Back on Track

Ah, my Red Dog and I are back!

Brady at Wanda's*

Two gloriously smooth and quiet runs Friday afternoon with Brady at this weekend’s CPE trial. Not a single argument about anything, not even the table. Simply perfect.

Brady dislikes the table. In CPE, the table stops the time on the games. Brady would much rather the game go on. In fact, I feel a bit bad for him sometimes when we play in CPE. The courses in many of the CPE games courses are frighteningly short – as in nine to 12 obstacles at times. While that was a fantastic thing for Jasmine, who wasn’t a big fan of the agility thing and could become easily bored or disengaged – for Brady this is a horrible thing. Brady loves long courses. The more obstacles the better. And I don’t think it’s simply due to his long stride and love of running, although I’m sure that plays a factor. I think it’s because he honestly loves to play agility.

I was actually fairly nervous walking him into the ring and up to the line for the first run. The run, a jumpers course, had a tricky bit right at the beginning, although the rest had a very smooth flow that I knew Brady and I could easily handle. But there was a straightaway at the end too that we’ve been having a fair amount of trouble with of late.

No problems.

The tricky bit of the course right at the start seemed a recipe for an argument. But I calmed myself with the thought that it wasn’t anything Brady and I had not seen before and that we completely had the skills to carry it out, especially if I held up my end of the bargain and handled it properly. Therefore, I walked into the ring telling myself to breath and to be confident within myself and with my dog. In other words, trust my dog and trust myself.

And it flowed beautifully. Even at the end, a straightaway where Brady typically looks back at me and argues about me being far behind, worked. Mainly because I held pressure at precisely the point in his path that he needed it and did not waiver. He did glance back at the part he usually does, but saw the pressure being held and reacted accordingly by moving forward. Intent means everything to Brady.

It’s a lesson my dogs are always trying to teach me. I go in with lack of confidence, other things on my mind, not being into that day – basically a lack of intent, and my dogs know it, especially the younger three. I think that feeling of intent is something most dogs need, but with the border collies, it’s almost imperative.

Brady and I have been having relationship woes on agility courses for the last few trials.

Although we train outdoors, on dirt or hog fuel, Brady sometimes has difficultly maintaining his composure in outdoors trials. At least more often as of late than at indoor arenas. Part of this is my fault. Until this year, when I found some awesome trail running shoes, I’ve not been particularly confident about running on grass. It’s often slippery and I adjust my handling accordingly. It’s also often slippery for the dogs, and I saw at a trial a couple of weeks ago how Brady adjusted himself to the conditions after slipping a bit going into a weave pole entry..

Brady’s frustrations, usually with me and my late cues or handling choices, lead to what I call arguments on course. At best, that means an excessive amount of barking – often stopping in the middle of the run to come over to me and shout his displeasure. At worse, Brady exhibits his pissedness in a nip at me. Not good. Especially not nice to my legs.

The thing is, he’s often not wrong to be displeased. However, the expression of displeasure is another thing. Arguments shouldn’t ramp up from a shouting match to biting. That’s just not very civilized.

I can’t do a lot about this at trials, except to walk him off. Sometimes that has an effect, especially when I catch him in time. But at other times he’s so wired that he can’t get past the event that triggered his explosion. And Brady holds grudges.

Because of this pattern over the past few weeks, Brady slipped and this past week did something he doesn’t usually do in our weekly agility lessons. He attempted a serious nip at me.

In fact, he charged me full face forward and a tooth hit my kneecap. My timing for once was perfect. I cried out in surprise (the pain always hits after, as in way afterward because of the adrenaline), stopped what we were doing immediately and walked him down. The walk down is a serious, almost foot stomping walk, full of intent, and right into the dog’s space. There is no mistaking the walk down. When I do the walk down, every single one of my dogs knows I mean business. Serious business. I made my eyes hard and flashed them at Brady and grabbed him by the collar, a little tightly, but not with any pinching, and firmly and assertively marched him back to the crating area. The important thing about the walk down is silence. Total and deadly silence. I then placed him firmly in his crate, closed the door and walked away.

Then I breathed. It’s important to not hold on to any anger. Dogs understand a quick flash of temper, but when you observe dogs interacting together, corrections are quick and dogs don’t hold on to them. If they do, something is seriously wrong.

I had Brady wait out the next run. That allows him to think about what just happened and gives me time to simmer down so I don’t go out in a mood. Training should never be done in a mood.

When he came out, I petted him softly and we continued our session. We had wobbles with the sections we were working on, but I made sure to reward him often for  parts he did correctly and broke down the parts he was having difficulty with and rewarded for those bits until it became a whole. I also made a very conscious decision at the end to not complicate anything and try a bit that everyone else – including me with Youke – was working, and kept it very simple at the end. Then we ended with a huge game of tug, his favorite way to celebrate.

The eye flash and walk down are pretty much the most serious corrections I can give any of my four dogs. Usually all it takes is a sharp announcement of their names and an eye flash to stop something naughty. The use of pressure, the walk down, takes it to the next level. Unless I’m breaking up a serious dog fight (which thankfully I’ve only had to do less than a handful of times in my life) that’s about as serious as it gets, coupled with taking away or walking away from something of value (in Brady’s case, walking him off from doing agility).

BeachJulyBrady It’s pretty hard to stay mad or frustrated at this. So much sweet, adorable muppetness in such a tightly wound, unforgiving furry body.

And this is why I follow a philosophy that if a correction must be made, it should be quick and appropriate to the situation. it should make the point, but not belabor it. It should not be unnecessarily harsh, nor should it be physical in most instances. And it’s important to immediately move on. Now, if only I could somehow teach Brady this.

* Photo taken a few weeks ago by Erich Simon.

