Sunday, December 31, 2006
So, after our visit to Dallas we went directly to pick up Pappy. We made the mistake of taking SuperShuttle down from Baltimore-Washington Airport to our friends' house in Alexandria, Virginia, undergoing a two and a half hour meander through parking lots and back alleys of DC under the lunatic guidance of a possessed GPS.
We arrived before anyone was home. Pappy barked at us through the window in the front door until he worked out who we were, whereupon he commenced weeping, wailing, and pawing his way through the glass. Though misleading, my previous post about the composition of our friends' family was accurate. The pre-college teenage son came up shortly after we arrived. Whenever I see him I like to remind him that, when he was two years-old, I babysat him and wiped his butt. It's important for kids to know their history... where they came from.
He gave us a quick report card on Pappy's performance. Pappy was a good boy and a lot of fun. Pre-college son said he spent, like, an hour wrestling on the floor with Pappy. (Huh? Pappy doesn't wrestle. He shoves balls in your lap.) Pappy was afraid of the bare wooden steps (Okay, I can see this one. He always looks like a bag of broomsticks going down stairs, and slippery steps would probably freak him out.) And he would stand up on the landing and bark. (Huh? Pappy doesn't bark unless Timmy has fallen in the well. Did they check the well?)
All of this left me thinking that this wasn't my dog. But he looks like my dog. Suspicious. I'm going to have to keep an eye on him.
Friday, December 29, 2006
So, we are entering the last couple of days of voting on November's Cool Dog Site of the Month at Dogmark.net-- and I must remind you that Pappy's in the running for his November 22nd site of the day appearance. If you haven't voted yet, get on over there and vote your conscience. But, before you do so, I'd just like to say that you are such a pretty dog. Such a smart dog. Good dog.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
For several weeks it has been looking like the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" video might surpass the "Teletubbies Meet Pappy" video as the most viewed Pappy movie of all time, clocking slightly less than 6,000 viewings on Youtube in a month. Then, overnight, suddenly Youtube was showing that the music video has 9,250 viewings. At first I was thrilled and wondered how this might have happened. Then I started noticing all these messages in Youtube about various "temporarily disabled" features and "site maintenance"-- and the number seems to be oddly stuck at 9,250.
Color me suspicious.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Since my arrival in Dallas, my assistant Fred has been helping me with a special project. When you sort the Dogs with Blogs site listing by state, you find an inordinate number of listings for Texas. Without troubling to figure out whether any of them live in Dallas, Fred and I took to the paths and alleys to see if we could spot any blogging dogs. In addition we were looking for traces of paparazzi and guard dogs in hopes of finding the Ayatollah Mugsy's compound. The picture at left is Fred peering through the bushes, investigating a promising mansion.
So far no luck, at least as far as we could tell. I'm not exactly sure what characteristics distinguish dogs with blogs from the general population. If you're a blogging dog and happen to recognize Fred and me wandering past, come up and give us the secret handshake.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I've written of Pappy's Uncle Fred in Dallas before. Sure, he looks like a stuffed animal, but he's as tough as nails. Today you should have seen him going after the guys with leaf blowers on the other side of the sliding glass door. And he doesn't have a yappy poodle bark, he's got the solid woof of a mutt.
It's been over a year since we visited Fred, and in that time we've lived with Pappy for almost ten months. It's weird, because when I finally saw Fred again, it was like he'd been miniaturized. He's so much smaller than Pappy, and I wouldn't have guessed that. And before our visit, if you'd asked me to guess at his age, I would have said seven or eight years-- but thinking more carefully, we realized he has to be around 13 years old. His poofy fur and trim physique help to conceal his vintage, but his eyes have gotten a bit rheumy and the skin is getting slack on his belly. Fred's getting old.
But thankfully he is still game for a good walk, and we plan to do plenty of wandering around the mean streets of Dallas in search of Cowboys fans to antagonize. Hey, if the Redskins are going to stink this year, the only joy left is reveling when their football rivals lose.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Well, it's done. We've given Pappy to a lovely family. They have a preteen son to continually throw balls to the Papster, a teenage daughter who will welcome him on the bed, and a pre-college son to ignore him. I'm sure his life with them will be a happy one.
But Pappy's blog will continue. We are now living with a new pair of dogs I like to call Pappy II and Pappy III, for purposes of continuity. Their official names are Fred (on the left) and Buddy. Fred is thirteen years old and hogs the bed, but we have to honor his wisdom. Buddy is a still athletic eight-years, and constantly thunders up and down the stairs.
Psych! We'll be back with Pappy next week. We're just in Dallas visiting my Mother-In-Law for Christmas.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Bookmark this photo, because it may be the last time Pappy is seen in a headdress. Old Navy was handing out the antlers when I was doing my last minute shopping at 7:00 AM this morn before heading to the dog park. The shot itself was a Christmas miracle, since Pappy sat still with a ball dangled in front of his nose for several snaps. Finally he snapped, and lunged at it.
Happy holidays. Pappy and I will be back in a few.
Poor Pappy the mutt. Too often, he clings to his semblance of a breed-identity as a "terrier". But even then, would this win him a place in an AKC competition? No. Can he join a breed-specific web ring without fear of being ostracized? No again. Though he has more traits in common with than different from his purebred counterparts, his generic dog-ness excludes him. It's time to stop pretending.
I'm thinking of organizing a movement of mutts. And this movement would be inclusive of all dogs and breeds, since they are not the ones that choose to impose these artificial divisions. It is The Establishment! Yes, after fading out after the mid-seventies, they have resurfaced to sow discord and undermine dogs' 17,000 year franchise as humanity's first and best friend.
Ask yourself this: do poodles ask to have pom-poms carved into their luxurious manes? No! (Of course if they do like their pom-poms, I'm not judging them.) Would the Great Dane lay down with the Chihuahua? In a second, if he could work out the logistics. Dogs tend towards homogeneity in the state of nature, and it is only The Establishment imposing these divisions of breed.
The movement needs to have a catchy name and acronym. Hmmm, Mongrels and Underdogs Together for Tolerance? Discussions are ongoing. I may need to take a little time off from blogging to give this matter and our mission some serious consideration. Plus we're headed out of town for the holidays.
