Sunday, February 28, 2016

BP and the Weighting Game.

Arrived back in Winnipeg, after days spent on the road - possibly. The snowfall was such that the entire surface of this particular corner of the globe means I could well have been driving across country. Temps plummeted to a very unseasonal -22c,  as a result the fuel I'd loaded in Revelstoke,BC was not yet adapted to handling these temps. Gelling occurring. For those not familiar with the term, this is when the water in the diesel fuel turns to ice crystals and blocks up the filter. Result? Engine suffers from premature exhaustion ( It stops!) Either that or there's a very expensive bang as the internal combustion engine becomes the external combustion engine and the fire service get all excited! So I chug into a truck-stop and buy a couple of gallons of fuel additive, fuel gelling for the prevention of. Tip half a gallon into each tank and resume with chugging until ice crystals realize that whats coming up the fuel line behind em means extermination! Things, including my Blood Pressure, settle down and I trudge off through the deepening gloom.
The following morning dawned, the snow snoweth and the only way I could tell of the emergence of several billion tons of super-hot fusion lurching into the sky above the horizon was that the gloom lessened by a factor unmeasurable on any normal scale and the GPS said "Switching To Day Mode" - somewhat smugly I thought!   I thundered across packed snow, overtaking many muffins unable to handle the shock of driving on anything other than dry concrete in bright sunshine. Behind me, a localized blizzard followed in my wake and caused much consternation amongst the aforementioned muffins!
Thank you for your encouragement Roxana & Pam.
During my time as a Driver trainer, I learned that positive reinforcement beats negative - cos negative don't work! So when she told me he was a bad dog, I was somewhat stunned and failed in my crate stuffing test!
Leonburgers are described as "Highly intelligent" - not that any of them are gonna be running Google any time soon - but my guys quick to pick things up and if he doesn't, then its me that hasn't explained things well enough and I must consider breaking whatever task it is into smaller steps and teaching each step patiently until he gets it right, then to the next stage until finally we put it all together and we get the result we want - me, the desired action - Himself the disgusting salmon thing!

“Tails” from the Doghouse…
“It doesn’t fit, you shall not go to the ball!”
Yesterday 50 trillion tons of super-hot nuclear fusion popped up over the horizon and failed to warm our bit of the planet one iota, although it did at least let us see stuff. I ambled comfortably down stairs and was overtaken by a hurtling heap of fur known as Persephone` the cat, leisurely pursued by Barnaby. Opening the door, Barnaby disappeared for his ablutions and having abluted in record time, he was back. “Hmm”, thought I. “Must be chilly”, and checked the weather station, -31 c temp, -40 c with wind-chill (Actually our weather station doesn’t go below -40 c, why would it need to? We’re not going outside at -40 c let alone anything lower!)
A couple of hours later and rugged and booted, Management, I, and Barnaby set off for his morning constitutional, which lasted to the bottom of the lane, before his feet got cold and he lay down. We turned round and came back.
Later, we set off for the big city – Brandon – (Ginormous to us yokel types – who don’t get out much) Here we entered the Pet-Lovers store and I inquired of the assistants that as my puppy was having cold paws, might that have something to remedy this? A charming lady said yes and walked us to the display. She handed me something like a black rubber balloon, which at first I took to be some form of contraception device for the hard of thinking. Turned out to be a dog bootee – well who knew? We said it wasn’t big enough (Size does matter!) and she asked how big our puppy was – I went and fetched him out of the car.
Barnaby led the way through the door and I seated him on the mat, the two assistants looked overawed – when they noticed the size of his feet even their overawe was overawed! Management bent and attempted to insert size 9 paw into size 7 boot, to her credit she did manage to get the thing on, where it stuck and cover approx. 50% of what it should have, it was removed. Next was a wonderful contraption, the Muttluk, comprising of about a foot of stretch sock terminating in a leather; leatherette and Velcro contraption. This was duly fitted – kinda! It was too big! Turned out to be for a Great Dane, (which is a kinda skinny pony with a fondness for meat pies) Walked Barnaby in the thing but alas, twas too big.
Returned to the mat where it was removed, and during this process a little girl, along with her parents, entered the store. She took one look at the sitting Barnaby and her mouth dropped open (I’ve never actually seen anyone do that!) and her eyes widened to the size of saucers, Barnaby stood up – and looked down at her – “Wow” she said, her mother grabbed her (In case she was eaten) and I explained, ‘He’s friendly” – they moved in the general direction of away.
Today I shall call a different store and try again, if not then “Hello Amazon!”

