Good dogs.

At the moment, my alleged Jack Russell Terrier is snoozing on Alan’s lap. Alan is also snoozing. And I’m reading a story paddy’o sent over today, thinking about animals and how they do what they do. The story is about a Jack Russell named Chuck. From Slate:

Then came a late winter day in February. I was restacking a heap of awkwardly cut logs that had been sitting behind the barn for a season or two, and Chuck sat to watch. I flinched when a rat suddenly leapt out, but Chuck moved decisively; applying her small teeth to the nape of its neck, severing its spinal cord with surgical precision. She sat over the dead rat and looked me in the eye, perfectly still except for the wagging stub of her tail.

I kept working and the rats streamed out, Chuck killing them one by one, all her muscles tensed with the passion that had been bred into her by a slightly mad clergyman—a man named John Russell—over a century ago. When three slipped out at once, Chuck anticipated their hopeless angles of escape, killing the third just as it made it to the high grass, its two companions still twitching with their broken necks, their tiny mouths open in shock.

By the time I pried the last log from the frozen dirt, she had killed 14 rats, and the corpses littered the field. She turned her back and went to find my mother.

Wendy is getting better at stalking squirrels. The other day she tumbled with one in the back yard, but isn’t as efficient at killing them as Chuck. Maybe that’s because she’s showing a very non-terrier behavior — pointing. She lowers her head, raises her tail and will. Not. Be. Moved. For long moments on end, she will stand, frozen, waiting for one of her quarry to make a wrong move.

One of these days she’ll get one. Just not yet.

I wonder what sort of mix is in Wendy’s blood. She looks like a JRT, but she doesn’t really act like one — she’s not as aloof as a good terrier generally is, and Spriggy certainly never pointed anything other than his nose into one of Kate’s friend’s North Face jacket. (And not into the pocket, either. He ate his way through the fleece in pursuit of a Reese’s Cup she had zipped in there.)

You all know how much I love watching specially bred animals doing the things they were specially bred for. It’s just one of those things.

And now I have the depleted-Monday catching-up-on-Sunday’s-teevee blues. One more piece of bloggage and I’m off to the rack, but it’s a good one: Libertarians have taken over Keene, N.H., being jerks with extreme prejudice:

The activists selected this New England-cute city of 24,000 for liberation mostly because it lies within that flinty bastion of Yankee individualism known as New Hampshire, where “Live Free or Die” is carved into the collective granite.

Back in 2003, a libertarian-leaning group called the Free State Project decided that this small state could be a liberty lover’s paradise if enough like-minded people settled here. (The movement, by the way, tends to attract white males, according to Carla Gericke, the group’s president, a white South African who has lived for many years in this country. “I’m the token African-American,” she joked.)

A dozen years in, the Free State Project is about three-quarters of the way toward achieving its goal of having 20,000 people commit to relocating to the state, after which it will “trigger the move.” The project has already influenced the statewide conversation at times — partly because of “early movers” like Ian Freeman, a Floridian who bought an old white duplex on Leverett Street several years ago and quickly set out to push local buttons.

Y’all chew on that while I slink off to slumber. See you in the ayem.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

35 responses to “Good dogs.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 6, 2014 at 12:53 am

    The term libertarian does not, itself, solve much. Most libertarians think their definition is everyone else’s, which is less true than the same problem for Marxists or, for that matter, Christians.

    An interesting example:

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  2. Hattie said on May 6, 2014 at 1:39 am

    One of our local pests moved there. He is not missed.

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  3. Kristen said on May 6, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Our second Lakeland Terrier (his predecessor was killed by a coyote in our backyard during this year’s Superbowl) also seems to need to be shown how to chase away the squirrels that are attracted to our bird feeders. He chases them up the nearest tree. I’m not sure he’ll ever catch one; the squirrels always have a decent head start. I don’t know if coyote predation on dogs and cats is a problem in Michigan, but here in Connecticut, it’s getting pretty common. Public awareness of the threat is still lagging, however. We tried to make SOMETHING good come of our dog’s death and started up a Facebook page to post facts about the most dangerous time of year for small dogs to be outside unsupervised, etc. Not sure it’ll help other families avoid our loss, but at least it made us feel better. Did anyone catch the PBS Nature show that aired in January called “Meet the Coywolf”? It was very interesting and worrisome.

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  4. linda said on May 6, 2014 at 7:03 am

    My brother’s cairn terrier is a killing machine, knocking off rats in exactly the same way as the terrier in the story and belieing her cute little Toto-dog looks. She is also sort of an ornery nutjob who picks fights with bigger dogs and sometimes people for no known reason. But she is still his little princess.

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  5. beb said on May 6, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Isn’t Keene where a couple of libertarians have been stalking the towns two parking enforcement officers? Their interference in the officers conducting their business seems like harassment but since the officers are both women I sense a level of sexual stalking involved here, too. Libertarians should be the first ones against the wall come the revolution.