More later! 'Til then, fight the power.
Friday, December 22, 2006
I remember way back in the nineties when I moved from Metacrawler to Google as my favorite search engine-- I was a pretty early adopter. But, in a recent bout of navel gazing, I typed just "Pappy" into Yahoo, and Pappy's Dog Blog came up as the number one hit ahead of Pappyland, Pappy Boyington, and many other worthy Pappies. Google is so ten-minutes-ago that we don't even appear on the first page.
To be frank, I find it unfathomable that Pappy even appears on Yahoo's list. It leaves me wondering if they are somehow tracking my activities, then playing on my vanity by bubbling up favorite sites for my every search. Woo-ooo-oo, the internet sure is a creepy place full of scary people who know everything about you.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Pappy is pretty good with his paws, but they are only really useful for pinning things to the ground. For grabbing and fine manipulation, his mouth is his only hand. The disadvantages of this arrangement are pretty evident if you have ever seen your dog's tongue coated in filth. Another problem reveals itself when I hear Pappy trying to breathe, snorting and snuffling, while trying to extricate rubber balls jammed into tight spaces.
Every once in a while I try to imagine having my tongue on my palm, my nostrils on my knuckles, and my eyeballs on my wrist. Washing dishes becomes much more than a chore if you're trying to hold your breath the whole time. Rubber gloves would be a real problem. And you could forget me picking up after Pappy takes a dump... not going to happen.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I was retagged on the Christmas tagging circuit by crazed flyball junkie Pippin-- I love those wacky ears. This go round I thought I'd take a slightly different tack on the "three things I want, three things I don't" theme, and list what I want from Pappy this Christmas:
- My grass and shrubs back, freakin' herbivore.
- Him pooping directly into the bags.
- Do you think he could operate an espresso machine? It would certainly speed up the morning routine.
And these are three things I don't want from the Papster:
- Pawprints emblazoned on my suits and dress shirts in the morning.
- Muddy balls dropped in my lap.
- Him disappearing into the guest room, then getting "ominously silent" around my wife's few remaining stuffed animals.
Rather than tagging another five people with the Christmas Tag, I'm looking for volunteers. Any takers? Instructions are in the previous post.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I was only about 15 feet from him to start with, and I had one of those "wait a second" moments because the context was so odd. He was in a quiet spot next to some sidewalk construction, but I can't imagine how he got where he was without drawing a crowd. He ignored me, so I felt reasonably comfortable following him at a little distance as he meandered towards the Vietnam Memorial. He was very doglike, and I couldn't help but draw some comparisons to Pappy.
The fox was completely oblivious to people, and moved to a much busier area without any apparent notice. I guess he must be habituated to humans since he doesn't exactly live in the wilderness. The fox never glanced at anyone, even when kids started yelling about him. Pappy spends his life around people, but he is constantly vigilant for people and animals. On a walk, his head is on a swivel if there is anyone around or following behind us...always waiting on my command to kill or lick.
The fox was totally focused on squirrels, which, in turn, were pretty oblivious to him. He was carefully stalking them across the lawn, and then giving a little light chase at the end. In the same situation, Pappy would be storming across the lawn until every squirrel in the vicinity had retreated far up in the limbs-- but then he doesn't have to conserve much energy. I've never seen a trace of a stalking instinct, though he's quite a tracker. All the same, I doubt the fox would have much respect for Pappy's technique.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I've been thinking recently about putting together some t-shirt designs and opening a little online store. My motive wouldn't be to make money (because I'm pretty sure my only customers would be my wife and myself), but it would be wild to come across a total stranger wearing Pappy merchandise.
There are a number of different web services that allow you to set up an online store without any upfront costs-- they take a certain amount on each sale and you charge your profit over and above that. I see a number of bloggers who make use of Cafe Press for this service, but I've seen a few mixed reviews on the turnaround time, cost, and quality of some of the merchandise. I have absolutely no experience, so I'm ignorant on all counts.
Are any of these companies good? In the spirit of all things on the web, a little research exposes a wealth of contradictary guidance. What sense I can make of it seems to indicate that a lot depends on matching the printing process to the appropriate materials. The direct printing technique used for these print-on-demand companies isn't the same as screen printing used for large t-shirt productions, and sometimes appears washed out on thick cotton sweatshirts, for example. There are a couple of helpful posts with detailed discussions ongoing here and here at the now-deceased The Brooke blog.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Tensions have been high in the parking lot at the dog park. Evil looks are exchanged, tempers flare. This is between the humans, not the dogs.
The parking lot is at the end of a long driveway, and is shared between the dog park and an outdoor skating rink. Whenever there is a hockey game, suddenly the lot is packed and there is no overflow parking... and some doofus in an oversized SUV has parked across two spaces. Bunches of hockey dads high on adrenaline and testosterone are milling about looking for pencil-necked dog park regulars to thump-- well, not really, but it could happen.
Last weekend, the park maintenance guys left a huge pile of bark mulch in the parking lot, compounding the shortage of spaces. I thought there was going to be a war. At least there was a bunch of grumbling amongst us nerds in the dog enclosure. After all, it's our lot.
I came across a site as today's Dogmark.net Cool Site of the Day (don't forget to vote for Pappy as November's cool site). At first glance the product at Sniflabs.com seems pretty amazing. If you watch their flash animation, it's fantastic.
This little gizmo on the dog's collar senses the dogs physical activity, senses which other dogs with gizmos are in proximity giving you a social network, flashes lights under different situations, wirelessly transfers all this information to your computer, and logs it on their site. Then you read around a little and realize they aren't selling them, they are asking you to "reserve" one. In other words they haven't actually built much of anything yet.
So, projecting out, with all these great features the gizmo will be the size of a cigar box and have a battery life measured in minutes. Let's say you buy the fifth one off of the production line... it should be about seven years before you actually encounter another dog wearing one to test out the social features. And it doesn't actually have a GPS, just motion sensors (like those Wii remote controls that people are throwing through their TV sets) and proximity sensors. Mmmm, I pass.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I've been giving some thought to Pappy lately. His chest is so deep, and his forelegs are long and overdeveloped. And his brow is kind of beetled. And that fur... I haven't seen many dogs with that fur.
