's on the other side. More dying forest.

09 May 2015

Banksy you are 15 months old.

This is old enough to compete in an AKC trial. I believe that her brothers and sisters are beginning this right away! Since I haven't even registered her in AKC, and since we just learned a running a-frame last week, and since her 12 poles are about a half inch away from being completely closed, and since our dogwalk still requires a start jump wrap exactly 1.5 meters away to get her adjusted 5 stride hit, and since her teeter totter needs to start from a wrap jump, and since we have not done any contact and tunnel discriminations or turns yet, and since she goes totally apeshit at the sight of a dog doing agility still, we will sit out competing for now.

Don't tell Banksy I said that. I suspect she will LOVE competing. She is a full fledged drama queen and that is going to be her kind of drama.

Competing at entry level USA courses will possibly prove our downfall. We've been diligently training on our super hard twisty turny Slovenian euro courses. We have a long ways to go, but the tight backsides and tricky turns requiring a lot of collection are our thing. Big, wide open courses with basic turns, straight lines from speed into the poles, these are going to be a great show for the spectators who like to see some dramatic crash and burn, I predict.

Another thing to add to the training list.

Since my knee surgery, we've just been working on basics that can be done with a stationary handler. Dogwalk, teeter and poles has been the thing for a while. Handling around any type of course is still going to take me a while til I figure out if my legs are going to work.

I still don't even have any idea how big she is and how high she's going to jump.

Everyone that sees Banksy always says, "She's so tiny!" She looks huge to me. Her 25lbs feels like I'm lifting a whale when she doesn't want to jump in the car because she would prefer to stay somewhere and play. Coach Nancy measured her at 17.5" the other day. And a scooch under. The scooch under, if she stuck with it, could earn her a lower height in USDAA than I've been expecting, which would give her a lower a-frame. This would be awesomely rad, but I'm not holding my breath. We will train for 22", and if she ends up at 18", then a super duper bonus.

I guess in AKC she would jump 16" If she could squeak in under 18"? Not sure, have to look this up. Maybe we will do some AKC. That's a whole other universe. We don't really have an agility budget right now, so this all remains something to worry about in the future. For now, I am still dogwalk obsessed. Trialing can wait.

Anyways, happy birthday, Banksy. All this agility talk. No mention that she can actually do a photoshoot stay now. She stood there a long time with everyone while I was fumbling for my phone and looking for Gustavo and finding him a spot to sit on that didn't wrinkle his fur and getting him to look at the camera. He's a high maintenance photoshooter and Banksy stood there patiently the whole time. This, to me, says 15 months. Growing up fast!

Big stump, log fall.

08 May 2015

Close the door and there's the stump.

Some things.

Since we lost our neighborhood field, I've been driving up the mountain to walk the dogs. Since we lost our ranch, we don't go South anymore, those walks have vanished from our lives. Poof. Like a vapor.

Our new life, what little there is of it, revolves around the North. And our usual walk around the field to the bluff, it's as if it was never there, vaporized is a word I am using a lot. For now I've been taking the dogs a little ways up the mountain. I don't know why, but with all the doors slamming lately, I've been heading on to the old logging roads. They're not pretty. They're private property.

The-or-et-ically...illegal. All the trees in there been ground up and spit out at various times since the 1800's. There are stacks of logs in there, maybe not professional cut, that look like last year. I get the sense in there that I could run into someone with a shotgun who prefers that we get out, now.

There's no good reason to walk in there, other than right now, trespassing on a desolate, chewed up forest, snaking around a tangle of steep, rutted old roads and holding my breath to what might be around the next corner, seems like the only solution I can think of.

One door shuts, then another one is supposed to open. The doors this year aren't just shutting with a little click. This is the year there is slamming. Keep your fingers close so you don't lose one.

A thing I have learned, at least. Even if you always think about the part of Reservoir Dogs when the guy cuts off the other guy's ear when you hear "Stuck in the Middle with You," other people might not. Super classic tunes like this, from the time of giant bell bottoms and odd shaped polyester blend tops, can come on the radio at any time now. And cutting off of ears isn't small talk, even if it seems perfectly reasonable to you.

