'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

31 July 2011

Sunday Kipling

With the goings on in DC this struck me as an appropriate poem for today. Hope you all have a great Sunday. I'm going to have breakfast with Lu and spend some time playing with my beloved Angus.
Six

The Fabulists
1914-18
"The Vortex"--A Diversity of Creatures

When all the world would keep a matter hid,
Since Truth is seldom Friend to any crowd,
Men write in fable, as old Aesop did,
Jesting at that which none will name aloud.
And this they needs must do, or it will fall
Unless they please they are not heard at all.

When desperate Folly daily laboureth
To work confusion upon all we have,
When diligent Sloth demandeth Freedom's death,
And banded Fear commandeth Honour's grave--
Even in that certain hour before the fall,
Unless men please they are not heard at all.

Needs must all please, yet some not all for need,
Needs must all toil, yet some not all for gain,
But that men taking pleasure may take heed.
Whom present toil shall snatch from later pain.
Thus some have toiled, but their reward was small
Since, though they pleased, they were not heard at all.

This was the lock that lay upon our lips,
This was the yoke that we have undergone,
Denying us all pleasant fellowships
As in our time and generation.
Our pleasures unpursued age past recall,
And for our pains--we are not heard at all.

What man hears aught except the groaning guns?
What man heeds aught save what each instant brings?
When each man's life all imaged life outruns,
What man shall pleasure in imaginings?
So it hath fallen, as it was bound to fall,
We are not, nor we were not, heard at all.

29 July 2011

New Pistol Cleaning Method

Well, it's new to me anyway. It's slick as snot and I ain't lying. Keads has a post up about, among other things, cleaning a Bersa using an ultrasonic cleaner and a 50/50 mix of hot water and Simple Green. A simple source for the ultrasonic cleaner is a jewelry cleaner. I'm going to "borrow" Lu's and clean a particularly nasty G26 (but please don't tell her. I can count on you guys. Right?).

Thanks for the tip Keads!

Six

I Hate To Say I Told You So

But I told you so. This is as clear an example of the leadership failures I talked about as I can think of.


As long as the government of Canton, or any municipal government for that matter, consists of folks like this there is zero chance of a return to common sense policing with the emphasis on good, basic police tactics and community relations. When poor officer behavior is blamed on lawfully armed citizenry you can be certain no lessons will be learned. Or perhaps the wrong lessons. I'm certain the Canton PD consists of a lot of very motivated, professional and honest officers just trying to do the job they've sworn to do. Mr. Schulman, you are doing them absolutely no favors by trying to deflect blame. Step up, accept your share (and you own a very large share of the blame indeed) and promise to do what it takes to weed out the unfit and support those officers doing the job the way it's supposed to be done. You may be surprised at the level of commitment amongst the line officers you'll find if you take the time to do your due diligence and not just spout off.

And when you're ready to hear uncomfortable truths and learn what you can do to ensure yours is the finest police department in the nation feel free to give me a call. I'm more than happy to help

Six

Update: Apparently this wasn't the first time officer douchebag was filmed acting improperly. Like I said before, these people do not just suddenly appear. In virtually every case they have a demonstrable history of bad conduct. It's what the disciplinary process is supposed to do. Identify the unfit and either train them up or remove them. It's very clear that Canton PD and the city of Canton have failed miserably in this regard which calls into question their entire hiring/training/retention process. Empire building, money and negligence, the three deadly sins of policing.

28 July 2011

Auto Shot Gun

I thought this was pretty cool.

Interlude

This is a very small sampling of Angus' impromptu chew toys, the discovery of which is usually followed by the following words and phrases;

What's in your mouth?
Is that a...?
Oh Lord.
Give me that!
Nononononononono!
Don't eat him.....No. Screw it, he's half gone now you might as well finish him off.
Don't you run from me.
Come back here and spit that out!
I do not want to know.
Where did you get that?
Drop that. Drop it. Drop it.
Don't bring that over here.
Aw geez, It's covered in doggy spit.
I don't want to see that.
Let me see that.
What in God's name is that!?
Is it?
It is!
Ewwww.
Aaaiiieee!!

Puppies. They're so cute.

When they're asleep.

Six

There's Not Enough Eye Bleach In The World

You have been warned.



Itty Bitty string bikini top with cottage cheese enhancing shorts? Check. Shaved head? Check. Tats (including the ubiquitious motorcycle on the back)? Check. Pot belly? Check. Knee brace indicating an inability to work and the need for prescription pain killers? Check.

On the one hand no one needs to see that. On the other. I mean it's Walmart for Ghu's sake. Who hasn't seen worse?

People watching at Walmart. Now that's an extreme sport!

Six

25 July 2011

When Thunder Rolled Flight Simulator

Most everyone who reads me also reads Ed Rasimus and knows he was a real Fighter Pilot who has been there and done that in Vietnam and across the world. He is, frankly, a true American Hero and a man I both admire and aspire to emulate. That's why this is so cool. Third Wire is producing a flight simulator based on Ed's combat sorties chronicled in his book When Thunder Rolled. If you like flight simluators or know someone who does send them here.

Congratulations Ed. You know you've arrived when someone actually video games (for all intents and purposes) your exploits. Captain America's got nothing on Ed Rasimus!

Six

Update: A correction by Ed.
A minor note: Third Wire produces the basic flight simulator framework. The module that will offer the F-105, Korat Air Base and the WTR mission profiles is being done by a separate company of some very dedicated programmers.

Sorry for the mix up Ed and thanks for the correction.

24 July 2011

Sunday Kipling

Dedicated to Cadel Evans, the Aussie who conquered the roads of France.
Good on ya mate!
Six

A Song of French Roads
1923

"The National Roads of France are numbered
throughout, and carry their numbers upon each
kilometre stone. By following these indications,
comprehensible even to strangers, the tourist
can see at a glance if he is on the correct road.
For example, Route Nationale No. 20 conducts
from Paris to the Spanish frontier at Bourg-
Madame, in the Eastern Pyrenees; and No. 10
to the same frontier at Hendaye, on the Bay of
Biscay: "-GUIDE BOOK.

Now praise the Gods of Time and Chance
That bring a heart's desire,
And lay the joyous roads of France
Once more beneath the tyre-
So numbered by Napoleon,
The veriest ass can spy
How Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame
And Ten is for Hendaye.

Sixteen hath fed our fighting-line
From Dunkirk to Peronne,
And Thirty-nine and Twenty-nine
Can show where it has gone,
Which slant through Arras and Bapaume,
And join outside Cambrai,
While Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame,
And Ten is for Hendaye!

The crops and houses spring once more
Where Thirty-seven ran,
And even ghostly Forty-four
Is all restored to man.
Oh, swift as shell-hole poppies pass
The blurring years go by,
And Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame,
And Ten is for Hendaye!

