Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.


The Greatest Thing Ever

It’s fitting that this post, the greatest thing ever, was posted from the greatest smartphone operating system ever, Windows Phone 7.

Ok, enough fanboyism, because Norko won’t let me hear the end of it.

Imagine this, if you will…

*may contain horrible reproductions of the Scottish accent (YOU try it in print!) and may also contain some cursin’.

A bunch of Scottish sheep herders are sitting around one day, a few too many pints have been consumed, and they’re bored. All the chores are done, the dogs have been trained, and the sheep have all been tended to.

So one guy up and says Ach, wee Willie, what do yeh think we should doooo this evenin’?

And Wille replies, I haven’t got the faaaayn-test of ideas, Andrew. I’m just happy the beer is flowin’.

Suddenly a third guy replies… I’ve got it Sonny Jim… we’re gonna play Pong with the fuckin’ sheep.

I shit you not. Ok, well, I’m not sure that’s exactly how the conversation went. I may have taken some creative license there, but as The Rock says, I guaran-damn-TEE that there is Pong being played. With sheep.

And that’s not even all. Just watch the video. There is even more greatness within.

You can thank me later.

*no sheep were harmed in the making of this video. I think.


A Little More On Dash

Just a little more on puppy Dash!

We’re finding more and more as we work with Dash that he’s a super intelligent dog. With every new trick or process we’ve taught him, he picks it up and it becomes routine in just minutes. Sit, down, wait, and touch (nose to hand) were all accomplished in record time.

When we’re preparing meals for our dogs, they are told to sit and wait while we get their kibble into bowls. They then don’t eat until we tell them to “take it”.

Sometimes, our girls get pretty excited and they break their sit, but 99.9% of the time, they’re awesome. When Dash sees you getting the food bag and bowl, he immediately goes into focus mode and he goes and sits and waits for you to place his food down, and doesn’t go after his food until you give the command!

Of course, he’s not perfect, as he’s still an excited young puppy, but in just a few rounds of focused work, he’s got this down.

We’ve taken him out in the back yard and start to work on really low agility jumps, and he started jumping over it in minutes. Sometimes, he hits the bar as he’s focused on the treat, but he’s doing it, and it just took a couple minutes.

This little boy is SO smart!

Dash loves people. When you’ve been gone, even for an hour, when you return and he sees you, his face lights up and he wags his tail so hard his bum moves too! He loves to play, although he’s pretty high-energy, and really needs to be in a home where his energy can be released and worked properly. He’d be perfect for someone that does dog sports like agility or fly ball, or likes taking long walks in the dog park. Because he’s so young and energetic, he always needs something to do and keep busy.

Dash is turning out to be a really good dog, and with some work and polishing will be an awesome companion for someone or some family!

We will be attending the Bits and Bites Adopt-a-Thon on Saturday, June 25, at 135-2200 McPhillips St, as well as the annual Paws In Motion on Sunday, June 26, at the Lyric Theatre at Assiniboine Park from 8 AM to 1 PM, so you’ve got lots of time to come out and meet Dash to see if you’ll like him! Hope to see you there!


Finding A Forever Home

If any of you know Stephanie and I, you know that we’re big softies for four legged creatures. We currently have two dogs and three cats of our own, and all of them have been rescues. We’ve also had another dog and three other cats that have spent their lives with us, and they too have been rescues.

There’s something about cute little fuzzy friends that are just too much to resist. We’d talked in the past about fostering other dogs on a temporary basis until they could find their forever homes and a great family to call their own, but we’d always been hesitant because one of our own dogs is a little fear-aggressive around other dogs (but she’s getting so much better recently), and didn’t want to deal with all the issues that integrating two animals like this brings.

We wanted to be able to provide the foster dog with all the training and help possible to get adopted as soon as possible, but at the same time, respect our existing relationships with our current dogs. We just didn’t think we could handle it all.

Well, that was until we saw an email with a desperate plea to help save six dogs in Selkirk that were about to be put down because the local facility just couldn’t keep them any longer. We decided that saving a dog’s life was a little more important than a little convenience on our part.

The pictures aren’t outstanding, but we’d like you to meet Dash.






We’ll post more pictures of him as we get better ones.

Dash is a male Border Collie cross (we’re not sure what he’s crossed with though). We’ve only had Dash for three days as of this writing. He came to us with no name, and no real history as to what was going on with him.