You just dig a way deeper hole when you're all, "You know. Stealer's Wheel. Clowns to the left of you, jokers to the right. And they're slicing off the guy's ear?"

Probably this has happened to you, too. The nice girl you just said this to, in your effort of making banal chit chat during elevator music, to fill a quiet tiny gap in time, now has you marked as potential deranged person who is not who you were supposed to be, disguised as a faded middle aged lady with stains over your wrinkly shorts pockets where you usually keep the dog cookies.

She notes this in your chart.

At least I didn't try to dig out by hunching up my shoulders and growling, "Winter is coming," because I like to talk like Jon Snow sometimes.

I learned already that one doesn't work either.

My knee cap bone rubs on another knee bone, and 3 bones in my other ankle have deteriorated from grinding against each other for so long. Basically tiny little switch blades live in my legs and they are switched on whenever I take a step. This is how it is now. I test drove Gustavo around the agility the other night. Tried out one of the jumpers courses from world team tryouts wearing my bionic leg braces. We ran it twice and he was very happy but my knee and my ankle weren't and I made it around then walked off the field pretty crippled.

The dogs don't really care where we go, as long as we go and as long as we're together. It's not that big of deal to them if I walk really slow, they can go at the pace they need to and I'm always in the back.

"At least I am walking."

This is a thing I mutter to myself a lot. Looking down at the ground, that used to be my friend.

We creep across the meadow together, trying to not look like prey, then once we're in the woods, they can run some. My hope is that one of these days, some kind of good idea is going to hit me in there. How to get a door to open.

So far it hasn't. But I did find a big stump the other day. I thought I knew were all the big trees used to be, the ones that left their mark, but this is the biggest former tree that I've found in a long time. 4 big steps to get around each side, everybody has to walk with me through poison oak to measure it. Another new thing I'm learning. I lost my immunity to poison oak. So far this still doesn't stop me. That tree could have been 300 feet tall, taller than a skyscraper and hundreds and hundreds of years old before now long dead loggers felled it, and pulled it out with now long dead horses.

I have pictures of those guys, same beards as every tattooed checker guy at the market. The loggers have come back to work in grocery stores and ride skateboards down my street.

Just it's feet still left, lots of times those big old stumps didn't get pulled out, so they stayed for their babies to grow up around them, little redwoods ready to get cut again. This time, not by skateboarding retail clerks. Not sure who, now. Maybe loggers are someone you didn't even know that's what they'd be.

I can't take Gary in there to see it, he's on crutches now. At least he's still working. The dogs are the only ones with good legs. Most of them, at least. For now. Things happen to us and we're not usually ready when they do. This is totally a fact I am down with. We're all ready for that new door to open. Many people believe in this as a fact, I know because they tell me this all the time. It's a fact, they say. One door shuts and another one opens. Somehow they have proof of this fact, all the givers of advices, so I'm out there looking for the door.

I can't quite find it, though, this door they're telling me about. Only a really big stump. If I'm supposed to be looking for a stump, wouldn't they have said that? That potential perks me up, because I have mad skilz of stump finding.

One door shuts so then you find a stump? Best I can do. I still got feet, they just don't work so good. I still have a little work. That stump is still there and we know how to get there now. I still got all my dogs. Banksy can do a running a-frame and Ruby can follow me around and Gustavo sits on my lap and I carry Otterpop under my arm most places like a dirty purse dog with ground down teeth.

"Close the door and there's the stump."

Maybe a new thing to remember not to say out loud in public. But you'll know that's what I'm thinking.

03 May 2015

Shit that happens at too early o'clock.

Does this happen to EVERYBODY when it's too early in the morning?

01 May 2015

How the law works over here in our corner of the west.

photo courtesy of the Banksy who is not a dog.

We lost our field this week. It's rotten and it sucks, but when you're not a landowner this is what happens and you can either go down with a fight (see much of teamsmalldog.com circa 2006-2008 from the last time our neighborhood field got took away) or you can just move on.

There was a protest. It did not include looting or setting anything on fire. A handful of quiet, gray haired people walked over from the mobile home next door with some labradoodles and a couple of chihuahuas. In their loose fitting pants and floppy sun hats, they sat outside the extremely clean picture windows of the oceanside meeting room where the ginormous building project and the changes to the animal policy for the field were being discussed and chatted in the sun.