And you desire that sheeted snow
Where chill Mont Louis stands?
And we the rounder gales that blow
Full-lunged across the Landes-
So you will use the Orleans Gate,
While we slip through Versailles;
Since Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame,
And Ten is for Hendaye.

Sou'-West by South-and South by West-
On every vine appear
Those four first cautious leaves that test
The temper of the year;
The dust is white at Angouleme,
The sun is warm at Blaye;
And Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame,
And Ten is for Hendaye.

Broad and unbridled, mile on mile,
The highway drops her line
Past Langon down that grey-walled aisle
Of resin-scented pine;
And ninety to the lawless hour
The kilometres fly-
What was your pace to Bourg-Madame?
We sauntered to Hendaye.

Now Fontarabia marks our goal,
And Bidassoa shows,
At issue with each whispering shoal
In violet, pearl and rose,
Ere crimson over ocean's edge
The sunset banners die . . .
Yes-Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame,
But Ten is for Hendaye!

Oh, praise the Gods of Time and Chance
That ease the long control
And bring the glorious soul of France
Once more to cheer our soul
With beauty, change and valiancy
Of sun and soil and sky,
Where Twenty takes to Bourg-Madame,
And Ten is for Hendaye!

22 July 2011

Bad Officers

By now most everyone has seen and commented on the travesty out of Canton, Ohio. The video is horrible and made me duck my head in shared shame. Words fail me. I forced myself to watch the whole thing, partially because I wanted to take in the entirety of the criminal behavior of that officer and partially because of the need for this retired officer to bear witness against another officer not worthy of the name and title of Public Servant.

I have done most things an officer can do, including training others. I have my FTO credential and am certified by both the NRA and FBI as a police firearms instructor. I've taught everything from patrol procedures to firearms to motorcycle operations and anything and everything between. I have never taught my officers to do what this person did. I refer to him as a person because it is no longer in my heart to refer to him as an officer. Disgrace tends to dim my view of anyone who acts like he did.

I'm going to speak from the heart here and also talk a little about why we're seeing this kind of behavior from a purely training and leadership point of view. I'm also going to speak for my father in law, Sarge, a retired Arizona DPS Trooper.

There is simply no excuse for behavior like this. None. He wasn't taught this, though he may have picked up a tacit understanding that such was going to be overlooked by the climate of the department. I've never interacted with the canton PD so I cannot speak to that but I can speak to what goes into the making of such an individual.

There were certainly warning signs along the highway of this persons career. People like this are not made, they are born and later encouraged. And make no mistake about it, saying nothing is as bad as covering up such conduct and there is no, zero, chance that this is the first manifestation of this persons mental disease. Let me say that again. There is simply no way this is the first time this person has displayed these bahaviors.

I saw one comment on the video that made reference to him possibly being a veteran suffering from PTSD. I reject this outright. The commenter knows nothing about PTSD and I refuse to allow our Iraq and Afghan veterans to be painted with the same brush that so unfairly and destructively colored our view of our brave Vietnam veterans. This is not PTSD behavior it's the rantings and violence of a lunatic who possesses no self control and no courage. He is afraid and allows his fear to control his actions.

Last year I wrote about Johannes Mehserle and what went into his perceptions and actions. This is more of the same. This persons reaction and actions were based on fear coupled with an inability to face that fear and a complete lack of self control. He's a coward who believes he has the authority and backing to release his fear in the form of threats and severe, criminal misconduct. He has to know that the camera is recording what he's doing so he either does not care or can't care because his fear reaction is greater than he can contain. You can see his response escalate, especially after the arrest. It's classic bully/coward reaction.  Many of the tough guys I arrested went very quietly into handcuffs but as soon as they were snapped on they went off, secure in the knowledge that my response was limited and if I violated policy or law he would be the beneficiary. This is the same tune with different players. This person is secure in the knowledge that the arrestee is no longer a threat so he is free to vent and threaten without personal consequence. Remember, he's still not thinking about that camera. The camera isn't a threat to his safety and to the fear driven that is the only thing they can focus on.

Let me address training. There are two training issues here. The first is officer safety training. I've said it more than once but it bears repeating, again and again if necessary. Our cops are being scared out of their wits by their officer safety training. There are four major officer safety incidents that are used in most (and more probably all) officer safety training programs. There may be others used locally but these four really define the core of that training.
The Newhall Massacre
Norco
FBI Miami
North Hollywood
In each the trainer explains the hazards of lax officer security (and it is a killer) and how to avoid these particular pitfalls. In officer safety training we typically see scenario training in which the trainee is presented with a vague situation (car stop, domestic violence call, etc.) and thrown into the fire. The problem comes in what the trainers do during the training and more importantly, what they don't do. What generally happens is that the situation goes so totally bad that the trainee can't take the time to make rational decisions, form a plan or respond in any way that will salvage the scenario short of violence and bloodshed.
Here's an example; It's a car parked blacked out on a rarely used road at o'darkthirty. You see two men in the front seat. Ready? Go. Our intrepid trainee, already completely stressed out from the knowledge that failures will get him kicked out of the academy and on edge from the wide eyed and panicky looks of those who came before him (but who are sworn to secrecy) and the reputation of the training, approaches the scene. He's keyed up and more than a bit scared. He does things exactly as he's been trained but suddenly the passenger gets out and runs, the driver starts banging away with a hidden gun and the trunk suddenly pops open to reveal a machete wielding madman. Never happen? This was a routine scenario in my Academy training. When I was a firearms instructor we had three rules we had to live by. The training had to be Recent, Relevant and Realistic. Training had to include don't shoot targets and scenarios as well as those with targets to be ventilated until neutralized. Common sense right? Not so in officer safety training. There we see only situations where all has gone to hell. What's the result? Officers on routine calls expecting the world to end every single time. They're so amped up they're literally on hair triggers. Yes, we need to guard and protect ourselves but we also need to guard and protect the populace we are sworn to protect and serve. Officer safety training needs to be revamped with more emphasis on reasonable responses to routine occurrences and less "let''s see how bad we can scare them because then we'll seem like total badasses for having done the job they're trying to acquire the skills for." Billy Badass has no more place in officer safety training than Casper Milquetoast. They're two sides of the same coin. Mature, common sense training where officers are taught to be calm, aware and in control at all times are vital. Add in unstable personalities and you get disaster.
You can tell a lot about an agency by watching it's officers on routine calls, and this was a very routine contact. I'll break down just a small part of the contact to make the point. First, the stop wasn't called in until after physical contact was made. No no.  Second they made the contacts haphazardly. Everyone can stay in the car, everyone can get out (and sit on the curb) or you can make contact one at a time with the rest either in the car or on the curb being watched by the fill officer. To leave one in while the other two are out requires the primary officer and fill officer both to divide their attention. That is a real officer safety issue (not a manufactured one). It is beyond my ability to describe what a bad idea it is to have one person (suspect) outside the car being watched by one officer, another cuffed and in the car being watched by the same officer while the other officer does a car search with the remaining person (suspect) behind the wheel! It's poor tactically and is indicative of poor or nonexistent training. Not the sign of an agency that takes it's training and therefore retention responsibilities seriously. Any officer who engaged in such contacts in a truly professional agency would be identified and trained up or escorted to the door. Behavior like this is what officer safety training is supposed to be about. Doing things properly and carefully negates 90 percent of the dangers and makes sure the officers are prepared for the unexpected 10 percent.

