Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rural Gods I: The Budget Gremlin

This majikal being lurks in rural mailboxes and snuggles in the staples that hold together savings passbooks.

It seeks balance when it detects the arrival of a check, or threshhold exceeded in the bank-balance, that signals a hubristic human intent to undertake an improvement project, such as, say, installing the bloody perimeter fence or buying a new tractor.

The BG then works its majikal way with water and motors. Wash out the driveway, punch holes in the barn roof, erode the seals on the car that needed to last just two more years, burst the pipes. Or a Budget Gremlin water-motor twofer specialty, kill the well pump.

Soon the offending check or excessive bank balance has evaporated, and normalcy is restored without any offensive infrastructure changes. The Budget Gremlin returns to lurking. He is always with you.

Being the first in a series of revelations concerning the powerful deities who govern rural life. Iconography by the inimitable Kelly Bahmer-Brouse.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Take Two, They’re Small

It was a great compliment to a newly-minted dog handler to be asked by my training mentor to evaluate a litter of puppies to identify the search and rescue prospects.*

The big litter of superficially near-identical black German shepherds was from her own breeding, offspring of two SAR dogs. The buyers were a family from Pennsylvania who already owned two of her dogs, both operational SAR dogs. It was time for them to start bringing along a new pup to eventually succeed their oldest bitch.

After messing with the pups for the better part of a day -- observing the litter interact amongst themselves, taking them out one at a time for some formal puppy tests and informal play and mild stress, watching them move -- I arrived at the same answer that their breeder had. “Either of these two bitch puppies is an excellent prospect. And I can find no reason to prefer one over the other. I think they might be actual identical twins.”

A few days later Martha and Dan, SAR dogs JT and Schatten, and Martha’s two teenage boys arrived in an SUV the size of a city block, to visit for a few days, train, and choose their new puppy.

I liked them. We had a lot of fun navigating the baffling New Hampshire topography behind Annabella’s cabin. It was refreshing to cross-pollinate with handlers from another unit who were not using the interaction as an opportunity to gain local political advantage or attempt a mean-spirited alpha roll on the New Kid.

Martha agreed about the two bitch puppies. She spent three days with them, and could find nothing to favor one pup over the other. So she took them both.

Annabella tried to talk her out of this course of action, but in the end relented. Martha and Dan insisted that each one would train a pup.

Less than a year later, Perfesser Chaos took a new job. We packed up Lilly, two cats, all our crap, and the lives we had started in New England and relocated, Clampett-like, to Pittsburgh. We weren’t close enough to Martha to join her SAR unit, but it was nice having a friend and guide in the general area. Their spacious home, set back in the woods near the Laurel Ridge, was our rural refuge, as Annabella’s Unabomber cabin had once been.

Things were not going as one would hope with the puppies, Lauren and Danielle.†

They were still physically indistinguishable (to me) -- color-coded collars were a necessity. But one puppy (I cannot remember which one, seventeen years later) had taken on the role of leader, the other of follower. It was fortunate that the dichotomy was as strong as it was; that’s probably what spared that family the fun of littermate bitches deciding to kill one another at unpredictable intervals.** The fact of the relationship -- the absolute need that dogs have to define their roles relative to their packmates -- cause the identical puppies’ personalities to diverge much more dramatically than they would have under other circumstances.
I cannot remember a single dog who was raised with her mother to adulthood who could be successfully trained for a Guide Dog. Where two litter mates are raised together in the same home we have had the same results. Puppies raised in homes where there are dogs not related to them have never been affected this way by the association with other dogs ... In the case of two litter mates raised together, one becomes a successful candidate for Guide Dog work and one fails, even if their aptitude tests were equal.
Clarence Pfaffenberger
The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior
Howell Book House, 1964 (p. 125)
Lauren and Danielle presented a classic picture of this kind of squandered potential, except that neither were heading for the success promised by their early puppy profiles. They were co-dependent, whining and pacing incessantly whenever separated from one another, even if one of the other dogs was there. Their obedience and general response to human leadership was sketchy at best. I would not consider them housetrained. They barely paid attention to what their humans wanted. They lacked the aura of intelligence and awareness that JT exuded. And neither puppy was all that committed to working. The noses functioned, but the fire did not blaze.

Indeed, at a year of age, they were still “the puppies.” At two, three years of age, “the puppies.” No real progress towards operational status that I could see, and general arrested development compared to their own older dogs, and other SAR dogs of the same cohort.