Budding Agility Diva

I adore watching junior handlers at agility trials. I love seeing the nervousness and the bravery on their faces, the sudden surge of confidence when it all goes well. And sometimes my heart breaks a little for them when things don’t go right. All those emotions seem magnified on those youthful faces.

Truth be known, I’m a little jealous. I so wish I’d discovered this sport when I was their age. I dream of the confidence and awesome handling skills I’d possess. Then I remember that agility hadn’t really been thought up when I was their age and comfort myself with the fact that at least I was playing around with horses back then..

It’s especially endearing to me to watch them as they mature, both physically and mentally. With that maturity comes some stellar handling. So much can be learned from those kids by the adults that play this game.

I saw one such example this past weekend.

I drove up north Sunday to attend a small agility trial. Last week, down the Oregon coast for 320 miles. This week, a 100 miles each way. Because that’s what agility addicts do.

The trial was small, but there were a handful of junior handlers, the most I think I’ve ever seen at one trial. A few of the boys I’d seen at several past trials and it was very inspiring to see the improvements in their handling, as well as the improvements made with their dogs. I freely confess I probably have a mini crush on one of those boys, although I try not to make it a creepy one. He’s just an awesome kid in general. I always tell his mom what an awesome kid she has. She beams and tells me me she thinks so too. Love that!

At this weekend’s trial a girl and her mother were there from out of state. The little girl, 11 years of age, was running a very fast and spunky pug. Those of you who do not believe that pug + fast and spunky can exist, have never been to an agility trial. I’m hear to tell you that pugs are very trainable and they don’t all look like tubs of lard.In fact, no pug should look like a tub of lard. Ever.

The girl was all legs too. And she needed those long limbs to keep up with her pug.

I watched her runs and was super impressed with her handling and her positivity and connection with her dog, while standing on the start line, during the run and after the run was over. I loved how she praised her dog after each run, no matter what happened.

One run in particular stood out. It was, I think, a clean run. Regardless, it was smooth, flowing and pretty to watch and the girl ended the run with a big smile on her face, lavish praise for her dog and a little soft pet and hug for him at the finish line. She did what every agility handler should strive to do, make it appear that the run was perfect and that she was pleased with her dog, whether it was perfect or not.

After the class was over, I walked back toward my own vehicle and right behind the girl and her mother. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to. The mother was critiquing her daughter’s run. Interestingly, I never heard her say she was happy for her daughter or that she did the run well. Or maybe I missed that part. It seemed to be an actual critique, yet from a person who wasn’t an actual trainer. Or maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it was a critique on positioning and handling technique. The girl listened and offered a few points here or there.Then she made the most marvelous statement.

“But it went really well. I did good.”

She said it with quiet, but powerful confidence.

My heart soared when I heard her say that. Her mother then admitted it did go well.

I did a mental fist pump and veered off a little way to get to my car.

I sincerely hope that young girl keeps that mental strength and confidence. I also hope that someday I get to compete with her. She’ll probably kick my ass.

Random Reinforcement

001 “Oh hi. Just chillin’ until my next run.”

Dogs don’t care about qualifying scores.

That is a simple fact. And really, it should be the end of this post.

It’s not though because humans care about qualifying scores or “Qs.” Some care more than others and some care very, very much.

007 Jasmine expertly demonstrates just how much she doesn’t care about ginormous pretty ribbons.

I admit that I used to care quite a bit. That was back in the day when I used to leave an agility trial in tears

Tropical Beach Vacation

007 “Thanks mom for taking us on a tropical beach vacation!”

Actually, I took JaYoBaCa with me on vacation to the Central Oregon Coast. And while some of you may question why I would need a vacation from my current summer vacation thanks to my unemployed status, I’ll let that hang for a minute or so.

If, like me, you question the insertion of the description of tropical in any post mentioning the Central Oregon Coast, let me explain.

It all started a few months back when I found myself suddenly with a lot of free time on my hands. Although my friend Kris suggested rather cavalierly that I take a vacation somewhere, I scoffed at the idea. I was after all, unemployed. But an idea started to germinate. I’d always wanted to attend a particular NADAC agility that’s held every July in Newport, OR. However, it seemed like such a long drive, as well as a major expense. To do the trial, I figured I’d have to plan on taking pretty much an entire week off from work, not to mention the cost of a hotel. While I earned a lot of vacation time, a week seemed like a lot of time to burn all at once, particularly when my preference was to use most of my vacation time for long weekends. But faced with a seemingly endless summer, I thought to myself that this was the time to do it.

Another reason I’d never made the effort to do the trial was that it was a July event and Jasmine, at the time, and later, Youke, are not fond of doing agility in full sun and summer heat. Nevertheless, I was assured numerous times by numerous people that although the trial was outdoors, on grass and in full sun with no shade for parking, that Newport is typically very cool in the summer. Cool and windy.

Therefore, the very week that I received The Call, I booked a cabin at the beach near Newport. Gleneden Beach to be exact. When I made the reservation in early May, the booking agent attempted to persuade me to upgrade to a seemingly nicer place, cautioning me that the place I wanted was a bit rustic – code for a bit run down. I advised him I was coming with four dogs and that we were perfectly fine with rustic accommodations..And yes, he asked me if I really was bringing four dogs. After securing the cabin owner’s permission, I had my rental and I started to look forward to a new adventure.

The thought of a cool and windy Newport became even more entrancing as the unprecedented summer of 2015 came into full swing in the Seattle area, bringing with it record heat and a record number of days of 90 degrees and above.

Sadly, or maybe not so sadly, I’ve become very acclimated to Pacific Northwest summers. It’s actually a lovely time of year. Plenty of blue skies, very little precipitation normally, but enjoyable temperatures on average – rarely getting into the 80s, much less the 90s. Luckily for me, I grew up in the Northeast and spent some time in South Florida – so I know what actual humidity and heat are. That experience came in handy. Although at first it all seemed a bit too much, I found that I could become quickly accustomed again to the heat, and despite what the locals seem to think, there really is no such thing as humidity here.

