18 March 2008

This long story about a Saint's Day just gets uglier by the second.

As part of our lazy ass day off screwing around, I mean our solid training regime, I make sure that the dogs who competed Sunday have a nice day Monday off relaxing. Also being criminals since it is the first Official Day of Ticketing at Lighthouse Field. So let's just chronicle a typical, relaxing day in Santa Cruz for your basic dog owner.

First thing. Practice your weave poles if you have a foundation level dog. Even if it's a shrinky dink 12lb dog, the goal is to make him look like a teensy little border collie. Give 'em hot dogs. Whatever you want. I don't care.

So for my fine Agility dogs' rest day (yeah Otterpop, how hard was that half a standard run?), how about a nice walk? Something told me today, hey, even though that tiny silver pocket camera sometimes goes on the fritz, just bring it for a relaxing walk. Just do. I left Timmy at home and decided to hoof it to the beach since it was low tide and such a fine day.

So here's the home of a popular professional surfer that also happens to have a drug problem. He lives with a bunch of guys down the street from me. I believe "meth house" has been used to describe their charming beach bungalow. See that Ford Ranger with the window halfway down? Look who's sitting in the front seat.

It's Mr. One Eyed Pirate Pitbull with balls. And guess what he does when Team Small Dog walks by.

He jumps out and goes for the team. Boy does that get up my craw. I drop their leashes so they scatter, he selects Otterpop, I get in there and, since there's no weapon in the middle of the street, I hope to god he isn't going to pull major dog kill on one of my dogs or me. He hasn't put teeth in her. I get in his face and look big and scarey and holler and he backs off a bit, giving my dogs room to clear out. I quick look around, there's a board at the house next door in some trash piled up and I grab it and chase him back to his truck like I am going to beat the crap out of him. Which I would if my dogs are in danger.

So then, what's the most rational thing to do? How about yelling at their house, "HEY WHOEVER HAS THE F*ING PITBULL IN THE FORD RANGER YOUR ASSHOLE DOG IS LOOSE AND WENT AFTER MY DOGS!"

And then there's no response. I should tell you. In these situations, I go into Luz Benedict, Matriarch of Reata Ranch in Giant, Ranch Lady Voice. And you know what happens to her right up in the begining of the movie. She jabs her spurs too hard into Whirlwind one too many times and Auf Weidershnicken.

So what would be a better idea? How about this. Going up to their fence and hollering in ranch lady voice "HEY F*ING METH HEADS WITH THE ASSHOLE PITBULL YOUR F*ING DOG IS LOOSE! YEAH! YOU METH HEADS! GET YOUR PITBULL!" over it, keeping an eye and raised up board menaced the bad dog's way. My dogs are sort of hanging out in the middle of the street right now, looking quizzical but being smart. Their nice agility owner lady has such a potty mouth when provoked.

Their neighbors, teenage dudes sporting colors, come out. I know their family has a herd of feral little chihuahuas that are always loose in the street so I tell them look out for that pitbull, went after these dogs. They sort of snort, like thinking, "that lady loca" and they take off in their lowered old car with super flake metallic paint job that I always admire. Old piratey pitbull just hanging out by the truck, because now he's stuck. Crazy lady has a board and might kill him, and he can't get in. No meth heads coming out of the house to save him. Maybe they are actually crack heads and they thought I was yelling at someone else. I move on, leaving him to attack the next dogs that come by.

I was going to take you a relaxing photo of the sea. That's when I notice camera starts doing this. Goddammit. I have the worst luck with cameras. It's because I didn't get the pitbull back in the truck. Or I do weave poles without tugging. I'm not wearing green. I am being struck down today.

Now, today is the first offical day of Ticketing for Off Leash dogs at Lighthouse Field. To my new pals here, don't even get me started. In a nutshell, the 33 acre field and beach in my neighborhood that has always been off leash now isn't. Too long of a 7 year story of heartbreak and irritation and backhanded politics to go into. Check out the website if you want.

So as I get to the beach, at low tide, where I always run my dogs, here comes one of the hippies from the hippie parking lot, being chased by a ranger out of the field. I know my camera is acting up, but I don't tell Mr. Ranger. What personality flaw do I have that makes me do stuff like this? So even though it's not working, I pretend it is and get in his face channeling now part Ranch Lady and part Journalistic Paparazzi, while he's giving hippie girl, part of the clan that lives in their cars in this one parking lot, her official warning. She seems happy to have me there because I am asking a lot of official sounding questions about court and tickets and legal loopholes, and Mr. Ranger wearing a firearm (not the one I had the little, um, could we say, chit chat with last month) is taking it in stride.

I stroll West Cliff above the beach with him, as he looks down for prey. We chat about the situation and I quiz him and note his answers. Then his pal comes. We have today 3 armed Ranger Officers Joe, KP, and TE out looking for criminals that look just like me. They won't answer questions about their pets or personal lives. They all have different takes on The Situation, and different ideas of what the State's strategy is. I tell each one I'm conducting interviews for this momentous occasion. They are less than thrilled and after about 10 minutes my novelty wears off. Especially Ranger Officer KP. He wants me gone.