Tails from the Doghouse …
Puppy School … (act 2)
Awoke on a drear day with dread and foreboding, this is because I had to fast in order to have a blood test, God knows why, it’s simple, I’ve got some.
So coffee-less I was forced to interact with people who have had their coffee. I sat in a chair, she stuck a damn bar across the front to prevent me escaping and sticking a needle in me, drained off most of an armful. I got a band aid and no biscuit …
Arrived come and growled at the dog, till I’d had me coffee anyway. (Addict, who’s an addict?) Bundled meself into me coat and Barnaby into the car and set off for puppy school, accompanied by Barnaby’s close harmony whining.
Arrived and decanted whining critter onto floor and with a display of synchronised dragging, got him to the pee park – he obligingly abluted. More dragging and I got him into the building, was promptly told to go sit in the corner with him. Walked over and sat, he sit and the whining increased, interrupted by sporadic barking (both from Barnaby you understand)
First up was demonstrate how well your dog now does last week’s stuff, the homework you were all given. So I stood up and Barnaby took this as the cue to head off, drag back. Seat dog and hold treat at arm’s length and wait for him to look at me before ramming disgusting sliced chicken wiener into ravenous maw. This trick he does perfectly fine at home, here however, well I’d still be there – sit down again.
Second was the “Come here” challenge, seat self on chair, call dog to you and when he pays attention to you, feed treat – basically, it’s feeding the dog treats while he’s in your face – simply enough and he managed it – mostly.
Third, call dog to you, encourage sit, soon as butt hits floor, treat. So I stand up, Barnaby looks at me, I say “come”, because he’s already sitting, and Barnaby hears, “Leap into air, set legs to gallop, land and take off running!” Haul dog back and try again, this time, instead of “Come” he heard, “Investigate under door – the one 14ft away – by jamming snozzle under door and inhaling deeply” Haul dog back and sit, both of us.
Fourth - “How long can your dog sit?” – answer? Gets restive after an hour, or 5 seconds, or 10 minutes, depending on what the distraction is. Other dog? 0.002 seconds – passing cloud, slightly longer. So take Barnaby out onto floor, carefully seat dog facing away from other dogs – inform dog of required “sit” – Himself sits – I fall over in shock – pick self-up and look at dog, who looks at me. Instructor looks at each dog & handler, being in the corner, I’m last – so B has sat there for whole 5 mins. Feed dog handful of chicken wieners and tell him he’s a good boy – He hears, “Go kill the Corgi!” drag dog back and sit.
One by one we must needs go to the far end, behind a fence or barricade that wouldn’t have stopped a sleeping puppy, and see if the dog will follow you? “Oh dear God” I thought. B looks up at me with a grin that sez “Fat chance!” I’m last to go – again.
Stand up, shorten lead, take deep breath and set buttocks to clench. Set off, B wants to see the Corgi, haul dog back and insert knee into dog’s fore-shoulder in an attempt to walk something like normal. Dog uses impetus of energy to ricochet off knee towards German shepherd! Haul back (I shall have arms like a Russian gymnast if we go on like this) Instructor opens fence, we enter and fence is closed. I drop leash and walk away without looking back – I’m know if I do I shall instantly turn into a pillar of shit – I keep walking, I’m passed by a hurtling bundle of fur, ears flapping in the wake, as he heads for the German shepherd, the Instructor intercedes herself and B, stops and looks for me _ “That’s good” she says, as B banks into the back corner and heads off across the floor. “ He’s looking for you” she screams excitedly, as B goes up one wall, across the ceiling and back down the other wall, finally skidding to a stop 10 feet from me, head tilted, tongue lolling out and grinning. I tempt him with a treat and say “Come” – he sits and looks at me – I repeat the command – and add two more treats, this apparently is what he’s been waiting for, and goes to the Instructor.
Despite all this, he was better, slightly – which is the only time I can think of that I shall ever use that word in connection with the big galoot …

Tails from the Doghouse
Learning how to fly …
Greetings to all those on Dog-Watch, been a while eh? In truth not much has happened, at least anything noteworthy. So, let’s get up to date.
Removed Barnaby from Puppy School – basically because he wasn’t learning anything, other than how to exhaust himself physically and emotionally. Also I was getting tired, of being stuck in a corner, watching other dogs be put through their paces while wrestling with a growling pack of damp fur.
Lesson four was all about how to put your dog in a cage – stop here, for cage, read jail – so he feels safe. This dog is 121lbs of claws and teeth, is he safe? Of course he’s safe – it’s everything else that’s at risk for God’s sake!
Wrote an email to the owner of the enterprise, who apparently is still on the 5 year mission to boldly go and isn’t answering via subspace email…
Since January 14th, I’ve been walking Barnaby about 2 miles per day, this has improved his fitness no end, I’ve also changed his food from diminutive little kibble rounds to bigger kibble ovals, which I’m reliably informed are chicken & rice flavour – if you sniff them I can tell you this, you’ll never eat Chinese ever again. The change in food and fitness level has worked as far as Barnaby’s energy level is concerned, and trust me, it’s caused some concern.
Take last Monday – please – Wandered round the cemetery woodland stroll, thinking nothing but calm pleasant thoughts about the whichness of why. Moments later I was looking up and a dog was looking down at me. Rewinding the reality tape showed me tripping over the log strewn across the woodland wander, right where some muffin was bound to trip over it … I landed on my right side, and the fall was cushioned by several inches of snow and layers of winter coats and stuff – I don’t know what the stuff is but I do know it’s the one thing you can’t get off a decent winter coat.
In the afternoon, I tried again, this time I spotted a friend’s car parked on the side of the road on the way to the cemetery. Figuring she’d have her dog with her I attempted to track her so I could follow and avoid the manic barking/whining head on confrontation that Barnaby calls “Hello” – and correctly guessed wrong – we met head on. Barnaby adopted a defensive posture, standing on his hind legs, suspended by the collar and leash and still able to perform synchronized barking and whining – think it’s easy, you try it!
My friend gathered her dog and at my urging, walked past us while I attempted to restrain manic fur ball. She’d just made it past me when I found myself learning to fly. Flying isn’t difficult, simply a matter of learning how to throw yourself at the planet and miss (As Mr. Adams told us!) I failed to miss and landed on my left side, for a change, cushioned by the layers etc. etc.
Rolling off my side onto my knee’s turned out to be a bad idea, because just as I was on all fours, Barnaby, backed into my face, tail raised!
The quicker among you will already have realized this was not for me the delight that dogs seem to enjoy. I’d have given a lot to have missed the experience actually, still. Barnaby apparently wasn’t expecting this sneaky rear attack either and whirled round knocking me down again, “This is getting to be a habit”, I thought as I picked myself up again, from yet another prone position.
Does anyone know where I can get a set of dog-hobbles from?...

