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You Know You’re a Labradore Lover When:

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  • You let the new puppy sleep on your chest the first three nights after you bring her home, so she doesn’t miss her mommy so much.
  • You go to sleep by 10:00, even with the Giants up by only 2 and Romo closing out the game, recording the last 3 outs (hopefully) knowing that you will never have time to watch it in the morning, so you can wake up an hour and a half earlier than you did before you got her, to let her out of her cage.
  • You are actually happy to see three steaming piles of crap on your own lawn after you let her out.
  • You are too tired to protest when she finds a random plastic bag on the beach to play with.IMG_2607
  • You actively seek other dogs, even ones you do not particularly like or really feel safe around yet, for playdates to keep your puppy “active.”
  • You seriously consider spending thousands of dollars on an artificial lawn that they cannot dig or tear up.
  • Your trip to the laundry room now includes a 45 lb. passenger, treating the laundry bag like a tackling dummy.
  • You look forward to her greetings in the morning, even when those big paws/claws sometimes leave gashes in your cheeks that take weeks to heel.
  • You are damned sure after such experiences that the groomers are NOT trimming her claws nearly well enough, and vow to get a pair of clippers next time you are at the pet exSTOREtionist so you can do it yourself –  knowing that you would do a far better job.
  • You are willing to pay $12 for a bag of “treats” that look remarkably similar to what we call Beef Jerky, which costs $7 for the same size bag.
  • You think it’s cute when she jumps on the hand with the computer mouse in it and draws blood.
  • You tear up when you think about her, and the last Lab you had for 17 years, and know how much you are going to miss this one too–when she is gone.oak last

 

 

 

 

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My dog: the paradox

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/dog_paradox

My Dog: The Paradox

 

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How the Little Guys Can Win In Today’s David-and-Goliath Business World

23a1ca5Before the internet, small companies didn’t stand a chance against the Goliaths, says Corrine Sandler, a globally recognized leader in business intelligence and market research.

That’s because no war can be won without intelligence and, before the digital era, collecting actionable data and information about one’s competitors, market and customers cost a lot more than most small businesses – the Davids – could afford.

“But today, the Davids are taking down the Goliaths,” says Sandler, founder and CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp., a global business intelligence company, and author of the new book, “Wake Up or Die” (www.wakeupordie.us), a comprehensive guide to the use of intelligence in the contemporary business environment.

“Thanks to the internet, the boutiques and startups have access to all kinds of free tools for gathering intelligence. They’re also much more agile than the big corporations; they can make a decision and act immediately. That’s essential in a marketplace where conditions change quickly.”

In “Wake Up or Die,” Sandler applies lessons from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – the 2,000-year-old military treatise penned by one of the greatest commanders in history – to the modern business economy. Sun Tzu held that the goal in any war is to win without ever entering into physical battle.

“By gathering actionable data and acting on it immediately, by using it to predict next moves and spot opportunities, small businesses can and are taking down the big ones without a drop of blood being shed,” Sandler says.

She offers smaller business owners these tips for acquiring and using intelligence:

• If you lack resources, make use of free or inexpensive intelligence-gathering tools. Visit competitors’ websites and collect data about them. Many businesses put a great deal of revealing information on their sites, which can benefit you. Also, make note of any changes on their sites. Google Alerts can tell you when they’re releasing new products or expanding. Use Google analytics tools such as Google Hot Trends to tell you what’s in the collective consciousness – potential consumer demand – at any given time. Google’s key word tool will give you ideas for powerful key words in search terms, and use the traffic tool to measure global volume on those key words.

• Make intelligence-gathering part of your company’s culture. From the manager who overhears a conversation in the grocery checkout line to the clerk obsessed with Twitter, every employee in your business is a potential intelligence resource. Encourage employees to pay attention as they interact with others outside the company. They may discover a nagging issue that no other company is addressing, allowing you to create uncontested market space. Or, you may learn critical information about a competitor that allows you to seize an advantage. Make intelligence gathering a company lifestyle.

