a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary

Saturday, April 03, 2021


SUMMARY: Who says what to whom and why?
From FB 4/2/21: A comment I left on a friend's post about how their dogs' barking patterns changed depending on who was home, dog or human.
4/11/21: Just added another paragraph (tagged inline). 

Dogs are insane. 

Chip barked enthusiastically at the dogs next door (next door on both sides of the yard) through a solid wood fence (he'd look through knotholes until he saw them). Not quite in a fence-fighting way so much as tail wagging and fur not raised, but still very barky and I hated it. I ended up putting up a lightweight solid fence about six inches from the fence on one side to chill him down a bit. Worked fairly well--although only on that side.

Chip, peering through a knothole at the neighbor's yard and wagging his tail.

I adopted Zorro after Chip had been here for over a year and while the don't-bark fence was still up, and Zorro never barked at the dogs next door, and Chip was more minimal. For months and months after Zorro arrived.

Dog window in fence! Awesome!

Then, because I eventually took down the fence on that side because it was a nuisance and Chip's barking had calmed, Chip started barking at that side again as well as the other side. But Zorro--still months of nonparticipation.

The antibark fence along the side. It's black(ish) and behind things, so you almost don't notice it.

This is what it is: Construction "chickenwire" with water-resistant paper.
Eventually, the paper does deteriorate and it starts looking crappy. 
But it worked for no-bark!
(Can't see it, can't smell it up close: can't bark at it.)

And then one day when Chip was barking, Zorro plowed through Chip and took up ferocious fence-fighting barking, and from that day forward, it was Zorro who barked like crazy at the neighbor dogs, even if Chip weren't the initiator. (Chip would still do it, but Zorro would often push him out of the way and take over.) 

Added April 11-- Just found this post from 3 years ago:

April 11, 2018: OK, for the nearly 3 years that Zorro has been here, he has not obsessively barked at the dogs next door. Chip has done that always given half a chance.  So--why this week has Zorro decided to take over that job?  ๐Ÿ™  (Chip the tattle-tale, was just in here letting me know that Zorro was misbehaving. Interesting dynamics around here.)

[I hope that I have photos of Zorro barking at the fence. Haven't found any yet, but I have *so many* dogs-in-yard albums without any tagging on the photos. But in the process I rediscovered an album with a ton of photos of Chip running through his tunnels. Which I then spent an hour editing and posted on Facebook. (No idea whether that link will work for anyone.) Not barking related, but such happiness!]

Since Chip died last June, Z has shown less and less interest in barking at the fence, and the few times when he does, it's for just a couple of seconds and then he's done. Was he taking care of Chip? Was he just trying to prove that he was tougher than Chip? Did he think that was a game for the two of them to play?

But he does bark to let me know if a dangerous entity is approaching my door, or parking in my driveway, or if a monstrous delivery vehicle (say, Amazon, UPS, ...) is threatening us anywhere on the street.

Dog minds are endlessly fascinating. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccinations Part 1

SUMMARY: Feb 22: I'm a one-fer! And in 3 weeks, hope to be a two-fer!


From notes on February 8:

COVID vaccination: I have an appointment for the 22nd of February, about half an hour from home.  Getting any appointment was a challenge! Plenty of folks on Facebook talking about struggles to find an open appointment, or traveling an hour or two to get one. Kaiser members were supposed to go through Kaiser and other sites were turning Kaiser folks away, and Kaiser was still limiting to over 75, so I was stuck.

Then, on Feb. 8, Santa Clara County stepped up and offered vax to anyone who lives or works in the county (and who meets the other qualifications due to limited vaccine availability, such as over 65 or being an essential care worker). 

So, on February 8, I tried:

  • Fairgrounds, which is close to me, had no appointments available.
  • Everything else was farther away or had no appointments. 
  • So I looked at what I figured was the farthest-away option for most Santa Clara County people (Valley Health Center in Gilroy), and Lo! they had tons of appointments starting on the 11th!  
But it wasn't quite that simple:
I went thru the sign-up process, including picking one of their listed times on the 11th, Yayyy! But it said sorry it can’t schedule it. So I went back, and then it listed times only from the 16th! And those were almost all taken already! So I picked one and raced thru the options and--- it said it couldn’t schedule it. So back to the beginning and all of those dates had vanished, too, so I went to the last date available for scheduling, and finally it went thru. So not until the 22nd!  They must have just opened up dates for that location and word got out fast and I wasn’t fast enough to get something soon, but at least fast enough to get something.  

