Thursday, January 28, 2016

Airlines WANT You to Fake a Service Dog!

In early January, I attempted to book a flight on American from Phoenix to Reno for an agility seminar.  V is too large to be an in-cabin pet, so I need to check a dog.  American has direct flights, so MAJOR score, right?


American inherited USAirways crappy Airbus fleet, and this fleets does not have temperature control.  There are some configurations/variation of Airbus for which this is true.  It appears that American has some Airbus fleet that are pet-friendly.

When you research flights, you only get "A321", and not the "S" or "H".  So... you're supposed to call reservations?

Seeing as how USAirways was headquartered in Phoenix, the majority of the fleet are these crappy Airbus.  Thus, with Delta and United only accepting pets as cargo, Southwest only accepts in-cabin pets, and American not having appropriate aircraft... honest folk are stuck driving or hoping that a smaller airline accepts checked pets. Or, you can do what is popular among the agility crowd...


When I flew Bug to USDAA Nationals for several years, I witnessed it all at the airport.  "Service" dogs panting and freaking out.  A competitor fighting with Southwest Airlines over her TWO "service" dogs.  "Service" dogs playing in the terminal.  "Service" dogs wandering around at baggage claim.  Other travelers at the airport in disbelief over the number of black-and-white service dogs in the airport.  There must be a service dog convention!

With Delta no longer offering checked pets, that leaves American as the last major airline accepting checked pets.  However... they have an Airbus issue.

I wrote American when I was attempting to book a flight, and asked why they weren't upgrading the USAirways fleet.

They took 21 days to respond with a copy-and-paste from their website.  Thanks!  Shockingly, I do know how to read.

Here's my response:

You didn't answer my question about the aircraft. By not retrofitting the USair fleet, you are encouraging fake service dogs.

Thanks for the "copy and paste" response from information I found verbatim on your website.

When I was researching flights to Reno, I couldn't tell WHAT Airbus variation was used. Just A321. That doesn't help someone flying with a checked pet.

So you lost my business to Alaska Airlines.
 Okay, wow, I got a quick response to that.  Not sure why all of a sudden American is interested in my business after taking 21 days to initially respond.
Thank you for contacting us again and giving us another opportunity to take a look at this situation.
As you mentioned, our USAir Airbus fleet is not pressurized for checked pets. For the safety of pets, we do not allow customers to check pets on these flights.
As a pet owner, I certainly understand your frustration and apologize for the inconvenience this is causing you and others when trying to travel with your pet.
Our Reservations team will be happy to assist you with any additional information. They can be reached at 800-433-7300 and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Be sure to have your flight details ready when you call. Calling from outside the United States or Canada? Click here for contact information.
If you have questions or concerns after your trip is completed, we'd be happy to hear from you in Customer Relations.
We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you onboard.

Actually, when you call reservations to make your reservation, you pay hefty fees for talking to someone.  They also cannot identify which Airbus variation it is.  Just ask someone who flew to AKC/Eukanuba in December with his German Pinscher.  He called, told his flights were friendly, and then American re-booked him on an earlier, friendly flight WITHOUT TELLING HIM.  So sure, that phone call will go over real well...
I talked to someone last night who had issues getting from Phoenix to Orlando despite calling customer service. Almost every flight was airbus, just like the flights I looked at from Phoenix to Reno or Sacramento. I could get one way on appropriate aircraft, but not both ways, or had to change planes in LAX and still not get to Reno. 
You need to do something about the airbus. Period. 
I'll buy a service dog vest for my dog in the future since it's impossible to get a checked dog out of Phoenix. No Delta. No United. No Southwest. No American. No choices. 
I booked a most inconvenient flight on Alaska because that was my only option. In order to go east. .. I'll be stuck driving or joining the masses faking a service dog since airlines encourage this behavior. By not upgrading the airbus, this loss of revenue must be American's business strategy. You'd rather let me fly a large dog in cabin for free than provide appropriate aircraft in Phoenix.
 I bet you are not surprised that American did not respond.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

FOR SALE: UNUSED Channel Weaves made by someone who doesn't know how to paint

Three coats of paint that do not adhere to metal.  Three.  My 14 year-old car has three coats of paint (base coat, pearl coat, and top coat), AND it's not that thick AND has survived the elements.  Three thick layers of paint ADD to the width of the metal, thus the parts do not glide easily.  Of course, if there weren't so many globs of paint adding to the width/height, the pieces would glide easily.