• Appoint a Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) to coordinate and analyze information from a variety of sources. In smaller companies, leaders tend to rely on pipelines of internal information provided by employees who don’t understand how to use intelligence to make empowering decisions. That can render important data inactionable (unusable or simply not used). A CIO can oversee and coordinate the collection and analysis of intelligence, and brief you – the business leader – daily so that all data is actionable.

“What enables you to make smart, timely decisions is access to precise intelligence,” Sandler says. “Your advantage, as a smaller business, is that you don’t have the corporate processes and protocols that inhibit fast action.

“As Sun Tzu wrote, ‘It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win 100 battles without a single loss.’ ”

About Corrine Sandler

Corrine Sandler is the founder and CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp, a global market research agency; international professional speaker and author of  “Wake Up or Die,” (www.wakeupordie.us) a new book that applies lessons from Sun Tzu’s ancient classic, “The Art of War,” to contemporary businesses. Corrine’s company was ranked No. 2 on Profit Magazine’s list of top 50 fastest-growing companies, and Corrine has been on Profit’s top 100 Female Entrepreneurs list two years in a row. With more than 20 years’ experience, she has established a reputation for unparalleled consumer understanding and insight development working with Fortune 500 companies.

 

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The Only Thing Worse Than the Super Bowl Is the Puppy Bowl: Against the tyranny of cuteness

BY RYAN KEARNEY -

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Before your eyes widen with rage and your temple veins burst, before you leave a profane comment at the bottom of this article, before you tweet about how I should be euthanized, and before you photoshop my face onto Hitler’s body and upload it to the Facebook page “Ryan Kearney Is Worse Than Michael Vick,” know this: I think puppies are cute. Cuter than kittens, cuter than bunnies, cuter than ducklings and piglets, penguin chicks and panda cubs. Infinitely cuter, also, than human babies, whose cheeks cannot compete with puppy fur, whose eyes are as unmoored as puppies’ are expressive, and whose limbic flailing make a pouncing puppy look like an NFL-caliber wide receiver.

But puppies are not wide receivers, not of any caliber. They are dogs, and as such, they don’t have two feet and two hands but rather four paws that seem expressly designed to prevent carrying round objects, let alone catching airborne footballs. And yet, every year since 2005, the cable network Animal Planet has let loose a motley crew of these toddler-dogs in a stadium—actually an enclosed pen measuring roughly five yards by two yards, painted to resemble a football field—and broadcast the action as “Puppy Bowl,” complete with an NFL Films narrator (originally the legendary Harry Kalas, RIP, and now Scott Graham). The only “bowl” here is the one from which the thirsty dogs lap water with their coarse little tongues, and the “action” has nothing to do with methodically moving a ball down the field and scoring. Instead, puppies chase and sniff and mount each other, lose interest, nod off, wake up, gnaw plush footballs, and sometimes lift one in their mouth and trot into the end zone, adorably unaware of the significance of this act.

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It’s unfair, of course, to compare the Puppy Bowl to its ostensible inspiration, the Super Bowl. One features puppies; the other features some of the world’s most impressive athletes. But what’s wrong with one is what’s wrong the other—and you, the viewer, ought to consider the moral consequences of watching either.

The Super Bowl is America at its most steroidal, figuratively—if not also, in some cases, literally. The pre-game shows are longer the game itself, and the game is hardly short. Last year’s lasted 4 hours and 14 minutes. That was partly due to a half-hour power outage, but over the past two decades the game has averaged 3 hours and 35 minutes. That’s about 20 minutes more than the average NFL game, which itself is too long considering that it requires viewers to sit through more than 100 ads, spread over 20 commercial breaks, all to watch a grand total of 11 minutes of action. But the game isn’t just overlong. The in-game TV graphics, already too bright andembarrassingly elaborate during regular-season games, are cranked up to epileptic proportions for the Super Bowl. International conglomerates drop $4 million on 30-second commercials that are never as funny or interesting as Twitter would have you believe. And then there’s the always forgettable (well, almost always forgettable) halftime show, which reliably features either a senescent rock band (The Who, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones) or an insipid pop act (Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, The Black Eyed Peas) performing what amounts to a Girl Talk medley of their “greatest” “hits.”