From notes on Feb 22:
I couldn’t get into the places closest to me, so I signed up to go way down to Gilroy for my first dose (a bit more than a half-hour drive). 

[ignore numbers by photos]

They were ready for huge long lines. I apparently picked the right date and time.
A couple waiting in the fairly short line inside said that they had driven by 
a few days earlier and the line went all the way around the parking lot.

They labeled everything very well. It was calming in the face of COVID-19.

The pre-existing round bench, one of many places we could sit to fill out our forms,
had a 6-foot-distance reminder sticker.
In fact, everything did. Lots of the usual floor stickers for the lines.

I'm inside and waiting in line #4 of 5 (all of which were short).
1) Get check-in forms and fill them out.
2) Usual test for fever and responding to questions about health.
3) Quick check of your paperwork and ID and appointment confirmation.
4) Full check-in with your medical ID and everything goes into the system.
5) Get poked with a sharp pointy thing that didn't hurt worth mentioning.

Reading material about the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines while standing in line. Convenient.
And note the usual floor sticker.

Keep your distance! In four languages!
All are common enough here that it's well worth accommodating them.
(English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese.)

Line #4, almost to the front.
I took no more detailed photos because I didn't want to 
post recognizable people online or have to edit them out.

All the stations had large acrylic dividers between them and us.
Between those everywhere now, and masks, and me being deaf in one ear--
it's often hard to hear clearly.

After my full check-in, they whisked me to a station to get my shot.
Right past a huge line of people waiting for their vax, 
but they all needed the Moderna and I had Pfizer.

I don't know how those decisions were made;
likely by their usual service provider due to availability?
After the shot, lines and signs directed me to the waiting area.

They keep you for 15 minutes, socially distanced from a bunch of others,
to ensure that you don't suddenly keel over, explode, or burst into flames.
They slapped a sticker on each person for what time the 15 minutes was up.
I liked that.

After the shot, on my way home, I made a quick stop at the Gilroy Outlet Center. 
In normal times, a bustling place.
In these times, not many cars or people, quite a few empty shops.

Signs everywhere:
On walkways, on stores' windows or doors, inside the shops, on benches, restrooms...
I plan on posting a good sampling of those at some point.
Haha. You know my track record for this.

A mobile COVID-testing station. "We accept insurance."
My medical HMO (Kaiser) did this for free onsite--with a pretty long line for drive-through tests.
I had one back in November and came out clear.

And it was all worthwhile, because I got this button!! Yay!

NOW I just wait 3 weeks more or less exactly for the 2nd shot; they already set me up for that down here in Gilroy again. So nice not to worry about it!

P.S. I had virtually no symptoms from the first shot. Tiny soreness in my arm at the vax site, but only if I thought about it and touched it. Yayyyy!

P.P.S. (Noted on March 24) I haven't talked about my concerns about vaccines that were developed so quickly without the possibility of long-term testing. All that are approved are through an emergency OK after whatever testing the CDC required for emergencies.  So: NONE ARE OFFICIALLY APPROVED yet.  But I accepted that this IS an emergency situation, after all, and we need to put a clamp on the virus spreading because it's already mutated too much into nastier versions because it has had so many willing hosts (won't wear masks, won't socially distance--you know the lot).  

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

T-Shirt Tuesday Tales

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: My favorite castle(s).

So much for posting weekly. Or even monthly. I'll just have to post multiples per post. --Which I had planned on doing anyway. Like, this week.

Short and simple: I like Disneyland. (And, OK, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom aka Disneyland East is OK, too.) I like far too many Disneyland t-shirts: The quality of the shirt itself and of the image is always excellent. I try to restrain myself, but sometimes...

In the 1980s sometime--and I've oddly lost almost all info about this--my then-husband bought us matching Disneyland castle t-shirts. They were blue with yellow castles. Because who doesn't want Disneyland castle t-shirts?  The only reason that I know that he did is because my faithful inventory notes that he did so, and also that we sold them at a garage sale in 1998, so presumably we'd had them and worn them a lot by then. No photos exist--Crazy, right?!--nor date of purchase, although I'm guessing on our 1983 trip there. 

But, in August 1995, before that garage sale...

... I just couldn't pass up this additional castle shirt in gray with embroidered design. 
I'm a sucker for embroidered shirts, anyway: Look classy and don't fade.
But having this newer one might have been why we let the old blue/yellow ones go.

I have almost no photos of me wearing my t-shirts in the actual locations and time in which I bought them,
but this is one of the exceedingly rare cases. Maybe even the only one.
Me, my sister's years-ago-ex and my years-ago-ex. But we all loved Disneyland trips.

