Friday, April 18, 2008

Otterpop has powers we are only beginning to understand.


I believe she has the power to persuade others to do her dirty work.


While she enjoys relaxing with a hobby.


When said dirty work has been identified, I am like the sheriff and a culprit must be named in the crime.


Amnesty goes to only one citizen of my house. Everyone else, likely guilty.

Especially you, Otterpop.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

I might as well start driving an ark.


Oh my god. We are all freaking out here. Because there is actual water falling from the sky, and air blowing strongly over the land. I rushed all day at work yesterday, to get almost every horse out, because for the next couple a days it sounds like the horses will be walking (this is optimistic, you try keeping big fit show horses happy cooped up in little stalls for more than 12 hrs and see how nice they want to be about walking) up and down the barn aisle. While Ten Inches of rain pour down upon us all. I even gave up precious dog practice time so I could get more horses done before the rain started. Good customer service!

Did I forget about this water plummeting out of sky creating mud and wetness on all surfaces when I decided it was a good idea to have 4 dogs? I forgot to do the math and it was summer. 4 dogs = 16 sopping, muddy paws. One dog didn't get the memo that you go outside, pee or what have you, quickly, and come in. Waiting, in a sit, without moving, until your muddy and wet self is toweled off. Each paw included. Only then, move into the rest of the house. Oh that memo. Welcome to rain, el vato. How long can dogs go without going to the bathroom?

One of my students told me about one of her co-workers, another small animal vet, whose group of perfect border collies were able to march in a parade, doing tricks, not on leashes, then all lay quietly at work without moving until she moves her finger or something. Hate her. I see her at trials. She is a good trainer. This is while my dogs were screaming around the barn aisle, having been evacuted from their dog swamp, bouncing off the walls and just wanting to RUN.

I totally get the people that have the dog treadmills. I think I thought this last time it rained. Then it was sunny. Because all I am saying right now is "NO. Get off THAT! Leave the Cat Alone! Drop That! HEY! That cat is a citizen! Stop It NOW!" You get the idea. Little wet fur things running amuck. Can't they just pretend to be tired somehow? Have not had their long run. Amuck in my tiny house that had a clean floor just the other day. Dog toys. I want the poor cat to learn to come in the house. It's sort of feral. But I hate to see it all wet and I am training it to come in the door and set a spell. Various dogs are obsessed with it. There is either running and chasing and frantic monkey sounds in it's honor, or sitting and staring. The poor cat just wants to sit there. And it has 4 eyes on it all all times, just staring. And then the cat is bleating. And the monkey sounds. And the shrill bark of Otterpop the control freak. Instead of being a good trainer using this as a Training Opportunity, I just pretend I Can't Hear You All and go back to typing.

Like the day they ran straight into the Hershey's shop in Times Square. They all attacked the crew from Project Runway that was there cleaning up after the ransack of the designers and having secret negotiations in the York Peppermint Patty Pillow Conference Room over how mny Reese's Pieces commercials they will run on the Bravo Channel for free. Otterpop attacked the camera man and Ruby went after the PR Team. Gustavo just ran around and screamed and then Tim Gunn came in with Heidi and she had a fire extinguisher and sprayed all the dogs and they ran into Times Square and chased the tourists. I hate it when that happens. So do all the Project Runway designers.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Well, I know. But I've been really busy. See, there's this big hill, and a toddler, and all these dogs. And all these pinecones. So pretty much, a lot of the day is spent throwing pinecones down the hill for dogs to chase. Then, you have to walk down the hill at some point, and throw them back up the hill. So the dogs, and the toddler spend equal time running up and down. For maximum exhaustion of all parties. So that Christmas wrapping paper isn't eaten. Or Christmas stuffed dolls that ride Christmas trains aren't eaten. Not that both haven't occurred. More than once. Someone at a measuring cup. And one diaper. And, most importantly, so toddler meltdowns don't happen. Because it is a 2 year old. But really, everyone has been on pretty stellar behavior. Ice cream and tennis balls are powerful motivators.

Other than that, you know, trips through the perfect sunny, clear weather to the grocery store. Walking the dogs near the sea. Pinecones. Life is pretty rough down here. Are we training any contacts? Um, no. Stays? Maybe a few. Toddlers how to throw pinecones and climb on the wall? Oops. Timmy is the preferred dog of choice, please try not to CHASE HIM! Good dog Timmy. We're coming back tomorow.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You were wondering why I was in the street holding a pumpkin?


It being October and all, we finally had a good real horrible earthquake. Like we wait for all October every year, and it never happens. Unless it is last night!

I was conveniently located under the open old West bar shelving that I had built a few years back in a moment of assuming we will never again have an earthquake with loads of wine glasses and plates just over my head. And they all started rattling then they kept rattling and then they kept rattling and then my legs felt it. Genuine earthquake! Not a warning! Not the dryer rattling the shelves! Or a giant bus! So what do you do?