I was accused of keeping these out in my landscape in standing water.

Nope, these parts don't move not because of RUST, but because of sub-standard painting.  And don't play that "offered powder coating".  Because I wasn't. REDACTED said that he doesn't powder coat anymore because it's too expensive.  Shouldn't that have been my decision?

In any case, I'm not willing to invest any more money into these.  I am not willing to strip the paint and re-paint or powder coat.  $75.


I am really disappointed in these channel weaves.  Not only is ALL the paint chipping off, I struggled for over 30 minutes this morning trying to get the channel part to budge.  I tried silicone lubricant.  I tried hammer.  I cannot get this to budge.

These weaves look ghetto because I re-painted the parts where the paint is chipped, and does not appear to be bonded to the metal.  They are unusable, and I'd like to return them, either for an unpainted set or a full refund.


If they set out in the weather and in the irrigation that is what happens, I am not responsible for your abuse of your equipment, you did not request powder coat paint which would cost another $100.
Use Break Free on the bolts and inside the slides, once they lock up from rust and neglect it will have to set 24 hrs to free up. I have to do the same thing for mine.
And if they are powder coated and abused they will also rust, just a few months slower

They do not sit in the irrigation. Why am I responsible for paint globs? That's why the channels don't move. The paint had been peeling ever since I brought them home and in my garage. I complained then. You should stand by your work. That's the worst paint job I've ever seen.
 If you want them repainted I will but only one time. I use the best quality rust preventive paint I can find.
Repainting will only help if the paint is stripped.  Another layer and these are stationary weaves.  And why is this so thick?
 I'd prefer to have the paint stripped to bare metal, and I will either take them to be powder coated near my home, or I will paint them myself.
To which I received no response, thus, these need to stop taking up valuable space on my block wall fence.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

DABAD: One Small Success for Dog, One Giant Success for Team

Success doesn't have to mean winning it all.  It doesn't have to mean standing on the podium.  I measure success based upon overcoming struggles I have in training my dogs.  Big success comes from accomplishing small successes.

When Scout was nearing the end of her career, I ran her in a few Veteran's classes.  The dogwalk was the next to last obstacle.  She blew the contact.  Someone came RIGHT up to me after the run and snapped, "It WAS a nice run until the dogwalk." 

I retorted, "She's 12 and a half years old, she can do whatever she wants."

My version of success:  My dog can still play with me enthusiastically. Scout earned her PDCH-Platinum, VVD, and LAA-Gold.  One missed dogwalk contact is nothing.

Boo, the little white scruffy dog, has been a challenge in training.  He did not enjoy a group class format - he'd return to his crate for his turn, so he was primarily trained in my backyard.  He does well at private lessons.  He has been a struggle from Day One:

  • Boo is fearful.  It's a big world for a little dude.  I had people give him treats at trials to overcome his fear of strangers.
  • Boo is terrified of the teeter.
  • Boo is selective about how fast he will run and when.
  • Boo is distracted.  He sees lots of shiny things.  And then visits them.
  • Boo is a clown... he wallows in the grass as his start line.  I sometimes abandon the lead out to bring him back to this planet.

  • Boo likes to down on the table, then poke his butt up in the air, wag his tail, and laugh at me.
I chose not to give up on this dog.  He is what he is, and things will come when he's ready.  Boo has had great PGP runs... until he ran off to take his favorite obstacle (A-Frame).  Here were our successes:
  • He ran full-speed.
  • He made course time even with the off course.
  • He bounced the weaves.
  • He performed the teeter with confidence.
  • He stayed with me (except for the A-Frame... it was shiny!)
Heck, he even got a teeter gamble at the same trial!

Boo loves Snooker.  Boo doesn't do well in Standard and Gamblers.  Naturally, I was tickled when he started getting a few Standard Qs.  Then a few Gamblers Qs.  Next thing you know, it's PDCH Boo!

When my students finish a run, I never talk about what needs improvement - for the most part, they are already aware of that.  I talk about what went right, especially if the team has been struggling on a particular move, sequence or obstacle.  Eventually, more and more things will go right, and each student will have a BIG success.

Start measuring small successes.  It will build your confidence.  Larger successes will naturally fall in place.

This blog entry is part of the Dog Agility Blog Action Day: Success!  Read more here:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Got My First Puppy. What Was I Thinking?