One divorce and many life changes later, Martha and Dan split up “the puppies.” Each ex-spouse went away with one good older SAR dog and one unfocused, slightly neurotic, unfulfilled young pet. Neither ever fielded a second SAR partner.

Well what does all that matter to me? you say, I just want dogs as pets.

Two puppies will keep one another company, so I can go to work and not feel guilty. It’s a lot of fun watching them play with one another. And they never have to go through the full trauma of leaving their first family. They’ll be friends all their lives, so we don’t have to identify other dogs with whom they can socialize. Throw in a fenced yard -- no need for time-consuming leash walks.

Oh the temptations.

If I wasn't so aware of the number of hits this post is likely to receive from people looking for validation for a decision to buy two puppies, I'd give you the phone number of the clients who called me two weeks into their two-puppy adventure. They were "smart." They didn't buy littermates (partly because they had a thought of breeding the two German shepherd pups in the future.) They got a big robust bitch puppy and a smaller, more retiring dog puppy who was a week or so younger, from a different breeder. The two pups commenced ignoring every human directive, enticement, and entreaty, while the bigger pup began mercilessly bullying the smaller one.

When they called me, this couple who had successfully raised three children had not slept in a fortnight. I felt as if I'd come to help the parents of quadruplets who were both suffering from post-partum depression.

I was able to help quite a bit with puppy management, training, general stress levels. This was a couple who really wanted to do right by their dogs, had high expectations of them, and had found themselves completely unprepared for the onslaught.

I’m down to one Indiana Plague Puppy; Donna went home this morning. They are about 13 weeks old now, several weeks older than the optimum age for going to their permanent homes. Puppy care just got harder.

Four puppies was herding a troupe of striped-assed baboons. Two puppies are half as many as four -- half as much poop, half as much cuddling, half as much training, half as many little ferrets diving for the door or scattering like cockroaches when I needed to contain them.

Two puppies is not, however, twice as many as one. I haven’t yet suffered through a sleepless night of foresaken wailing. I could gate the two of them in the puppy-resistant kitchen for long periods and they entertained one another. I called the puppies, and if one was inclined to come to me, the other almost invariably followed. If I corrected a pup for mouthing me while she was in a ripping frame of mind, she just turned to her sister and piled on -- redirection always available..

In short, raising two puppies rather than one makes it easy and apparently consequence-free to neglect them both. It is the canine developmental equivalent of parking the toddler in front of Gilligan’s Island with a bag of gummi worms and a loaded diaper.

He’s not just less likely to get into Stanford in the long-term; he’s significantly more likely to treat you to phone calls from the school principal and later, the police chief. Or, better yet, to be living in the basement eating your Hot Pockets when he's 35.

I departed from the easy path in several ways. I separated the pups for some period of time every day, taking them each out for leash walks that were, from the standpoint of exercising puppies, entirely gratuitous. They ate from separate bowls, spent time in separate crates, had separate lap-times. But mostly, they were “the puppies.” Neither had launched out of her natal pack and into a new life in a human family.

There are things they ideally should have started learning at seven weeks -- the age at which they found themselves in the dog pound, riddled with cooties, and still a week from coming into foster care where we could begin to address their vetting and start matching them with potential adopters.

It’s neither wise nor productive to unleash two uncivilized puppies -- much less four of them -- into a non-puppy-proofed area of the house. While you are rescuing a shoe from one varmint, another one is behind the TV eating power cord. Whisk one outside when she circles and sniffs, and her brother is makes a deposit to greet you at the door on the way back in. So they lived in the kitchen and did not learn to leave my stuff alone and ask to go out.

One puppy sat sweetly for a treat or attention, another jumped on her head and started gnawing as the human reached down. Each learned that sitting sweetly for what she wants is asking for an ambush -- much better to keep leaping on my legs like a wild heathen.

Shout NO as a pup engages in suicidal or criminal misconduct, and his sister who was innocently playing with a new toy is hit with discipline shrapnel. Uh oh, maybe I shouldn’t play with my toy. Or, maybe this “No” thing is overhyped, and I can ignore it.

One puppy runs from the giant rattling monster garbage bin that is chasing her down the driveway, and her sister concludes that it must be terribly dangerous, and follows in retreat. The fact that the grown-up dogs and the human aren’t a bit worried about this thing doesn’t get through the collective puppy panic.