And then, despite already having a lovely gray Disney castle t-shirt--

--in July of 2003, while minding my business walking casually through Disneyland,
someone strolled past in the opposite direction wearing an amaaazing blue tie-dyed castle shirt!
Hit all my buttons, will ya? Blue. Tie-dye. Castle.
We went shopping later that day and found them! Happy dance!

In May of 2012, it took me and my parents to a friend's house to watch the partial solar eclipse.
It's a thoughtful t-shirt that way.

By the early 2000s, my t-shirt buying spree overall had truly taken off, so my t-shirts lasted longer and longer because I didn't wear any given one all that often.  As a result, today, I still have both these shirts and wear them when their turns come up. 

During these Pandemic times and unprecedented closures of the Disney parks, they help remind me of pleasures past and--I hope--to come.

Bonus: Some photos from the trips mentioned:

Monday, March 15, 2021

My Hearts, My Dogs, the Same Cycles

SUMMARY: Struck by the similarities between these posts after Tika and after Chip.

It's like Groundhog Day. The movie. 
I've been here before.

Apparently my mind and heart go the same way each time I have to say goodbye.  Certainly I'd have expected similarities, but I just tripped over a post from 2015 and realized that I had written essentially the same thing last July.

The post, near the beginning:

Don’t want to be reminded of the absence of a dog at every turn in every room. My initial reaction this morning was to load Zorro up into the car with me and go away somewhere for four days. Then I started realizing that, if I did that, I would be coming back to all the memories still right in front of me. It’s not that I want to erase Chip. I just want to reduce what I see.

March 25, 2015: Clearing Away

The post began: 

It's not that I don't want to remember Tika--I do--but I don't want things ambushing me everywhere I turn.
After she was gone, I started right away in clearing away everything that I knew would sucker-punch me in the gut if I were to see them.

And yet I keep lining up my heart for more. Usually I think it's all worth it.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Christmas Paper Chain and Other Memories

SUMMARY: Red and green paper chain
Back at Christmas, I read a story online in which the protagonist makes and hangs a long paper chain made of green and red paper. Instantly it transported me--

Red and green paper chain! When I was young--maybe fifth grade, I made a short paper chain from red and green construction paper. Maybe at school? I used Elmers glue; I don’t think there were glue sticks back then.  One green, one red, repeat. But, inspired because the chain wasn't quite long enough, the next Christmas I doubled its length. 

Then, every year for probably eight years, I added more, MORE, MORE, until it could run all the way around my parents' living room and hallway and around the tree! I didn’t add to it after I went off to college, but I still hung it up every year. 

It needed a larger and larger box every year to store it for next time.

Eventually it fell apart--Christmas lives forever, but no so paper chains – – such good loyal paper rings, bringing a festive feeling to everything. 

Note: I talk about the chain in this old family xmas page, too, under "Poughkeepsie."

Also in this photo (by Dad):
๐Ÿ’š Mom! How young she looks!
๐Ÿ”ด The Little Drummer Boy album (behind the wing-back chair): always there!
๐Ÿ’š Painting (print) of three girls reading--was Dad's parents and
they had it because it reminded them of me and my sisters.
๐Ÿ”ด Advent calendar! On wall next to that. I'd forgotten about it!
๐Ÿ’š Old family clock and I don't remember its origin (but now a sister has it)
๐Ÿ”ด Mom's mug-collection cabinet (over Little Drummer Boy). She didn't really "collect" mugs--she had had a few favorites-- but we kept giving her interesting ones.
๐Ÿ’š Below Drummer Boy, a purple hippo in a blue tutu! I think
  I made that for someone as a gift that year--I'll have to ask--there's a story there, too.
๐Ÿ”ด Books. Of course. Everywhere in the house.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sew what!

SUMMARY: Once upon a time, I did just that.
Starting from a comment I made on Facebook, Feb 21, '21

A friend on Facebook bought a poorly fitting t-shirt, tailored it, and changed the sleeve style.  It looks great! Dang it, a couple of shirts that I bought 2 years ago I did so specifically thinking I'd make a go at tailoring (which I've never done), but-- haven't so far.  She offered to point me to some good information if I wanted to pursue it. 

I am not actually, really, seriously interested in doing that. Have started to think, "I have money. Other people can sew." Even though I have only very recently given away the fabric and clothing patterns that I bought when I was doing that back in the early '80s--I had never actually got around to finishing them. Crazy, right? So those traveled with me to 5 homes of various durations, and finally I realized, nope, that part of my life is done.

