Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lewis and Clark's Best Friend

From the Sherwood Gazette (Portland, July 29, 2008)

"A little more than 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark made their historic odyssey to the Pacific coast. One member of the Corps of Discovery is not always mentioned or portrayed in paintings. This valuable asset was Capt. Meriwether Lewis’ black Newfoundland dog, Seaman, whom he bought for $20 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

"Historians speculate on why Lewis chose such a dog. He undoubtedly was aware of the water rescue and retrieving expertise of these animals, as well as, their great strength, and friendliness.

"Lewis needed a dog that could keep up with horses on long treks. The animal had to have a good coat of hair due to the extreme weather they would face in the mountains. Seaman proved his worth over-and-over. In one incident, he herded a stampeding buffalo bull out of camp before it charged over Lewis & Clark’s lodge tent. He warned constantly of grizzly bears and was even helpful in dragging a deer out of a river.

"On the trip back, some Indians stole Seaman and Lewis threatened to burn down their village if the dog was not returned. His men found the Newf where the Indians had released him and run off.

"In early July, a Sherwood dog helped re-enact the glory days of the Corps of Discovery. Athos, a Newfoundland dog, born at Royal Flush Newfoundlands in Sherwood, was one of five dogs that portrayed Seaman at Fort Clatsop’s annual Seaman’s Day on July 9. Athos (Royal Flush’s The Musketeer) greeted visitors from all over the country and Canada. Newfs are the only dogs allowed in the Visitor’s Center at Fort Clatsop because of their 'historical significance'. Athos is a black, 16-month-old, 138-pound male.

"Athos and the other dogs spent time being cuddled and petted by many people. Children were thrilled to have their photos taken with a piece of 'living history.' Athos walked down to Netul Landing, a lovely walk of just over one mile. Greeting visitors there, he rode back with them to the Fort in the shuttle bus.

"Besides posing with park rangers in period dress, Athos took part in discussions about Seaman and his adventures, as well as, a talk on Newfoundlands today. Newfs are famous for water rescue. The Pacific Northwest Newfoundland Club holds a water test every September at Horseshoe Lake in Woodland, WA. There are three levels of difficulty, 3 titles available, Water Dog, Water Rescue Dog, and Water Rescue Dog Excellent.

"Newfs were used in their native Newfoundland to help cod fishermen haul in the heavy nets. Stories abound of them swimming out to ships foundering on the rocks in terrible winter storms, carrying rescue lines in their mouths.

"Newfs are also considered Draft Dogs, and would pull small carts filled with firewood or produce for the market. The PNNC holds its Draft Dog test in May.

"The Victorians used these dogs to look after their children, hence 'Nana' in the Peter Pan tale.

"Athos earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate on June 14. He is working on Rally and Obedience and hopes to attain his Draft Dog title and first Water Dog title next year.

"Hopefully, he will become a therapy dog and do the 'Read to the Dog' program at the Sherwood and Tualatin libraries.

"Athos and his owner, Lynn deBeauclair, can be seen hanging out at the Sherwood Saturday Market on days when it’s not too hot."

* * * * * * * *

I've always been a bit skeptical of this story. I mean, really, herding a stampeding buffalo? Dragging a deer out of a river? Messin' with Grizzly bears? Please, it's enough of a task just getting around the show ring.

In any event, our Dad just bought us a book and started reading it to us. It's called "Sailor, The Hangashore Newfoundland Dog" and, of course, is about a Newfie who doesn't swim. Andrew liked it (no surprise there). I peed on it at the first opportunity and rendered it non-readable. Now that is heroic!

That's me all over.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Wild, Wild Sea

(For Dad)

I saw it again this evening,
A black sail in a pale yellow sky.
And just as before in a moment,
It was gone where the grey gulls fly.

If it should happen again I shall worry
That only a strange ship could fly,
And my sanity scans the horizon
In the light of a darkening sky.

That night as I walked in my slumber
I waded into the sea strand,
And I swam with the moon and her lover
Until I lost sight of the land.

I swam 'till the night became morning
A black sea in the reddening sky.
Found myself on the deck on a rolling ship,
So far where no grey gulls fly.

All around me was silence
As if mocking my frail human hopes.
And a question mark hung in the canvas
For the wind that had died in the ropes.

I may have slept for an hour,
I may have slept for a day
For a woke in a bed of white linen
And the sky was the colour of clay.

At first just a rustle of canvas,
And the gentlest breath on my face.
But a galloping line of white horses
Said that soon we were in for a race.