Still, I don’t really enjoy playing agility when it’s above 80 degrees and Youke doesn’t either. It’s hard to be a mostly black dog in the summer. Brady and Camm could care less. They’d run on three legs if necessary. But that’s where it’s nice to have a thoughtful and caring human as your guardian, so that as a Border Collie you don’t do foolish things, like break yourself and get heat exhaustion, hopefully.

So I was looking forward to those cooler coastal temperatures and windy and overcast conditions I’d been promised.

Nonetheless, following in the words of a former president I could never fully get behind, trust but verify, I checked the weather forecast before my departure.

Never trust. Especially never trust a weather forecast.

Nearly seven long hours later, we arrived at our cabin. Seven hours? Yes, because I was stupid and didn’t stick with my departure plan and hits loads of traffic. And I had to double back and retrieve the sun shade I had forgotten. Thankfully, I was only 20 minutes out when I realized my mistake. Do you know how hard it is to have no one to blame but yourself for a late departure and for forgetting to bring an important item? Talk about displaced anger. I resolved it though by swearing at myself a lot during the drive and laughing about how I had no one to tell “told you.”

I wish I could’ve taped the expressions on my dogs faces when we arrived. The grumpy, warm, uncomfortable previous hours were instantly forgotten as they perused the cabin, galloping from room to room, sniffing every corner and racing with delight through the fully fenced yard.

It was lovely and cool when we arrived in the early evening. The dogs rolled in the grass and cavorted through the yard, stopping frequently to smell and pee on things.

The fully fenced yard. That was accessible from the main bedroom. As in, open the door and let the dogs out, mere feet from the bed. I’m not gonna lie. This is pretty much my idea of perfection. I decided after this week, I am finally going to get my own yard fenced in.

Thus began our vacation.

For the next day or so, we just hung out, playing on the beach in the mornings, getting a coffee for me, eating a late breakfast, then me reading in the yard for hours while the dogs romped and eventually settled down by napping in the sun.




All of that was tiring, so naturally we all had to retire back into the house for a nap too.

Mornings and evenings were at first very cool, so I was glad I’d brought plenty of warm stuff to wear. But it was starting to look like maybe the weather forecast had not exactly been spot on. For one, I was surprising very warm while in the yard. I figured that maybe the cabin’s location and the fence cut the wind. Still, I noticed that I was almost too warm when walking the beach with the dogs. I even wore the bathing suit I’d packed as an afterthought. Not at the beach, although I could’ve comfortably, but in the yard. I won’t discuss the nosy neighbor man who decided he had to stroll by a few times. A nosy neighbor man who happened to be quite tall and could easily see over the fence. Good thing I had my defense team to remind him to move along..


Jasmine and Youke seemed to think it was pretty much the best time ever and worked on their relaxation techniques – the beauty of having dogs almost 12 and a little over seven years of age, respectively. Camm looked adoringly at me, then kept hugging and licking me, when she wasn’t chasing bees in the yard or trying to get Youke to play with her.

Brady though seemed to have a very different take. Brady somehow interpreted the trip as a romantic beach vacation for he and I.

Every time I turned around, there was Brady, tongue lolling about.and poised for attack. Seriously, I couldn’t move more than three feet for the first two days without Brady showing his deep appreciation for my decision to take him on a romantic beach getaway by attempting to hump me.

Okay, I’m going to admit I made a bit of a mistake several years ago by not discouraging Brady’s attempts to show his appreciation.

At some point early on in his time with me, Brady decided an appropriate way to display his appreciation for his evening meal was to hump me. The better the dinner, the stronger and longer the attempted hump. Leftovers are always more appreciated then just plain kibble, but really, as long as he gets fed in the evening, it’s an occasion for joy, and to show his deep appreciation. At first I just thought it was kind of funny. And I didn’t discourage it, because I’d read somewhere that humping was not merely a sexual thing, but also a way for a dog to express itself about other things. Being that I decided long ago to let Brady express his warped and slightly off-kilter feelings about many things in some manner, theorizing that the misinterpretation by other humans and the repression of his real emotions was what led to his oddities in the first place, I let him hump me.

Yes, I let my dog hump me. No, I am not a weirdo.

The rule is simple, he is allowed to hump me for five seconds, more or less, after his evening meal in a show of appreciation. Unless he is absolutely exhausted, this is pretty much a nightly ritual. I decided that this rule was easier and better than trying to run in circles around the house away from him while he hunts me down. Yes, that has really happened. Yes, I realize that’s a bit odd, but I swear there’s nothing deviant going on. My dog is simply exhibiting, in a physical manner, his deep appreciation for his evening kibble, by hunting me down in the living room and humping my leg for a few seconds while I stand in front of the TV with the remote control in my hand, flicking channels to see what’s on TV that night.

The sad thing is, that ever since Camm’s arrival, the humping has not been entirely a pleasurable expression for Brady. I guess it’s pretty hard to concentrate when your pesky little sister is either snuffing into the fur on your back or staring at your face and wondering, quite righteously, what the fuck you’re doing to her Human Mommy. Camm gets quite grievously disgusted and will stare intensely at Brady. It seems that even if he shuts his eyes, he can still feel her burning disapproval.

Anyway, Brady seemed to think he should show his deep approval of the accommodations and the trip by constantly attempting a hump. I rarely tell my dogs an outright “no,” but I had to make clear to Brady that this wasn’t a romantic trip and besides, hadn’t he noticed that I’d also brought along his siblings? Besides, everyone knows that Youke is my spooning partner.