I'm a little slow on these realizations.

Patterns that I either used or didn't.

I had made some clothing up to that sudden cease. Simple tennis outfit that I wore a lot, wedding dress that was not simple and that I wore once ๐Ÿ‘€. 

Made the tennis dress on the right using light blue fabric and dark blue trim
 (and matching hidden shorts).

I made the v-neck version (without the belt), in a purple shiny fabric with tiny flowers.
Made a long-sleeved shirt for my husband in matching fabric.

1977, at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. The project: fairly simple slightly gathered maxi skirt
and matching shawl with black fringe.

The maxi and shawl came from the pattern on the right.
(My sister made the same thing but in a different color.)
Left: I made the shirt in front with a blue and white tiny-flowered fabric.

I made a shorter skirt. A pair of matching complicated button-down shirts for me and a date for Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. Made another long skirt and long-sleeved peasant blouse for use when attending SCA activities (which I did a few times a year back then because two sisters and several friends were heavily involved), oh, and a long, warm hooded cloak for the same reason. 

Some dresses--a long-sleeved wrap-around that I really liked and a couple more. 

Wrap-around dress and its pattern. Up until about 5 years ago, I could wear it fine. 
Then, suddenly, I lost a lot of height and my chest became annoying large.
When I took this photo also I had put on a little weight. Again.
It went into the donation pile. 

Besides, I can count the number of times that I have worn a dress in the past 30 years on probably less than one finger. 

A couple of tank tops, another couple of sleeved tops.... and then: Sewing silence. The wedding dress might have been the last clothing I ever made. 

I kept the unfinished fabric and patterns because of course I'd get back to it, but suddenly post-wedding my life filled with many other things! ๐Ÿฅฐ  I sewed a few crafts: stuffed animals as gifts, some doll-house furniture... Hmmm, what else? Then I simplified my sewing life: Does it require a pattern? Yes? Gone. Does it require anything other than straight lines? Yes? Gone.  So, just harmless things like gift bags, duvet covers from sheets, repaired ripped seams in clothing, like that.

And then my sewing machine stopped working properly. I wasn't desperate enough to fix it. Keep meaning to... like I kept meaning to get back to those clothings. When I finally emptied that box, I had already cut out the fabric for one of the patterns, with the pattern pieces still pinned to it! Like a Pompeii artifact: Normal life then, suddenly, BOOM! sewing project buried forever.

It was never a specific hobby for me; I'd have never, even then, added it to a list of "things I like to do."

But it was fun for a while.

I have photos of so few of the things!

Wedding dress. Lace jacket with lace-wrapped buttons. Dress with very very very full skirt, 
Two layers: lavender satin topped with lace (the bodice: just satin with spaghetti straps).
Maybe the complexity and time it took to assemble finally wore me out on sewing clothing!
Really need to scan more wedding photos--
(My bridesmaids: Four sisters, one sister-in-law, and my maid of honor.)

Saturday, February 13, 2021

I'm A Data Wonk And Proud Of It

SUMMARY: Do databases save me time or take more?! Hard to tell--
Backfill: Started with a Messenger chat Feb 12, 2021, with a friend who just got in touch after 20ish years. Apparently we're both of that persuasion...but he uses spreadsheets...

Yes, I track all kinds of things in my life using FrameMaker databases! I don’t use spreadsheets because they’re so limited. This discussion aroused my curiosity, so I went to my system and checked how many FileMaker files I have-- Heh, OK, I have 165 FileMaker documents! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Ya know, this is crazy! I should have a database of how many databases I have!๐Ÿคฃ 

Oh--wait--not so bad after all: Many are templates and examples that came with Filemaker! Whew!

And, to be fair, some things are basically the same thing but I decided to do a separate file for each year for various reasons. Like, these 2 make up 56 of them: Xmas Gifts given, every year 1992-2018.  And my own timecard tracking and analysis for work-- every year 1994 thru now.

Some are because some databases consist of more than one file -- like Books and Authors.  Gawd, I have a lot of weird ones in here, some of which I had forgotten about!

So, here are most of 'em:

Xmas gifts given, multiple files (see above)

Timecard details, multiple files (see above)

CDs and records

Songs that are on my Classical CDs and records, because sometimes you want to know where the song is. 

Songs on my Christmas CDs and records 

Video media

Books (actually 2 connected files, one for books, one for authors)

All other household inventory, which is over 10,000 items now (you know, each pair of socks is one item…)

Where did each dragon come from? Was it a gift?
When did I get it? Is it worth anything now?
Plus--I have another 5 cabinets like this (not all dragons).
All is revealed in the inventory database.