The gentle sigh turned to a howling,
And the grey sky she angered to black,
And my anxious eyes searched the horizon
With the gathering sea at my back.

Did I see the shade of a sailor
On the bridge through the wheelhouse pane?
Held fast to the wheel of the rocking ship
As I squinted my eyes in the rain.

For the ship had turned into the wind,
Against the storm to brace
And underneath the sailor's hat,
I saw my father's face.

If a prayer today is spoken
Please offer it for me
When the bridge to heaven is broken,
And you've lost on the wild wild sea
Lost on the wild wild sea...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Conversation

(Recorded at the Marina Green, San Francisco)

S: "Don't look at him."

A: "Uh, why not?"

S: "Why not? Here we are, out in the open, and all he wants to do is take pictures of us posing for whatever it is he uses us for. 'What's the point' is the real question."

A: "So what should I do?"

S: "Plonker! Look up in the air as if you're distracted. That will really piss him off."

A: "Hey, I see a bird."

S: "Jesus, will you get a clue. The point is to act as if you are completely disinterested and irritated."

A: "But I like it out here."

S: "You like it everwhere. You need to create boundaries with him, learn how to manipulate him, and instill guilt in him. Didn't you read my training tips?"

A: "Uh. I dunno. So you mean if we look sad he'll take us to the beach?"

S: "Whoa! That's the last place we want to go. One, I don't swim, and two, it would mean refurbishing. The beach is almost as bad as the show ring for dog's sake."

A: "But we're Newfies -- it's our job to save people and stuff."

S: "Oh, young one, you have so much to learn. If they go into the water and can't cope, it's called 'assumption of risk'. Keep looking up."

A: "So what do you want to do?"

S: "Four years and I'm not sure. But if another tourist asks me about my feet, my weight, how much I eat, whether I shed, how much I drool, and all the other usual stuff, I'm going to bear my teeth."

A: "Scoldy Boy!"

S: "You got that right!"

A: "What's for dinner?"

S: "Food unfit for a dog. Just keep looking up. He's fuming. Our work is almost done."

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Legend Of The Newfoundland Dog (Reprise)


"There is a land where the waves explode upon the reef in a boiling foam, there the legend was born.

"As the story is told, God turned one day to contemplate all of his creations and saw on that Newfoundland Isle, flailed by storm a small nation of fishermen, whose rough, weather-beaten people fought courageously against the impervious elements of nature as the freezing cold winter and the unforgiving coastline took its toll, and the sea often asked the sacrifice of human life. Nevertheless, they remained deep-rooted, these men of Newfoundland with the stubbornness as great as their courage.

"God saw, and in his infinite compassion, thought how he might alleviate their suffering. He searched among the creatures of his creations but found none that would serve. It was then he decided to create one anew.

"He took the body of a bear, whose bone structure lent well to such arduous labours and whose thick fur would resist the bitter Newfoundland cold. Then he thought to sweeten this silhouette with the lithe, flexuous lines and movements of the seal, with all its prowess to swim and speedily slip between the waves.

"Now turning to the sea, he saw the playful dolphins happily following the ships, their sweet, joy-filled eyes revealing their serene temperament, and more; they so love man that they often rescue them, saving them from the sea. Yes, they too would be part of this creature.

"When he had done the moulding and casting, there suddenly appeared in his creative arms, a superb animal with glistening black fur; powerful and sweet in the same moment.

"This new being, however, had to have an allegiance and faithfulness, tried and true, to be able to live beside man and be ever ready to offer his life for his master. It was at that moment that the Lord opened and placed in his chest, the heart of a dog, and the miracle was complete.

"From that day onward, those men of the sea had beside them, their courageous companion ever strong, ever faithful, the Newfoundland Dog."

(Reprinted in translation from the book Il Cane Di Terra Nova by Emmy Bruno, editor Mursia-Milano)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Satchie's Training Tips

At some stage in your owner's life
he or she may decide to instill
some basic control on your way of
life and this must be gradually
trained out of them.

Humans are
strange creatures and may even
take you to classes to try to teach
you. Hence, I have devised the
following set of rules and conditions
which if you also abide by,
should result in your speedy
retirement from obedience circles.

The first stage is to develop a range
of expressions concentrating mainly
on the eyes. "Deep Mournful" looks
and "Sideways Glances" are important,
but not as critical as the pitiful
"Don't' Whip Me" look.