But the worst thing about the Super Bowl is that it is a game of football, a brutal sport suspected of causing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is science for “rotting brain” and associated with “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.” The NFL has long denied any such link between football and degenerative brain disease, which makes watching games doubly troubling: It’s hard enough to watch men get concussed, break bones, and suffer “stingers,” all in hi-def slo-mo; in doing so, you’re also supporting a business that, out of greed and survival instinct, has covered up the horrific damage being done to its employees. In a recent New York Times magazine piece titled “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?,” Steve Almond writes that…

…medical research has confirmed that football can cause catastrophic brain injury — not as a rare and unintended consequence, but as a routine byproduct of how the game is played. That puts us fans in a morally queasy position. We not only tolerate this brutality. We sponsor it, just by watching at home. We’re the reason the N.F.L. will earn $5 billion in television revenue alone next year, three times as much as its runner-up, Major League Baseball.

Put that way, it’s not much of a quandary at all, is it? Not for Almond, who vows not to observe that “secular holiday,” the Super Bowl. He loves the “grace” and “tension” and “chaos” of football, “but can no longer indulge these pleasures without feeling complicit.”

This is what makes the Puppy Bowl, on its face, a genius act of counter-programming. The relative simplicity of its production and conception are a welcome respite from the pomp and circumstance and bone-crushing, brain-damaging violence of elite football. Also, it stars puppies. Everyone loves puppies. Compared to the Super Bowl—where you’ll get only a brief puppy fix—the Puppy Bowl looks like the most harmless, lovable program on TV.

But it’s not. The Puppy Bowl has become a cultural behemoth in its own right, abiding by the American business ethos that if you don’t keep getting bigger, you die. This year’s Puppy Bowl, played in the “Geico Stadium,” features no less than 66 pups between the ages of 12 and 21 weeks. The halftime show features Keyboard Cat and Lil Bub, and there’s also cheerleading penguins, fan voting for the Bissell MVP,overpriced merchandise, a fantasy draft, and news broke Tuesday that Michelle Obama is going to perform a touchdown dance during the show. The two-hour show begins at 3 p.m., but will loop on repeat, with new content every hour, until 3 a.m. That’s 12 straight hours devoted solely to puppies being puppies. (Maybe they should just become the Puppy Channel? Maybe not.) And if that’s not enough, you can watch a live Puppy Bowl “practice” on your computer right now.

I’ll wait.

Cute, I know! But can we be sure that this puppy football is entirely safe? Not that the Puppy Bowl needs a concussion protocol, or to test for PEDs—though I did pose those issues to spokeswoman Melissa Berry, who replied, “All the puppies are safe and well taken care of.” All players receive a pre-game veterinary checkup, she said. A vet is also on site during filming, as is a monitor from the American Humane Association—an organiztion the Hollywood Reporter recently exposed in an investigation into “troubling cases of animal injury and death that directly call into question the 136-year-old Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit’s assertion that ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ on productions it monitors.” What’s more, Mother Jones this month raised questionsabout the Animal Planet show “Call of the Wildman,” alleging “evidence of a culture that tolerated legally and ethically dubious activities, including: using an animal that had been drugged with sedatives in violation of federal rules; directing trappers to procure wild animals, which were then ‘caught’ again as part of a script.” So while I doubt that Puppy Bowl players are harmed, it’s not inconceivable.

The Puppy Bowl’s heart is in the right place. The puppies come from animal shelters and rescue groups across the U.S., including The SATO Project, which rescues dogs from Puerto Rico’s infamous Dead Dog Beach. (Google it, if you dare. As Berry says, “It’s a pretty nasty situation.”) Having already performed in the bowl, which was taped in late October, those puppies that weren’t already in the process of being adopted or weren’t adopted by Puppy Bowl crew members have been returned to their keepers, ready to be adopted by one of the Puppy Bowl’s 12 million heart-melted viewers.

