31 October 2007

You were wondering why I was in the street holding a pumpkin?


It being October and all, we finally had a good real horrible earthquake. Like we wait for all October every year, and it never happens. Unless it is last night!

I was conveniently located under the open old West bar shelving that I had built a few years back in a moment of assuming we will never again have an earthquake with loads of wine glasses and plates just over my head. And they all started rattling then they kept rattling and then they kept rattling and then my legs felt it. Genuine earthquake! Not a warning! Not the dryer rattling the shelves! Or a giant bus! So what do you do?

You panic apeshit panic! Because you remember what the earthquake is going to do which is kill us all while collapsing the house into a heap of splintery debris! So you need dogs and you need to run where it is also dangerous-outside. Forget duck and cover. I need air around me in an earthquake is what I have learned over the years of too many earthquakes.

So I am calling all the dogs as I am running to the back door-not very far if you have been in my house-and one dog cannot hear or apparently FEEL the earthquakes. Timmy is still laying on the floor, in the kitchen, conviniently located to falling wineglasses and plates in the form of impaling shards of glass. Which I should add at this point, are not falling, but that is besides the point. Because the earthquake in my head is different than this actual earthquake. The one in my head already has the ceiling collapsing!

The small dogs all ran to the back door with me, either freaked out by my panicing or the actual earthquake. One of them was not freaked out but being a good dog and coming when I called and I can't remember which one it is. That one would ge t a medal but all I know is it was small and black. Two seemed very freaked out. Timmy is just laying still in the middle of the kitchen, sleeping. Being incredibly brave, I rush back into the kitchen (which in reality is about 2 giant steps from the back door) and valiently SAVE HIM (again, in my mind, the ceiling is collapsing and we are near death) and grab him and run back to the back door.

Where it stops shaking. So I figure we have time to get to the front yard where it is clearly SAFER, fewer roofs and no Giant Not Completely Installed Skylights (oh-you THOUGHT WE HAD A FULLY INSTALLED ROOF???) and no threats of danger out there and neighbors who will also be freaking out at our near deaths.

So through the house we dash, I am carrying Timmy, we are dashing fast to get to the front door (about 4 giant steps from the back door) before the shaking starts again to kill us all. I fling dogs out the front door. The girls across the street are already out in front of their house (they have never even been in ANY earthquake-it is a good thing they can hear from me how One Day They will Kill us All and it is good to get out of our houses into the safe street under Power Lines and potentially falling trees and chimneys. Yes, I am the neighbor you definitely want to spend some post earthquake quality time with) and we have one obstacle still in our way.

Gustavo is completely freaked out by the Halloween Pumpkin Gary has placed on our front porch. Billy the farmer with only 2 fingers due to the fireworks accident gave it to Gary at work. It is on our porch and Gustavo is totally freaking out ala Laura freaks out in an earthquake at the pumpkin. However when I freak out at an earthquake, it is in a way designed to Save Us All and get us out of the house. I never freeze and bark, at least I keep moving. Never stand on the porch and bark at it as if it will be scared and run away-for godssake it is a pumpkin you smalldog bastard, get off the porch! Apparently the last time Gustavo had been on the porch, no pumpkin. Now the next time he is on the porch has been an earthquake and now the dog thinks pumpkins some evil caused by earthquakes? Happy f&*king Halloween to us all is all I can say.

So now I have to also pick up the pumpkin and carry it because the damn dog is not budging til the pumpkin makes the first move and that is how we spent last evening in the front yard for a while, me, the dogs, and the pumpkin.

Final damage report? Um, nothing even fell off a shelf. At all. The internet said a 5.6 earthquake in San Jose-near Power Paws! I reported my findings on the USGS website-they ask us to! I am happy to tell on the earthquake. We must bust them all.

30 October 2007

Super size her Super Q.

Ok, let me tell you about a dog game named Snooker. It's a strategy game, you have a certain amount of time to get a certain amount of obstacles done, the ones at the end in a prescribed order, and the ones in the beginning in an order you pick. You want the most points, but you don't want to run out of time. It's a little stressful. Each obstacle has a point value from 2-7, which also corresponds which the order you will do them before the end of the whole fiasco. Besides the points you get from them. Still with me?

To make it harder, there are 3 or 4 red jumps out there. You have to do one of those before you do each thing in your opening sequence. You could do all 4 IF you think you have enough time. They are always FAR away from the higher point value obstacles. So you have to really plan out a crazy strategy good. Let's make it even more complicated. If you take an extra obstacle in there, you are whistled out. If you knock the bar down over a red osbtacle, go to another red. Unless it was your last one! Then go on.

It's enough to make people crazy. Watching Snookers runs is just insanity out there, people doing totally wacky things and their dogs just going bonkers with the bizareness of it all. Personally, I love Snookers. It's always helpful to go at the end of your class and watch-did so and so who ALWAYs wins get whistled out anywhere so I could throw in a 6 instead of a 7? The 7's are all weave poles, you know Ruby won't win on that one unless someone else messes up somwhere, which happens all the time in Snookers. Why is everyone so more extra focused on winning? Because in the Masters Level, you don't just need to qualify. That would be too easy. You need Super-Q's. Which means you basically win or come in the top 3 dogs or so if it's a big class. It's a percentage. A teensy, tiny percentage. And if all the dogs are doing all the 7's, then you have to do it that much faster even or hope the fast dogs get whistled out somewhere for an error. In all Ruby's bunches of Masters Snooker Q's she still does not have a single Super Q!

So at the CPE trial a couple weeks ago, I had Otterpop try a Super Q strategy. Just for the heck of it. I didn't put Ruby in Snookers at that show, she got to sleep during this. It involved leading out across the whole ring, running over the a-frame, running across the whole ring, running back over the a-frame. Then running across the whole ring and surprise, running back over the a-frame (can you guess what the 7 point obstacle was here?) She thought we were nuts but she ran fast and flew over all those a-frames before flying around her closing sequence. Otterpop not only aced it in under time, but she was the only dog in the whole show to get the Super-Q getting score of 57 points. Of all the big dogs, all the high level dogs, every single dog. It felt extremely excessive while we were doing it, after watching all the dogs go for more modest point selection, but I wanted to see if it was possible, since when else are you going to practice getting a Super Q? You go Otterpop!

29 October 2007

Don't forget to wave at Timmy!


This week we're going to try and get Timmy's med adjusted to make him a little happier. He isn't so happy now. He lost pretty much all the hearing he had in one fell swoop. His cushings is acting up and he's disoriented. He can't figure out where the door is, so I know he has to go out when he just stands there at a wall staring at it.

He perks up when you go and pick him up. Since he can't see so far, I wave at him a lot. Hello Timmy! The reason I look so haggard is I stay up with him in the middle of the night a lot, find him wandering, put him to bed and lay on the floor with him for a while so he isn't scared. I think his new life is a little scarey for him. Maybe it's like when I got him and we lived together on the packing crate for a bedroom in the corner of our studio. We didn't sleep nights then either, because around 3am every morning the janitor shuffled thru the buidling and rattled his keys and opened up the broom storage locker outside my studio door. He would get out the broom, and go have a cigarette in the front of the studio, then lock it up and move on. He looked like a demented ax murderer and we were too scared of being busted for living in there to show our faces out there. Timmy would bark at him every single night when he heard those keys and always did have a thing for guys with keys on a big chain. I don't think the janitor ever heard him, I am pretty sure he was deaf. Or had aspbergers or something.

I realized why me and Otterpop turned so fatty fatty 2x4 don't fit thru the kitchen door. We were walking so slow. For the longest time, we still all walked together. All 4 of us dogs, then when I got Gustavo all 5 of us. And we've been walking slower and slower and shorter distances and shorter distances and driving places like the beach. So now we all go on a teensy, tiny walk around the block REALLY slow that is perfect for Timmy and the smallest members of the team are like jumping off the ends of their leashes they are so put out from being slow, then I take them back, distract Timmy with a bowl of food and then go off on the race walk with the others that makes us skinny maybe in a few weeks and them feel all right and exercised and potential cyclocross dogs with abs and leg muscles. Until I started doing this, I didn't realized how slow I've been walking to walk Timmy speed.

So you know. I'm doing all I can without being too invasive. He has to get blood pulled this week but the benefits should far outweigh the needles if we can get him remedicated right. His vet Kathy has a little girl that rides with me and is one good doc. I just try to let him think his life is as normal as possible, give him as much pain meds as I think he needs, and sure don't grumble about not sleeping nights anymore. I just don't know how long he has. I hope a whole lot longer. Every day we have Timmy is a good day.

