Friday, February 26, 2010

Missing the Lesson While Learning It

The December 2003 Whole Dog Journal featured an interview with a pair of Sea World whale trainers.

Our friend and teammate Craig had a subscription, and handed me the issue when it was new. In one section of the interview, trainer Chuck Tompkins discussed the use of "negative punishment" -- e.g. withdrawal of food for noncompliance -- on the orca they were training. Here's the passage that I read aloud to him and Perfesser Chaos:

Tompkins: "Yeah. One of the first chances he got, Ramu showed us exactly how he felt about having things taken away from him, and how he felt about us.

"One of the first times I got in the water with him, he grabbed me by the waist, dragged me to the bottom of the pool, held me down there until I almost passed out, brought me up for a breath -- and then did it all over again. He shook me, tossed me around, raced around the pool with me in his mouth. When he had made his point, he literally spit me out onto the deck."

WDJ: "Yikes. and the conclusion you drew from this was?"

Tompkins: "I said to Thad, 'Oh my god! This whale hates me!' It hit us both like a ton of bricks. When push came to shove, we had no real relationship with that animal. It was a revelation."

WDJ: "And that's when you decided to try an all-positive training program with the whales instead?"

So, what became interesting about this passage were the different reactions the three SAR dog handlers in the room had to Tompkins' story.

• Craig was struck by how intelligent an animal Ramu had to be, to know just how long was almost, but not quite, long enough to drown a human being, and what it might mean to keep something that intelligent in a tank and make it do tricks.

• I marveled at how Tompkins missed the fact that the whale did not "hate" him. The whale held him in contempt, which is different. If Ramu had hated him, he'd have killed him. I especially liked the "spit me out onto the deck" image. Forbearance -- a mark of nobility. Also, "withdrawing rewards" as a form of "negative punishment" sounds very benign, until one reflects that it comes down to "Do as I say or I will starve you in this concrete tank, bitch."

• Ken -- the guy who cannot hear 90% of the simple declarative sentences that are uttered by his wife, the non-trainer who seems to be not paying attention at all most of the time -- Ken was the most astounded of us all, because it was obvious to him that the whale had trained all the trainers to behave exactly the way he wanted them to by administering one powerful correction to just one of them.

The humans failed to see that "punishment" was working very well on them, even if it hadn't been working very well for them.

In the aftermath of Tilikum's fatal attack on trainer Dawn Brancheau, the three human corpses floating in this whale's wake are being spun as "accidents" because the whale was "playing."

Some game.

The whale was not angry, vindictive, cranky, testosterone-poisoned, predatory, or yearning to breathe free. There is nothing to take away from Ms. Brancheau's death beyond no ponytails in the splash zone, and under no circumstances will Sea World take any steps that will cut into its $2.7 billion business. Tilikum is a $10 million commodity. As the Baby Daddy* to two-thirds of Sea World's tank-bred orcas, he may be the most valuable livestock in the industry. He stays in the bathtub until he dies.

But that long-ago warning shot by Namu -- "this whale hates me!"

Now, the trainers who obediently stopped withholding fish from their masterful human trainer and became "pure" positive continued to get knocked around. But Tompkins had an explanation for that -- it was due to the previous training regimen, natch.

Maybe so. Tilikum, however, was snatched from Icelandic waters long after all the whale trainers went officially "purely positive." All the overt force was front-loaded onto the bad guys who kidnapped the whales from their families, and the background coercion of the tank walls and the fish bucket pushed beneath the crust of consciousness. So I guess that excuse won't fly this time.

Later in the interview, Tompkins describes "going positive" in his personal life after the revelation in the bathtub.

"I realized that I had effectively trained my family to see my car in the driveway and be all 'Dad's home! Run!' Even the dog used to hide when I got home!

That wasn't what I wanted; I wanted my family to be happy to see me, to greet me at the door. To do this, I had to stop 'correcting' everything that I saw that was 'wrong' and instead start reinforcing all the good things I saw in my family. I had to practice being engaged and enjoyable to my family. Now when I come home, everyone says 'Yay! Dad's home!' And my dog doesn't hide anymore, either!"


Over the years I've helped many clients who had who had poor relationships with their dogs, and a few who had fallen into a poisonously punitive spiral that was hard to break, and probably met technical thresholds for abuse at some point before they asked for help. But I have never, ever, met anybody whose dog runs and hides when he comes home. Most dogs that are frankly beaten still run to fawn over their abusers; they may be crouched and peeing on their own feet when they do it, but they are coming out to greet that person.