The second training issue is in evaluation. We have a system where officers are evaluated (commonly daily while on FTO and in the Academy, monthly of yearly during probation and after) but where the priorities are skewed. The real culprit is money. In California it typically takes ten months to a year to produce a solo patrol officer. That's ten months of paying a salary and benefits for an officer who may be doing the job but isn't filling out a roster slot. He's riding with his FTO and undergoing on the job training and evaluation. Add in the cost of an Academy and by the time he's ready to be a name on the daily lineup he's cost the agency a significant percentage of their ever shrinking training budget. The agency is inclined to keep him unless he's an absolute fuckup. I can tell you with absolute certainty (because I was either directly involved or close friends with the FTO officers who were and privy to the details) that unfit officers are retained with regularity and sometimes with dreadful results. There are a variety of tools they use including "extended FTO" and "Close Supervision". Whatever justification it boils down to an issue of money. Many agencies (most?) will give an officer every chance to pass that they can find or invent and hope that the decision doesn't come back to bute them on the ass.

Retention. Negligent Training, Negligent Retention, Failure to Train are all buzzwords pounded into my head during FTO training but routinely ignored or down played by administration. I, and many others I know, have recommended dismissing a candidate officer as completely unfit only to be denied and watched as he was shipped off to a promotion minded FTO. It's as if the words Vicarious Liability don't have any meaning. Am I ranting? Good because I've seen unfit officers pass FTO and go on to solo careers that still give me night sweats. I'm expecting to one day testify about that trainee I evaluated and recommended against retaining only to be overruled. Expecting. If that doesn't give you pause you need to check your pulse. The bottom line is that the system is set up to retain those it should be dismissing before they get to that late night car check call. I know it's tough to find and hire good people but we can, we must, do better than this. I'm passionate about this because the stakes are so high. The standards for hiring, training and retention must reflect that. Far, far better to work alone than with a hysteric, craven bully. Officers are supposed to be selected for their inate ability to handle stressful situations calmly and with a clear head but far too many are hired and retained without possessing those critical skills. They can and must be identified and weeded out. We expect our officers to be aggressive and inquisitive. They need to be out there, nosing around and asking questions. That is how crime is prevented. But this is absurd and, from a purely crime prevention perspective, counterproductive.

All this is a failure in leadership, all the way down the line, both at the agency and government levels. The FTO's who passed this person failed and are negligent. The command staff who agreed to promote him off FTO training and into patrol failed and are negligent. The supervisors who either refused to see or lacked the ability to identify his obvious issues failed and are negligent. The government in charge of the police department (Mayor, City Council, City Manager, whathaveyou) that has allowed their department to fall into such disrepair that this person was hired and retained failed and are negligent. In any and all cases this person should have been identified as unfit or in need of basic and continuous training and observation. He has to be identified and removed. Has. To. Anything else is abject failure and negligence. This systemic failure on the part of the city of Canton and Canton PD is inexcusable.

Look, I love my brothers and sisters in law enforcement with a deep and abiding love. They do a job that is so difficult and so filled with pitfalls and arcane rules and regulations it would give most people an ulcer. It's mostly thankless, dangerous and difficult. A beat cop needs to be part den mother, part psychologist and part superman. He needs the patience of Job, an encyclopedic knowledge of the law, above average physical skills and a very large dose of common sense. It's an impossible job filled with very fallible people. This isn't that fallibility. This is the actions of a cowardly bully who never should have had the badge in the first place. They need to be removed, or better yet cut off before they ever get a chance to be put into this situation in the first place. Hiring, training and retention are the keys. Make sure your agency is doing the job you're paying them to do.

And to the puke we see in this in that video; no, to both of the pukes we see in that video. I can't say it any plainer than this. I'm ashamed of both of you. You have tarnished the men and women I love so very much. You caused pain and fear where they were uncalled for. You made an arrest that was unwarranted. You displayed cowardice in the face of no adversity. You failed to self correct or bear witness. You failed you miserable pieces of shit.

Fuck You. Both of you.

Six and Sarge

Update: Go and read the comment to this post by Murphy's Law and keep in mind that this is a man who was involuntarily pulled from front line service due to a severe injury suffered in the line of duty. After he finished rehab and was ready and able to take up those duties again he was refused and turned away because his administration was as stupid as Canton PD's. Now ask yourself who you'd rather have answer your call for help or back you up on a hot call, Murphy's Law or the putz in the video. Then ask yourself why Murphy's law couldn't get his job back in spite of a clearly demonstrated ability to do the job but officer sphincter boy could keep his in spite of a clearly demonstrated inability. The system is broken and until it's addressed and fixed expect to keep seeing more like this. Take if from me, the two morons in the video couldn't carry Murphy's Laws spare leg and yet he's the one on the sidelines. Makes me angry and it should you too.

Update 2: Fixed for clerical errors. I really need to do a better job previewing these things. My report writing instructor would be aghast.

21 July 2011

9th Circuit Ruling

I hold no sympathy for racists or those who would threaten anyone, including the sitting President. There's just no excuse for it and such behavior cannot be tolerated. But as a veteran and experienced police officer I understand the difference between those who are stupid and those who are determined and dangerous. Apparently (and surprisingly) so does the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. In a ruling on Tuesday they demonstrated common sense and overturned the conviction of Walter Bagdasarian for threatening then candidate obama in 2008.

Here's the key wording;
"The Ninth Circuit overturned Bagdasarian's conviction because there was not sufficient evidence that a reasonable person who read the postings would have believed that Bagdasarian intended to injure or kill Obama."

It's the "Reasonable Person" rule and it's been notably absent from court rulings lately, especially the 9th Circuit. That this liberal court would find thus is both interesting and encouraging. The 9th Circuit isn't exactly known for reasonableness or getting things right. This is a very small case but a very important ruling, especially in California where case law is so important to future criminal filings and rulings.

Walter Bagdasarian is a human stain who deserves neither sympathy nor an audience. I reject him, his words and his beliefs. I can but hope that sometime he runs that nasty mouth at someone who will take a more personal umbrage and teach him about the value of STFU. But. He is still American and does deserve to have his rights upheld. As a man who once worked under the auspices of the 9th Circuit I am heartened by this decision and can only hope that it indicative of a sea change in the 9th Circuit.

Six

19 July 2011

Drugs And Bicycles

I'm a cyclist. I love my bicycle. As I've aged and the injuries from repetitive lifting have gotten easier to suffer and harder to heal my bicycle has become my number one source of exercise.