As a result, the last two girlpuppies were, as of 6 a.m., pig-ignorant barbarians compared to any single pup we have raised. The latest we have ever had littermates together was eleven weeks. At thirteen weeks, the girls were on the verge of overripe; when they had the rips, they were about as tame and approachable as these:

Which, frankly, they closely resembled in more ways than I care to contemplate.

The developmental window for primary socialization and learning has not closed. They will be just fine. And they are still miles ahead of our group-raised ONB puppies, some of whom were with their littermates to the age of eight or nine months.

One or two more weeks of litter-living, though, and these pups would be courting real developmental challenges.

Starting today I am sucking it up and raising one puppy properly, as if she was my own, until she goes to her permanent home. The adult dogs -- trained, civilized,‡ full members of a human family with all the privileges and duties attendant thereof -- act as uniform assets in the pup’s upbringing. They teach her things that can be best, or only, learned from another dog, and they reinforce the policies and procedures of the human household. But the real work will be down to me and PC. Little Susie is Canis lupus familiaris, not plain ol’ C. lupus. She needs to look to human beings for her physical needs, play, direction, leadership, an explanation of her world. As her foster humans, it's our duty to prepare her to keep doing that all her life.

And Miss Susie is already doing this; there is a dramatic change in her compared to last night. I liked her before; now I really enjoy her puppy company.

Here's some free unsolicited advice:

Never buy or adopt two puppies the same age to raise together. Especially littermates. Especially same-sex littermates.

Do. Not.

Here's some more:

If you are a breeder, or place puppies for adoption, never sell or adopt two same-age puppies to one home.

Never. Ever.††

You don't see that "never" here very often. Here's how important I think this is: It is more unwise to buy two well-bred puppies from a breeder who raises them skillfully and lovingly, and bring those puppies up together in the same household, than it is to buy a puppy from the deli case at Petland.

A breeder worth her salt knows this. She won't sell you a set. She most certainly won't offer, suggest, market, discount or hard-sell pups in pairs. Wanna test the balance between a breeder's behavioral savvy and her walletitis? Ask her to sell you two at once. If she says O-tay, walk away clean.


* In retrospect, this may have been one of Annabella’s characteristically opaque Zen master lessons about what she thought I had actually done right with my first SAR dog, a truth that I later discerned about myself: I’m a fair to-middling-trainer. What I am good at is selecting puppy prospects who can withstand ham-fisted management, beginner’s mistakes, bad training methodologies, rotten timing, and the whole litany of handler incoherence -- pups who are nearly idiot-proof.

† Martha had a husband named Dan, a son named Dan -- why not just go with it again? Yell out “Dan!” and see how many beings answered.

** Two bitches in the same household who have each decided that the other needs to Go Away Permanently are among the least-favorite projects that face any dog trainer. When those two bitches are littermates whose owners earnestly believe they should loooove one another because they are sisters -- chewing up and swallowing a box of lightbulbs with a Betadine chaser ranks higher on the list of things to do today.

‡ And Sophia. Sigh. She is as God made her.

†† Of course not. Pack hounds. Buy whole litters of 'em and keep 'em in the kennel. It's all good. Carry on. I'm talking about pets, and working dogs that are not pack-hunting hounds.

Also, does not apply to cats. Kitten pairs work well, especially for owners who need them to be contented indoor latchkey kitties.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Word for Puppy is Blue Bear

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When Hope and the four Indiana Plague Puppies first arrived, Cole did not know what to do with them.

Well, Hope was no problem. They said hello, sniffed butts, and fell in companionably. You're a bitch, I'm a dog, we speak the same dogalect, okay, whatever.

But he'd had little experience with very young puppies, and wasn't sure what was the protocol. They certainly seem to be the sort of creatures with which one plays -- but how? And am I going to get in trouble for getting it wrong?*

He started, wisely enough, with keepaway. The chase me, I've got a prize game avoided the pitfalls of wrestling -- one was neither being perforated by scores of needle teeth nor risking a Momma-delivered ass-kicking for inadvertently squashing a tyke.

And he likes keepaway. He'll play it with sticks, plastic water bottles, pine cones, turkey feathers -- anything that is handy.

But not with the pups.

Before the pups arrived here, I set aside a nice pile of different types of dog toys -- rubber, fabric, rope, tennis balls, plush -- for them. I also bought three new toys for them -- a vinyl baby's tub toy, a squeaky plush bone, and a squeaky plush blue bear or man or something. Possibly Manbearpig. Let's call it a bear.

