Jesse died this morning

March 6, 2009 at 9:34 am | Posted in Dogs, Family, Jesse | 8 Comments



My Exciting Saturday Night (with video)

November 29, 2008 at 11:09 pm | Posted in Dogs, Jesse | 4 Comments

I put an update on Jesse’s condition at the end of the post- he’s doing really well. He’s still in the hospital though and I spent part of my Saturday night visiting him. I brought him some of his food from home (which he ate- a very good sign) and a stuffed frog toy. This particular toy is his all-time favorite and I always have at least one new one on hand. He’ll keep the toy intact for anywhere from a few minutes to a few months. It seems to be totally random. However, there is always a point when he decides it’s time to rip the toy open, find the squeaker and remove all of the stuffing from inside the toy. I take away the squeaker, throw away the stuffing and give him back the carcass which he plays with for months. He had an intact frog when we left NJ that got ripped open sometime in the last two weeks. It’s pretty pitiful looking and I didn’t want to seem any stranger than I probably already do to the hospital staff, so I chose to bring him a brand new one rather than bring the carcass in for him to play with (even though he would have loved the carcass). Come to think of it, most people I tell about the carcass think I’m strange for just calling it that. Continue Reading My Exciting Saturday Night (with video)…

Going into Debt

November 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm | Posted in Dogs, Jesse | Leave a comment

I have to admit that I haven’t been very patient or understanding about most of the complaints I have heard/read in the news related to the mortgage crisis While some of the stories I have heard have been from people who sound like they were genuinely mislead, most were not. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point I completely lost my patience. Was it the people who were complaining about having to default on an investment property they bought that suddenly was worth half of what they chose to pay for it during the height of the housing boom? People who bought houses with no money down, a monthly payment they could barely afford and an adjustable rate mortgage assuming they would have increases in their income sufficient to cover the increase in their monthly mortgage? Something else? Whatever the cause was, my patience went out the window long ago and the “rescue”/bailout of the financial industry has bothered me for quite some time.

I’m just not comfortable with large amounts of personal debt and it seems that my definition of “acceptable” debt is very different from most of my peers (both in amount and type of debt). In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that there was a period of time when I was a young college student that I did not use credit cards wisely. I made some pretty stupid decisions, but I worked my way out of it and learned from it. Since then I have been careful about personal debt. I have a decent chunk of student loan debt, but it’s all from grad school and is quite a bit less than many other people in my profession have by the time they graduate and start working. It still makes me uncomfortable though. A year ago I had to get a car and was having a hard time because I didn’t want to buy a new car without knowing what my income was going to be this year (I knew the job change was coming up). I bought a reliable used car from a co-worker with a little help from my Dad and now have no monthly car payments. When I moved to NJ I was moving into a situation where I couldn’t bring most of my furniture, so I sold what I could and donated the rest to charity. As a result, when I moved here from NJ I didn’t have much to bring with me. I had obtained a couch from a friend my second to last year in NJ and it came with me, but is in bad shape. I really wanted to replace it in the next few months, but decided that I just need to get a nice slip-cover and wait a year. I can’t tell you how many people have told me I should just go to one of the furniture stores that offers no-interest/no-payment plans and buy one that way. I’d rather wait until I can pay for it in full and not have to worry about the monthly bill or eventually owing interest if I don’t manage to pay it off in a year. Basically, I really don’t like taking on new debt- particularly large debt- and most types of debt make me uncomfortable.

Well, today I found my weak spot. I opened up a brand new line of credit for what to me feels like a large amount of debt to go into. I have a new account with Care Credit to pay for Jesse’s vet bill. The initial line of credit is for $3,000 and it will cover the estimate for the current care he is receiving with a small amount of the credit limit remaining, but I think I’m going to end up paying cash for some of the services as well. Emergency Vet Care and hospitalization are expensive. I’m waiting on test results (a large portion of the charges are for a variety of tests he needs) and I’m hoping for the best, but it’s entirely possible that I’ll still be paying off the debt even after he is gone. He’s my Jesse though, so I’m doing anything I can to get him healthy again. Keep your fingers crossed for good news- some of the results should be in soon.

Thanksgiving (Belated)

November 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm | Posted in Dogs, Jesse | 2 Comments

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I had been invited to a co-worker’s home to celebrate and was looking forward to the day, but plans changed.  When I got home from work Tuesday night Jesse was lethargic and very much not himself.  I took him to the vet on Wednesday and she took some blood, ran a few other tests and gave him a physical.  She sent us home with some prescriptions and an appointment for a follow-up visit today.  Jesse hadn’t eaten on Wednesday (very unusual for him) and still didn’t look good, so I decided to stay home on Thursday.