    I stepped on a rat once — no twice — once in a darkened factory, but the dead was probably already dead from poisoning. I whacked it with a shovel just to be sure. The second time the rat turned out to be a opossum which ran ten feet away and turned and hissed at me before leaving. What should he have expected eating the casts food just outside the door?

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  6. alex said on May 6, 2014 at 8:27 am

    When I was young and naive, libertarianism sounded like an appealing philosophy, sort of live and let live. Then I met actual libertarians, who aren’t live and let live at all, but dog eat dog, and more than happy to champion burdensome taxes and laws that negatively affect people of color, people of other faiths than theirs, and homos. Why do they think they need to go to New Hampshire to create their utopia? They already own Indiana.


    The Doberman pinscher was bred in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and terriers were part of the gene pool, along with, I think, Weimaraner and some other breeds. My late Dobie was quite the huntress — lightning fast and deadly to squirrels, possums, rabbits and pretty much anything that moved. I loved that dog but would think twice about having another one because I’m not into the wanton destruction of wildlife on my property. However I wouldn’t mind a dog that would keep mice and chipmunks away from my house, and a Jack Russell might just be perfect for that.

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  7. coozledad said on May 6, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Libertarians are just a market waiting for the development of strap-on adult behaviors.
    So far, the market leaders are guns and Bitcoin. The intersection between these two markets suggests the possibility of a bloodbath on the scale of rival factions of child-soldiers duking it out in Central Africa or Sudan.

    When I first heard about Libertarians back in the eighties I thought they must be people whose education and upbringing must have isolated them and rendered them incapable of discernment. It took years before I realized the full horrific dimension of the Libertarian experiment.

    Their parents had been replaced by Foosball machines.

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  8. coozledad said on May 6, 2014 at 9:17 am

    This guy seems to think rational people owe stupid assholes free square footage in a newspaper. For this he’s the new Fox news sex baby.

    If you can watch this guy and not think What. A. Dick! your social skills are nonexistent. We’ve got a couple of candidates on the Republican side for State House district 2 (and one fake Dem) who exhibit the same level of simmering violence coupled with fundamental illiteracy. You’d think it would make for better theater, but like all jocks who fail to hang that helmet up once their brains have been beaten out, it’s just ugly and sad.

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  9. brian stouder said on May 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Cooz – I’ll be watching the NC primary returns tonight, along with lots of other plugged-in folks across the nation.

    It looks like you live in the 2014 political petri-dish of America! (and we’ll get an indication whether we’re OK, or just how violently sick we’re becoming)

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  10. Jeff Borden said on May 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I know some libertarians. . .largely because a couple hang around with our dog group. . .and they are two of the silliest thinkers I’ve ever encountered. They aren’t too far removed from those who live “Dungeons & Dragons,” living in a bizarro world where the market would cure every ill and all people would be happy and productive if only the guvmint would just leave them alone. Interestingly, both send their kids to Montesorri schools because, of course, they aren’t going to have the minds of their little darlings contaminated by those “guvmint schools.”

    I’ve heard one wag argue that the only truly libertarian nation right now is Somali. No government. No rules. No regulations. Just pure survival of the fittest. Very Randian.

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  11. Bitter Scribe said on May 6, 2014 at 10:12 am

    These guys are turning meter maids into objects of sympathy. I didn’t think that was even possible.

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  12. Sherri said on May 6, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Time once again for the terrific John Rogers quote, which sums up libertarians quite nicely:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

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  13. brian stouder said on May 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

    …Because in Libertarian heaven, there is no such thing as a parking garage/pay-lot?

    If publically owned and maintained streets (with parking meters) are wrong, what about privately owned toll-roads/streets, and privately owned parking meters?

    By what magic is that a better thing? (It certainly won’t be any cheaper!!)

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  14. Sue said on May 6, 2014 at 10:52 am

    “You all know how much I love watching specially bred animals doing the things they were specially bred for”
    Or unspecially bred for. My neighbor just got what looks like a chihuahua/silky terrier mix. The thing loves to retrieve, it’s hilarious.
    But let’s admit that breeding to physical standards is cruel and creepy, shall we? The skin conditions, joint issues and breathing problems associated with different breeds should be looked at not as something to calmly discuss like it just happens but as something unacceptable and avoidable.

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    • nancy said on May 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

      I’ve always contended that domestic animals should be bred to do work, not to look a certain way. About 20 years ago there was a cover story in the Atlantic about the AKC standards and how they were killing great breeds. Hard to believe cocker spaniels used to be true hunting dogs.

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  15. Bob (not Greene) said on May 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I have a miniature rat terrier whose name is Iggy — looks a lot like a Jack Russell. About 15 pounds. Lean and athletic, and fast as lightning.