When Cole wants to play keepaway with the puppies outside, he runs back inside through the dog door, goes to the kitchen, and comes out with one of the new toys. Always. For a month he has been playing with the pups -- four, then three, now two pups -- and if the game is keepaway, it is one of these puppy-specific toys every time. Usually the blue bear.

He quickly went from being nervous about intimate contact with young puppies to quite comfortable. He's Uncle Cole now, supervising the pups whenever they are outside, ensuring that they don't get carried off by owls. The last two pups have the run of the kitchen now; the gates impede the free flow of adult dogs to the front door, so they go out the dog door in the back. When I open the front door from the kitchen to take them out, he dashes out the dog door, gallops around the house, and meets us on the porch, ready for duty. He plays lots of other games with them now, but they still play some keepaway every day.

This week PC has started letting the pups tag along for his morning chores with Sophia. It's great fun for him, and the pups discharge some of their evil and aren't rioting quite so badly in the mornings. I can indulge in luxuries like getting dressed and a few household tasks before taking them out, and the pups are content to play in the kitchen. But they aren't the only interested parties.

This morning I became absorbed reading something upstairs in the bedroom; Cole was being a bit nebby, but I didn't pay any attention to him. Which was the problem. He had something to say.

He ran downstairs and shot out the dog door, returning a few minutes later with the ice-encrusted blue bear. Sat in front of me and poked my knee with it.

I want to play with the puppies. Let them out.

I'm not sure what sense of propriety led Cole to the conviction that the blue bear, the tub toy, and the squeaky bone (which has been missing, probably in a snow drift, for some time now) are the only objects suitable for puppy keepaway. It doesn't surprise me that he put those three objects in their own category. This is the pup who found and identified a box of old dog toys in the clutter of our barn only days after arriving from a kennel life in which every object he could access was a dog toy. He didn't touch any of the tools, flowerpots, backpacking gear, gadgets and miscellaneous junk piled up there, but dove into the box of dog toys and started ransacking it until he found the best one.

One element of Cole's single-trial learning is a stubborn adherence to precedent. If something happens a certain way once, it takes considerable persuasion to convince him to do it differently going forward.

When I first brought him into the house to live, I took him into the bathroom with me when I took a shower, to keep him out of trouble. One time. A year and a half later, his nickname is still Bathmat. I'll never shower alone.

Whomever taught him the down command used a treat lure. He always got a treat, and it was always accompanied by a luring motion.

Took me six weeks to break that association and convince him that he could down without a bribe or a luring motion. But in the training session where he finally shed this acquired superstition, he learned to instantly fold onto his haunches like a penknife, at any distance from me, in about five minutes.

So I'm not really surprised that, having once decided that the toys that arrived at the same time as the pups are the obligate "playing with the puppies" toys, Cole has stuck with that association.

I got the message, and went downstairs to let the pups out, assuming that Cole was telling me that he wanted to play Blue Bear Keepaway with them.

He dashed out the back door and met us on the porch. No bear. He'd left it inside. They ran off to play some other game, maybe "Chew on Uncle's Tail" or "Dig Fruitlessly for Voles."

In the inner life of Cole, the blue bear -- his first means of interacting with the pups -- had become the symbol for playing with the puppies, or, quite possibly, the symbol for the puppies themselves.

Generous little being that he is, Cole assumed that I was clever enough to understand his symbol. Or at least, he thought it was worth a try.

Tell me again that only human animals use language.


* Nervousness and outright fear of little puppies is perfectly normal for adult and adolescent dogs. I call it "Baby bear / Momma bear" syndrome. Sure, the baby bear is cute, but touch it and its mother is going to come charging out of the shrubbery and eat you. Better to run away.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This One Goes to Eleven

The calendar got ahead of me.

Today is Pip's birthday. Eleven years old and still going strong. SAR dog, training partner, farm dog, pack matriarch, smartass.

The photo was taken last week. My "old dog."

Boy, here's a dog who has gotten me into a lot of trouble. If she hadn't been so damned much fun to work and train as a pup, I'd probably have quit SAR when Mel retired.

We had planned on another German shepherd to eventually take over Lilly's job. Had visited a breeder, met the dam, watched the sire on television. Great dogs, just what I wanted in a GSD. The litter was tiny, two males, and we were set on a bitch. So we waited impatiently until he bred her again, to the first sire's brother. Nice big litter, we were doing the happy dance.