I sat inside and took notes. It was clear in this scenario who would be the winner and who would be the loser. Clear to me anyway. I took good notes just the same.

At some point, a protestor with one of those wicker visors that offer extra wide sun protection taped a poster to the window with easy to remove blue masking tape that said something about animals and nature and people co-existing. She made sure to untape it after the meeting.

They brought water for their dogs in a little plastic bowl, and sat there, just outside, while the building plan was outlined. When it was over, one of them brought in a stack of petitions asking that they reconsider the new policy of no dogs allowed. It was one I signed last week. Everybody did. The squat, sour faced Chancellor of Risk and Safety Services, running the meeting in her shapeless gray pantsuit accepted them, saying, Thank you Ma'am, then probably tossed them into the recycle bin on the way out.

The same Chancellor, who reminds me of a faded military boss, squarely cut hair lined up with squarely set jaw, deployed faux cops this week into the field. Nervous looking pairs of students with police radios and navy blue polo shirts were on patrol, tasked with being who has to start kicking out the dogs.

I could see them coming from far off. I thought I had moved on, but I just wanted to walk the dogs out to the bluff in the field by my house. Not so much to ask. Just this One. More. Time. Because right by my house. And where I have walked my dogs since I've had dogs, since before the buildings, since before labradoodles were even a thing. Since before a lot of things were things.

We stood in the path, taking our time, listening to birds and traffic sounds, watching them make their way up to us. The dogs didn't care. They were just on a walk.

The boy approached me, "Are these your dogs? he asked.

"Are you talking to me? I answered, "About these dogs?" gesturing around me at all four.

Blind and quiet Ruby standing by my leg. She can't see past my leg so that's where she stays. This is her best walk ever. A straight line to the cliff, she has done this walk for all of her 15 years, so many times, in rain and sun and wind and fog. Down and back to the cliff.

At Otterpop who just took a dump. I am holding her shit in a plastic wheat bread bag.

At Gooey who is sniffing some weeds and frolicking alone, the way he does.

At Banksy who is being a border collie and who is coming over now because The People Are Her Best FRIENDS! but then she is off because there are some weeds and some grass and she is over there then she's over there.

"These dogs," he points around, vaguely. "Are these your dogs?"

I approach the faux cops even closer than they approach me. The boy seems nervous, the girl is smiling. She's short, he's tall. How old you have to be to be a junior cop?

"Why do you ask? Because I don't believe we've met. I'm Laura. And you are?"

I stick out my hand. The one not holding dog shit in a bread bag.

The boy does all the talking. He has a lot of pimples and a hair cut that is either really ironic, or it was done like that by someone's mistake. He seems like a nice boy. He doesn't shake my hand.

He explains that he's an ambassador to the police and it's his job to inform people blah blah blah blah blah. It's about the dogs. Today is the day this begins. I listen to his script. I tell them both it must be a hard job to have to kick people out who have walked their dogs exactly here in this spot every day since before they were even born. I smile at the girl. She smiles back. There really isn't that much left to say. We tell each other to have a nice day, me and the girl and the boy. I'm glad they don't have guns. Just radios, that call, who? The real cops that have the guns?

Nobody is going to shoot nobody out here over walking some dogs. I guess. Cops aren't supposed to do shit like that.

It's fine. The bulldozers have already started. There's a big yellow backhoe parked where the grease weed used to grow. The birds sounded sad last time I was there just past dawn. There are roads to build and parking lots to pave and huge sparkly buildings and pathways and stairs and landscaping and labs and light posts and lights and things that this field needs. The dogs, they disrupt the nature, a particular type red legged frog. And I guess some kind of turtle. And native grass. I think these are the foxtails. So they can't be there. But the buildings can.

So then we left and I took the dogs over to the pond down the road and even though it was cold I threw some sticks for Banksy and she had a nice swim. And we went over to the soccer field by the skateboard park, and some gangster kids with a german shepherd watched Banksy and Otterpop and Gustavo do stays and their tricks and run fast after the ball. Ruby can't go there. It's too wide open for a dog who can't see and too much chance for potential mean dogs.