That’s a lot of people, especially for basic cable, and they’re all tuning in to watch something they could watch live, in person, for free, at their nearest pet shop. Does our obsession with puppies specifically, and cuteness generally, know no bounds? The internet replies: Nopeno bounds! We will look at puppies ad infinitum and sine nauseum, because evolution: The New Republic‘s Alice Robb noted earlier this week that “a team of psychologists led by Jessika Golle at the University of Bern argue based on students’ reactions to babies’ and puppies’ faces that there is a universal mechanism underlying our appreciation of both animals and babies.” Hard-wired this way or not, we are a race of slack-jawed zombies, stalking cuteness. It’s a human weakness that’s worth fighting—especially if you love puppies.

There’s a reason we have thousands of animal shelters and rescue groups in America: Some humans cannot resist “saving” a sad puppy they’ve spotted through a pet store window, impulse-buying it for themselves, a loved one, a child. That purchase may have temporarily freed one pup—at least until little Jimmy grows bored of it—but it also implicitly supported large-scale commercial dog breeders, otherwise known as puppymills. All you really need to know about them can be found on Google Images. “There are about 10,000 puppy mill facilities in the United States pumping out three to four million dogs per year,” says Melanie Kahn, senior director of the Humane Society’s puppy mill campaign. That’s around the same number of homeless, adoptable dogs that are euthanized in shelters every year, she said.

Christmas is an especially popular time for puppy purchases, and around now—late January, early February—says Kahn, “We tend to see a flood of puppies being given up to shelters by owners. A lot of them end up in shelters because having a puppy is like having a child…. They’re a lot of work. You have to train them. They’re up every few hours at night when they’re young.” (Sixty percent of dogs in shelters were surrendered by owners. The rest are strays—abandoned by individual owners or puppy mills, or the offspring of the abandoned.) If everyone listened to the Humane Society and Animal Planet’s pleas to adopt dogs rather than buying them—or, if you insist on paying for a dog, using responsible breeders—then it would not only put puppy mills out of business, but possibly solve the crisis of dog overpopulation in America.

There’s a reason, though, that it’s not called the “Dog Bowl”: We are not nearly as obsessed with dogs in general as we are with puppies, and it stands to reason that Puppy Bowl viewers would crave ownership of a puppy, specifically. But most dogs, in shelters or elsewhere, are not puppies for a simple biological reason. “Lest we forget, puppies grow up,” Kahn, who has never seen the Puppy Bowl, says. “At some point they won’t be little tiny and cute.” That’s easy to forget when you’re strolling around your local mall, looking for a gift for your teenage daughter or newlywed husband, or not looking for anything at all, and you pass a puppy bowl of a different sort—a glass tank with cedar shavings scattered thinly across the floor. Your human eyes meet a puppy’s eyes. In that moment, for reasons evolutionary or cultural or some combination thereof, it’s all over. You are sold. As Berry says, “I don’t know anyone who could not smile looking at a pile of puppies.”

I know one person, anyway.

I

 

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Why Dogs Can Be A Workplace’s Best Friend

 

We all work harder than ever these days – with longer hours becoming ever more common. And there’s not always a pay rise to look forward to at the end of the year either!  Just one more reason people get stressed in the workplace. Combating that stress isn’t easy. But recent research has shown that having dogs in the workplace can make a big difference to the health and mood of staff.

That may sound surprising to some, but the fact is, putting a pooch in the workplace (especially an office environment) is a strategy based on sound science. And here are just a few reasons why.

Increasing the feel-good factor

One of the main ways to combat stress is to encourage the release of endorphins – our body’s natural feel-good chemicals.  Research in the US has shown that stroking a pet (particularly a cat or dog) can trigger for this process. Some zoologists believe that’s because it taps into a primal need to act out ancient grooming rituals.  What is known for sure is that increased endorphins can reduce anxiety and – as a result – act as preventative measure against all too common stress-related illnesses such as heart attack and stroke. Which should give anyone paws for thought!