And then they started dying. Mother was not producing enough milk, and breeder somehow failed to notice this.

By the time the breeder called us again, when the pups were a week old, half the litter of eight had "simply starved to death" and he was thinking of killing another weak pup. But no worries, we would have our bitch pup from the survivors.

No, worries.

Aside from our case of acute and debilitating WTF? about how a supposedly experienced working-dog breeder could fail to notice that his apparently overworked, undernourished bitch couldn't feed her babies, we knew enough about perinatal development to worry about the future of the survivors -- bodies and brains deprived of nourishment when they most needed it. We declined a puppy, leaving a pissed-off breeder who lectured me on how this kind of loss was "normal," as if I'd just fallen off a turnip truck.

So now it was a big problem. We'd devoted over a year to a puppy search, and over a year waiting for "our" German shepherd pup, and Lilly was not getting younger, her hip sockets were not getting any rounder or deeper.

Meanwhile, back at the AMRG ranch, our teammate Barb had been on her own long quest for a first SAR partner, and I'd been helping her.

She wanted a dog that was smaller than a German shepherd, but had a temperament like Lilly's, didn't shed much but was furry, would be healthy and long-lived. Border collie was clearly too high-strung, and the taillessness of Australian shepherds was a problem for her.

I'd heard about these dogs called English shepherds years before, when we still lived in Boston. "Like an Aussie with a tail, but calmer." We'd looked into them, but ended up finding Mel to become our second SAR partner and the transcendent dog whose soul merged with and vastly improved my own.

So I helped Barb find a nearby breeder who seemed to be on the right track, and visited to look at the dogs she was using. Saw a male and a female there on the dairy farm and had an instinct -- "Wait until she breeds these two to one another, your puppy will be in that litter."

The litter of five from Dust-Dee and Cocoa was as good a working litter as I'd ever seen. When Barb and I visited them at five weeks of age, I thought "Any one of these could make a SAR dog."

When our hopes for a German shepherd died along with those unnourished puppies, Theresa let us line jump. Barb got first pick, we got second. There were three bitches to choose from. Two nice, normal, balanced girlpuppies who performed beautifully on their puppy aptitude tests, and one cartoon lunatic whose response to adversity was to flip me the middle toe and ransack my gear box for a toy she'd seen ten minutes before and wanted, dammit.

Barb's Rozzie grew into a lovely, gracious, sensible dog. She was our dog-niece. And she lost her career to sickness and died far too young; I still believe it was goddamned lawn chemicals that gave her seizures and then, years later, finished her off.

We took the nut. Took her home on April Fool's Day, and ever since she's amused herself by making fools of us.

She spent her first months with us with her head inside Lilly's lupine maw. We later determined that the Old Lady had been injecting brain tissue -- and personality, character, attitude and highly specific memories -- via her impressive fangs.

Her operational testing for SAR in fall of 2001 was delayed by months when we all lost our damned minds, and every potential evaluator was either queued up or actively sifting through rubble for remains. By early spring, Lilly was more than ready to hand over the reins.

She has birthed and raised eighteen great puppies, and adopted one more.

Groundhogs tell their children tales of the bogeypip.

Baby chicks run to her for protection.

She stole and tried to nurse kittens when she was still a virgin bitch. Their mother resolved the conflict by curling up against Pip's belly and nursing her babies there, which was completely satisfactory to everyone.

She's been on ten commercial flights and has, despite her powers of invisibility in the normal course of travel, become legendary at the Denver airport as the dog who negotiates moving sidewalks at a dead run.

She has vanquished breakers in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and a couple Great Lakes.

She has carried a backpack and ten unborn puppies to 14,000 feet.

She has climbed and crawled and chimneyed through caves.

She can tell a totally untrained dog to go to the corner, lie down, and damn well stay there, without lifting her head from her paws. That dog will obey.

She is the only ES I know -- other than some of her children -- who has green eyes.

Troops of scouts, whole elementary schools, and hordes of adults are entertained by her tricks. She is most entertained by herself when she can make a monkey of me by accidentally not on purpose doing the tricks in the "wrong" sequence, but always in a way that fits with the patter of my narrative.

She would rather be a dead dog than a show dog, Republican dog, or just about any other kind of dog I might name to her.