But it's best not to overthink his heritage. We'd hate not to be allowed back in the dog park.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I've been tagged by my tiny terrier brother Scrappy to respond to the following challenge--
The Rules: The player of this game starts with "3 things he/she would love to get for Christmas" and also has to list "3 things he/ she definitely does not want to get for Christmas". Then he/she tags 5 friends and list their names. The ones who get tagged need to write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes, as well as state this rule clearly, then tag 5 more victims. And the one who tags need to leave a comment that says "you've been Christmas tagged!" in their comments and tell them to read your blog.
As always, my only purpose is to channel Pappy's thoughts and wants, so I will speak for him. These are three things Pappy would love for Christmas:
- A bouncy ball.
- Someone to throw the bouncy ball.
- A big chain to keep the bouncy ball thrower from going away... ever.
These are three things Pappy definitely does not want for Christmas:
- A gift certificate to the veterinarian.
- Body soap, shampoo, or any form of bath paraphernalia.
- A hotspot. (Well, he kind of enjoys working on the hotspot itself, but he really hates that disinfectant spray.)
Now I'm back to the hard part of deciding the next stuckees. Five is a lot. How about the following:
Thursday, December 14, 2006
As Pappy and I go for a walk, he'll be trawling along at a good clip sniffing the ground. Suddenly, he'll scoop something up and swallow it down as if by sleight of hand... mouth... whatever. The whole sequence happens so quickly I never have any idea what went in his mouth.
How could he possibly find and eat something so fast? In analyzing this question, I plotted out a flow chart of Pappy's thought process for searching and gobbling. My theory is that he expedites the eating process by eliminating several superfluous steps, such as considering whether he is hungry or if the item is edible. He just swallows and lets his stomach decide.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
It's that time of year again! Festivus is fast approaching on December 23-- the last non-commercial holiday for the wildly disfunctional family. In the celebration, the "Airing of Grievances", where the family expresses their disappointment in each other, is followed by the final "Feats of Strength". Traditionally this entails pinning the head of the household to the ground, but may involve any cathartic release of pent-up energy.
I would have to say this Airdale has the whole feats of strength part down pat. Crazy.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
In honor of the season, Pappy and I have been busily photochopping away. Greg from dogswithblogs.com.au asked for a Christmas tree ornament in memory of Daisie, a sweet little blogging pup who passed on.
And now, in order to fill out that dull nativity scene on your dining room sideboard, we have Paper-Doll Pappy. He comes complete with shepherd and lamb outfits, depending on your mood. Add a creche and a few supporting characters, and you should be good to go. Just glue a printout to some cardboard, and mind your fingers as you're cutting him out.
Now if I can just get the Pappy dreidl done...
Monday, December 11, 2006
It's amazing the things I find in our back yard when looking through the heap of construction debris from renovating our porch room:
|The old tile from our porch bathroom.|
|Water bottle chew toy.|
And, of course, Pappy.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
This weekend at the dog park was a tough one for all involved. Saturday the temperature was down to 22 degrees... yes, that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius. All you Canadians and northerners can stop laughing now, because for us that's pretty cold when you're just standing around. Molly and Honey's owner was wearing not one but two pairs of gloves.
Then, today all of the dogs were bonkers for some reason. As we were getting ready to enter, Pappy just went off at these two strange dogs through the fence. He was getting bad enough that I was prepping to leave. I've seen a few owners walk their dogs around the perimeter of the fence to settle down all the dogs before entering, so I tried that after a little cool-off walk. I tried him again, but Pappy and those two dogs were just bound to have trouble. Their owner said they were headed out, so we just switched places and Pappy seemed fine. Truman and owner returned from a walk around the park, and it turns out Truman was having trouble with the same dogs earlier. Then Cisco showed up, decked a Border Collie, and left almost immediately. Then this big German Shepherd showed up and ran yelping in terror all around the enclosure-- I didn't see anything happen to her that caused that. We had a full moon last week, but who knows what was going on. Not a banner day at the dog park.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I was looking at a report of referrals to my site, and I've gotten like 30 different hits today from search engines where people are looking for "immovable object", "irresistable force", and some variant of "wrestling"-- I did a post a while back containing these phrases. Other search phrases that have brought people to my site in the past include "duck footed dog" and "dog ate a maxi-pad". I see stuff like this, and it makes me wonder what the heck is going on out there that I don't know about.
In the comments for a recent post, I was tagged by Disgruntled Owl and again by 3DogCache to list six weird things about Pappy and/or me. Is this a trick question? This blog is essentially a celebration of everything weird about Pappy. We've got an embarrassment of riches to draw upon. Of course I am of no relevance-- just a poor scribe.
Maybe I should be trying to make this a challenge, and list six normal things about Pappy. Well, I'll stick with the instructions. Here are six weird things I haven't seen other dogs doing:
- When chasing a ball, if it ricochets off a tree or other object he has to go back and investigate. He'll go look the tree up and down, even if it means backtracking across the yard. It could well be that he is the Isaac Newton of the dog set, working out the physics of ball trajectories.
- When Pappy has his ball and you aren't playing with him, he'll immediately take it to the nearest low-hanging obstacle-- a bureau, a chain-link fence with a gap under it, a bookshelf, a sofa, the TV stand-- and start a high-stakes game of pawing and poking the ball. Within seconds he'll have knocked the ball under the obstacle, whereupon he begins scrabbling around underneath with his paws. Often he can get the ball out himself, but he'll continue poking it under until he can't. Finally he'll begin a little dance of looking at the ball, then looking back at us and whining...driving...me...nuts...until I totally cave in and get the ball for him.
- When you're petting him, Pappy always tries to gnaw on your rings. My wife worries he'll eat the diamond from her engagement ring, and I don't look forward to the "outcome" of that eventuality.
- For some reason he always gets playful when I am putting on my shoes-- grabbing at socks, getting under my legs, etc. It's not that he isn't playful at other times, but he's always riled up with the shoes. I think he gets high on foot odor.
- When anticipating a walk I've seen dogs go nuts, or I've seen them enthusiastically sitting waiting for the leash. For some reason Pappy nervously paces in slow circles around me making it difficult to get the leash on. I have no explanation for this one, because he clearly likes walks and never goes off-leash.