28 October 2007

The PA was blasting Nirvana and such the Whole Time!

We learned about a new sport today, the sport of CycloCross Racing! Me and 3 out of 4 Team members, who are never going to be a bike team. The closest we got was running quickly under the barrier without disrupting any racers to get a better view of the racers, most especially reader Tash who was racing with her Team Velo Bellas who have the very cute pink cat logo costumes with matching bikes and hats. It is SO MUCH COOLER than dog agility except without dogs! Everyone there was stunning and trim and buffed and drinking beer and little matching sunglasses with their sporty outfits! And young-no gray hair there, because people with gray hair would actually pass out from riding the bikes, jumping off them carrying them up hills-steep hills, jumping back on, riding fast down also steep hills, turning and doing it over and over again for many laps.

This is a different bike race on a track but what a good picture of Tash!

They practice very hard for this sport. This is like dog agility. Except their practicing involves getting up at 5 am and riding bikes up mountains for many, many miles before work. Dog agility, not so much. They have a race circuit with little canopies set up, and people go every weekend to places like the Central Valley for these races. You pay to enter and I do not think you win money. There are sponsors. I think Tash has sponsors. No one sponsors Team Small Dog! Maybe if we got up at 5am to practice. Not so much. But there is beer at the bike races! No one offers us beers at dog agility. And many bike racers seem to cross over and have dogs-many dogs there. But no bike racers ever at dog agility?

It is curious. It is like paralell universes, but better costumes and refreshments and leg muscles and abs. I would not be able to wear the bike shorts, I am afraid. Perhaps the racing jersey and matching sunglasses? I lost my sunglasses a week ago. I do this all the time. I think the matching ones are not from Target? I think dog agility works better for more slow moving people. I never considered myself as slow moving til I watched Tash run full speed up giant hills carrying a bike not just once but for 7 times on all her laps. I may be slow moving. I only ride a bike slowly with dogs in the basket looking for dolphins and such out in the water.

I showed up there in a dog agility costume including green shoes. No one laughed. We had been to a Fun Match right before, which is like a practice dog show. Being sloppy. It was in Hollister. Me and the dogs felt sloppy. Not enough rising at 5am to practice. Sluggish and fat? No one offers beer to us on the weekends, yet still sluggish and fat. We stayed at the Fun Match just long enough to get in some runs, tune up some contacts, de-sloppify. A couple people I knew were there tuning up for the Nationals, and then a lot of people just starting out.

There were people starting out in the Cyclocross race. Tash was lapping them. I felt sort of bad for them. They looked tired and sweaty. I get sweaty at dog agility. But not as sweaty as them.

The dogs liked just walking around and not having to do anything like a dog agility course. There were sticks on the ground that they were chewing. Lots of walking around slowly looking for the best vantage points to watch the Racers. Not locked up in a crate like a boring dog show! I did not have to go work or do runs. We enjoy spectating is what we learned! And we are involved what I never before thought of as a lazy sport, but now I think I do. Cyclocross is possibly the new brown. Now just how to figure out to get them all to bring their dogs to dog agility?

27 October 2007

A Public Service Announcement

So in a nutshell, you know Lighthouse Field and Its Beach have been in a tumultuous battle involving lawyers and State Officials and politicos and neighbors for years. It's ugly (huge lawsuits! lies! freakouts! have you seen me yell at the mayor on community tv! for years!) and basically we want to still walk dogs there and people have spent thousands of hours doing Community Activisim to try and keep this together. Hey that's Lighthouse Field on the home page of Team Small Dog even! I dropped out of the Civic Duty to my Neighborhood a couple years back due to going insane from the insanity of it all, but it's still on the chopping block and last ditch efforts are being made now to let people still walk around there with their dogs off a leash. Because starting Nov. 15, they have to go on leashes or big fat ticket for you (hey 4 tickets for me! wow!).

So if you don't get all the emails from Friends of Lighthouse Field and don't know about this one, here you go-email this info to info@folf.org. They are looking for responses from LONGTIME Field/Beach users-over 10 years.

Full Name: ________________________

Phone: ________________________ (optional)

City of residence: _______________________

How many years have you (or your family) been using Lighthouse Field or Its Beach for off-leash recreation? ______

Please give some details or stories, especially about off-leash visits in past decades. Say a bit about why this is important to you:

Thanks in advance for your information and responses! If you know somebody else who used to enjoy the field or beach with off-leash dogs years ago, please forward this email to them and ask them to respond directly to info@folf.org.

26 October 2007

Share the Burden of the Wanted Advice!

There has been a topic request!

Be a Pack Leader But Don't Be Bossy and Fight with Your Dog Because That's Not Being Her Friend and She Doesn't Like It and Then Refuses to Touch the Target

Bratty dogs! Some dogs get so wound up they become brats. A lot of time they like to do this in class when everyone is watching! Or at the dog show. Then they don't do it at home. Then you tell everyone this and they are sort of like, well whatever. It is sort of like kids. I personally do not have any of them but my nephew took the truck away and made the little boy cry at day care! He has been labeled bully now and my sister weeps for this fact and then gets more stressed out the next time she takes him to school and then he takes the truck away again! Although he calls it a maquina. He is so cute.

OK, but sometimes I think the dogs sense your need to have them hit that target NOW and then they decide they will not do it. They are just ready to do the next self rewarding thing and hitting that target is just not on their list today. I like to just put that dog away til another turn. I have lots of dogs to rotate when I practice and if someone is not up to doing it the way they have been shown all this time, and they have CLEARLY been demonstrating all this time, they can miss a turn. If that is the thing they want-a turn because it is so much fun and after a turn you get a frisbee or the ball or a treat. Missing some turns can be highly motivating. Then the next time just go to that thing, one jump, then the a-frame or whatever it's happening on, they HIT THE TARGET, pull them off that course and go PLAY because you have to be super highly clear that they did the right thing. Go on and do one more obstacle, you BLEW-your-chance-baby to show your dog the path away from the dark side!

This only works with dogs that do clearly know that job is hitting the target. I think the dog of the topic requestor here does know that. Remember, just like you say, the dog will only do agility if she thinks you are a friend and not a mean girl!

Also that is a lovely sequeway into part two of the topic request. Which I will preface with, because of the Above issue, it is good to stick with fun matches and trials you don't care so much about a Q, because you will be less attached to Finishing the Course. At the beginning level, dogs don't get it that the dog show is important to you because of your POINTS and TITLES and perhaps you even want to win a BLUE RIBBON and a FANCY Q ribbon! OOOOH AAAAH!

So the dog does something great, you barely acknowledge it and move on to the next thing. Their first time in this new and stressful place, and they do something Fabulous AGAIN and you just go on to the next thing because you are so excited you are doing so good! And perhaps you will win!

So you miss on a lot of training opportunities, which in the long run, forest for the trees big picture scheme of things are VERY valuable training opportunities. WOW you did a contact at your first dog show-I am running you STRAIGHT out and playing FRISBEE! It is like a friend present! Like a friendship bracelet or a beenie baby or a hand sewn lunch bag or a dog wallet!

I can say this one from experience having a teeter bailing, judge barking dog that should have not been having to perform that teeter in the ring on my time, not hers. It took a while to undo that, of just heading in there, doing 4 things and a teeter and running out which was my second training phase and worked great. People would be either-aghast-YOU OnLY Did 5 things and She was So Fast You Will Not Get a Q! Or, What Good Training Idea! We missed out on some Q's. Big whoopie doodle. The dog has no idea what a Q is. I don't ever pick up ribbons so she doesn't know what those are. She just knows frisbee vs. no frisbee.

We even do this with Hobbes. Even though he is just a handful of Q's away from a LAA Platinum, (something like 5 gazillion Q's) if he goes down on that table and has had a bar in the beginning of the course, I pull him and give him a giant bowl of dog food which he loves. If he's clean, we go on and he gets the giant bowl of dogfood at the end. His table thing is the whole thing of why I get to run him, and he is a big super star of agility and can still have a serious issue.

So reader Mary asks, "And please advise which I should select (ONE ONLY):"


1) Go to one day of USDAA trial in Turlock in November, on basis of Q'd 7/10 classes at recent ASCA trial.

ASCA is a whole universe away from USDAA. Very, very, very different course style and no ability to train in ring if contact missed. And much, much different vibe of wanting to win and Q. I would highly advise hold off on USDAA! Unless you luck out with a generous judge, novice level courses can be way more challenging than a masters level ASCA. Really. But wow big congrats on all those clean runs at ASCA!!