The golden rule is that you can get
away with anything, so long as you
eventually trot back to the heel position
and ply your owner with "Sweet
Innocent" looks. He cannot punish
you, but threats of growlings should
evoke the ultimate "Don't Whip Me"
look which if done right, will convince
all others present that your owner is
the Marquis de Sade in disguise.

The first steps of basic control are
heel on lead and sit. Heel on lead is
easy to master; simply drag your head
along the ground, tail between the
legs, as slowly as possible. Any jerking
on lead should be greeted by "Pitiful
Whimpering" and "Deep Mournful"
looks. Variations can include sudden
springing forward which can result in
your owner dislocating shoulders or
better still falling flat on his face. Wait
for fingers to get entangled in choker
chains then spring with all your might
to see how many fingers you can
catch. A good firm thrust should break
at least one finger.

The sit is quite easy to master. On command "Sit Newf" start to slowly angle rear end
toward the ground, shuffling slightly and looking bemused. Stop at any stage before
actually sitting so that a further command is necessary. If ground is damp or cold, keep rear end one inch above ground level. This gives you a distinct advantage to spring away suddenly. Ensure tail goes into muddiest puddles then when it is really wet and sticky, wag tail with glee especially when several owners are around.

The stays are particularly easy to master. Sit-stays can be destroyed
by smiling at your owner and slowly sinking to the
down position. Down stays are easy, for all humans think that
once a Newf is lying down he will not hurry to get back up
again. However, always remember to do good down stays until
exam day. Then you should run away and disturb as many other
dogs as possible. A big bonus is gained for keeping out of
owner's sight for five minutes.

Learn to recognise the commands humans use such as "Exercise
Finished" and react accordingly.

Once you have mastered these exercises you can try heel off lead, basic recall and
retrieve. Heel off lead is particularly easy for you can gradually work it to get out of arms reach before dashing off. "Retrieve" is okay, the only rule is to never pick up the dumbbell. It's okay to spring forward on command and run towards it, but either continue running, or sniff the dumbbell and return perfectly to owner without it. (In "Advanced Training", never, ever let him know you actually can swim and under no circumstance should you rescue him. "Rescuing Others" shall be considered in another installment.)

"Recall" is one of my favourite exercises as there are limitless possibilities. One of my favourites is to await the command "Come" and then slink forward, belly on the ground, tail between legs, grovelling, "Whining Pitifully" and "pleading innocent" looks. This always convinces other humans of how cruel your owner is. Another good one is to spring forward on command, run to owner and sit diligently directly in front of him. On the "finish" command (because confidence has grown) either rear up on hind legs or roll over on the ground, play dead or likewise. If sitting just outside arms reach then spring away and cavort with other dogs.

Remember other dog etiquette - always greet members of the opposite sex with
the usually intimate Newf greeting, and if you're a dog remember the maxim to
treat all bitches as if they are in season.
Leg cocking is probably the only punishable offence in obedience and is best
left alone. Anything else goes. And remember, you can't be punished, and if you do the odd thing right (and this doesn't bore you too much) then "Warm Praise"
and "Big Cuddles" will be given.

However, once you have got your owner well trained you can revert to the old
habits and no objection will be heard.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pelosi Betrays Her Constituents (Including Newfies)

(Congresswoman Pelosi and her co-conspirators, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Executive Director Greg Moore and GGNRA Superintendent Lyin Brian O'Neill, hold hands, sing "Kumbaya" and plot the end of recreation as we know it in the soon to be extinct Golden Gate National Recreation Area)

HR Bill 6305 Would Wipe Away Recreation In The GGNRA

Nancy Pelosi submitted a bill, HR 6305, to Congress on June 19, 2008. Much of the bill covers administrative details (allowing the Presidio Trust to move their visitor center, and allowing a concession contract at the Maritime Historic Park). But Section 2 is very dangerous:

(a) Name Change-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is hereby renamed the `Golden Gate National Parks'.
(2) REFERENCES- Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is deemed to be a reference to the Golden Gate National Parks.
(3) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS- The Act titled `An Act to establish the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the State of California, and for other purposes' (Public Law 92-589, approved October 27, 1972) is amended--
(A) in sections 1 and 2 by striking `National Recreation Area' each place it appears and inserting `National Parks'; and
(B) by striking `recreation area' each place it appears and inserting `national parks'.
(b) Change of Unit From Recreation Area to National Park-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Golden Gate National Parks, as so renamed by subsection (a), is hereby designated as a national park and shall be administered as such by the Secretary of the Interior.
(2) CLARIFICATION- This section designates the recreation area known as Golden Gate National Recreation Area as a national park and renames that unit Golden Gate National Parks. Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating a new `national parks' category of designation with the National Park System."