Is it any wonder that this guy was ripe for a conversion experience?

Furthermore, notice that this is all about what he wants. He wants Mom to meet him at the door in pearls and high heels and hand him his pipe, Rover to bring his slippers, and little Mikey and Sarah to jump up and down and yell Yay Dad. And he figured out how to get what he wanted.

Has Tilikum?

Does he even know what he wants?

Whatever it is, it isn't forthcoming when he positively reinforces his captors with his spectacular cooperation. And it sounds as if his other plan isn't working out too hot either.


* Orcas don't have a Species Survival Plan. They are corporate assets. There is no conservation value to the captive breeding program -- its only function is to engender more performers, and boost ticket sales when there is an adorable orca infant for the gawking. Be that as it may, if one is going to create a catastrophic genetic bottleneck in the very first generation of a breeding program, one might at least mitigate the damage to the future character of the inbred gene pool by not using a sire who ices a human being once a decade.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sea Wolves are not Sea Dogs

An experienced orca trainer died today at Sea World Orlando. The Shamu of the hour, Tilikum, a very large, very aggressive bull orca who lives in solitary confinement and performs in a "non-contact" capacity for the whale show, pulled her into his tank and killed her.

By request, then, and with a disclaimer, a reprint of a rant I posted to a trainers' list in 2004.

No, this is not by way of blaming the victim. Those who work with large animals -- horses, elephants, cattle, whales, sharks -- accept certain risks. The risks are greater when an animal is known to be intentionally aggressive, as Tilikum is, but they are always there, even with the most "docile" large animal. Animal trainers are big girls and boys. If they don't robustly understand the risks, then they need to get into a different business. I have no reason to believe that Ms. Brancheau did not accept the risks willingly. She has paid for what may have been a few seconds' complacency with her life; there but for the grace of God go us all.

Elephant handlers in contact management husbandry setups are often berated by the PROC* partisans for using "force" in training and handling. It's widely understood that the alternative to handling with an ankus and a certain amount of posturing by the human is a non-contact facility. Elephants who are not trained traditionally are simply too dangerous to have access to their keepers. Trained elephants are still dangerous, but much less so -- more on the order of a crabby stallion than a five-ton sociopath.

Trained elephants get to have more interesting lives than those warehoused or displayed in non-contact facilities.

The context was, once again, a PROC trainer's relentless claim that all dog trainers needed to do was emulate the photogenic folks in the shortie wetsuits at Sea World, and it will all be hunky-dory. That "you cannot force a whale" and "you cannot punish a whale" -- so whale training defines the desirable methodology and outcome of a training program for a domestic dog.

But dogs aren't captive whales. For which dogs -- and their owners -- have cause to be very grateful.

Thus, my rant:

* * *

Take for example, the killer whale. How would YOU get a urine sample from a killer whale with his cooperation?

Janey Shaddrick

Okay, first, I would hire men with powerboats and harpoons and nets to terrorize and kidnap the whale -- a powerful wild predator with complex social relations and strong family connections -- pull him out of the water, rendering him completely helpless, and take him away from his family and his home range of many hundreds of square miles.

Then I would put him in a tiny shallow sensory deprivation tank, full of stinking chlorinated water, where his sonar signals and all his distress vocalizations bounce off concrete walls and come back to blast him.

Then I'd deprive him of his natural food and opportunities to hunt and eat normally, and force him to eat the frozen chum that I provide, by hand. (Has the Geneva Convention kicked in yet?) After enough time he might be Keikoized -- incapable of catching his own prey, and so completely dependent on hand-delivered chum.

Then I'd make all access to that chum contingent on him performing the "behaviors" that I require of him. No trick, no eat.

I'd also make his access to any social interaction with other creatures contingent on these "behaviors." Ooh -- ever hear of the Stockholm Syndrome? Well don't trust it too far, because orcas as well as smaller ceteceans attack their handlers with fair frequency. A captive wild "trained" animal is not necessarily tamed, and is never domesticated.

And all access to a slightly larger sensory deprivation tank and opportunities to move, play, and exercise mentally -- also contingent on these "behaviors."

I'll declare 50-70% compliance with my trick cues to be victory -- a "trained" animal.

