This is a picture of a spry and fit senior. This is Jasmine.
So, a couple of weeks ago I took Jasmine with me for a five-mile hike. Didn’t really think about it. I just knew she’d be compatible with the dogs of the friend I was going with and that she’d be well-behaved on the hike. I never really stopped to think about if she was fit enough or if she’d get worn out. She’s incredibly fit and I knew that the distance, even with the added “dog miles” wouldn’t be a problem for her.
See, I’m convinced that Jasmine is a genetic marvel. Sure. I feed her good food, she gets decent exercise and she has three younger tribe members to keep her on her toes. I sincerely believe those factors have contributed to her longevity and spryness. But I also know dogs her age that are treated similarly and haven’t quite hit the genetic lottery she apparently has. Perhaps there is something to be said for mutts and genetic diversity.*
The day after that hike, while Youke was willing to lollygag about and nap, Jasmine was pestering me to do something. When that didn’t work, she started turning somersaults on her dog bed in my office. Because that’s what Jasmine does.
Interesting factoid: Jasmine started fetching balls at the age of nine. This was not due to a lack of attempt on my part.She still only does it if she feels like it, but she’s made it pretty evident that she knows exactly what is involved and the idea of constantly running back and forth to gather and bring back a rubbery sphere is plain stupid. And people think Border Collies are brilliant.
I’ve always referred to Jasmine as my state worker. I can say this because I used to be a state worker a long time ago. Jasmine is in it for the excellent benefits and the pension only. For Jasmine, the pay was just never high enough to warrant too much effort.
When I retired Jasmine from agility, I was a bit worried about the next stage. Although I’d long ago stopped taking her to lessons (as a state worker she saw no reason to stick around and learn anymore about a job she’d already been doing and clearly wasn’t going to be paid highly enough to do), we still did agility on a pretty regular basis. Although a lot of people mentioned doing Nosework with her, I know Jasmine and I know how easily bored she gets. The downside to being brilliant I suppose with the work ethic of a state worker.
So being the fun-loving CEO that allows the president (Camm) to take on most of the actual running of things and supervising hikes has been Jasmine’s “job” of late.
This week, I discovered I may have found her true calling.
I’m taking care of two older dogs that are quite the stately gentlemen. Actually one is a total goofball, but age gives him the illusion of having some eminence. They are total sweethearts. However, age and size – both are large mixed breed dogs – are taking a toll. When both boys feel well and I take them for walks, I feel like a small boat in the wake of two stately ocean liners cruising along in a calm sea. The goofy guy is still pretty spry, limited only by the fact that he’s getting up there in years. The older dog has great days, good days and days where he really doesn’t want to do much of anything except piddle a bit and then lay down.
Both had met Jasmine several months ago when I was caring for them and were immediately smitten. Despite being seen as the Ann-Margret of the senior set, Jasmine was overwhelmed by their attention. Probably because both guys tower over her and outweigh her by a good 50 pounds or more.
Nevertheless, despite Jasmine asking me to place her back into my car where she could recover from the unwanted attentions of two old men with major crushes, I made note of the effect she had on both and how perky they had become. In fact, during that particular set of visits, the “younger” old guy, who makes me think of Walter Matthau, kept looking for her.
“Hey, where’s that hot sexy little redhead you had with you last night? I’d sure like to see her again!”
So this week I noticed that the older old guy, let’s refer to him as Jack Lemmon, had really slowed down. He wasn’t that interested in eating, despite the addition of some stinky wet food and while I think he wanted to go out for walks, he could barely lift himself enough to go out into his yard to piddle.
The next morning, I brought Jasmine with me.
Apparently, Jasmine knew she had a job to do.
She jumped out of the car to come greet Walter, the younger older guy. Being the very polite gentlemen that he is, he greeted her with delicacy and tenderness. seemingly knowing his size. She clearly indicated she was all business, but he was allowed to gingerly sniff her. The funniest part was when he would accidentally walk into her and feign looking at something else, like he knew he could possibly offend her by being too direct.
“You are but a delicate tender flower my dear. I will attempt to only sniff your enticing fiery redheaded aroma that makes me slightly dizzy. It is precisely that dizziness that makes me bump into you. Please do not be offended magnificent lady creature!”
As if that part wasn’t amusing enough, the instantaneous and miraculous recovery of Jack, the older old guy was even more droll. He was laying on the garage floor when I came in with Jasmine. Upon sighting her, his ears pricked forward and he struggled to his feet.
“Madam! I’m afraid you’ve caught me slightly incapacitated! I was not expecting company, much less company from such a fine specimen as yourself!”
Suddenly, he was strolling in his yard, following Jasmine as she sniffed all the old man pee spots. Instead of a dribble, Jack found the strength for a full on spurt. He also discovered that he was somewhat hungry after all. It does take an appetite to pursue something as spicy as Jasmine.
Jasmine seemed quite pleased with the response her mere presence had elicited. I realized that I was now dealing with a sexy senior. Hence, Ann-Margret.
This evening when I visited the two old guys, I purposefully brought Jasmine with me. She nonchalantly greeted the two senior guys and casually allowed the faintest lingering sniffs.
“Ah redheaded fiery beauty! You grace us with your presence again. May we interest you in peeing on a few things?”
I’m pretty sure Jasmine would be the one at the retirement home causing a ruckus and leading the other old ladies to gossip loudly and disapprovingly over her wanton ways and revealing outfits. Meanwhile, the old men would be drooling and more than a few dentures would fall out from gaping mouths.
The funny thing is that seeing Jasmine with these two I have now realized that she morphed from a ridiculously goofy one-year old loose-bodied puppy, into an athletic punchy tomboy, then into a beautiful and even elegant queen, to now that spry, sexy senior that wears skorts and lycra outfits and puts the 20-somethings to shame.
