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Remembering birthdays, celebrating lives...
(permalink)

Published Sunday, February 02, 2014 @ 6:25 AM EST
Feb 02 2014

In the depressing gloom and cold of mid-winter, February 2 is an important day, and I'm not talking about some farcical ceremony involving a large rodent or steroid-enhanced millionaires giving each other concussions.

Had they lived...

Eva Cassidy would have been 51...


(YouTube video: Eva Cassidy, "Fields of Gold")

My dog Beanie would have been 20...

And my dad, Raymond Francis Barkes, would have been 90. Here he is with my son Doug, watching airplanes at the Allegheny County Airport in 1977. It's a sobering thought that I'm six years older than my father was when this photo was taken. He died in October, 1994.

I'm sad they're no longer here, but I'm glad they were in my life.

I haven't "lost" them; they're with me all the time. And memories are like fine wine. They improve with age.


Categories: Dogs, Eva Cassidy, KGB Family, Passages


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Christmas Eve
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Published Tuesday, December 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM EST
Dec 24 2013

Riley has visions of sugarplums dancing in his head.

Sassy knows the fat guy with the beard
will give her cookies.

And maybe Santa will, too!

Merry Christmas from Kevin, Cindy,
and all the furry minions.


Categories: Christmas, Dogs, Holidays, KGB Family


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Lady Lucia
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Published Tuesday, December 17, 2013 @ 5:25 PM EST
Dec 17 2013

We said goodbye to Lucy (Lady Lucia) today, less than two months from her 16th birthday.

Since March 4- when she developed focal seizures- our schedule was pretty much dictated by her.

When Lucy decided it was time to wake up, we woke up. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've slept past 6:30 am in the past ten months.

The household schedule was arranged so that someone was always around at 9 am and 9 pm to administer her seizure medication. And we never left her alone for more than four hours.

From 7 pm to about 10 pm, her place was on the living room couch, where she'd watch tv and snooze. When she thought it was time to go to bed, we went to bed. And the next day, we'd do it all over again.

Things changed on Sunday. She didn't want to eat, and was only mildly interested in the cheese in which we wrapped her drugs. She spent the entire day under my desk. Her occasional excursions to survey the back yard stopped.

Yesterday she stopped drinking water and making her bathroom trips.

This morning, she woke us up at 4:30 am. I took her downstairs and put her out in the yard with the other dogs. Instead of her usual morning constitutional- walking the perimeter of the yard, inspecting the fence- she laid down in the snow at the end of the patio and didn't move. She didn't even correct the Shih Tzu puppy when the little one started barking at her and licking her face.

I picked her up and brought her inside. She sat stoically next to my chair, her old, cloudy eyes unfocused and yet looking at something. I said her name, softly. She wagged her tail, but her gaze remained steady.

I'd seen that intent, focused stare before, and my heart sank. She was concentrating on the next place, her destination. And it was time.

She was quiet during the car ride. She wagged her tail when the lady in the white coat entered the room.

She gave us sloppy kisses. Her mom held her close, and, with a relieved sigh, we felt her leave.

-----

Dogs' lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.

When you have dogs, you witness their uncomplaining acceptance of suffering, their bright desire to make the most of life in spite of the limitations of age and disease, their calm awareness of the approaching end when their final hours come. They accept death with a grace that I hope I will one day be brave enough to muster.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family, Passages


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Chinese Sheltie
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Published Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ 6:28 AM EST
Dec 12 2013

Sassy and Riley want me to tell the Shih Tzu puppy she's not really a Chinese Sheltie, but we're not going to break it to her until she's a bit older...


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Cleaning off the desktop
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Published Sunday, November 17, 2013 @ 11:04 AM EST
Nov 17 2013

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Son Douglas and granddaughter Joelle enjoy a quiet Sunday morning.

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WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released its first smartphone app, a free program that allows consumers to measure the broadband speed they are getting on their mobile devices and to determine whether it is as fast as wireless companies say.
 
Gee, wonder what else it can do?

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A group of eleventh graders from Homestead High School, Homestead, PA, in the fall of 1969. Believe it or not, I'm one of them.

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This past Friday, November 15, marked the start of my 23rd year of residence here at Dr. Barkes' 3-D House of Shedding Fur and Domestic Bliss, which has, since those halcyon days of the early 90s, sheltered scores of fish, eleven dogs, four cats, and three pairs of children, grandchildren, and spouses. And that's just the interior.