We were told he’s about a year old, but we figure he’s closer to 8-10 months, as he’s tall, but he hasn’t filled out a lot yet. Dash is incredibly friendly and sweet, and he gets along equally well with dogs as well as cats, and people of all ages. Because he’s still in puppy stage, he plays pretty hard with other animals, but that will come out of him in time.

Now that we’re getting a chance to work with him after the whole hoopla of bringing him home and introducing him to the other dogs and a brand new environment, we can tell that Dash is an extremely intelligent dog. He has learned the “sit” command in just a minute or two of work, and he listens when you speak to him.

He’s energetic and loves to play and keep busy, so he would be an excellent fit for a person or family that can keep him active and engaged. He really enjoys long walks in the dog park, and with his speed and athleticism, he would be an awesome candidate for dog sports like Agility or Fly-ball.

When he’s at rest, Dash loves being petted and loves to cuddle. He’s a real sweetheart, and would make an excellent companion.

We’re extremely happy that we were able to spare Dash’s life and save him from being destroyed as he’s such a good dog, but we really need to find Dash his forever home. If you’re interested in adopting a dog, please consider coming to meet him. If you know someone who’s interested in a dog, please let them know about Dash. He’d make an excellent addition to any home.


Welcome Back: Vegas: Day 4

What-a-do, everybody?

Welcome back to the blog, and Happy New Year to y’all. I hope everyone had an excellent holiday season, and we’re all healthy and happy. I know we’re all a few pounds heavier thanks to all the massive amounts of food! Mmmm… Aunt Elvie’s meatballs!!

So, where were we? Oh yeah… Vegas. Day 4 of 5. This was going to be our last full day in Vegas, so we had a lot planned. The weather continues to be awesome. Should have pulled out the shorts while I could!

Hmm. Maybe not a good idea. The sheer whiteness of my legs would have blinded half of Vegas. Never mind the Strip full of Neon.

We started the day inside the MGM Grand, where they have something called CSI Experience.

Here’s a little tip. If you’re a fan of CSI – any version – and you’re in Vegas, this is something you HAVE to check out.

Once we bought our tickets (I was a little confused; was this a show?), we were taken downstairs into the bowels of the place by a lovely (wink wink, nudge nudge) young lady dressed up in full CSI gear, and we’re made CSI Agents. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our own flak jackets, side arms, and awesome investigator kit full of goodies like you see on the show. I always wanted my own fingerprint paper, black light, and handcuffs.

Don’t you “Oooooooooh” me! Get your minds out of the gutter!

Anywho, we’re signed up and made Agents, and we get a choice of what crime scene we want to try and solve. We have a choice of three – one where a car has been driven into a house, one where a body has been found in a dumpster, and one where human remains are found in the desert.

Steph and I chose the one where the car has been found smashed through the front of the house, since there’s tons of blood, and we’ve always been interested in the way the show explains the mechanics of blood spatter, so we’re in.

Once we’ve chosen our case, we’re taken through to an empty room with a video screen in it, and we get to see a short video. We’re getting our own personal pep talk from our supervisor, none other than Gil Grissom himself! I guess this place was made a year or two ago, since the Grissom character is no longer on the show, which is a shame, since he was the most interesting.

But, I digress.

Once we get our welcome message, instructions/reminders, and heads up from Grissom, we’re taken into another room where our crime scene is. I thought it might be a video/still frame, or a display, or something, but they’ve ACTUALLY RECREATED the crime scene in full life sized detail. There’s A CAR smashed through a wall in someone’s living room! This is so cool!

Steph and I are being awesome agents, documenting everything we see, noting fingerprints, the way the car was wrecked, the scatter of the debris throughout the living room, family pictures giving information, footprints, and of course, all the blood you might find at a real accident where someone’s wrecked a car through the front wall of a house at a real high speed and been killed.

Once we’re done collecting/documenting evidence, we head off into the back, where they have several actual labs set up for each crime scene. I was channeling my inner Grissom, and we had fingerprints identified, footprints scanned, blood work done, toxicology panels done, dirt samples and hair samples evaluated, and each lab pieced together part of the story and led us down the path to finding the suspect and pinning the evidence to him. We didn’t get to physically *handle* evidence, but it was all built into their computer programs. Very well done.