But one that still does somersaults to amuse herself, because some things never change.
* According to a DNA test I did several years ago, Jasmine is half German Shepherd and half Catahoula Leopard Dog. I believe the former. Not quite convinced on the latter. I still tell people she’s a cattle dog mix, but I used to register her for agility trials as a Yakima Mutt. I think that last bit speaks to her true heritage.
**Walter and Jack’s owner knows of Ann-Margret’s visits and heartily approves. She also thinks it’s quite funny.
Although the afternoon started off on a not-so-good note thanks to Youke not only eating all the cat’s food, but also investigating cupboards for treats while I was gone today (yay for me for placing them on the second shelf and not the first), it ended up being pretty sweet for him.
I should’ve known something was up when I came home. I didn’t even enter the house after being gone for several hours, instead calling all four dogs into the garage and going outside from there. Immediately, Youke started rubbing himself all over me and grinning up at me like an idiot with his appeasement gestures. Sure enough, I found the emptied cat food bowl and the open cupboard doors when I went back into the house.
I decided anyone capable of not only jumping up on high kitchen counters, but also capable of opening cupboard doors and rifling through the contents of said cupboards was not too tired to do some more agility. Thus, despite being intensely pissed off at him, I took him to see The Relationship Counselor. How ironic.
Naturally, he was awesome and clearly the reason we don’t Q more often in distance games like Chances is because we just want to leave enough Qs for others.
Still, there’s always something to work on, such as a certain spotty dog’s tendency to see jumps as something to go around instead of over. Our instructor started rewarding the desired behavior with bits of cheese. Youke likes cheese and naturally worked for it. But I also didn’t see quite the enthusiasm I would’ve liked for the game we were playing. So I asked about rewarding with a toy as Youke values toys far beyond food. Specifically, I asked about rewarding with Ball. She was agreeable and suddenly Youke wasn’t so tired from the 45 minutes we’d already had of the lesson.
This was Youke’s opportunity to cajole Andrea into a game of Ball. I watched as Youke’s magic BCB powers kicked into gear. Sure, he was doing some valuable learning, but what was also happening was that he’d just convinced The Relationship Counselor to endlessly toss that little orange sphere back and forth. I was relieved that it’s not just me that gets sucked into the Ball vortex.
The trance was broken finally by the clearing of the throat of the next student patiently waiting and whose patience had likely worn out as we’d gone quite a bit over time. This is the power of Ball. It makes time disappear.
Sadly Brady didn’t get to see The Relationship Counselor today, but both boys got to go swimming immediately afterward and after I politely asked some gentlemen fishing off the dock if two insane splashing border collies were going to ruin their fishing. They assured me that splashing dogs would be just fine as they figured all the splashing would drive the fish closer to their fishing poles.
So dogs playing in the water are like little kids playing in the water. They look like drowned rats, they’re shivering from the cold and they’re exhausted, but they still want “just a few more minutes, please??!!”
After I loaded the two dripping wet dogs into the vehicle, off we went to a friend’s house so I could drop some stuff off for her for next weekend. Youke and Brady got to meet up and play with her dogs and a guest dog she’s watching for a friend. It was fun to watch the shenanigans, especially the high-speed running with no real purpose except to burn off energy. As Youke was rolling some worm-dirt perfume on himself after the running/chasing activities, Brady made a new friend named Hodie, who happens to be an older gent of a dog and was staying with my friend. Not entirely sure the admiration was equally returned though. However, they did match pee for pee, which was comical to watch. Sort of like watching the back and forth of tennis .. without the pseudo sex noises.
Brady tends to become overwhelmed in social situations involving other dogs, even when he’s in a great mood, but there was something about Hodie that he liked and was at ease with, even after Hodie snapped at him to back off with the friendly overtures. So Brady decided to go find things to pee on by himself for a while. The strategy worked. Soon he and Hodie were peeing on things together again.
Brady and Youke don’t pee on things together. Youke never grasped the concept of peeing on things for the sake of peeing on things. I guess some guys just need a friend to go peeing on things with.
So while this was happening …
The boys were out playing.
These two pictures pretty much describe our entire past week.
While Camm’s broken foot isn’t bothering her in the least, not a tiny iota, she is being drugged (by me) to prevent her from insisting upon doing all of her normal activities with her usual aplomb, vigor and joie de vie. The drugging reduces her enthusiasm about 20% at the most.
Luckily for me, the vet said that the splint and bandage looks good and remains in place. I didn’t tell him about all the activity she’s had that she shouldn’t be having, but he certainly witnessed her jumping on her hind legs to visit with the vet staff, running into the exam room, running out of the exam room, and probably saw her jump into The Living Room on Wheels. Nothing gets Camm down.
She has been highly suspicious of my activities though over the past week and gives me a thorough inspection when I return. No matter how many frozen kongs and new toys, it still apparently does not make up for the fact that I went hiking without her – taking Youke and Jasmine instead, and that this weekend I went to an agility trial without her – taking the boys instead.
Youke was fantastic this weekend. He was one knocked jump bar away from a perfect weekend in fact. What was most wonderful was not the Q rate (qualifying scores), but that fact that we were so in sync and that Youke was running happy, smooth and efficiently.
Shockingly, after adding up his points from this weekend, he’s now about 3/4th away from completing his C-ATCH 4 title. Apparently this is what happens when you have a consistent partner. Who knew??! Certainly not me before.
However, that will have to wait. This was Youke’s last CPE trial until the fall. I made a vow earlier in the year that if he qualified for CPE Nationals 2017 in the first half of 2016 I wouldn’t trial him at all this summer. We have one trial next weekend, a NADAC trial, and then nothing until September.
I’m keeping my promise.
On the other hand, Brady was in a grumpy mood Saturday, but ran perfectly, qualifying in all of his runs. On Sunday, he was in a great mood, but was a jerk on his first run of the day in jumpers.