2) Go to two days of Advanced Distance Seminar and Gamblers Seminar with Jim Basic somewhere in Petaluma (someone's backyard?) in November that costs $200 plus maybe Motel 6, and it says "dog should know Left, Go, and Right" and your dog is a little sketchy on Right [geeze, who isn't???).

It's at Connie, Otterpop's team lady's agility place in Penngrove-she teaches up there. Jim will do it again at his house soon, he loves doing seminars. Wait til it's at his house. Cheaper! I am always one to find the budget way to do the agility! I love a bargain!


3) Go to CPE trial over Thanksgiving Weekend, so you can evaluate BAD FRIEND POST firsthand, and also avoid all potential Thanksgiving family fun (which usually involves doses of un-fun and probably gaining back weight you lost), and which will remind you of 30 years ago when you were twenty-five and rode horses in Elk Grove.

CPE is a good place to start-more similar to ASCA but you cannot train in the ring. I would warn that the winter shows there are shoved into smaller rings to fit in the covered arena and can be tight for novice big dogs who don't turn tight yet. I am going here on the Sunday of Thanksgiving, will think about if way to fit Arial in my car? You would fit. It is the extra dog...I would NEVER miss family fun for a dog show!!!! But your family fun may be everyone screaming at eachother and then a dog show would be nice and you can listen to all the ladies talk about dogs instead for 3 days!



4) Just go to ASCA trial in Santa Barbara where the really nice people are (i.e., they think your dog is wonderful), who will probably get you and your dog interested in sheep-chasing on top of Agility, when you are done teaching in December and not stressed out, but maybe involving another Motel 6 or else a really cold tent, and remember that's a really long time not to get to run around a nice grassy course in the daylight, instead of a disgusting dirty arena in the nighttime or Dee's grassy field in the nighttime.

I think ASCA other fabulous place to start, especially with your dog because everyone loves her there! And more especially from the training in the ring and open, flowing course design. Yes, they will bring you to the herding world and you will start driving to places like Lodi where the sheep are and get your own long bamboo stick! These may become your people! Also Santa Barbara is nice but that is one long drive now, there is lots of traffic the whole way to Santa Barbara!


4) Pay off a little of enormous credit card debt.

If it is enormous start paying now due to the cost of dog shows and gas to get there! I have had to become a dog agility teacher to offset the costs of the dogs! And once you get addicted to the dog shows, whatever flavor you end up with, it is like crack and you will not pay the other bills to enter the dog shows. And sleep in your car then you're going to want a bigger car to fit your stuff in and then a new bill of car payment and it is the downward spiral. You will start start to see the clean cut, pastel blouse wearing equivalent of crack whore at the dog shows. The dogs get a new toy and handmade food and the dog mother is living in someone's garage or something trying to pay for all the dog shows! You will see a lot of the hardcore full time dog show-ers are either retired, or have super high paying professional jobs they can take fridays off of. Or are professional dog trainers Everyone not in that category I belive scrimps on many things to make it to all these dog shows.


5) Pay you for this advice.

I have so much advice just spouting from my big fat snotty snob mouth at all times I just love to hand out the burden of unwanted at inappropriate times so having people actually ask for the advice is a blessing from Oprah.


I think my final pick is either the ASCA or the credit card and go to a lot of fun matches til the next close ASCA? There are 2 in a row this month!

25 October 2007

You are going to love this one, lovers of dog shows.

Next week is the REALLY BIG dog show called the Nationals. It's the USDAA Nationals. It's bigger than Nationals-it's actually a world event, with teams there from all over the world. We're not going. One reason is, we really don't want to go. You need to take a whole week off work-it's in Scottsdale, and it starts on Wednesday and goes through Sunday. So it's like a week long vacation except it's at a huge dog show where you are running once or twice a day against the best teams in the world. It is really expensive and nothing like being in Hawaii or Booneville or other places where vacations generally take place. Fun! Both dogs are actually qualified to go in Grand Prix, Ruby is also qualified in Steeplechase. Neither on Team since we never run Team since it's a 2 day thing. Those are the only things you can be qualified the year before to run in, and you try to also qualify in the regionals to get a bye into a higher round. We never did that since we weren't going and $$$ to run tournaments in those regionals.

It's like a tent city of dogs everywhere, you walk a course from like 7:02am til 7:12am, then have an estimated running time of 4:47pm or whatever. It's in a giant, Indio-like horseshow grounds with like 10 rings running at once. Your crate area is like a 20 minute walk from the ring. A water costs $8. It's sort of like an Indio (the really big 6 weeks of horseshows near Palm Springs. We used to go to that one.)

But the glory if you win. Ashley and Luka, Ruby's nemesis until she moved to Performance, have won the $10,000 Steeplechase there. (There was just no way to win against Luka. Period. Nobody can win against Luka. Unless Ashley messes up, which is rare. That's why I started taking lessons with Jim-Jim can you help me win against Luka? No. Ashley takes lessons with Jim too. He's super nice. He just wins by like 10 seconds no matter what. He is a True Agility Rockstar. Ashley please never move down to Performance where I can at least sometimes win.) Other people I know have placed in the big money classes. But you need to be Really, Really Good to make it into the finals.

Hobbes is going. Rob is taking all 3 of his dogs. I told Hobbes last night to win the Grand Prix. There are some really super fast dogs but Hobbes has the edge of accuracy in Grand Prix runs. I don't think he's fast enough to win that Steeplechase. He has a good team, so he could win at Team. I got Hobbes a good luck present. It's a horse rope to use for a leash and frisbee and some treats. Rob thinks I am crazy. Hobbes ran great last night, but actually not super duper fast. I think he is saving it up for next week.

So I have both dogs running a team event in December, trying to get a Q that could help send them to Nationals next year. Would I go? Most of the year, it sounds like what an expensive pain in the ass dog show to go to. The week before the Nationals, and during it, I always want to be there. We'll see. See if we get that team Q in December. Maybe someday. If you want to follow the Nationals all next week, because I know all of you LOVE following big dog agility events, I'll start putting in links to the results and play by play info you can get from the USDAA website.

24 October 2007

I have been a bad Friend.

I think I was kind of mean about CPE the other day. I am feeling guilty. CPE, I didn't mean to be mean to you! In many ways, I love you. Like I love Otterpop's stumpy legs, like I love my raggedy cutoff shorts that are 8 sizes too large. You may be sort of stumpy and cutoff and large but you are still my friend! But I am a mean girl and said mean things about you, my friend CPE. I want to apologize for that. But I think it's one of those apologies that has a BUT in it, which Dr. Phil says are not real apologies but the Fake Ones.

I started CPE for Otterpop. The low level courses have no teeters and are easy and only 6 weaves. I think for beginners, it is fabulous and super fun and a great way to start and get Q's and not get discouraged. I had fun with Ruby there, and she moved quickly up to the top level-she's a level 5. I think that is a Scientology level too? If we keep going, even just sometimes, she will probably have a C-ATCH before her APD (she will never finish her ADCh since I'm keeping her in Performance for keepers now). Take that TomKat Cruise-what level are you?

But there is some bad, bad handling in the CPE. And the weird, random games seem to encourage bad, bad handling. And at the higher levels, you still see some bad, bad handling. There are good handlers too, and good dogs there. Don't get me wrong. But it makes me sad when I see bad handling from non beginners. I expect it from beginners. You have to learn. But then you are supposed to learn and learn to do things well. Not just keep doing your bad handling and getting Q's through magic and moving up?

I am like this with horses too. I am a big fat snotty snob. We take the kids to "A" shows and start them in the short stirrup ring there. I don't go to the B shows. Bottom shelf. Not Buck Owens. Forget schooling shows. Don't mention Fox and Horn to me because I will automatically recoil in horror. Bad riding. Bad horses. I can't watch. It makes me quiver with the willies. We went to a "B" rated show this summer because it was 5 minutes from the barn. Oh so much willies happening there, even though every single one of my kids was champion of their division. But I get the same willies working the ring at the dog show when it's the CPE.

I am like this with everything, being the big fat snotty snob that I am. In the artist days, I wouldn't do open studios due to the silk painters. I wouldn't have the art show at a crummy gallery. It had to be cool. In the graphic designer days, I wouldn't take jobs that were from grandma's trying to open cookie businesses that i knew would fail or from realtors or strange dotcoms. OK, that isn't true. I worked for some strange dotcoms. But I am a bad person for this snobby attitude, I am afraid. It is like providing bad customer service. Isn't the yoga supposed to be helping me with my poor attitude? And be nicer to everyone and have a nice day?