When all the labs were completed and we thought we’d figured out what happened, we went to file our final report and submit who we thought did it. Steph and I were both correct, and once again Grissom came on and told us what a fabulous job we’d done. The whole story, complete with how the scene happened, was played for us after we solved it, and now we understood how it all came together. We fired in our email addresses, where we could have our very own CSI diplomas emailed to us!

Take THAT, over-educated and highly-paid crime scene investigators!

After a grueling morning solving crimes and proving our highly elevated brain power, we spent some time in the CSI store and picked up some memorabilia. From there, we went shopping at the CBS store – fitting, since CSI airs on CBS. I thought maybe I could pick up some Craig Ferguson merchandise, but alas, they all had their heads up their asses – no Ferguson stuff to be had! I was denied my replica snake mug! Steph managed to pick up her very own Survivor buff and a couple other things, and after a stop at the Harley Davidson store, we thought we’d take a break and grab a bite to eat as it was close to lunch time.

We found this sandwich shop near to the CSI area, and went in for a snack. The place was called “‘wich craft”, and let me tell ya, they’re working SOME kind of voodoo at that place, since it was packed, and they must have some powerful magic to accomplish that with two sodas, sandwiches, and soups costing close to $35. It’s like they have this magical aura that sucks people into opening their wallets and throwing everything down for their food, which wasn’t really even all that good.

Note to y’all visiting MGM Grand: AVOID ‘wich craft!

After being worked over by their spell, we left the sandwich shop and went back to the hotel to drop off our purchases, before heading to the Mirage to spend the rest of the day there, and we headed straight to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden.

This place is so cool. You come through the gate, and there’s this grand walkway with bridges through the trees and over water – all very beautiful, and you come through at the end to the dolphin area.

There’s a large man-made pond, and we arrived just at the end of a “show”, where the dolphins would have been doing all the flips and jumps and tricks and all, so we just watched them swimming for a while, and being trained to do some actions by their handlers. Dolphins are mega-cute, so while we didn’t get a show, it was very cool just to watch them swim, play for their handlers, make sounds, and generally have a good time. It even looks like they smile when they’re getting fed or rewarded for a job well done.

For a quick moment, I felt like jumping out of my chair and recreating the scene from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective where he leaps into the pool and does his Star Trek impressions.

Not only would that have gotten me arrested, I would have been soaking wet.

From there, it was off down the path into the trees, and we came across an enclosure filled with alpacas. If you don’t know what an alpaca is, it’s basically like a smaller, furrier version of a camel. There were three or four of them lounging around in the sun, really not doing much but being kept company by a robin.

Moving on past the alpacas, it was time for what we came for.

The big cats.

The first enclosure had a black panther perched high in a resting area, but it’s face was in full view, and I got a tremendous shot of it. Thank you zoom lens!

One enclosure had Siegfried and Roy’s signature, the white tiger. The animal was huge, and gorgeous. It walked around, really not caring too much about the people crowded around to see it, but DAMN, it was a big cat. Again, there will be pictures coming later.

Moving on, we got about two feet away from a long, high, mesh fence, where both a female and male LION were in their enclosure. The female was pretty tired, so she didn’t do much at all other than lie there, but the boy… oh BOY… when he was walking the fence, he was literally three feet away from us. He was HUGE. Like XBOX. A big, flowing mane like Fabio, and a roar like you’ve never heard. This lion’s roar REVERBERATED through the small forest, and you could hear him way back at the dolphin pond just like he was standing right beside you. I’m sure we’ve all heard a lion roar on TV at one time, or we’ve seen any MGM film begin/end with the lion roaring, but there’s nothing.. AND THE ROCK MEANS… NOTHING… that compares to a gigantic male lion roar live and in the flesh – three feet away from you. You shake and shiver from your head right down to your toes and all parts in between. If that fence wasn’t there, I surely would have needed a new pair of pants. Wow. Simply amazing. Gorgeous, gorgeous animals.

Around the corner from the big scary lions were the highlight of the Garden: two teeny white tiger cubs! Everyone there practically DIED of cuteness. They were sleeping when we got there (great photos!), but the handlers woke them up, and they started to play a bit. Think about it. Tiny, little, cute, itty bitty tigers. Playing like house cats. We got to ask the handlers questions about their time with them, how they’re raised, and got stories about their experiences. It was an awesome experience.

On the way out of the Secret Garden, there was one more tiger enclosure, with 5 – count ‘em – 5 tigers.