Positioned as we are next a wooded area bordering a 3,000 acre county park, there's an endless parade of indigenous fauna. They effortlessly ignore the fence surrounding the back yard as they go about their daily routines. Some actively reside within its confines. I see deer almost daily, and groundhogs, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and skunks from April through November.

Surprisingly, I had never encountered a raccoon until last week. It did not end well.

The dogs were frantically barking at the far end of the yard. They had the poor little fella surrounded.

When you see a raccoon during the day, there's something amiss. This guy was, fortunately, sitting quietly and not responding to the two adult shelties and one shih tzu puppy surrounding him. I got the dogs back into the house and quickly checked them out. They had no bite marks or scratches, which was a relief. While they all are current on their rabies vaccinations, they would still have had to be quarantined if they had been bitten. Relieved, I called the township and within ten minutes a personable South Park police officer arrived.

"This doesn't look good," the officer said as we approached the animal. "A healthy raccoon would run away from us." He picked up a fallen branch and gently poked the raccoon in the side. No reaction. The officer sighed, took out his can of pepper spray, and delivered a short blast. The raccoon slowly turned his back to us, but otherwise didn't move.

"Do you have a couple plastic garbage bags and a shovel?" he asked. I nodded. "Please get them."

I walked back up the yard. Halfway to the house, I heard the discharge. I returned and the officer bagged the small, inert form. It was clean shot at point blank range. The little guy hadn't felt a thing.

It was a series of firsts: first raccoon, first police officer in the back yard, first firearm on the property. The first, and, I sincerely hope, the last.

Vaya con Dios, pequeño mapache.


Categories: Animals, Cleaning off the desktop, Dogs, Miscellany


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First snow
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Published Tuesday, November 12, 2013 @ 3:38 PM EST
Nov 12 2013

Pixie, the six-month old small, Ewokish, dog-like creature my wife rescued a few months ago, encounters snow for the first time.

The shelties teach her that it tastes good.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Anniversary
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Published Monday, October 28, 2013 @ 6:07 AM EDT
Oct 28 2013

(Originally published on October 28, 2009. Hard to believe it's been five years- and I still miss her.)



I've written a half-dozen eulogies for pets and friends over the years. It's the first anniversary of Beanie's death, and I find I still can't write one for her.

Perhaps it's because she's still here. There are three pictures of her on the wall in front of my desk. A box with her vet records sits next to the filing cabinet. Her ashes are in a drawer less than two feet from me.

Ours wasn't a verbal relationship, anyway. We spent hours walking the paths in South Park. We'd share a white pizza with bacon on the living room floor and listen to '70s music. I'd fall asleep on the floor and wake up with her beside me, the thump of her tail welcoming me to consciousness before my eyes had focused.

I won't recount the details of those instances in the past year when I felt something warm at my feet and looked down to see an empty floor. Or felt a wet nose and warm breath on my ear as I drove past the paths we walked in the park, despite the car's empty back seat. Or the dreams of her walking on a leaf-covered trail, not looking back, pausing occasionally to allow me to catch up.

When it's time for me to join her, our ashes will be commingled and scattered in the woods next to that trail. Then it will be someone else's chore to produce the appropriate words.

We'll have other things to occupy us, and all the time we didn't have here.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Sigh.
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Published Thursday, September 19, 2013 @ 6:02 AM EDT
Sep 19 2013

I was in the middle of trying to figure out why a recursive function wasn't recursing, when my wife called me upstairs.

She was in the living room, holding a ball of matted fur. With eyes. And a tail, wagging. Furiously.

One of her son's clients was going into a personal care home. The woman had suffered a stroke a week after adopting the Shih Tzu puppy Cindy cradled in her arms. An older Shih Tzu the infirm woman owned had found a new home, but this four-month old had not been so fortunate.

"They haven't been able to find anyone to take her," my wife said.

"And if this sweet, innocent puppy that looks like something you fished out of the sink trap in the bathroom goes to the pound, it will be on your head, you heartless bastard."

To be fair, she didn't actually say that. That was the part of my brain that had just clubbed insensate the other part- the one saying "Swell. You now have three Shetland Sheepdogs, two cats, and a mutant Ewok."

I named her Pixie, after the mythical creatures who are, according to Wikipedia, "generally benign, mischievous, short of stature and attractively childlike." Insert your David Spade joke here.