This is Brady after he thought about his choices.
I was excited to run the jumpers course with Brady. It was a really fun course and also lent itself to the distance work I’m doing with him again. Except, Brady was pissed that I wasn’t running with him, instead was mainly walking. He exhibited this irritation by barking and spinning, and then by an attempted drive-by bite. Brady is especially adept at the drive-by bite.
Except I shut him down. Hard.
I immediately got pissed myself, informed him we were done, grabbed him by a bit of his ruff and out of the ring we walked. It may have looked harsh to some, but I’ve found now this is the only way I can get across to Brady that these drive-bys are totally not acceptable.
I was pissed too because I really wanted to run the course. At least I got to run it with Youke.
Some Baileys in my coffee helped me think about Brady’s choices too.
I guess Brady did consider his options when I left him in the car for a while, because when I went to get him for our next run he was happy, sassy, but very much willing to work with me. We then had our best run of the weekend, smoking a course in under 16 seconds.
It was kind of nice to be just hanging with the boys.
Youke isn’t opposed to hanging with his brother, but Youke sometimes wishes all the things could be just his.
File this under Resource Guarding.
Look closely. Despite the new plushy squeaky toy, Camm is not a happy camper, and it wasn’t because she was having her picture taken. We all know by now how much she enjoys being a supermodel.
Camm is not happy because she is a convalescent at present.
Please note Camm’s new accessory. Nope, not that sassy collar that I’d hoped she’d debut at last weekend’s agility show. (It is really fabulous and speaks volumes about her sass. Black and red, with red lipstick kisses and it says “kiss this.” Was that not designed with Camm in mind or what?)
Camm broke her #4 metatarsal in her left rear foot. Basically, she broke a bone in her foot. A weight-bearing bone no less.
While I’d like to tell you it was while she was doing something incredible, or while you might think it’s agility-related, neither is true. She broke it playing Ball. It was just a weird, freak thing where she slipped on grass racing to a Ball before Brady – even though she had a Ball in her mouth already.
Camm’s idea of playing Ball is to hold her own Ball in her mouth, but race out to get to the boy’s Balls before they do. Once there, she points out where the Ball is, just in case they didn’t already know (they almost always already know) and races back to me to be ready in case I’m about to launch another Ball. Camm plays this way because she is the ultimate uber bossy controlling Border Collie bitch.
During a break in Ball play, which must always be called by me because no one ever voluntarily decides there’s been enough Ball play, Camm goes around and gathers up the boys’ Balls and lies down with them in front of her nose. I’m convinced that she counts them. Camm doesn’t have a flock of sheep to control, so she controls all the Balls.
I actually witnessed the slip. But it’s not like that hadn’t ever happened before. She never yelped or cried out. In fact, she raced back to me. I think I threw Balls two more times and she was fine. We then headed off to walk in the woods for a while but I noticed her extreme sashaying walk. Camm has an extremely cute behind but doesn’t sashay. Bossy girls don’t have time for such nonsense. When she turned toward me and started forward on three legs, my heart sank.
Although she flinched later that night when I touched her left foot while trying to assess what the injury was, by the next day I’d convinced myself she’d ruptured her knee. That’s an all too common injury in dogs that often requires surgery and rehab. I know this because far too many of my friends have gone through it with their dogs.
Even the vet thought so when I took her in to see him the day after the injury. However, by then she was bearing weight on her leg. He figured her knee was torn, but not ruptured. Because she was being a little snippy, even though she was still taking cookies from him, he brought her into the exam room in the back. I braced myself for the news.
He came back three minutes later and confirmed it was indeed her foot and that she’d need to be fixated and put in a splint. He told me four to six weeks of recovery and probably light walks.
The vet that actually adjusted the bone and splinted her told me eight weeks in the splint and no walks. Basically, she advised me Camm couldn’t do anything except go out to relieve herself on-leash.
When she saw my
crestfallen, horrified, thunderstruck, incredulous face, she casually mentioned that she could consider giving me more meds to keep her “calm.”
However, she also prescribed a pretty heavy dose of tramadol which she assured me would have a tranquilizing effect.
Camm came home very doped up and although she walked out of the vet’s office, I think it took every unbroken bone in her stoic body to do so. I had to carry her into the house.
Although she was a sad little doped up mess that night, when morning arrived, it was a different story.
Overnight, she had come to terms with her new “clunky foot” reality. She jumped off the bed, and once outside for her morning pee break, ran. She is not supposed to be doing any of these things. When I arrived home that day after walking clients, she leaped up on her hind legs as always to greet me and gave me a hug as she always does. When she though I wasn’t delivering her meds to her fast enough, she leaped up on her hind legs, placing front paws on the counter, to see what the hold up was. (Giving pills in my house is a joyous occasion. All the dogs know the word “pill” and race to get them. This is because pills get delivered with something super tasty.)
This is Camm on drugs.
This is Camm on not enough drugs.
I think I need a tranquilizer gun. Despite the addition of benadryl (or as I like to call them, “bennies”) to her tramadol, Camm still is perfectly capable, and very willing, of running around in the house, running after an errant bunny that happened by while she was on a potty break, soliciting play from Youke, bossing Brady around – okay, bossing everyone around, chasing after a fly in the house, going up and down stairs, getting on the bed … you get the picture.
It’s not like she’s a whirlwind of constant activity. She’s actually very good and very quiet in the house most of the time, like she usually is in the first place. Camm just has no concept of taking it easy and being slow. None. Zero. Nil. Zip. The minute I move, she’s in action. Camm’s response to my plea of “Camm, you can’t run!” is “Um, yes I can! See, I’m doing it now!”