Discovery Channel Sidebar: In watching recent documentaries on tigers – cause we do that, as we’re obsessed with big cats – researchers were surprised to see that tigers remain functioning as a family unit throughout their lives. It was previously believed that tigers were a very autonomous animal, preferring to be alone, but this research clearly showed the male tigers returning to the pack after long trips patrolling and defending their territory, when they were thought to have abandoned the pack altogether.

Back to the story. So we get to this enclosure with 5 tigers – both white and Siberian tigers are in there – and they’re all sleeping in a giant pile, curled up like a mound of puppies. Yup, they sure look pretty lonely to me! How cute is that? Anywho, the flashbulbs start going off by the dozens. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Absolutely adorable.

It’s time to leave the Secret Garden, so we stop at the gift shop on the way out – well, Steph did, and I went back to watch the dolphins – and Steph picked up some goodies, as well as some pictures. On the way in, there’s a spot where you get photographed against a green screen, and then the folks at the Garden put that photo into a pre-made scene, so it looks like you’re standing in the rainforest amongst the tigers, or any number of other different scenes. We picked that up as well, and headed back inside the Mirage, where we were to meet our friend Karen, as well as Karen’s mom and dad, Hans and Jan, who were in Vegas the same time as we were.

Why was that, you may ask? Well, that’s for a completely separate blog entry, which may require a whole lot of wobbly pops before I get the cajones to write.

Anyways, we meet the Schweitzer clan and head over to B. B. King’s restaurant and club for some down home southern cooking. I took a few of photos inside the bar, and we ordered our drinks. I don’t remember what everyone had to eat, but it was all very delicious. I had some Cajun chicken pasta, but the other thing I remember was Jan ordering a rather large baked potato.

The waiter described it as the size of a small baby.

I must stop and tell you here, that this baked potato was the single largest baked potato I have ever seen. Huge. Covered in enough bacon, sour cream, green onion, and butter to create a mid-sized gooey fortress, this was the absolute Queen Mother, the flagship of all baked potatoes. When she saw this thing carried out by six large muscular men (ok, I made that part up) and placed in front of her, I swear Jan’s eyes jumped out of her head, and right THROUGH her glasses into the butter. Her jaw was somewhere at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Get the picture now? It WAS the size of a small baby!

Needless to say, Jan didn’t finish the baked potato from hell, but we all had a great time, exchanged Vegas stories, and especially talked about what was coming next, after dinner.

Terry. Fator.

We all had tickets to see the winner of the second season of America’s Got Talent, and if you haven’t seen this guy, go on to YouTube, find a DVD, scour the internet and your TV, because this guy is MONEY.

But before Terry, the Schweitzer’s and Stephanie went out front of the Mirage to catch the 7 PM performance of the Mirage volcano, a tourist attraction that’s a simulation of a volcano put to music. We’ve got video of it. I, meanwhile, was, um, occupied, so I didn’t go, but the video was great. Steph says it was fantastic, so take her word for it.

On to Terry Fator. If you haven’t seen him, picture this. He’s a guy that not only sings his own stuff, but he does drop dead impersonations of music legends such as Louis Armstrong, Sonny Bono, Aaron Neville, Justin Timberlake, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, The Pussycat Dolls, and a whole lot more. He’s called the Human Jukebox.

And he does it all… with his mouth SHUT.

Yup. He does it while performing ventriloquism. Words just don’t describe this guy’s ability. And does it all around a comedy act, to boot. So we head to the show, we have great seats, and settle in for what’s bound to be a night of unreal entertainment.

To open things up, Terry’s DJ fires the crowd up with music, and does a version of the evolution of dance, where he strings together all the different dance moves from the 40’s and 50’s right up until today. It’s a great act.

Then Terry himself comes on, and I mean, this guy’s humble as apple pie. He’s been on the road for 26 years before he got his big break, and he tells us all that if we’ve got cameras, use ‘em. Take all the pictures you want to. If you brought your video camera, please don’t record the ENTIRE show, but feel free to record some clips as souvenirs. NO ONE does that. NO. ONE.

Yeah, we got some clips. If you can’t wait to see them, you can always check out Terry’s official home page, where there are some clips:

Almost two hours later, we’ve been through the comedy and musical ringer, and like Jan’s jaw at dinner, ours were all on the floor in amazement – when they were busy laughing our asses off at how funny this guy is. Terry also did a sincere, honorable tribute to all those in the crowd that have been or are currently in the military, and following the show, he announced that he would be outside to have pictures taken and sign autographs, and wouldn’t leave until each and every one of us that wanted one, would get one.