When we got to the agility portion of the trip, Brady seemed to get the message that it wasn’t all sunsets, beach time and sharing pizza slices.

Although Friday had felt like a pretty warm day, it was mainly due to the lack of wind until later in the afternoon. When we got to the show site, it was perfect outdoors trialing weather. Probably due to the afternoon nap we’d all taken, everyone was full of pep and did pretty well. Plus, we got to see a gorgeous sunset driving back up the coast to our temporary home.


The sunsets every night were beautiful, but the one on Friday night was stunning. I’m going to say that the sunset along Depoe Bay on Friday night alone was worth the trip.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early as it was an agility day. The problem was that at 6:00 am it wasn’t exactly cool and there was no dew on the grass in the yard. The skies were also very clear and already quite blue. I didn’t turn on the heat in the jeep as I drove to the show site, but thought to myself that the sweatshirt I was wearing was keeping me warm. That sweatshirt came off five minutes after i arrived on Saturday morning. That was at 7:30 am. I never put it back on.

Thankfully, I put on the one and only tank top I’d brought with me, but still baked in long black pants.

Yup, I actually could’ve worn my recently purchased tiny skort. Although I’d thought of packing it, two things held me back. One, I thought it’d be too cold and windy to wear. And two, well, three, Brady and Camm. I figured both would be amped up since it was a site we’d never been to before and given the history of both, I just thought it’d be wiser to wear long black pants.

Long black pants that I sweated my ass off in all day long. All day. As until 7 pm that night. It was a long, hot day. Those cool breezy beach temps I’d been promised? Nope. The official temperature in Newport hit 82 degrees on Saturday. At the trial site, it was at least 85 degrees, according to one person with a weather app on their smart phone. Personally, I’m pretty sure the unshaded parking lot where I was parked hit at least 90 degrees. Good thing I doubled back for the forgotten sun shade for my vehicle.

I was comforted at least when a woman who showed up at the trial told me she was from Newport and that weather was not typical of the area, even in July. I also took some comfort in the fact that it officially hit 97 degrees in Portland, OR that day.

By the end of the day, despite sunscreen, I’m pretty sure I was as brown as when I lived in South Florida.

I was glad that I’d pre-entered the trial only for Friday evening and Saturday. But despite the heat, the dogs, even Youke, were running really well, and I was having a lot of fun. So when someone assured me that the weather forecast called for a 20 degree drop on Sunday, I hopped right up and entered for Sunday too.

Trust, but verify. I stayed up late that night to catch the local forecast on TV and indeed, it was supposed to be cooler.

Huge relief when I awoke at 5:30 am on Sunday and it was misting rain and was actually chilly. The light rain cleared by the time the trial started at 8 am, but I ended up wearing my sweatshirt on and off for the entire day and kept on a longer-sleeved shirt. My long pants didn’t bother me much on Sunday, and in fact, I was wishing I had on heavier pants.

Not because I was cold. Because Brady was being obnoxious.

The summary of the trial goes like this: Youke was a steady rock star, Brady was a bastard, Camm was both brilliant and inconsistent and Jasmine seemed to enjoy her new role as retiree and team supporter.

Jasmine got to do quite a few walkabouts, got to greet some people and very much enjoyed having a piece of pound cake with cream cheese smeared on it. She seemed a bit confused as to why I wasn’t snapping on her agility leash and running with her into the ring, but by Sunday had figured it out.


Youke was amazingly consistent and ran about as well as I’ve seen him run in recent months. He was consistently under time with the exception of his last run of the weekend and I felt very much in synch with him. The best moment of the entire trial was his Chances run. Youke aced the course and ran with ease and comfort. Unfortunately, I was so excited and got entranced watching his little behind sail over the jumps and into the tunnel at a distance, that I inadvertently stepped over the distance line. Realizing what I’d done, I squealed. Someone told me that If I hadn’t squeaked so loudly, that maybe no one would’ve noticed what I’d done, which was to disqualify our run by stepping over the line. Oh well. It was still a gorgeous run. Bad handler error.

Brady had some lovely moments and several fantastic runs, including a Tunnelers run at the end of Saturday – the super hot day- in which he smoked the rest of the competition with the fastest run. However, he was also a complete ass, and had to argue with me on nearly every course. It stared off Friday night with a four-obstacle serpentine. Brady loudly informed me that serpentines consist of three obstacles, not four. Hey buddy, try telling that to the judge. By Saturday, he was arguing about sends, finish lines and contacts. I ended up doing some on-course training which cost some runs, but I felt it would serve us well later. It did not. Despite the beautiful Tunnelers run and two very nice Weavers runs, by Sunday he was coming at me and made a couple of connections, which led to us being eliminated a few times.

I spent a lot of time in the last days of the vacation bathing my legs in the ocean’s healing salt water.

Camm was wild, crazy and full of potential. I realized on Sunday during a beautiful Jumpers run when she was five obstacles out from me that this dog has the potential to be a crazy NADAC distance dog. I’m not quite sure I want to go there yet, and regardless, we have a lot more training to do, as evidenced by my needing to remind her regularly this weekend about contact performance and start line stays.

Camm’s former foster mom, who she adores was at this trial too and Camm took some big leaps over the weekend in learning how to work through a major distraction. I was pleased when she realized she could focus on doing agility with me, and still be able to say hello to Anne without losing her shit.

The next couple of days after the trial I awoke with the dogs early each morning and we headed off to the beach, which we could walk to from our rustic little cabin. We got some stares from people and more than a few groups stopped to watch the dogs race each other back and forth into the surf. My guess is that probably not a lot of people vacation on the coast with umpteen dogs. But just to prove that we also had manners, I regularly asked the dogs for a down and stay when people walked by. We also found a nearby grassy field to play ball in and to explore. I explored a few shops and checked out the local espresso stands. Ironic that the only bad cup of coffee I had my entire stay was at a Starbucks.