Not that everyone in the USDAA is so super great, the dominion of the dog agility super stars. You see some weird shit there, and then there are things like the freakout at the gate lady and some stomping and griping. But in it's defense, my haughty friend USDAA, I like to learn and I learn there by watching the good handlers. i feel like a neophyte wet behind the ears rascal sometimes still when I make it into Steeplechase Finals. And then I can go practice at CPE so next time I go to USDAA I am better. Am I just a bad friend? Sorry CPE, am I just using you? To get in with USDAA who maybe doesn't even want me anyways? Hello Dr. Phil do you see a mental illness problem here?

23 October 2007

Focus focus focus.


Oh my god, I was graphic designing and dealing with Timmy and I didn't realize Mary needs to read this before work and how late am I now for work? That is not good customer service, something I have been working very hard on in other parts of my life and we need Mary, she is an important reader, I believe one of possibly 8 or possibly more? Hello readers, weigh in some, my web stats says you are out there but I do not see you!

Timmy is having a bad week, I think he lost a big chunk of hearing, has some ranges but a lot seemed to go at once and he's not handling it well. There are probably other things too. I just hate this part. I am just really committed to keeping this dog happy as I can as long as I can. He's not seeming happy this week and I can't figure out why. We are trying to figure out what makes him happy. It might just be some treats and tiny short walks down the block this week.

Dog number 4 aka Goose this week, has let's just say gastro intestinal issues the last few days and so I am making custom blended rice food for him and Timmy right now while I'm also trying to get those files to the printers, the UCSC girls scheduled for their riding times ("I can ride Saturdays and yesterday..."-a real email quote!), the lunch made and we usually leave the house at 9:30 on Tuesday and good god it is 10am.

A real email quote from my realtor, paraphrased: It's a great time to buy! How about this non suitable for horse property one in Bonny Doon that the price dropped down to 900k...She believes that houses on the westside sell. Yep dream on in your realty world.

My mom is leaving messages about the fires. The fires are not near her. I am not sure why she does this. At least she calls!

I have a new hobby called the health drink for breakfast! I am not skinny nor healthy yet dammit. It has soy protein in it and soy milk and flax seed dammit and I want to be size 4 again. I have a lot of hobbies! There is a tv show on that was on yesterday (I am learning from the UCSC girls!) and it involves a reality family with like 10 kids and they are all toddlers and we watched it for a few minutes and the parents are just stepping on toddlers right and left in the kitchen and there is running and screaming and Gary is like, good god, this is just like our house! In terms of square inches, we have just as many dogs per sf as they have toddlers in their square footage.

Focus, focus, focus. There is no focus here. Sorry Mary! Go to work now!

21 October 2007

The blue crate is kind of like their green room.


So, while everyone who is anyone drove down to Madera this weekend (the 3 hour drive) to the USDAA trial, I dorked out and drove up to Elkgrove (the 2 hour drive) for the CPE trial.

CPE is to USDAA what the "B" horse show is to the "A" horse show. What the Old Navy Jeans are to the Lucky Brand Jeans. The Kia to the Lexus. Poison to Bon Jovi. Bottom shelf to Top Shelf. You get it.

But my dogs can be rockstars at CPE. Not only win all their classes (ok, one of Otterpop's wins included a bunch of faults and no Q because the class was small and they all had more faults) but rack up giganto amounts of points because I will try anything, since I just don't care how I do in CPE. Of course, I excel there way more than USDAA, possibly because I have no weird head trips there and just do it. And the courses are easier and it's just easy to be confident since the competition is a little easier. There are still some great dogs and handlers there, but there are also a lot of dogs who make it higher levels, somehow, somewhere, when they just don't look like they should. Easier scoring.

Ruby won every class and had some crazy fast times and crazy huge amounts of points. She did not miss a step, except for one weird freakout in a weave pole entry (all her poles were super fast!) which I think is because a dog had PEED there several dogs before and they didn't clean it all up. She hit the weaves and then did this like freaky flyout thing i have NEVER seen her do, which was like recoiling like she does if someone barfs in the house. Like someone has been BAD here! I was very, very proud of Ruby all day, she even came through with one late in the afternoon run during her sleeping off the morning time. She likes this venue, she likes their arenas, and she liked the weather. I took a lot of risks in her runs and each one paid off. Each of her wins and Q's was well deserved and with a time I liked and points that we worked hard for.

Same with Otterpop. I even tried a Super Q move in her snookers, which was so totally unneccessary for the points against her competition there, but will be in USDAA and why not practice? She was great. She rocked all three "7's". No other small dog attempted that one. She had one bobble on her last teeter, but that was after I was just drilling her over teeter after teeter after teeter, so I think she just was F*&k You-ing me on that last one for that. She ran like a demon all day-the fastest I've seen her in a trial.

Which is a good thing since she has been invited onto a team for this December Team Event. I teamed Ruby up right away with a friend, but put Otterpop's request into the agility universe and it was answered by a really good team that really seems to want her. I disclosed her sordid past of judge barking and teeter bailing, but they still picked her. Getting picked on a USDAA team is sort of like a popularity contest of good dogs. People want the good dogs on teams and not so much the bad dogs. Otterpop is popular now. Who would have ever thunk.

So they won big because maybe it's because I just don't worry about CPE. Like I do about USDAA. Homeless guy with fiddle to Buck Owens. It is possibly a psychology issue of my mental illness? And I make my dogs screw up and give them the curses? Or it was the weather and the nice dirt? Let's try to shock me out of that whole thing before the big team trial in December and just run em real good.

20 October 2007

You tell this story to the lady with Lila.

If you know a lady who lives on the Westside, maybe in her 50's, with a dog named Lila, maybe you tell her to read this. She's kind of a shorter lady, a little dumpy, I dunno, basic Santa Cruz lady in her 50's. Doesn't ever look like a nice and pleasant lady, but then, neither do I usually when I just want to walk my dog in peace. Lila is a black and reddish brown, shepherdy mix dog. 40lbs or so. Prick ears, not floppy, going little gray. Probably around 10+ years old. A basic family dog. Looks like is probably a good dog. Usually.

Maybe about 6 or 7 years ago, I was walking with Timmy in the dark, on West Cliff. The lady, who is probably a nice lady, I dunno, I've seen her in yoga class, I've seen her at the store, was walking with her dog way behind her. Her dog was off a leash, mine on. Hers rolled my dog, attack style and I had to pull it off. I yelled at her, "hey lady, your dog just bit my dog, stop walking!". You know what she said to me? Or yelled from way up ahead.

"My dog doesn't bite. Lila, Come On!"

I yell again, "hey lady, your DOG just BIT my Dog!"

I yell again, "HEY LADY, YOUR DOG just BIT my DOG!"

In the dark, her dog nowhere near her, and she just knows that her dog don't bite. That lady was just gone. She wasn't coming back, she wasn't buying my story. Maybe I got her to yell her phone number at me, in case I was gonna bill her for any vet bills, I don't remember. I just remembered a lady in denial and definitely no apology.

Timmy wasn't bleeding, not that I could tell in the dark, but he was shaken bad. It was an episode. Off she went, just like that. She is 100% sure that her dog just did nothing. She couldn't see it, that's for sure.

For years after, I see that dog walking in the field with her. Never with her, always way behind. It had never attacked Timmy again, but I also always stepped in. It always vibes him out, postures itself, and he submits by stepping way out off the path to make space for it. I don't say nothing. Why bother. The lady is clueless, I can always intervene.

Last week, it did attack Timmy again. It was with a young girl and a toddler in a stroller. Maybe this lady's daughter and grandkid? She was freaked, and it was an attack. Drew blood on Timmy, although I didn't know this til later and got him home. Not bad, but bad enough. I was walking into the field, it was way ahead of her, and it went straight for Timmy and rolled him up against a log. I had to scruff it, which is dangerous to me but what I was going to do, scruff with both hands, one hand on it's collar, and kick it in the ribs to get it off. Do I need to mention Timmy is 15 and blind? A good weak one to go after, is how some dogs see it.

I went nutso on that girl with the stroller. At first I thought it was the girl from up the street on National Street, who has a very similar looking dog, they live in the big Pagoda house. It is always out and charges my dogs, although has never done anything on that scale. She has a toddler too, and walks out there. Then I am looking at the dog and realize it's Lila, just with this girl and not the lady with dark hair. I wasn't real nice about it, and she kept telling me her dog has never done anything like this. Which I know is untrue, and the owner probably does, but that's neither here nor there.

