13 November 2017

You should be more scared.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley
“Welcome to the grand illusion.” Styx

Dog agility, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Not really. Dog agility, you’re the sunshine in my bag, sticking out of my shoe and dribbling yellow tracks behind me, sunny little cookie crumbles pointing the way for the men in black suits to find me at a more convenient time.

I don’t have much to complain about, dog agility. My startline, yeah, that could use a little work. There are far grander train wrecks crashing around out there, hovering around on the periphery of dog training. The economy’s a gig where parched and tired masses are programmed to crouch down to hold up the bright and shiny optimism of a very few. We have disposable immigrants to do the dirty work. Everything is disposable! So many, many paper cups, with so many misspelled names scrawled across the tops! Inventors are currently programming drones to express deliver my next batch of dog food by flinging it out of the sky onto my roof. We can't wait! There’s even an app to pick you out an online puppy, a little bell will ding when it’s ready to go, just like an angel losing it’s wings.

Fact. Dog agility is a game we play with dogs.
Alternative Fact: My dog has a rock solid stay on the startline.

It’s just so convenient to ignore things. Solid as a rock, we take it for granted that nothing's going to melt. Are you watching your startline very carefully while you lead out? Do you see your dog get a little hunchy, like she’s ducking under the shadow of a pointy witch finger? Did you ignore it? Then it turned into a foot shifting just one millimeter forward? And you ignored that? Then you didn’t notice the foot move a little more and the hunch go a little hunchier then the butt scooched up just a bit. But you kept walking. You were all, what’s a millimeter? What’s one more disposable plastic thingamajig going into the trash can? I’m no litterbug. I throw it in the trash! And then all of a sudden, the earth is too hot for human habitation and you’re all, Why’d she break that startline?

Fact: Your release word can be anything you want but probably not curse words.
Alternative Fact: My dog’s stay is perfect at home.

So actually, dog agility, you couldn’t be better. Technology has made you fat and happy, and your podium pictures sparkle across social media every single weekend, beaming radiance and shiny hair, carefully protected by sun hats with extra added SPF, across the globe. Not just one but TWO sun hats! They're on sale and made in China! Or Canada! Global! Nobody running dog agility grumps with a pouty face all by themselves in the isolationist corner. In fact, in dog agility, everybody is friends with everybody! On social media, I just click you. Super easy. Now I know what your backyard looks like and what you had for dinner at the festive restaurant after the big dog show when you were drinking with all your friends. Ha, ha, yeah, that was an awkward one! You have never heard the sound of my voice and I probably hid you so I don’t have to see your emojis anymore.

Oh, I just let her go on that one. I saw her scooch, but it was only a little ways, but I REALLY wanted to run that course.

Fact: Distance, duration, distraction, I believe in that exact order.
Alternative Fact: My dog knows she’s supposed to stay.

Oh, so now your dog kind of creeps into her sit on the startline? And her foot does this little thing where it bends and picks up and hovers like an alien craft before it sets back down on the turf one more centimeter out front? And it happened at the trial last weekend? But you were really hoping to get that QQ so you just ignored it, just that once? Or twice? Because really, she knows she’s supposed to stay there. She’s just a little too excited, being at the trial and all. And you mostly enforce it at practice, unless you’re in a bit of a hurry, or sometimes you can’t exactly see it, she’s so fast and you’re so slow so you’re already off and running. But, she knows she's supposed to stay there. We’ve trained it a lot.

An iceberg the size of an island with Mai-Tai service direct to your palapa just broke off of Antartica. Looks like when a dog takes a bite of dog bed, gives it a shake, and a chunk comes off, all the fluff scattering across the floor. It’s cool, you can get another one on sale, just sweep it up and order online, robots are anxiously awaiting your call.

Fact. Impulse control works best when it’s the dog’s choice to stay.
Alternative Fact: Is it ok if I carry my toy?

David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear in 1985. Surprise! It didn’t really disappear, it was a magic trick. He wasn’t even wearing a cape, just a silver Members Only jacket and slacks. Let’s call it an illusion. It looked like it was gone, but really, it wasn’t.