It’s gonna be a long few months. I have ideas to keep her brain occupied and I’m going to ask for x-rays prior to eight weeks to see how the healing is progressing and to see if I can get her out of a permanent splint faster. Ideally, healing progresses quickly and I can start taking her swimming and maybe walking in a splint I can put on and take off myself before the eight weeks is up, but time will tell.
In the meantime, some dogs are pretty happy that annoying, bossy little sisters have to stay home and they get to play Ball without interference and go on hikes without someone running up their butt. And bonus! Pesky little sisters get new toys when they are convalescing that are really great to steal and play with yourself!
All that sounds tremendously complex, and memorizing agility courses is actually great brain exercise, but most of the time I can walk a course and do all of the above in five minutes or less. I just find that for me personally, obsessing over how I’m going to handle a course does me no favors and I end up second guessing things. There have been times when I had time to walk a course once and handled the run far better than when I had multiple walk-throughs and plenty of time to analyze and plan. There’s also something that my Canadian friends have named as a “pirate run.” That’s when you don’t walk a course at all and run it. I rarely do it as Brady is a dog that needs (and deserves) some amount of precision (or I hear it … or get bitten). I’m proud to say though that I have done a few pirate runs – with Youke and Brady, and they went spectacularly. My favorite was when I got to an event much later than planned, saw they were running Brady’s height division and quickly asked a friend for a run-down of the course. I then watched one dog run it, asked the gate steward to move me and Brady down to the last dog of the height division, and ran to get him. We arrived, breathless, at the gate for our run with barely a second to spare and freakin’ nailed it. Still not sure how we accomplished that. The stars were aligned I guess.
So guess what? Did an agility trial this weekend.
That was a bit of a joke. Like what else would I do on a long holiday weekend?
It’s been over a month since I last posted. Mostly that’s because I either didn’t have anything nice to say or I was super busy. The super busy part is pretty good. The not having anything nice to say part was an editorial decision on my part. While I wrote soooo many things in my head, many of them quite brilliant and bitingly hilarious – in the end, I opted to rein myself in. That was not the original intent of this blog, and it may or may not continue. Those who know me well may feel a twinge of sadness. Those who don’t, well, really you should thank me. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone. (That’s called sarcasm – I do it incredibly well.)
May really was a bitchy month. Mercury retrograde and all. So bitchy, I actually forgot about an important anniversary – the day I got kicked off the island, i.e. told I no longer fit in with the company’s vision going forward. That’s for a later post.
Okay, actually I forgot because I was at an agility trial that weekend. Youke getting his third championship title, C-ATCH 3, was definitely a good thing that happened in May.
Camm seemed to be looking for her big ribbon that weekend too. Told her it’ll happen someday, but at our present rate, someday may be a long way off.
This weekend, traveled to Salem, OR for a trial. Mainly because I really didn’t want to stick around at home and be all depressed that long holiday weekends are an inappropriate time to try to take all four of my dogs out for a hike. Therefore, 1.5 tanks of gas and 550.5 miles later…. there we were.
So glad we went. I did this particular trial last May too and had a lot of fun. But this year was better, For one, it wasn’t freezing cold like last year. It was surprisingly perfect! In fact, I dressed a bit too warmly, thanks to the incorrect weather forecast.
Jasmine would like to note it wasn’t all that perfect for her. For one thing, she is not feeling the part about being retired.
Jasmine hopped out of The Living Room on Wheels every chance she could, pretty convinced it was her turn to run. When she wasn’t doing that, she was barking. So much barking. On the one hand, it appears that at nearly 13 years of age she has decided to pull out her old dog license. On the other, Jasmine was pretty convincing about wanting to do agility. Made me wish that I entered her in a few runs this past weekend.
I took her into the arena finally on Sunday afternoon and she was pulling me to get into the building. She’d trialed there twice in the past, including last year at this time, so knew the layout. I brought her to the entrance of the ring to let her see the ring and equipment as the course builders were setting up a new course. Fort the first time that I can really recall, I saw her scanning the layout like Brady and Camm do before their runs. And then the best part ever happened for Jasmine – people! A long-time CPE judge was trialing this weekend and came up to say hello to Jasmine. Jasmine had trialed under her too many times to count and she’d told me in the past that she always liked watching Jasmine. And then other people came up to say hello to Jasmine and she was pretty much in heaven. For Jasmine, agility was about the people and making human friends. That was her reward. She only ever did it to try to please me.
So in addition to being a major pain in the ass with her barking, Jasmine also got to pee on a lot of things and over other dogs’ pee and got to knock over Brady and Youke a couple of times to get to the Ball first and show them she’s still All That. She narrowly missed knocking Camm over too, but the girls seem to have a mutual agreement about no actual contact during play time.
Youke was once again a steady rock star this weekend.
Somehow, Youke has become this fairly competent and happy little agility dog in the past six months. He even tugged inside the ring with me a few times this weekend while we were waiting for jumps to be set and/or the judge to finish instructions to the score table. Now, at home Youke likes to play a fierce game of tug, but he’s never been that into it at other places. Of course, Ball is still best.
Youke likes to have a few bites of string cheese after he does an agility run, but playing Ball is his biggest reward. He got to play a lot of Ball this weekend. He was awesome.Poor guy even put up with me sending him through the weaves three times in his Snooker run. He was a champ (he is the most perfect Snooker dog actually) and did perfect weaves all freakin’ weekend. Of course I stacked the deck in my favor by being “on-side” for all entries this weekend, including during a super awkward moment in Standard on Sunday where during a ill-timed front cross on my part into the weaves he ricocheted off my knees. Apparently that’s not a fault. Otherwise, he was smooth as butter in his runs and turned in super excellent performances in Standard on Saturday and Jumpers on Sunday in particular. In fact, Youke had a perfect day on Sunday, qualifying in all of his runs.
Wildcard on Saturday? Not so much. I was telling our agility instructor last week how Wildcard is my foe in CPE agility. I guess for many people it’s a game called Colors. Nope, me and my dogs usually excel at that game.