Fun at the Hospital ...
Yesterday I had the experience of a lifetime, at least, it was the first experience of such in my life so far, so that counts, doesn't it?
A man in a frock pushed this thing in my mouth and told me to swallow.
Now, before we get too far into the gutter, I should clarify.
Having suffered an "episode" last July, it was determined by those who know better that I should have an internal examination of the tube leading to the stomach. This would be in the form of a camera passed over the tongue and then south.
We arrived in good time, appeared at the appointed place for the appointment (how apt) the an attractive young lady appeared and offered me a list of options. 1. Spray back of throat to freeze - gag -stuff camera in - withdraw - leave. 2. As above but with mild sedative to still panic. 3. As one & 2 but with serious drugs and the feeling your a rabbit.
Option one for me! It only takes three minutes! I was escorted to the operating bed and made to wear a frock (I looked ghastly - pale green doesn't do me justice at all) over my clothes and lay on the bed. Nurse draped a warm blanket over me, saves time later if they have to cover your face I expect.
Minutes passed - then some more, but they were different ones. After 30 or so of all these different minutes had passed, and you'll have to take my word for it as I was alone during all this passing (where do dead minutes go I wonder?) A Doctor appeared, I know he was a Dr as he had a badge with his name on, Doctors are busy people and can't be expected to remember every little detail. He was attended by a phalanx of green people one of whom grabbed me and said "Open wide!" I scarce had time to notice what looked like a can of WD 40 complete with straw attached when he sprayed the back of my throat with it. I've tasted WD 40, this stuff was far worse. Next moment me head was uplifted and someone draped a thing round me neck, this turned out to be a part of the gag upon which I was forced to bite - the idea of option 3 now seemed like a good one - but I couldn't speak to ask them if we might change! I rolled onto me side, me head was tilted and lowered to 'drain" and something was inserted through the hole in the gag, which then hit the back of me throat. I still have no idea how they managed to get something the size of a fire hose in my mouth, but they did. Then get you to aid and abet, "big swallow" they say, you have no choice in this. I did and something shot down me throat while I was restrained by some muffin kneeling on me head.
So there I was, lying on me left side too terrified to move, a surplus nurse keeping me still and all the time strange clicks, scrapes and wire sawing noises coming from me, yet not part of me, if you see what I mean. After just three minutes, or an eternity depending on whether your the stuffed or the stuffee, it was all over. Withdrawal took place, gag removed and assisted upright - "here's a bit of paper, do what it says - get out - Next!"
The very next time someone says they're a bit down in the mouth, I shall tell them - "You know nothing!"

"Tails" from the Doghouse ...
Escape attempt #2...
Wandering around the cemetery today I took the leash off Barnaby to let him do the "Born Free" bit. He responded well to this freedom, he returned to us after no more than 20 minutes of screaming, gobbled a treat and fled again. Once he'd tired himself out, he jogged along in front of us until we got to the exit. He stand some trees that needed urgent investigation, so we stood and waited, then called and he back - to us - then past us! Then set off at a fair clip down a lane, eyes firmly fixed on the horizon. We yelled and shouted, then shouted and yelled - made no difference, the bloody dog set off across a field with the easy kind of lope that indicated he could keep this up until he hit Mexico.
I set off in pursuit, having asked Management to go home and fetch the car. I walked the length of the lane, only sign of dog was huge paw prints in snow. I followed these across the field and on nearing the far fence, spotted the big galoot chasing horses! I climbed the fence carefully, it was barbed wire! I fell off it carelessly, flinging out my hand and inserting barb off wire into hand - I said "Botheration" without using any of those letters. I scrambled through an area of bush unexplored since time immemorial and through a gap in the fence - where I fell over again. I looked up to see horses and dogs tail disappearing over the hill. So I struggled to my feet in the blood encrusted and set off again. Barnaby was having great fun nipping at horses heels, they in turn were having great fun trying to kick his head off! I called to him - not an ounce of notice given - I pleaded, begged, cajoled and entreated - complete waste of time. Eventually he tired and set off for the farm, stopping on the way to explore a large shed - it was here that I managed to trap him, eventually he realized he was trapped and consented to be caught.
So just to set the record straight, I tore his head off then tore him apart limb from limb, once that was over, i tried to find a way out of the field. no such luck, everything that looked like a gate wasn't, including the man gate, eventually I sent him through a gap and I climbed over, just as the horses arrived and he set off for them again, thus pulling me off the top of the gate and headfirst into the deep and crisp and even. I clambered to my feet and whipping out me BBQ lighter, set him on fire and kicked to within an inch of his life - from the other side! - Once that was over we set off across the farmyard, with the beast of boundless energy thinking was all so much fun and bounding up and down like squirrel on caffeine down the lane - just as Management arrived with the car - i bundled him in and sat in the passenger seat - seething and sweating and vowing vengeance on all things canine from this day forth ...
Now, before anyone starts here - I know, I know that chasing horses is going to get him killed or seriously injured, quite apart from upsetting the horses, also the guy who owns the said horses is the guy who shoots all the unwanted dogs (I might know of one!) beavers and anything else that moves come to that. So Barnaby's "born free moments" will not be happening again for a very long time! and before we do I shall probably clamp him, like a car!
Frankly, I'm just glad he wasn't kicked to death, or had a couple of ribs kicked outside his insides. Clearly he cannot be trusted to return, so he's not gonna be given the opportunity to wander off. Managements back at work next week, so training will be my full time occupation and what with puppy training school and that, I hope we shall see improvement ... "Relieved of Souris" ...

I realize after yesterdays post that some people may be concerned about possible cruelty to animals as stated. I wish to reassure all those concerned that no dog was harmed during the writing of such rubbish - not after the last time - oh, you wanna know what that was? OK
In my youth I was taken home by a slightly older woman, on arrival she plonked me down and said she was "going to slip into something more comfortable", she returned wearing a semi fastened dressing gown and announced, "Martyn, you can do anything you like" - Boy was she surprised when I sacrificed her poodle ...