Oh, plus I have a separate deleted-inventory-items one because how often do you think, “did I get rid of that?! why can’t I find it?”

Dog agility competition scores – – almost 20 years, 4 dogs, something like 300 different competitions, 20 to 40 events per competition…  consists of 3 interconnected files (because I wanted to track points towards titles (sometimes the official systems make mistakes) and what kind of improvements we were making and so on)

Budgeting system, prints a monthly sheet to use to track my expenses,  or a yearly analysis etc. 

Assets and liabilities

T-shirts (yes, really) (helpful when doing TShirt Tales blog posts)

Here are some of them...

Christmas cards sendees (and from whom have received them so I don’t lose track)

Contacts (people/addresses/phone numbers)

Special Dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)

Work contracts that I did for different companies over the last 24 years—started, anyway, but I just found that boring and tedious and so never updated it much

Trips taken/places I’ve been, very limited, but again, I didn’t start it until fairly late, so I there are gaps and ? ‘s. I was able to work with my dad a little bit on filling in some of the gaps for when I was with them, the first 18 to 20 years of my life, but of course nothing since then from him. (When he was still around.) 

My trips/travels/places website page header 

Disaster supplies, like, what food should I have, what other gear should I have, when was the last time it was replaced, when is it due,…And it is due to be updated is what it is.

Short fiction that I sent out to various markets, and whether it sold or not (spoiler: only three things sold) But I pretty much stopped writing when I started doing dog agility.

Electricity and gas usage and how much I was paying per kilowatt hour or whatever, and how many hours in different tiers are used each month, but I ended up stopping that, too, after many years Way way way too much information that wasn’t really useful for me.

Rent payments from renters.

Xmas lights, All of the hundreds of strings, where they go (went) on the house, how long they are, etc.

Where bills are paid (e.g., online banking etc.)

Dog agility club inventory (wayyyyy out of date, I should just dump it)

House expenses since I bought this house; mostly for long-term tax use but also handy for remembering what brand of faucet or drapes or how old the broken thing is or where I got the items…

Trying SO hard not to expand
beyond 2 file cabinets

File cabinet contents — I try to label drawers and folders intuitively, but have been thinking more about my heirs lately

Grocery shopping list with checkboxes (all stuff that I commonly buy, so I can just check them off, and they’re organized by type of food or aisle, but I can sort it in different ways, too)

Travel supplies: With flags for whether I’m taking dogs, whether staying in hotels or camping, and so on, so I can generate a report just for what I’m doing. Every little bitty thing because one *always* forgets something obvious—

Savings accounts transactions - cross-posted with purposes (e.g., how much money is set aside for property taxes vs where is money actually located)

And random others

Things I do NOT have databases for:

My photos, but the organization and file naming conventions are sort of like that… They are organized In a folder structure, one folder for each month of each year, folders in each of those for each day or event that I took photos, and sometimes subfolders within those, like when I went on a 16-day multistate trip in 2018, I have different subfolders for each day or place. And I name each file with useful keywords.

movies I’ve seen! I should’ve started that years and years ago. I didn’t start tracking until about 20 years ago, but it’s all a manual list still. Great idea! Just what I need, more databases to maintain! (not even going to try, there's no way...)

Computers: making our lives easier every day in every way!๐Ÿคฏ

Friday, February 12, 2021

Feb 11 on Facebook - Rain, Cookies, Sunrises

SUMMARY: I dunno, doing this because I can. Why not?

Background: My comment on Facebook Feb 11 '21 after Linda said that her dog Abby walked a short way in the rain and then said, nope, we're going home.

Zorro insisted that I come out into the yard to play with him. In the rain. Dragged me out of bed after working at it for half an hour because I realllly didn't want to get up from my afternoon nap. Brought me a Jolly to throw, which I did, and then he dropped it and started eating grass. This is how it has been going for a long time. I don't know the reason--I think maybe some kind of stress reaction, rather than needing to eat grass, because he comes right into the house after me if I leave. Which I was happy to do this time because it was raining

Unlike Abby, he didn't seem to care about that. Not sure what would've happened if I had tried to take him for a walk. I think he'd have been glad to go but unwilling to stop while I took photos.

Photo borrowed from April 2019. 
I didn't take photos this time because it was raining!

Background: Also on the 11, a friend noted that her girl scout cookies order arrived.  I said...