I was loud, I was mean. I told her you better watch that dog. I was mad beyond belief when I realized it was that dog Lila and not the one from up the street. The poor girl with the baby probably had no clue, shouldn't have took it out on her but I didn't even know if my dog had neck punctures or not.

Today, with the owner, the lady from West Cliff years ago, it walked by and tried to go off again, I stepped in between so it couldn't get near Timmy, and it went for Otterpop who has no problem defending herself, she snapped right at it's face and I stepped in and that diffused it. But the owner had no idea, she is, like she always is, walking way ahead, talking with another lady. Nice exersize walk with the dog. When I yelled at her that her dog went off on my 15 year old blind dog last week, she wouldn't turn to even look, gave me a brush off hand gesture and ambled on. Very rude, very brush off flickery little hand gestures, and very in denial that her dog does this and she DOESN'T EVEN KNOW.

So if you know that lady, you get her to read this. She has no clue. That dog is getting worse, and my dog is getting weaker and if I am not right there, it's a situation that could eventually turn into mauling my old dog next time or the time after. I know dogs are like this. They're dog, they see things different than us, all wild kingdom working it's magic in suburbia. The big issue here is that this lady truly has absolutely no clue and in fact likely, truly believes her dog is a saint, can walk way behind her and she is never going to see what it does. And every time it rehearses that behavior, it gets stronger until one day, I can't pull it off until it has put punctures in one old weak dog.

19 October 2007

Wardrobe Essential Number Three-The Athletic Shoe


Timmy can't even look at them.

Tim Gunn and Carson, we have a wardrobe essential issue here. The footwear issue.

In any given day, I walk and run through wet fields, beaches, waves, wet grass, mud, dirt and streets. That's before I even get to the barn! For work, I have my paddock boots. They work on horses and off horses and you just get new ones a lot. But the footwear for the other part of the day has to have tready soles, waterproofedness and feel nice. In the perfect world, where Carson is selecting my clothes and buying them for me, they are also cute!

I have tried and tried for the cute factor in the footwear. No matter what I do, I strike out. These ones come in the color called grass. Usually if grass is the color, we think it might be cute? Racing stripes? Grass? Boy are these things ugly. But they have the "gore tex" special fabric that means you can step in the water getting the tennis ball and your feet stay dry the rest of the walk home. The tready soles (these are for adventure running is what zappo's shoes.com says-that pretty much sums up my life I guess) so you can run out and do your front cross really fast and not FALL on your ass (see notes from Dixon trial and Hobbes's standard run a few weeks back) and the racing style that says, these feet run fast and I am like Sporty Spice but even sportier.

I had another pair that was red, and in 3 months the special strap (no laces on these high tech babies-special straps!) broke and they got a hole in them. So I got these ones in GRASS for free and how embarrassing is it to walk into a store or anywhere where humans may look at your feet in them. I am trying to be responsible and sporty and good footwear wearing but running type shoes, especially with the big treads just cannot look nice. I like my old Frye harness boots. Those are good footwear. And slip on Vans in navy and my Fluevog high heels. But they are not going to help me run fast and dog agility is all about running fast. Unless you are the most kick ass trainer who can teach the dog to do the agility while you are just sitting there in the plastic lawn chair with a mai tai and flicking your finger about and the dog goes there. Yes, I thought not. (Although i did try to send Hobbes out about 70 feet in a gamble dare and almost did it, then Rob did sit down in his plastic chair and sent him the 70 feet. That's why Hobbes is his dog and not mine. He was not drinking a mai tai at the time though).

18 October 2007

If you were born in the Earthquake year, now you can vote.


The mutants just like to be piled up all the time.

Besides just being a regular Wednesday yesterday, meaning dirt agility day after work, it was also earthquake day! Now I don't even remember it til after it happens and I read about it in the paper. That was a long time ago, in 1989. I had the biggest freakout meltdown of my life which caused me to have to move out of the state to the desert. A very earthquake proof desert. Now I never even think about them, until we get a tiny one and everything shakes and I freak out just a some and make sure we have some water stored in the garage. That's been a while. I bet we don't even have any water stored right now. And I had that open, western bar shelving built to hold all of our breakable things some years back. Back to living in a non earthquake proof bubble.

Now that I live in a bubble, I am ready for all my dishes to come flying off that shelf next time one hits. So be it. Lots of small deers on the top shelf with antlers that can impale small dogs I guess. I always grab dogs and run outside when it shakes.

Last night was just a mess at agility. I was knocking bars with Hobbes, throwing Ruby off course, sending Otterpop around to back sides of jumps. Hobbes was barking, Gustavo was in the car barking, Otterpop was barking (Sister Mary Ruby just sits and shakes when everyone is barking-a true hypersensitive) and the dogs were just in general, out of control.

Luckily it was cold and damp from rainy days, so we won't take it as a sign of earthquake to come, which is what I used to do to the point that it made me insane and I got the great plan to flee California. That didn't last real long. I spent most of my time in a studio right by the giant Arizona State football stadium (hello marching bands and hot dogs grilling on my doorstep!) with a nutty artist next door that thought he was Anselm Kiefer and burned tar indoors just for fun and I took up hiking with drug addled hippies and cleaning houses. The guys from the Meat Puppets lived down the street. But it just didn't work for me. I did like hiking in the mountains. Just not in the summer. I still have cactus scars on one leg. My art got really weird and obsessive and I think I went even more crazy from living there and luckily got into UCDavis and moved to the normal to a fault, bike riding and recycling midwest off Highway 80. Where I got Timmy!

17 October 2007

This gambling is sure to lose the money.

Officially, we have a roof. It's still an unofficial roof because it's not trimmed or guttered or skylight flashed, which means it basically keeps some stuff dry but not everything.

When it is raining, that is 4 wet dogs, 16 dog feet, that are out there in the wet area that should be dry until it is actually an official roof and, when they come in, a house full of towels and damp dogs.

This is better than giant blue tarps everywhere that leak. The new almost roof at least doesn't let it rain in the office, which still needs to be replastered. I think this project has hit the 3 month mark! Perhaps a record for such a small little roof.

In dog news, yesterday we practiced long send outs and turns to jumps with 2 of the dogs. Ruby and Otterpop have kick ass gambling skills when we practice. They still do not translate to the trial (well, Ruby's do if it's the morning and she is actually running) as evidenced by Otterpop's reluctance to leave the world of Advanced Gambling. If the gambling was actually making me money, we would feel ok with this but this gambling is just hitting judges and trying to run out into tunnels at this point to win a prize.

Gustavo decided to try his first teeter across the field, all by himself. He is a dog posessed. He just saw it out there, broke into a dead run and ran up it at top speed and rode it down. While he loved it, it gave me almost a heart attack. He's light years away from a teeter, the way I see it due to the no brakes yet issue. He practiced his space pod game and contacts (aka brakes) and is starting to learn (in english) words like jump, tire and tunnel.

15 October 2007

Dog agility for stoners?


This is from their webpage. This guy was really short and the lead singer and sort of spinal tappy.

Last night we went out. This is sort of a big deal because there is usually no out in the world of visual generalist animal training due to being very tired at night and awaking at 6am every morning with many dogs everywhere. But if your husband who is the exact oppositve and likes to stay up very late hearing loud music wins tickets for free at a place that also serves crepes then it is ok to go. And it is a very early show. And in a back garden with wisteria pods hanging from the trellis over your head and it is not raining.

This wouldn't normally warrant a post but I took notes so I actually fancy myself a reporter now so I should report. Also because Pioneertown is my most favorite place in the universe to go to and they are trying to make the back garden of the Crepe Place a Pioneertown but with Crepes! And a beautiful outside back garden it is and of course crepes and a bar. This is how music is meant to be seen!

The Akron Family is also very popular with UCSC so I was able to check in with exactly un fashion I have become and see first hand how far we need to go to make dog agility the new brown. Much brown there was with this crowd! Also leg warmers (brown) worn with sandals. Also beards! Also we passed Hookah Lounges on the way there and I believe Hookah Lounges are currently the new brown. If all these beaded, smoking, leg warmer wearing, messy haired people have dogs, this could be the new dog agility world if we can bring it to them like the Akron Family. Who is a bunch of guys that either look like homeless men with nice glasses or surfers or mortgage brokers. They are from Brooklyn. Their myspace page says their music is "like the Village People on a Carlos Castaneda vision quest." That is pretty accurate.