    Nancy, Iggy does the exact pointing ting Wendy does. He’ll be lying in the yard and then a squirrel will appear on top of the fence. He’ll veeeeery slowly raise up his back legs, with his head a little lower and aim his nose at the squirrel and just wait. Forever. And while he’s in the zone, you are not getting him out of it. He is laser-locked on the thing. Then he’ll take a couple of slow, creeping steps before charging. His dog tags jingle, which always gives him away and the squirrel always jumps to safety, but he’s gotten close.

    A cat wandered into the yard once when he was there and he cornered it by the back gate, where he cat took a swipe at him, which nicked him a bit and it was able to jump over the gate.

    The best day of Iggy’s life, though, was the day we were visiting my sister up in Mequon, Wis. She’s got a large open, wooded backyard and there no fences. We were out there with Iggy one morning, and he was quietly sitting there when three deer walked in from a wooded area.

    He immediately sprinted at them and the deer took off. I thought that was the last time I’d ever see Iggy. He just continued to chase the deer across the road and then back again through a thicket and then across the road again into a forested area where I lost sight of him.

    I jumped in the car and drove around the area for about 10 minutes until I saw a small white dog not far from my sister’s house. I called his named and opened the door (he loves jumping into the car) and he ran over and jumped in with his tail wagging and panting for breath. The grass stains on his forehead were evidence of his run through the woods. He was as happy as he could be.

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  16. Judybusy said on May 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Bob, that was indeed the best day ever for your pal Iggy! Our dog Cora gets to chase squirrels and chipmunks at the dog park. She never gets close, but has great fun.

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  17. Dorothy said on May 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Has anyone read “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron yet? I’m reading it now, in between bursts of work on the sock I’m currently knitting. It’s really enjoyable. I cried my eyes out last night when I got half way through it. The stories are told from the perspective of a dog, and it keeps getting reincarnated into other kinds of dogs. Iteration number 3 is where I currently am, in case anyone’s read it.

    My first gold retriever mix, Atticus, used to go into that quiet stance with one leg bent, laser focused on bunnies on our property. It was so great to watch him like that. I always felt like I should be holding my breath or something while watching him. And our current big dog, whose name is Husky, killed two groundhogs when we lived in Mount Vernon. With the second one we could not get him to drop it or move away from it for better than an hour. Within moments it looked like someone’s old rag doll.

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  18. Peter said on May 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Cooz, for the love of God tell me that this is a safe Democratic seat, and all of those mopes were there because no one with a brain wanted to tilt at a windmill.


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  19. Jeff Borden said on May 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    We loved “A Dog’s Purpose.” We also enjoyed the fable “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and the far more practical “Inside of a Dog,” which has given us a fair amount of insight into the behavior of Cosmo, our four-year-old labradoodle and, yes, the coolest dog in Chicago.

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  20. Jolene said on May 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    If you are interested in books about dogs, you might like Gene Weingarten’s Old Dogs. It begins with a long essay by Gene about his now departed old dog and is made up of photos of old dogs by WaPo’s great photog, Michael S. Williamson, along with short stories about each one.

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  21. Sherri said on May 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I love dogs, but we don’t have one because of what happened with our last dog. She was a lab mix we got from the shelter. She kept all the bunnies and squirrels on high alert in our back yard; the bunnies stayed away and the squirrels stayed up high. I once saw her catch a bird taking off from a bush. But then the next door neighbors started letting their declawed cat out of their house, and said cat wandered into our (fully fenced) back yard. Our neighbors did not take the result well, and did not take any of the blame for what happened. In fact, they called the police.

    As the police told us, we had a neighbor problem, not a dog problem, but we had a hell of a neighbor problem. They went around to the other neighbors telling them about our vicious dog, sent us emails threatening to sue, and generally made life miserable. We ran out of options, and sadly returned her to the shelter, where unfortunately they had to put her to sleep because she was no longer considered adoptable since she had killed a pet.

    That was over 5 years ago, and I still don’t speak to those neighbors.

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  22. Sue said on May 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Jolene, I clicked on the link and it sounded interesting until I read this excerpt:

    “Shanna solemnly passed the butcher knife to Lance, her 16-year-old son. Shanna was a recent widow, Lance, the new man of the house. It was Lance who had brought home the stray.
    Shanna had heard about this breed, particularly ones hardened by the streets, trained to do God Knows What. She knew of a test to find out if a dog is too vicious to keep. The test is not without risk.
    “I’m going to give her some food,” Shanna said, “and then I’m going to suddenly take it away. If she attacks me, you have to kill her.”
    Shanna put down the bowl. Lance gripped the knife, white-knuckled, wary…
    They laugh about it now, nine years later. Honey the pit bull, as sweet as her name.”