All in all, it was worth the long drive – although much better was the five-hour trip back home – and worth the bit of money spent on the rustic cabin. I got to play some agility with my dogs, but better yet, I got to play on the beach and soak up some sun. I’ve sort of forgotten that until nearly 15 years ago, I had always lived 60 minutes or less from the ocean. I’ve grown to think of myself as loving the mountains, and I do, but I treasure the ocean just slightly more.

I’ve always loved this quote and firmly believe in its truth:

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen


I think we’ll be going back again.

Feeling Fine

As if the past 60 days haven’t been chill enough, thanks to my forced summer vacation, also known as “thanks for the past 26 years, but we no longer need your services and feel you do not fit with our new vision”  – I am about to take it to a new and even more chill level.

The beach.

Actually, I’m combining several of my most current favorite things in life into one week of bliss – a road trip, the beach, my dogs, agility, checking out a new place – and did I mention the beach?

Currently contemplating what to pack up. All I really need are the dogs, some balls, their food, the sun shade, a pair of cargo pants, a tee shirt, some shorts, sandals, sneakers, sunglasses and a hat. It’s really just that easy.

Feeling fine
I’m feeling fine
I do believe the world is mine
when I’m feeling fine
Feeling fine
I’m feeling fine
I make it reality…it’s just my state of mind

Feeling Fine
Janice B./N’Dinga Gaba

Feeling Fine

Following the Signs


Took Brady for some one-on-one time with me today and decided to explore the trail I meant to explore last week when I took the A+ team – Jasmine and Youke.

This time I did it right. I followed all the signs.

Truthfully, it was hard not too. There were so many of them. It especially amused me when there were trail signs in parts where really there was no other option, unless one wanted to go bushwhacking. And being extremely thoughtful, some of the signs had helpful up and down arrows so one would know that the trail went up in one direction and down in another. Of course, using one’s eyes could also lead to that conclusion.

Whilst I jest, the plentiful signage was actually helpful in several spots where there were multiple choices.

In fact, there were a lot of off course options. So very tempting. But I stayed true to the mission of the day and did not take any off course options. I’ll be back though to check those out. Just way too tempting for me.


Very pretty in parts. Good spots too to pant from the fairly continuous elevation gain  – at least for the first third.

009 A few downhill spots. But what goes down, must come back up. Except for the way back down the trail mostly. And that’s the part I hate.


This is from a “view” spot. Obviously not meant for short people.

Sunday Morning

First, a bit of a disclaimer here. Nearly every morning for the past almost two months has seemed like a Sunday morning. Not that I’m complaining or anything.

This Sunday morning was a real Sunday morning though and JaYoBaCa acted like it. After I woke up and indicated I was about ready to get out of bed, instead of the usual where everyone who was on the bed jumps off and those not on the bed run around, those that were on the bed stayed on and those that were off the bed jumped up to join everyone else. It was like dogapalooza on the bed.

Well, pretty much every day around here is like dogapalooza. Good times for canines.

Brady doesn’t typically sleep on the bed. I theorize that he finds it too warm with everyone and I’m too wiggly for him. Truthfully, some nights I don’t know how Camm stands it. She and Youke stay on the bed all night long with me. Jasmine hops on and off, depending on if she’s too warm or if my legs get restless. Youke long ago claimed the “special spot”, which is right beside me. He likes to either spoon me or cuddle up right against me, no matter what the weather. I’m not gonna lie – it’s pretty nice. But Camm likes to curl up either on my legs or right up against them. Some nights, that must be like riding a rowboat in the ocean.

I truthfully don’t think I have restless legs syndrome, but then again, I’ve never been checked out for it. I just get really restless sometimes and need to stretch or kick my legs out. I know when I have bad dreams that I kick my legs a lot too.

This Sunday morning, all four dogs stayed on the bed for some talking and cuddling time. I like to encourage this with Brady. He’s cuddly on his terms and a moment with him curled up against me and all relaxed in bed is rare.

So there I was, Youke on one side, Brady on the other, and the two girls at the foot of the bed, both with a leg to claim as their own.

I’m not into taking selfies, so no pictures of this madness, but even if I was, there’s no way I could have. Every extremity was claimed and the minute I tried to draw a hand away from either of the boys I get a very hard shove informing me that under no terms was this love-fest over. So very sweet.

It’s pretty much the only time where my fingers can rake through Brady’s fur freely and I don’t get warned about invading some personal body area. That sounds kind of kinky, but it’s not. Brady has very strict rules when it comes to touching and petting. For the most part, I’m allowed to pet his head, neck and chest. Everything else is only on a medical and urgent need basis. Every now and then he offers his belly up for some rubbing, but after a few minutes realizes how dangerously close to a personal area that is and shoves my hand away. Because I very much value Brady’s trust, I abide by his rules most of the time.

Luckily for me, the other three have no such boundaries.

Everyone was all happy and wiggly when we did finally emerge from our nest. The lack of barking on the parts of Camm and Brady as we headed outside for a bit was especially relaxed and peaceful – a true lazy Sunday morning.

What is kind of funny about this is that on Saturday, Youke and Jasmine got to go on an adventure, but I was too lazy to take Brady and Camm out at all when I came back. Maybe not entirely laziness. I actually didn’t feel that hot by the afternoon and even though I napped, I still went to bed early. Whatever it was disappeared by morning. Maybe it was all that furry and warm attention.


Cammi Pants here. Human Mommy told me she felt bad about not taking me out the day before, so I got to go on my own personal adventure with her this morning. Very nice of her. We were hardly in the car for very long and arrived at a new place I’ve never been. Weird. This place is so close and seemed pretty cool, but it was all new to me. Not sure why I never been?