If, after many years of this brainwashing regimen, I try to transfer the pool tricks to "open water" and the animal actually declines to make for the horizon, or comes back when very hungry (remember, can't catch his own prey anymore -- too debased), I will trumpet my victory. This whale chose to stay with me! When, as is more likely, he disappears entirely, I will keep that as quiet as possible.

Want to know the rest, or has that been "gentle," "positive," and "kindly" enough for you?

I am so @!^%ing sick of the "whale trainers can't use force" argument. What is done to whales is the most sickeningly violent "training" in the universe -- no cattle prods required.

BTW, I have no trouble getting my dogs to provide a urine sample, and it didn't take a clicker or a single cookie to accomplish it.

Eliminating on command is pure classical conditioning, and the dog's "reward" during conditioning is the satisfaction of bladder relief. No +R or -P or any other jargon or gadgets or ideology enter into the equation. Just condition the pup to associate the word with the peeing, and be ready with a pie plate when you need a sample.

The mechanics of cetecean micturation are obscure to me and no doubt present practical challenges, but I'm sure it's pretty much the same training process, once the atrocities are done with and the animal is physically contained and subdued. Mostly.

What's the mystery?


*Positive Reinforcement Operant Conditioning -- i.e., people who claim to believe in the Behaviorist quadrant** schema of all animal learning, but who explicitly discard three of those quadrants and further claim that all animal training need be only in the form of "positive reinforcement," frequently in the form of "free shaping." Many accuse anyone who either uses the other quadrants, or rejects the Skinnerian paradigm altogether, of abuse -- even "torture."

** Often called the "four quadrants" of behaviorism. But really, how many quadrants are there gonna be?


Update: Sea World snatched tragedy from the jaws of decency. Had anyone in the captivity industry wanted to repatriate Tilikum in 1992, it might have been possible. Instead, Sea World essentially goaded the government of Iceland to Just Say No to releasing Tilikum and any other whales in the waters from which they were kidnapped.

The article that dropped the scales from my eyes nine years ago.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Didn't Read the News for a Couple of Days, And This is What I Find When I Do

Andrew Joseph Stack was not a "tax protester."

He was not a freedom fighter. (How many of the gormless Teabaggers who have proclaimed him so were screaming that the pathetic Taint Bomber should have never been read his rights?)

He was not a common criminal, garden-variety murderer-of-a-stranger-who-did-him-no-harm.

He was not "just a nutjob."

This dead white lying thieving tax-dodging murdering arsonist mofo was a terrorist.

Why is this even a question?

Angry bastard flies an airplane into a government office, killing individual human beings because he wants to force political change through fear -- that's a terrorist, folks. That's the feckin' definition of terrorist. And all the dumbasses who call him a hero need a one-way trip to Gitmo for fomenting insurrection against the legitimate government.

I do not give a shit that he was a WASP terrorist.

Pour sand in his jockey shorts and give him a spray-on tan, and how many "journalists" would be fretting over what to call him?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Flip This Dog for Profit: Mandatory Edition

HT to Fugly Horse of the Day.

Here's how dogs pulled from the Los Angeles pounds are carefully "placed" by a charitable animal rescue "organization:"

Well, at least the price is high enough that it's unlikely anyone is buying them for animal experiments or fight bait.

Check out rescues as carefully as you would vet a private breeder. A pretty website is not the same thing as a solid reputation.

Now -- will the ersatz rescuers in California stop sending dogs to this woman for resale? Or is it "out of sight, out of mind?"

I'm taking some heat from other animal welfare advocates about my skepticism regarding the proposed "Oreo's Law" in New York State.

Please note that word. Skepticism. Not opposition. Though that could change.

The way to convince a skeptic is, possibly not to scream about how everyone who is agin' us eats puppies for breakfast.

Advocates for the proposed law claim that the requirement that "rescues" have a 501(c)3 designation and their principles have no criminal convictions or active complaints for animal abuse are sufficient safeguards for the dogs that would be subject to mandatory no-questions-asked release.

Do they have any idea how rare convictions for animal abuse are? How many serial abusers dodge conviction over and over through no virtue of their own?

In fact, most animal welfare advocates do know how rare and difficult it is to get a conviction, especially when an abuser or hoarder has set him or her self up as a "rescue." They are the first to open up a litany of tales of the ones that got away, and are still out there running scams and inflicting cruelty.

Some claim, presenting no evidence, that the ASPCA maliciously killed the proposed law's namesake out of spite -- and not, as the A claims, because the dog was too dangerous to keep alive.