People were smoking lots of pot from sparkly and special looking pipes. Much weird and messy hair like really short with chunks cut out (very 80's?) or else my old hair style (ahead of the times!) of a pony tail sort of wadded through the pony tail holder a couple times to make a pony tail wad! Tim Gunn and Carson do you see this? The masses are speaking! It was not that many masses because the back garden of the Crepe Place is sort of like a big backyard. But enough of them. And ugg boots! Lots of boots, even boots like mine hello un fashion! Actually many items worn could also be worn for dog agility! If they can be worn for fast dancing it just might work for dog agility!

The band played a long time and was really loud some of the time and some of the time brought out drums and sort of made marching band drums with barbershop quartet style singing and then more guitar loud feedback songs and I think the correct genre is stoner music. I liked it until I went and sat down at a table and fell asleep which is this problem I have at any loud concert it just puts me to sleep. I am pretty sure I would even do it back in the days of Diane's Place by Safeway and punk rock. It's just from getting up early I guess and loud loud music is so very soothing to my ears.

13 October 2007

Bleaching ensues.

There is a rumor that roofers are going to come today and put a roof on the Leaking Thing. Which would be nice as it rains now. We are in La Nina which means it rains and roofs are neccessary. We even have nice new sheetrock that the roofers gave us which has been leaked on some more because of the fact that the roofers never came back to make a roof after putting up new sheetrock which was ruined since we had no roof.

That doesn't make any sense right? Right. We have roofers from square dancing hell. I weep for President of our Roofer's dead dog but I also weep for all of our wet and molding house and the rain inside the office.

Where is dog agility this weekend? It is not. So I will be working! If there is no dog agility I work an extra day so it is work on Sunday this week. That is one thing about my life is that as Trainer of Animals mostly weekends are for working. Although dog shows don't really count as working. Horse shows do.

Here is an added bonus of rain you probably never wanted to hear about. When it rains, homeless people sleep in bushes where dogs like to walk. If you have a dog like Otterpop, you know about dogs that like to roll in whatever smells worst. Usually this is carcass. But also, when homeless people sleep in bushes, they also use them for bathrooms. If you have a dog like Otterpop, rolling in HUMAN SHIT is top shelf.

Which happened yesterday. In the rain. When I had 4 dogs that had traveled to the field in the car.

How do you get a dog like that home? One idea is throw her in ocean first. But I did not want to touch the dog to throw her. And one of 4 dogs in Timmy who cannot walk very far, so to ocean and back through field is too far of walking for his sad little legs.

The next idea is run her next to the car while it is driving. By the time I got to the car, realized that this is probably dangerous due to rolling car tires and the fact it is a car and I could be thrown in jail for animal cruelty. Would also mean attaching a leash to the stinking pile of dog.

Had some dog crates in car. Emptied one of it's little bed. It was Gustavo's. Had Otterpop jump in and locked it up and pushed it as far back in car as it could go.

Got home, all dogs had to listen to me screaming and carrying on and Otterpop is wondering what she is in trouble for. I mean screaming and carrying on. I mean really screaming and carrying on. Also did I mention it is raining which always makes things like this way more Pleasant?

Get 3 dogs dried off and away from scene of crime. Drag stinking crate out of car, get the hose and start hosing down. Otterpop has no idea what has hit her. I am spraying hose at full blast on dog and crate and dog and crate. Dog is huddled mass shaking and quivering and being hosed and is frozen like little shit statue perhaps due to shock of screaming and cold water being hosed on her for like 10 minutes.

Take very wet dog and clean yet perhaps unhygenic and germ filled dog in for bath in actual house wearing bathroom scrubbing elbow length gloves. Scrub dog for a long time. Am kind of done screaming now and feeling sorry for poor quivering worn out pathetic tiny dog, usually tank sized who looks skinny and mournful all wet and berated.

Throw away dog's beautiful leather pony style collar.

Hose down driveway in the rain. For a long time. Neighbors probably thing dog lady is now fully insane.

Bleaching ensues. I am just so grossed out.

That's the end of that story.

12 October 2007

The dog crate is just like the spacecraft now.


Here's the little darling here. Seated in the bathroom. Why, you ask, you must have gotten your camera fixed if you can take charming photos of dogs laying on the bathroom floor. Oh, no, I would answer, that would entail having a non leaking office with a roof again (something we do not currently posess). I just drag the computer into the bathroom and use the magic computer cam to take photos of dogs on the bathroom floor. Who needs the camera when you can drag the computer around and lay on the bathroom floor with it to take a picture.

Gustavo has been learning many new things. Which is good, because last week he ate my reading glasses. He has also learned rain, the bad water that is in the air, is no good. He will swim in a pond, run into giant waves, but water from the air or a bathtub is horrifying and makes him shake like a leaf. Baths and rainstorms not something that he encountered in Mexico. But he sure does love seal carcasses!

It turns out, he also sure does like the whole agility thing, and the screaming and carrying on at trials is a good thing because he thinks agility is crazy and wild and something to get all worked up over. That's ok with me.

So what have I been teaching him? To go slow. The real fast dogs, you teach them the brakes right away. So he is learning how to stop and hit his nose on a target, which will eventually be added on to the bottom of the a-frame and the dogwalk (for you non agility fans, that was the thing I showed me shooting Otterpop off of the other day).

He is also learning a dog game that I came up with from watching space movies. You know in space movies, they are always shooting the accessory space pods out to explore something or shoot the evil aliens out of the big spaceship? And then it gets sucked back in with tractor beams-I have seen Star Trek, you know. I did have a boyfriend that had Every Single Episode on tape.

So that's how I'm teaching him all the cool moves the big dogs use, and the equipment basics. So when he's ready to actually do it, he didn't even know he was learning how to do it. Sneaky!

He's learned to run into his crate at full speed and do a little swimmer flip inside there and stick in there. Wait til I go somewhere else and then shoot out again. So I just move his crate around the agility field, position him to where I can show him how to slice a jump, or front or rear cross a tiny sequence of jumps and tunnels. So he's learning things like Greg Derrett hand and rfp and crosses just from shooting in and out of his crate. He's also learning that if it's in front of him, you take it. Then I use whatever (I am totally working to be consistent here) signal from me will mean turn or take something else or whatever he needs to do. He's just like a little accessory space ship blasting in and out of the mother ship. It's pretty funny to watch.

We're using really super low jumps, and tunnels and plastic flower pots right now. Very high tech. Everything else will come after I have actual handling that will work so I can get him to do the real things right from the beginning. We'll see. I like it that he likes it and he is learning from the beginning that everything you do you do fast!

11 October 2007

Wardrobe Essential Number Two-the Dirt Issue.

Last night was dirt night.

You know dirt night. It's agility class and it's in sticky, filthy black dirt. At night. When most people are doing something nice like having dinner and watching tv. We are in the dirt.

I had a new student for a few weeks. He was a dapper gentleman, in khaki pants and tucked in white shirt, very LLBean. A clean man. He had trained his dog to do agility at home all by himself and done a pretty darn good job. He was ready for class. Nice big, golden colored dog with long, silky, flowing, orange hair.

Dropped out from the dirt. Too dirty. Dirt agility. When I get home, I have to take off all my clothes at the back door. At least my dogs have 3 sets of small feet and are black and don't show the dirt. Until they walk on the pink (UGLY, light pink barf color) linoleum floor and make lots of tiny black footprints everywhere.

And when I get to dirt night, I'm already covered in dirt. Our arena doesn't have the gross sticky polymer dressage spray that they use where we have agility, but we do have a bit of rubber mixed in (DIRTY) and asphalt grindings along all road like surfaces (27 acres) at our ranch. Every day I come home pretty filthy. So I am just disgusting by the end of Wednesday. FILTH.

Yesterday I also drug the arenas in the Disease Mobile. If I had a camera (Where is my camera? Remember when the battery died on vacation? And I would like to charge the battery, but remember the funny day of the flood and then we had no office and then they were going to finish putting a roof up and resheet rock and we would have a roof and I would have an office again and we would have a roof again-ready for funny???-they have not finished and I have no office and no roof still and new sheetrock that is leaking again because the no roof-so funny!!!! And all things from office stacked everywhere still, where is the battery? the taxes? the rolo stuff? the brushes?!!)