On Saturday, I bit it big time with all three dogs in Wildcard. Youke’s run was such a disaster that I just ended up in the middle of the ring stopping and just playing with him for a few seconds before continuing on. I’ve always though it was so funny how doing that, even when it’s absolutely the right thing to do, earns a elimination score or an “E.”. Seems like it should earn an “F” – for FUN!
Wildcard was actually not such a disaster for Brady. He ran the course perfectly. He just forgot that he’s supposed to stop on contact equipment and not leap off of it.
That was pretty the story of the weekend for Brady. Any course with contact equipment, and we didn’t qualify. He had a lot of fun, as did I, but judges don’t look favorably on the flair that Brady adds to doing contacts. I see some persuasive training in our future.
My highlight with Brady this weekend was his smoking and perfect Jumpers run Sunday. The speed! The tight turns! The discriminations! The lack of arguments at turning away from me! That latter part was huge. Every single course I walked this weekend I rehearsed over and over how to use my arm to “switch” Brady away on turns and to be deliberate and conscious of my body language. I’m just gonna say that he was deeply appreciative. It was like running agility with an agility instructor at my side. In reality, Brady is the best agility instructor I could have. He’s completely silent and perfect when I do things right. He’s loud, biting and ANGRY when my handling sucks.
Case in point – Snooker. Snooker is a game that makes Brady deeply angry. There is not always a way to run a Snooker course smoothly and efficiently. I’ve actually pulled Brady from a Snooker run when I cannot figure out a smooth way to do it. This weekend’s Snooker course was fun and the possibility of getting all 7s in the opening was ideal. Brady has beautiful weaves and the number 7 obstacle was the weaves. I saw a way to get two 7s, but the way to get three of them, would frustrate Brady. Therefore, I planned a moderate course that I could run with all three dogs and hopefully be successful. And I was successful with Youke and Brady. Not so much with Camm as she back-jumped a red jump on our way to weave #2. Because of that error with Camm, and since I ran Brady after Camm’s run, I over-handled that jump with Brady. And thus began an argument of epic proportions. I am so glad our Jumpers run after that was incredibly wonderful, because I might never have been forgiven. I’m pretty sure during Snooker that Brady’s eyes were glowing red. He was so pissed at me. He was not incorrect to be pissed, but a little forgiveness can go a long way. Just saying. I feel lucky I emerged from that run unscathed. Mostly because I’m really quick about jumping out of the way of the gnashing teeth.
When I brought him back to the car he looked like his brain had just exploded.
Brady: SNOOKER IS THE STUPIDEST FUCKING GAME! HATE IT! HATE IT! Gotta lie down and take a nap now.
Brady (after his excellent Jumpers run): THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN! Good handling mom! Let’s play some Ball and then I gotta lie down and take a nap.
And then there was Camm.
Camm: I not do stoopid stopped contacts this weekend Human Mom.
Me: Camm, that’s not how I trained you!
Camm: Guess what? I have a new invention! Called running contacts! Can do all the agility things super fast that way. I have a talk with Brady. He tell me to go for it!
Me: Camm, running contacts are not a new invention. And you can’t do them, even when you naturally stride them perfectly. I can’t be in position fast enough.
Camm: Too bad! I see you can’t try to stop me and train me here. I run super fast!
Me: Good thing our next trial is NADAC.
Youke is qualified for CPE Nationals in May 2017. I am still chipping away with Camm.
She started off the weekend with two gorgeous runs, including a perfect Standard run on Saturday that made the onlookers clap vigorously in approval. That might have gone to her head.
The rest of the weekend was all about going super fast. The faster the better. And stopping on contacts was not in Camm’s game plan. Nor, in some cases, were jump bars. Not to say that there wasn’t some really good stuff, because there most definitely were.
It occurred to me after Brady’s gorgeous Jumpers run that it takes a while to reach that level of perfection, and it’s not always promised. There was a time when those moments seemed like flashes of lightning from a quickly passing storm in the distance. Now it’s more like we’re often in the midst of that storm and the lighting strikes occur more frequently during the storm. I’m in the quick glimpses of lightning phase with Camm right now. I see the brilliant lightening bolts, ever so briefly, but I want to see the whole show lighting up the sky.
The cool thing is that I know it’ll happen. Eventually.
And even forces of nature have to rest.
It took a lot of flexibility, but somehow wiggled my way into bed.
So, having a heatwave here in the Pacific Northwest.
Some 30 years ago this would’ve made me extremely happy. Of course then I lived in a place with winters that regularly reached temperatures of below zero degrees and grew up thinking all people pretty much had to tunnel out of their driveways by mid-winter due to the many feet of snow.
When I was in college, dozens of us would break out our teeny-weenie bikinis and line up outside in “The Quad” on our bath towels, slather baby oil on and bask in the few warm days we’d get on occasion in April and May.
Throughout my late teens and into my 20s, I spent all available time off in the summer sunbathing or swimming at the lake or ocean. I could usually be found at the beach, on a lawn chair at my mom’s or on a lawn chair at whatever residence I was at. One year I frequented the roof of my apartment building. I found that the flat portion of the roof and the tar-paper, combined with the aluminum flashing, really made one believe, if they closed their eyes really tight and didn’t look at the tar-paper, the metal flashing, and breathe in the noxious fumes of Portsmouth, NH , that they were in a tropical paradise.
Eventually I moved to a tiny sort of run-down little bungalow that I fell in love with. One of its best features was that it had a tiny little mostly fenced yard that offered a great deal of privacy from the large parking lot that adjoined it and the city that surrounded it. I’d spend hours on a lawn chair out there, reading books and surrounded by bamboo. The kind of bamboo that if you don’t regularly run it over with a lawnmower – a process that ideally should take place every two days – would take over the entire yard. I spent the time I wasn’t in a lawn chair those summers mowing down bamboo. I’m proud to say that eventually I won that battle. Then I bought the place, moved and rented it out and no one cared as much as I did.