Concerns about the competence and stability of Pets Alive, the upstate rescue that went media-nuclear when ASPCA declined to give them this dog, are countered with "Well, it's not really about Oreo and Pets Alive."

Um, yeah ... it is.

The bill as it is currently proposed would have required the ASPCA to turn over what they say was a very scary dog to an organization that thinks this is a great story about their ability to rehab a "difficult" animal.

I'm not a huge fan of the ASPCA -- mostly because of their deceptive and manipulative fundraising practices. But they do seem to do a pretty good job at behavior intervention and assessment for the dogs in their NYC shelter. And they are a friend to the pit bull.

The only way the ASPCA could prevent the dog from being taken over by people who were surprised that chasing a feral around a pen trying to pet her didn't work out as a rehab program would be to have her adjudicated as a dangerous dog. Pronounced vicious by a court.

Of course, the NY court system has nothing better to do than review testimony about whether or not every dog in a shelter is or is not vicious.

This would certainly not take years in each and every case, forcing the publicly-funded shelters to keep dangerous dogs alive in conditions that cannot possibly provide an acceptable quality of life. Oh no, these cases will jump to the front of the dockets and be resolved in days! And the scrabbling sound in my attic these days is leprechauns!

The standard for a court of law to declare a dog vicious and order its death against the will of its owner should be very high.

The standard for the owner of an animal -- including a shelter -- to make a decision about potential danger from, and quality of life for, that animal has always been significantly different.

Does any animal owner really want to change either of those principles? How will that improve animal welfare?

Here's a thought. If I could not, by force of law, make a decision to euthanize a rescue animal that I had determined to be dangerous and/or incapable of enjoying an acceptable quality of life -- an animal that I, or my organization, owns -- then I wouldn't do rescue. Period. Let someone else have all the responsibility and none of the authority.

I don't think I'm the only one. Work your way forward for the unintended consequence of the week.

People who dismiss objections to sloppy thinking behind novel legislation with the assurance that "the courts will provide recourse" have no idea how long the courts take to do anything.

Nor the expense and disruption involved when a nonprofit or government agency must contend with nuisance actions, including maliciously-brought actions. Money and time that should be devoted to caring for animals gets diverted into lawyering.

I perceive that I am playing Cassandra when it comes to most animal welfare advocates. I'm used to that in every area of life by now. What's worse is the revisionism a year or ten later, when I should be able to pull out the toldyaso.

I join the irrepressible Fugs in the title of this post.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Whoa Shep, That's Not For You

Janeen over at Smartdogs and Patrick at Terrierman have covered most of the bases on the HSUS scam that is "Humane Choice" pseudo-vegan dog food. (Not tested on animals.)

There's ways to gradually kill a dog through malnutrition that are a lot cheaper

Trust me, dogs love chicken feed. Nom nom nom. And feeding it to a housepet will allow you to experience the hygenic pleasures of poultry standards of sphincter control right in your own home.*

Plus it gives the dog a sporting chance. His "food" bowl could possibly attract a chicken, which he could then kill and eat.

I have been particularly impressed by the marketing for this granola.

Because a picture of a sneering shiny lobbyist in an a bespoke suit, $200 hair, and Very Expensive Dentistry always says great animal nutrition to me. And absolutely nothing about egomaniacal self-promotion in the absence of any self-awareness or internal editing capacity. Why not put Wayne right on the label? It would support my blink impression of the bag, in which I read the product name as "Human Choice."

Human Choice is made out of people!

Which have plenty of bio-available protein. I'm told. And if they are North American people, lots of fat for energy and flavah. Probably not so much if they are Uruguayan people. Nevertheless, long pig is long pig. Why rot it underground?

But no, they took the conventional route, the cheap choice, the trope that will play in Peoria, and put a picture of a cute mongrel puppy on the bag.

Which would be fine, except they come right out and admit that you must not feed this silage to puppies.

Yup, it is formulated for "adult maintenance." Same as the kibbled cornmeal 'n' slaughterhouse sweepings that you can buy in the dollar store (for about 1/20th the price per pound). In theory, it meets the threshold for keeping a dog alive as long as it isn't growing, lactating, working, sick, or stressed out in any way. They didn't even bother with an AAFCO feeding trial.** On paper, the forage-in-a-bag will keep 75% of adult dogs alive for six months.

But not a puppy.

Which is the very thing they put a picture of on the bag.