We got her in to the nearest vet office, and the report was better than expected; 7 pounds, 7 ounces; good health aside from an umbilical hernia that will be corrected when she's spayed; a few fleas; some sores from her scratching off bows some idiot groomer had glued to her head; and incredibly matted hair. Until her grooming appointment, I've been using my beard trimmer- it's battery powered, and makes less puppy-scaring noise- to remove the worst areas.

I'm just afraid that once we get all the hair removed, we'll discover she's really a guinea pig.

The three Shelties think she's a puppy. We believe this because Lucy, the 15-year-old queen of the household, just sat there when Pixie got in her face and started aggressively smelling the older dog.

The cats... well, they don't know what the hell she is. Pixie's three pounds lighter and several inches smaller than Pumpkin, the "evil" cat who does not like changes in the environment. The feline watched intently as I trimmed the puppy yesterday morning. I got the impression Pumpkin thought I was engaged in the moral equivalent of chicken plucking.

So, the cat and the puppy will remain under enhanced surveillance. Especially between mealtimes.


Pixie surveys the area.


Riley watches as Pixie explores the back yard.


Riley demonstrates the mien and posture of a true herding dog.
Pixie, not so much.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Queen of the realm
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Published Wednesday, September 04, 2013 @ 10:46 AM EDT
Sep 04 2013

Lady Lucia (aka Lucy) watches as Dad cuts the grass. It's good to be the queen.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Crash
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Published Monday, September 02, 2013 @ 12:53 PM EDT
Sep 02 2013

Riley is taking it easy this Labor Day. You should, too.


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day


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Photo of the day
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Published Wednesday, August 14, 2013 @ 9:36 AM EDT
Aug 14 2013


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day


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Mutt's Day
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Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 @ 7:18 AM EDT
Jul 31 2013

Jellybean Louise
"Beanie"
(2/2/1995-10/28/2008)

Today is Mutt's Day, a celebration of mixed-breed canines.

Here's one the greatest ones I've ever known.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Bunny dash
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Published Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 3:34 AM EDT
Jul 29 2013

(YouTube video: Bunny Dash)

It's probably because 15-year-old Lucy's vision, hearing, and sense of smell aren't what they used to be, but I like to think she doesn't mind sharing the yard with the bunny that lives in the tallgrass stand. After the rabbit ran away, Lucy took no notice; she just continued her twice daily inspection of the back yard and reported in that everything was fine, and that it was time for me to carry her upstairs to watch television on the couch, and to wait for her 9 pm cheese-and-phenobarbital treat.


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Video, YouTube


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You are being watched. Might as well enjoy it.
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Published Thursday, July 25, 2013 @ 11:41 PM EDT
Jul 25 2013

In light of the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal, CBS' science fiction series Person of Interest now more closely resembles a reality show:

While not quite as memorable as "Space... the final frontier," the series' opening voice over provides a pretty good summary of the premise:

"You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything... violent crimes involving ordinary people. The government considers these people 'irrelevant'. We don't. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up... we'll find you".

From the Wikipedia article on the show:

John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former Green Beret and CIA field officer, is living as a derelict in New York City after the death of the woman he loves, and is presumed dead. He is approached by Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), a reclusive billionaire computer genius who is living under an assumed identity. Finch explains that after September 11, 2001, he built a computer system for the government that uses information gleaned from omnipresent surveillance to predict future terrorist attacks. However, Finch discovered that the computer was predicting ordinary crimes as well. The government is not interested in these results, but Finch is determined to stop the predicted crimes. He hires Reese to conduct surveillance and intervene as needed, using his repertoire of skills gained in the military and the CIA. Through a back door built into the system, Finch receives the Social Security number of someone who will be involved in an imminent crime, at which point he contacts Reese. Without knowing what the crime will be, when it will occur, or even if the person they were alerted to is a victim or perpetrator, Reese and Finch must try to stop the crime from occurring.

They are helped by NYPD Detectives Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), a corrupt officer whom Reese coerces into helping them, and Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), who in early episodes investigates Reese for his vigilante activities. Although Reese arranges for Carter and Fusco to be partners in the NYPD early in the first season, neither learns that the other is also working with Finch and Reese until season two.

Periodically, the team also enlists the aid of Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco), a professional "fixer" who applies her skills to particularly difficult tasks. The series features several subplots. One significant story arc involves "HR", an organization of corrupt NYPD officers in league with budding mob boss Carl Elias (Enrico Colantoni); in the course of this arc Fusco is forced to go undercover. Another important storyline revolves around Root (Amy Acker), a psychopathic female hacker who is determined to gain access to the Machine; she asserts the device is actually God, and that she has been summoned by "her."