The bamboo came back in full force. But I sold the house and the buyer eventually mowed it and the bamboo-ridden lawn over and made the entire property part of the even bigger parking lot.
My dangerous sunbathing ways stayed with me when I moved to South Florida. In fact, for a sun worshiper, it seemed as if I might be moving to paradise! That was until I found out that the space between Fort Lauderdale and Miami was essentially Long Island South. It’s really difficult for some of us Native New Englanders to embrace
certain most virtually all Long Islanders.
Imagine my dismay when I discovered that instead of many hot Latin types, I was surrounded by pudgy retired Long Island types.
I’ll give them one thing though. They were tan. Very, very tan.
So, because I didn’t really end up caring all that much for South Florida, I worked on my tan, a lot. I look back at pictures from my few years there in the late ’90s and am shocked at how dark I was. It’s a wonder I didn’t become Magda.
I tan fairly easily, after the initial redness anyway and after the freckles all meld together, something I’ve always credited to having Jamaican and Native American genes. But the Scottish side is being favored a lot more these days.
Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest and froze for the first year. After I got used to it not being warm and tropical again, I learned to live with the nine months of drizzle and grey and temperatures that hovered between 45-60 all the time. I learned to live with it because the summers are spectacular.
My first summer in the Pacific Northwest, we experienced a three-day stretch of temperatures in the high 90s. I distinctly recall being outside on a lawn chair sunning my newly bright white body with my ex beside me and us exclaiming how it didn’t feel like it was that warm. We went to dinner with sort of friends (his maybe, not mine) who kept complaining about how humid it was. We exchanged glances. Humid? Clearly these people had no fucking clue as to what humidity was!
Now, some 15 years of living here later and I’m the one bitching that it’s too hot.
Truthfully, I still like warm, even hot, weather. It’d be great if all I really had on my agenda was to break out the lawn chair and crack a book open. Even better if I was stationed beside a large body of water that I could occasionally take a dip in and a tumbler of something liquid, icy and refreshing.
Sadly, I need to work and my present employment requires lots of time outside being active. Sometimes really active depending upon the activity level of the dog I’m with and its age. I am discovering though that unless they’re my dogs, the heat does seem to have a direct correlative effect on the energy level of most dogs, even puppies, and especially if they’re all black.
But honestly – and many of you may already have known I was going here – the main reasons I can’t really tolerate the real heat anymore is because of dog agility and hiking.
At least a lot of hiking can be done in shady green spots and lots of trails have water to splash in, even in the high of summer.
For most dogs, my own included, the ideal agility weather is probably when the temps hover between 40 and 55 degrees. Jasmine actually preferred when the weather was downright cold and loved doing agility in the winter. The other three definitely like it in the more moderate range, but Brady and Camm are so nutso-cookoo-crazy that they’ll play even if it hits the 90s and above. Youke pretty much calls it quits at above 90 and humours me at above 80.
When I first started off on this crazy agility thing, I had fantasies about the outdoors trials and how fabulous it’d be to be sunning myself and playing with my dog all at the same time and doing it of course in a super cute tank top and shorts.
Those fantasies died when 1) I realized how actually fucking hot it is in the direct sunlight for nine hours at a time 2) how fucking dehydrated one can get when being outside in the fucking direct sunlight for nine hours at a time 3) how fucking sweaty one gets when running around with a dog (now dogs) in the fucking direct sunlight for nine hours at a time 4) how much fucking dog hair sticks to sweaty bodies, and lastly 5) how not cool it looks to wear your cute shorts when blood is running down your leg from your fucking over-amped asshole dog that has no tolerance for handler errors and decides to make his point about your decision to employ that late blind cross by nipping you.
So now, my favorite seasons to play agility are spring and fall. Temperate seasons here are enjoyable, even with rain. And I don’t need to run with so many layers that I look like the Michelin Man – although perhaps safer with the aforementioned dog of little tolerance.
I took Brady and Camm to a USDAA trial Saturday. I run USDAA maybe once, twice a year? It was also Camm’s USDAA debut.
It was a fun trial. The people I hang out with often determine for me if it is a fun trial or not. Yesterday was fun because, well, my dogs are usually fun to hang out with, but I also enjoyed hanging out and talking with the people I did. I think that some of the usual pressure cooker vibe at most of the USDAA trials I’ve been at seemed to be missing. It was nice.
Still, there was some of the vibe there. Brady and Camm both walked into the arena in the morning for height measurements and instantly became all googly-eyed.
It was a good day, but glad I’m home today just chillaxing with the dogs.
I ended up taking all four dogs to the trial. Youke and Jasmine just went for moral support. They were extremely supportive of the running around in the fields in the sun and playing ball portions of the day.
Brady and Camm had some great moments, and some not so great moments. Typical agility for us in many ways. I think the trial highlight for me was when the rails came off in Camm’s Steeplechase run and she went THROUGH the triple jump. Yup. That’s right. Not over it. Not around it. Through it. And not a single bar displaced.
That wee girl is amazing.
Another highlight, and a funny moment, at least to me, was when I got complimented on my well-behaved dogs.
I was walking all four back to The Living Room on Wheels after a play session in between runs. I had all four on leash as they have a tendency to race back to their vehicle, mainly to beat each other to the water bowl, and didn’t want them running into someone or another dog that I couldn’t see from my vantage point.
All four were walking with a loose leash, were not tangling each other up and were walking in a calm and relaxed manner. It was kind of an amazeballs moment.
Okay, it happens, but really, I just don’t expect that kind of thing.
A woman getting her dogs out of her vehicle near us shouted out her disbelief and pleasure at the miracle she was observing.