Wow! Yayyyyy! I'm eating through mine WAY too fast so I just ordered more. Not good for my physical health, but my mental health is happy. 
[about 6 hours ago, ordered 5 more boxes of ToffeeTastic. Soooooooo good. Will be dropped off tonight or tomorrow]

Backgroiund: Also on the 11, I caught morning sky! orange! colors! I said...

This is definitely the sort of thing that one likes to wake up to. The sudden red-orange on the curtains is what drew me out from between my warm soft sheets.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Crates, Ex-Pens (X-Pens), and Harnesses

SUMMARY: The topic goes on and on
From comments on my posts from the previous 2 days--

RATZ -- I'm sure that I have some relevant photos, but they're old enough that they'd be on film, so I'll have to look thru albums and boxes and scan them in. Which I'm not going to do tonight, sooooo no photos mostly for now.

I responded to a comment on my post "About Crates vs X-Pens For Dogs, My History Thereof"  about a friend's dog and crates and all that, and that her Katie was annoyed that she didn't get to sit loose in the front seat--

Mean humans! 

I didn't start using crates in the car until I adopted Tika. 

Four or five years previously I had finally become smart about restraining dogs in the car, given how many miles I traveled with them and at odd hours and in all weather and a long way from home. Remington and Jake started riding in very sturdy, well-tested seatbelt harnesses and by the time Tika came home, they had become used to that restraint. They were getting up in age and so I didn't want to start trying to get them used to traveling in crates, although by then they were plenty accustomed to staying in crates at trials. (And Remington loved standing up the entire time we were driving, particularly looking for cows-- couldn't take him away from that.) 

In fact, getting Tika and deciding that all future dogs would travel in crates was the impetus to get a minivan instead of a fun-to-drive car like my prior ones. Sigh. Soooo practical--because a crate wouldn't fit into my four-door sedan along with 2 other dogs on seatbelts and all that agility gear. 

About whether to leave a dog in the car while, say, walking courses, or working in a different ring or whatnot: Getting a dog accustomed to being crated for longer times I think requires that the dog receive plenty of practice while they are aware of where you are and then gradually increasing times when they can't see you. At least, that's how it has worked for my previous dogs. Zorro and my late Chip haven't had nearly enough of that kind of practice. They'll sleep in crates in my bedroom at night, but if I get up and go downstairs, say in the middle of the night, without them, I don't trust them to not claw holes in the mesh of the soft crates. 

Which Remington did the first time I left him alone (with Jake) in my tent to walk to the nearest water faucet in the campground. 


But, yep, like Katie, they'd all rather be in the seats, preferably the front, if they had a choice.

Still, for a long time, if I were simply tooling around the area on errands, the  dogs could usually be trusted to be loose in the car so they could look out the windows. Although--lesson learned--one errand I thought would take me 15 minutes and instead became more like 3 hours, and Tika, alone in the car, explained that she didn't care for that so much.

I lived with this reminder for the next 11 years.

Then I noted:  Hmmm, this feels like I just wrote another related blog post right here! ... and so here it is--rewritten and expanded a bit! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

About Crates vs X-Pens For Dogs, My History Thereof

SUMMARY: In which I spew more about becoming a crate utilizer and the eventual rehabilitation of x-pens.
Backfill: started this as part of my Feb 9 '21 post and split it out.

See yesterday's post for a parallel backstory--

My family's dog, Sam, never had a crate.  It was an odd contraption that I had seen at a dog show, maybe, and how could anyone DO that to their dog? Neither Amber nor Sheba had crates--they lived and slept either in the house or confined in the yard in some way. If we went somewhere, they were loose in the car. 

[Throws back of hand against forehead: So young and naive!]

Remington got me moving: Dog sports! But still no crates. Just not something in my world view. Never even thought about them really. In obedience classes, we simply held onto our dogs' leashes.  For tracking classes, that remained true at our beginning level. 

My first agility class was in early to mid-1995 (I'm so sad that I have been unable to find the exact date).  The instructors taught on their own [very large!] property, so we had amenities such as plastic patio chairs lining the front of the field for us to sit on. Many of us used them to park our dogs on when we needed to walk through a course. A very distinct location to the dogs, like having invisible walls.

After some months of this, the instructors brought in an expert from out of town for a weekend seminar, which I of course signed up for. At about that time, they became (understandably) annoyed at the frequency with which their chairs sported muddy footprints, and said all dogs on the ground if they'll stay, or in a crate.  I said that I didn't have a crate. Might have said that I didn't plan on getting one. Instructor looked at me, a bit mystified, and said, where are you going to put him during the seminar?  I might have said that I'd bring a chair for him to sit on, and she said, basically, no.  

