Archive for August, 2018

Well-behaved doggy

shiny happy doggy

Today was the first time I’ve been complimented on how well-trained Anka is. The fellow who owns the car dealership across the street has seen me out working with her, and he was just so impressed with her.

Now, I still believe she’s mostly in the raw, and we’re working on making her even more dead solid. She’ probably better behaved than most random dogs you’re going to come across, but she’s no top IPO dog, that’s for sure.

I am not a particularly good dog trainer, but this animal and I have just clicked in a very profound way. She is one of those dogs that loves to play ball, but she’s also one of those dogs that really hates to make her owner cross.

And I guess that’s how it works. I have to have a ball crazed nut to build the relationship, because I do not do well with dogs that require constantly cuddling and treats to form the bond.

I wish I had been able to start with her as an 8-week-old pup, and my guess is she didn’t have a perfect life before I got her.  But she is a dead solid German shepherd, with lots of drive and great nerves. She also has defense drive, but it having a brain and good nerves tempers all of it.

Genetics does play a big role in creating the dogs we have. I wish I could have had her as a little puppy so that I could bring about a very strong foundation on what really is an awesome dog.


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This is a documentary I’m going to have to see!

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anka new ball

Anka got a new ball from Tractor Supply. I didn’t catch the name of the ball but decided to try it out. It is perfect for this kind of dog. It is soft enough that she can catch it the air and tough enough to withstand the GSD carnassial crunch.


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I’m not 25 anymore

merle french bulldog

Over a decade ago, I started this blog. I am not 25 years old anymore.  I have lived a decade. I have seen a decade’s worth of learning, and I have tried my very best to keep my mind open.

Having an open mind is a dangerous thing, for we live in a world in which cliques and support are often unified with a bit of dogma. So when I change my mind about something, I am always a little afraid. Indeed, I think we all are when we hit this point in our growth as humans.

You may notice that have long since stopped the posts that rail against the American Kennel Club. The reason is pretty simple:  The AKC registers only a tiny fragment of dogdom in this country. Those number apparently are not on the increase either. The vast majority of dogs born in this country could be bred exactly outside the confines of various closed registry breeds, and in truth, that’s the whole deal with the designer dog thing.

I came to the point very recently that I am fully aware of all the problems associated with lower genetic diversity in purebred dogs, but I also began to realize that the people who were in purebred dogs were people who actually loved their animals. I would like “purebred” to mean something different than it does now, but I don’t discount the concept of breed.

I would like to have better brachcephalic dogs rather than ban all brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic breeds exist, I think, because it is easier for primates like ourselves to see some comradeship in an animal that has almost simian visage than one with the wolf’s muzzle. The extant form of dogs all belong to the subfamily called Caninae, which is characterized by cursorial hunting. I have called these dogs “post canine” because their selection is against the main feature of all Caninae. They are now Caninae by lineage in the same way that whales are Artiodactyls.  They are off that lineage but no longer share those traits that defined their ancestors.

I offer only a criticism of these dogs, not an advocacy for any legislation. My criticism is there because I am oddly attracted to brachycephaly. I am pulled by my primate brain to feel that comradeship, and I know that the owners of these dogs feel those emotions even more strongly than I do.

I think my initial edgelord tone on this issue didn’t do any good.  It might have given me some hits on the blog and plaudits from other bloggers. I may have helped the Retromops project a bit, but I don’t think it helped any pugs or French bulldogs.

French bulldogs haven’t gone down in popularity either. They are now the number 1 breed in the UK, supplanting the old staple of the Labrador retriever.

I miss the golden retriever of my youth very much. Her ghost haunts nearly ever post on this site, and I’ve spent so much time looking for a dog with that amount of intellect, sensitivity, drive, and yes, loyalty, and I have found so many dogs that come close but never match them all.

Anka does. Anka is not a golden retriever, but she is like that old dog, a package that mixes all those things and places them in a different package.

And that means I must say I was generally wrong about German shepherds. I had never lived with one until now, and I never dreamed that I would hit it off with one of these dogs.

But I have.

And if I’m wrong about her, then I surely have been wrong about many things, many things about which I have written to you in a voice that sounds awfully authoritative.

I try to get the facts. I’d rather be right than wrong, and I would like to pare back my prejudices as much as possible.

I’m glad that I am reaching this point in my life, and I only wish that I had reached it sooner, when I could have been less cruel and less maddeningly stupid.

So I am not in my 20s anymore, and I now wish to move onto a better exploration of myself, what I actually think, and what I actually am.

I hope you can stay with me, but I am different now.




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The Tribe of Lybica

black cat

The August rains are autumn rains for me. The midday sun may boil the air a bit, but once a torrent falls from the sky,  air is astringent and cool and gives me just a little taste of the coming short days of October, when the sun will cast at the steepest angles through the crimson leaves on the trees.

Though the land is still in verdant summer, I feel this coming coolness and revel in it a bit. Just a few days ago, I was standing out in a bit of post-downpour reveling when I spied a black cat moving softly along the far end of the lawn.

Before we moved here, the cats lived in a paradise, feeding and fighting as ferals do,  and having their kittens on the old outbuildings that abut this property. The constant wanderings of dogs in and out of the house have put an bit of a damper on the cats constantly wandering here.

