a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Part 2 of Packing for an Agility Weekend, Then and Now

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Part 2 of Packing for an Agility Weekend, Then and Now

SUMMARY: Second in a series comparing my 1996 gear to my 2010 gear, and transitions between.

[Previous parts: Part 1, transportation and others.]

  • Then--Phase 1, X-pen progression:

    • A: A couple of old beach towels (one yellow, one blue) draped over the x-pen. 
    • B: In a moment of inspiration, I bought a couple of small sun umbrellas (deep green, not really teal) designed for clipping to a chair, which I clipped to the x-pen and moved around as the sun moved during the day. The clips were flimsy and broke pretty quickly, and it was challenging to find a way to clip the very thin, round, smooth metal handle to the x-pen.
    • C: I bought yard and yards of blue/purple flowery fabric with which I was going to sew an x-pen cover and matching storage bags. I cut one piece that was long enough to go across the top of the xpen and down 2 sides (but it's only 32" wide, so it doesn't come close to covering everything).
  • Then--Phase 2, Crate progression:

    • A: When the first dog moved into a crate (too expensive to buy 2 at once, plus I already had an x-pen for the 2nd dog), I finally broke down and bought a small piece of that silvery metallic-looking sun fabric, maybe 3'x5', just big enough for one crate.
    • B: When both dogs moved into crates, I bought a large beach umbrella (purple & blue) at Costco. Despite the pointed screw end, it would NOT go into the typical ground at agility trials, and it was really hard to fasten it to the crates to keep it upright. AND it also needed constant moving to chase shade from the sun, despite clipping the beach towels and/or shade fabric to it. It still rotated annoyingly at all the wrong times. 
    • C: Eventually I broke down and bought a sturdy metal umbrella/cup holder (purple) that pushes into the ground so I could tie the umbrella to the stand. It mostly worked. When I discovered loop bungies, those worked much better at keeping the umbrella in place. But there never was really enough shade for me AND the dogs, even though...
    • D: I bought (on sale) two lovely purple beach towels that are specifically for agility shade or for covering my chair on muddy days. 
    • E: But still--And my friends had canopies!
  • Now--Canopy progression:

    • A: When I got MUTT MVR (late 2001), I finally bought myself a huge, sturdy, 10x10 canopy at Costco (white--custom purple would've been WAYYY expensive). It is frigging heavy, but it has outlasted many windstorms and heavy rain. The canopy's seams are deteriorating now, though, and whenever I'm going somewhere where I think I can crate out of the car or in existing shade, I really try not to take that huge, heavy thang with me. But it'll be with me this weekend! (And it has proved to be useful for many nondog outside activities as well.) 
    • B: Shortly therafter, I bought a full 5'(?)x10' silvery shade fabic. (Had always seemed too expensive when a cheap old sheet or towels would work. But it's really the right tool for the job.
    • C: At the CPE nationals in 2005 (?), each dog got one (I think 4x6) silvery shade fabric as a check-in gift. I now use all of those shade fabrics regularly.
    • D: Oh-- I still carry around the piece of blue/purple flowery fabric (the rest of the bolt is still sitting in my garage--anyone want it?), AND the purple beach towels, which have come in handy for SO many things.      Oh, yeah, and those old green chair umbrellas, with or without clips, are also still in my garage because they'll be useful SOMEday.

Crate covers:
  • Then--As above, for shade or to give dog privacy from neighboring dogs.
  • Now--If Boost can see those fun, fast dogs running and playing, she hits the sides of the crate repeatedly, knocking over her water and moving the crate halfway across the field (and/or tipping it over). So I bought a purpley/tealy/bluey flowered sheet at a garage sale for maybe $1 that's good for all kinds of things, although mostly for tossing over Boost's crate to shield her view.

Mat for ground:
  • Then--

    • I used to laugh at dog people with their plastic carpets with designs like oriental carpets (except often with doggy patterns): You've got to be kidding! What's wrong with grass? ...er, burr clover?... ...er... dust? OK, OK, I'll toss down a beach towel on the...er, sopping wet grass? ...er...mud? ...er, rain? Oh, OK, I get it.
    • So I grudgingly paid out the bucks for a 6x8 mat (10x10 too expensive) woven in blue and red (so at a distance it looks purple, best I could find at that time) with these cutesy dog images on it. I sneered at people with their falling-apart mats--edging dangling off, broken at the folds, just totally scuzzy-looking, because *I* would take tender care of My Precious and it would last forever. 
    • A couple of years later, I found a teal and purple striped mat! (6x8, no 10x10 in sight) and bought it because I liked the colors. Meanwhile, my original mat was getting a little ratty--every fold and unfold made it worse and worse. They're just cheap plastic mats, really. But I kept using it because it was functional and hadn't died completely.
    • A couple of years after that, I found a purple and white one with a paw print pattern (again I think 6x8).
    • For a long time, I used TWO or ALL THREE mats, trying to cover the entire ground under my 10x10 canopy.
  • Now--The original mat--edging dangling off, broken at the folds, just totally scuzzy-looking--was still in MUTT MVR until about a year ago, when I pulled it out and just left it in the garage. It's not bad enough to toss, but it's not my favorite, and I wasn't using it any more. My newest purple/white one deteriorated faster than either of my first two mats, plus  it's really thick and luxurious (read: pain to pack), so it stays in the garage, unused. Now it's just my one little teal/purple striped mat. (Whose edging is starting to come off and folds starting to break.)  If I could ever find a 10x10 one of those, I'd buy it. (Once found a vendor who had one but had promised it to someone else and she didn't get another one, sigh.)


  1. Argh, this was supposed to publish this evening. First, it published it immediately with yesterday's date on it, then when I double-checked the posting time, yeah, it's July 15 (today) at 5:55--and dang, it posted it NOW (10 a.m.) with a time of 5:55. Sheesh. Ah, well, it's done now and sent and I'm not going to try taking it back.

  2. Enjoying these posts and relating to them. I'm somewhere between your "Then" and "Now". Each year I think to myself, "Okay, *now* I finally have all the things I want/need for the dogsport life." And each year I end up deciding I really do need that one (or two, or three...) additional items... When does it end? Oh joy, I can't wait until my current gear starts breaking down and needing to be replaced. I guess it never really does end, eh?

  3. Yah, I'm thinking it never really ends. Something new is always appearing, or suddenly you see why other people have the things they do.

    I'm awed by the couple of friends who show up with one crate, one dog, one bag of necessaries, and that's it. (And park the crate in a friend's shade and then work all weekend so they don't even need a chair of their own.)

  4. One thing I dislike about agility trials is all the crap I have to haul and set up. Sometimes I want to light it all on fire at the end of a trial rather than deal with packing it up and hauling it to the car. I've tried to keep it to a minimum of gear but still it's a lot, especially outdoor trials where I need to have an EZ up. Maybe I'll start a business setting up and tearing down people's tents & crates and hauling their crap to their car, I'll bet I'd make a fortune.

  5. It's exhausting after you're already exhausted. I'd gladly pay someone $10 to do that for me. I'm thinkin' the numbers wouldn't add up for time spent as a career, but maybe you could charge more. One friend says she's never seen someone with as much stuff as me. I can't believe is--canopy, mat, shade fabric, clips, chairs, crates, water, toys, treats, leash, cooler, video camera and regular camera, breakfast, sheet to cover boost, hat, sun lotion, shoes--I mean, what looks extra in that stack? I don't think I haul more than anyone else. Of course, her dogs are tiny so maybe it just looks like more.