Notes of a Sportswriter's Daughter
by Donna Haraway

© Donna Haraway

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Home Study

March 19, 2001
Dear friends,

Catherine de la Cruz roped me into doing a home assessment in Santa Cruz for Great Pyrenee rescue this week, if you can imagine! I think she figured that our Willem fence-building exploits qualified me - especially since she doesn't have any real pyrish person in Santa Cruz and wants a report about a woman who wants one of the dogs whom Catherine is responsible for. I consulted with my brother Rick about how he does adoption home studies for human rescues. Rick is director of Catholic Family Services in Raleigh, and he does a lot of assessments prior to rehoming children. He reinforced my sense that the job is to be the adoptee's advocate while remaining the soul of tact. Why am I quaking in my boots?! I don't even have a novice leg in fence engineering! (Good fences seem to be non-negotiable for placing a rescue Pyr!)

Speaking of novice legs, Roland and I did not get any in Madera Saturday at the USDAA trials. We did make interesting mistakes. I think that means we might be able to learn from them. Carefully timing her remarks to make an impact without damaging the novice handler's fragile self esteem, our teacher Gail Frazier tactfully said that the reason Roland and I did not do well in our Standard course was that I neglected to give Roland any information during the run! That sounds pretty basic, I must say. She was, alas, quite correct. We missed getting our Gambler's run by 0.25 seconds, but we got our points and then all the required obstacles in sequence, which have to be worked at a (tiny, i.e., novice) distance. We were overtime because I set Roland up badly for the run at the jump/tunnel opener into the Gamble, and so he came back from the tunnel entrance to discuss the rule book with me before he agreed to go into the tunnel. Our discussion took several seconds. Next time I'll discuss all the fine print with him before our run! The good part is that he did go into the tunnel and finish the gamble sequence correctly.

I talked with dad yesterday on the phone and waxed all analytical about our agility runs in Madera, thinking he, as a sports writer, would want a blow-by-blow account. He interrupted me to tell a baseball story. Donna, he said, you remember Andy Cohen, who used to manage the Denver Bears when you were a kid? Sure, I said, that's when the Bears were a Yankee farm club. Right, says dad. Well, he reminisces, Andy was watching a hitter at batting practice at spring training one time. Now this hitter, a center fielder, was supposed to be the Bears' best hope for the season, but he was swinging at pitch after pitch and hitting nothing but air. He starts analyzing what he's doing wrong, and it just gets worse. Andy gets fed up and tells the guy to get out of the batter's box. The manager steps in, sets his stance, lines up his bat, and gets ready to clobber the ball into the stratosphere. The pitch comes in; Andy swings and misses, the air hissing in the bat's wake. This sorry picture is repeated about ten times, as Andy swings and misses. Then he steps out of the batter's box, aims a spray of tobacco juice at a passing ground beetle, gives the bat back to the hapless hitter, wipes his hands on his pants, and says, "There, now do you see what you are doing? "

"Shut up and train,"

Entries in Chronological Order

MetaRetrievers on the Beach
Novice Play, Novice Players
Baby Weaves
Home Study
Klingon Warrior Princess
Marco's Story
Tales from the Crypt
Cats for Dog People
Blood on the Path
Personals Column
Touching Comfort
Hell's Aussie
Somewhere Off 34th Street
Daemon Tear

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