Post apocalyptic desert children in hoodies will one day be huddled for warmth around a creepy skull lit by whatever will around to make future candles with, probably spit and melted Pokemons and the gunk that oozes from festering sores. They won’t have any puka shell necklaces! No video joysticks! No arugula! You know what they’re not going to be doing? Dog agility. Because the a-frames have all been repurposed into tiny house walls to keep the acid raindrops off leathery, prematurely aged skin. The shiplap and wide plank hardwood floors burned up a long time ago. Jumps have all been melted down for the curative properties found in pvc, since rainforest plants are off the table. And the dogs. Well, hopefully there are still dogs. Because if you’ve watched enough zombie apocalypse movies, the movies where oddly, all the trees are still alive because that’s where brain guzzling zombies hide, you know this. There are No More Dogs. You know what happened to them. Don’t make me say it.

Fact. Make clear the behavior you want.
Alternative Fact: Maybe if I try going back and giving a cookie.

You know what else didn’t happen in dog agility? Nobody in dog agility pulled out of the climate change accord. In dog agility, we happily drive big fat gas guzzling machines that are guzzling away at the fossil fuels being dug out of the earth while we play sad songs for polar bears on tiny violins. And the trash we throw away! Who needs the violins? Toss ‘em. So much trash! Hey dog agility, we are good people. So it doesn't count when we throw it away, right? We're the good guys!

So now, yeah, at home, her stay, it’s looking good. I clicker trained it. But then at class, her sit goes kind of stalky, like her air shocks are leaky and the low rider hydraulics are quietly taking their own damn time to lower down to the asphalt. Listen close, you can hear the hiss. When I walk out, her butt pops up. She's fluffy, so maybe you don't exactly see the air that now separates dog from sod. And then her feet move, sneaky like when someone breezily tosses out the phrase, “Oh, by the way,” the best passive aggressive way to start an attack. So I walk back. And re-sit. And walk back. And repeat, thinking, this wasn’t supposed to go down like this. I had a startline. It was So Good. It was a thing. I trained it.

Fact. Mechanics include reward placement, frequency, and timing.
Alternative Fact: She’s up? I thought she was still sitting? Dang.

I’m moving like a giant spider right now, exploring options with all my legs, but with the caveat of occasionally dropping my head into the sand. You know what they say. Facts don’t vanish into thin air just because they get noses turned up at them, willing them away. But it happens all the time. I’m losing my edge, just like James Murphy did. I’m early basking on the beach of late capitalism. I thought what I was doing was spreading love, compassion and kindness, watching my dog with a smile on my face. Maybe I can still spread this by clicking the little heart icon, located conveniently below your slightly blurry and not well composed dog photo. It’s just there, drag the mouse finger three millimeters at the most and you’ll find it in a jiffy. Just click, and your heart goes on. Isn't that what they meant by calling it the Summer of Love? Which may have actually been a Season of Discontent?

The next time I see that scooch, I’m all, Ha HAAA! Gotcha! You sit! She looks at me with the smoke of confusion rolling like a lazy river up and out her ears. Life in a leaky house with the river rising.

Dig this list, all the places with the stays. At the top of the stairs at the beach. On the grassy dog park with the tennis balls flying and the dogs flinging themselves around with wild abandon. On the hill above the creek. In the driveway. By the taco shack on pulled pork day. Before every meal. On the couch. At the derelict soccer field that screams out, Run Here, don't mind the homeless sleepers. That's so many places, right? You'd think that would be enough, right?

You had me at sit. There was a different vibe before. It’s hard to explain how it felt. It felt like yes we can and no nasty women. Didn’t feel like I’m pulling my hair out and wondering where we went so wrong. It didn’t used to feel so, hard. I simply said, Sit, and walked, not a worry in the world.

Is the vibe ever going to come back? And will there be healthcare if it does? I present as a gift of good vibes, an outpouring of love, like lei covered watermen paddling out during high tide to honor their dead, holding hands as they gently bob on their boards, hearts swelling in love of the dear departed. Like when I strode across the field, taking for granted the ease of my stride. A passage of an icon now gone, a passing of a vibe that may now be obsolete. We were smack in the middle of a golden era and we didn't even know we used up the last golden ticket.

Fact. My stay was actually just an illusion.
Alternative Fact: Dog agility is a game we play with dogs.


Anonymous said...


Jenn said...

My dog made me cry in Snooker this weekend.

She had a start line stay.
And then she didn't.

Hard to keep the chin up when you're letting others down in team.

Real tears. Damn game.

Terry A said...

Poetry. Truly, pure poetry.