Um, sorry. No camera. Were I to take a photo of the Disease Mobile, you would see that instead of a tractor at our ranch, I am treated to a janky old 1970's mini bronco pulling a drag tied onto it's hitch. With no back. No doors. No nothing except working 4wd and it somehow can pull the (small) drag around. It spews carbon monoxide into the driver's face, out the back, the inside is full of hay and probably rats and diseases and you navigate with your head stuck out the window. It also delivers hay up to all the upper pastures and is filled with hay as well as dirt and toxic fumes. You feel diseased every second you drag, and we have 3 arenas, one of them huge and it is just an hour of disease and dirt.

OK but agility was great. I even ran Ruby a bit who I have no idea if is sick or injured or what but I let her run around one run and she was a-ok for that and in bullet mode. Pop was speeding and making every weirdo pole entry I could throw at her and Hobbes was precise and rocket fast and no bars except he one time did not do his table for me. Panic! I am supposed to be the table secret weapon to get his standard Qs and if he stops doing his table for me it may be all over, my Hobbes affair.

Tim Gunn and Carson, are you hearing this? The wardrobe essential has the dirt issue to content with. Must be able to be hosed off somehow, washed instantly and the black and horrible dirt is easy to remove from every orifice of the article of clothing!

10 October 2007

Wardrobe Essential Number One-the Ballcap.


Oooh this is a flattering one. Like I am threatening to shoot her if she leaps off the dog walk. Which she hasn't done in a long time, but I do know that this was the Grand Prix and the judge was hovering very close to see that contact zone. Or maybe I am threatening execution for sauntering along. Although she had a good time in the Grand Prix so she must have been running. Otterpop sort of waddles when she runs. She's a waddly little tank of a dog.

The whole ballcap thing. Yes, clearly and obviously it's an issue. But you can't do agility when your hair is in your eyes. Maybe there is perfect hair that would solve this but that is for another day. Or have a hat that is going to fly off mid agility run. Devestation. The ballcap has the little hole in the back you stick a pony tail through. Locked on. And you need a hat out there because you are basking in the sun all day. From 7am til 5 or whenever you finish-not to mention all day at work. Hello sharpei wrinkles that are already there and don't need to be worse til we take the knife to this mess.

Tim Gunn and Carson, the Hat is one of the 10 Essential Wardrobe Pieces for me and I need better solutions!

09 October 2007

It's all in how many candles.


The neighbor girls are my new fans. Like lots of girls on the westside between the ages of 8 and 11 maybe.

They love 4 small dogs walking on leashes. Today's new girl even knew kids at school named Timmy, Ruby and Gustavo and had Otterpops in her freezer at home.

Uncanny!

When I just had Timmy, on the one dog plan, gay men used to like him. They would stop to say hi in San Francisco. Also homeless people. Including the guy that tried to steal him one day walking down Market Strett.

So now my life has gone so way down to the level of Britney Spears, or else I need to start targeting some agility marketing at this younger, female audience. Very Abercrombie+Fitch, very Roxy surfwear, very American Eagle. Girls, you are the future of agility!

When I was their age, I had a few dreams. Since the ones I can remember have since been fulfilled, I think it's safe to divulge what I used to wish for when I blew out birthday candles.

A horse. A truck. And a boyfriend.

That was about it. I never wished for a dog, but we always had at least one when I was growing up so I guess I didn't have to wish for one. I had all my wishes fulfilled by the time I got out of high school. And had actually broken up or sold the first batch of them.

Um, maybe I wasn't shooting high enough? If all my wishes came true by 18? Maybe that's what got me where I am today? Maybe there were some others I forgot about, I know there are other ones now, when we do have candles. Maybe they are null and void now because we never have the actual age amount of birthday candles? Maybe that's why wish fulfillment stops?

Aim high, friend of Timmy, Ruby, Gustavo with your Otterpops in your freezer.

08 October 2007

A tale from the gate.

Oh the yelling.

At agility trials, there are no professional gate stewards. At horse shows, these are seasoned pros, who in general remain calm, cool and collected and patiently hold rings, walkie talkie other rings and only sometimes freak out. Most competitors and trainers are trained to not freak out at them because bad things can happen in the future if gate stewards do not like you. No one wants to be on the bad side of a gate steward.

At agility trials, there are no pros. Well, there's Joe the Masters Gate Steward, who almost is-his wife competes, they go to every trial in their motor home and he runs the Master's Ring like no one else can. So he knows all the dogs and he makes sure things stay in order during conflicty runs. I think he comes from the corporate world-they might be retired lawyers? and I would elect him president of the Masters Ring. He devotes most weekends of his life to traveling around to dog shows his wife runs in and runs that ring for 10 straight hours a day.

Then there's the rest of us. Everyone is is just taking their turn volunteering. I work as much as I can, which used to be whenever I wasn't running but is less with the addition of Gustavo and with the conflicts of having Otterpop still in some things in the advanced ring. Even if I have a second, I will just set bars or grab leashes or whatever there is to do. Because an efficient ring ends and all efficient rings end early and then the 2ish hour drive home starts earlier.

Sometimes people mess up. We are talking voluteer workers here who are getting paid in raffle tickets to win things like a dog squeaky toy. Who are probably worried about missing their next run by working. Not a high paid, deadline based job. When you are gate stewarding, there are lots of people who need to be in lots of rings at the same time and the order gets messed up and this screws up the score keepers and there's just no way to do it easy and fast.

Wow did I hear some freakouts yesterday. From people I know even. The worse one was a lady I know who totally burst an ugly gasket over not getting into the ring when she was supposed to. The gate steward screwed up minorly. More of inconvenience than life threatening emergency. But did she get a dressing down. I thought she stomached it just fine and kind of ignored the freaking out lady, who most of the time is a hard core competitor and has a high end professional job when she's not at dog shows. A nice calm man sort of talked her out of the tree and she put her gourd back in and ran but wow scarey.

I try to gate the starters ring when I can and be nice and run it all efficient like and not let the beginners get scared and want to quit. Because I think if I saw ladies freaking out like that on a regular basis I might want to crawl in hole and just weep.

07 October 2007

Major wardrobe malfunctions today.

We are back. It was hot, hot and hotter in Dixon.

It was a mixed bag kind of day. I forgot to wear a belt and that just isn't a good thing for people that do not like to see my underpants.

A good thing though-Ruby 3rd and Otterpop 4th in their Grand Prix's.

Otterpop was awesome in everything, EXCEPT that pesky advanced gamblers Q that is kind of making us lifers in the advanced gamblers ring and preventing moving everything to Masters. She had a great run, it was a do-able gamble, and then there was the judge. Standing right in front of where we were going to head into the gamble. It was judge in the headlights kind of freakout, I swerved to avoid slamming into him and just kinda sorta hit him lightly but we didn't get to head into the gamble just so and that was that. It's always something.

Ruby also didn't make it on her gamble. Well, actually she did-she aced it. But she was extra fast, my timing off on the opening, so we were late getting into the gamble because I had to do some extra obstacles and time ran out as she was heading to the closing jump. Yep, about half a second over time. A half a second. Such is life.

Ruby had a meltdown at the end of the day and I pulled her off her very late and very hot standard run after she decided that she would just walk through the weave poles. I am not lying about this fact. That is a new standard in slow end of day weave poles. It was actually creepy and freaked me out because she looked like a dog zombie. She likes running early and often then sleeping it off the rest of the day.

Otterpop is getting better and better every time she goes now. I am starting to feel a lot more confident having her out there in the masters ring and her times are getting faster, bit by bit. She won her pairs. She did miss the pole entry in her standard and hit a bar on the double in jumpers. But small things compared to all the big things she's overcome.

Gustavo enjoyed barking a lot and playing with his frisbee and lot and walking around a lot. He will just climb in anyone's lap and possibly would win a mr. popular award at this point in his career. Agility is like the only place he barks and carrys on. He thinks he is ready to run. I have my work so very cut out with him. We are working on those contacts already because I have this premonition of just no brakes out there with him.

Hobbes was perfect and even though I fell down in his standard, I jumped back up, he kept going and had a nice clean Q, it was late, late late, so didn't stick around to see how he placed. He was super fast and did his table so we were all happy. Why did I fall down? Not only did I forget a belt, I was so packed up and had changed out of my sporty soccer shoes into my ugly red running shoes and the grass was slick slick slick and I was running fast fast fast and there you go. You just can't go to dog agility in any old costume. Do you see these issues Tim Gunn?

06 October 2007

Did I mention again the high glamour quotient?

Where do we go this weekend?

