namely, fit for a dog

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

dog sprints

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I spent the last couple of days in Eastern Idaho attending the funeral of a really great lady.

My Aunt Jean.

Sidenote: Please  indulge me for just a second. One of the speakers talked about how it seems that power, prominence, property and prestige are the primary factors that motivate us these days.  He followed that with what motivated Aunt Jean…friends and family (which was obvious by the turnout).  His point was that the 4 Ps above, all eventually fade…but family and the relationships we foster will always burn bright.  Point well taken.  It’s pretty great to have Mel in the family.  He has a quiver full of great lessons like that, including this one 7 years ago that has become my Fatherhood for Dummies guide.  Mel also was instrumental in helping me secure theWife for the long term.  When she had convinced herself to ditch the hippie me and head out on a mission I took her to Mel, who put in his $0.02 and basically told her she’d be CRAZY not to dump her plans IMMEDIATELY and marry ME instead.   That’s pretty much EXACTLY how it happened.

So as I was saying…Eastern Idaho.

Ever since I was a kid, Eastern Idaho (specifically Teton and Ashton) has been one of those places where you feel like you’re home.  Sourdough pancakes (cooked in bacon grease of course), whole milk, fresh fruit w/ REAL cream, the Grand Tetons, endless Idaho skies, and that fresh Eastern Idaho air…what’s not to love?

Okay, I can think of ONE thing.  There is just one thing I HATE about Idaho.


You see Idaho has some of the best road biking routes around.  Rolling hills, great climbs, wheat fields, snow capped mountains in the distance.  It kind of, sort of  is what I imagine its like riding in The Tour.  Well, except for the dogs.  And the lack of world class riders.  And no crazy dude running alongside the road, dressed up like the devil.  And no whiny French people.  Okay, maybe not THAT much like The Tour.  But, I’m just saying.

I also don’t imagine Lance spends the better part of a ride strategizing the best way to get around the canine conundrum that IS road biking in Idaho.

So, here are the three critical success factors for a successful doggie dodge, prioritized in this order:

  1. Surprise (how well you sneak up on the dog)
  2. Angle (aided by the element of surprise)
  3. Speed (how fast you can pedal in the event of a chase)

This past Saturday, over 32 miles of riding I had 7 encounters with 9 different dogs…if you do the math that is one puppy problem  every 4.5 miles.  Or to look at it from the perspective of time…I was dodging at least one dog every 12.5 minutes.  Sheesh.  To make matters worse, the dogs it seemed,  had the upper hand on all but one of the critical doggie dodge success factors.

It felt like the scene from Better Off Dead where the newspaper kid and his buddies gang up on John Cusack in the woods. “I want my two dollars!”  Classic.

ANYhoo, of the  SEVEN encounters on Saturday, there was one I thought surely would end with me being Cujo’s kibble.

So Cujo and his puppy pal (we’ll call him…Frank), caught wind of me early and entered the roadway well ahead of my arrival, thus cutting off my angle.  Blasted!  Two of the three critical success factors GONE!  Speed at this point is worthless.  Why?  Because bunny hopping a moving dog on a road bike isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Imagine what the result of speed and a lunging, gnashing dog looks like?  That’s right, biker road kill.  Cujo would be burying pieces of me all over the back yard.

So what do I do?

Slow down.  Be nice.  Make friends with the cute little guys.  Nice doggy.

At first, it appeared to work.  Frank seemed to really be into slow, casual cyclists in tights.  I think at one point he even winked at me.

Okay, I thought…this is working out just fine.  Until I turned my attention to Cujo, who looked like this:


And I am quite certain I looked something like this:


Thank the maker for adrenaline.  I rode as fast as my little legs would pedal.  Got around the bend and down a hill into the river bottom where I got off my bike and just sat on the side of the road.  I am pretty sure I peed a little in my pants.

In Utah we call them Intervals.  In Idaho…they are called Dog Sprints.

Written by eber

March 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

no go in playroom!

with 10 comments

When I was a kid we had a black poodle named Sasha (I hadn’t seen Point Break yet so naming her the Zeph was not yet on the radar).   She never told me as much, but I gathered that Sasha lived a somewhat difficult life.  She had survived being run over by a car (I think more than once), had terrible cataracts in her eyes, was completely blind (I am not certain, but I surmise the blindness may have been caused by doing battle with one of those cars), and she lived with me (I’ll get back to this point later).

I really loved that dog. I remember the day Mom met me and Dad in the driveway to tell us that Sasha had died while we were at baseball practice.  I cried. Then went in the backyard where Mom had stashed Sasha in a garbage bag and set her next to the dumpster (nice touch Mom).  I pulled Sasha out of the bag and gave her a kiss on the head (in hindsight that seems a little awkward and umm…icky).  Since that day I have always felt a twinge of guilt about some of the “tricks” I used to play on Sasha.

What kind of “tricks” you might wonder? 

Well, given that Sasha was blind, she made her way about the house rather gingerly. I was always amazed at how well she knew the layout of the house and could navigate between rooms.  That is unless someone messed with her sense of direction by calling her name and then setting random things between said someone and her.  Watching an aging blind poodle find her way around obstacles by gently bumping into them was pure comic entertainment to a 5 year old.  To a 35 year old…I feel guilt.  But not so much guilt as regret.  And not so much regret because of what I did, but because of the dreaded BLACK POODLE VOODOO curse I have been under for 30 years now.  It is real…and lasting, oh boy is it lasting (I’ll get to this point later too).

Not long after I discovered the joys of messing with Sasha, I started sleep walking and talking.  The first sign of the Black Poodle Voodoo came the night The Sister (I only have one) heard thumping, bumping and banging coming from my room in the middle of the night. 

Thump, bump, BANG.  Thump, bump, BANG.   

The Sister is 11 years older than me and kind of motherly which is why she came in to see what all the commotion was about.  Turns out…it was the Black Poodle Voodoo.   The Sister found me in an unconscious state of repeatedly walking into the closet doors…falling back from the collision…then walking into the doors again.  Thump, bump, BANG.  Over and over. In my mind’s eye I can see Sasha skulking there in a dark corner, the poodle version of Baron Samedi, with my voodoo doll likeness in paw walking me repeatedly into those closet doors – while muttering under her biscuit breath “so you like to mess with blind dogs, huh? Bwahahaha!” 

Side note: Speaking of Baron Samedi and James Bond, after seeing Live and Let Die was anyone really comfortable drinking 7 UP in the 70’s and 80’s?  I always worried that after drinking it I would pass out, then wake up bound to a pole  in some Haitian jungle with crazy people all gyrating around me.  Frightening.

As I was saying….Black Poodle Voodoo.  What happened next is evidence that doggy voodoo is very enduring.  Another late night and The Sister hears footsteps and a door open in the hallway.  Curious and probably a bit concerned, she opens her door to see me standing in the dark…in front of the hallway linen closet…door open…PEEING. On the linens.  Totally asleep.

[30 years later] 

Last weekend I notice a note on the kitchen counter.  On it The Wife has cryptically written “NO GO IN PLAYROOM!”


As I relate the story, in my mind’s eye I can see Sasha again up in doggy heaven (or some voodoo doggy afterlife that looks a lot like a Haitian jungle), with my 2 year-old son’s voodoo doll likeness in her paw.  Directing him to go up into the playroom.  Take off his diaper.  Then POO on the floor.  But wait, there’s more…for good measure have him STEP IN IT and then TRACK IT around the room. Little brown footprints…all over the place. 

Seriously…no go in playroom.

Written by eber

January 29, 2009 at 8:00 pm