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12/19/2011 - Keisha Ė In Loving Memory

Her AKC name was Princess Keisha the Second. I didnít name her, but it is my understanding that all AKC animals have lengthy, if not silly, names. For me, she went by Keish, Keishie, and Girlie, and she was the best dog Iíve ever had the pleasure of knowing and owning.

I bought her for $175 (a steal) after my apartment was broken into, thinking a big dog would scare off any further intruders. I asked a long-ago friend who was a state trooper at the time what I should look for in a shepherd. He trained other troopers with their canine companions and had multiple of his own, so as far as I was concerned he is/was the authority on the subject. He told me to find a dog with ďball drive.Ē

Ball drive meant that I needed to find a dog so attached to a tennis ball that when I held one in my hand the dog would only listen to me and would be highly susceptible to training.

I perused the classifieds.

The first dog I looked at was older. Her name was Penny (I have no idea what her full name was or even if she had one), and though she was sweet, she was not for me.

Then I met Keisha. She was a beautiful looking dog! (See picture below) She lived in Coventry and was raised by a couple who had bred her once and then decided they would rather breed Deutschens instead because they were smaller. I guess they had a thing for ďGermanĒ dogs.

Anyway, they were looking to get rid of her. That sounds cold, but what were they thinking? They were practically giving her away. She was a year-and-a-half old, house broken, and knew the basic commands.

It took me two minutes to decide on her when all she wanted from me was to throw her ball for her, which I did several times, and she brought it back to me each time. She ignored her owner after the first throw.

From day one we bonded.

I soon moved out of my apartment, bought a house, and Keisha and I were happy. I think the saying ďManís best friendĒ came from the ideology of the kind of friendship Keisha and I immediately developed.

Each day I would throw the ball for her. I trained her in hand signal commands. We would take car rides Ė she loved car rides Ė and she would slobber the passenger window and dashboard with her big tongue and wet nose in excitement.

She burped after each meal and used the furniture as a napkin. She gnawed her tennis balls like they were pacifiers. And would let off gas bombs that did more than crinkle your nose. Turnips! She would talk to me. "Arr Woo Woo!" which I always took to mean, "I love you!"

Every day she would herd me Ė circle me, protect me.

After I remarried several years later, she protected my wife and step-daughter too. Not once was Keisha jealous, not even when we decided to get another dog or after my daughter was born. She was patient and accepting. She loved us. Keisha really was part of the family and not just a pet.

She lived to be 98 in human years and had lived a good life. She only had one major trip to the vetís when she ate a cat toy and it blocked up her intestines.

And then again, six months or so ago, she had an episode where her right hind leg didnít want to work. Whether it was a mini-stroke or something with her hip, like arthritis, was unclear, but I had brief passing thoughts of having to put her down. I certainly didnít want her to suffer, but other than her leg not working, she remained alert and was happy still.

I mean, as a pet owner, we are faced with the decision of ďquality of lifeĒ sometimes, and I was prepared to make the hard call if I needed to. Luckily, I didnít have to.

Keisha ended up bouncing back over the following months. Not to the way she was before, but she began to play with her ball and the other dog again. Her leg worked to the point where she didnít need help getting up and she didnít appear to be suffering other than her nails would scrape the floor because she couldnít raise her foot up high enough. She actually ran by ďhoppingĒ with her hind legs moving together as one.

She was still happy and loving and loved.

She had some bladder control problems toward the end, but who doesnít at 98 years old? I was expecting her death but still didnít think it would have been so soon. She was normally content when I left for work that morning.

I came home this past Friday and only the younger dog met me and my daughter at the door. I called for Keisha and clapped my hands but I didnít hear the jingle of her tags. I didn't want to believe it, but I knew the time had come.

Thereís no need for further detail, other than to say that Keisha looked peaceful Ė she had died in her sleep. Isnít that the best way to go? I think so.

We will all miss her terribly, and with the best of love we say goodbye, to a loyal pet, a loving companion, and a protector of the family.

Love you, Girlie!

12/16/2011 - My Best Dog!

R.I.P. Keisha (1997 - 2011)

12/15/2011 - Bag of Bones

I recently watched Stephen King's Bag of Bones on the A&E network, based on Stephen Kingís novel of the same name.