Ah, The Machine...

The Machine is a mass surveillance computer system programmed to monitor and analyze data from surveillance cameras, electronic communications, and audio input throughout the world. From this data, the Machine accurately predicts violent acts. Under control of the U.S. Government, its stated purpose is the identification of terrorist and their planned assaults. However, the Machine detects future violent acts of all kinds, not just terrorism. Unknown to Finch, his partner, Nathan Ingram, installed a routine called "Contingency" prior to delivering the system to the government. The covert software causes the machine to also act on non-terrorist crime. Finch is appalled that Ingram has the data sent directly to him. After Finch fails to prevent Ingram's computer-predicted murder, he further modifies the system so that "irrelevant" non-terrorism data is transmitted to him in the form of social security numbers, via coded messages over a public telephone.

Over the course of each episode, the viewer periodically sees events as a Machine-generated on-screen display of data about a character or characters: identification, activities, records, and more may be displayed. The viewer also sees a Machine-generated perspective as it monitors New York. Commercial flights are outlined by green triangles, red concentric circles indicate no-fly zones around tall buildings, and dashed boxes mark individual people. The Machine classifies the people it watches by color-coding the boxes: white for no threat or an irrelevant threat; red for perceived threats to the Machine, red-and-white for individuals predicted to be violent; and yellow for people who know about the machine, including Finch, Reese, Ingram, Corwin and Root. The white-boxed "irrelevant threat" targets include the Persons of Interest that Reese and Finch assist.

As the series progressed, a wider governmental conspiracy emerged. Known as "The Program", it revolves around the development and utilization of the Machine. Apparently led by a mysterious figure known only as "Control", an unnamed official (Jay O. Sanders) from the Office of Special Counsel begins eliminating key personnel who are aware of the Machine's existence by deploying teams of Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) operatives who believe they are acting to eliminate perceived terrorist threats on the recommendation of a department known as "Research". The members of the elimination teams are classified by the Machine using a blue box.

Person's producers have hinted the third season of the hit series, which moves to a new day and slot (Tuesdays at 10 pm, premiering on September 24) will attempt to be more, er, science fiction-y. Like all television shows, Person does have some reality-bending elements, but the suspension of disbelief level required is remarkably low. The bad guys are still lousy shots, and the key characters make miraculous recoveries from concussions, lethal injections and various forms of physical trauma, often before the show's end credits roll. But hey, it's episodic broadcast television, right?

Where the show excels is in production values and technical accuracy. While Mr. Finch's technology boasts features which are a couple software releases in the future, the indulgences can be forgiven. The show's cellular phone networks, computers, and other devices work at blinding speed. But when you have to shoehorn a rich narrative into 40 minutes of actual episode time, you really don't want to watch systems execute communication protocol negotiations in real time; trust me.

Particularly impressive is the effort the show puts into elements that have perhaps a second or two of screen time. Thanks to high definition and digital video recording, I've been able to freeze frame some of the monitor shots- and it's obvious these guys have some real-world Unix and TCP/IP knowledge. A one-second blip of a phony newspaper article reveals someone actually wrote a faux news story and, apparently, follows The AP Stylebook.

Other one-hour drama series spend eight days or less to film an episode. Person of Interest spends nine and a half, with more camera coverage, extensive location shooting, and substantial post-production work.

They spend money on this show, and it's all up on the screen. The episodes have a decided theatrical motion picture feel.

So... when planning your television viewing for the upcoming season, give Person a shot. Like certain other Warner Brothers shows, the studio hasn't made it available for free, on-demand viewing- you have to buy the DVDs or download the show from iTunes.

Just type CBS Person of Interest into Google and you'll find hundreds of useful fan sites and video clips from key episodes.

One caveat- the series is produced by J.J. Abrams of Lost fame, which means there's a chance that at some point the whole thing could take a sharp turn into stupidity. But, based on the first two seasons, it's worth the risk.