Not gonna lie – mostly cuz I can’t really. I was a little nervous. Human Mommy put me in my harness for one. I can’t even remember the last time I was in that thing. I figured we must be doing some Big Thing.

And all the new smells! It was sorta exciting, but now I was getting really nervous. Human Mommy is pretty smart though. She knew I wasn’t panting cuz I was so hot. She gave me smiles and nice blinky eye faces and told me I Gotcha. She always says that to us when we’re nervous. It was scary cuz I was practically by myself. Usually my tribe is there and that makes things okay, even if I get a little scared. Sometimes I just want to bite Jasmine, but I gotta admit she’s really brave. My brothers can be really annoying and most of the time I need to boss them around a lot, but I know they got my back too, but this time it was only me and Human Mommy.

Human Mommy played a game with me when strange people walked by me. She calls it the Look game and gave me treats. That’s when I knew I was out on a learning walk. But just when I was doing some learning, she let me sniff around a lot. Then she showed me that she remembered to bring my Ball. Super good times! Its hard for me to be nervous when I play with my Ball. Human Mommy was making me do some more learning though, even playing with Ball. I had to do a lot of Waits and Downs and not pay attention to her running and moving her arms until she said that Okay word.

We stopped for a while and walked past a dog park. I was really hoping Human Mommy wouldn’t take me inside. I don’t like going to those places cuz the dogs are rude and everyone wants to say hi to me. Human Mommy knows me so well. We walked by the place.

I love my Human Mommy so much. She helps me when I need it and I help her. Like when she gets mad or upset, I hug her and kiss her and lick her until she laughs and I can feel that she doesn’t have that weird stuff inside her anymore. Human Mommy kinda does that for me too. She says it’s cuz we’re soulmates and scorpio bitches. Human Mommy says stuff I just don’t understand sometimes. Except for the bitches part.

We did more walking and sniffing and then we came to a spot with water. Yippee! I asked if I was gonna swim and stopped to see if she remembered I like to swim with my Ball. She did! I jumped a little wall thing and it was pretty deep water and I had a hard time getting back up to the wall with my Ball. Human Mommy helped me though and grabbed my harness thing. Cool! I realized then that all I had to do was swim up the wall and Human Mommy would help me out every time.

It was kinda hard though, so after a break, we found another place that was easier to get in and out and swim.



While I was swimming, I saw a teenage boy talking to my Human Mommy. I heard him saying something about his huge goofy-looking ladradoodle dog that was barking at me cuz I was swimming and playing with my ball. I guess he wanted to know if that dog could play with me. Human Mommy told him that wasn’t a good idea and said I was snarky. Whatev. Human Mommy seemed happy he asked.

We got to a different part of this place with a pretty big field. There was a dog playing with a Ball on one side of it. I looked for a second, but I knew I was supposed to mind my own business. Human Mommy seemed to think that was good, cuz again she tossed my Ball for me after she took off my leash. Woot! So there I was playing with my own Ball and my own Human Mommy when that dog, a big yellow lab kind, comes trotting over to me to say hi. I glared at him to leave me alone, but he seemed like he wanted to be friends or something. I growled at him low with Ball in my mouth and said I didn’t want to make friends. Rude! Couldn’t he see I was doing my own thing? But he got the message and trotted back to his own Humans. Cuz I didn’t know him or anything I wasn’t interested in playing with his Ball too, although when I play with my brothers I think I should have all of the Balls.


Human Mommy let me play for a while and we did more learning things, then she decided we were done. Good thing. My brain was getting tired. Human Mommy took me for a short ride to a place she calls the post office. Looks to me like she drives a long way to dump trash in a trash thing, but whatever. She said it would give me time to process things before I got back home and the other dogs were all over me. I guess that makes sense. I was really quiet for a while, but after I spent a little time thinking on things, I popped my head up and sniffed out the window until we got back home.

She was right, soon as I got in the house everyone wanted to know where I was and what I was doing. Now, I just feel like taking a nap.

Itty Bitty Skort

Yeah, so I bought a tiny skort today. And socks too.

I also wore a hoodie for the first time in what feels like at least a month because it got cold. 68 degrees. That felt pretty damn chilly after becoming acclimated to 90+ degrees. Truthfully, I always throw on a hoodie if it’s below 70 degrees unless there’s a steep uphill climb or unless I’ve run three dogs and am about to run a fourth at an agility competition. Felt slightly odd to have an additional layer on after so long, but comforting too. It was also strangely comforting to see a layer of puffy gray clouds above, sort of like a security blanket.

I’ve become acclimated to those clouds. So much so that I miss them when they’re gone for long.

But back to the skort.

I was wearing a skort too when I bought it. but it was a more proper going-out-on-a lunch-date skort. Appropriate since that was exactly what I was doing.

The luncheon date was at a local mall. Let me explain that I’m really not a fan of The Mall. Seriously, someone asks to meet at some eating spot at a mall and I break into a cold sweat. The reason? I know it’s going to be hell to find the place. It’s far better if I do not know that the designated meeting spot is at a ginormous mecca of mass merchandise and chain restaurants practically shouting their unique place in the mid-scale, family-friendly, casual-dining sector. That way, when I actually find the place, no thanks to my GPS unit, and am a stressed-out mess, running at least 20 minutes late because it took me that long to find a parking space, I’m more likely to forget about not having a drink and will therefore be much more fun to hang out with, but only after the 30 minutes it will take me to chill out.

Despite knowing all of the above, my friend still insists on meeting up at locations that are difficult to pinpoint and that will call for me to circle numerous times before I can locate a sparking space. And I drive a highly maneuverable jeep.

I used to be a very big fan of The Mall. Then again, I used to work at The Mall.