You panic apeshit panic! Because you remember what the earthquake is going to do which is kill us all while collapsing the house into a heap of splintery debris! So you need dogs and you need to run where it is also dangerous-outside. Forget duck and cover. I need air around me in an earthquake is what I have learned over the years of too many earthquakes.

So I am calling all the dogs as I am running to the back door-not very far if you have been in my house-and one dog cannot hear or apparently FEEL the earthquakes. Timmy is still laying on the floor, in the kitchen, conviniently located to falling wineglasses and plates in the form of impaling shards of glass. Which I should add at this point, are not falling, but that is besides the point. Because the earthquake in my head is different than this actual earthquake. The one in my head already has the ceiling collapsing!

The small dogs all ran to the back door with me, either freaked out by my panicing or the actual earthquake. One of them was not freaked out but being a good dog and coming when I called and I can't remember which one it is. That one would ge t a medal but all I know is it was small and black. Two seemed very freaked out. Timmy is just laying still in the middle of the kitchen, sleeping. Being incredibly brave, I rush back into the kitchen (which in reality is about 2 giant steps from the back door) and valiently SAVE HIM (again, in my mind, the ceiling is collapsing and we are near death) and grab him and run back to the back door.

Where it stops shaking. So I figure we have time to get to the front yard where it is clearly SAFER, fewer roofs and no Giant Not Completely Installed Skylights (oh-you THOUGHT WE HAD A FULLY INSTALLED ROOF???) and no threats of danger out there and neighbors who will also be freaking out at our near deaths.

So through the house we dash, I am carrying Timmy, we are dashing fast to get to the front door (about 4 giant steps from the back door) before the shaking starts again to kill us all. I fling dogs out the front door. The girls across the street are already out in front of their house (they have never even been in ANY earthquake-it is a good thing they can hear from me how One Day They will Kill us All and it is good to get out of our houses into the safe street under Power Lines and potentially falling trees and chimneys. Yes, I am the neighbor you definitely want to spend some post earthquake quality time with) and we have one obstacle still in our way.

Gustavo is completely freaked out by the Halloween Pumpkin Gary has placed on our front porch. Billy the farmer with only 2 fingers due to the fireworks accident gave it to Gary at work. It is on our porch and Gustavo is totally freaking out ala Laura freaks out in an earthquake at the pumpkin. However when I freak out at an earthquake, it is in a way designed to Save Us All and get us out of the house. I never freeze and bark, at least I keep moving. Never stand on the porch and bark at it as if it will be scared and run away-for godssake it is a pumpkin you smalldog bastard, get off the porch! Apparently the last time Gustavo had been on the porch, no pumpkin. Now the next time he is on the porch has been an earthquake and now the dog thinks pumpkins some evil caused by earthquakes? Happy f&*king Halloween to us all is all I can say.

So now I have to also pick up the pumpkin and carry it because the damn dog is not budging til the pumpkin makes the first move and that is how we spent last evening in the front yard for a while, me, the dogs, and the pumpkin.

Final damage report? Um, nothing even fell off a shelf. At all. The internet said a 5.6 earthquake in San Jose-near Power Paws! I reported my findings on the USGS website-they ask us to! I am happy to tell on the earthquake. We must bust them all.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Train the dogs to be in the circus.


Here's what I look like at 42 years old!

Don't some people go to Hawaii or Deadwood, South Dakota for their birthdays? I had a plumber over, figured out how the electrical will go in, learned about the many expensive ways a roof vent could magically appear in the faux "crawl space" above the bathroom (each time a Guy comes over, they find more things about the "construction (HA!)" about my house that makes them either giggle or light up at the idea of being faced with a Challenge), and then tried to still get to work on time. It is not easy to freak me out in many ways but running a job site in my own home is getting me there. Thank god I did not try to remodel our whole house and stay on budget. If I had a real contractor and wasn't so worried about keeping the amounts on my spreadsheet low, it wouldn't be so bad. I am learning that you cannot be a Huge Control Freak when you are remodeling something, things are going to just happen and Guys (and Wacky Tile Ladies) are going to just do what they are going to do and you just try to go along and keep them all happy and keep getting a new one at Home Depot. Which is conveniently located exactly on the way to work.

We did go out to dinner. And I did get the dogs on a run.

*OK-Boring Dog Trainer Alert Here, just stop Reading Now if Dog Training to you is what Knitting Patterns and Baby Potty Training are to Me, this is a dog agility blog you know, Dog Agility is the New Black!*

I let Gustavo on and off the leash so he could practice running into me, boy oh boy is he fast. We were down at the beach near Seascape and he would run out with the other dogs to get the birds and I'd call them in and he was beating the other two. Then back on, run with me, back off, run out, run back in. He is learning to always come back into me before we even start teaching a genuine recall so it will stick. He is more like Ruby in his independence and not handler focused (ie, obsessed) like Otterpop.