I hope the protesters keep at it. They are a nice lot, hoping that they can save the field for how it used to be. Some of them are living in that mobile home park til they die and that field's their back yard. For me, I'm done with it and a big lesson I've learned by now in my life is don't mess with the cops, even if they're the junior kind without any guns. It's not us that call the shots. We're the ones that lose. We've been told to make adjustments to better align our actions with our goals for the tangible benefits. That's a shitty thing to say, but it's a real thing that they told us. Whatever. We've had to move along before. So off we go again.

Where we walk.

One place where we walk, for a week there was a little orange cat collar with a little orange bell laying there. There was a little foot there next to it, and another patch of something with some fur. It looked a little flat. It layed there for a week or so, little foot and little collar and I always told the dogs to leave it. Sometimes I moved the collar back on top of the foot every time it moved away some. Then one day it was all gone.

RIP, little cat that wore that collar. The path will still be there, though.

One place where we walk, for a long time it was a path that just went from the road down to a cliff. We would walk down it to the bluff and walk back up and we would go here almost every day. The path is in a big field where there's a bunch of birds and rabbits and a bunch of buildings over on the side for the UC. Then one day the UC says, the building is starting for all the new stuff, and all you dogs are getting out now will stay out forever after that.

The UC said it a lot more fancy than that, a lot more bullshit about how all the buildings and roads and new bus lines and loads of people coming on with tractors and pavers and then eventually loads of people in cars and buses coming over forever after that to use the buildings is more restoring it to native grasses than the one little path still having some dogs on it. There's always a lot of fancy bullshit.

RIP, whale skeletons field by my house. No more path to walk on. Last open space in my neighborhood. We'll miss you loads and think of you fondly. A lot.

29 April 2015

How do you train your puppy after knee surgery?

I'm not sure how all this happened, but it sort of did.

We both have a long way to go. Banksy still has lots of learning to do, and I still have a lot of work to get my knee and my weirdo ankle from medium speed hobble-trotting back to fast running.

So that's what we're doing.

24 April 2015

Do you feel a little bit sad today?

Click-n-print. Collect them all! And it's like you're in my brain.

Maybe you can put this in yer phone, a lot of good information. For every winner, there are gonna be a lot of losers and some of these losers might just be you. Don't worry though. I am here for you.

22 April 2015

Four stay numbers and yer friends at Fun From the Start, a Stay you can have.

Stays are a thing. Number one importance is not moving during a photoshoot. Number two importance not moving and going apeshit when the other dogs are running around during dog agility. Number three importance staying on your rug, couch or tuffet when I'm making dinner. And number four importance not moving off the dog agility startline.

These aren't all the numbers. But they are a top four.

Pretty much these are all hooked together. In my stay numbers, some are way better than others. Otterpop has amazing photoshoot and other dogs doing things stays. However she will sneak off the couch prison when I'm not looking. I never did make her stay on an agility startline ever because of the horribleness of other dogs nearby. Gustavo CANNOT BARELY HARDLY stay in a photoshoot. However agility startline, frequently awesome. At least always entertaining. And he hides under the bed when I make dinner usually because he believes there to be awful sounds and the stove makes fire, so that one doesn't count. Ruby does not stay anymore! Ever!

Banksy has worked VERY HARD to have stays. We are getting photoshoots and it is so very sad I have lost my camera and have to use my stupid phone camera for them. We have the rug in my house however this does not translate at all to anyone else's house especially not Laura J's beach house. And the dogs running around stay with no apeshits? Does not exist, whatsoever. A work in progress.

Her stay that is doing goooood? Dog agility startline stay. It's where I've put the value, apparently. So far, is her easiest stay. This is a bright note in the training of the Banksy. Hopefulness for the someday laying quietly on the field not moving or throwing a fit at all when another dog is having a turn. Hopefulness for this in maybe 7-10 years.

For excellent start line stays, if you are wanting an awesome online class that isn't too spendy and is very fun and loads of personal attention once you figure out how to upload the selfie videos you are going to make of yourself practicing your very fun class exercises, you should take Tammy Moody's Fun From the Start Class. Brought to you by the Oregon School for Clever Dogs.

I have been to Oregon and ALL the dogs there had the most awesome agility skills and perfect stays. Tammy knows what she is doing. She will help you! She helped us! Take Tammy's class, it's starting VERY SOON! I think you will likey.