I found out a few years ago that I also like to watch competitive riding, including the Tour de France. The problem is that professional bike riders are synonymous with performance enhancing drugs. The drug of choice is EPO but Blood Doping and stimulants are and have been used extensively. Many pro riders have been caught but the doping was so widespread and endemic that the entire sport was in real danger of dying. And good riddance it would have been. Riders have been banned and teams have dissolved, doctors have been stripped of professional credentials, some have done time for smuggling. It even seems pretty clear now that Lance Armstrong was doping and that is a real kick in the nuts to fans like myself.

Lu and I started watching the Tour in 2001. We watched as Armstrong won and continued to win. 7 Tours in all. It was always apparent who the strong men were and there were damn few of them. Compared to those few the rest of the peleton looked pretty average. In succeeding years the script was the same. Two, or at the most three, riders were light years ahead of the rest (think men against boys) until one would kick in the next gear and simply blow the competition away. The winner most always seemed to win fairly easily (for certain values of easy).

Of course we now know that their competitive edge came from a syringe and a transfusion bottle rather than being honestly won. I got disinterested fairly quickly. The various anti doping agencies, both in Europe and here in America, were pretty ineffectual but then the systematic doping with doctors and experts involved made any detection chancy at best. There is now a new system in place called Blood Profile or Biological Profile. It's based not on a failed drug test or a criminal investigation but rather on telltale changes in the blood that signal the use of performance enhancers. There is no way to be certain but anecdotaly it seems to be working.

This years Tour is like no other I have watched. Everyone seems to be on an even level. The current leader, a man who should have had absolutely zero chance of winning, is a Frenchman named Thomas Voeckler. He's a good rider but not in the same league as those past, enhanced, winners. Yet this year he leads by almost two minutes after stage 16 of 21. The big names are down, some way down, in the standings. My pick, Cadel Evans, is an Aussie who I am confidant has been racing clean for years. He's in second and, if reports are to be believed, in "incredible"physical  shape. That means his performance edge is coming from his body and training and not from a moral shortcut. The rest of the peloton, the mass of riders who  make up the body of the race, are taking turns racing heads up against the big names and are more than holding their own. The racing is close, intense and sometimes violent. There's been more crashes, and more injuries, than I can ever remember seeing. Such conditions are indicative of racers who are evenly matched and trying for every advantage on the road that they can get. Heck a sprinter, Thor Hushovd from Norway, has won two mountain stages. A feat previously unheard of. Jonathon Vaughters put together the Garmin-Cervelo team, derived from the old Slipstream-Chipotle team, expressly to show that clean riding was not only possible but clean riders could win at the very highest levels of the sport. In a case of great minds think alike, Vaughters agrees with my assessment.

We're seeing riders and teams choosing not to dope. It may be because of the fear of getting caught (along with the literal millions of dollars at stake). It may be an attempt to emulate Vaughters. It may be because the participants realize just how close they came to losing their sport. Or it may be that the riders are finally just plain wising up.

Whatever the case I'm watching this years race with renewed enthusiasm and excitement. I want an unexpected winner. I want those domestiques, the nameless faceless drones shepherding the name riders, to win and place high. I want to be amazed by the sheer guts and determination of a Frenchman riding for glory and honor, hanging on to the yellow jersey with his teeth and his nails and his courage. I want people to know my sport is clean and to be awed by the things these men can do from the saddle of a bicycle.

I have admitted many times that I am a man of deep emotions. A man who can be easily moved by demonstrations of human exceptionalism. I make no apologies. Anyone who cannot be moved by courage and effort and overcoming long odds is missing out on a wonderful experience.

Finally, I can watch and cheer and be completely and wonderfully ignorant of the final outcome. And that is a very good thing for those of us who love bicycle racing and the men and women who abuse their bodies in search of fleeting and elusive glory.

Viva le Tour!

Six

Government Gone Wild

This if true should true should get you attention!!

http://www.youtube.com/embed/VtVbUmcQSuk

18 July 2011

This just strikes me as wrong on so many levels.



I mean, who writes this stuff? I kept expecting a guy with a 70's mustache and a pedovan to drive by in the background.

Six

17 July 2011

Sunday Kipling

It's Sunday, a day for steak on the grill and time with those you love best. May this day find you healthy and happy. And avoid Bill "Awkins!
Six

Bill 'Awkins

"'As anybody seen Bill 'Awkins?"
"Now 'ow in the devil would I know?"
"'E's taken my girl out walkin',
An' I've got to tell 'im so --
Gawd -- bless -- 'im!
I've got to tell 'im so."

"D'yer know what 'e's like, Bill 'Awkins?"
"Now what in the devil would I care?"
"'E's the livin', breathin' image of an organ-grinder's monkey,
With a pound of grease in 'is 'air --
Gawd -- bless -- 'im!
An' a pound o' grease in 'is 'air."

"An' s'pose you met Bill 'Awkins,
Now what in the devil 'ud ye do?"
"I'd open 'is cheek to 'is chin-strap buckle,
An' bung up 'is both eyes, too --
Gawd -- bless -- 'im!
An bung up 'is both eyes, too!"

"Look 'ere, where 'e comes, Bill 'Awkins!
Now, what in the devil will you say?"
"It isn't fit an' proper to be fightin' on a Sunday,
So I'll pass 'im the time o' day --
Gawd -- bless -- 'im!
I'll pass 'im the time o' day!"

16 July 2011

Progress

I said that by the time Angus was 12 weeks old he'd at least know SIT, COME, DOWN and STAY by voice, hand and whistle. He's actually a bit smarter than I anticipated and is progressing very nicely. Remember, at the time of this post he's 8 1/2 weeks old.

I started Angus on treats. Some trainers do and some don't. With retrievers treats are fine because by the time we progress into actual retrieving that will completely take the place of everything else.

First up was reinforcing his name. I use it whenever possible without overdoing it. I keep all our training sessions limited to just a few minutes. Anything more and I run the risk of convincing him he can ignore me without consequences because there are no consequences for failure or refusal at this stage. I call his name when he's active and involved without being actively occupied with something puppy. He now regularly acknowledges his name when he's called. Ok, it's now time to move on.

At this age Angus, and most puppies, are gastricly motivated. As soon as he figured out treats and that I could and would dispense them for certain behaviors the training took off at light speed. He sat at the breakfast table practically immediately. He has such a good disposition anyway that he just naturally sat while watching me. It was very simple to stand so he'd follow. I then called COME and sat again. He came running and as he sat I commanded SIT. As soon as his butt hit the floor I gave him a treat and praise. Within 2 or 3 repetitions he reliably came and sat on command.