“Tails” from the Doghouse
“If you mess with my dog, I’ll break out a level of crazy that’ll make your nightmares seem like a happy place …!”
Today was Barnaby’s first day at Puppy School! It was a success – if you count success as whining, barking, lunging at other dogs – for the whole hour, that is!
We arrived at the appointed time and place, good start, and I managed to decant Barnaby from the car by the simple expedient of opening the door at the critical moment and he “wall-of-deathed” his way around the inside of the SUV. Once he hit the ground, he immediately launched himself off again, which at least made it easier to turn him, not being able to dig his heels in you see? We fought our way over to the pee patch – he won – and jammed his nose into every bit of “yellow snow” within sight. With mat under my arm, spare lead jammed in my pocket, bag of treats and “tug” toy in other hand, we took the back way in. The door opened into a small storage area, I opened the second door and was treated to the sight of a long hall, maybe 30’wide by 200’. One small dog was attended by 2 men older than me, they eyed me dog suspiciously. I chose a seat well away from everyone else and plonking down me mat, bade Himself repose upon it – no chance! I sat on the chair and attempted to engage Himself in the Sit – which lasted for about 2 seconds before a Lady appeared with some kind of Spaniel – Barnaby goes berserk, whining and barking and lunging. I just get somewhat settled when a guy comes in with a German Shepherd – cue second berserker attack.
By now I’m sweating as I haven’t had chance to get me coat off, I clip a standard collar onto Himself, attach leash and detach 8 meters of best German retractable in preparation for the class. Just in time for the door to open and in comes a couple with what appears to be a skinny black rat on a leash – Barnaby wants to greet him so sets off, I grip the leash and find out the major problem with nylon leashes – they burn! I haul errant dog back crying (me - not him!) and plonk Himself on the mat – I offer a treat to take his mind off things – he ignores it – then me.
The Senior Drill Instructor probably welcomed us, I couldn’t hear it over pitiful whining, and endeavored to keep Himself quiet – fat chance! And set up the first exercise, The Sit. For this I had to get Himself to stand, so I encouraged him by saying, “Barnaby, stand” – Apparently what he heard was, “Barnaby, fly off your mat, crash into my legs then hurtle across the room and eat the Spaniel” – I hauled the barking mad critter back and bade him sit – which having used the chair to beat him semi-conscious, was achieved. For this he got a small piece of something that smells disgusting but he seems to like, and a ‘Good Boy!’ which he took to mean “Savage the German Shepherd” and promptly set off again.
This was how we went on, the instructor setting up the exercise, me sitting on seat trying to restrain Himself and figure out how to get his attention so we might at least have a go.
After 45 minutes I was wet with sweat, even though I’d managed to get me coat off, Barnaby was an emotional wreck, lying on the floor (off his mat!) panting wildly but still game to whine and uttering the odd miserable bark. After class was dismissed, the Instructor came over, “I think he settled a bit towards the end” we looked down at the wild-eyed panting dog with the heaving sides. I refrained from saying, “Cos he’s knackered” even though it was true. When everyone had left, except the man that cleans up, I clipped on me best German and gathering my coat, mat and unused tug toy, departed for the car – via the yellow snow piles. We drove home in silence, I unloaded Himself and went in. Barnaby headed for the water bowl – I headed for the Scotch – we have to do this all over again next week …

Yesterday, as the day passed, I noticed a change in my view. First of all, one thing I didn't mention was the Instructor called my dog a "Bad dog" - I was a bit stunned at the moment and didn't respond as I should have done - by shoving her inside the crate with her bloody Welsh Corgi! - Barnaby isn't a bad dog - he's a dog that doesn't know any better - and nor do I - yet! We're both there for training, right?
Secondly, the sight of Barnaby lying on his side, heaving for breath and trying to whine was, after consideration, very distressing to me. He was simply over excited by a situation that he wasn't familiar with and worked himself up into such a state that he was exhausted.
I left him alone yesterday, in other words, there was no "homework" done. Today I took him for a two mile walk (me - walking two miles with no bar at the end - unheard of!) then let him rest for an hour. While he was doing that, I cleared the heated garage of cars and set up. One cup of salmon treats; one mat (dog for the use of) one tug toy (Dog & man for the use of) One old office chair (me for the use of!) Then off to fetch Himself, spent 15 mins giving him treats for every correct response (needs must buy more treats!) behaved perfectly, did all that was asked of him and for the first time ever, played with the tug toy.
I'm happy, me dogs happy (lying by me desk as I write - snoozing) and I see light at the end of the tunnel...
Today is a good day!

"Tails" from the Doghouse
Birth of a Cone...
Unfortunately the loss of the last cone allowed an over sized paw access to an itchy eye, and rubbed it was. I don't know if you've ever tried to stop 130 lbs of determined Barnaby from rubbing and itch, if so then you'll know its to all intents and purposes, impossible. It doesn't help that he's four legs and one would think that the back left is out of the question when scratching the right eye - not for Barnaby's!
So there we were, both distressed, him by the itch, me watching him scratch it - when suddenly - inspiration hit (Fortunately not knocking me over) "Why not make my own cone?" - In less time than it takes to tell I had abandoned the mug of best Costa Rican and sallied forth in search of bendable plastic. Descending into the dungeon, armed with only good intentions and where only cats survive, I descended the stairs, avoided the voided into litter and fought of giant cardboard boxes whose contents had long departed yet one habitually saves the box it came in. ("We must save it in case it has to go back! - Actually, I might start a business of keeping boxes and receipts until we get the email saying the contents of same are now dead - 1 penny a day --- I shall be a millionaire (in pennies!)) I emerged with a discarded trash container and kicking an escaping cool box back down the stairs, closed and bolted the door.
Back in the garage, I set to with a semi sharp knife and full on swearing as I attempted to push the former through the trash can. In only minutes I was sweating and mutinous and vowing to wake the vet up, then I considered the cost of getting him out on a Sunday - that's enough to sober anyone up!
Well, cutting a long trash can short, I fixed up something that looked remarkably like Frankenstein's monster-but it works
Not sure Barnaby's happy about it thought ...

Tails” from the Doghouse…
The Social Experiment and its unexpected results!
Those of you whom have followed “Tails” may require some clarification on a point raised recently by my brother, namely that how do we get the cone on? Surprisingly enough, I don’t bash the thing over his head using a 5lb hammer as stated in my reply! It slips neatly over the ears and stays there without any other means of fastening!
One of the problems of accepting a rescue dog into your life and being owned by him, is that one has no idea what socialization with other canines has taken place. The one thing we did know was that when we introduced “Willow”, a three year old Golden Lab, only swift intervention prevented bloodshed and loss of ears or paws! So we were suffering trepidations to have Janet’s dog, Sarah, staying overnight.
We first allowed them to meet on the leash, which meant we got to separate them from impending violence, we then walked them together and this was a qualified failure, as opposed to the unqualified success we were hoping for.
Today, upon their return, we allowed a spot of Sniff & Whiff – which passed amiably enough. After only a small glass of Scotch for the owners, caution was thrown to the wind and we let them off-leash in the Stalag and we all stood to watch.
There was sniffing, and you know what dogs are, so you know where! Then there was playful banter and excited running, there was prodigious peeing, one upon the others and in some cases topped by the original pee-er! (The doggie equivalent of one-upmanship I suppose!)
Finally Barnaby shoved his nose too close to where it was not wanted and got his nose nipped at – he retreated.
We opened the door and they both came in, Sarah, being about 98 yrs old, snatch the opportunity to have a nap on the floor next to Janet. Barnaby took the opportunity to snatch a sniff in an area out of bounds of Sarah – a short sharp shock was taught to Barnaby – who retreated and since then they’ve become tolerant of each other. Sarah the old dog has taught the young upstart that sticking your cold nose where it ain’t wanted can get you hurt.
A fact that’s escaped me all these years apparently …