- Pappy's bed is at the bottom of our bed. I have a little eighteen inch gap between bed and bureau to squeeze through to get to my side of our bed. For some reason Pappy always flops off his bed and sprawls his head and front legs across my gap when he goes to sleep. I'll stomp back and forth over his head while getting ready for bed, and he never flinches. After I turn out the lights I shuffle, night-blind and worried about crushing his skull, to bed. Later, he curls up on his bed out of the way. Ha ha ha, funny game.
Now for the hard part-- who do I want to victimize next? I remember my first chain letters as a kid, and they gave me a bit of a complex. They either promised a horrible and painful death if I didn't continue the chain, or asked me to send a dollar I didn't have to the people who victimized me in the first place. When I got older I made a methodical practice of breaking any chain letters, but always with some hesitation.
Let's see who looks like they haven't been tagged recently (man, there was a huge outbreak of tagging back in August). OK, I'll tag the following:
[The rules...Each player of this game starts with the "6 Weird Things about You"-- or your dogs. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their blog.]
Friday, December 08, 2006
When we got Pappy, he had already been *ahem* fixed. That means we won't be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny Pappito feet anytime soon. It's a sad thought we can't share the love by mass-producing him.
Unless... what is the current stance in the US on dog cloning? Yes, I understand that this would be an abomination with horrible moral implications, and I've read that the South Koreans went through thousands of clone implants to get one dog. But wouldn't it all be worth it to see Pappy's reaction? It's time we put modern science to good use.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I have no right to complain, because Pappy waits very patiently while we wipe the mud off his paws when he comes in from the back yard. But every once in a while we blow it, leading to carpet catastrophes. Ahhh, but if you can get past her twitchy Felix-Unger-on-caffeine persona, this Italian Greyhound has a pretty nice trick.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Some say that a dog grows to resemble his owners. If this is true of Pappy and us, then my wife and I must be flat-out stark raving mental.
Case in point-- give him one of his big biscuits, and he will wander in circles around the house whining. We let him outside so he can bury it (anything to stop the whining), but that isn't what he wants. Then he brings it back in, drops it on the rug, and jumps around barking at it. Then he wants to play fetch with it while whining. As near as I can tell, this will go on forever until I break it in half-- whereupon he gobbles it right down. I've figured out he must have a complex about treats longer than four inches, because he does the same thing with dried chicken strips and pizzles but not smaller treats.
I blame all of this on my wife. She was given an Easy-Bake Oven as a child. She loved it, but she was terrified of using it lest she use up all of its little cake mixes. Her parents thought she wasn't interested in it, and finally gave it away. She still hasn't recovered. If they knew all this background, the shelter would never have given us a dog.
Monday, December 04, 2006
I'm happy to report that, after greatly depleted attendance over the Thanksgiving holidays, this past weekend the dog park was back to normal. Jack (getting creamed on the left) and Jojo were paroled from the kennel for good behavior. Pappy continues to wear his body armor, which two different people described as looking like a diving flag. Truman was storming around, thankfully keeping away from the poo. And new star, Sammy the Bull Terrier puppy, was racing around like a wild thing. What do other people do on weekend mornings?
I used to find this the most entertaining dog video on Youtube. Then I recalled the plot of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes-- talking ape leads revolt resulting in human slavery and world domination by apes. Sure, these talking dogs want their Mama now, but what are they going to want tomorrow? Disturbing.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
You don't have to look far to see the happy Pappy, as he chases his ball or chases votes on the campaign trail, but here is the sad Pappy. Today was his bath day, prior to the application of his monthly flea goo, and it's all we can do to get him upstairs to the bathroom as the tub fills. The steadying hand in the photo is the countermove to his "flashflood shake" maneuver. Check out his accusing glare-- pretty withering.
This week a contractor started rebuilding our porch room. We went to the office, and when we came home the room was gutted-- my wife says it's like we've got a construction fairy. I'm not sure the workers would be too pleased if we got them t-shirts that said that.
The workers have to come through the house to get to the porch, and, of course, Pappy is running loose. I have to wonder what he is up to through all of this activity. I don't see any evidence of blood or detached limbs, so he's certainly not protecting the house. Heaven help us if he's playing ball with them.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Well the voting is officially open for November's Cool Dog Site of the Month at Dogmark.net, and Pappy's Dog Blog is in the running. If you vote for Pappy, he will promise a soup bone in every dog bowl, and canine suffrage for the 2008 presidential elections. (Slogan: "Dog vote now! How much worse could they do?")
You can vote here once per day. Scroll down and you'll find the form has a lot of questions, but you only have to enter a name, email address, and vote selection-- and I haven't noticed the site abusing my info. We're campaigning against worthy contenders like Bella, Sid, and Pinky, so every vote counts.
Bark the vote!
Woohoo! We're there! 40 posts in 30 consecutive days. For those of you who weren't aware, I've been participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) during November. I stopped mentioning this a while back lest I jinx myself. Too easy to imagine saying how well it was all going, then total blogger's block sets in.
Looking back over the posts, it was an eventful month, so now it's time for a long, boring, retrospective post. These are my thoughts:
- When I look back, I am amazed at how much happened this month. It seems like a long time since those first posts. Posting frequently is like walking rather than driving; I see a lot more, and time moves slowly.
- In browsing the sites, I saw a lot of participants bothered by the forced act of posting each day diluting the value of their insights. I often wondered whether I was getting tedious and repetitive. My wife reassured me that there were a few unmemorable posts, but the quality was good overall.
- As mentioned before, I came across some participants' sites that had been closed off from public access. One of these left a message that she had found herself doing too much self-editing because of the influx of new and unfamiliar visitors. I did get a lot more traffic, and I definitely take a lot fewer risks when I am less sure about my audience.
- I kind of hated posting immediately after Crusher's tribute. That deserved a few days of attention.
- Ironically, I found I was writing much longer postings when working on a tighter schedule. I'm a fan of brevity, and it takes time to whittle things down and still get your point across.
- I never felt that I was at a total loss for subject matter-- in fact I still have a couple of topics in the can. Of course, this just shows the depths of my lunatic obsession with my dog.