But every once in a while, I see one moving along the edge of the property, perhaps searching old haunts and checking to see if a giant coyote with a black muzzle still lived at this address.

On this day, though, the rain fell good and hard, and then the stooping August sun peared out to cast a yellow glow upon the land. And the sun rays cast upon the cat’s black coat, and its nearly pantherine form seemed to glow ethereally.

The cat glanced back at me, and I recognized its slender head and gracile form as belonging to a queen and not a tom.  Perhaps, it was the same queen I’d seen nearly month ago, moseying  through the summer grass with four kittens in tow.  Two black ones like their mother and two wildcat tabby ones cavorted all around their mother, who moved with the solemn determination of something wild and untouchable.

Their lives, like all things trying to be wild, are fleeting and harsh Hazards abound. Just few days later, I saw the flattened form of a black kitten on the highway just down from the house. I cannot know whether it was one of the four I’d seen cross the lawn, but I suspect that it was.

I am not a cat person. You will never confuse me with one, but I cannot help marvel at what they are. Many species of small wild cat exist in the world, but only a single form of wildcat managed set up shop in agrarian society.

This wildcat, now known by the name Felis lybica,  found that staking out granaries and wheatfields for mice and hamsters  was a pretty good way to survive. The grain ensured hordes of rodents for the stalking, and man’s hatred for all things large and predatory kept away all the wildcat adversaries or at least kept them at bay.

And over time the cat came to be man’s little wheatfield leopard, stalking and killing and living and traveling over the whole world as the ultimate mesopredator.

This is the Tribe of Lybica, the clan of little predators that don’t cause us much concern, and whole lineages of cats have passed before them. The mighty Smilodon and the American lion have fallen from the land. and even the squalling cougar has passed on from its haunts, though a few claim to see them slipping about in the undergrowth.

The Tribe of Lybica lives at the edge of human civilization, but it also lives in a much vaunted status as a companion animal. The internet worships them in almost the same garish way as the Ancient Egyptians did.  They filled their walls with many images of cats, while we fill our “walls” with memes of “kitters” and “cattos.”

The Anthropocene is the age where the little monsters thrive and the big ones live mostly in forgotten and inaccessible redoubts.  You’ve never seen an Amur tiger stroll down an alley in Pittsburgh, but you’ve surely caught the glance of one of the local ferals flitting away behind a parked car.

So the black cats will thrive well in my neighborhood. The speeding car is their only main concern.  They will stand starkly against the winter cold and driving rain, and we will consider them very little.

But they will thrive, and in the spring, the queens will have their kittens, and a whole new generation of the Lybica will inherit the grounds.

And this cycle will repeat long after I’ve moved on.

As much as I will rail that cats need to be kept indoors and kept neutered, they will thrive so long as human kind thrives.

And when our species goes the way of the dinosaur, their lineage will be spread across the globe. It might be cut down in size once the bigger predators return, or they could evolve into the new tigers and cougars that prowl the world post-humanity.

So the Tribe of Lybica’s fate is linked to ours, but perhaps not as much as we might assume.

Their connection to us will always be tenuous and fleeting but also linked and tied. A remarkable paradox, to be sure.











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Patreon Revamp


Now that I’m branching out on my own and trying new things in a totally new state, I have decided to revamp my Patreon.

The most important difference with my Patreon now is that I am now offering a “Cash for Questions” reward. The way this will work is that if you pledge $5 a month, I will allow you to send me questions, which I will answer in a Youtube video, that will be part of a Youtube Live. I plan on doing this on the last Friday of every month. The first of these will be held on August 31, 2018 at 6:30 PM Eastern (US).

Anyone who pledges $1 a month will be invited to a private Google Hangout with me on the first Friday of every month, with the first one on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 6:30 PM Eastern (US).  Everyone who pledges the $5 gets included as well.

Also, I am going to allow anyone who donates $10 or more to my Paypal, retrievermanpaypal(at) to be included in the next “Cash for Questions” livestream. The cutoff to be included is midnight (Eastern) on the Wednesday before the Friday livestream. If the donation occurs after that time, I will have to hold it over for the next month. These monthly donations do need a time limit, so I can do research before the livestream. Monthly donations do not get any of the livestreams or Google hangout rewards.

Questions should focus on the topics covered in the blog. I know I am fascinating, but I am a square.

I am going to be blogging a lot more, as you may have noticed from the increased activity this month.

Once I get 100 patrons, I will post one Youtube video per week on topics related to this blog.

So if you can donate using Patreon or my Paypal, it will greatly help high quality content on this space. Thank you so much for reading and commenting all these years. We are beginning a new adventure together.




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The Rush x Fontana puppies were released onto the lawn today. At 4.5 weeks, they are turning into classic little goldens.

Green collar (male) decided to stalk the white cheetah thing.

green stalking zoom

“Wanna play, white doggy?”

green staring at zoom

The always smug Mr. Slurpee:

slurpee smugg

Orange collar male and Slurpee:

orange collar and slurpee

Zoom and the puppies:

zoom and puppies

Gang of puppies:

gang of puppies

The grass is for peeing:

peeing on the grass


Yellow collar male (“Remi”):

yellow collar male in the grass

Remi getting a belly rub:

remi belly rub

remi belly rub 11

Red collar female (“Apple”) belly rub:

Apple belly rub

appe belly rub


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