“Your dogs are so well-behaved! I could never do that! The leashes would get all tangled.”
She said some other stuff too, all very nice, but I really can’t remember because I didn’t until that moment quite realize what a beautiful moment it was and became dumbstruck.
I recovered though.
“They’re just being show offs. They’re not usually this good,” I said.
See, the thing about having really low expectations constantly is that you’re humbled and grateful for all the amazingly cool things that do happen, especially when it comes to one’s dogs.
So in addition to being pretty chill and not worrying about stuff like Steeplechase runs and cleaning the messy house, today I did the monthly switch out of the dogs’ collars.
Yes, it’s a thing, and it’s my thing.
In another moment of rare self-realization, I realized this morning when I put the fresh collars on the dogs that I have inadvertently conditioned the monthly collar changing as a super positive and fun thing.
“Time for new necklaces, puppers!” I called out as I swished the fresh ones about, tags jangling.
Dogs come into the kitchen and patiently wait as I remove last month’s collars. As usual, I see the moment of relief in Youke’s eyes as he thinks for a millisecond that he won’t have to wear a necklace at all. Also as usual, I see the flick of panic in Brady’s eyes as he thinks his necklace is being removed permanently. This is the difference between a dog that has always known a stable home that has spoiled him rotten, and a dog that lived an unstable and impermanent life in his early years.
I put Youke’s collar on him and as is my habit, wolf whistled at him and then exclaimed, “Look at that sexy new necklace!” Then I wolf whistled at him again.
Clearly, I’ve created some sort of positive association with the low slung out sexy wolf whistle.
Youke beamed at me and wiggled about. The other three started dancing around, trying to be the next for a “sexy necklace.”
I did the wolf whistle for each one and told them how excellent and sexy they all looked. In return, I got happy faces, wagging tails and jumping on me.
They do look quite sexy though.
- I swear Brady is not playing with a sex toy in that first picture! It’s his “woofie cushion”and it apparently photographs rather suggestively.
Youke is eight years old as of today. So incredibly hard to believe my puppy is a senior. Well, in technical dog years I guess.
And I can’t honestly say he’s still a puppy, because he has always been a bit of an old soul. I always joke with him about how grown up he is.
Youke: I’ve always been a grown up.
This is pretty much true. Or at least since he was about six month old.
So, luckily for us all, it was a spectacularly beautiful day, so we celebrated with a party, had an uninvited guest, someone peed their pants and Youke had a special meal.
Youke was joined for his birthday celebration hike in the woods by his besties – Jasmine, Brady and Camm.
Of course, Balls were involved. What’s a birthday celebration without fun games?
We had the accommodations entirely to ourselves.
Clear blue skies overhead and lots of green.
Jasmine is Youke’s oldest friend. Literally and figuratively. He’s adored her since he first set sights on her when I unloaded him from the car. She took slightly longer to warm up to him. All of three days. Maybe the fact that he’d upchucked down the back of my shirt had something to do with it?
She is pretty special. It still startles me when I see how much white is on her face now. Despite that fact, Jasmine is definitely not a grown-up. I’m not sure she’ll ever be. She was on fire today, racing to steal balls from the two boys and then tossing them at my feet. It’s not like she likes to play Ball. She just wants to get them before the boys do. That pisses Brady off immensely, but he’s learned that he gets hit by Jasmine’s linebacker move if he fights for the ball. Much better to let her get it. Youke just patiently jumps out of the way when he sees her coming. Plus, half the time she just drops the ball halfway or doesn’t even pick it up at all.
Happy party guests.
Unfortunately, I was woefully unprepared for Youke’s celebration at home. I usually get them cupcakes or make a special meal.
Brady: Get pork chops.
Me: Brady, you always want pork chops.
Brady: Pork chops are good for all occasions.
Well, that may very well be, but I didn’t feel like stopping at the grocery store on the way home. I remembered that I had some frozen meatballs in the freezer, so figured that’d do.
Youke: But I’m hungry now.
Me: Don’t you want to wait for your meatballs?
Youke: I’m starving!! Can’t you see I’m wasting away???!!!
I went into the garage to get the dogs their kibble, figuring I’d just feed them a couple of meatballs apiece once they were heated.
I returned with a special, and uninvited guest.
I poured the last of the dog food bag into the smaller container I keep in the house and brought it back in. I scooped Youke his portion, and, as is our dinnertime tradition, told him to wait while I scooped everyone else’s portion. Typically, all the dogs must wait until I give them the go ahead. I’m not generally a control freak nazi about stuff like this, but it’s become sort of a game. Plus I enjoy the look of torture on Youke’s face as he is forced to wait to gulp down his meal.
So, after I scooped Youke’s portion, I moved to Camm’s bowl and scooped out her’s. Then I moved to Brady’s bowl, dipped the scoop back in the container, and ….
… Screamed like a girl! Somehow, I’d missed the fact that there was a mouse in the container of dog food.
I dropped the container to the floor with the scream. Miraculously, the container landed right side up and the mouse stayed inside, as did the food. Now, all the dogs were staring at me.
The mouse startled me, but I’m not really afraid of mice per se. I thought quickly and opened the patio door and scooped him/her outside.
I have a cat. But she’s 16 years old and clearly has retired from mousing. During this whole event, she was doing this:
This is pretty much was Satie does most of the time. It’s pretty rare these days that I call her by her real name, which is/was Satan.
Meantime, Youke had taken the opportunity to start eating, so I scooped Jasmine her dinner and let them eat.
Then I noticed a large amount of liquid on the floor. The floor is wood, but I could see there was a slight yellow tint to the nearly clear liquid. Someone had peed on the floor!
My best guess is that my scream startled Jasmine and she got scared and peed. They did drink a lot of water during today’s adventure.