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  23. LAMary said on May 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    My lab chases squirrels up trees then sits down and tries to wait them out. He keeps watching just in case the squirrel decides it’s safe to climb down. For rat control I don’t think you can beat Albert the cat. Clean, bloodless kills, neatly presented for my approval. He manages to look very handsome and stylish while doing it as well.

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  24. Deborah said on May 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Need some advice: In Santa Fe we have an upstairs neighbor, a college student who has 2 cats. His former roommate is a friend of Little Bird’s. Apparently this kid (with the cats) is a horrible pet owner, the cat litter box is often loaded and reeking and he is gone for extended periods of time when the cats don’t have food or water. The roommate has moved out so the cats aren’t getting the care she at least was giving them. Little BIrd reported to me that the kid hasn’t been there for awhile and the cats are yowling. I suggested she go up and look in the window to see what’s up. LB says the food and water bowls are visible and empty. What should she do?

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  25. alex said on May 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Call Animal Control, or whatever you call your local department that responds to cases of cruelty and neglect.

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  26. Linda said on May 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm


    Your moron neighbors should have been cited by animal control for letting their DECLAWED cat out where she was defenseless. Shame on them.

    As for Sue: That’s just messed up. Food guarding would be natural to a street dog that is fighting for survival. Shelters around the country are no longer kiling dogs for that reason.

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  27. Jolene said on May 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Sue: That’s just one person’s idea about how to evaluate a dog. I don’t think I would buy or not buy the book for that reason.

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  28. Jason T. said on May 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Elwood: “New Hampshire Libertarians.” (snorts)

    Jake: “I hate New Hampshire Libertarians.”

    (Elwood guns motor, chases Libertarians into the creek)

    Anyone who believes in a fully rational market, where people act in their own rational self interest, has never spent a single minute talking to anyone who actually invests in markets.

    In about 2006, I read John Kenneth Galbraith’s “The Great Crash: 1929” and became very concerned about the obvious parallels between the 1920s and the 2000s. I’d like to say I then acted on that concern, and cleaned up in the markets, but sadly, no.

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  29. Sherri said on May 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Whenever I think about cleaning up in the markets based on parallels between now and an earlier time, I remind myself of the John Maynard Keynes quote:

    “The markets can stay irrational longer than I can stay solvent.”

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  30. Deborah said on May 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    So Little Bird got the phone number of the kid upstairs from his former roommate. She called him and told him he needed to take care of his cat (apparently there is now only one cat there ). He said he would. He did show up for about 15 mins and LB said the food bowl had food in it but she couldn’t see the water bowl from the window she was peeking in. We assume because the water bowl was moved it was filled. This kid’s lease is about up and hopefully wherever he’s going the cat will be taken care of. Sad.

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  31. alex said on May 6, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Well, I went and did my civic duty today but the freaks still won. Of course, Liz Brown and Bob Morris aren’t in my district so don’t blame me for those two losers, er, winners. Too bad it was revealed so late in the campaign, but Ms. Brown, who holds herself up as a professional mediator, has yet to ever mediate a case, which comes as no surprise given that she’s a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered, hare-brained harridan who doesn’t know her ass from a hole in her head. Mr. Morris is the bloodcurdlingly creepy half-wit who earned the enmity of his fellow Republicans when he tried to paint the Girl Scouts as a front group for anarcho-lesbo-abortionists. Those were tonight’s two big stories. I’m terrified to look at the rest.

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  32. Dave said on May 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I can’t believe that Morris won again and I thought for sure, Alex, that we shared districts when you said you were thinking of registering R to pick the lesser of two evils.

    Then, it was Liz Brown and two others vs. the current sheriff, there was another tough choice.

    We’re still in the Florida state, with its own host of whackos and that prevented me from voting against Morris today. Geesh.

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  33. brian stouder said on May 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    To be honest, if Satan himself had offered me the deal that declaring as an R and voting for Liz Brown would keep Sheriff Fries out of the State House, I’d have thought I was handed a pretty good deal.

    But it is a bummer that our anti-Girl Scout kooky cracker (who looks a great deal like a raccoon) won his primary (and therefore his office, presumably)

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  34. alex said on May 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Nah, Dave, in my district it was Casey Cox for Phyllis Pond’s seat versus six-time also-ran nutbasket Dennis Worman and some other right-wing miscreants who fault Cox for not being anti-gay enough, or sufficiently deferential to fetuses and guns and the Gold Standard. It was important that he defeat his opponents, who were of the same caliber as Morris and Brown. Otherwise there was Dennis Kruse, perennial creationist showboater, running unopposed; I left that one blank. And I was happy to support anyone, ANYONE over Marlin Stutzman, not that it made the least bit of difference. He walked away with 88 percent against two challengers who couldn’t be any more stupid than he is.

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