A welcome distraction from the grind

We all know how easy it is to get immersed in work and miss out on breaks or a proper lunch. The trouble is, while it may mean hitting that deadline or target, it can mean hitting your health too. Tired, tight muscles or strained eyes are not good for anyone’s productivity levels. Having a dog on hand means an extra incentive and focus for a well-earned break from the day-to-day grind.

Mood-enhancing and team building

It’s remarkable to think that many major organisations still spend silly money on elaborate team-building exercises. If only they’d discovered how much man’s best friend can influence how work colleagues get on. Studies have shown that with a dog in the workplace, the collective mood is enhanced and people are more inclined to co-operate to get the best result for the ‘team’.

But, some things to bear in mind…

So, dogs in the workplace: a good thing? Well, there is strong evidence to show it offer real benefits. But remember, some breeds work better than others (quiet calm types of dog work best!). And of course, practically, you need to make provision for the animal’s food, water and toilet requirements.

David Grieves knows a lot about dogs because he has been the proud owner of a golden retriever for years and regularly takes his dog to work. David work dealing with car accident compensation claims in Glasgow.

 

 

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What I’ve Learned from Dogs… It’s “a pack thing.”

By Antsy McLain
As I write this, a steady rain taps on the window to my left, and distant thunder promises more of the same for the day. A gray Schnauzer sits a few feet away as I write this. He’s 6 years old now, approaching mid life, and seems to be content to be anywhere I am, doing anything I want to do. This, I’m sure you agree, is not the kind of relationship we can have with other humans.
We’re about to go “bye bye” to the store on the corner, so I can’t write for long. I have already said the words bye bye, and therefore set him at his hyper alert state, giddy at my slightest movement, and ready to bolt toward the door. He just whined a little, his low mournful whine that sounds so human, I’m thinking this sentence may not even get finished before I have to leave. (There. A few Snausages. He’ll be fine for a few more paragraphs.)

As we drive to the store, I will crack the window and let him smell everything outside the car as we ride. His nose will add the tell tale streaks on the glass as he watches the world go by. I’ll see the streaks the next time I get in the car without him, and smile. I’ll tell myself I need to wash them off, but I know I won’t follow through with it.

I wrote the word ‘dog owner’ a few times above as way to describe myself, and it immediately felt awkward. It didn’t sound right because it’s inaccurate. Charlie found us, and we never “bought” him from anyone. I don’t think of myself as “owning” Charlie. He’s a part of the family, or more accurately, we belong to the same pack.

Our son Grant was playing outside our house with his friends, and Charlie strutted up to him, picked Grant out from all the other kids, and didn’t leave. The kids all played with him, but he hung out with Grant. It was the same later when he met the rest of the family.

He had a collar with a tag that said “Buddy,” and we called the number. He had gone missing three months earlier about 40 miles away. They told us they had already replaced him, and we could have him. They offered to mail us his papers — meaning his pedigree (they proudly announced he was AKC) — but never impressed with the papers or credentials of humans all that much, we didn’t see why having papers would make this good-hearted dog any more valuable to us than he already was, so we declined.

Grant renamed him Charlie. Being schooled in the art of incentives (at least in the human family), I set out to learn Charlies favorite things, and within days discovered Charlies’s incomparable talents as a ball retriever (only yellow tennis balls, I found out), singer, and cuddler. Like all dogs, he responds to treats and the imminent possibility of road travel. Come to think of it, my favorite people also hold travel and junk food in high regard, so maybe it is “a pack thing.”

I wrote the song with Charlie next to me. I thought of him in every verse. I’ve had many dogs in my 50 years, some of them very close to me, two of them were soul mates. When Moo Moo died, I cried in long, hard fits that left pieces of my soul in dregs along the backyard to where I buried her. Those pieces of me are still there.

But never have I connected to the soul of a dog like this moppy, gray haired barker at my feet. And never have I learned more from an animal.

But you know, they say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And maybe it’s me. Maybe I was getting in my way all along. Charlie was out there. Waiting. And when it seemed we were ready, he came loping up the street and made friends with Grant.

We thought he was just sniffing us out. But more likely he was saying, “Hey, let’s go on an adventure! With lotsa treats, tennis balls and road trips! It’ll be fun! And you just might learn something.”