Everyone did eventually get two meatballs and Youke got a special plate of spaghetti and meatballs with red meat sauce.
Cuz he’s special.
Youke, accompanied by someone else who thinks she’s pretty special.
My house is eerily quiet today. I guess running 10 yards a second does that.
Okay, turns out that while that probably happens in real life with my crew, it really did not on this weekend’s tunnelers course due to a mathematical miscalculation, but running a course in 15.6 seconds (Brady) and 16 seconds (Camm) is still pretty decent.
I love running fast dogs. It can be so incredibly frustrating at times when I cannot get the information needed out to my dogs in time, but it is ever so rewarding when things click.
The first run of the weekend was “Touch ‘n Go.” The courses consist only of contact obstacles – the a-frame and the dogwalk, and tunnels. It’s one of my favorite courses to run and for all four of my dogs, my obvious love of the courses has translated and they’ve all liked it a lot too. I’ve joked for years that with Jasmine it was mostly “touch” and not so much “go.” With Youke, that changed to very little “touch” and all “go.” Brady and Camm have given the game new meaning. They are both convinced the game should be all “go” and the “touch” part is relatively unimportant. That attitude has made touch ‘n go a hard one to qualify in for those two.
Both dogs ran the touch ‘n go course this weekend in 7 yards a second. As expected, Brady blew a contact, thus disqualifying him. Camm, due to her naturally gorgeous running contacts, actually qualified.
But wait! Camm doesn’t have running contacts. Camm does two on, two off.
Camm: “Pretty sure in Canada don’t have to do stoopid stopped contacts. Just go super fast.”
Me: “Not true Camm. You still have to do stopped contacts, even here in Canada.”
Thus, while Camm’s running contacts are very pretty and quite spectacular, I enforced the idea of two feet on the contact and two feet on the ground in her standard runs. All it took was showing her once. (Thank you NADAC for allowing training in the ring!) I went on to praise her lavishly for every stopped contact she did from then on at last weekend’s trial, which was every one.
Camm: “Nice to hear the nice things, but can we get back to running super fast now?”
I took Camm and Brady to Vancouver Island this past weekend for an agility trial. One of my favorite clubs puts on one of my favorite trials there. They are an excellent group of people and a lot of fun and I like to support their trials, which are very small. I especially appreciate how supportive everyone is of each others’ runs and how there is so much praise and cheering and positive comments for every single run. To me, it’s really how every agility trial should be.
Youke and Jasmine got left home sadly. I felt Youke needed a break from trialing and Jasmine is now retired from agility. (Although I may make an occasional exception for a CPE trial.)
Turns out that The Living Room on Wheels is quite spacious when traveling with only two dogs.
Brady has been up to Canada and this weekend’s trial site several times now. However, it was only the second time Camm has gone. It was hard to tell if she even really remembered the first time since it was only her third trial at the time and she was berserk. This was also the first time that just she and Brady traveled together for a trial.
Me: “Hey guys! Look, we’re in Canada now!”
Camm: “I didn’t know we was going to another country! I could hardly see anything since I was in my box. Why you not tell me we go to Canada?”
Turns out there were no issues. Camm is equally as comfortable at a hotel in Canada as she is in the states. She’s also equally bossy of her brother.
Camm: “I get the whole bed.”
However, Brady, feeling a bit pent up from the drive to Vancouver and then the ferry trip, decided it’d be a great idea to bounce up and off the bed and engage Camm in a game of “king of the bed,” complete with loud barking.
This is always a super fun game at home, but not so appropriate for a hotel, especially at 10 pm at night.
So after we played agility all day Saturday, I took the two dogs to a park that’s right on the beach. One of the reasons I love going to Vancouver Island is all of the great places to take the dogs and the fact that much of those places are leash-free.
This is why I’m not convinced Camm remembered going once before. She was beside herself with joy at this place.
Camm: “I love Canada! This place is so exciting.”
She raced around, up and down the beach and through the pieces of driftwood, all the time keeping an eye on me and making sure I noticed her springing gleefully through the air. Truthfully, Brady wasn’t much different. He just distinctly remembered all the places I threw the Ball the last time I was there with him and Youke and made sure I noticed him asking me to throw a Ball on this trip too. Of course, I obliged.
We saw several other dogs. We even saw dogs that Brady normally is very leery of, such as a bouncy standard poodle and a very large and blocky golden retriever. Mr. Friendly though was the perfect American ambassador, responding to their greetings in a calm and civilized manner and even returning wags. I made sure that Camm kept a Ball in her mouth when seeing other dogs as I didn’t want to see any snippish behavior from her, but even she was at ease when the huge blocky golden retriever came right up to her.
One of the key differences I always notice though when I go to this spot is that the people don’t allow their dogs to linger. The dogs get a quick meet and greet and then everyone calmly, but with purpose, moves on.
I’m not gonna lie. I like when people think I have such lovely and well behaved dogs. Which of course I don’t.
After our beach outing, on top of a long agility day, the dogs were just done. I fed them their dinner when we got back to the hotel Saturday night at about 8 pm and they passed out. In fact, Camm and Brady barely moved until 6 am Sunday morning when I took them out for a bathroom break.
We played more agility Sunday – including those two super fast and furious tunnelers runs – before wrapping up the trial and heading out for the long trip home via ferry and Living Room.
It was a good trial for me and the dogs. It included the usual moments of brilliance and the going down in flames parts that I’ve come to expect. Camm did much better than I had expected and showed how much she has matured since my previous trip with her there some 18 months ago. I received many kind and wonderful remarks on my little blaze of glory. Brady was, as almost always, a breathless, thrill-filled adventure ride.
It was a short trip as I had to work both the Friday before and the Monday after the weekend, but we were able to cram a lot of fun in that short space of time. It was also a bit like a vacation to just travel with two dogs instead of the usual four.
Until next time Canada.