Monday, December 30, 2013

Your Argument is Invalid

Has accomplished more in five years than many people ever will.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Kelley

Five years ago today, the great mass of 189 canine crime victims (plus those in utero) were forcibly removed from Dog Hell as envisioned by Hieronymus Bosch.

Previous victims of the same offender had been "rescued" by those guys who fuck up your day when you see their guilt-dunning commercials.

If by "rescued" one means "confiscated and summarily killed."

An awful lot of people figured that should have happened to the ONB dogs, too.  Said so. Sometimes in print.*

Nobody was saying that about my friend Mr. Barry White last week, as he held sofa-court at his owner's annual full-house-of-guests holiday party.

(Sorry about the crummy phone-photo. His throne room was candle-lit.)

Even the most jealous agility rival doesn't wish dead  the adopted dogs who beat them at the trials.

Sky can grab some of her namesake.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Roper

Blue. Not scared of you.
Photo courtesy of Jody Richwagen
The Ralph Lauren photo shoot personnel didn't wish it about their lovely ES model, Katydid. (Katy got her modeling gig based on wholesome good looks, charm, and solid training -- she didn't need any politically-correct special consideration as a "rescue dog.")

Get my good side. Ha ha. They're all good sides.
Photo Courtesy of Jane Connors
The farmers and ranchers whose ONB dogs slipped right into their birthrights to help with the cows and sheep, goats and chickens, generally do not think everyone would be better off if they were dead.

Skeeter put in an application for a farm or ranch position back in 2009.
Photo courtesy of Liz Dickinson.
Those who figured they were adopting pets are not sorry that their dogs have opened up new realms to them.

Libby, at lessons.
Photo courtesy of Rob McMillin

Contrary to popular perception, not all of them were English shepherds. No matter. We love them no less. Even when they eat rocks.

Jet and his boy.
Photo courtesy of Melinda King.

Absolutely nobody at the search this spring where Cole made his first find -- located our missing man's mortal remains where previous searchers had failed to do so -- suggested that the cheerful little black dog ought to have died for the convenience of his "rescuers," or for his own good, or to save the taxpayers money. Not the police, not the bereaved family, not the firefighters or the media or the other search teams, and especially not his teammates.

In the command post with his friends just before the very last task,
tired after days of searching, but game to do his duty.
Cole does not leave a man behind.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Kelley

* The op-ed to which I am replying in this letter-turned-op-ed does not show up when I search The Outpost's site. Not sure whether their archives don't go back that far or what. If anyone has a link to it, please send along.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Puppy

This Saturday, the last jolly crewmate launched on her own good ship. Miss Trudy has changed her identity to Pearl, and will be assisting Linda in life and dog training, herding a flock of derpdogs, and, I suspect, achieving a great deal else and forging some new paths in the lives of her people, starting out from her command post under the Christmas tree. Her long-anticipated permanent home is a gift to her new family and to her.
Ordering her minions.
Nobody should have to wait around for the show to start.* I'll let puppies go as early as eight weeks, but think there are some real advantages to hanging around a week or two longer for more littermate lessons and Mom time. Anyone who has to fly in a crate needs to grow out until he's eleven or twelve weeks old, well clear of any primary fear imprint window. Free-range farm-puppydom plus regular field trips build lifelong resilience.

After that point, there is no point. Puppy is just being obstructed from her mission. She needs to be connecting to her people, learning her work, adjusting to her reality and helping to create it.

We chose Charlotte for our reality when she was ten weeks old and volunteered for SAR duties. We ask a lot of our SAR partners beyond the full-time job of finding people and telling us about it.

Charlie will need to conduct herself in public in a way that brings credit to her team -- well-mannered and friendly, ready to take on PR and agency relations. She will help me with client dogs and foster dogs and present herself well to their owners. She'll have duties towards the livestock and poultry, both managing and protecting them. She'll live in a pack of strong personalities. She'll go on hikes and bike rides and skiing, host summer parties, and snuggle away the winter nights.

If she acquits herself well at all of the above, and she enjoys good health, she'll be the mother of the next generation.

Like I said, a lot.

And much of it wasn't happening.

Charlie was progressing well with her SAR training. She's the second pup who we've started as a trailing dog, and this is going well, as it did for her mother. Despite being a generally goofy, dorky puppy-puppy, she brings a shockingly mature professionalism and focus to each task.

It was also clear that she really, really enjoyed being the baby on training days, the only puppy among the big dogs and the Special Snowflake.

Like her sister, she was pig-ignorant about obedience as such. She came when called, though not as consistently or with the commitment that I'd like. Knew how to sit for her dinner and when asked, had just learned to down, could walk on a leash, and was mostly ignorant of any concept of "stay." Unlike her sister, she showed zero interest in the hoofstock, had excessive caution of the electric fences, and hung back during chores. She thought Trudy had it covered.

We were still using the gates meant to control baby puppies and foster heathens to manage the two of them for housebreaking and mischief. This impeded our own movements through the house, prevented them from mastering the art of the dog door, and tended to isolate Crazy Uncle Moe from the rest of the family. Since Moe cannot handle being cornered by baby dogs who are still exercising their puppy licenses, and reliably intercepting two heedless monsters is beyond my powers,  he was not integrated with the pests except on walks. So pests they remained.

In the four days since she became an only puppy, all of Charlie's latent oursness has emerged at once.

The gates are open. She is truly free-range. Uncle Moe is fine with it.

On Sunday I sold eight wethers, requiring the most stock handling we've done in her lifetime. Charlie marched into the shed and tried to help us load them.

She has stopped torturing our overly-indulgent cat.

She has taken her place in the Big Bed.

I call, and I get a puppy. Right away. With imperfectly-engineered brakes, so it's best to be prepared before calling.

She is remarkably adept at distinguishing dog toys from the general clutter.

When it's quiet, she is not up to no good. She's usually following the family tradition of slipping in silently behind me.

Fact is, we got a puppy for Christmas.

*Beats a really crappy show that starts on time, though. Like maybe a double feature of Twilight and Eraserhead. Yeah, I'll just wait.