I hadn't the vaguest, foggiest, dimmest idea of what to get or what to look for or where. Might have asked her for info, might have asked classmates. Someone said that if  I didn't want a crate, I could use an x-pen.  (I hadn't the foggiest there, either--but learned.)

So, I started real agility life (that is, beyond basic training) with only an x-pen (exercise pen), late in 1995. For Remington, so it had to be the highest height--he stood 24" at the shoulder. Therefore: tall, heavy, awkward. Because, who would want to leave their dog in a crate all day at agility or seminar things? But, oooooh so miserable to haul it around. 

Used it only at competitions--six our first year--or seminars. He'd stand in one corner or along one side of the pen and look stressed. Poor thing, I thought; he must be heartbroken at being confined.

But I discovered, possibly incidentally, possibly at someone's suggestion, that he would lie down and relax, even doze, only if I condensed the pen to a smaller size and covered the top and two or three sides with fabric. And that was OK, because No Exercise was happening in the uncovered, large no-x-pen! 

An epiphany: That's why not everyone eschews crates!  But I already had the x-pen, so I continued to use it as if it were a crate. Doh. 

When Jake arrived in mid-1997, I used the x-pen at its full size. Plenty of room for 2 dogs. Even though they hated each other, they tended to ignore each other if at all possible.  So I figured it would be fine.  It worked for a while -- three event weekends, to be specific.  

I remember clearly the evening before a trial in Placerville, in April 1998, after I had set up my gear and gone off to get in line for early check-in.  As I stood there, schmoozing with others, I was astonished to see someone walking down the nearby sidewalk with a dog that looked so much like Jake (!) on a leash.  Back then, I was such a newbie: Didn't know many people, didn't know many dogs, and back then there was such a variety of breeds and mixes! It was plausible that another dog would look similar to Jake...  and it took me several long seconds to realize it was Jake!

I trotted over, and the woman said, "There you are! He and Remington [so clearly she knew who Rem and I were--I don't recall that I knew who she was] were fighting viciously in the pen, and a couple of us separated them. Didn't want to put them back together--so came looking for you."  Yep, those boys, did this thing far too often at home, so what's a girl to do for the rest of the weekend that hadn't even started yet, 3 or 4 hours from home ?! 

I believe that Doggone Good Elizabeth had crates for sale on site and that I bought my first Cabana Crate that evening or the very next day: Gorgeous teal and purple, exactly my colors! And the largest size, for Rem to stand up in. Jake got the x-pen to himself.  

Eventually, I became all crates, all the time for agility events. But, whenever possible, I'd let Rem revert to his clever historic adored imitation restraint system (aka C.H.A.I.R.S). He seldom left it; standing on the arm merely gave him a better view of All The Things. (His and Jake's crates are all purply there--we are surrounded by zillions of x-pens.)

At the USDAA national championships, 2001.
Very professional.
I love his triangular eyes. Not always this visible.

But I still never used them at home until Boost arrived as a puppy [after Rem, Jake, and Tika] who definitely needed a secure place to rest and stay OUT OF All The Things.  I borrowed a smaller-sized VariKennel for her until she outgrew it, at which point she had earned the right also to be safe, left alone in a Cabana Crate.

I still have the old x-pen. In fact, I eventually bought another, smaller one. Turns out they come in very handy as fencing inside the house when I need to keep dogs in or out of certain areas. Or confine them outside in various ways with a bit more room to move around

In my back yard, watching the rehearsal for my sister's wedding.
OMG isn't that puppy CUUUUUUUTE!

At trials, such as on very hot weekends,
to give them more room and more options for airflow or lying on cool lawns!
But can still seek refuge in their own home crates.

Older puppy (mostly housebroken) confined to one end of the office
to play or rest and
to keep her away from things she shouldn't get into while I'm busy AND 
to protect her from Jake, who hated that she had entered his world.

To keep the new dog off the bed and accustomed to being off the bed
because (a) Tika and Boost were already on the bed, and that was plenty,
and (b) because I was *finally* going to have all new dogs never sleep on my bed,
and (c) I put him in the soft crate but he kept digging at it.
That lasted about 10 minute: He went from there onto my bed with a single leap. 
Color me astounded.

See also:  

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Tshirt Tuesday Tales: Doggone Good and Cabana Crates and All Those Things

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: Early crate innovator and supplier of so many things Dog.

Way back when I started agility. 1996? 1997? One competitor, Elizabeth Hyenga, another local like me, invented a lightweight, very sturdy, foldable crate so that we didn't all need to haul around heavy xpens or heavy foldable wire crates or bulky not-foldable VariKennel crates. She called them Cabana Crates. At first, she sold them under her business name of Doggone Good! straight to locals at trials. With every batch she made (she worked with a manufacturer who actually made them), she improved the design, which I admired. 

