Category: Pets

Meet Lucien Idaho!

Now that I’ve been settled and have a routine I’ve missed having more than one dog. Basil Hayden of course has been my rock the past year, but I can tell when I am away he gets lonely in the house. So for a while I have been thinking of getting him a playmate once everything sort of settled down. Rochelle and I when married had a system where every other dog we got was a rescue/adoption. I love pure bred Golden Retrievers and our breeder has been wonderful, but there are so many dogs out there that need rescuing. When we took in Aspen Blue he was a special needs rescue and is thriving now but I miss him terribly. I’ve been sponsoring some special needs Mini-Aussies in the PacNW with donations here and there, with an eye that I might take in another one for Basil’s playmate and my companion. Miniature Australian Shepherds are very smart like their larger bred cousins and are an interesting mix with the temperament of something like a Golden Retriever. I knew that if I didn’t rescue a Golden, I would most likely want a Mini-Aussie. So it was with some surprise this week when during a routine trip to the Vet for Basil I discovered a Red Merle Mini-Aussie who needed a forever home. May I present, Lucien Idaho!


After some initial meet and greet to get him comfortable (pictured above he’s in his old home and was relaxed with me around after some initial “Dances with Wolves” style bribing with lamb treats) I brought him home for a short stay and I will bring him home permanently next weekend. He’s got all the typical Mini-Aussie traits, no health issues/needs other than a mild Coloboma which happens sometimes in this breed but most importantly:






Attention human. It’s outside playtime.

Lucien is a one year old who has bounced around a couple of homes, his last owner called him Trip because when he herds you he does it with all his weight. But I think he’s young enough to learn a new name. It’s within the realm of possibility that his coloboma might lead to blindness later on but I’m having him all checked out at my vet a week from Monday, and that would not affect my decision to take him in. So say hello to my new boy and Basil’s new brother!

(edit: The name Lucien Idaho was chosen because: Lucien as an homage to The Sandman and his unusual eye structure and how it will perceive light, and Idaho in homage to Duncan Idaho from Dune and most shepherd breeds are farm/herd animals.I give my dogs two names. Shut up it’s not weird. I said shut up!)

Meet Aspen Blue Toulouse

Meet the new member of our family, Aspen Blue.


Rochelle and I work with a breeder we’re good friends with for when we get a new dog, but we try to make every other dog that joins our family a rescue dog. Buddy, for instance was a rescue. And technically Eowyn is because her initial family rejected her.

We’ve known Aspen for a couple of months now and have shared foster duties for him. Aspen was dealt a pretty shitty hand of cards genetics wise, he’s a Miniature Australian Shepherd bred double blue merle. If you’re wondering what that means this link gives you all the information.

Aspen is deaf and partially blind in one eye. He’s also mildly epileptic (we believe that his epilepsy is now at the right medication level as he has not had a seizure in a month)

Breeding double merles is an incredibly cruel and irresponsible thing to do. In the genetics lottery you will statistically lose a quarter of the litter being stillborn, and another quarter to half of the litter being born deaf or blind or both. Breeders do it because for those that survive with healthy traits, as you can see from Aspen’s picture his coat is a beautiful marble of white and grey and blue, doesn’t shed, and is the softest fur I have ever felt. So healthy ones fetch a crazy high price.

The rest are culled or abandoned. It’s an absolutely shitty thing to do as a breeder and I hope I never meet Aspen’s. Breeding two merle trait dogs isn’t illegal but is absolutely frowned upon in the dog breeding community, the American Kennel Association refuses to register double merles and dog shows usually do not allow them to be shown. I’m getting pissed off just writing this.

But Aspen? This boy doesn’t have any idea he’s been dealt a shitty hand. He’s a happy one year old that plays in the yard, runs around like a normal puppy, and like most Aussie shepherds is a bit of a mountain goat in terms of climbing on things like couches and tables.


He gets along great with Eowyn and Adia, and one of the fun personal growth challenges with caring for him is learning doggy sign language (there is such a thing!) and making sure that however long he’s with us he has an amazing life. He’s sensitive to vibration so although he cannot “hear” if you thump the floor he knows to look at you and sometimes feel the vibration of your voice.

While the prospects of him having a normal life span grow better every day, he’s still young enough that problems (like the recently developed epilepsy) could impact his quality of life. But dogs like Aspen face a real challenge in being adopted (and in some cases, like the issue with epilepsy if it wasn’t controlled, are deemed “not adoptable” and have to be put down) so we’re glad to step up and help.

With his being deaf he won’t get to enjoy all the things we like to do like our free roam dog park (it’s too big and his vision problem means recalling him is really difficult at a distance) but he will get to see his Flyball friends every week, his wonderful foster parents who gave him this chance at a forever home, He’s happy taking a break in his crate while we take the goldens to the park, and in every other way he’s a normal puppy. He even has a cool bright blue torso harness that says “I’m deaf! AND AWESOME!” for when we walk him or take him places so people know. He’s already a big favorite at our local pet supply store All The Best.