've retired - after 44 years of trucking about, carrying everything from a fiberglass elephant to an MRI unit for the Boston Children s Hospital - I've done. Driving a truck in 30 something countries for 44 years has taught me one thing - why I'm so heartily sick of it! I've met some wonderful people and people to whom I've wished a wonderful end, mostly involving sharks (which saves the expense of a funeral) I have actually seem someone changing a wheel in the outside lane of a motorway in thick fog - a man kill himself in front of me - and people stop on a high speed road to let the ducklings cross it!
I've seen bears and moose, elk and bobcat and thousands of drivers that don't have the common sense of any of them.
People might call me jaded, or that I have the healthy contempt of the professional for the amateur - you're damned right!
All of my "near misses" have been instigated by the other driver, my ability to avoid these situations in the first place and to have an escape route in the event of trouble I credit to one thing - the time I spent in the classroom and on the road with the Staffordshire Police Driving Awareness Program that I participated in nearly 40 years ago - they taught me, amongst many things,
"If in doubt - Wait!" and every time I observed a situation developing I could still hear the Instructor's voice in my head saying it - so its thank to that man, name long forgotten, that has got me to this point - home safely.
So many thanks to the Staffordshire Police Driving School - I hope someone passes this to them ...

Ha! Have enrolled Barnaby for puppy training! 
Ha-ha - "puppy" wait till they see this guy 30" high and 130 lbs of "cute little puppy" 
Have met the instigator, a woman who can shout and stop cows giving milk at a thousand yards!
Seen the place and the proliferation of rules stuck up everywhere ...
I have one week to the first class, between now and then I have "homework" - Yes, you can see how this is working can't you? It's me that's being trained, the dogs just the means. (Which accounts for Managements grin!) Homework consists of me sitting on the garage floor - next to the mat that Barnaby gets! - and hand feeding him ("Find somewhere quiet") all the time telling him "what a good boy/dog/sweetheart/insane chomping machine ..."
for 5 minutes each day. The point of this exercise is to "settle or bond" with ones canine. Well lets go the whole hog then, some soft music, candles and a glass or two of bubbly over a bloody steak!
Tails from the Dog-House
It’s been an odd week, what with high winds and low winds, high spots and low spots and generally bits falling off, not me you understand, just things around me.
Thursday morning I fed the dog, seems relatively simply, the sought of thing I might easily accomplish without incident, which just goes to prove how wrong you can be!
Step one; grasp the bowl firmly and lift, then proceed to enormous bag of dog food and put 3 cups of said dried kibble into bowl.
Step two; Call dog and encourage to sit (Hit over head with 4” length of 2 x 4 to get attention first, then press on rear end screaming SIT in nearest ear!)
Step three; Order semi-conscious dog to STAY and place bowl on spill mat (The only place in the entire house kibble free!)
Step four; Restrain enormous beast in mid lunge and re-position in SIT after removing front paws off shoulders
Step five; six; seven – repeat four and latter part of two using 2 x 4
Step six; gently urge dazed critter towards kibble, supporting as required
Or something like that …
Yet on this particular day, I turned with me freshly filled kibble bowl to find dog missing, this alone would be regarded as sufficient proof in the Catholic Church for it to be proclaimed a miracle! Placing bowl on kibble free, I crunched back into living room to ascertain reason for non-appearance, to find dog head down, neck deep in me bowl of cereal, positioned on coffee table by me, breakfast for the purposes of!
I yelled, “Barnaby!” in a tone of voice indicating my horror and hatred of all things canine and Barnaby’s in particular, which initiated not one iota of response.
Eventually I removed his head from the bowl, laughingly, looked at his milk covered nose and figured, “What the hell”, and dumped the dog infected contents on his kibble.
Note to self; Feed dog first!
“Tails” from the Doghouse.
Death by Squirrel!
Barnaby’s training continues, as I suspect it will for the rest of our lives. The only question really is how long we’re likely to survive, and if this morning’s shenanigans are anything to go by, my days are not merely numbered but fast approaching single digits!
As I’m off work at the moment, it’s my duty, pleasure, to take The Big Galoot for his morning romp, that’s if you can call 125 lbs of canine hurtling across a frost encrusted field dragging a well-layered Martyn behind it, a romp. We arrived at the fence, two strands of wire, he shoots under, and I attempt to go between – Having picked myself up, using the fence post as an aid, we set off again, Barnaby walking, “With Me!” something he’s really good at – mostly. We enter the Cemetery, past the gate and turn left into the avenue of trees that surrounds the plot. Walking through the frozen hoar frost laden branches in the morning sun was a delight, Barnaby, running at the end of an 8 m long self-retracting leash.
(Built in Germany for the holding of Camels - $78! – One should always be at least 8 meters from a camel – they stink!)
Round we strolled/trotted, depending on whom you’re looking at, and turned west, one of the longer sides. Sunlight dappled through the frozen, a cow lowed in the distance and birds twittered & tweeted (‪#‎godisanyoneelsecoldorisitjustme‬?) Passing by the impenetrable jungly bit, we re-entered the brush filled avenue, I crunched over frosted sticks and Barnaby jammed his nose into every footprint and burrow, risking lacerations and attack by anything put out by a large proboscis and teeth entering uninvited and sniffing up their best winter food store!
We rounded the western most corner and headed north, when suddenly – nothing happened (but it happened suddenly!) then Barnaby spotted the squirrel. Now, I say spotted, yet in truth this wasn’t too difficult, a log lay across the trail and Barnaby stuck his head up and looked over and the squirrel, idly nibbling on his nuts or whatever they do with them, stared back. For a moment, time was frozen, then I appeared, at which the squirrel, clearly outnumbered, fled. Barnaby took off after the fleeing rodent, which, all thoughts of nuts abandoned, was scampering flat out for the nearest tree. Then a couple of things happened, 8 meters of best German ran out, resulting in I being catapulted into full run from a standing start, and the squirrel looked over its shoulder and realized that it wasn’t gonna make the tree!