Dixon. You know Dixon? You are on Hwy 80, heading towards UCDavis and Sacramento. There's nothing there. You turn there.

Oh the glamorous world of dog agility.

05 October 2007

Find out what costs 2 Million Dollars!


I don't know that I do nature well. Disneyland=Campout and Target=Disneyland. What did I used to say all the time in grad school? CULTURALLY MEDIATED nature. That was my big buzzword. However.

So I mentioned in a post about how I saw a bloody chunk of a hawk laying on a trail. Let me tell you the explicit situation.

We are in a hurry. A walk run. Hoping dogs do not go after pigs again because we have to leave. Checkout time from nature at 11am. Feathers and bloody skin. Carcass. Near where I saw the coyote yesterday. Get a move on dogs. Made them run. Almost popped my knee. Danger.

Later, told Gary about this. What eats a Hawk? His idea, maybe a mountain lion could but don't think there are mountain lions around, they would have warned us. Maybe it died of old age and coyote ate the carcass. Hmm. An interesting quandry.

Why did I run? When I saw that carcass, Mountain Lion and Coyote, both eaters of small dogs did cross my mind for a minute. But, in reality, I knew it could only be one thing. Hawks fly high. What is the only thing that can get a hawk out of the sky?

Abominable Snowman. Like in Rudolph. With the teeth and spiky white hair and crazed googly eyes that look both directions at once. But no snowmen here, no snow, meaning, how about Bigfoot. Holy shit. Bigfoot nearby. Waving long, apelike arms in the air and grabs hawks out of sky and chews and spits out feathers and carcass. Certainly an eater of small dogs. RUN. And run we did. I was running from Bigfoot on a sheepfarm.

Also, I mentioned the dogs got cuts and had to pick lots of burrs out of their fur (mostly Gustavo). Very nature, rustic, tough dogs with cuts and burrs. Tough ass kicking dogs. However all Burr Picking done from the comfort of the down comforter on the bed with 5 down pillows while watching dvds (the documentary Jesus Camp! About Christian evangelical camp for little kids!) and drinking the free wine that came with the house/cabin/rustic getaway. Also Gustavo was the dog that would go outside to regularly bark at the stump.

Hey and on an unrelated note, remember the last piece of property I was stalking through word of mouth that this guy is selling, 4 acres, with some shacks on it but right where we want our ranch? Let's review. 4 acres. shacks. The house is a shack. He finally got in touch. He'll sell it for 2 million dollars. That's right. 2 Million Dollars. Includes shacks.

04 October 2007

It's sort of like a crack hangover.

All right, did you read that nice description of summer vacation I wrote when I got back last night? So nice and idyllic.

OK. Some factoids to clear up any misconceptions.

Factoid Number One:
I called it a cabin. This place is an upscale, chi chi Bay Area haven for dog freaks. We paid like $200 a night for this glam 900sf studio that was bigger than our house. Giant, milguard Windows to take in the stunning view. All groovy, built from old storage shed on the old ranch. Plaster finishes (hey, not unlike the ones that are trashed out in my office!). Eggplant towels to go with saffron leather Ikea chairs and walls. Mod patterned duvet. Glass blocks in the giant bathroom. I hate glass blocks in general (they are ok in vintage, West Hollywood usages, I guess) and I would say my taste veers somewhat from the Factoid Number Two Genius Owners. But not so much I didn't want to stay there. But lets you think it is some old, crumbly cabin with flashlights for electricity. We are talking sconces everywhere on dimmers. It is what we pay to get back to nature. What dog people pay so their dogs can run after pigs for a few days.

Factoid Number Two:
A lady and her husband are the geniuses behind what has got to be the Super Cash Cow of the Other Place. They started with one property, called Sheep Dung Estates, in Yorkville, up the road from Booneville. Built some groovy houses on it, fixed up some exisiting, and rented them to rich dog freaks like me. Bought this land. Sold the Yorkville property. Not only are they preserving rapidly shrinking old ranch lands (think Napa up there in the Anderson Valley) but they have got to be making some serious rent checks from the 3 little houses because they are always full. Then they built their own house on a stunning ridge up the hill from the pond with much solar panels and recycled this and that. People get addicted to this place and I don't think they need to advertise at all.

Factoid Number Three:
We drove up to Ukiah on the way home. Boonville sits on the coastal side of some mountains between Cloverdale to the South and Ukiah to the North. A lady that rode with me moved to Ukiah last year and bought a house on land for $500,000. I have had this idea in the back of my head ever since maybe we could move there too. Ukiah looks like what I imagine Cour D'Alene, Idaho to look like. Kind of reminds me of Boulder Creek but with a front and center Wal Mart. A place I imagine Nazi Youth to hang out in front of a laundromat. Besides the regular cast of homeless, also includes a lot of Native Americans too because reservations nearby. It seems the boundary to Much Northern California lies somewhere around Cloverdale. My dreams of somewhere to move lie shattered that I don't want to live somewhere like Ukiah.

Factoid Number Four:
Let's look at Booneville. Anderson Valley was a rocking farming and logging community in the 1800's and the kids started talking a weird kid language and then it spread to adults and then all of a sudden they had their own language called Boontling. It's a dead language now. Horn of zeese means cup of coffee. Wineries moved in at some point, bought up all the land and it's expensive there. But not in a Healdsburg way. There are no pricey antique stores, a lot of old hippies, grape farmers, meth folk and mexican field worker family poverty. People stop there on their way to Mendocino, so places to eat lunch. It kind of reminds me of what Santa Cruz is to Boulder Creek. There are no small animal vets in Booneville. You have to drive the Cloverdale Road or the Ukiah Road. It's remote in a "only 2 hours from SF" kind of way. That lady I met last time we were there who decided to shoe her own horses (no good horse shoers down there but also she was crazy) drives her horses to Napa or Davis for the vet. She grew up there.

Factoid Number Five:
Checkout time is at 11am. It isn't your house or land anymore. Gary doesn't do time well. At 10 past 11, I had me and dogs loaded in car and he was still fiddling with the bike. The maids pulled up to clean the place. Lots of expansive tile floors to clean and a giant bathtub to scrub, even though we left it clean I am sure they make it cleaner. The 2 ladies were both decked out in pink outfits and drove a super broken down looking Honda. They just sat in their car til he got his bike up onto the bike rack on my car. When he got in our car, they got out of theirs. I waved. They didn't. They just watched us drive down our long dirt driveway. Just another day at a crappy job for them.

Factoid Number Six:
The other thing I did on vacation was eat junk food til I almost popped. I think you are supposed to cook healthy Chez Panisse style Bay Area meals on the Crate and Barrell cookware there in the house, cabin, plaster finished storage shed. We ate potato chips and bagels and cheese rolls and Gary went down and got burgers one night from the High Pockety Ox. Now all my pants are popping at the waist. There was a big mirror in the bathroom that you had to look at yourself naked getting out of the shower. Not a thing you would normally want in your non glass blocked bathroom.

I would still go back in a second though.

03 October 2007

Gustavo would bark at the stump though.


We're back from Booneville.

If I told you everything we did up there, you would yawn. If I published anything I wrote up there, you would yawn.

It's a sheepranch, for godsake. Without sheep anymore. You sit around and the dogs run amuck and far.

I walked a lot. There's little paths that cover a lot of the steep 550 acres. The dogs chased a wild pig. We found a bloody hawk carcass piece this morning on our favorite path. I saw a coyote and a deer there the day before.

In general, the small dogs ran their asses off and got cuts and covered with stickers and would nearly pass out from exhaustion. Then we would sit in the hammock and I read a bunch of books about dogs. I think they made me write a bunch of freaky introspective crap that will never see the light of day.

Much of fetching of sticks from the pond. Otterpop and Gustavo can swim. Gustavo looks like a little water rat. Otterpop looks like a sausage buoy. Ruby doesn't even try, once she did a long time ago and she sunk.

Timmy had a hard time there. He can't see. I would carry him up to the pond and he liked it there. He paced around our cabin a lot and slept. He had good moments though and liked sitting around near the other dogs.

The other dogs impressed me with their ability to be dogs. They stayed in a pack and even if they chased a pig down, they always came back and in general stuck close. No one got sprayed by a skunk or eaten by anything larger than them.

At night we drank. My camera of course died on the 2nd day we were there.

It really was that boring and I loved every second of it.

We stopped in Healdsburg for some lunch. I took the dog parade out around the town square. I think you don't see that so much in downtown Healdsburg.

We're back and I have to go to work tomorow and I would rather sit on my ass at a sheepranch.