a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Is Everything I Own Lost, or Only My Mind?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Is Everything I Own Lost, or Only My Mind?

SUMMARY: It's hard to believe that one person can lose so much in one weekend.

I've now been competing in agility for 11 years through something like 170 trials. This does NOT mean that I'm getting older. It doesn't. I don't ever remember losing anything at an agility trial. Oh, sure, I dropped my pedometer once, but since it had my name on it, it came back to me. I've left my chair next to a ring overnight on Saturday, but it was there when I returned on Sunday. Things like that. But most trials--not even Haute TRACS' 4-day monster--is anything like the Cynosports event in Scottsdale, which must cover several acres, combining agility crating & rings & tenting & such for the equivalent of maybe 2 or 3 Haute TRACS, plus a full fly-ball major event, plus a 2-tank major Diving Dogs event, plus herding--every group with their own competitor tent cities--plus a full major frisbee tournament event, plus dozens of vendors in their own vendor city. This might give an idea of what one is facing when one drops or leaves something.

On Thursday, I tucked Tika's toy into my back pocket, clipped on my goodie bag, slipped on her slip lead, unclipped and removed her collar, and worked my way out past the agility crating area, the security gates, the dog-diving crating area, the two huge dock-diving pools and lines of waiting competitors, the first set of rings, and to the staging area. Played with Tika and her toy. Ran our run, played with her toy, put it back in my pocket, walked back to our crate past the rings, the dock diving tanks, the dock diving crating, the security gates, and into our crating area, giving her treats for walking nicely on lead. Reached for her toy, and it wasn't there. Retraced my steps immediately. Wasn't there. Asked at the security gate, dock diving area, and USDAA info table (where 2 different people gave me different answeres on where the Lost & Found was), and it was nowhere to be seen.

It's hard to find large purple Riot Tugs these days, and they cost something like $14 bucks anyway, and this one was my newer one. Crudola! I checked all the assorted lost-and-found places all weekend and in never showed up.

On Friday, I tucked my old beat-up riot tug into my rear pocket, clipped on my goodie bag, slipped on Tika's slip lead, unclipped and removed her collar, and worked my way out past the agility crating area, etc. etc. Got to the ring, reached for my toy to play with her before our run--and it wasn't there. Retraced my steps immediately and was so lucky as to find it in the vicinity of the sopping wet but ecstatic diving dogs.

Early Saturday afternoon, I took both tika and Boost past all the aforementioned places, plus past the food area and the vendor area and the main event arena and the restrooms, out to the herding area for their herding instinct tests. Walked them both over on gentle leaders, but removed the gentle leaders while we were waiting for our turns, clipping them to each other to make it harder for me to lose them. Mary held them for me while we went in and handed them back to me when we were done. I took the goodie bag, my hat, both dogs' leashes (with dogs), my new certificate for Boost, and the gentle leaders and headed back past the... (fill in long list). Often I clip the gentle leaders to my belt or the leash handle to also keep from dropping them, but for some reason I didn't this time.

I got back to the crates--and had no gentle leaders in hand. I retraced my steps carefully, and they were nowhere. I asked at the herding place whether anyone had turned in two Gentle Leaders clipped together. They said that no one had, but on thinking about it, said, "someone did turn in this" and held up my gentle leaders--perhaps herding people don't know what gentle leaders are? Interesting topic for speculation.

Later on Saturday, as I waited for one of Boost's runs, the ring was delayed for a huge discussion among judge, a competitor, ring crew and officials, and the Shah of Iran and who knows else about something, which delayed us about 15 minutes. I know this because I looked at my watch just moments before they started the ring up again. I played briefly with Boost right outside the staging tent where I was standing, then got in position in line for 1 or 2 dogs, then ran. When I came out of the ring and put on her leash, my watch was gone.

I traced all over the ground outside the ring in the very narrow area where I had been since last looking at it; nothing. I couldn't interrupt the ring to go look there, but I told the ring crew (who told me that lost & found was in 2 different places and otherwise weren't interested in being involved). I came back after the ring had been set of the next day, and one of the guys who had set the ring said they hadn't seen a watch, and I looked around pretty carefully. The watch was not in the 2 places where there were people or stacks of lost items waiting for owners, and 3rd lost and found was closed for the evening. I posted signs in the morning offering a reward but heard from no one. Late in the morning, the 3rd lost and found (supposedly the official one) opened and, lucky me again, someone had turned in my watch.

I taped it closed and took down the signs.

Sunday, Tika and I were the last ones of our team to head to the relay ring. I tucked Tika's toy into my back pocket, clipped on my goodie bag, slipped on her slip lead, unclipped and removed her collar, and worked my way out past the agility crating area, etc. etc. We watched the other teams and ran our run and then Tika and I returned to the crating area a while after Mary and Skeeter but before Brenn and Carlene. Tika's collar wasn't there. I looked everywhere, even in the cooler (brain already known to be fried for the weekend), and then looked again, and then again, feeling like I was going insane. Who would steal a collar with random ID tags? Logically, it had to be there. Then Mary looked all over again for me. Finally it occurred to me that it must have somehow stuck to her slip lead, so that when I thought it was dropping to the ground, it was just hanging there and fell off somewhere else. That's all I could think of.

I bicycled aroudn the site to the various lost and found locations, and again I was lucky--it was already there in the 3rd (unofficial) lost & found place, halfway around the world, waiting for me. I bicycled back past everything and put Tika's collar on.

So in the middle of the night last night, we make one of several stops along the way, where I put on the dogs' leashes and let them out to potty. Jake I have to lift back into the car because of the way it's loaded, then remove his leash & tuck it into a corner next to him and close the door. Somewhere after that, this morning, in the early predawn hours while driving across 46 from interstate 5 to 101, I relate this story of how I don't understand while I'm losing everything this week. It strikes me as more than a little odd. It strikes Diana as more than a little funny.

We get to 101 and stop at the Arco there for gas and to let the dogs out.

I can't find Jake's leash.

Understand that the car is packed so tightly that I can't fit anything else in, but since Jake has been enthusiastically rearranging this bedding over and over for the last 4 hours, I figure that maybe he's kicked it so that it slithered down into--something, somewhere, I don't know where, but that's all it could be, since I know that I put the leash in the car (I almost never remove their leashes before they're in the car and I have hold of them there--not worth the risk). So I borrow one of the other dogs' leashes to walk him.

At the end of the trip, dropping Diana off, we virtually empty the car to get all of her stuff out.

There is no purple Jake leash. Diana now finds this to be MUCH more than a little funny. My reputation, what's left of it, is ruined. But WHERE could that danged leash have gone?!

Note to self: Reread Thurber's "The Night the Bed Fell." If I can figure out where the blanket is, I might know where the leash has gone.


  1. why aren't you writing for a living? -or are you???

  2. I am cracking up. It's time to get the big ol' fanny pack and put everything in it. You'll lose it, but it will be easier to find and you can put your name on it.

    On Thursday, I get a call on my cell phone and it comes up as Barb DeMascio ,who I know is in Scottsdale competing and I think to myself, why is Barb calling me.

    As it turns out, she had lost her cell phone and the person who found it was calling the 1st number in her contacts to find out who it belonged to. That would be me (alphabetically, speaking).

    They got it to her, I heard later from Roseanne (3rd place GP final 26" with Drifter).


  3. Fanny pack: yeah, I could, I suppose. Will have to contemplate that for next year's nationals. Our smaller trials (even our hundreds-of-dogs 4-ring regional event is teeny by comparison!) don't seem to provide quite such an opportunity for losing things. But I still can't figure out how I lost Jake's leash on the trip home!