Wednesday night I purchased a turkey breast and cooked it in the crockpot with some vegetables on Thursday.  It turned out pretty good which kind of surprised me- I’ve never cooked a turkey breast in a crockpot before.  Here is a picture of it when it was about an hour away from being done:

Not the clearest picture ever because of the steam, but it was good.  Jesse still wasn’t himself and spent most of the day on the same spot of the living room carpet like this:

This isn’t normal for him.  Even worse, he was hardly eating at all.  I finally got him interested in boiled chicken with rice and he at pretty well.  It was a long day though.  Today he saw the regular vet who had some test results back from Wednesday (bloodwork) and the results weren’t all good.  They weren’t the worst case scenario either, but it’s still not clear exactly what is going on.  Right now he is sitting at a local specialty clinic and hopefully just finished the x-rays and ultrasound in addition to a few other assorted tests.  The veterinarian we saw is supposed to call me as soon as the radiologist gives him a report on the ultrasound.  I’m worried about him.

Look at that Face!

June 30, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Posted in Blogging, Dogs, Military | 1 Comment

I was checking out the pictures at the Multi-National Force – Iraq website today when I saw this picture:

Play Time

The caption for the photo is:

Play Time

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Max W. Donahue plays with Paco, his military working dog, in Lahib, Iraq, June 16, 2008. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Stuart Wegenka.

Don’t you love the expression on Paco’s face? Nothing is going to distract him from keeping his eyes on that Kong. The drool will be coming off that tongue any second too.

This picture made me think of one of LT. Nixon’s recent posts about milblogs that come and go. Too many milblogs that I have come to really enjoy reading have either come to an end when the servicemember redeployed or have been halted either due to official reasons or personal ones. Some of the really good ones are even taken down completely (most recently Kaboom by LT. G).

I made the connection to LT. Nixon’s post when I saw this picture because it has been quite a while since Sgt. Dowling posted at K9 Pride. I’ve written about Military Working Dogs (MWDs) a number of times on this blog and I think you all know how much I respect the work of the MWDs, their handlers, and everyone who supports them. I really enjoy reading posts written about MWDs from the perspective of the handler…someone who has “been there and done that”…and I hope Sgt Dowling starts posting again soon. Maybe a few encouraging words in his comments section will bring him back?


May 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Challenges, Dogs, Jesse | 4 Comments

I have the world’s greatest dog. Really, I do. He’s friendly, easygoing, and has all of the “good” golden retriever traits.

However, he’s not the best workout partner. At least he isn’t right now. I took him on a walk tonight that was supposed to be exercise for both of us and had to bring him home and then go back out on my own.

Some of you may remember that at the beginning of the year ABW and I set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight by Memorial Day. I don’t know about ABW, but I’m definitely not going to make it. There are actually legitimate reasons that don’t involve laziness. Pretty much immediately after we set our goal I began a battle with some health issues that didn’t seem too bad at first, but progressively worsened.

Continue Reading Friday!…

One more MWD Photo and a Link

April 29, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Deployment, Dogs, Military | Leave a comment

I have one more Military Working Dog (MWD) photo I just have to share. I went to the website for Multi-National Force- Iraq (MNF-I) today and this picture was in the photo gallery. The website has links to official press releases, published articles (non-military publications) and generally also has at least 3 or 4 articles written by the Public Affairs Offices of the currently deployed forces.

Toward the bottom of the MNF-I home page is a box displaying several pictures from the photo gallery. The pictures change regularly. If you click on a picture it will enlarge in the same window and you will see buttons you can use to scroll through the gallery. The pictures cover many different aspects of daily life in Iraq, both for deployed servicemembers and civilians.

I’m posting this picture for two reasons: (1) I think it’s cute and (2) the dog in the picture (Lasso) reminds me of a German Shepherd my family had. If I was asked who was the best dog ever, my current dog or the GS, I’d be hard pressed to make a choice. It was very sad when he had to be put to sleep. This picture made me remember the good times and why he was such an amazing dog for our family. Plus, like I said, it’s cute!

( LAP IT UP- Lasso, a military working dog, takes a drink from handler Staff Sgt. Joseph Kirkey’s water bottle during training at Victory Kennels, April 27, 2008. Photo by Sgt. Joy Pariante, 13th Public Affairs Detachment.)

Latest blogroll addition- K9 Pride

April 29, 2008 at 10:00 am | Posted in Deployment, Dogs, Military | 2 Comments

After my first post on MWDs, I received an email from Sgt Mike Dowling. SGT Dowling served as a Marine Corps K9 handler from 2001-2005, including a deployment to Iraq in 2004 with Rex. He has recently started a blog dedicated to Working Dog Teams and sent me a link. I spent quite a bit of time at his site after receiving the link and really liked what I saw. The site is a great mix of stories, pictures and videos. He even has a page about adopting MWDs that presents a unique perspective of the benefits of adopting an MWD.

One of the pictures included on the site is one of my favorite MWD pictures ever. This is Zeko, an explosives detection canine (photo by Spc Barbara Ospina). Isn’t he cute in his doggles?

