Routine Goes Whacko

by Betty Zubritsky

Of course and of course and of course, there is the ocasional stupid that defies the daily routine. Morning schooling falls in that category.

It’s not stupid. It just defies the routine.

Morning school is when we put babies around who have just arrived, or we’re working back from a minor injury. Morning school is handslips.

Oh, save me. I LOVE handslipping. I have my dog in my hands and I can feel him as the lure goes around. I press my face against his shoulder, just to feel him. Like maybe my hands are missing something. The lure squeaks and sqwaks, and I have been bashed in the face and pulled off my feet doing handslips. And (not but) there is nothing better.

I measure my dogs, if a measurement is required, by how they see the lure. I want an enthusiastic dog. I’ve improved my own skills, so I rarely get tipped over now. Indeed, I have incorporated The Hop. With my left hand on the collar and my right arm under my dog, and my face on his inside shoulder… I can feel what he’s going to do. The Hop happens when he lunges before the lure is there.

I’ve done some plenty hoppy mornings, and I won’t trade them for anything. My hands on my dog, the thrill in him, the release to the lure.

I know I’m suposed to care how he chases on those mornings. The whole truth is, I’m new at this and just holding him to the lure is everything. I’ll grow in the schooling aspect one day.

Morning school mucks up the daily routine some. We turn out a little earlier, and feed a little later. Not a lot, but when we aren’t there doing the normals, everything gets pushed a little. On those mornings, I’m not fussy about the small stuff. It’s ok to not sweep. Leave the plops, we’ll get ’em when we get back. But please change the waters before we go.

Official School is another instance of routine failure. I think it is the one and only thing I truly hate about racing. Official school is a cluster fuck. On Official Schooling days, we weigh in our racers, then weigh in our schoolers. Schools are run quickly, very little time between races. We dress the dogs, present them, and collect them with very little time to actually tend them. And then back to the kennel and suddenly the races are about to start. Damn, I do wish I could suck in a breath between school and race.

Thanking all the ancients for Craig.

He or I (makes no difference) tend the schoolers while the other one picks up races.

Holidays and special events. Mostly, these go along without a disruption. They can throw whatever T Shirt or free beer specials they want, and it doesn’t affect us in the slightest. But put together a Weiner Dog race, and all of our timing goes to hell.

Yes, we can adjust. We always do. We always will. Whatever gets patrons out here, playing and dining and wagering, it’ll be ok. It’s only a delay between races, after all. But our kennel life relies on how the races fall, and using the track surface for a weenie race makes us have to rethink our help for that day. The WHOLE DAY is different for a 15 minute weenie race extravaganza.

Dogs come and dogs go. A hauler arrival is the supreme day-fuck. Whenever he calls, we send an attendant to either collect or deliver dogs. The hauler is ALWAYS late, and our attendant sits and waits for him. Time that could be spent working gets spent on waiting .

I understand the challenges of dog hauling. I do. And I appreciate these guys. They deliver my dogs to and from me, and I rely on them for professionalism and compassion. I NEED these guys, and I am as congenial as I can possibly be. But fer shits sake, don’t tell me “now” when the delivery is 3 hours out.

That’s kinda why there are cell phones.

An injury in a race stops our foreword motion. It doesn’t stop the races. We get us together on the incident as soon as we are able. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, this is the routine.

If Craig is picking up and there is a severe injury, he gets the dog to the vet and calls me. He stays with my dog until I get there. Somebody will pick up his next race if he is still with my injury. The greatest thing about kennel folks is that they will ALWAYS help one another when a dog is injured. They don’t maybe give a rats ass about us as people, but the dogs will be properly collected and tended. Favors come and favors go. The dogs are first, and nobody demands a repayment. Take care of my dog.. of course I will… thank you. Is she ok?

Funny. For all the heathens we are, the first concern is always The Dog. The one that my friends have picked up for me, and the one that was injured and caused the extra pick up. It is not pretended, the concern is sincere. “Is she ok??” It’s a split. Nasty one. Geting some stitches. Thank you so much for your help.

Any injury changes the dynamics in the kennel. A bandage is something to explore, and some explorations are pretty rude. Like there could be an altercation about it. I don’t put booboos out with the general population.

In the grand scheme of things, we adapt to whatever the track management conjures up. There are OMG things and we puff and holler about them. Doesn’t change a thing. This is how it suddenly is and you will adapt.

And so we do.

We continue to race because we are as adaptable as our dogs are. More than that, we know the value of the race to the future of this breed. It’s not just about us having a way to support ourselves. It’s sure as hell not about having an easy peasy lifestyle that has spoiled us rotten and we just want to keep being lazy abusive slobs. We love the race for what it means to this dog. This breed. The future of him cannot be measured ANYWHERE but in The Race. And we adjust our lives to accomodate him.

He … Is … Everything.