You’ll remember the log? I didn’t and in high dudgeon over this the log lifted itself just enough so I fell over it. Now, you might think that a couple of hundred pounds of well layered might bring even a top-notch dog team to a shuddering halt, well it might, but it don’t stop a squirrelized Barnaby! Thus I was dragged along the barely snow-covered with the semi open coverall zip ideally placed for the scooping up of all snow and detritus and depositing same inside the coveralls – the very things designed to keep all this outside!
Meanwhile, back at the sharp end; the squirrel shot right under some low brush and fled for another tree, Barnaby scant inches behind, barking excitedly. Unluckily for both Barnaby and myself there was a third tree (the place is just full of em) positioned for just this eventuality and the 8 meters of best German etc. etc. rounded this and bought both him and myself to a full stop. Two out of the three of us heaved a sigh of relief, one from the floor and the other from twenty feet up and climbing …
I raised my head and looked at Barnaby, who dropped onto his stomach, panting hard and looked at me. My eyes narrowed as thoughts of hiding the body and telling Joy, “He ran away!” crossed my mind – it was at this moment that I became aware of all the frozen stuff now inside the outside, where it should have been. I also became aware that what I was feeling in my nether regions indicated two possibilities, either the snow was melting or I had committed an act that I haven’t done since I was about 4 years old – I got up, called Barnaby, who bounded happily towards me, and we set off home to find out …
“Tails” from the Doghouse.
The Case of the Dog that didn’t Need to Bark in the Night!
Barnaby is a big dog, I think I may have mentioned this? What I didn’t mention is that really big dogs have trouble with stairs. Whether it’s because the concept of stairs is beyond the intelligence of the average over-sized canine, possibly because the distance between the front and back end causes a lag in signals getting there and back, or maybe stairs built for humans don’t work so well for dogs of a certain size, who knows?
What I do know is that Barnaby has taken a tumble or two on the lower portion, some five steps. Let me paint the picture for you.
The stairs start off on the main floor, mainly because the construction team employed someone bright enough follow the plans I expect, although in other aspects of the house, it appears he wasn’t employed full time. Then comes a landing, sporting a potted fig tree that seems determined to survive despite what we do to it. One then turns left and ascends the rest of the stairs to a main landing where one would enter the main bedroom on the right. (Turning left will only get you back down to the main floor a lot quicker than health and safety would like!) The steps themselves are made from scratched pine, if you’re not familiar with this product then tear out you’re stairs, replace with bright and shiny pine and buy a dog, you get the picture…
Each night Barnaby makes an heroic effort to ascend the stairs, each morning he makes an even more heroic effort to descend them, under careful instruction from us – which means we tell him “to be careful”. Despite this he has, on occasion, still slipped up on “fig tree corner” and crashed down the 5 steps.
Personally, I believe the root cause of this to be the fact we’re only speaking in English and he’s only listening in confusion, I may be wrong though…
At approximately 2.00 am last night, we were awakened by a loud, prolonged crash, which sounded exactly as though a 125 lb dog had attempted to navigate the stairs in the dark, slipped and fallen to the landing, bounced off the potted fig tree and slid down the remaining 5 steps onto the wooden floor – without making a sound himself!
As one, Management and I flung back the sheets, and tore to the top of the stairs, I turned on the light, to reveal Barnaby clambering to his feet, shaking his head and wagging his tail. As one we descended and rushed to him, to check close up he was all right I suppose. It was at this point we became aware that both of us were naked and that dogs have no shame about where they’re going to insert a cold, wet nose!
Barnaby survived, the potted fig’s still potted and the scratched stair has a few more scratches. I wonder if we should invest in a night light…
“Tails” from the Dog House
“My dogs an eyesore”
Twas during our cemetery ramble that things became apparent, Barnaby was pawing at his left eye. Wiping either his head down his paw, or paw past his head depending on where you were standing. Closer examination took place at home and revealed – nothing – at least as far as I could see. We kept an eye on it (Spoiler alert – I’m going to keep doing this you know!) and Barnaby’s eye kept leaking. 
Afeared for his sight, Management took him to see the vet, or rather for the vet to cast an expert eye over him! In his considered, and expensive, opinion, Barnaby is suffering from something that most of can’t pronounce, let alone catch. Basically, his lower eye lid is too loose, so it turns over and the fur or whatever irritates the eye – thus the leaks.
(Put simply, when he was made it was a Friday back-shift and they didn’t assemble him right – how difficult can it be to glue four legs, a tail and a snozzle in the right place? Bloody Taiwan!)
So now the poor little (Ha!) sods gotta go and be lazered – which means they put the dog to sleep – laser out a strip of flesh – glue the thing, now shortened, back together – wake dog up – stick cone on his head to stop paw and eye contact and make him look a right berk!
When I was told this, and the price! I expounded, “How much?!!!!” and “For what?” Management calmly repeated all of the immediate above, then added, “We do have a responsibility to look after him, you know”
My eyes narrowed as I pointed out that, “The dog does nothing but sleep, we don’t need anesthetic, just tell em to wait five minutes!”
Management said that we needed to be sure he wasn’t awake for the operation.
“I fell over him as he was fast asleep the other night, tipped over the dresser unit, that didn’t even interrupt his snores, let alone wake him up!” I pointed out, somewhat enraged. “So we’re paying some muffin to put the dog to sleep, something he does about twenty times a day, then wake him up, something he’s learned to do completely on his own since day one, and during the intervening time, some guys gonna use a high tech cauterizing iron on his eyelid, which probably runs on a pack of AAA batteries!”
“Yes” said Management, and gave me … The Look (Stage 1 Tactical Mode)
“OK, fine, right, no problem”, said I ..