If you’re going to get a puppy, be sure to go through a reputable breeder and not a puppy mill like a pet store or something.

But if you get a chance, consider a rescue. The challenges can be great but the rewards are too. So welcome to the family boy blue*!


*Yes I have already taken to yelling “You’re my boy, Blue!” from Old School at him. He can’t hear me, but it makes me chuckle every time. I’m easily amused.


It’s well past four in the morning. I hear the ticking of a clock I never really heard before. It’s on the kitchen wall and it’s loud.

Gosh, I’ve been sick, sicker than I have been in 15 years. Food poisoning from some bad vegetables. Better now, but bad enough I’m having to miss my grandmother’s funeral because I could not fly. Better now, but wow was that horrible. Better now, and also worse.

I’m coming to grips with the fact there has never been a time I looked at the home I live in when Buddy wasn’t alive. No wall, no ceiling, no anything in this house we’ve made our home for ten years that I didn’t see through these eyes without him being around somewhere.  But he wasn’t ripped from us. He gave us the gift of his life long after we had any reason to expect it.

We’ve been given permission to spread his ashes at his favorite places on earth. (By the way, here’s one of them: Chevy Chase Beach Cabins. A place we go to vacation and heal, and they deserve your business.)

I would have liked my Mee Maw to see Discovery Bay from the cabins too, but that’s not to be.

We have pink flowers for Buddy, a gift from close friends. We had yellow for Remy. My grandmother is gone and thanks to incredible bad luck I cannot be there to say goodbye.

These are things in various lenses everyone deals with. For certain there are worse lenses, and better. We wish we could change them. I mean, certainly I wish I could, not just for me but for anyone who runs into that buzz-saw of circumstance that provokes sorrow. It is what it is.

I don’t know what makes me think of all this, I’ve written parts of it already.

I suppose it’s the fact I’m no longer sad, at least for now. There’s these pink flowers on the table that smell so good, and I can keep a meal down. We’re dog sitting an 8 month old border collie who has infused our routine with peeing to mark his territory, energy, life.

I try to remind myself I live a first world life, all of it every bit of it. I remember to try and make things better for others.

So! Be excellent to each other for starters. I’ll try and help with the rest.

On Marley and Me

I spent most of late 2006 and early 2007 traveling domesticly and international working to try and convince people that some of the security foundations we had placed in Windows Vista were important enough to keep in the product, despite some third parties trying to maintain that any attempt to correct the problems of the past was infringing on the opportunity to capitalize on those mistakes.

I spent a lot of time in airplanes. I did not do this because I was paid to, to be clear. I fervently believed then and believe now that the security underpinnings of Windows Vista were state of the art at the time and deserved to be included in the product to protect customers.

But this story isn’t about that. It instead involves the image of a young Labrador retriever puppy, running carefree on the beach.


Yeah really. I spend a lot of time on my "record scratch" segues.

I left one meeting where an entity opened the meeting with: "We will work tirelessly to see you are eventually broken up and your products banned. Now please give us your presentation" utterly crushed.

I was away from my dogs and my wife for 20 days out of the past 30, and the very thought of shipping Windows Vista was suddenly up in the air because third parties were actively complaining about security features in the product.

My luggage was heavy, my ideals in trying to make people understand we had truly turned a corner in security were not doing so well. There was a lot of investment that had been made by others in trying to convince people that any effort on our part in trying to make our products more secure was some diabolical plan to crush any and all competition. It seems idiotic now, but at the time it was a real argument people were having.

I trudged by World of Whiskies in Heathrow and bought a 17 year Bowmore Islay both out of love and pure despair. As I passed by the seafood and sushi open bar at Terminal 4, a book caught my eye. There was a blond lab retriever pup with a red bow in his mouth. I stopped, gobsmacked, and missed my dogs and home and Rochto so much it was a tangible thing in my chest. Something I could, with enough effort, cough out.

Theoretically, should my plane not crash, I was a mere 12 hours from home. But I was perplexed by being confronted by a so-simple and homesick inducing image that I bought the book: Marley and Me.

British Airways is practically the only way you will get me up in the air to fly overseas. Due to my frequent overseas flights at that time I was allowed business class, which had introduced a lie flat bed and all you can eat movies. I ignored everything to read that book.

As many people know from reading this blog I love very deeply my golden retrievers and I read in this story of a lovable but not-quite-aware-of-his-own-weight dog the story of my own pets. In the humorous telling of the tale, my wife’s patience not just with them but with me as well. I consumed the book on the entire flight and reached the end struggling not to bawl out loud like a gassy baby lest the crew suspect my mental state. (Spoiler? Marley lives a long and wonderful life)

I bring all this up because I just accidentally caught that they have made the book into a movie. I downloaded the preview which features a young pup Marley running along a beach (a descriptive scene from the book) with his owners haplessly running in chase, screaming his name. It nearly brought tears to my eyes not just because I know how the story (wonderfully, gently) ends, but because it evoked my most precious memories of my own dogs. Which reminded me ever more, and always such — on this earth:

hey guys.



Bless you Marley.