Kind of like this bag:


* I suspect that, given the instructions for converting your dog from a food eater into an Uruguayan vegan over 4-6 weeks, this "food" might offer that very same benefit.

** Eight dogs. Six months. You can kill two of them and still get a pass. I am not making this up.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Other Pageant / Puppymill Connection

On this week's themes of pageants -- For Your Consideration:

Keep watching ... keep watching ... no, seriously, it gets much worse than you think it can.

According to The Examiner:

But what happened after the pageant? Did Makynli, in fact, get to keep the puppy, or was it given away?

"Yes, she kept Petey [the puppy] and they were crazy about him," Makynli's pageant coach, Christy Cosby, tells Pet News Examiner. "Unfortunately he was ran over just a few weeks ago and the family was devastated."

What is wrong with you people?!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It Has Never Been About the Dogs

The Grey Lady writes about the M-word in dog pageants.

Karma points for the scare quotes around the word "pets."

US Today gives Frei his podium for the party line that dogs who live in crates with professional handlers are "just like your pet at home." Just like JonBenet Ramsay was just a regular little girl playing dress-up.

Srsly, could this dog want to be where he is any less? (Video -- I did not embed because of obnoxious continuous stream ads.) Hey Frei, slap his head back towards you and the newstwinkie again, show us how much you love him. Yeah, he runs wild on a ranch in Texas. Or lives in Missouri, with another "owner." Or in Illinois. Or at Frei's apartment in NYC. Depends on which member of his "ownership team" or handler or PR shill is holding forth on how he's just like your pet at home.

Three more recently working breeds get a stake through their hearts this year. The AP acts as the ACK's press agent on this one.

I will not be watching, unless Perfesser Chaos decides that it is time to get a flat-screen teevee; he knows he can count on my foot going through the tube of the old one when the GSDs and border collies take the stage. Or the obese Labs. Or the lumbering goldens. Or any other visually apparent atrocity against dogdom.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Time to Jazzie Up Your Life?

Jasmine says it's all very nice here and all, but she would like to go home now.

Maybe your home?

She's looking for an owner who will provide her with structure and leadership. She's a natural follower, enjoys learning obedience, is clever, and gets along well with most other dogs.

I think she'd be a dab hand at agility, rally, frisbee, freestyle, or regular obedience with the right handler.

She might also do well as a farm dog.

What she wouldn't do well at is behaving herself if left in a yard where people walk by a lot, or reach over the fence. Or confined behind an invisible fence. She feels too vulnerable in such situations, and makes bad decisions about defending herself and the space.

Jasmine looks to her people for leadership when she's unsure -- so her person has to be there, and has to show or tell her what is to be done.

She's the bottom dog here. With most of the dogs, that means that she fawns on them and they accept it graciously. Rosie, however, thinks that Jasmine is Unnecessary. She stalks around the house muttering cruel things under her breath about how Jasmine has fat thighs and stupid fur* and a collar from the Goodwill. It's got Jazzie bummed out, though thankfully, no eating disorder or cutting or anything like that. This is why I won't let Rosie have a Facebook account.

So it's high time for Jasmine to move on to a home where her owner or owners can appreciate her for the bright, fun young thing she is, and bring out her potential.

Jasmine is still a little afraid of human children, so I'm going to stipulate a home without any young kids or feckless teens.

Video of Jasmine playing with Cole.

More on adopting Jasmine, and quite a few of her relatives, here.


* This is jealousy. Jasmine has much nicer fur than Rosie does.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What a Tyro Does ...

... when faced with a complex, important task that she won't admit is far beyond her capabilities, requires a knowledge set she has not begun to master, and is not susceptible to her pin-headed ideology.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Phil Klass 1920-2010

A beloved fixture of the Pittsburgh writing (and reading) community has left us.

I met Phil Klass not long after we moved here, holding court as always at one of the local science fiction events. It wasn't until a bit later that I learned that he had published mostly under the name William Tenn.

I could sit in that circle and listen to Phil's stories forever. His health gave him some difficulty in speaking, and the anecdotes and jokes came slowly and in spurts, plenty of time to savor. I stayed as long as he would keep going, generally until Fruma came to collect him.

Beneath the razor wit and appreciation of the absurd that overlay his stories, there was a passion that eventually revealed itself. The Russian-British-American* Jewish socialist citizen-soldier who had been little more than a boy when he marched the German townspeople through the gates of the concentration camp and forced them to look at what they had pretended was not there -- the young man who saw -- was fueled by a boundless drive for justice.