Two of my customers are small animal vets, one a dog orthopedic surgeon and they gave him mini exams-the ortho surgeon vet is very happy I have finally gotten a dog without huge confirmation faults, that was one of the first things I noticed on him when I very first saw him was he had amazing confirmation for a little pipsqueak squirt. He has the huge bummer teeth though, that will likely be his own personal money pit. What's a dog without a money pit?

And I got in a couple puppy training sessions. We go out in the back yard right now and he works for some of his dog food, which is far more exciting than just eating it out of a bowl. The other dogs are hugely jealous of this and I have to start giving the turns too. They sit at the back door and whine when they see him out there practicing his sits and downs and targeting and remember those good old days. So I have to be more fair and teach them things.

Ruby had to learn a lot of tricks. She was so independent, and so prey driven. It was a lot of work to teach her to want to work with me and not chase people and eat small animals and attack other dogs. We used to have the old Ruby pushing Timmy on the skateboarding trick (until it turned into Ruby bashing her head into the skateboard in a manic attempt to make it go farther to get more treats in her frantic OCD way and Timmy would panic and jump off) in an effort to teach a good trick and also make her not want to kill all skateboards. Otterpop got exempt from all the stupid pet tricks because I was all hot to trot on getting her to agility and I could just wave the frisbee around and she was under my power. Although she spent an immense amount of time walking around parks and new places with Horrifying People learning to just leave it and not obsess on them. Boy would I cause a sight in Pinto Lake park and downtown Watsonville, walking around with Otterpop and a frisbee.

Gustavo (knock on wood) seems to not have any Dark Side so far. The worst thing he has done, probably under the influence of Otterpop, was sneak out of his dog bed last night. I found him and Otterpop both sleeping on Gary's pillow together with Gary's head. If that is the extent of his bad dogness, (I could see the recall thing rearing the head though if I push it before he's really ready to always come back) I will be one happy Dog Lady.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thank god for the macrame.

Scott the roofer came over yesterday when I got home from work. Once he was a hippie living in the house on Portola with a beard and a beautiful hippie girlfriend with braids and naked babies. I learned this from the photos at the hippie party a couple weeks ago. Now he owns a giant roofing company and a 5 acre place in Scotts Valley (5 flat sunny acres, and he used to have ponies for his kids) and he likes to play golf and do contra dancing and likes plants. He has on nice loose Eddie Bauer jeans and those faux suede slip on shoes and a Polo shirt. But he is super friendly and it was actually him that offered to come look at the roof, instead of me begging him. I think. Also he brought over his Jack Russell named Rex that none of my dogs tried to attack or kill and actually let him play with their tennis ball.

And because he is so nice, maybe his son who is a builder guy will do the carpentry for cheap and he will send over some guys from his crews to do the work off the books for cheap and we can have our roof thing done. This is due to the hippie connections from the '70's from Gary. Who never had a beard but did have long hair and a mustache and a van. And macrame. Which he had when I met him (the macrame, long hair, and mustache) and I thought was very exotic.

Scott the roofer used to have another hippie name but it is not said anymore. A lot of people at the hippie party had different names than they did back in the 70's. I was in junior high when they were smoking pot in the meadow at their house which is now a parking lot on Portola by the auto wrecker's. I had roller skates with red and yellow skateboard wheels and really short shorts and loved horses. Now Scott is on his second divorce and seems kind of lonely. The other thing he likes is called contra dancing. This is not to be confused with square dancing and has no costumes! When he started telling me about it, I started thinking about the costumes because I have been thinking how much I might like a square dancing dress and learn to do square dancing. The contra dancing does not have squares. It has lines. There is swinging of partners, but there are No Costumes. This was emphasized several times by him. You wear regular clothes and not cowboy boots. The music is more old time than country western. But most importantly, no costumes.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

All the dogs live in pens.

Jacinto is the laborer that works on our ranch, feeding and cleaning stalls on 60 horses, blanketing and unblanketing about 40 of them and driving hay out twice a day to the pasture horses, about 30 horses in 8 or so pastures. Every day, 7 days per week. He also works at the owner's other ranch up on the summit, and her mom's ranch on an adjoining summit property. He starts at 4 or so am, and comes back at around 5 to do the rest of the feeding and blankets. He doesn't speak a word of english, and has his perfect manner 3 boys translate for him. They help him too, as does his wife Berta, who also takes care of the owner's 1 year old baby.