And, the regular cast includes a dog:


Categories: Amy Acker, CBS, Computers, Dogs, Edward Snowden, Enrico Colantoni, George Orwell, Google, Internet, James Clapper, Jay O. Sanders, Jim Caviezel, Kevin Chapman, Michael Emerson, NSA, Paige Turco, Peggy Noonan, Person of Interest, PRISM, Ron Wyden, Science Fiction, Signs of the Apocalypse, Taraji P. Henson, Technology, Terrorism, The Machine, TV, Video, YouTube


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Monday
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Published Monday, July 22, 2013 @ 6:27 AM EDT
Jul 22 2013

When you're a Sheltie and over 15 years old, your primary responsibility is making certain you get enough rest. Even on Monday morning, Lucy has it covered.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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I really need to cut the grass.
(permalink)

Published Monday, July 01, 2013 @ 9:24 AM EDT
Jul 01 2013

"Hey, Dad! I think I found Jimmy Hoffa!"


Categories: Animals, Dogs, KGB


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Monday
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Published Monday, June 24, 2013 @ 4:37 AM EDT
Jun 24 2013

The very bright full moon, shining through a small opening in the bedroom blinds, has convinced our oldest dog that it's time to get get up.

And when the alpha female says it's time to get up, it's time to get up...


Categories: Dogs


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Kaiser
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Published Tuesday, June 04, 2013 @ 9:39 AM EDT
Jun 04 2013

Kaiser, a 30 month old German Shepherd canine officer for the Plymouth, Massachusetts Police Department, was euthanized last Friday due to the ravaging effects of severe liver and kidney disease.

Kaiser's handler, Jamie LeBretton, had announced last Wednesday that his partner had retired from the force that day. He sadly noted a ceremony at Angel View Pet Cemetery would follow Kaiser's final trip to the Court Street Animal Hospital.

Honor guard

Kaiser was met by a silent, respectful group of his fellow officers, who stood at attention and saluted him as he followed his partner and friend.

Partners

"I feel privileged to have had a front row seat to witness his bravery and heroic actions while serving the people of Plymouth and my brothers and sisters in blue," Officer LeBretton said. "Although his career was short-lived, he made a huge impact that will never be forgotten."

The Plymouth Police Department depends upon contributions from the public to operate and maintain its K-9 unit. Please consider making a donation online here, or send a check to:

Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation
20 Long Pond Road
Plymouth MA 02360
Attn: Marc Higgins

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The fidelity of a Dog is a precious gift, demanding no less binding moral responsibilities than the friendship of a Human Being. The bond with a True Dog is as lasting as the ties of this Earth will ever be.
-Konrad Lorenz

Sources: Top photo, Old Colony Memorial on Facebook. Bottom photo, Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation. Facebook page. (Photos were cropped and processed for this web page's display requirements).


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Passages


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More human than you thought
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Published Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 6:10 AM EDT
Apr 22 2013

Each morning, like clockwork, they board the subway, off to begin their daily routine amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

But these aren't just any daily commuters. These are stray dogs who live in the outskirts of Moscow Russia and commute on the underground trains to and from the city centre in search of food scraps.

Then after a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.

Experts studying the dogs, who usually choose the quietest carriages at the front and back of the train, say they even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop – after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train.

Scientists believe this phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia’s new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs.

Dr Andrei Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, said: "These complexes were used by homeless dogs as shelters, so the dogs had to move together with their houses. Because the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the subway – to get to the centre in the morning, then back home in the evening, just like people."

Dr Poiarkov told how the dogs like to play during their daily commute. He said: "They jump on the train seconds before the doors shut, risking their tails getting jammed. They do it for fun. And sometimes they fall asleep and get off at the wrong stop."

The dogs have also amazingly learned to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, said Dr Poiarkov. And they use cunning tactics to obtain tasty morsels of shawarma, a kebab-like snack popular in Moscow.

With children the dogs "play cute" by putting their heads on youngsters’ knees and staring pleadingly into their eyes to win sympathy – and scraps.

Dr Poiarkov added: "Dogs are surprisingly good psychologists."

Click here for the original story.


Categories: Dogs


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No problem...
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Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013 @ 8:57 AM EDT
Apr 10 2013

Our 15-year-old Sheltie, Lucy, has a tendency to snore. Our 16-year-old cat, Pumpkin, applies a practical solution.


Categories: Cats, Dogs, KGB Family


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A case of the Mondays
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Published Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 6:24 AM EDT
Mar 25 2013

No matter how bad your Monday morning is, odds are you didn't have to wade through belly-deep snow in order to pee. There's about five inches of snow out there now and it's still coming down. Late March snows really aren't that unusual, and we get an average of 1.5" in April. And on May 9, 1966, we got 3.1 inches. So quit complaining.


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Weather


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Cruel and unusual
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Published Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 8:47 AM EDT
Mar 15 2013

I'd prefer waterboarding or fingernail removal.