OK, Charlie, ready to go “BYE BYE?” Oh, man. You should see him now. ha.

 

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A Dog’s Purpose? (from a 6-year-old)

from my good friend Scott Fornaciari

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa , and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.    I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued,

”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

 

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Parting With an Old Friend – Part Three; Daisy Mae of the Redwoods

It’s been twelve years now, it will be in the fall anyway, and it still chokes me up every time I think about her. For some reason loosing that dog hit me harder than either of my parents. Good grief, I literally have tears rolling down my cheeks writing this, and its freeking noon on a holiday and I feel fine.

My first wife loved Alaskan Malamutes. She was from Michigan and had had several in her youth, so the first thing we did after getting married was to go to a very reputable AKC breeder and grab ourselves a descendant of several grand champions. His name was Duke, and he was a gorgeous creature. Like many physically perfect human specimens he could also be a bit of a butthead. I remember him getting loose once when a friend was walking him and he wouldn’t respond to his own name, but when shouted at with the name “Asshole” he responded. Fitting. Actually he was a great and loving dog, and actually did put up with lots from the kids and eccentric parents.

We had this thing about dress-up. Still do come to think of it, but that is REALLY another story. While one dog is great, I have always had a tender spot for leaving a dog alone all day while we go to work and go about our lives. Having been an only child, I could relate to wanting a brother or somebody around all the time to play with, so one dog just wasn’t going to make it. I had always loved labs, although never had one. I set my mind on finding one, much against my wife’s urgings. Not being a patient person, it had to be “right now.” There was a breeder way up in the redwoods by Humboldt that had a litter ready for adoption so we piled in the van and made the trek up to the snow to get my puppy. Immediately upon arrival we were ushered into the den with the litter and this little scrawny runt came out of the back of the pen and stuck her nose in my face. That was it. She had picked us. My wife was aghast that it should be such, as she put it, a “magnificent creature.” Guess she was all about looks, but how wrong she ended up being. There was more heart in that little ball of fur than an elephant.

We brought her home and Duke took right to her. One of the first weekends we had together we brought them to Tahoe to one of those ski cabin rentals where 10 people slept in the loft and another 6 or so crammed the bedrooms and fold-out couch. I remember them all running and cavorting in the snow with Larry’s dog Eddie, named of course after his father !?! They loved the snow, the Malamute was right at home, and Daisy was up for anything. They used to run behind my van up in the hills after getting home from work. It was a good way to combine dad’s “quiet time” (read: happy hour) with a dog run. Thankfully there are loads of quiet mountain streets with almost no traffic. That little black puppy would run for miles, keeping up with the Malamute twice her size because she didn’t know any better.

Then came the summer and the aforementioned boat. Before we found our “Shangri-la” at Sly Creek we went places like Whiskytown and Lake Tulloch. Fuzzy had already taught Duke how to swim by tossing sticks in the ocean, but Daisy needed no external motivation. She took to the water like, well like a Lab takes to the water. Once when we had been out skiing for about an hour we returned to find that she had been trying to “retrieve” the anchor buoy the entire time and almost drowned herself in the effort. It happened to be tied to the anchor at the time.

As we progressed to the great camping lake mentioned so often in the previous two blogs, http://wp.me/pY9Fa-9v the dogs were in their element. They loved all the people, the freedom to wander, and the music and attention of the evenings. Only one consideration for a rowdy bunch of evening frolickers with a minimum level of sobriety: Beware the sleeping black dog at night! Poor Daisy claimed the balance (and usually beverage in hand) of many an unsuspecting camper. Duke and Daisy both loved the boat. Duke got a hair up his backside and jumped off in Whiskytown once about a mile offshore and insisted on swimming the way back. They both used to sit up in the bow with the wind blowing through their muzzles like some strange byzantine kazoo.