My 40th birthday present to myself:  Puppy! 

She looks really sweet, and, for the most part she is.   Until...

We put holes in clothing.

We get stuck under nightstands.

We refuse to get out of the dishwasher, regardless if the dishes are clean or dirty.

Need a paper shredder?  Toilet paper, envelopes, paper towels.  You name it.

We dumpster dive.

We hate dryer sheets...

And door trim...

And wood...

And tree roots... (from a tree that I removed)

And Lantana with red flowers (purple, yellow, and orange are okay).

She is an expert counter surfer.

Don't get me wrong, I love this dog.  However, getting a puppy has made me appreciate my rescues even more.  Someone dumped my other dogs AFTER they got through all the crap I chronicled above - when they were just right.  AND they were, for the most part, house-trained.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Hobby: Poles!

I was asked to help make new poles.  Arts and crafts?  Count me in!  Little did they know that I would just take off on my own.  These are unfinished (no caps/plugs) because the club does something special for them.

I estimate that a 4' bar will be $20 and a 5' will be $25.  Really depends on the amount of artwork that goes into it, and if the ends need streamers/ribbon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Action Day "Aging": Don't Be "That Guy"

I had two criteria to determine whether or not to retire my dog: willingness and ability.  This dog will always be willing to work for me. Ability, as in still able to run, jump, and climb without issues, I figured would be the deciding factor.

I retired her anyway.

A few issues arose when some jerk ran into my truck in a parking lot, despite the truck being big, red, and parked far away from the store.  These behavioral issues in the car were major factors in my decision to retire Scout, although once out of the car, she was fine - willing and able to play.

 Scout enjoys the brand new truck before the backseat became crates.

I retired her even thought a few titles were still achievable.

I retired Scout at age 12.5 60 Qs short of LAA-Platinum.  It was doable.  I trialed at least twice a month.  I entered her in two things a day.  She had a high Q rate in those two things (Snooker and Jumpers).

She's still retired.  Why?  I don't want to be "That Guy".

"That Guy" is the one EVERYONE at the trial talks about, but not to his/her face.  "That Guy" is so obsessed with titles, "That Guy" doesn't see the pain his/her dog is in.  "That Guy" has a dog that is old, trots through the course, and barely makes Veteran's course time.  "That Guy" believes his/her dog still wants to play agility, despite the dog clearly displaying otherwise.  "That Guy" could let the dog be a "One-Jump Champion" or a "Backyard Champion", but insists upon torturing the poor dog by entering the dog in each Veteran's class, and acting surprised when the dog shows no enthusiasm.  "That Guy" is one step away from attaching the leash to the dog and dragging a half-dead dog over obstacles.

Don't be "That Guy".

Retire your dog with style and class.  I threw a party at a local trial.  I made a tearful announcement.  It was difficult.  However, I consider myself lucky that I got to make the decision and not some other event - death, severe injury, etc.  And, I know people weren't talking about me behind my back for being "That Guy".

Scout's well-earned cake.

I brought Scout out of retirement for one run.  I did this to enter a contest for rescue dogs.  That's when I realized, at 13+ years, she's completely deaf.  She ran amok in Snooker.  I didn't care.  She had fun.  I enjoyed running her again.

Scout is still retired.  Oh, and she won the random draw contest.

Scout poses with her prize.

This entry is part of the Dog Agility Blog Action Day topic on Aging.  For more articles, visit

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Does Your Attitude SAG?

I have been under the mistaken impression that agility was for ALL dogs, no matter the size, speed, or breed.  However, I have observed a certain attitude exhibited by some competitors that challenge this notion.  These competitors ruin agility for the rest of us.  I call this elite group the “self-appointed gurus”, or SAGs.  Your market may vary, but most SAGs seem to own border collies.  A SAG makes the other BC handlers look bad.

A SAG deems most other competitors as unworthy adversaries.  This competitor watches and cheers only for dogs and handlers he deems worthy.  He dismisses all other dogs and handlers regardless of ability, as these are just not worthy of his time or attention.  He dismisses all dogs measuring 16” or less, performance dogs, and most dogs that are not border collies.

A SAG owns a dog as a tool for fame in the tiny world of dog agility.  You seldom see a SAG petting his or her dog.  The dog’s life consists of eating, training, competing, some play or reward and returning to a crate.