.“Tails” from the Doghouse 
The Procedure …
Yesterday Barney had his lower eyelid surgically altered as it was irritating his eye. Basically the problem is this, his skin has outgrown his body, so his lower eyelid turned inwards to see what the problem is and where to start in rectifying the issue - in an attempt to make itself fit – or something like that. This type of problem is common in Barnaby’s and has a name, which my nurse friend Pam knows – and told me – and I promptly forgot (Which just goes to prove how bright nurses are and how I’m not!) besides which, semi ordinary people like me don’t talk like that…
So Management and I drove to Brandon at 4 pm to fetch him home. Arriving in a snow covered parking lot, dumped the car and slid into the reception area where we were received (How apt is that!) Moments later we were shown into a small room and minutes later an attractive young lady dressed in scrubs – which doesn’t make them a scrubber apparently – gave us a short lecture over a short finger and threatened to shorten our lives if we cut any of her instructions short. Having given heartfelt assurances that we’d listened, we were reunited with Barnaby, sporting the required XXXXXL head cone! He looked for all the world like someone had gift wrapped his head and all you should do was to put it in a vase with water – in deference to possibly having bits shortened, I restrained myself. Poor wobbly Barnaby, legs splaying, whining for team Canada, he even ignored the “furry white rat” running rampant on a leash and irritatingly inserting itself in the center of things – if you’re in this position yourself, “accidentally” step on a paw, await yelp, then apologize profusely to owner reeling in leash frantically and glaring at me – (maximum points there methinks!)
We ambled off to the car and I lifted the Barnaby front end and gravity gave up and so Barnaby was placed in the rear of the car. We drove home uneventfully. On arrival we decanted, I supporting the front end and gently pulled until gravity paid attention. Barnaby wobbled through the snow till we arrived at the front door, at which point the problems began. Barnaby’s come with a big head anyway, add a couple of feet of cone shaped plastic to the neck and a creature that has no concept of width and you’re going to find that paint removal, spilt coffee mugs on low coffee tables, circular bruises to the legs are all the order of the day.
Stairs are a no-no too, as the first step starts at the top and ends at the bottom, ten feet and thirteen "fallers" (the opposite of stair risers of you’re coming down I should think) probably with various broken limbs (both dog and potted fig tree) in-between.
Barnaby’s initial crash into the door post was repeated twice, once each side, before running headlong into the bottom of the stairs, at which point he gave up and lay down.
Have you ever tried to gently manhandle 130 lbs of totally relaxed dog? It’s like picking up a sack of dog skin, you manhandle one end, and then the body inside slides to the other end, most unhelpful!
By a dint, well more a seriously deep impression really, of hard work we pushed, pulled, lifted and slid the semi-conscious critter across the floor to the rug, whereupon we rolled him onto it. No sooner had we done so that he stood up, wobbled uncertainly to the edge of the rug and fell in a heap on the wooden floor, whining pitifully. We left him to it…
So passed the evening, we watched TV, I say watched because listening to anything, accompanied as it was by not-even-remotely-close-harmony-whining, was out of the question. Bed time and in deference to Barnaby’s inability on stairs, he slept on the rug in front of the TV (off!) and I slept on the sofa, lulled to sleep via Scotch

“Tails” from the Doghouse
First, a Merry Christmas from Barnaby, we know he’s merry as he stuck his tongue in Managements G&T and later in my Scotch and showed every indication of finishing both! 
Barnaby was at the vets last Wednesday for a check up on the eye op result, so naturally he lunged at everything and one and sat nicely on the scale (he actually gained 1 lb) before covering the vet in saliva – I expect they’re used to that kinda thing. 
Following this we encouraged him to leap into the car, some small difficulty here as he has the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel Puppy overdosed on sugar, caffeine and heroin, but eventually he was ensconced. On arrival home he leapt from the car and destroyed the plastic cone he’s been wearing since the op to prevent eye rubbing. Let me tell you, when a Barnaby destroys a cone, he destroys a cone. This is a cone from which all chance of resuscitation has been removed, we’re talking shrapnel here, get it?
So we replaced the dead cone with a sporting new one, which lasted all of ten minutes. On our daily sojourn he wandered under the wire fence, I called him back and ran – head raised - straight into the bottom high tensile wire, with the cone. There was a curious twang followed by a high speed shattering of plastic and the sound of shrapnel hitting our cowering winter coat covered bodies. As one we raised our heads to see a cavorting Barnaby grinning happily at us. I did look to see if it could be repaired, but that would have meant finding all the bits and who lives that long!
Management fretted that he might destroy his eye, I said I’d duct tape a pillow to the side of his head if need be – it hasn’t come to that – yet!
Went to fetch our dog! Seems to have grown since we saw him last week. Can leap house in single bound, clear cats from a room with a single woof! Has aptitude to chase horse until it drops! Barks at TV as I don't think he's seen it before. can look out of all windows except the top ones (which are 12' up!) and can probably take the leg off a Jehovah's Witness before the car doors fully open - I love him!

Ah, yes. Dogs name. well after a week of trolling through something like 30 names ranging from Digby to some kind of half dwarf half vampire thingy we finally settled on
Barney - God knows why but it was either that or The Dog with No Name. They reckon he's about a 1 - 18 months old, I'm thinking he's not that grown up, despite his size and the strength to push cars off the road.
So thanks to all you who made suggestions.

Dog Update; So Management has decreed a name change, from Barney to Barnaby. We took a vote and apparently I agreed. Barnaby is settling, calmed down from the initial burst of mania and we are realizing the importance of training with such a large dog. Luckily Management took our last dog to puppy school so she has a good understanding of the basics, I am learning too.
Friend Pam has given me some seriously good advice and our friend Elisa has given much of the same advice and is really good with him.
This morning we (Barnaby & I) learned to lie down while we're eating. (Oh you know what I mean!) Joy made him sit, then lie and every time he got up, she made him down again, eventually he stayed on the floor while we were eating and was rewarded after being told he could move, with a tasty liver treat (He likes those!)
Later we shall take a leash walk, I've got him in a Martingale and on a lead rope, and he'll be encouraged to walk without pulling or straining during our sojourn around the cemetery. Good place to walk a dog, really quiet there!
Still only letting him run free within the stalag (fenced in back garden), starting work on the guard towers today ....

Update dog: Took our walking berg for a walk, suitably collared and leashed. Was instructed in the art of teaching Barnaby to walk to heel. Simply utter "With me" wait one second or so for response - pull sharply on leash if none - repeat as required. 
By the time we got to the cemetery gates, he's walking alongside me - stop at gate to pee (Barnaby - not Martyn) set off, walk some then call for a halt and ask him to sit (OK, not all it might be but whatever happens, he's notallowed to get up from sit until its "ok'd". More walk, turn 180 and walk other way expecting him to maintain position (mostly!) bring him home and made to sit before unleashing, again only to move once told.
Result was a very pleasing walk for us with no dog tearing up the road with two of us hanging on for dear life!
Sat on the back deck in the sunshine and drank beer (Barnaby drank the black pond water) after that he was made to sit & lie whilst being brushed - removed approximately 1.5 dogs worth of top and bottom coat thanks to Furminator - garden now looks furry! Dog looks sleeker!
He's settled more, and so are we. He's looking at us now and wagging a tail at the sight of us. Still not sure he's responding to his name much but its only been two days!
Was worried about his eating, or not as was the case, today he's been grazing out of the bowl all day, so we happy - judging by the way he tore round on the lawn and savaged a squeaky toy, so's he ...