- Once I had started, I was confident I'd finish. I'm pretty compulsive (for example... the movies).
Thanks to everybody for your visits and support. I notice some NaBloPoMo participants are talking about taking a vacation from blogging after this slog. I don't plan on a break, but going forward I'd have to say that I am going to take it a bit slower.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
We are now enforcing the checklist anytime Pappy comes in from our back-yard-turned-mud-pit:
- Has it rained in the past two days?
- Is it morning, and was there a heavy dew?
- Was Pappy running around vigorously?
- Was he tromping around the back beds?
- Is he hiding a muddy ball under that moustache?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, out comes the terrible towel for a thorough Pappy footrub and wipedown. This is intended to protect the light beige (ecru, really) berber carpeting that seemed like such a great choice before we had a dog. Sadly, the checklist failed us the other night. Our dinner guest found the wacky pawprints all over the living room carpet to be a charming view into our domestic life, but my wife was doing a slow burn.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Pappy's coat-- well, really, it's more of a protective vest-- has been a glowing success. He's enthusiastic when putting it on, never fusses with it, and it has been holding up well despite rough use. Plus, with the collar turned down, he looks kind of like Scotty.
While we were watching TV last night, he trotted into the living room dragging the coat along in his mouth. I was unclear whether his intention was to wear it or shred it. It was kind of 'spensive, so I didn't wait to find out.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
First there was Mock Thanksgiving, then we had Thanksgiving: The Dinner Out. Last night my brother and his wife hosted Thanksgiving 2: The End of the Gobbler. Somehow we decided that it wasn't enough to finish with last Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner, we needed one more gathering and immense meal to do the holiday right.
Pappy got to come. Polly had already gone home, but there's another family pup. My brother has Pappy's other dog-cousin Ruby. She's a mutt with a black coat, and the black-spotted tongue and shortened snout of a Chow. She's weighs a little less than Pappy, but she's a lot more compact. Many people mistake her for a pup, but she's around two and a half.
My brother adopted Ruby last December from Hedgesville Hounds, a pretty wonderful rescue organization which takes great care in matching up people with the right dogs. They do a lot of evaluation, and offer to take back any pet if things don't work out. It's a nice approach to recognize that not every dog goes with every family, and that it doesn't mean the people are uncaring or bad owners. Happily, Ruby has worked out well.
She and Pappy are a good pair. Ruby is very affectionate. She's short, so she has a tendency to delicately hop up on your leg and gouge you with her claws to get some lovin'. Her ears are normally flat against her skull and the fur on her head is soft, so she looks a bit like a seal baby. Her unique characteristic is that she has one lower fang sticking out at a funny angle, so she's more of a seal baby with an attitude.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Pappy's dog-cousin, Polly, is here for a visit over the Thanksgiving holidays along with my Aunt. She's a wee long-haired Dachshund around two years old. Pappy and Polly get along well, given that he doesn't seem to have quite decided whether she is really a dog. When wrestling, Pappy will come bounding up to her and plant a paw on her back, and then... that's it. Polly's got no follow-up move. She's a lap rug. Other than that, they lick each other and he carefully puts her head in his mouth.
For a long time Polly was flat-out terrified of me. The first time I met her was when I had unexpectedly stopped by my Aunt's house to pick up a key when my Aunt wasn't home, and that must have traumatized her. For the next months, she would shake and cower when I was anywhere near. Then we got Pappy, and we brought our bumptious dog around to meet Polly-- and she finally had something to be more afraid of than me. Actually, I think she kind of idolizes her dog-cousin. As for me, she now wags her tail fiercely and likes me to pet her, but she will never take her eyes off me for a second. She's been very good this visit, given that she's just spent two days in the house of the horrifying ogre.
Friday, November 24, 2006
This time of year, with leaf piles every 20 feet along the road, Pappy's walks have to be extended considerably in order to offer adequate sniffing time. As an added bonus, he's taken to wading deep into these piles to take a dump. It's now a wonderful scavenger hunt through leaves to find the "warm needles in a haystack" to protect leaf-jumping kids from ending up "Truman Dirty".
Pappy has recently been showing a curious interest in storm drains, and I finally figured out he must think they are animal dens. I hope he doesn't try to take off down one. We wouldn't want to hear tales of giant albino terriers in the sewers of Takoma Park.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Happy Thanksgiving! And, for those of you outside the US, have a great day at the office!
These are the things I am thankful about with Pappy:
- That he's naturally good despite our lousy training regimen. It makes me think I have control of animals through pure force of will-- call me Beastmaster.
- That he's so fond of the manly art of ball retrieving. I grew up chucking rocks at stuff, and throwing things around seems like a good guy-bonding activity. It lets me know he's no sissy.
- That he doesn't get into cabinets, trashcans, counter tops, or general mischief when we are at work. I know that crates are wonderful and natural and not the least bit like a prison cell, but I'm glad we don't have to use one.
- That he's a bizarre combination of graceful beast and gangly bag-of-bones. When he stops to sniff something, his hip is pointing the wrong way while his elbow and shoulder look dislocated. Then he'll just pop up and prance away like a Lipizzaner Stallion.
- That he groans when he's lying around and wants attention. Apart from being hilarious, it lets me know that Pappy is the right name for him.
- That his hair is so perfect. No brushing, no shedding, and always ready for a photo op.
- That we found him.
- That he would rather be with us than anybody else.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Just in time for Thanksgiving, Pappy's Dog Blog has been selected as Dogmark.net's Today's Cool Dog Site. Since 1996, Dogmark.net has awarded a site with this distinguished honor every day. Now, ten years later, they've reached down deep and found us.
Think about it-- 3,500 dog sites have been awarded in that tenure. I have to go back through their archives. If enough of them have closed up shop, we may be only the 1,356th coolest dog site on the web... 26 behind Tinkle Trousers.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Pappy, being a nonstop ball-chaser, has to conserve energy to devote to his primary task. It is truly astounding the amount of time he can spend retrieving balls, and some of this is due to his labor-saving strategies. The first he uses at home, where I generally toss balls to him from our back yard patio. He'll race after the ball at top speed, returns as fast as he can, stops short, and lets the ball fly forward bouncing across the flagstones to me. Over the course of a session he probably saves himself from running a few hundred feet, and he's in better position to chase after the next ball. We often get into a really good rhythm that way-- toss, run, bounce, toss, run, bounce. His aim is pretty good, but occasionally his bounce misses. In these cases he runs down the ball, places it on the ground, and then shoots it at me using his nose as a billiard cue. Is this normal?