Many, many years ago I was a manager of a retail women’s chain clothing store. I thought it would be slightly glamorous. A store discount, arranging displays, lunch breaks at Panera Bread. Alas, it was working 60-hour weeks on a good week, managing the never-ending soap opera drama of the teenage girls that worked part-time at the store, following store design layout plans that came from corporate every week that involved back-breaking movement of display units and signage, and getting paid diddly-squat for the pleasure of it all. Also, I was old when I worked at The Mall. I was 26. That’s practically being a grandmother in mall-dom.

I’m not quite sure what spurred my romp through the mall today. Of course, it was there for one. Secondly, I was actually without any dogs and it seemed a waste to spend that dog-less time only on a lunch, then to turn right around and fight Friday traffic back home. And, I’d spotted an Urban Outfitters store.

Urban Outfitters used to be one of my favorite places. I remember falling in love with it in Boston. How funky and hip it was. How very irreverent. Cool and unique styling too. Something happened though in the past 20 years. Either I grew up a little or Urban Outfitters has lost its cool edge.

So sad. I walked in telling myself to tighten my purse and be sensible, and walked out with nothing. Not a single item appealed to me, It pretty much looked like any mall store.

I wandered on, telling myself I’d take a glance at a few places. Which is pretty much what I did. I guess I’m officially old. The Mall was full of young mothers with their screaming, running children, a few elderly mall walkers who must not have gotten in their morning strolls and lots and lots of teenagers trying to look uber cool. At least I have verified for myself now that the sagging pants trend is long over and tight pants for boys is in.

Naturally, I was drawn to a store advertising itself as an outdoors apparel shop.

Yeah, I’m kinda over fashion. Bring on the waterproof, the ripstop, the fleece, the tech fabric.

The first thing I see were a fabulous pair of tech fabric capris. Not only functional, but uber cool. Except they were bright, stark white. That was my clue that this was a shop for the upscale, hipster-leaning, Bellevue-dwelling outdoor enthusiast that can scale a peak in the Cascades on a  Saturday, yet not ruin the Friday afternoon pedicure and still look fabulous for Sunday brunch.

Um, I seemed to be over my head. And over my spending limit.

I fondled those white tech fabric capris longingly, but in the end, simply could not justify them taking up residence in a house shared with four dogs; four dogs that regularly tattoo me with their muddy paw prints.

Just as I was about to walk away and walk out, a helpful salesperson informed me of the 40% off sale. My ears perked.

I’ve written previously, and with some derision, of the trend in agility of wearing skorts. I’ve also explained why that is not me.

Let me remind you that this has been an exceptionally hot summer so far. Let me also tell you that wearing long black pants, even those of a light, wicking tech fabric, is hot.

I accidentally broke my personal rule a few weeks back and wore shorts while running Brady in competition.

I’d been wearing long pants over my shorts every time I went to run him, quickly pulling them on at my car before I pulled him out for a run. Apparently, I simply forgot at one moment. It was on Sunday, the third day of an event I’d been not only competing in, but was also chairing.

I emerged that weekend with my legs unscathed. In fact, until some unwittingly self-inflicted wounds from earlier this week – a razor cut, prickle scratches and a stick I stepped on and got stabbed with, I’ve been scab-less for a month.

So when I saw that adorable off-black flouncy very short skort, that also happened to be 40% off the original price, I was entranced. Maybe I too can be like all the other super cool agility gals and run my super cool border collies in a skort!

So I bought it.

The short is pretty short though. And it isn’t a straight, serious skort. It’s a bit flirty with its slight ruffles. Being a reformed fashionista, I couldn’t help myself. If I’m jumping on this bandwagon I’m doing it with major flair.

So, I’m toying with wearing this thing next weekend at an agility trial I’m going to. Or maybe some other weekend this summer. Not really sure If I’m daring enough to temp the fates – that being mainly the appeal of my naked legs flashing in front of my argumentative dog. We shall see.

If nothing else, I can wear it to my next lunch date.


Julydogs JaYoBaCa gathered around the campfire.

A friend of mine recently asked how my tribe was.

It was a phone conversation, so he couldn’t see me do a double-take. It was the first time anyone has ever addressed JaYoBaCa in that fashion, and I loved it.

First of all, I was thankful he did not address them as my “pack.” I freakin’ hate that term. Hate it. Did I mention I intensely dislike it?

It conjures up all these false assumptions about dogs and dog behaviors and their similarities to wild wolves, that to this day many people still seem to think is gospel, despite the fact that the original study was done numerous decades ago and has since been disproved. Scientific study in the last few years has uncovered far more interesting data and the study on “wild” wolves done nearly 40 years ago was actually conducted upon wolves living in captivity.

Turns out, wild wolves more often live in what can be best be described as a group of extended family.

One definition of tribe particularly strikes me. “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”

I think my friend hit the nail on the head. And he’s not even really a dog person. Funny that.

I often learn so many things from my friends that are not dog people. It’s as if by not being so immersed in the culture of dogs and dog training that they can see some things more clearly and can offer, at least to me, a fresh perspective. It’s happened more than a few times.

I like the description of JaYoBaca being a tribe. I definitely see behaviors that are learned and passed down from different dogs. I also enjoy seeing different dogs integrate and bring in new behaviors, or as I like to call them, customs.

I admit, I’m weird about words and the use of certain words, especially when they become labels and hold a larger implication.

JulyCamm This is the tribe princess.

Julyflowers Ventured out on a beautiful day and saw this.

JulyWoods   JulyWoods2

The colors were actually far more vibrant. I guess to many these are weeds, but to me this is nature’s landscaping at its best. No rain for weeks and still the hillsides were full of purples and yellows. Also full of berries.So many of the berries were hidden, low on the ground and close to the remaining trickles of water. Picked some for me, and of course Jasmine, Youke and Camm had to have their share too. Brady was too busy running ahead, scouting out what was beyond the twists in the trail and beyond the long grasses. He did take time to relax though and watch us pick and eat berries from higher hill perches. He takes his scouting responsibilities very seriously.