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day, WTF?


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The upside is...
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Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 9:10 AM EDT
Mar 13 2013

...that I had seven consecutive hours of sleep last night.

Since she started phenobarbital therapy for her focal seizures a little over a week ago, Lucy, our 15-year-old Sheltie, has had disrupted sleep patterns. Her active hours have been 2-4 pm and- unfortunately- 2-4 am. Because of her drug-induced confusion and ataxia, we had to make certain we were awake when she was so that she wouldn't injure herself.

She finally appears to be acclimating to the drug. She was more active yesterday, more alert, and she actually barked at me to let her out.

Last night we took all the dogs up to the bedroom and gated them in. I settled Lucy on the floor and she was out in under a minute. I followed soon after.

When the alarm went off this morning, she was in the exact position I had left her. As I crawled out of bed, she sat up, looked at me, and wagged her tail.

The normal morning constitutional followed- a trip outside, breakfast, another trip outside- then upstairs to spend the day with Cindy while I went to work.

The downside? Well, aside from this brief update, that's all I got for today. The sleep deprivation had fuzzed my brain as much as hers, and I'm finally sharp enough to jump back into a major programming effort.

Talk among yourselves. See you tomorrow.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Guardian kitty
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Published Friday, March 08, 2013 @ 8:08 AM EST
Mar 08 2013

It's not unusual for me to wake up to discover Pumpkin, our 16-year-old black cat, asleep on my back.

But at 2:30 this morning, she wasn't sleeping. She was yelling in my ear while simultaneously embedding a single claw in my right arm.

Not enough to draw blood, but it certainly got my attention.

Once I sat up in bed and found my glasses, I saw her at the bedroom door. She yelled at me again, circled twice, then disappeared. I heard her bounding down the steps and into the kitchen.

I followed her and discovered our 15-year-old Sheltie, Lucy, lying next to the door leading to the cellar, beneath the child gate we put there to keep her from attempting to navigate the steps.

Lucy developed focal seizures this past Monday, and the phenobarbital that controls her condition has also knocked her for a loop. Until she becomes acclimated to the drug, the medication-induced ataxia has turned her into a friendly little Scottish drunk.

My guess is she decided she needed to go out, headed for the steps,and didn't notice the gate. When it fell on her, she decided she'd just lie there and sleep it off.

The stairs weren't blocked, so Pumpkin could have made it to the litter box with no problem. No ulterior motive- there's no doubt she knew her friend was in trouble and determined she needed someone with opposable thumbs to handle the situation.

Once I extricated Lucy and took her down to my office to spend the remainder of the night, Pumpkin positioned herself on a shelf under my desk unit, where she could watch the dog's inert form. She moved only when Lucy got up and started wandering around. The cat would sit down in front of Lucy, halting her progress. The dog would then lie down, give Pumpkin a wet kiss on the face and then pass out again.

I'm a definite dog person. But I have to admit, I'm starting to become rather impressed by felines as well.


Categories: Cats, Dogs, KGB Family


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Stoned, but hanging in there
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Published Wednesday, March 06, 2013 @ 4:29 AM EST
Mar 06 2013

The first day of seizure-inhibiting phenobarbital treatment really zonked her out, and she's still kinda stoned and shaky, but Lucy ate all her breakfast, had a long drink of water, did her business, and made her daily inspection of the back yard.

I'm not sure she even realized it snowed last night but hey, haven't we all had mornings like that?

The other two dogs and the two cats spent the night with me in my office. Lucy was the only one who really got any sleep. The lesser mammals are now all unconscious under my desk, while I have to spend the next eight to ten hours writing a MacroSPITBOL function definition to create, name, and populate multiple table structures at runtime.

That phenobarb is looking mighty attractive...


Categories: Animals, Cats, Dogs, KGB Family, Photo of the day


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Sigh.
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Published Tuesday, March 05, 2013 @ 6:37 AM EST
Mar 05 2013

Lady Lucia (Lucy), the eldest of our Shelties, turned 15 last month. We've been wincing for the past year or so, wondering where the Geriatric Wheel of Misfortune would stop.

And the "winner" is- focal seizures. She started having 30-second episodes every 15 minutes or so last night.

She appears to be responding well to the anti-seizure medication. We'll probably be bringing her home today.

Fortunately, being an old curmudgeon has its benefits. I'm familiar with involuntary snarling and drooling.