The SAG feels he or she deserves special treatment, and can behave in an unsportsmanlike manner.  These special competitors expect the trial committee and the agility community to bend over backward to support their not-so-unique needs, such as:
  • Demanding late entry, as deadlines are for mere mortals.
  • Demanding a team change after closing
  • Demanding a new DRAW partner
  • Allowing his dog to bark and lunge at others
  • Using outside equipment at the trial site
  • Demeaning other competitors
  • Yelling at the volunteers
  • Faking course building to pre-walk the course before the mortals
  •  Refusing to team/pair with a small dog
  • Refusing or giving poor instruction to those with a different dog
  • Bringing un-entered dogs to indoor trials when expressly asked not to do so
  • Slap on a service dog vest for priority boarding and free animal transportation to competitions
  • The SAG, when called out for the poor behavior, finds it beneath him to apologize for it, even if said apology would most likely be insincere.
Example behaviors:
As I was preparing my dog, Bug, for a run, a SAG allowed her dog to give eye.  The SAG allowed the dog to lunge and bite Bug.  This happened twice at the trial.  The SAG did not apologize.  At the same trial, the same dog lunged at a BC and the owner received an apology.  At a later trial, the same dog lunged at an Aussie, and never offered an apology.

A competitor who receives instruction from a SAG approached me at the regional, requesting handling suggestions on a course because I have “a small dog”. 

Before I quit taking classes, the instructor brought her BC pup to classes and it screamed and barked the entire time.  Another student brought a new adult dog to class once and, after all the complaints, worked from her car because of “excessive barking”.

During the IFCS classes at USDAA Nationals, the arena emptied after the large height dogs finished competing.  No one cheered for the small dogs.

SAGs tell their students that they will NEVER accomplish things.  I had two instructors tell me that I would NEVER SuperQ with Scout, one of the smallest P16 dogs you will meet.  One went on a fishing expedition by asking how many SQs I needed.  When I replied, “One,” he snapped, “Where’d you travel to get those?” 

SAG instructors complain about the lack of competition at local trials yet have the ability to create better competition.  However, SAGs seem to be uninterested in helping anyone else improve.

SAGs only volunteer at trials if it has some benefit, such as walking courses before open to all competitors.  I use “Volunteer” loosely, as it may be only setting one jump. 

At a recent trial, a scribe sheet arrived at the score table incorrectly marked “E”.  The SAG complained about it well after the class completed and another event began, despite the results being displayed immediately upon computer entry.  The SAG raised his voice at me no less than three times demanding that I change the scribe sheet, and even did so in the presence of the other judge.  The SAG took the timer and thrust it at me, demanding that I review all the times. 

A friend had taken a private lesson from a SAG, and he did not want to help her because he deemed the dog as having “no drive”.  At the Rocky Mountain Regional, the same competitor witnessed the same SAG belittling the Starters and Advanced dogs to the judge.  He stated that, “None of those dogs have any business being out there.”

The number one complaint at the Rocky Mountain Regional was other competitors complaining about SAGs complaining about the order of classes.

The club for which I trial secretary has laid down strict rules about entries after competitors demanded changes up to the day of the trial.  One of these rules included no late entries.  I had one entry arrive late. During the test dates, I was cornered at the hotel by a competitor wanting to know WHY I denied the entry.  I was further told I needed to be "more accommodating", despite the level of poop I have been through by accommodating competitors.  Had this been someone NOT in the in crowd, I doubt that I would have been accosted.
I understand that not every dog and not every handler has Nationals or World Team potential.  My agility accomplishments and titles represent the relationship I have with my dogs, the dogs that are first and foremost loved pets in my home.  Winning, either locally, or regionally, or nationally, or internationally is just icing on the cake. 

I have played sports long enough to understand the value of the relationship I have with my teammates, and can certainly appreciate that same relationship that other handlers have with their pets.  It is truly a shame that there are the unsportsmanlike few that cannot see beyond winning at the highest level.

I have played team sports since fifth grade in 1985.  At the end of a game, regardless of your feelings towards the opponents, you always shook hands and said, "Good game."  You did not talk smack for fear of being benched.  If children can be good sports, why can't adults be the same?  Would I not be fired from my job for creating a hostile work environment for yelling, cheating, and being ornery to my co-workers?

Dog Agility Blog Action Day: Attitude Blogs