The second labor-saving strategy he uses at the dog park. I toss a ball, and he chases it down. Rather than bring it all the way back to me, he'll take his wet, mud-caked tennis ball to someone close by, drop it on a shoe, and then look pathetic and expectant. It's the rare dog park newbie who isn't conned into tossing the disgusting thing, and even some old-timers are taken in. There's got to be some way to turn this moon-eyed gaze into some cold, hard, holiday cash.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Pappy's planned cottage industry making holiday potholders from stuffed toys is wildly popular but running into production shortages. Nobody wants to see more scenes like the Playstation 3 riots. We're considering subcontracting some of the work, and thankfully we aren't lacking in skilled labor. Freddie has been really busy, and Bogie's technique is a little raw, but he shows promise.
We don't indulge Pappy; he does not get to sleep in our bed. Well, okay, he does have his own blanket. And his bed is heated, if we ever find the power supply. But this is just sensible... the winters are very cold around here.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Last night we had a group over for Mock Thanksgiving. The idea is to get friends together who have other obligations for Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody brings their favorite dishes except, in our case, the turkey. Just like the actual holiday, I ate until I felt vaguely ill.
3dogcache came with two of her three dogs-- dog 3 stayed home after dog 1 tried to eat him, but that's all under control now and everybody's fine. The dogs, including Pappy, stayed in the back yard, where two red-headed preteens chucked balls to them in the dark. Dog 2 (Ellie) has this freaky trick where she launches herself five feet in the air, does a full body twist, and catches a tennis ball. I tested her with a squeaky ball, but only a tennis ball will do. The scary part is that she'll do this like eighty times in a row.
Of course, Pappy completely outdid her by chasing balls way past the time that Ellie was near collapse. During all of his exertions, Pappy's cummerbund finally slid down to the point where it ended up as a diaper, a wet one. So we had to get rid of it. Once he realized the bandage was gone, he immediately set to work on the stitches. So I have been trying to get an Ace bandage wrapped around a maxi-pad to stay on... without much luck. Four more days until the stitches come out, and it looks to be a long road.
The film strip on the left is Pappy at the dog park yesterday in his handsome coat. I was playing with one of the goofy settings on my camera-- you know, the ones that no one uses.
Happy Mock Thanksgiving everybody!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
When we went to the dog park this morning, the mood was a little contemplative as everyone recalled Crusher. He was at the park last weekend, and died after being hit by a car Thursday. Later on Crusher's mom came by for a visit and to talk with everyone, and it was good to see her.
For all of us it's hard not to let thoughts drift to the unspoken truths; we can't protect our dogs from everything, and, no matter what, they aren't going to live as long as we want them to. We just have to depend on good luck, and that's not always going to hold. Several people had experiences similar to Crusher's mom's, and it's pretty devastating. I've never had to go through this, but I'm the type of person who can't keep from dwelling on the thought that someday I'll wake up and Pappy won't be there.
Meanwhile, as the owners were having these conversations, it was business as usual for the dogs. Jack was hauling Pappy around by the collar of his new coat (which held up very nicely), and Truman was smearing poo across his shoulder and back. The latter event allowed the rest of us to coin the phrase: "Yes, my dog is filthy, but at least he's not 'Truman dirty'."
Friday, November 17, 2006
I just got word that one of our dog park regulars, Crusher the Pug, has died. He was about the funniest little ball-chaser around, and as agreeable a soul as you'll find. That looks like him and his mom in one of these photos on the dog park's home page, which I think are from way back when it opened.
We'll miss you buddy.
Since Pappy was stitched up Saturday, he's all but back to normal. The vet's dressing has stayed clean and intact so we've left it on. It looks sort of natty, like a cummerbund, as opposed to pathetic, like a row of gruesome stitches and a big shaved patch. Somehow the latter always makes me think of those plastic cones and sad looking dogs, and I'd rather have happy Pappy.
The materials of the dressing include this rubberized, space-age, self-adhesive yellow bandage. Very cool, I may just have to hang on to that stuff. A couple of times the bandage has slipped down a bit exposing Pappy's stitches, which he immediately sets to licking. At 5AM yesterday we started hearing slorp-slorp-slorp-slorp-slorp from the foot of the bed, and I had to get up and jigger the tight bandage forward to cover the stitches back up. Yes, I've heard the stories about the coagulant and antiseptic properties of dog saliva, but Pappy's already fully coaguled and anticepted. With his OCD, he's more likely to undo the stitches and start pulling out organs than "heal himself the way nature intended".
With the wound uncovered, I got a pretty good look at the outcome of his weekend misadventure. Impressive. Lotsa big stitches. It's a shame Halloween is past. With a few more bandages he could have been a puppy mummy, or unwrap him and he's Frankendog's Monster.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
At one time when we first got Pappy, I had visions of preparing a list of local dog parks and going on a tour. At that time, Pappy was a year old and seemed game to play with any dog in any circumstances. As he approaches his second birthday, Pappy seems seems most comfortable meeting them at his dog park, Wheaton Regional Park.
Pappy loves to wrestle, and doesn't seem to be overly discriminating about the size of his opponent. But he won't wrestle just anybody, and I'm always trying to figure out his rules of engagement:
- He seems to favor dogs two years or younger-- maybe beating on each other is a young dog's game.
- He likes puppies of any size, and plays down to their level. It's interesting to see dogs negotiate the terms of play, the small dog playing bigger and the big dog playing smaller.
- He doesn't mind heavier dogs (he doesn't have much of a choice since he's a skinny puke), but not too big. The exception is if they are young and goofy.
- He doesn't mess with dogs that have big hair, even if they aren't much heavier. He doesn't get it that they just look big.