* * * * * * * * * *

For years, off-leash advocates have been told by GGNRA staff that changing the name from "Golden Gate National Recreation Area" to "Golden Gate National Parks" will make it easier for them to further restrict recreation within GGNRA boundaries. There is no other reason for this name change. The National Park Service wants to remove recreation from the Park just as they wish to remove it from their name. It would remove any question as to whether or not GGNRA land should be treated differently from national park land such as Yosemite. This name change says the same management policies must apply.

This proposed name change ignores the historical reality that the GGNRA was specifically created to preserve land for the "outdoor recreational needs of the people of the metropolitan region", according to a 1972 Report from the US House of Representatives. The objective of the GGNRA, according to the 1972 House Report, is "to expand to the maximum extent possible the outdoor recreational opportunities available in the region." The name-change provision of this bill flies in the face of the intent behind the founding of the GGNRA and the promises made to the people of the Bay Area when it was formed and under which they gave their municipal parkland to the federal government to manage.

Section 2 of Pelosi's bill has nothing to do with the rest of the bill, which it says is "[t]o clarify the authorities for the use of certain National Park Service properties within Golden Gate National Parks and San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, and for other purposes." Clearly Section 2 is the other purposes. Not making that part of the description of the bill is highly suspect. Was Pelosi hoping to sneak this through with the public not knowing what she was doing?

Please contact Pelosi and demand that she remove Section 2 from HR 6305:
District Office - 450 Golden Gate Ave. - 14th Floor - San Francisco, CA 94102 -
(415) 556-4862
Washington, D.C. Office - 235 Cannon HOB - Washington, DC 20515 - (202) 225-4965

Also contact the Committee on Natural Resources to which the bill has been referred:
1324 Longworth House Office Building
(202) 225-6065 Fax: (202) 225-1931
MR. NICK J. RAHALL, II, West Virginia, Chairman
MR. DON YOUNG, Alaska, Ranking Republican Member
and the Subcommittee on National Parks Forests and Public Lands to which it was referred on June 25:
1333 Longworth House Office Building
(202) 226-7736 Fax: (202) 226-2301
Mr. Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona, Chairman
Mr. Rob Bishop, Utah, Ranking Republican Member

Let Pelosi, the Committee and the Subcommittee know that you want Section 2 removed from HR 6305. The simple introduction of the bill now creates an obligation on the part of the City and County of San Francisco to institute proceedings for reversion of former City properties deeded to the GGNRA, such as Ocean Beach, Fort Funston, and Lands End. The deeds conveying these properties clearly state that any deviation from the recreation-first mandate of the GGNRA shall result in reversion of the properties. Let's get the feds out of our front yard and take back the land!
Newfies need places to swim!!!!!

This bill is not aimed soley at off-leash recreation, but at the elimination of all forms of recreation. The irony from the off-leash recreation litigation is mindboggling. In United States v. Barley, 405 F.Supp.2d 1121 (N.D. Cal. 2005), the Court cited a "March 1999" letter from "Superintendent O'Neill to the Honorable [???] Nancy Pelosi stating that the GGNRA had adopted a pet policy more liberal than pet regulations at other national park sites throughout the country." And, with respect to the GGNRA's attempts to rescind the Pet Policy, the Court found the NPS to have "wiped away two decades of policy, practice, promulgations, and promises to the public." Don't let them try it again.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Satchie's Theme (This Ain't An After-School Special)

This is my theme song and I'm sticking to it!

Nothin' 'Bout Me

"Lay my head on the groomer's table
Take my pawprints if you are able
Pick my chain, pick my collar
Steal my Newf coins and come back for a dollar
Run every kind of test from 'A' to 'Z'
And you'll still know nothin' 'bout me.

"Run my name through your computer
Mention me in passing to your judge's tutor (he needs one)
Check my records, check my facts
Check if I paid my Newfie tax
Pour over everything in my pedigree
But you'll still know nothin' 'bout me

"You don't need to read no books on my history
I'm a Karazan Newf, it's no big mystery
In the cold weather, I don't need a glove
At times like this, a Scoldy Boy like me needs love.

"Search my house with a fine tooth comb
Turn over everything 'cause I won't be home
Set up your microscope, and tell me what you see
Because you'll still know nothin' 'bout me
You'll still know nothin' 'bout me
You'll still know zip a-bout me."

I'm Karazan Satchie