That's all well and good but how about when we're away from the table? On to the next phase. I started springing COME and SIT on him at times when he was doing other things. At first he got a quizzical look on his face when I commanded COME. You could see his little gears turning. Then he'd light up and come running. As he got to me I commanded SIT. When he sat I took out a treat and gave him play and praise. At the same time I introduced hand commands and the whistle. The Hand command for COME is clapping and for SIT it's a pointed finger.
Take a look at how interested Angus is. That's a focused puppy.

This is our training whistle and he loves it. The whistle seems to really speak to dogs and Angus responded the first time he heard it. He came running and Daddy rewarded him with lots of love and play. There will come a time when as soon as he sees the whistle, dummies or leash he'll lose his mind with joy. Pavlov was short sighted.

Ok, let's set up the training. It takes place in the living room, where he's spent the most time and is very comfortable. It's filled with familiar things and smells that give him comfort and security. The training is limited to what I know he understands and there's no pressure or consequences. It's just fun and Angus picks up on that immediately. We're keeping the training light and happy with lots of treats and love.

 COME
And SIT
Both done for a treat and sets the stage for a learning session. He's active, interested and feeling no pressure.

Let's try it with hand commands. COME is clapping hands. Note I am no longer bent over and offering a treat.

And SIT. You can see the pointed finger and his butt heading for the floor. No oral commands were given.

What a good dog! Time for some love.

Now for the whistle.
COME is a rolling trill. It's loud and a happy sound. Angus really responds.

COME

And SIT. SIT is one sharp short blast.

I move away and have him follow, re-set and do it once more to be sure it's all set in his mind. Note that Angus is still sitting as I move off. We haven't worked STAY to any degree yet but he's showing good signs of understanding what to do.

COME. Look at his ears. He's responding with enthusiasm and happiness. This is all a big game and one he gets rewarded for doing well.

SIT. You can see my hand at my mouth trilling the SIT command. He sat with alacrity.

And we're done. I keep his training time very short, a minute or two only. It keeps his interest and enthusiasm up and trends to alleviate balking or refusing so there won't be any bad habits to break him of later. This way we can play and have fun while learning at the same time, the true purpose of preschool. Distances are limited to a few feet mostly because it is massively easy to distract a puppy at this age. "Yea, the whistle. Oh look at that leaf. Is it a Fun Thing? Do I need to attack it. I think I do. Joy!!"

Angus responds to love and affection. He feels secure and is developing both a strong bond and a deep trust in me. Both are critical for his long term development and happiness. He's never happier than when he's in Daddy's lap. This is impossible for a puppy who is getting inconsistent messages or too much training or discipline at such a young age. Puppyhood is a time for play, fun and learning to learn.

And now it's time for a nap.

We're starting on STAY and DOWN but both are a bit harder than SIT and COME. Angus has done DOWN a couple of times with some help but not reliably and we haven't tried STAY in training yet. Both will come but only as Angus seems ready to progress. Angus drives all the training at this point. When he's off he's off and I don't even try to force the issue. For now I am overjoyed with him, how smart he is and how eager he is to learn and perform. This little puppy will come and sit on voice, hand and whistle command.

Have I mentioned he's only 8 1/2 weeks old? What a Good Boy!!

Six

14 July 2011

Gambling

Can someone please explain to me why Poker is on ESPN? I know it's Entertainment and SPorts Network but the emphasis has always been on the SPort with the Entertainment relegated to Cheerleader competitions and hot dog eating contests. They don't even have pro wrestling on for crying out loud.

Poker? Really? With play by play and in depth color commentary?

"Greasy Pete really took a big hit on that hand Cool Hand Jesus."

"That's right Mortimer. He really should have folded that hand when the flop turned up Duece, Seven and the Death Card."

Apparently I'm watching waaaay too much TV.

Six

12 July 2011

Volunteerism

I've said many times that the best way to learn about and potentially influence local government is to volunteer. It's the first thing I tell people who have had a negative contact with the police department. Get involved, volunteer some time, see what's what and ask questions. It's potentially outlook changing and even life altering. Never let it be said I don't put my money where my mouth is.

I had a meeting with the local Police Chief today. It went very well. He's looking for places to more efficiently utilize their resources while providing an increasing level of customer service to the community. I possess skills relating to community involvement and crime prevention he believes they can use. I now have an application and background packet waiting to be filled out and turned in. From what he said I anticipate being ridden hard and put away wet and that's a very good thing. The skills and experience I have were all paid for by the taxpayers so it's only right that they get their full money's worth. If the local PD, and the city I live in, can use what I know then it's my clear duty to do what I can to help, especially in these times of increasing demand for services coupled with ever shrinking budgets.

Prior to this meeting I knew virtually nothing about the local PD beyond scuttlebutt. Shame on me. I'm going to rectify that. I came away from the meeting mightily impressed with both the Chief and his Administrative Sergeant. They were smart, knowledgeable and passionate about service to the community and crime prevention. I wish every citizen could have been in on that meeting and if I have anything to say about it they soon will. One of the things I'm going to find a way to institute is a Citizens Academy.

I have no idea right now how things are going to go but I have a very good feeling. The Chief strikes me as a guy who gives direction and then stands back and lets his people go to it. I like that in a Chief. Of course I do have a list of things I need to get accomplished around the ranch that's approximately 1.3 miles in length but I'm sure I can find the time to give back and help ensure the life and health of my new community.

I'm looking forward to it.

Six

10 July 2011

Sunday Kipling

It's raining, Angus and Lu are napping after waking at 5:30 and the Tour De France is on. Have a fine Sunday everyone.
Six

En-Dor
"Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor." I Samuel, xxviii. 7.

The road to En-dor is easy to tread
For Mother or yearning Wife.
There, it is sure, we shall meet our Dead
As they were even in life.
Earth has not dreamed of the blessing in store
For desolate hearts on the road to En-dor.

Whispers shall comfort us out of the dark--
Hands--ah God!--that we knew!
Visions .and voices --look and hark!--
Shall prove that the tale is true,
An that those who have passed to the further shore
May' be hailed--at a price--on the road to En-dor.

But they are so deep in their new eclipse
Nothing they say can reach,
Unless it be uttered by alien lips
And I framed in a stranger's speech.
The son must send word to the mother that bore,
'Through an hireling's mouth. 'Tis the rule of En-dor.

And not for nothing these gifts are shown
By such as delight our dead.
They must twitch and stiffen and slaver and groan
Ere the eyes are set in the head,
And the voice from the belly begins. Therefore,
We pay them a wage where they ply at En-dor.

Even so, we have need of faith
And patience to follow the clue.
Often, at first, what the dear one saith
Is babble, or jest, or untrue.
(Lying spirits perplex us sore
Till our loves--and their lives--are well-known at
En-dor). . . .

Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch's abode,
As it did in the days of Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-dor!