For those not in the know, I have read all of Kingís work except for the Dark Tower series, and this should tell you that I am a big fan of his writing (and so arenít a lot of other people based on his sales and notoriety).

So, why oh why, if his work is so popular, are his novels bastardized in movies? Yes, there have been some close adaptations like Misery, Pet Cemetery, Dreamcatcher, and The Shining, but even they were not spot on.

In Misery, the novel, for an example, Annie Wilkes chops off the feet of Paul Sheldon, but in the movie she only breaks both of his ankles with a sledge hammer.

In The Shining, the novel, there is a major clairvoyance connection between Danny and Dick Hallorann that we never really experienced in the movie version.

Back to Bag of Bones ...the four-hour two-part miniseries (minus all of the commercial time, which was extraordinarily painful (thanks A&E)) should have been plenty of time to have captured the correct feel of the novel, but in my opinion it didnít.

The ending in particular bothered me. In the novel, Mike Noonan has retired from being a writer and is attempting to adopt Kyra. The outcome of the adoption is left unclear but I get a sense that all will be okay between the two of them. In the movie, it ends with cops walking all over the property of a crime scene and Mike and Kyra head off to go paddling in a canoe. Yes, Kyra says that Mike's dead wife told her that he was ready to be a daddy, but it just wasnít the same.

Maybe it was poorly written for the screen. Maybe it was poorly directed. Pierce Brosnan certainly was overacting his tormented scenes. And even the scary scenes werenít scary.

Honestly, I donít know what goes on in making a Stephen King novel into a movie, or any other book for that matter, but if youíre going to do it, do it right. First, be a fan of the novel, donít just do it for the money, second, be sure the screenplay matches the feel of the novel, and thirdly, donít allow an authorís name to be placed on the movie title if itís not close to whatís in the novel.

I think it goes without saying, but Iím going to say it anyway Ė I was sorely disappointed. There was no life to this miniseries, and maybe that was the point, it was just a Bag of Bones.

12/10/2011 - Lunar Eclipse

Some view a lunar eclipse as de minimis, but I get overly excited every time one occurs. Why? Because the fact that the Earthís shadow appearing on the moon reminds me that there is 3D to our world and our universe.

The world isnít flat. There is more to the cosmos than just us. This could mean weíre not alone.

Take Kepler-22b, the newly discovered Earth-like planet beyond our solar system. For the first time we have found a planet which is very much like our own Ė within the habitable zone Ė capable of withstanding life. My thoughts are; forget sending a probe to Europa (one of Jupiterís moons), send one to Kepler, this first super-Earth, and letís find out whatís there!

Kepler-22b is 600 light-years away from earth and is 2.4 times larger. It orbits its sun in 290 days. The host sun is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun, but belongs to the same G-type class as our sun.

I donít know if it has a moon, or two, or more for that matter, but if it does, perhaps more than one of them is eclipsing at the same time as ours. How exciting!

What is disappointing however, is the fact that I wonít be able to see this one of ours (which is supposed to be spectacular), because itís only going to be visible from the Pacific side of the Earth. Oh well, I hope you all of you on the west coast enjoy it. Take pictures. Send them to me. Post them on my facebook wall.

12/8/2011 - My First Blog

I never thought of writing a blog before now. "Who cares about what I think?" I asked myself this many times. But then I realized that this could be an opportunity to write when I'm not doing "real" writing.

And by "real" writing, I mean on my novels. Yes, what I really should be working on is Book Three of the James Sutherland Chronicles. I haven't been spending the time that I want toward it, because little, smaller stories keep popping into my head - the latest was about the moon.

Perhaps you'll see some of my short story ideas appear here from time to time, but, as I suspect, maybe it will just be inconsequential ramblings of a quondam writer. Who knows? At this point I don't even know. Suffice it to say that if you care about what's going on in my mind, life, or surroundings, and I feel like writing about it, then you'll be able to read it here.

This is not about vanity. It's my way of "filling in the blanks" so to speak. So, here I am, whether you read it or not is none of my concern - though if you are reading this then thank you for your time in giving my blithering nonsense a once over.