TBT: Big News: TPP is Going to the Dogs

One year ago today was the eve of my picking up Murphy, my now-nine-year-old female bull terrier.  I had no—well, little—idea of what to expect, but rereading this post, I can see how excited I was.

Murphy has turned out to be the perfect dog for me.  She is house-trained and loving, and pretty much likes to eat and take long naps.  Naturally, we’re a perfect fit for each other.

She is also stubborn—a trait of the breed—and likes to do things her way, but she knows who the boss is, even if the boss is a bit of a sucker and a softy.

It’s been a good year with my old girl, and I’m praying for many more.

With that, here is 21 July 2021’s “Big News: TPP is Going to the Dogs“:

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TBT^2: Hungry Like the Wolf

Seeing as yesterday was my dog’s birthday, I figured I’d throw back to a piece that I seem to come back to each June, “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Tech magazine Gizmodo ran a piece some years ago that poses the question (in its title) “What Happens to Wolves When They’re Raised Like Dogs?

My thinking on dogs has done nearly a 180-degree turn—maybe a 150-degree turn?—over the past few years.  I’ve always liked dogs (so I was already thirty degrees in their favor), but I disliked dog people.  I still would not classify myself in that way, though I do serenade my dog, so maybe I’m just in denial.

Regardless, what chapped me was the way people would use dogs as surrogate children, or would invest huge amounts of their personal identity in their dog.  Again, perhaps I’m in denial, or blind to reality, but as much as I love my dog, I’d like to think I’m not pouring misdirected paternalism into her.

But dogs do provide wonderful companionship, and can be a great deal of fun.  Murphy does something comical or amusing just about every day.  And her adenoidal snoring and “talking” crack me up.  I actually sleep better when Murphy is snoring her brains out—she’s like a living white-noise machine.

Pretty crazy these chunky furballs used to be wolves, eh?

Here’s 24 June 2021’s “TBT: Hungry Like the Wolf“:

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Bull Terrier Tuesday: Balody Bull Terrier Build

Regular readers know of my boyish love for LEGO sets of any kind, and that I’ve been building more and more of them over the past year.  Those same readers will know of my dog, Murphy, an eight-year old female bull terrier that I adopted last summer from The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission.

Apparently, there exists a bull terrier building set from Balody, an Asian (probably Chinese) company that makes a LEGO knock-off, with a twist:  the pieces are extremely tiny.  Indeed, they’re called “micro building blocks” on Amazon.

That’s where the inscrutable East gets that much more inscrutable:  on Amazon, the company selling this set is called “Larcele.”  I can only assume it’s a classy French rebranding to make the toy sound more European (LEGO is Danish).  There’s also a site called mylozblocks.com that sells the sets.

I can’t find anything about Balody or Larcele online, other than the latter’s Amazon page.  If any toy enthusiasts are reading this blog and can weight in, I’d appreciate it.  Granted, I spent a grand total of maybe seven minutes searching the web, so who knows what I missed.

Regardless, a new lady friend gifted me this Balody/Larcelle bull terrier set for Easter, an incredibly thoughtful gift.  It was also incredibly difficult to build, despite the box boasting a difficulty level of three out of five blocks (whatever that means).

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Indianapolis Interim

As I noted Saturday, I was in Indianapolis, Indiana this weekend for my older brother’s wedding.  The last time I’d been to Indianapolis was twenty years ago, for a Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) Teen Talent competition.

This trip I did not get to see much of the city, as I arrived late in the afternoon Friday and flew back Sunday, and everything in between involved wedding events (and, of course, the wedding itself).

I’m notoriously bad about taking pictures, so I don’t have many of my own to share.  But the wedding was at Laurel Hall, which I’ve been describing to people as “a Gilded Age castle.”  It’s not properly a castle, but it’s certainly a mansion, and was constructed in 1916 as the residence of a wealthy family.  It served many functions, including as a children’s hospital, and a fraternity owns it now.

All that said, it was a very good trip, even if I had to fly to get there.

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Bull Terrier Tuesday: Dog Sitting

After a long and eventful weekend, Murphy and I are back in Lamar with an additional guest:  my childhood friend’s eight-year old blue heeler mix Gracie.  My buddy is going to the beach with his wife and kid, and needed a place along the way to drop their pup.

As such, I’m now running an assisted care facility for elderly dogs.  In all seriousness, the dog, Gracie, is a real sweetheart, and she and Murphy seem to get along well enough.  Murphy quickly established dominance once we got back to the house the other day, but then I put Murphy on her back to remind her who is really in charge, and it’s been relative peace in the house ever since.

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TBT: Walkin’

The big “hit” piece (that is, the successful, well-liked post, not a piece attacking some famous personality) this week seems to have been my post about driving to and from Athens, Georgia.  In the spirit of forward motion and scenic trips, I thought I’d dust off this chestnut from 5 August 2020, right before the previous academic year began.

I’d just gotten into walking right before school resumed, and was hoping to get in a couple of miles every day.  That goal sure fell part quickly, and I realized I did not walk nearly as much as I thought I would at work.  It turns out that 10,000 steps a day is actually a lot of steps.