17 April 2015

7 Things You Can Learn, too, if you Train a RDW.

Perhaps you are in my running dogwalk class. We like to saw RDW in our class. It's our very own secret code. We have this instead of a handshake.

Our teacher lives in Slovenia, and everybody has a girl crush on her. She looks like Kate Moss (uh, '90's supermodel gone bad-gone-good-gone-rich reference) and she has loads of dogs and is like the quadruplest world super champion of dog agility. She is nice. She is my most favorite teacher of ever.

Her whole job is to try to teach us how to teach our dogs to run super fast over the planky thingamajig of dog agility and make sure their feet touch down securely in the yellow bits on the ends.

My classmates live in Denmark, Zimbabwe, Austria, Brazil, Serbia, Holland, Luxembourg, Australia, Hungary, Finland, Norway, Germany, Poland, Estonia, South Africa, Sweden, New Zealand, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Spain, England, France, Czech Republic, Peru, Italy, Scotland, USA and Slovenia.

I'm not sure if the Slovenians get to go to the teacher's house for a party at the end.

You take the class by getting a video camera and setting it on a box or a tripod or a tree every time you practice and remembering to turn it on. You have to learn how to plug your camera into the computer and get the movie out and get it in slow motion all clipped up and get it in the internet for Silvia to watch in her computer in her totally adorable house in the beautiful Slovenian countryside. Silvia's job is to sit and watch hundreds of videos of slow motion dogs running across planks every day.

This is a little bit of a weird job but she's really good at it.

So to do the class, you have to make your dogs some planks to run on. No matter what country you live in, you either need your very own agility garden (we call backyards gardens in everywhere else in the world) in your front or back yard, or you have to borrow a garden. Or a hall. We call agility places with walls halls in everywhere else in the world. This is where you'll put your planks.

This is really, really hard. Except for some people that have a really good garden or hall already. Most of us don't so a lot of class is setting up a garden somewhere in a field or on a roadside or near the mountains or in front of some apartments. Or driving to a hall.

Lots of the class is dealing with the garden and the hall issue. Good luck with that.

Once you have your hall or garden, stuff you can make planks out of include chairs, wood, crates, rugs, boxes, plastic stuff, cardboard, tables, sandbags, bricks, blocks, and rocks. Hopefully you have this stuff in your garden! You are gonna get really good at making planks! Because you start with your planks low and it takes a long time to stack up and build a very nice bridge out of your stuff.

Please don't let your planks be too wobbly! Although I have noticed, many dogs in other countries other than mine don't care if the planks wobble. USA dogs may be wobble sissies.

Someday in your future of planks, you will want a real dogwalk. I am very, very lucky to use my friend Kathleen's at her garden! She has a very nice garden with trees, and best of all, with a lovely dogwalk with rubbery skin.

In terms of dogwalks, this is a good thing to have.

So to get your dog actually running on your planks, you will need to be an excellent ball thrower. I cannot even elaborate on this huge bummer of a life skill that I do not have. I have no words. I suck at ball throwing and this fact affects my dog agility training.

With me so far? So far you have had to learn to build stuff, take videos, edit videos, upload videos, and now throw balls. And probably, unless your dog belongs to one of my other RDW friends, Banksy's frenemy forever, Kirk, your dog is a long way from learning to run over the boards with their feet securely plopping down on the yellow parts.

Here is a video example of now this might look:

Yes, this is a 6 minute video of one dog chasing a ball in slow motion over some planks!

I have approxmately 30 of these videos. Maybe more. I'm afraid to count.

You might notice that I never run. This is because I had knee surgery! I will tell you something hard to do. Train a dog to run over some planks when you personally can't run! Not a good idea, I will tell you right now.

Our class isn't done. Pretty much, Banksy has learned to almost hit the yellow a lot of the time but not if I don't do a good job of throwing the ball and definitely not if I don't throw the ball or try to use the red rubber ball instead of the tennis ball and not if I don't put on the rug. And not always with her RF.

This is secret code for rear feet.

She likes to hit a lot with FF.

Secret code for front feet.