I started agility life with only an x-pen (exercise pen), late 1995. For Remington: Tall, heavy, awkward. Because who wants to leave their dog in a tiny ol' crate all day long at events?! But Remington taught me a lesson about that (see tomorrow's post...after it's posted), which brought me to understanding about crates. Still, her crates were pricey and I already had the x-pen. At some point, I became aware of Cabana Crates and I believe that I already knew Elizabeth and her Corgi, and I figured that, if I were to ever buy a crate, that would be my choice. Luxury AND pretty colors.

After Jake joined me, at events I put Remington and him into the same x-pen. Which worked for exactly 3 competition weekends, and then a big fight at the onset of the fourth such weekend propelled me to buy my first-ever crate (also see tomorrow's post), a Cabana Crate of course. on the spot: Gorgeous teal and purple, exactly my colors! Sized for Remington!

A splurge. On a thing for a dog. That we'd use only on agility weekends, pft, surely there wouldn't be that many (hahahahaha little did I know...). I think it was about $160, which in 2021 would be $255. Huge expenditure. (Compare to now, when I can buy a large wire crate for under $50. And folding soft crates for a lot  lot lot less than that. A huge splurge.)

But I liked it so much that I eventually bought a smaller one for Jake, ditching that huge heavy awkward nasty x-pen-- and then another when Boost came along.  

Tika sitting and looking out the front, Boost in the middle sitting and looking out the back,
and Jake lying down and looking out the front.

Back to DoggoneGood. 

Elizabeth started the business largely because she needed something that she could do from home while raising a young child instead of working for someone else, somewhere else.  When her crates and her bait bags sold well, she branched out into other cool things for dogs, and eventually moved her business into a warehouse and online, and a couple times a year held an open house at the warehouse where you didn't have to order through the web. Very popular events. And she ensured quality materials and quality products, so she did a lot of business. (I swear that I once took photos at the event, but I haven't found them yet--might be just film still--)

Her warehouse was just up the road from where I live now. Of course I attended them all and came away with handfuls of things each time. 

Like more Riot Tugs (because will all that tugging, they'd wear out!). Purple of course! To match the crates! Boost loved them and Tika liked them. That was our go-to warm-up tug toy while waiting for my run, not too close to the ring. (Not sure that they were around when I was competing with Jake, but maybe.)

Or bait bags (purple, of course). Lots of books  and videos on dog training. Lots of other fun toys. Lots and lots and lots. Like the bikini chicken. Who wouldn't want one of these sweethearts?!  (Apparently they are no longer made? Such a loss of a cultural icon.)

Or gear bags of various sizes (I think they came only in black). She carried other brands, like Outward Hound, but made some, too--just don't have a photo at the moment.  

Dog-related craft supplies. Dog treats. Dog training gear. Smaller agility-related items. And on and on.

Ad from 2004

One time, at a huge Bark In The Park event near downtown San Jose, still pretty early in my agility career, I wore one of her bait bags on my belt, and realized after I'd wandered around a lot among the hundreds of people and dogs and activities and booths allllll over the park that I no longer had the bag, because the bag had slipped off  its clip (still on my belt). Figured it was lost.  I walked by her booth on the way out--and she called to me--not only had someone returned it to her booth, but she knew whose it was (because I had bought it from her, of course, at some point in the past, and she knew I was here and there weren't likely to be a lot of agility people there), AND she had added a new clip, and furthermore glued it in so securely that it has never come out again. No charge.

One time, I dropped by her warehouse in desperate need of something, and we chatted, and then she handed me this t-shirt. For being a good customer.

Sadly for me, sometime in the last few years, she sold the business and they no longer have the huge variety, just the some bags and clickers.  And sadly for me, I think that all 3 of my Cabana Crates have been damaged by dogs and it's almost as pricey to have them fixed as to buy one of the many copy-cats or evolved designs offered by others now, so many varieties. In fact, I bought 2. Which Chip and Zorro have damaged already--they have no experience in waiting in crates. :-(  

So now I have 5 soft crates that aren't particularly usable at events. Because I can't bear giving up those early ones.

But I remember her and those days fondly.  

I wore that shirt at a trial in Sonora on the day that Jake finished his NADAC championship, the first championship I had ever earned with a dog.

Just a few obstacles away from a NATCH.
And I have *no* idea what that hand signal meant. Typical.