25 March 2009

Wrong tool for a crappy job.

Last night, had the dogs down on the beach before the sun went down. Saw a lady I know there. I know her just because for years I see her there. Walking around with her 2 dogs. Talk to her a little bit, we look out for rangers and she followed the whole Ranger Danger saga up in the field. She walks those dogs, lets them run, every day, rain or shine. A good dog owner. Always seems a little sad. A little bit lonely. Never talk to her for long though.

See her last night and only one dog. Whenever you see that, first thing you always think is bad. Dead dog. I've learned that over the years. Sometimes it's not. Maybe sick or a sore leg but usually, people like that, show up missing a dog and pretty much you know. It's dead. I knew that when I walked up to her, so I ask real quiet, where's your other dog?

Lady starts to cry. She's a little lady. Frail and thin blonde hair and always such a quiet voice. The missing dog, it's a bad dog. Long runs on beach, what she does for that dog to try to make it better. She's mentioned that in passing but we've never talked much about it, how she might fix the badness. Usually I stay out of people's business, I guess. I know that dog has bit people though, and when she starts to cry, I pretty much figure out where the dog went before she tells me.

You ever read Jon Katz books? I first read one and sort of liked it. Total city guy, clueless about dogs and farms and he goes and gets both and tries to learn how to have border collies and a sheep ranch somewhere cold and north east. He writes as if he has a bunch of wisdom to tell you about dogs and life, really you realize this guy, complete nut job out there on his blizzard sheep farm and his life run by border collies that maybe he don't manage quite right. Anyways, in one of his books, his dog bites and he ends up euthanizing it because that's the best thing he can think of. It's super sad, but the more I thought about it, I thought, you asshole, Jon Katz. Up there on your farm, they don't have muzzles, don't have big enough pens, don't have better way to manage your aggresive dog? Like you bought a damn sheep farm for your border collies. They do a good job for you, and that's the best you can do?

This lady, she tells me how her dog flat out bit 6 people. Wouldn't let anyone touch it besides her and her daughter. Was never going to be submissive. Submissive, dominant, always buzzwords something might have gone south in the training. I'm compassionate to her, and I give her a hug there on the sand. She's totally broken, almost going to just collapse away in the evening wind. She doesn't have money. I don't know if she tried $80/hr consulting with the aggressive dog trainer over the hill. I'm pretty sure not. Although wish I could have told her about dog trainers like that before she went and figured this the only way she could fix it. Maybe it was.

She said, "I just told myself, you euthanize sick dogs, and she was sick in her mind."

Later on that evening, I'm wandering through Trader Joe's. Not a good place to be when you're tired and hungry and all these weird snack items keep appearing at you from the shelves. Things with black mushrooms and truffles and fried peas and sugary peanut butter goodness. The meat display catches my eye, and I see this steak or chop, all bloody and raw, and wonder if that's a golden ticket to consistent weave poles. Or undoing the arena willies. My training challenges I've been thinking about. My bad dogs. Otterpop seems sick, hasn't been quite right for a week, ran away with her frisbee again today and just didn't want to do anything except lay there and chew on it. Was barfing on Monday. Gustavo, seems like those 2x2 weaves are starting to take, will he ever know how to do 12 poles in a trial? Ruby, heard a pain squeak from her jumping up into the car today again, and didn't run down on the beach, seemed weak and shakey part of the time as we walked away from the sad lady.

All these problems, trying to be creative and fix myself, best I know how. Otterpop, definite behavior problems and I am working on it, I am. I really want to fix that dog. I think that lady did too. But I'm not sure she found the right set of tools. Not sure I have them either. Whole right tool for the right job issue. Plagued me my whole life, whatever I do. Never quite the tool I need. But always soldier on. Even if the job comes out sort of screwed up, but usually that ugly patch holds one way or another.

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