09 July 2011

Introducing Angus To Chrisi

Chrisi is a 14 year old dog who is used to things being a certain way. She also hates a closed door and will pout whenever she sees one. That's an issue because I want to keep Angus in an area that I can monitor at all times and a missing puppy is an invitation to disaster or even tragedy. Puppies are hyperactive balls of misdirected energy and are best monitored constantly. So a gate was first up.

Yeah, it's crude but then so am I and it is temporary after all. It swings on hinges and locks at the top. This is actually the second iteration. At first it was just leaning against the wall but the little man figured out how to defeat it toot sweet. He's going to be a hand full.

Because Chrisi is elderly and Angus can be a terror on 4 tiny legs, their introduction was best done gently. When Chrisi saw first him she immediately turned tail. So far she's been avoiding him whenever she can but that's gradually improving. Both are getting used to each other so Chrisi in a little more tolerant and Angus a little less bitey.

First introduction was with a barrier between. Can you hear the thought going through her head? "Oh Lord, what have you people done now"?

Well. he is kinda cute. I guess.

Here they are in the back yard. Not too close now. Can't scare her off.

A little closer. By the way, that's a lean to I built over part of the yard and it relates to potty training. It's very hot here and the sun is harsh. The ground, including the grass was getting so hot it was painful on his little feet and he shied away from going potty in the yard during the day. I put this up to shade the grass and I keep it nice and wet. Worked like a charm. He loves wet grass and the hesitation to go when it's hot out is gone.

So. We friends now?

A word on biting. A puppy's world is defined by their mouth. Everything goes into it. Everything. They'll chew on whatever catches their eye from sticks to bugs to toes and fingers. It's not aggression it's exploration. It's one of the prime reasons to watch them so closely. Angus has no idea what is OK to chew on and what isn't. He's depending on me to guide and protect him. It's not only my job it's my pleasure and one I take very seriously. Puppies can be hurt or killed by chewing or eating the wrong things and they seem to pick those objects with unerring certainty. He's usually very good about giving up items I take away though sometimes he really doesn't want to let that clump of unknown nastiness go. When that happens I simply grip his muzzle lightly, don't hurt him, and lightly press his flews into his teeth. He'll open right up and you can remove the offending bit with no muss and no fuss. When he goes for fingers or toes I move them away, give him a NO and then give him an approved chew toy and lots of praise. We can play as hard as he likes as long as he obeys the rules. When he doesn't I simply stop the play, give him a toy and play recommences. If he refuses then play time is over. I'm teaching him the rules without him even knowing it's happening. He's still self directed but he wants to play and learns quickly that some things stop the play and some things make for more fun. I do not hit Angus ever. Ever, ever. I want him to regard my hands as objects of joy not potential pain and I can control and direct him, even at this tender age, without a spanking. Understanding his motivations, reacting appropriately, having a training plan and being consistent and gentle are the keys here. If I hurt Angus I risk ruining the bonding process, maybe forever. If I confuse him with inconsistent direction I risk screwing up Preschool and the learning process. It's true, you never get a second chance with a puppy.

Preschool continues. He's started running with me and will sometimes come to a call and clapping hands, all gangly limbs and floppy ears. He's so cute. He's pushing his boundaries out and exploring more of the yard. He's bold and fearless and shows a real interest in people. He'll watch the kids playing across the street, eyes bright and ears up. He's met the neighbors and we encourage strangers to pet him and coo at him though he's still too physically fragile for unmonitored play with anyone but Lu or I. Accidents do happen, especially with small children. No dogs except Chrisi until after his third series of Parvo/Distemper shots at 12 weeks.

My little man.

Six

08 July 2011

Preschool

One of the things I want to do here is to document the process of bonding and training with Angus. Many (most) of you are veteran dog owners and trainers and much of what I write and do may seem odd or wrong to you. All I ask is that you keep an open mind and remember, these are my methods and your mileage may vary. I am strictly self taught with the addition of raising and training two previous dogs, Trooper and Chrisi, both Black Labs. The methods I'm using with Angus are the same I learned at the literary feet of Richard A. Wolters and my experiences actually putting his ideas into effect. I'm going to start at the beginning and carry on to what I hope will be a finished retriever and family dog. The two are not self exclusive. Both Trooper and Chrisi were and are competent retrievers and great family pets. Both were immediately responsive to voice, hand and whistle commands, fetched both marked and blind retrieves and were good with kids and strangers. They were near perfect canine companions if I do say so myself. Angus? We'll see but he has all the hallmarks of a fine dog.

Picking a puppy
Regardless of what anyone tells you it is not a science, it's a crap shoot. Still, there are things you can look for. Please bear in mind that most of what I tell you is from my experience with the Labrador Retriever breed but they should work with most breeds.
I tend to stay away from the shrinking violets. They are usually the picked on dog and may have already picked up habits and traits that will negatively effect their ultimate temperament. This is many times the fear biter. Not always the case but it is a potential indicator. I also disregard the fat boy. He's usually the litter bully, spending way too much time at momma's teat at the expense of his brothers and sisters (see the shrinking violet). Listless dogs may be less than bright or even sick. Beware.
I look for the well adjusted puppy. He's inquisitive, explores, plays and is unafraid of humans. He'll usually come right up to you and watch your face. Dogs are great at reading facial cues and body language and a dog who shows interest is a dog that will be far easier to train as he grows up.
With all that said I bought and paid for both Trooper and Angus sight unseen. In both cases they were the only black males in the litter so I had exactly zero choices to make. Like I said, my belief is that picking a puppy is a crap shoot. Better by far to pay particular attention to your breeder. What does the facility look like? Is the whelping box clean, dry and covered? What are their experiences breeding? Do they have a veterinarian on call? Do they have references? Do they have a guarantee? Are they affiliated with the AKC? (Not always a great indicator but better than someone who says AKC? What's the AKC?) Have the parents been screened for genetic problems (hip dysplasia, eyes, structure, etc.)? These are the things to look for and ask. If you get information that makes you uncertain do yourself a huge favor and find another breeder. Stay strictly away from pet store puppies. These are almost always puppy mill dogs and ones you will almost certainly have behavior and medical issues with.
Last but not least take a look at your local pound. Murphy's Law has adopted at least 2 dogs that I know of and they were/are both fine animals. Both puppies and adults can be found in  most any breed you can name. Now, on to the show.

Preschool - 7 weeks to 12 weeks
Angus is in preschool. I got him just a few days shy of 49 days old. 49 is the target but a few days either side is acceptable. The purpose of picking up your dog at 49 days old is two fold.
First, we want the dog to imprint on us. The bonding process is best done at this age. By 49 days the puppy has learned some socialization skills, has learned about humans and has learned that he's a dog. It sounds funny but a dog needs to learn that they're dogs and not humans. We've also lessened the impact of negative behavior by litter mates.
Second, we've jump started the process of transitioning the dog from self directed behavior to trainer directed behavior. The sooner this process starts the better.
In preschool Angus and I will get to know each other. Through feeding, playing and general care we'll form a bond that will have a permanent effect on the dog. Starting at 49 days gives us the best chance for this to become strong and life long.
Preschool puppies need a lot of attention. Don't get one if you're not prepared to devote the majority of your time to him until he reaches about 6 months. Angus and I are together constantly. We eat together, play together and sleep together. He gets the majority of my attention when he's awake and my watchful eye when he's asleep. I am taking him along the path toward being the dog he can be and that can't be done properly unless you're devoted to the puppy and the process. I'll gently teach him the things he needs to learn now and instill in him the tools he'll need when the training ramps up.
In Preschool Angus will learn some things but more importantly he'll learn how to learn.