Every funny anecdote about John Campbell's eccentricities, or how it used to be possible to pay the rent (New York City rent!) selling short stories to the pulps because per-word rates in 1946 were same as they were in 2006 (not in real dollars -- ten cents a word vs. ten cents a word -- in other words, more than a tenfold decrease in real pay), was really a story about justice or injustice, great or small.

It's something not often noticed about satirists, even the gentlest -- the wit and drive to skewer or needle or drop itching powder into the underwear of the comfortable and the powerful and the smug -- is always all about justice.

How could anyone pass up an opportunity to listen?

I had one story for him.

About a kid about eleven years old who had already cleaned out the children's room of public library and was randomly burning through adult fiction when a particularly salacious science fiction cover grabbed my attention.

Now, this was back in the mid-70's, when the Moral Majority had not yet turned public librarians into paranoid gatekeepers of our plastic little minds. As long as I was up-to-date on my overdue fines, I could check out whatever I could carry off. So I brought home a paperback full of sex and nekkid people living as rats in the walls of monster houses and women having litters. I was savvy enough to keep it out from under my parents' noses. I checked it out over and over. I knew it was trash, yet somehow it was also great.

I was eleven. I had no idea it was satire. I just knew I wanted more.

Still do, Phil. Still do.


* Phil Klass was the Allied forces. He was Hitler's worst nightmare personified. I never saw that before now.

FUNERAL UPDATE: Phil's funeral, scheduled for Wednesday morning, has been postponed due to the snow storm. A memorial service is planned for spring.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Six More Weeks? The Deuce, You Say!

The Weather Service would not commit yesterday. You might get a foot of snow. Or maybe about four inches. Who can say?

You bastards.

So, turns out, it might have been a good idea to bestir ourselves after Perfesser Chaos' last fire call last night and plow out the driveway when we had only 11 inches.

Because Tractor-San is a game little thing, but we cannot even raise the blade high enough that it does not act as an anchor.

A man might come tomorrow to extract us. I'm not sure what it's going to cost us. We've actually jumped the queue on account of PK being a firefighter. Even though his substation is only about a quarter mile away, he can't get there fast enough on snowshoes to make the truck when the pager goes off. Depending on where I sink the yardstick, we've got between 18-22 inches, and are going nowhere.

Meanwhile, we still have power, there's oil in the tanks, wood in the shed, plenty of toilet paper, half a case of home brew, a whole case of Mexican Coca-Cola, two bottles of rum, 80 pounds of beef scrap for dogs, and a couple new Netflix on hand.

Four pairs of snowshoes, two pairs of skis, a case of toe warmers, and a gallon of gatorade.

Two feet of fresh powder sounds wonderful. What it really is is a shitload of work.

Sophia actually did some of the trail-breaking, but she is not particularly skilled at route-choosing, and tends to porpoise in aimless circles. Mostly it was up to Perfesser Chaos. The English shepherds were happy to hang back and let The Help perform this function.

Even where the trail was broken, the smaller ES had to porpoise to get through.

I only fell once. It's actually pretty hard to fall when the snow is over your knees, but the concealed tripwire brambles in the pasture finally had their say. Getting back up is not a straightforward exercise when one's skis are five-foot snow anchors. I got plenty of helpful advice on how to manage this task from the non-ski-wearing Peanut Gallery.

I think Cole might be carrying half his weight in snow dingles here. He also got to relive the testicle experience in gigantic ice form. It wasn't as good as he remembered.

Interesting that Barry White, who braved the same drifts, collected nothing. I think he repelled the dingles with force of will. He's never going to suffer that indignity again.

There were few game trails apparent, and only in protected lee areas. I'm hoping our trail-breaking will be a boon to the wildlife -- except for the tiny tunnelers and the hibernators, a snow dump like this one makes hard times for wild creatures. Our route coincidentally connects the deer bedding area in the pines on our north boundary with our neighbor's unharvested cornfield to the west. I figure that by February, that corn is forfeit to the local Bambis. I filled two feeders with safflower seeds and black oil sunflower, and hung out some more suet.

I opened the window for the turkeys to come out. Yeah, I was just messin' with 'em. They knew it, and did not take the bait.

Interesting that wild turkeys manage to survive even though their feet sometimes touch snow.

One hour of porpoising through snow higher than their backs has given us a houseful of very quiet dogs tonight.