She knows what to do about bears.

She rode the roof of a house into a boat slip during Katrina recovery search, swam back to shore, shook herself, and ran back to the top of the rubble pile to resume working, tail wagging, while the nice firefighters restarted Mommy's heart.

She tells me whether a foster or a client's dog is okay or screwy. If she really likes another dog, I know that the dog is totally cool, even if he needs a lot of manners.

She can look kind of lazy on search tasks, until she detects a whiff of scent and sews up the problem in a few minutes. Her find distance is significantly longer than Sophia's. Working hard and working smart aren't always the same thing.

She thinks rather well of herself.

When I'm not glowering about being the butt of one of her unevolved jokes, I am inclined to agree.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Photo Phriday: Leftovers

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When the dogs started digging around in the snow in the parking lot at training last week, and then brought me ... remains ... my kneejerk response was to curse the redneck who had cleaned his kill on his tailgate and dumped the leavings where he stood. Common enough in state gamelands.

Yeah -- no two-legged mammal produced these leftovers. (Click photo to embiggen.)

Hawk or owl? I'm sure someone out there knows the agent of Thumper's demise.

Whoever it was, she likes meat and is not too fond of tendons or bone.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life or Death

I could not stay inside a house. Again and again I went to the wall, the window, and finally an old man who had been sitting at the table with me laughed and said something to the others ... that I didn't get.

"What?" I asked, turning from the window.

"You have become one of them," he said. "A dog. You pace, you look out, you move ... like a dog."

"I smell like one, too ..."
He nodded, smiling.

"Yes. You do. Only with that other smell there, too, the smell that comes from white places. But that is going away. Tell me now, isn't this better?"

"What?" I had been looking at the dogs again.

"This -- this way to live. With the dogs and the sled and the snow. Isn't it better this way than the way you live the other times?"

And I nodded. "Yes. It is."

"Good. You finish this goddamn thing and when it is done you get your woman and come back down the coast and live with us. We'll go hunting seals on the ice and your children will get fat and we'll sit and talk."
-- Gary Paulsen, Winterdance

Lambs pronking through the meadow in the spring are as entertaining to watch as a litter of puppies romping in the kitchen; we must assume that they take the same infant joy in their play. I can think of no morally relevant distinction between the young of the two species, as species.

Cows love their calves; they are gregarious creatures who take pleasure in the company of their herdmates.

There are few vertebrates that are simpler than a Cornish cross hybrid meat chicken. Even they have their bestial satisfactions and uncomplicated personalities, and can be seen to be happy when their short lives play out in green and pleasant summer pastures.

In the end, we eat them. Some of us omnivores consider it important that our food has a decent life, one that is not only free from suffering, but replete with those things that bring happiness to each creature after its kind.

We demand the animal's death to feed our lives, but his pleasures belong to him. A well-kept food animal's life is his own.

Not so the lives of our animal partners. The companions who are designated "pets," and those who work for us or with us to achieve human ends unknown in the animal world. Our lives are commingled, boundaries blurred. They accept a mission for our well-being; if we are not perversely self-absorbed, their happiness becomes ours. We demand their whole lives as if issuing a mandatory marriage proposal. You and me, kid.

We can demand a life, or demand a death.

But both?

Every impulse of decency, every instinct towards fairness screams out against it.

Give me your life. Make my pleasure and my profit and my command your joy. Entwine yourself in my work and life and goals. Meet my eye with your own honest, shining gaze, and cavort with anticipation of the task I have for you. Serve me with your mind and heart. Become my will, and I will become your joy.

Having demanded that kind of devotion and received it, how does a human being then revise the contract to read "And when you are inconvenient to me, when I no longer require that you do my work, when the task that you literally scream to accomplish is not profitable to me, then die and get out of my way?"
The dog's screams had gone on all this time but with the last kick -- the blow must have almost literally exploded the dog's liver -- the dog fell back and grew still and it was over, in seconds it was over and he looked up at me, directly at me, and I saw things had never seen, never want to see again. I saw hate, self-hate, hate and rage and such savagery that I drew back and suddenly understood Nazis and rabies and rape and pillage and My Lai and the death camps ...

... to be able to do that to a friend, a close friend who has pulled you halfway across Alaska and wants only to love and be loved and to pull and see the next hill and is now gone. Killed. Murdered. To savage a dog that way, a friend -- he could do anything.
-- Gary Paulsen, Winterdance