01 September 2009

Fixing up some dog training issues before the big show while the scientists try to fix the ocean before it's too late.

When we go to forest agility to practice, we stop in a forest on the way home. I live by the sea, you drive up the hill and right there are second growth and old growth redwood forests, that seem like they may have been there for a million years. These are the mountains. There are a few places to park that have trails dropping into Henry Cowell State Park. Technically, no dogs allowed forests. You know how that goes. We're in there anyways. There are steep trails winding down through massive old redwoods, thick around at the bottom as tanks that soar up to the sky a hundred feet. Maybe more. I don't know the way one measures how high is a giant tree. Higher than you think.

The trails drop down to where it's dark and ferny, only little strips of light spearing through in a dusty haze. Little creeks and brooks and fallen giant trees, down where it's dark and cool and we hardly see anyone. Only thing you hear are sounds of redwood monkeys and the sound of a low creek with water just trickling over logs. Just me and the dogs and the trees on a forest walk. Even if there are not so hot dog shows, on days like this, I can't believe anyone else is as lucky as me to have dogs like mine and a place to live with forests and beaches for us all to run through.

This was dog show damage assessment day and preparing for the big weekend to come. Practice mission of the day was to let Ruby do some agility, see if I could make Otterpop slow so I could figure out how to speed her up, and see how damaged Gustavo got. Not too much damage. Not as much as I just learned about watching my friend's documentary she recently made about acidification of the ocean. Did you even know that? We're ruining the water and the sea shells are dissolving and talk about some damage. It will be on the Discovery Channel soon. Here's a trailer. Should have asked her about the forest. Although we know. It's probably pretty screwed as well. Not many whole forests even left. Likely also dissolving before our eyes.

Some people fix the ocean. Some fix the forest. Just thinking about that immobilizes me and I'll just try to go fix my dogs instead. I am a bad citizen of the planet. I did sort out all the recycling at the dog show over the weekend. If that puts you in a cheerier mood. Everyone has their job. I'll be the ocean poisoner and dog ruiner.

Ruby agility was easy. She just did a little bit of running. Her weave poles looked wonky and uncomfortable, we left it at that. She chased around some tennis balls and did some microscopic jumps and some dogwalks. I miss running Ruby. Her coral reef, totally bleached and dissolved and barely any corals left in her. Too many carbon emissions already done their damage.

So if Otterpop only runs fast when I practice, I thought I should see what I can do to make her slow because maybe that's a clue to her dog show slows that I can help fix. I had some ideas. Mostly revolving around frisbee addiction. Sort of like addiction to fossil fuels. It's a lot easier to run Otterpop without a frisbee than it is to not use any fossil fuels. How do you think I even got to forest agility anyways? In the car. It would take me 12 hours to walk there, up to the forest that's a 25 minute drive away. Yep. That is me, acidifying the ocean in the name of dog agility.

We practiced without a frisbee. I am an enabler. She would rather do agility when I have the frisbee, and runs the fastest for it. So much of the time, I bring it with me on the field so I can reward her for the super fast speed. Today, every time for a reward we ran fast to the frisbee which was kept back at the xpen. For every fast start, a fast run somewhere. I don't know that this fixes the problem, but it seems like it can't hurt. Didn't really make a difference I could see. Maybe retraining, sort of like a 12 step program. You need to think and analyze and look deeper down. Down to where the acid poisons the bones and the exoskeletons, and when it gets so bad, the acid, someone tries, maybe too late to get it out.

It makes me think about how I practice. I always do something the dogs love, that's easy, first. Everyone gets wired and motivated and fast for the rest of practice. So we can build up to bolder, harder things. Try not to always practice easy things, just start with them then always move on to something that puts some pressure on, where we all have to learn. Life is hard, you have to be prepared. Otterpop should be prepared, but she isn't. We built this city. It was full of poison. Eyes downcast, no one can look up. Everyone has screwed up, and how many chances do you get?

How about Gustavo's damage? Really, he seemed very not damaged. We weathered the storm, saved his tree. Not an iota of scared at the dogwalk, at the teeter. Flew around in his manic gallop scoot, staying focused, using the handling skills. Watched careful for any clues of the damage. We just practiced easy things, impulse control startlines with long, long leadouts. Contacts. Some easy but fast weave pole entries. Big huge jackpots and no pressure. Just an easy day for him of agility love and super fun. Not at all like last time he got slammed. No lasting spookies or freakies. Just one little step back, baby step. And now he is back to forward. Some things, maybe not too late.

My job, very little in the bigger picture. Make the training better, more consistent, be smarter about what you let happen out there and reward. Fixing dogs, shouldn't be so hard when you look at what some other people trying to fix. The old, dark forest, the deserted strip of cold sand that I love, maybe not take them so for granted. These good dogs, that try so hard, not for granted.


Anonymous said...

Here is a good site for trustworthy information on forests are disappearing or not or which ones are and how fast or not, even though my ex-husband is senior scientist for them I mean in large part because he *is* senior scientist I really do mean the second and besides it's a long-term Smithsonian project coincidentally involving about 20 years ago me moving to Panama seven months pregnant and also with two on the ground children under six and an 18 year old cat and a dog. http://www.ctfs.si.edu/

team small dog said...

I am glad your ex husband is working hard to save the forest! Thank you scientists!