He also was on look-out duty when I had to pee.

I’ve become quite comfortable about peeing out and about in nature. Although I try not to piss on nature. Anyway, again, probably a sign that I’m weird, but I always find it flattering when after I pee, Jasmine pees over my pee. It’s pretty rare when she doesn’t do that. Sometimes, Brady will come on over and also mark on the spot.

I am admittedly a bit obsessed about the whole marking behavior thing and when it is warranted and when it is not. I’m mostly fascinated with it though in the context of overmarking within a familial group. If I had millions of dollars, a lot more free time and a more scientific bent, I’d study this. Seriously, I’ve observed the behaviors for years and still do not quite see a discernible pattern or reason to it. Just when I think I have it figured out, someone doesn’t do what I anticipate.

But I’m good with the peeing on my pee thing. I figure it’s part of what makes us a tribe.

Exploring in All the Wrong Ways


Took my “A” team today to explore a new hiking trail. New to us that is.

My A+ hiking team consists of Jasmine and Youke. They can usually be relied upon not to cause trouble and not to get in trouble. Which is pretty much why Brady will always be on the secondary hiking team. 😦

Both Jaz and Youke are reliable off leash, don’t typically go too far ahead, have solid recalls and their chemistry is such that when together they are also typically friendly to both other dogs and people, although sometimes Jasmine’s barking becomes a bit strident, leading to her being leashed up.

Since I’d never been to this particular trail, I was reluctant to bring all four dogs at once and thought it’d be a lovely and relaxing time to check it out first with these two. Besides, such a treat to take two at a time. For them and for me.

Easy enough to get to the trail head and discovered we seemed to be the only ones there. The trail signage though? That kinda sucked. Of course, had I bothered to stay on the obvious path straight ahead, I would have found the visibly marked trail. Additionally, had I bothered to really look more closely at the large area trail map I could’ve figured some things out. And lastly, had I looked left of the large area trail map I would’ve seen the handily provided trail maps clearly giving me a closer view of the trail system.

But screw all that. I’m an explorer!

So off I went with the dogs in a completely different direction. After a little bit, it seemed obvious no one else was around, so unclipped the dogs. Naturally, a deer chose that moment to go bopping about in the woods. Both dogs alerted, looked at me, strained forward, but when I quietly advised them to stay with me, that’s actually what they did. A win! Again, this is why Brady will never be on the A+ team.

What we encountered was a morass of intertwining roads, faint grown over trails and dead ends. All mysteriously signed with tree names, but with no explanation. No problem, I thought, I have all day. And I have a decent sense of direction and a good memory. At least I did discover we were on state Department of Natural Resource (DNR) land. That was good because I saw a couple of houses a few times that were fairly close and worried I might be trespassing.

Jaz and Youke had a blast smelling the new smells. I decided to just keep heading in a general direction, but also opting to explore a lot of side trails along the way, just to see if they went somewhere or dead-ended. No one had been that way for a long time. Lots of spider webs. Ordinarily spiders freak me out. But there’s something to be said for flooding. As in flooding me with their pesky webs and tiny bodies. So much so that after a while I didn’t care.

The A+ team heard another deer and decided to check it out, but returned in less than 10 seconds. By then, they were both getting pretty hot. I didn’t bring water for them because I knew we wouldn’t be out that long and figured we’d stumble on some water source. I’m sure that makes me a really crappy hiker and dog guardian. If it makes anyone feel any better, I didn’t bring any for me either.

Youke checked out a culvert, but it was dry. Clever little dog that he is though, he started checking the area. I agreed with him that it was usually a very wet area – very lush green growth and plant types that one often sees in swampy places. And of course, he found it. Water. Youke ran down a little hill and jumped in to splash around. I was so happy for his happy little self. Until he stepped out.

Caked in mud. Again. Jasmine saw how happy he was and that he was wet and looked at me. I could’ve told her no and she would’ve listened. But she was hot and I’m indulgent.

So off Jasmine went into what I knew by then was a giant wet mud puddle. Like Youke, Jaz emerged more black than anything else. It just shows a lot more on her than on Youke.

More exploring. More trying to make sense of the twists and turns.

We came a little too close to one residence. The resident dogs heard us and one came racing into the woods to check us out. Not gonna lie. My heart dropped a little bit when I saw a pittie mix that looked very similar to the ones that got in our faces a few months back and caused havoc.

No worries, Jasmine is a bad ass. She bounded over to the other dog in three huge leaps, got in his/her face and the other dog turned tail and went back down the trail. Jasmine trotted back to me with this pleased expression, tail high. I did spot the other dog turn around and look after us, but he/she did not follow, maybe because it saw Jasmine stop to check where it was too.

We took a few more lefts, a few more rights and I had started to figure how some of the roads hooked up with one another. Meanwhile, Youke was in a spectacular mood.

YoukeWoodsWalk This is Youke’s uber happy face. I can’t always catch it on camera since he has a habit of looking like a Victim – yes, capital V – in pictures. Today was pretty much Youke’s perfect day. Outdoors, exploring, no real agenda, out with his favorite human and his bestie Jasmine, sticks and pine cones to play with, mud to splash in. He even did something I haven’t seen him do in a long time and that’s to solicit play from Jasmine with growls, burst of barking and play bows. Once she responds, he twirls around and does his best ninja moves on her. Then she ignores him. Rightfully so. It’s sort of obnoxious when your friend is acting like a ninja and pulling those annoying moves, but when you didn’t sign on to play a part in the ninja movie yourself.

By then I’d figured out where we were, where we’d been and where we needed to go to get back. Will have to go some other time to explore the actual trail we came to find.