Potty Training
The first thing he needs to learn is where to do his business. House training is actually pretty simple in theory but demanding in practice. I started out by taking him out to the potty area as soon as we got home. I knew he would need to go and kept him there, playing and petting until he voided. I praised him and we played for a bit to implant in his mind the idea that some things are more fun than others. I keep Angus in a confined area, the living room, with immediate and easy access to the yard and the potty area. It's important to watch him constantly when he's awake. Look for the signs that he needs to go. For Angus he'll start nosing around and exhibiting body language that I have learned to read as "Need to go right now". Scoop him up, take him to the potty area, keep him there until he goes and give him plenty of praise and fun when he does. I take Angus outside every time he eats, drinks and after he wakes up from a nap. If he starts to go in the house again scoop him up, give him a NO and take him to the place. Keep him there for a bit but if he doesn't go don't praise him. Thoroughly wash any place he's gone in the house and use a scent remover like Fabreeze to mask the scent. For solid eliminations it's much the same. One thing I suggest is don't get too thorough in cleaning up in the beginning. I want him to be able to smell where he's already been, at least at first. Oh I scoop but I don't rinse until I'm sure he knows exactly where his place to go is. Does it work? It did beautifully with both Chrisi and Trooper. We had maybe 10 to 12 pee accident in the house total and no poops. Angus is doing even better. We've had 2 pee accidents and not even close to a poop in the house. He'll jump up from a sound sleep and head out to his potty place just as nice as you please yet he's barely 7 weeks old.

Crate training.
I'm a firm believer in crating dogs. Now before you condemn me let me explain. The only time I crate Angus is at night when it's time for sleep. The crate is open, airy and cool and it's right next to my bed. He can smell me and hear me and it gives him comfort. He also learns that when it's time for quiet and sleep it's time. Dogs are also natural denners. They seek out places where they feel secure. The crate is quiet, dark and temperate. It also alleviates potty accidents as the dog will tend not to go where he sleeps. A crate is a perfect den. Don't believe me?
This is Angus' sleep crate. Note that it's open at the top and has plenty of air flow. Angus, like Trooper, likes to choose his sleep surface. After I took this picture I laid down some tiles so he can choose between the blanket and cool, hard surfaces. Note also his monkey. If Angus chooses to play quietly in the crate I'm fine with that so I give him something to do if he wants. It relaxes him and removes any stress he may have been feeling over being confined. I also have one of my worn shirts in there so my scent is always in his nose.
Here's Angus' toy box. Yep, it's another crate. I put all his toys into it whenever he's done playing so he has to go into the crate to get something fun. It reinforces the idea that the crate is not something to fear but rather something positive. Even something to seek out. That's Angus after waking up from a nap in that crate that he voluntarily chose.
Need more proof? Here is his favorite sleepy spot in the living room. Note the similarities to his crates. This is a spot he found and goes back to again and again. Enclosed on three sides, dark, quiet and secure.

Ok, one more and I'll get off this topic. Here's Angus sleeping in the mud room. Roughly 8x9, it's completely closed during the day except for the doggy door. He loves it in there and, for all it's greater size, it's just another crate. The point is that crate training your puppy isn't cruel or harsh, it's actually good for the dog. Let me leave you with two things about crate training.
The usual rule of thumb is never leave the puppy in the crate longer than 1 hour greater than his age in months. For example, Angus is approximately 2 months old so 3 hours is the max. It's usually time for a pee about then anyway. I let Angus set his pee times. He'll wake me when it's time and go right back to sleep after. He's such a good boy.
The crate is not a playpen or a replacement for your attention. Never use the crate as punishment. The crate is a positive place for the dog not a way to "get him out of your hair".

As Angus gets older I'll look for the signs that he's ready to transition from that self directed to trainer directed behavior. The first sign I look for is response to his name. I'm also looking for him to seek me out and follow where I lead. He wants to do what I'm doing, whatever that is. I'm already seeing some signs of that in Angus. He'll follow me around, climb into my lap when I sit on the floor with him and look to me when it's play time. He's learning that chasing the ball is fun and chewing is a sublime activity as long as it's the right thing. But for now it's strictly no pressure learning. there's no discipline here beyond NO. I may do dominance with him (a puppy definitely understands and has experience with who is dominant in the litter) but nothing else. What I'm trying to do with him is make him happy, secure and interested. He gets plenty of love and affection and learns that Daddy's hands are wonderful things. I'm preparing him for adulthood and the life of a Good Dog. When Angus starts responding to his name we'll move on to advanced Preschool where he'll learn SIT, STAY, COME and maybe DOWN. Believe it or not but by the time this puppy is 12 weeks old he'll know all these commands and respond to them by voice, hand and whistle and he'll do it all with the doggy equivalent of a smile on his face..

Skeptical? Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Stay tuned.

Six

For Brigid And Barkley

You two are in all our thoughts and prayers.
Six

"Before a Midnight Breaks in Storm"
1903

Before a midnight breaks in storm,
Or herded sea in wrath,
Ye know what wavering gusts inform
The greater tempest's path;
Till the loosed wind
Drive all from mind,
Except Distress, which, so will prophets cry,
O'ercame them, houseless, from the unhinting sky.

Ere rivers league against the land
In piratry of flood,
Ye know what waters steal and stand
Where seldom water stood.
Yet who will note,
Till fields afloat,
And washen carcass and the returning well,
Trumpet what these poor heralds strove to tell?

Ye know who use the Crystal Ball
(To peer by stealth on Doom),
The Shade that, shaping first of all,
Prepares an empty room.
Then doth It pass
Like breath from glass,
But, on the extorted Vision bowed intent,
No man considers why It came or went.

Before the years reborn behold
Themselves with stranger eye,
And the sport-making Gods of old,
Like Samson slaying, die,
Many shall hear
The all-pregnant sphere,
Bow to the birth and sweat but speech denied
Sit dumb, or dealt in part, fall weak and wide.

Yet instant to fore-shadowed need
The eternal balance swings;
That winged men, the Fates may breed
So soon as Fate hath wings.
These shall possess
Our littleness,
And in the imperial task (as worthy) lay
Up our lives' all to piece one giant Day.

07 July 2011

Taunting Fate

When you flip Fate the bird sometimes she takes offense.

Just saying.