- He likes to box mano a mano, chest to chest. I think this is because he is lanky and has better leverage for this style of wrangling. When Bosco, a massive Pit, was whalloping Pappy around with his butt, it was clear to me that Pappy is at a disadvantage when all four feet are on the ground.
- Pappy's uses a lot of teeth at play. I'm always a little horrified to see dogs hauling on each other's loose skin, ears, and appendages, but none of them seem to mind. Of course horseplay don't pay, as Pappy learned last weekend.
- If another dog tries to horn in while he's wrestling someone else, Pappy will turn and run him off before getting back to business. Jack, the Rottie-Lab mix, never seems to mind multiple attackers, but with Pappy it is one dog at a time.
- Pappy doesn't like that nippy Border Collie. Too bossy.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Okay, I'm faced with a guy dilemma. After a spell of recuperation following last weekend's injury, Pappy is fired up. He obviously thinks he's ready to go, and I think he'll be well-healed and completely manic by this weekend. But I wince at the prospect of the dog park because I keep visualizing another dog's claw getting caught in the wound-- owww. Plus he's got a shaved patch on his side which is completely exposed to cold weather and the mouthing and pawing of play.
He needs protection. So here I am...a guy... contemplating buying clothing for my dog. Though we are talking protective clothing, it's still doggy clothing. People continue to tease Truman for showing up at the dog park the first time in a sweater, and I know he must hate that.
In trying to minimize the frills and stay functional, I researched body armor for dogs. Apparently it is available, but $1045 is a little out of my price range. They have these nifty little Neoprene vests with Kevlar for hunting dogs-- Kevlar and camouflage are a great combo. But, from my limited experience getting into diving suits, the only thing I can think of worse than trying to put Neoprene on a dog is trying to get it on a cat. Pappy would look pretty tough if I put him into a Jason Campbell football jersey, but I doubt the shoulder pads would fit.
On the walk home from the subway we stopped in the pet store and picked up a sturdy, weatherproof dog coat with a reflective stripe. Nobody better laugh, because it's really very practical. And Pappy looks very handsome in red. What does that make him, a summer?
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
For a long time, one of the things that kept us from adopting a dog was our long days at the office. Then it dawned on us we could hire a dog walker. So we got Pappy, and each day a woman from the neighborhood comes by to break up his day with a walk. I also give him a short walk in the morning and a long walk in the evening.
The curious thing is that we hardly ever see the dog walker, and therein lies the riddle. This is a whole segment of Pappy's life we know almost nothing about. Which leash does she use? How does he walk with her? Does he pull? Does he sniff everything? Which way do they go?
I suppose I could ask her, but that takes all the mystery out of things. As it stands, I also have the puzzle of how he spends his days when we're away-- good fodder for lunchtime contemplation. Otherwise, you're left with situations like the secret life of this poor Pug being laid bare by a webcam.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Since I've been participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I have been noticing a couple of things, which I find interesting.
- As a "duh" kind of stat, my hits are way up-- easily doubling the previous month. Not all of this comes from NaBloPoMo, but probably a third of it does. Thanks to everyone, and come on back.
- Entropy seems to be affecting NaBloPoMo participants. Most people seem to be keeping up with their posts, but the enthusiasm in surfing the different sites seems to be dying down (my own enthusiasm included), and I see a lot fewer comments from random visitors. Again, this isn't so unexpected.
- This last one does surprise me: I'm noticing some NaBloPoMo sites in the randomizer that are blocked, allowing only access by invitation. I came across two in a row Sunday morning, and I am pretty sure I remember one was public access when the event started.
I'm thinking that some participants were a little freaked out at the responses they were getting from the non-regular visitors on their sites. I can imagine getting a comment that would creep me out, but dogs blogs aren't much of a lightening rod for loonies-- well, not that kind of loony. I like the loonies I get.
P.S. Ailing Pappy is much improved. He's toddling up and down the stairs with ease, wagging his tail, and is even playing a little slow-motion ball. Now he just whines because he's bored, bored, bored.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Well, I spoke too soon about Pappy's rebound from his injury. Once the painkillers wore off, or once the muzziness of the sedation kicked in, he spent a lot of time standing like a zombie. Today the muzziness seems to have worn off, but now he's standing around lightly wimpering despite the pain pills. It's a heartbreaker. It seems like he handles short sharp pains better than long-term soreness. The light at the end of the tunnel is that, when we saw a dog on a short evening walk last night, he was rarin' to meet.
In Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation, she talks about dog and animal perception of pain as compared to humans. She mentions some tests on human chronic pain sufferers, who had been bedridden because of their pain. They had neurosurgery to have some connections severed to their frontal cortex, where most of the advanced functions of the human brain reside. This surgery didn't cut the link to the pain receptors, but somehow isolated the pain from the higher-level brain. Formerly bedridden patients were then up and around. When asked, they said they felt the same pain, it just didn't bother them as much-- they weren't suffering. Grandin then goes on to draw parallels between this surgery and the fact that animals have a much less developed frontal cortex, and so may not suffer quite the same.
But the way things stand right now, it's seeming like ol' Pappy suffers plenty.
Labels: dog books and facts
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Well, I've picked up Pappy after the stitches, and am $400 poorer. The vet warned me that Pappy might be a little woozy following the anaesthesia, and may just lay around. Absolutely no evidence of that, and he's ready to go chase balls. They gave me some pain pills; no evidence of any pain. They told me to keep him quiet for a couple of days, but I think I'm going to have to sit on him to make that happen.
For his convalescence, I might take him in the back yard and let him sniff the leaves while I rake.
Pappy and I went to the dog park this morning, as usual. What wasn't usual is that we were meeting up with geocaching dog blogger, 3dogcache (motto: "dogs go with geocaching like pickles with peanut butter; no, really, it's good"), and her three pooches, Maggie, Ellie, and Andy.
Pappy was playing feverishly with all comers, and at one point I thought I saw a flash of red on his side. I looked him over but didn't find anything. An hour's play later I saw it again, but this time I found it-- a rather ugly gash behind his shoulder. Everybody at the dog park was really helpful, and one guy was apologetic and really worried that his dog had caused it (but my first glimpse came long before he arrived). We went straight to the vet. She said because of the way the skin was pulled apart, it wasn't going to heal without sutures. So Pappy's getting sedated and stitched up as I write this.