I love the way the doggles look on the MWDs, but they also serve a purpose. Sgt Dowling has a great post on how the elements impact the MWDs and what the handlers do to help them deal with the physical environment they work in.

Sgt Dowling also has great videos of MWDs in action in his posts. Check the one on this post out. Don’t you love the way the dog pulled the decoy out during the vehicle extraction? This video has great information about MWDs and how they are trained. I have to say though, my favorite so far is this video:

That’s one smart dog- he knew how to get what he wanted out of his handler!

The videos and the pictures are great, but I think what I like the most is his first-person perspective. I’ve read about MWDs and K9 teams and have even written a little bit about them on this blog, but it doesn’t compare to reading what Sgt. Dowling writes about his own life and experiences. If you do nothing else, be sure to check out this post about his MWD Rex. If you do, I have a feeling you’ll soon decide to read more.

MWDs in action

April 29, 2008 at 8:00 am | Posted in Deployment, Dogs, Military | Leave a comment

I’ve been posting on MWDs quite a bit lately. I had intended to write just one post, but it got so long that I broke it into two…then people asked questions and I found myself discovering all kinds of cool stuff on the internet to use in posts. I even received an email from a blogger who served in Iraq as a Marine K9 handler (check back later today for more about him and his site). Anyway, during my exploring I found these two photos.

I’ve seen MWDs in harnesses like this before- I think I even remember seeing one of an MWD hooked up to his handler and parachuting in somewhere (I’m 99.9% certain I’m not making this up). Both of the pictures above were taken by Spc Aubree Rundle, US Army and can be found here. The “official” descriptions of the photos are:

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (July 15, 2007) – 1st Sgt. Dean Bissey hooks the hoist harness to Staff Sgt. Michael Hile and his military working dog “Rronnie” (spelled with two “Rs”). Photo by Spc. Aubree Rundle, U.S. Army.


BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (July 15, 2007) – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Hornsby and his special security dog Liza are hoisted into a helicopter during a canine-hoist training mission outside of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on July 15, 2007. Hornsby and Liza are attached to the101st Air Assault Division. Photo by Spc. Aubree Rundle, U.S. Army.

Things like this fascinate me (dogs being hoisted into helicopters?!) and I just had to share the photos.

Adopting an MWD

April 28, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Dogs, Military | 2 Comments

Yesterday I posted about what happens to Military Working Dogs (MWDs) when they “retire” from active duty. In the past MWDs who could no longer work (either for the military or civilian law enforcement agencies) were euthanized, but today it is possible for an MWD to be adopted.

One common misconception about MWD adoption is that only handlers can adopt an MWD. This is not true. Civilians can apply to adopt MWDs. However, they are generally at the bottom of the priority list. In some cases, MWDs will leave the military through transfer to a civilian law enforcement agency. Sometimes this happens when the MWD can still “work”, but needs an easier schedule than they would have in the military. Other times this happens when a dog shows promise but can’t complete the military certification process quickly enough. For example, dogs must be trained in 120 days in the Air Force. Civilian law enforcement agencies will then devote additional time to training and certifying the dog.

If a dog is due to be retired from the military and transfer to a civilian law enforcement agency isn’t possible, there is a chance of adoption. However, first the military must decide if the dog is suitable for adoption. Not all MWDs will be suitable. Due to the nature of their jobs, many MWDs come from lines that have been bred to include a certain amount of aggression. Depending on the individual dog and their experiences, this aggression may be at a level that they just aren’t safe to be a household pet.

Although MWDs approved for adoption by the military may end up with civilians, they also just might be adopted by their handler. The K9 handler bond is very strong. This story contained the following quotes from one handler about the bond with his dog:

“These dogs are like our children. I’m closer to my dog than I am to anyone other than my wife,” said Staff Sgt. Charles W. Graves, the kennel master at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, about 20 miles southeast of Baghdad.

“If they took him out, I’d kinda wish they’d take me out too,” Graves, a former police officer from Oroville, Calif., said as Udo loped nearby. With each successful find, Udo was rewarded with a toss of his favorite toy, a rubber cone.

The second quote might be a bit extreme- I don’t know enough handlers to take a survey of how many feel the same. However, I have read in several different places that handlers can request to be buried with their K9 partner if they are both killed and in July of 2007 Cpl Kory D. Wiens and his MWD Cooper were buried together.

I don’t think anyone would argue that the handlers should have the “right of first refusal” for adopting a retiring MWD. These types of adoptions do occur, but sometimes MWDs like do become available for civilian adoption. If you are interested in the possibility of adopting an MWD, be sure to check out this site. Good articles on adopting MWDs have also been published in the Army Times and Stars and Stripes. Check it out. Maybe you can find your Jenny.

(I wonder if Abby and Mr. Abby have thought about adding an MWD to the Bad Dog family?)

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