That said, I did manage to get in over 30,000 steps in a single day once in the past year:  when I spent an eighteen-hour day at Universal Studios.  Needless to say, I slept until nearly noon the next day.

But that outlier aside, I did not come close to achieving that dream.  When I dog-sat my girlfriend’s German Shepherd, we took some lengthy, sweaty walks.  I was hoping that Murphy and I would do the same, but the old girl doesn’t go much beyond the yard before she is ready to turn back for another round of water, snacks, and naps, so my dreams of long, energetic dog walks have been smashed on the arthritic knees of my ancient dog.

Or I’m just making a bunch of excuses for myself.  With that, here is 5 August 2020’s “Walkin’“:

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Preserving Old Varieties

My local paper, the Darlington New & Press, features a number of editorial writers typical of the kind that get gigs writing human interest pieces for tiny small town papers:  local pastors writing brief devotionals; a guy griping about the things we all gripe about; an astronomer.  They all write in a similar, mildly folksy manner, which I’m sure appeals to the more advanced age of the paper’s readership.

One of their writers, Tom Poland, wrote a fascinating piece last week about rare heirloom vegetables, “Long-lost treasures and heirloom seeds.”  The piece tracks down the Bradford Watermelon, a watermelon variety thought to be extinct, but which survived on the land Nat Bradford inherited from his family.  The watermelon variety dwindled in popularity in spite of its sweet, superior flavor because the rind was too thin to survive bulk shipping.

After years of research into arcane newspaper clippings and agricultural history, Bradford discovered that the melons growing on his ancestral farm are, indeed, the legendary Bradford Watermelons.

To quote Poland quoting Bradford:

In Nat’s words, “The greatest watermelon to have come from the great age of watermelon breeding fell out of cultivation. Lost to the world, the melon lived on in the Bradford family farm fields. The last seeds on the planet of this wonderful melon were in a couple of mason jars.”

What a remarkable legacy—and a fortuitous one.  Heirloom varieties of many plants are enjoying increased interest lately as part of the current homesteading movement, as these varieties are often tastier than their supermarket, genetically-modified alternatives.

I suspect, too, that there is a certain joy in knowing that by planting these forgotten seeds, you are directly contributing to the survival of a variety.  There is a link to the past, and the agricultural experiments of our forebears.

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Murphy’s Vet Update

Yesterday I took Murphy to the vet, and Audre Myers of Nebraska Energy Observer asked me to provide an update.

Murphy is doing well.  Other than some very sensitive skin and a possible flea problem, she is in good shape overall.

She also has an inverted vulva (click at your own risk), which could be the result of excess weight.  That means I have to take extra care to clean out her lady parts, as the extra folds can harbor bacteria.  I also have to clean the vulva itself, which can bleed slightly if she rubs her butt too much.  Fortunately, the veterinarian expressed her anal glands, providing much-need relief in the hind quarters, so Murphy hasn’t been spinning on her butt quite so much.

She is on a two-week antibiotic to help with her skin inflammation, and I have special shampoo that’s supposed to help with her skin.  She does not like getting a bath, but once I put her doughy, sixty-pound body in the tub, she stands there very patiently while I wash her.  I just wish she would sit down in the warm suds—it would feel soooo good on her stomach, and would make cleaning a bit easier.

The vet saw one flea on her, but she has a good flea collar and took her first monthly dose of flea medicine last night.  I’ve also given Murphy her first monthly dose of heartworm medicine (she’s heartworm negative, but we want to keep it that way).  I’ve washed all of her bedding (and mine), and I think we have eradicated the flea menace.

All the medicine has given her some diarrhea, but it’s not uncontrollable (thank goodness).  She goes outside when we walk, and I clean her rump judiciously when we get back inside.

That sounds like a lot, but she really is doing well for an eight-year old who has endured a great deal of change in the past few weeks.

On the plus side, her nails are finally trimmed!  That seems to have helped with her limp considerably, and today was the first day in over a week that we have taken some good walks (and runs).  We still aren’t going very far, but she has enjoyed getting out more, sniffing every bush and fence post she can find.  We ran into some neighborhood kids, and she completely hammed it up for them, rolling around in the grass and begging for pets (and, knowing her, treats—she’s quite the chunk).

She’s dozing now on the couch while I write this and watch The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs.  She enjoyed some steak in her kibble tonight, and probably won’t more for another couple of hours (or she’ll pop up as soon as I’m about to click “Publish”).

There you go, Audre!  I always deliver for my readers.

—TPP

Bull Terrier Tuesday I: Big Vet Visit

Despite the sheer volume of dog-related posts a couple of weeks ago, I promise that the blog isn’t going to become a dog blog.  Bull Terrier Tuesday won’t be a regular feature, but maybe once a month or so I’ll give some updates on Murphy, the eight-year female bull terrier I’m fostering for The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission.

We’re nearly three weeks into the thirty-day foster-to-adopt process, and today Murphy has a big vet visit.  She had a good first visit the day after I got her, and her bloodwork has come back clean.  She’s also heartworm negative, which is a real blessing.  That first visit got her vaccinations updated, too, so Murphy is street legal now.

But today’s visit is a really big one.  Murphy is an old girl with a number of issues, all of which are easily resolved (I hope), but which will require her to go under sedation.

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