A few other locals are there, wondering what to do. The ranger SUV's are circling the park. It's a $211 ticket to walk our dogs in our park now. I'm already past the official warning period. It just didn't feel right to throw myself in as ticket martyr on the first day. It would have felt undramatic and anti climatic since I'd been "interviewing" them now for like 20 minutes. So I just tagged along with them and their Official Warnings until they made it REAL clear that I had to go. Now. I kept following them. I do believe I irritated them back into their trucks. And then they stayed in their vehicles after that, just driving around and around, in the park and on West Cliff. My beloved park felt like creepy Nazi camp.

They faded back. I ran the dogs around for a bit. My heart wasn't in it. My heart felt like it was muffled and gagged on a sunny beach day. Here's what my dogs look like in jail in a place and time when we would normally just be running. Just running.


Anonymous said...

Hello Team Small Dog. You warned me that it would get uglier by the second, so I knew I should have stopped at "Auf Weidershnicken," which cracked me up even though I don't know what (or if) it means. Or at the crack heads who wouldn't come out because you were addressing them improperly as meth freaks.

Because the rest got uglier. And uglier.

Thank you for taking the picture of the guns. You are a very, very Brave Journalist. I am very grateful for your chronicle of the first Dark Day at Lighthouse Field and Its Beach. Chasing the rangers into their trucks was very brave. I am now a SUPER FAN OF TEAM SMALL DOG. Why can't we just annoy people to make them do what we want rather than shoot them or drop bombs on them? It would work. It just takes a little time.

I went to LHF & IB at about 6 p.m. No one was there. Like maybe three dogs, on leashes, total. I was looking around every moment trying to spot my $210 x 2 ticket before it spotted me. I kept putting the dogs on leashes and taking the leashes off because I, unlike Brave Team Small Dog, am a Scaredy Cat, and it's hard for me not to be a good girl and afraid of rangers and guns.

And how can I afford to take off work to go tell the judge I won't pay the ticket and give him or her a lecture on Civil Disobedience by Thoreau. I know it has really annoyed my students if I drone on long enough about it. But I think I would miss too many hours of work, and then less money to drive somewhere to let my dogs stretch their legs.

team small dog said...

So-an addendum. I just walked all my dogs out there from like 7:20-7:50am. No rangers. I had my pocket camera (working-with a fresh memory card!) and the dogs off their leashes (except for Timmy), but no ranger. My plan was to get my ticket if need be, but also try to take the ranger on a guided tour of the homeless camps and drain pipe where the meth dealers leave their drugs for people. I also thought it might be nice to show them the spot where a nice agility lady's son was mugged at gun point and beat up out there one night. I'll keep taking a camera out.

Also, as part of my St. Patrick's day interview series, one ranger said he would only give a ticket per person-ie, you have 3 dogs off their leash, I give you one ticket. One officer would not address this question in concrete terms and was vague. One officer was not speaking to me at all and ignoring me for this question.

Anonymous said...

One of the weapons in the truck is an AR-15, basically the same as the military M-16's.

Looks to be a 30-round clips.

Note a second clip is strapped on for easy access in case the first 30 bullets don't put your dog down.

If they ask how come you know about AR-15's...you can mention how all the dog owners around here have them too. They are actually legal in california now!

on an up note...you are right...dogs really can run forever and forever in the desert in Marfa. see:


Simba said...

Dang.I thought leash laws were bad in Toronto..but our animal control officers who supposedly patrol don't have guns. Unless you have a pittie or staffie, you don't really get hassled too much. We have strict BSL here...so it's disheartening to own a "banned" breed. You can't leave the house without a muzzle or participate in ANY dog sports in the province.

Our main beach (that we can't swim in...polluted..blech) has an enclosed dog beach area...but the smaller ones luckily are still open to dogs leash free.

pics of a small dog friendly beach:


Anonymous said...

You go TSL!!! We, of the Pogonip People, found that you need to be in your 20's and dress rather skimpily (my word for the day) and all you get is a warning. If, though, you happen to be in your
40's and only brushed your teeth, threw on a pair of sweats and sweatshirt, and headed out the door, well, you get a ticket,my dear, and told "we're really cracking down on dogs off leash". It's when you come across said 20 something a half hour later in her skimpiest in JANUARY and you find that she just received a warning, well, that makes my blood boil. I guess her large black dog that is once again off leash is somehow special. GRRRRR......

team small dog said...

anonymous you are my new anonymous best friend forever because you have good gun tips that are perfect for my chit chats with the rangers and you have shown me marfa is exactly what i imagine it to be.

Elf said...

State parks and dogs. This is interesting. There is a 300-acre spread of land behind my house that is becoming a park. It's supposed to be an agricultural/historical park. With paths on which we can walk our dogs. I'm very cool with that. It's so much better than 5,000 single family homes going in. For various interesting historical reasons, half of the park is owned by the county and half by the state.

Some number of people have suggested that it wouldn't hurt anything and would in fact be a good idea to set aside an acre or two for a fenced dog park. Whether you like dog parks in general or not is beside the point. At least there would be somewhere where you could legally have your dog off leash. And whether it will be included seems unlikely to me for various actually good reasons.

But here's the punchline. Because half of the park is owned by the state, the dog park could not be located on that half of the park because the state doesn't allow off-leash dogs in its parks. Period.

Is that funny? Are you laughing?

I hope they don't patrol with assault weapons.


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