And Lucy is one tough little broad. She keeps all the lesser mammals in line around here, and all she asks in return is to spend the evenings snoozing next to me on the couch.

The only difference tonight will be that we'll both be on meds.


Categories: Animals, Dogs, KGB Family


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Ramblings
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Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 @ 1:27 PM EST
Feb 26 2013

I imagine our Shelties all would have Scottish accents if they could speak, and Lucy, the oldest, would sound just like Deborah Kerr in the original Casino Royale.

They should just create a "Best Quentin Tarantino Film" category and be done with it.

How can you not like an Oscars show with two Captain Kirks?

I wish Spielberg had won best director. How great would it have been for him to talk too long and to have the Jaws music start..

The Pope's tweets come from an Apple device, which is kind of funny when you think about it...

Since I'm not a fan, I was a bit apprehensive about Seth McFarland hosting the Oscars. His performance reminded me of Calvin Trillin's suggested state motto for New Jersey: "Not as bad as you might have expected."

"Why Seth MacFarlane's Oscars were mean spirited and misogynistic, coming up next after our review of the worst dressed women."
-@Crutnacker

Totally unrelated: It turns out Person of Interest is more of a documentary...


Categories: Apple, Calvin Trillin, Dogs, Jaws, Nova (PBS), Observations, Oscars, Person of Interest, Quentin Tarantino, Religion, Seth McFarlane, Star Trek, Steven Spielberg, Video, YouTube


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Meme of the day
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Published Wednesday, February 06, 2013 @ 7:20 AM EST
Feb 06 2013


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Meme of the day


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What can I say?
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Published Saturday, January 26, 2013 @ 7:55 AM EST
Jan 26 2013

I like dogs in snow pictures. Here Riley and Sassy try to figure out why I'm pointing that flashy clicky thing at them instead of rolling in the three and a half inches we got from yesterday's clipper system.


Categories: Dogs, Weather


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Canine semantics
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Published Saturday, January 05, 2013 @ 12:46 AM EST
Jan 05 2013


Charles Barsotti in The New Yorker


Categories: Cartoons, Dogs, The New Yorker


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Karma
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Published Friday, January 04, 2013 @ 1:42 AM EST
Jan 04 2013


Categories: Dogs, Miscellany, Observations


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Christmas is...
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Published Sunday, December 23, 2012 @ 4:33 AM EST
Dec 23 2012

Kids, dogs, and snow. Granddaugter Lea and her best bud Bella enjoy the precipitation up north near Tionesta.

.


Categories: Christmas, Dogs, Holidays, KGB Family


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Quote of the day
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Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 12:12 AM EST
Dec 12 2012

"Old men miss many dogs."-Steve Allen

Skippy and PeeWee, circa 1970. Thanks for the photo, Mom.


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family, Quotes of the day


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Weather Sheltie
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Published Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 7:17 AM EST
Nov 24 2012

"Aye, Dad- there be a wee bit o' snoo..."


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day, Weather


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It's official
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Published Wednesday, November 07, 2012 @ 5:37 PM EST
Nov 07 2012

(Credit: The Onion)


Categories: Dogs, Elections, The Onion


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Grandpa got run over by a reindeer
(permalink)

Published Monday, November 05, 2012 @ 6:01 AM EST
Nov 05 2012

More accurately, a regular deer.

I let the dogs out Friday night and about a minute later heard them barking frantically.

I ran out to the back yard, but couldn't see them; the sound was coming from behind a stand of seven foot tallgrass that obscured my view. As I got nearer, I saw a flash of brown and white, much larger than a Sheltie, headed directly at me at high speed.

I started turning to get out of the way, but wasn't fast enough- the doe collided with me at full speed. Strictly on the basis of mass, I should have been the winner- but she was going full tilt bozo and delivered a substantial if glancing blow as she shot past me and bounded over the fence.

I was spun in a vector and at a velocity totally inappropriate for someone of my age and decrepitude. To my credit, I somehow managed to stay on my feet. My immediate feeling was relief (my body had not yet determined the precise location and intensity of the pain it was going to begin relentlessly transmitting to my brain).

Then I looked down.

There stood three Shetland sheepdogs with expressions ranging from pity to disgust. I could almost hear their disparaging comments concerning my absymal herding abilities. "We chased it right to you, Dad. You're bigger! You have opposable thumbs! You let it go right by you! We were looking forward to something other than dry kibble!"