Six

03 July 2011

Independence Day

Those who served

Today's the day we should remember

The ones who served since we were free

From Independence to this day

They fought to give us liberty

They were our brothers, sisters too

In war's great fires they were cast

To live or die they had no choice

Through all the wars we've in our past

How many now remember them

and what they did for our great land

or are their deeds all washed away

as all words written in the sand

They all live with their memories

Some so dark that they can't tell

Things they saw and things they did

While living in their private hell

Yes wars will come and wars will go

and there will be those who volunteer

And they're the ones who keep us free

In this great land we hold so dear

Independence day is a special day

A day we hold close to our heart

But remember those who gave their all

and never keep them far apart

Bob Prinselaar

Sunday Kipling

It's hot and sunny and a fine day to be alive. May you all have a great Sunday and a happy and fun Independence Day celebration. Happy Birthday America!
Six

The American Rebellion
1776

Before
Twas not while England's sword unsheathed
Put half a world to flight,
Nor while their new-built cities breathed
Secure behind her might;
Not while she poured from Pole to Line
Treasure and ships and men--
These worshippers at Freedoms shrine
They did not quit her then!

Not till their foes were driven forth
By England o'er the main--
Not till the Frenchman from the North
Had gone with shattered Spain;
Not till the clean-swept oceans showed
No hostile flag unrolled,
Did they remember that they owed
To Freedom--and were bold!

After
The snow lies thick on Valley Forge,
The ice on the Delaware,
But the poor dead soldiers of King George
They neither know nor care.

Not though the earliest primrose break
On the sunny side of the lane,
And scuffling rookeries awake
Their England' s spring again.

They will not stir when the drifts are gone,
Or the ice melts out of the bay:
And the men that served with Washington
Lie all as still as they.

They will not stir though the mayflower blows
In the moist dark woods of pine,
And every rock-strewn pasture shows
Mullein and columbine.

Each for his land, in a fair fight,
Encountered strove, and died,
And the kindly earth that knows no spite
Covers them side by side.

She is too busy to think of war;
She has all the world to make gay;
And, behold, the yearly flowers are
Where they were in our fathers' day!

Golden-rod by the pasture-wall
When the columbine is dead,
And sumach leaves that turn, in fall,
Bright as the blood they shed.

02 July 2011

Introductions

Everyone, this is Angus. Angus, meet everyone.

I got into California on Thursday evening. I spent the night with Car Guy and his lovely spouse, Bike Nurse. Friday morning I headed to Gustine to pick up Angus. Car Guy decided to jump on one of his motorcycles and come meet and greet the new boy. Many of these pictures are his. We got there about 8AM local time. I called ahead and when we arrived Angus was getting his going home bath from Donna.

After his bath and some routine paperwork it was time to head home. I met Mom and his siblings and was pleased. She's beautiful and has a great temperament. Her pups were all fat, happy and fearless. Angus is calm, very sweet and trusting. He snuggled into my arms immediately (though, in the interest of total honesty Car Guy got first pets and first snuggles).

I borrowed the DO's van for the trip. After taking out the back seats and laying down a blanket (that turned out to be very necessary. Foreshadowing it's not just a literary device) it was the perfect vehicle for transporting a new puppy 625 miles.

A rare and much sought after picture of Car Guy in full regalia with his motorcycle in the background.

As to the foreshadowing. When we were filling out the paperwork on Angus Donna mentioned that he'd just had a Parvo shot. Now for those who don't know, Parvo vaccinations in puppies usually produce some fairly spectacular diarrhea. I stupidly assumed she meant the day before and assured her it wasn't a problem. Uh, no. It was actually that very morning, just minutes before we arrived.

About halfway through the trip he started nosing around and showing signs of needing to eliminate. I dove for the shoulder, jumped out and threw open the passenger sliding door only to be greeted by Angus leaving me a nice steaming pile of loose Puppy Poop. It was not to be the last. A quick clean up and we were on our way. Now, I stopped very often and even got him to pee outside several times. Still, he did take a whiz or two on the blanket before I could stop. It's tough to try and watch a puppy and traffic at the same time, which is why the blanket was there. I decided to limit his food intake to keep the 'gifts' to a minimum. A bit further on I suddenly noticed that he's crept up between the seats and had his muzzle buried in the food bag. He'd managed to eat a very healthy helping before I caught on.  Uh oh. The combination of the Parvo shot and an overfull belly, coupled with a ride in a car when he'd never so much as seen one before brought on a spot of car sickness. He managed 2 more squirts on the blanket before tuckering out enough to sleep. I brought him up into my lap and noticed he kept raising his head into the AC. I swept the passenger seat clear and plopped him down where he promptly fell into an exhausted sleep.

 At one point he had his head dangling over the edge of the seat. Um.... Turns out that wasn't a great idea. I saw him get up, drop his head down and upchuck all over the side of the seat and door (Sorry DO. I cleaned it up. I swear).

From there all the way home it was a contest whether I could spot what was coming in time to get pulled over or just pull over and do clean up. It was not Angus' fault. It was mine. I misunderstood what Donna was telling me and underestimated the effects of the shot and trip on his pretty untested system. Really, it was Ok. All said and done he did just fine. He's well adjusted and calm. When he wasn't eliminating he was playing or sleeping. He was really a good boy. We got through it and Angus grew to really appreciate the warmth and comfort of my embrace and lap. Call it an unplanned bonding session. Pooping, Peeing and Puking. The Big Three.

Still, we were both pretty happy to get home. Here's Angus checking out the new back yard. As soon as he got settled he started feeling better.

First things first. A nap is definitely in order.

The next day all was forgotten. We actually had a very good night. Angus sleeps in a crate next to our bed. He took to it with no problems and slept quietly, only crying when he needed to go out. He had no accidents in the crate. I'm a real proponent of crate training puppies. As I write this Angus is in the bedroom, in his crate, taking a long nap. It's dark, quiet and cool. He's adapting very well.

Angus is happy and playful. He's also trusting. He gave me his belly very early on and loves to wrestle from his back. A good sign of a puppy who is secure and unafraid. He's explored and played and learned where to do his business. I put a blanket on the floor in front of my chair and he tends to stay close and either play with me or by himself. He loves the knotted rope and his monkey.

Or sleep. He does love his naps.

Come to think of it, so do I. Especially with my new buddy.

I withheld food until this morning, just to make sure his system was working again before I added to his problems. He was still squirting out both ends Friday night but as of this morning all seems to be well. He's eating normally and stopped 'returning things' messily. His appetite is good and he's drinking frequently.

I am very happy. Angus is just what I hoped for and needed. A huge empty space in my life has just been filled and the Six household is now complete once again. My thanks to the DO, Car Guy and Don and Donna Shaw at Highland Labs. And to all of you who have supported me so long and so well. I'll be posting regularly about the continuing exploits and adventures of a sweet little dog named Angus.

Six