Tales from the Dog House ...
Barnaby Escapes! I called home the other night from some fog laden center of iniquity to be told the following by Management;
Quote" So I was coming down stairs carrying my jacket, having just got home and changed, when I saw the back end of Barnaby disappearing through the front door, he'd escaped! I slipped into my jacket and tore off after him as he was heading up the lane for the road, shouting Barnaby, Barnaby, to no avail. Before he reached the road he turned left and headed along the top of the bank we keep mown, pursued by a barefooted me! At the end he turned left, away from the road thank god, and set off down thee neighbors drive and through the fence into the field where the cattle are. I followed and scrambled through the electric fence (which was on!) to find Barnaby playing chase with the cattle. More calling of name resulted in more ignoring, then he found something to eat, excess cow I think, so I was able to grab him. I set off hauling him home and when we came to the electric fence, we had to roll under the bottom wire together, it was still on! Eventually we made it back and he was hauled unceremoniously into the house and the door firmly shut. Relief flooded me, so I walked into the bathroom and took down the pants I had been going to wear and put them on - which is what I had been going to do when I walked down the stairs carrying my jacket in the first place!
I have no idea what passing drivers on the road may have thought when they saw the sight of Management tearing across the top of the field pantless - yet one imagines that those that did spy this had a tale to tell at supper that night!

Tales from the DoGhouse ...
This morning, hour unknown, I fell over Barnaby on my way to the bathroom. I swore and pitched up against some piece of furniture that had been carefully positioned right where some fool tripping over a slumbering canine was sure to impact with it. Despite the swearing and crashing both Management and the Barnaby slumbered on.
Later, having dressed and imbibed the requisite amount of caffeine, I bade Barnaby sit while I attached the leash, good boy! Opened the door and narrowly avoided being catapulted by an exiting dog which had spotted the snow. We walked, not pulling, to the cemetery, and in deference to the dead and having thoughtlessly forgotten the poop bags, took to the outside track used by the deer (Who never use poop bags) we walked, fell over downed trees, crept under snow covered branches that always waited for the optimum point before dropping the snow off their branches. The optimum point being the skin located between whats left of the hair and the color of the shirt. Once around the track and walk back, not only no pulling yet hardly a reminder - I was impressed. Once safely back in the stalag, he sat gracefully while I removed leash and then we played in the snow. I made strange growling noises and lunged at him in slow motion, he ran around in circles chewing snow - the long winter evenings will just fly by!
Later I left to get some new tires on the semi, Management reported that Barnaby was racing from window to window whining pitifully for a good ten minutes after i'd left.
Later still I got back, and upon opening the door was treated to a curious sight; Barnaby flung himself across the room, whining to such an extent that I feared I might need to apply WD 40 in copious amounts to stop the squeak! I noted, as I was trapped between the dog and the door, a fascinating sight. The tail was wafting to and fro in a practically a blur, yet as it went left, the butt when right. In response to this and the theory that every action has an opposite and equal reaction, the torso followed the tail,and the head followed the torso. Additionally the head was moving in an up and down motion.
I believe I have just witness the very first attempt by a dog to perfect the 3 D wag ...
Yesterday I had a day off to go to the dentist, for the purposes of extracting a tooth that had snapped off at the gum line. Dentists as a rule don’t really bother me, lie back, shut your eyes, open your mouth and think about something else for ten minutes like a lot of people before me have done - in any number of situations! 
Afterwards, I had to make a stop at the cat food supplier, for the purposes of obtaining pussy biscuits or whatever it is gets thrown in the bowl. I sauntered in and the young lady at the counter enquire what I would like? “Pussy nuts” sez I, “One bag of please” thus showing my attractively blood stained teeth.
She responded, “Which flavour?” ah, Management had failed to instruct me on this aspect, I took a chance. “Well he’s a barn cat so I suppose Rat & Mouse flavour should go down pretty well?” Turns out that no one else had thought of this before, so they didn’t have that one, and she reeled off the ones they had. When she came to “Chicken” I said “That one!”
She then asked if the cat had tried this before as some cats are known to be fussy about their food. I pointed out that this cat survived all summer on mice, rats, gophers and god knows what else but that if it walked, crawled or flew He’d try it. I further stated that a miniature pony has gone missing from the other side of the town and he’s looking quite portly and not a little smug!
“Tail’s from the DogHouse”
One of the little known pleasures of being owned by a dog, is the endearing little character traits they exhibit from time to time. Since we bought Barnaby into our lives, he’s displayed an awesome interest in geology, this “interest” is not, as one might think, the exhumation of earth in a spirited escape attempt from the stalag, more the inhumation of anything given to him. Some examples are, rawhide chew (inhumed near the deck steps) dental bone, or at least half of it anyway, (inhumed near the rhubarb remains) and a squeaky toy, inhumed at some as yet unknown location but quite possibly under the “giant molehill” that appeared mysteriously that same day!)
Earlier this week, Management suffered from either flu, or a cold with flu like symptoms, and was forced to stay home. On Wednesday, feeling better, she was working from home and Barnaby was proving to be somewhat of a distraction. Opening the freezer, she selected – The Bone! This thing had once supported some kind of giant cow or was a particularly well preserved brontosaurus leg, either way, you get the idea. Barnaby reacted to this with interest (see above!) yet being incarcerated within the inner jail (house) he was unable to access the stalag for the purposes of inhumation. Being a resourceful type of being, he devised a solution, and was but a short time later back in the office, sans – The Bone, and looking mighty smug.
At some point later, Management headed from the office and past the spare room door, which stood ajar. (You can see where this is going, can’t you?) Far from the orderliness of neat comforter, Management was made uncomfortable by the disorder that was now evident and peeling back the comforter revealed – The Bone, which was inhumed in, by now, bloody sheets surrounded by paw prints. Laundry day came early this week …