a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Entropy 3: Playground Equipment

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Entropy 3: Playground Equipment

SUMMARY: Once I've bought all the agility equipment, it's supposed to last forever. Right? Am I right?

Gathering up all the agility equipment from my yard, cleaning it, dismantling it, hauling it all off the school field, reassembling it, using it, and then reversing the process, was a bit disconcerting. All this equipment is NEARLY NEW, isn't it? Yes? Just bought it RECENTLY?!

(My view of recency might be skewed. I just gave away a stack of 2'x8' lattice panels that have been sitting in my yard unused for a while. Well--OK, I've been in this house since 2001 and they came with me. And I was in the horrid rental house for a year before that, and they came with me. And we bought them when we moved into the previous house intending to put along the top of the fence to keep our escape-artist husky in the yard, until we discovered that she was also going through or under the fence in many different places and ways and gave up on the idea. And that was fairly recent, I guess... Well, it was my 3rd house I owned, anyway, and so how long ago can 1987 really be, anyway? But I digress.)

Actually pretty much everything I have I bought after I moved here, so 2002 or later. So it *is* pretty new, really. It just sits out in the yard forever, through rain and sun and wind and automated sprinklers and marauding squirrels and avian vandals and like that.

I was shocked to note the condition of my short yellow tunnel when I packed it up; I have already tossed one tunnel a couple of years back, the first piece of equipment I bought that was real agility equipment, wayyyy back when (but not as far back as 1987), and I wasn't expecting for another one to die so soon afterwards.

Guess I'll keep using it until one of the dogs goes through it.

At the demo, the PVC base of my tire broke. It'll still work OK, as it's all pretty sturdy--now it's a matched set with the broken-but-sturdy PVC base of my table. And anyway the dang tire itself ALWAYS needs rewrapping; the tape deteriorates quickly, and I didn't feel like rewrapping the whole thing this time around; just got the worst parts.

Also at the demo, some of the bungies that hold the weight onto my tunnels and hold the tire upright broke, but that's to be expected because those things decay almost overnight out in the UV rays. I keep the flea market bungie vendor in business all by myself.

Getting up close and personal to my contact obstacles revealed that the lichen is moving in on my dogwalk and the slats of the Aframe are coming loose. It all ought to be scrubbed, patched, repaired, and repainted. Hopefully I won't have to replace the surfaces; already had to do that 3 years ago with the teeter (the first contact obstacle I got, which was at least 10 years ago) and it was a pain in the pattotie. Dogwalk and Aframe would be even worse.

And of course all the jumps are slowly going to the dogs. Er--well--you know what I mean.

The longer yellow tunnel doesn't look so hot, either, although not quite as bad as the short one. Fortunately for Boost--who loves doing tunnels and does them on her own--and for me--who loves having a way to make the yard twice as long for my running dogs (make a U shape and they run full-tilt in, through, and out again)-- I have a really good, sturdy, double-thick vinyl expensive high-quality 20-foot competition tunnel that I bought probably only 3 or 4 years ago, with no sign of problems at all.

So I was jaw-droppingly stunned Sunday evening when I sent the dogs into the 20' tunnel (yes one immediately after the other) and Tika came out the other end but Boost came AROUND the other end.

Expletive deleted.

It's not torn; there's no sign of glue or adhesive; it looks like it was pressure- or heat-sealed together, and I have no idea how I'm going to fix that. Now I need to find the info on whom I bought it from so I can see whether they can give me a tip on repair. I don't think duct tape will work with the kind of pressure the dogs put on. (For those who don't know, fast crazy insane dogs [not mentioning any names, right Boost? right, younger Tika?] actually run along the BACK of a curved tunnel so that they don't have to slow down. Mass times energy=force plus gravity or something physicsy like that--in other words, there's a LOT of pressure put on the tunnel walls.)

Next time I buy or make equipment, it's going to be permanent, undecomposable, nonrusting, stainless, nondecaying, lichen-resistent, bird-repellent, waterproof, eternal equipment that will last forever. Really.


  1. All my equipment sits outside all year, too and it really takes a toll on it. PVC gets brittle and snaps with just the force of dragging it across the grass to a new spot, tape withers and dies on every pole, contact equipment fades. but my tunnles are in exactly the same condition as when I bought them over 10 years ago.

    My tunnels were originally a debris chute on a building site in CT. They're bright blue and have a 2" pitch. You can sit and bounce on them, they never lose their shape and will apparently never die.

    The only downside is that they're very heavy and pretty stiff so you can't bend them very well.

    And I think I paid about $200.00 for over 60 feet of the stuff.

    Best agility purchase I ever made.

  2. Those tunnels sound almost perfect. My grey/teal 20-footer also doesn't show any signs of aging and is much heavier than my equivalent inexpensive yellow one. The yellow ones bend like crazy every time Tika jumps on one to get closer to a bird or squirrel. If/when I buy another one, I'll certainly want to pay more for one that'll last longer. Will have to look into debris chutes. Wonder what they call it in their catalogs?

  3. Maybe look for a 2" pitch?

    Mine literally came from a building site and were dusty inside. But the dust washed right out because they don't get all squishy like regular tunnels.

  4. Tunnels are a BEAR to clean out, aren't they! Hmm, will have to look for building sites...