Does that sound like a lot? It's pretty crazy. One guy cleaning and feeding on 60 horses right there is a huge job. He doesn't have to do much other than that besides sweep up the barn aisle with a leaf blower, but it's big job for one guy. He doesn't always do a good job either, some days the stalls pretty much look untouched, but I just can't get too mad at him. His boys are the best, they are 9, 11 and 12, and have perfect manners, are sweet, and sometimes ride. They love dogs too, and love to play with the dogs when I let them out. Their hope is that some day my dogs will let them pick them up. I don't know what it is about tiny dogs that some people get obsessed with picking them up. Ruby just plain old hates to be held by anyone. Otterpop is very picky, I am thinking that the middle boy is almost there with her. They each have their own skinny little dog.

They recently moved to a 1 bedroom travel trailer on the property. Jacinto, Berta, and the boys all live in a 1 bedroom trailer with their dogs out in a little pen under the trees in the back. Berta stuck a bunch of flowers in buckets and put them on the front steps. The boys ride their bikes around on the ranch and hop on ponies when they can. I give them lessons sometimes, the two older boys are actually talented and natural riders so it's great to get them on horses as much as they'll ride. Luckily they are in summer school (they don't think it's so lucky) but it keeps them from having to work all day I think.

Their dad uses them to translate everything. He doesn't want to deal with anyone's janky spanish. So one day when I wanted to talk to him about trying to get the pee out of the stalls (he just flies thru there, scoops poop, and leaves the stalls really wet) too many days in a row, I just hated doing this through his son. Just doesn't seem right to bring an 11 year old into the whole thing that his dad does a bad job because he's overworked and underpaid. They do a lot of the blanketing too. One customer was complaining because her horses's blanket straps weren't right, and I told her to let it go. There are just some battles we're not picking here.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Family fun holiday with some elements possessed by demons.

So dogs and fireworks and the fourth of July. I think I am done with fourth of July. Although no one seems that worse for the wear this morning.

At work, I made a fun day for everyone, because who wants to practice normal things on a holiday of National Importance and freeing of Scooter Libby Independance. So we did speedy fast horse switching in which grownups were forced to swing up on the ponies and the pony kids and to somehow manage to climb up on the giant horses and canter them. Then the somewhat dangerous but exciting Watermelon Race, which involved running the horses very fast, sharp knives, shoving food down gullets, throwing things from horse back, swinging up onto horses quickly and leaping off them before they stopped. Thank god no one was injured.

We went to a bbq in Pleasure Point, which was very fun and I'm not just saying that because you are reading this Deb. We left the dogs locked in the house with the windows shut and stereo on, hoping for the best. I tried to walk them before we left but Ruby kept diving under cars, even though the bombs had just barely started. When it got dark, we all walked down to the war zone on the cliffs to enjoy loud sparkling bomb throwing in the air. It was cool for a little bit and also since it was so clear, you could see all the way across the bay where everyone else was setting off explosives on cliffs and beaches. But then it started to be more and more and louder and people running away when they were going amuck and we had a 3 year old with us.

So we went home to see how our dogs fared.

I guess it could have been worse. No one chewed through any walls, there was no blood anywhere, nothing eaten or destroyed. But all 3 of them were seriously freaked out and Ruby was only able to shove herself under furniture, try to come out, only to shove herself under a new piece of furniture. At least our street seemed clear, at least when we got home, but you could hear the warzone outside even over the stereo. Ruby hadn't been out since work, but when I tried to take her out to pee quickly, of course it just made her worse and she just ran in and shoved herself back under the tv cabinet. Even Timmy and Otterpop were disturbed and freaked out. Next year, everyone gets tranquilizers. I think it's come to that. The loud stereo likely helps but there are just too many bomb noises outside to make it work. The air smells like smoke, and that was thru the fog that had settled in on the Westside, even though Pleasure Point was still clear.

The dogs seemed a lot happier that I was home.

We also discovered at the bbq, that it is my presence that makes children wild. They are inherently calm and quiet, and when I show up, things spill and go crazy and everything gets sticky and loud and the toddler starts using a bat. I know my dogs are usually wild and nutty in my presence but I don't know if they get nightmares. They do not spill things usually though but will jump on the table in the worst of times to get a piece of sausage. Other parents such as my sister have commented on this too and that things I tell the children give them nightmares. My sister was at first horrified by the charming monkey like mural I painted in my nephew's room, but conditioned him that they were not the animals of Satan. I thought it was the perfect kids thing.

No one else decides to draw a demonically posessed coyote on the sidewalk for the children. This seemed like a fun thing for them but now I wonder if I should draw a rainbow gnome with a tutu instead? Um, or what else do they like? They seem to like stories about dirty old coyotes and the racoons with the shiney, beady eyes under bushes. So I am going to remember butterfies and puppies for next time and think soothing thoughts and see if this does not drive the children over the edge.

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