The ring of pain pulsing around my pelvic girdle can be numbed with NSAIDs. But it's going to take a lot of pizza crusts slipped under the table to regain my true alpha standing with the rest of the pack.

At least they didn't tell the cats.


Categories: Animals, Dogs, KGB


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Photo of the day
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Published Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:13 AM EDT
Oct 19 2012

You've heard of the wolf spider, but how about the spider wolf?


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Holidays, Photo of the day, WTF?


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Observation of the day
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Published Monday, September 17, 2012 @ 7:25 AM EDT
Sep 17 2012


Categories: Dogs, Observations


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Misty
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Published Tuesday, September 04, 2012 @ 1:14 PM EDT
Sep 04 2012


Michelle's Cinnamon Mist
"Misty"
August 23, 1999 - September 4, 2012

One of the greatest gifts we receive from dogs is the tenderness they evoke in us. The disappointments of life, the injustices, the battering events that are beyond our control, and the betrayals we endure, from those we befriended and loved, can make us cynical and turn our hearts into flint– on which only the matches of anger and bitterness can be struck into flame. By their delight in being with us, the reliable sunniness of their disposition, the joy they bring to playtime, the curiosity with which they embrace each new experience, dogs can melt cynicism, and sweeten the bitter heart.

No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish- consciously or unconsciously- that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.

Dogs' lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.

When you have dogs, you witness their uncomplaining acceptance of suffering, their bright desire to make the most of life in spite of the limitations of age and disease, their calm awareness of the approaching end when their final hours come. They accept death with a grace that I hope I will one day be brave enough to muster.
-Dean Koontz


Categories: Dean Koontz, Dogs, KGB Family, Passages


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End of the week clearance
(permalink)

Published Saturday, September 01, 2012 @ 8:55 AM EDT
Sep 01 2012

Stuff that caught my eye this week:

Of course, the new Eastwood meme:

Other politics:

Family:


My son Doug and my daughter-in-law Angela

Cute animals:

Family and cute animals::


Bella keeps a stiff upper lip as she prepares to watch my granddaughter Leanna depart for the first day of fourth grade.

Miscellany:


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Curiosity Mars Lander Team visits the cast of The Big Bang Theory:


Categories: Animals, Barack Obama, Clint Eastwood, Dogs, Hypocrisy, KGB Family, Mitt Romney, NASA, Politics, WTF?


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If I had a Queen, I'd want it to be Elizabeth...
(permalink)

Published Friday, July 27, 2012 @ 10:49 PM EDT
Jul 27 2012

YouTube video of James Bond escorting Queen Elizabeth
to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics.
With Corgis!


Categories: Daniel Craig, Dogs, James Bond, Olympics, Queen Elizabeth, TV, Video, YouTube


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Photo of the day
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Published Thursday, July 19, 2012 @ 7:07 AM EDT
Jul 19 2012

"We're on a mission from Dog."


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day


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Have a happy Independence Day
(permalink)

Published Wednesday, July 04, 2012 @ 9:10 AM EDT
Jul 04 2012

Put on a hat. Run around in the grass. Pursue happiness.


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Holidays, Photo of the day


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Smart puppies.
(permalink)

Published Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 9:04 PM EDT
Jun 26 2012

Dogs are smart. I used to tell the shelties "hush, puppies" to quiet them. Today I meant to say "shush." but said "shoes" instead. They immediately quit barking. Tomorrow I'm going to try "stilettos."


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family


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Photo of the day
(permalink)

Published Friday, June 22, 2012 @ 5:42 PM EDT
Jun 22 2012


Categories: Cats, Dogs, Photo of the day


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Photo of the day
(permalink)

Published Thursday, June 21, 2012 @ 7:39 PM EDT
Jun 21 2012


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day, Snrk


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Unfair
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Published Sunday, June 10, 2012 @ 12:51 PM EDT
Jun 10 2012

The dog on the floor gets the air conditioning vent. The dog on the couch gets the fan. The cat contemplates the unfairness of it all.


Categories: Cats, Dogs


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Photo of the day
(permalink)

Published Saturday, June 09, 2012 @ 12:18 PM EDT
Jun 09 2012


Categories: Animals, Dogs, Photo of the day


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Remember our troops
(permalink)

Published Monday, May 28, 2012 @ 9:49 AM EDT
May 28 2012

Making the world safe for democracy. And puppies.


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day


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Woof.
(permalink)

Published Sunday, May 20, 2012 @ 8:17 AM EDT
May 20 2012


Categories: Dogs, WTF?


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