She is good at extension. This means running so damn fast yer legs splay out far. Frequently too good. There are rdw remedies for this which I seek daily.

This is not the first time I have trained a RDW. Me and my friend the robot trained Gustavo's. It was hard and took years and it may have made me stomp my feet sometimes and bang my head against a fence post. So I am very used to the sadmaking that RDW gives me a lot of the time. But I am very excited when it gives me the happiness of RF running through the yellow. Banksy is pretty happy all the time because there is always a tennis ball flying around at some point. This is like her favorite thing to do, ever.

Has she learned a RDW yet? Um, no. I think I am actually not the greatest teacher of this, even though I have learned to throw a ball totally better than when I started and have good ideas of building things that stack up planks without anything wobbling.

For now, if you're looking for me, try Kathleen's garden, I might be down there on her field, trying to get Banksy to run her back feet through some yellow paint. There's a good chance that's where you'll find me.

15 April 2015

Because death, taxes, and this.

Here is a list of things you might see if you have all 4 dogs, and you are in the narrow alley, and one of the dogs is pooping:

The skateboarder guy going by with the fast running pitbull pulling him.
Uh oh, look out, here comes the asshat barking shihtzu attached to the tiny grandma's walker.
Oh, and here comes the homeless guy with the 1980's boombox blasting from the top of his stuff!
And that would be a cat.
Coming up from behind is the street washing truck, right up to the edge of the alley. They need to get that edge REALLY clean.
The wild boxer with his balls is also loose again.

It is inevitable. Hang on tight. Cuz ain't nothin' you can do about it right now.

10 April 2015

Banksy you are 14 months old, you Aquarius, you.

For Banksy's 14 month old birthday she stayed in the house with Gustavo all day, listening to reggae then a talk show then I believe alternative world beat jazz. Her new hobby is that she is becoming a stay at home dog because my work situation has had a dramatic new twist that involves, no dogs.

She is weirdly, surprisingly, bizarrely super good at this, so Banksy and Gustavo or Banksy and Ruby or Banksy and Ruby and Gustavo hang out listening to the radio and sleeping on the couch all day. I guess. Not sure what they do. By all appearances nothing naughty's happening. Just dog chillin'. This would have been the last thing I thought Banksy could ever do. But Banksy likes to prove me wrong.

I believe an Aquarian trait.

And Otterpop goes with me. Ahem.

We are running dogwalking it a lot, although I am just walking somewhat faster than before. Banksy enjoys to do things really fast. I believe this is an Aquarian trait. Also to be a control freak, to a large extent. Banksy would like 4 strides on the dogwalk and I would prefer to see 5 and this is what we grapple with, many videos and start jump placements and Silvia consultations and we are working it out.

Banksy may be one of those dogs that breaks the weave poles. She loves to wack them very hard as she barrels through. Banksy no likey the 2x2 method so we are still closing up the channels and off she goes. Banksy is a do-er. Aquarians get shit done.

Due to my no running status she has learned various agility party tricks that may help someday with Gamblers Qs, but may totally screw us all the time as well. Time will tell. Banksy loves agility. She loves it so much that she still has the major apeshits at 14 months old but we work on it. We work on it. We work on it.

She has to wear underpants for agility still, and please do not tell Banksy but she is totally getting spayed in a couple of months. Probably exactly when I can start running again. There is not a lot of fun to be had when you have a girl dog in heat and every place you like to roam involves boy coyotes or boy dogs with balls roaming free exactly adjacent to where we'd like to frolic and play. Every time it's walk time it's a paranoia filled adventure of keeping out of sight of any potential canine type with balls, which is every dog, anywhere and everywhere. Walks are stealth and sneaky and fast and infrequent.

Life is no happy white pants maxi pad commercial for Banksy.

She has no opinion that I can tell, whether the basic black panties are nicer than the pink and grey polka dot ones. There is no favorite. Both look like a dog wearing underpants with a giant fluffy tail sticking out of a hole, and this is not a good look, ever, for any dog in the history of dog underpants. We are hoping this means her growth plates are closing and her hormones are happy and our lives can go back to normal soon.

Aquarians need to swim and there is a big pitbull with balls that hangs out at the pond, so Aquarius, you genius that borders on insanity, you, we will go for a swim soon. Ish.