Pappy has this incredible pain tolerance, and it really worries me at times. He got his chip implanted without a sound, had a cordless phone dropped on his head without noticing, and I'm always finding scratches and cuts. He's a skinny twerp playing rough with much bigger dogs, and it doesn't seem like he knows when to ease up. One of these days I'm afraid he's going to snap a leg and still be trying to wrestle Jack.
No dog park for Pappy tomorrow, but we'll be back next weekend.
As subjects for a blog, dogs are sweet and all. But I'm not sure they are nearly as funny as... heaven help me... cats. I just see blogs like this, and videos like this that crack me up. But they also make me wonder why you'd ever invite a cat in your house.
But you'll never see anyone writing this about a cat:
Friday, November 10, 2006
Before we had Pappy, if you had asked me whether I'd ever owned a dog, I would have said sure. We had a couple of them when I was a kid. But at this point I'd have to revise that. The way that many kids own a dog (at least how I owned a dog) is by playing with it when they are inclined, ignoring it when they aren't, and not doing much else. There isn't a lot of end-to-end responsibility there.
To lighten up on myself, we got our first dog, Winnie, when I was five years old. I think it was Easter, and I remember that I couldn't decide whether I was more excited by the pup or my new plastic Batman glasses. I can't remember how long we had her, or exactly what she looked like. We let her run loose, and eventually she bit a neighbor so my parents gave her away. Our second dog, Fletcher, was a Lhasa Apso born to my Aunt's dog. Someone had taken the puppy, roundly neglected and/or abused him, and then returned him to my Aunt. We agreed to take him in as a semi-fostering arrangement, but he was a mess-- unhousebroken, really fearful, and with chronic separation anxiety. My brother and I were in school and both my parents worked, so no one was around to help him. Before too long, we found Fletcher another home.
Not an established track record of dog accountability there. My wife and I thought long and hard about whether to get a dog, and I like to think we have taken to ownership like ducks to water. But I'm always learning something new.
All of this exposition is leading up to a critical question for the experts, and I just don't have enough experience to know whether Pappy is unusual. Is it typical for a dog to be bow-legged and pigeon-toed in back, and knock-kneed and duck-footed in front?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Pappy and my evening walks in the autumn have been distinguished by three things:
- It's dark out;
- There are a lot of fallen leaves;
- There's a creepy bamboo thicket behind the baseball field.
As for the darkness, there's not a lot to say. I took a picture of it on the right, and that's pretty much what it looks like.
The piles of leaves are like ambrosia to Pappy. He wades in up to his elbows, and then just sniffs and sniffs. The following haiku is by Pappy (interpreted by me):
myriad smells composting
in the piled leaves
wait, i'm not done
The bamboo thicket is immense and dense. As I approach it with Pappy, we're suddenly confronted with the calls and rustling of hundreds of birds-- but we never see any of them. Pappy is actually less freaked by this than I am. Partly it's fear of some Hitchcockian nightmare, partly fear of showering bird doo.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I was just alerted in a comment by HotDog of Wikifido.com that Pappy's Blog has been selected as Blog of the Week. Pappy gets to follow in the footsteps of many august blogdogs who have visited this page and left their marks. I couldn't help but notice a disproportionate number of terriers in the past winners' circle, not that I have any problem with that. Now, I collect my prize... a subject for one more post during National Blog Posting Month.
It wasn't so long ago that I was despairing that our blog seemed to fall off the Googlable internet. Now we've rebounded, baby, like Robert Downey, Jr. I'd like to thank Pappy, the Academy, and of course my wife...
A couple of incidents at the dog park gave me some food for thought regarding Pappy's place in the dog pecking order. The first was that Jack had a scary fight with a creepy Akita. He was uninjured, but upset. Jack's pretty unflappable-- his favorite game at the dog park is "Jumping Jack" where five dogs simultaneously attack him. Later that afternoon he was pretty shaken, and only wanted to play with the little dogs at the dog park; some R&R amongst the Lilliputians.
The second incident involved Truman playing with a huge Lab. Truman is no wuss, in fact his owner worries that he can be aggressive at times. But he was alternately running around with this Lab, then rolling over in abject submission as the Lab sniffed around his nethers at great length. Truman's owner had never seen this before, and was aghast that her dashing dog had been so totally unmanned.
So, in considering these two situations, I kind of ponder how Pappy fits into dog society. Apart from the time that Joy, a stocky Boxer, pinned a surprised Pappy on his back and sprawled on top of him, he's never demonstrated anything resembling belly-up submissive behavior to dominant dogs. He's no strutting he-dog, he just somehow sidesteps the really dominant ones. As for aggression, he generally stays out of trouble despite all of his rough-housing. Whenever there is a fight he makes a bee-line right towards it, but he never ends up in the middle. I certainly don't need a tough guy, so it's okay with me the other dogs don't take him too seriously and he stays out of trouble. It's fine if he is the Barney Fife of the dog world.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Pappy is a pretty good little passenger on car rides. He's never sick, and he can get pretty relaxed and flop down on the back seat. However, my wife likes to point out when I'm driving and Pappy is standing ramrod straight, propped in the corner of the back seat, with a slightly startled look in his eyes. I don't have much use for editorial comments about my driving from my wife, but I sure don't need them from my dog.
Pappy says don't forget to dog the vote.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Pappy and I have a weekend drill. To many it might seem wildly boring, but I think dogs actually like it that way-- especially if it includes a visit to the dog park. The thing I really like about it is that, before we had a dog, I would fritter away my weekend mornings until around 10AM. I'd get the paper read, but not much more. Now, by 10AM, I've done more with my dog than most people do all day. And the dog park regulars are pretty entertaining.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
As part of the Saturday routine, we went to the dog park. Jack was there, but for some reason Pappy was consumed with wrestling Hamlet, a Great Dane easily three times the size of our 36-pound hero. I was a little worried that Pappy would get snapped in two, but he was holding his own with his lunges and flashing terrier teeth-- he even had Hamlet down a few times early on. Pappy's pretty used to tangling with bigger dogs, but sometimes a little fear would be a good thing.