Duke also decided to go AWAL once on a long holiday weekend and we had to stay over an extra day to go bail him out of the doggy penitentiary in Redding. He was getting on in years for a big dog, and his hip dysplasia was making him more and more grumpy. He made the mistake of snapping at one of the babies one afternoon and was with his honorable ancestors about an hour later. It wouldn’t have been my choice at the time, but mama bear was not happy with a 150lb doggy snapping at a two year old.

Daisy gave us a scare the next summer at the lake. As always, things like bursted water heaters, broken axles, or animal emergencies, happen on weekend when there is nobody at work to help. We had piled kids, tubes, coolers, skis, and friends on the boat for the morning run and were ready to push off. As was customary there were the checks of lines, glance over the shoulder to see that nothing was behind us, and we started to back out of shore. No sooner than the prop was engaged we heard a piteous whine which caused me (thank God) to immediately kill the engine. Recognizing the source of the scream I reached into the water and hauled the 85lb dog onto the boat with one hand. Amazing what adrenalin will do. There was no “vet” open on a Sunday, so we really didn’t have anything that we could do but my Boy Scout first aid and keep her quiet. Benadryl is good for putting dogs asleep too! Later that day, thankfully, a county sheriff (a dog lover) shows up and put butterfly bandages on her arms and paws so that we felt better about her safety. Thank you God and Karma. Next morning I was in the truck and off to the vet to find that her injuries were such that her tendons were spared by about 1/16 of an inch. Daisy Mae rocks, and God was lookin out.

We had so many other wonderful experiences with her it would take months to document. God only knows what patience that dog had to exhibit on New Year’s Eve with Dad and Uncle Paul. I think we were trying to dress her up like a can-can dancer. My lasting impression of her is her loving patience, her devotion to me, her brother Duke, and most importantly my girls. She allowed them to put skirts on her, to sit on her, to pull her ears, to drag her around any physical object available; that dog had more patience than the kids mother and I had combined. I sincerely believe that was part of what made the “family” as centered and “normal” as it was. There were other things that contradicted both of those terms, but it certainly was not the dogs fault.

The last trip Daisy was to take to Sly was in 1999. We had a great time and she never failed to return the Frisbee and set herself for another toss. Ad infinitum. There was no lack of spunk in her step as she ran the campground searching for food. She was above all a loving sensitive… but LAB. She had a way about food, but didn’t hold a candle to her new sister “Oakley” who we will discuss later. There was no lack of enthusiasm in the attack of the lake and the Frisbee, nor that in the love of French fries she inhaled on the way home at “In and Out Burgers” in Davis. The only thing that we noticed was that for the first time she had become incontinent and “peed” herself while sitting on the cement in front of our favorite in-route stop (“In-and-Out” in Davis). With concern we proceeded home.

Over the next two days it became apparent the this was not an arbitration and that Daisy was winding down. She began to lie in a particular area on the side of the yard instead of her usual spot on the porch. It was bizarre, but we finally began to feel that she was choosing her place to die. The incontinence got worse, but she did her best to hide it from us. Her visits to the bush, and the restful spot she had chosen were more frequently.. The decision was somehow clear to me, my love – my little black soul-mate, had lived her years. I spent the next three nights on the porch with her crying my eyes out telling her every story I could remember; preparing her (bullshit, me) for the fact that she was going to be put down. I actually don’t really understand how it is that we think that we get to play God, but when it comes to animals it seems OK. Is it that our love is conditional? Oh jaez! My ex once said “the second she can’t make it up the stairs on her own, she’s gone.” Is that what we really want to do to the things that we love?

Anyway that is what we do to dogs, and in this case I was convinced that it was for her good. That would have been the only way I would have ever parted with Daisy. Our mobile pet doctor Petra Drake was called and responded immediately. She is a wonderful doctor and person. It made me feel much better that she was there. Daisy was laid in my lap, in front of the whole family, and given an injection that removed her spirit from this earthly vessel. Dr. Petra simply said “She is gone.” What a lovely setting for Daisy, and what a meaningful way to go out. By God’s infinite design, my great friend Martin (see previous blogs) arrived just then to say “Hi” and ended up helping me dig a grave for Daisy in the exact place that she had been frequenting for the past week.

There are no coincidences.

 

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