So we waited about 30 minutes in line, got to meet Terry, get a picture taken, and got his new DVD and got it autographed.

Good times, good times.

What to do next? Well, B. B. King’s is – go figure – a BLUES bar, so we thought we’d all go back and have a drink there and listen to some tunes. The Schweitzers went ahead to get a seat as Steph and I were busy meeting Terry, and I got back to the bar ahead of Steph, as she went to pick up the actual picture we had taken, and I found Jan with her head buried in her hands at the table. I thought she was just hammered, but then I heard the band start playing their next song. It was an incredibly bad version of some song by Akon, and we couldn’t stand it. We lasted long enough in the bar to have a drink after we stood in line for over half an hour, but that was about it. Oh yeah, Steph had some cheesecake or something, but that band cleared us out of the bar faster than a giant fart.

Jan asked the management why there wasn’t any blues band, but it turns out the main band had issues/was sick/couldn’t make it, so these guys filled in.


So, it was kind of a sour end to an otherwise fantastic day in Vegas, but fun was had by all. Well, everyone except for my back, who at this time was calling me every name in the book, and some that hadn’t even been invented yet.

Oh well. Back to the hotel room to crash!

Next: Vegas: The Voyage Home


Practice makes perfect…

Or in this case, a lot of practice makes you a bit better.

Nah… just some fun video of my puppies (and Stephanie) navigating the agility course. Enjoy!



Here We Go Around…

Run, run around, yeah…

Ah, good old Van Halen.

But that’s not what I’m talking about today. I use the “around” word literally here. For those of you that know our dog, Kira, you know that she likes to run around in circles when she gets excited.

You know, like she’s herding something.

We long thought Kira had herding instinct in here. When she was younger, she used to circle around Cola in the backyard and lie down in the grass, waiting for her moment to spring forward. Or, she’d run miles around the coffee table.

So, while Kira’s active in agility and flyball, we thought that finally she’d might like herding, so we gave it a try. Stephanie took her to her Herding Instinct test two weeks ago, and she passed. Certificate and all!

Yesterday was her first real class, and like a proud dad, I went along to check it out, video camera in hand. The instructor Faye said Kira has a very strong gathering instinct, evident by her running circles around the sheep and keeping them all together.

I think she’s going to do well. Thanks to Faye at 4uFarms for teaching a great class, and we’re looking forward to more! We saw Faye’s dog Ben at work, and lemme tell you, this guy is AWESOME. If Kira gets half as good as Ben, I’ll be very happy.

Anywho, if you’d like a decent laugh from watching Kira run around at about 417 MPH for a few minutes, then have a look at the video!


Dogs Looking For Help

Wow! Two posts in one day. However, this one is a more serious one…

My wife sent me an email from a lady in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. These two people had a dog sled team, but the people were killed in a car accident, leaving behind 60 dogs. If you can help foster a dog, or know someone that can, please try and help out.

Original Message:

Please cross post:

From: Wendy Bertin Date: November 19, 2006 2:42:45 PM MST (CA) To: mdhowes@… Subject: Cold Creek Kennels

Hi there, My name is Wendy Bertin (403-804-0575). I have been approached by one of the neighbors (through a friend) that has been taking care of the sled dogs from Cold Creek Kennels owned by Wayne Alexander and Sherri-Lynn Krock. They were killed in a car accident on November 14, 2006, leaving behind approx. 60 dogs that their neighbors have been caring for.

They are still looking after them and are looking for rescue groups, kennels or other groups to take them. I was approached because I foster for a different rescue group and they thought I may have contacts. Anyway, I was wondering if you could or are providing help. I realize 60 dogs is too many for any one group and that’s why I am trying to contact people who may have some connections to many groups. If you can help, please call the following person or email me back with your contact information and I can have someone call you. The neighbor is Karl and his number is 780-789-2348 or cell, 780-405-2216. He would know more information about these dogs.

Thanks Wendy

Just for the record – Alaskan Malamute HELP league is spear heading the rehoming of these dogs. AMHL Regional Coordinator, Judy Harvey, and the national rescue coordinator, Duffy Taylor, would like folks interested in these malamutes to fill out an adoption application explicitly referencing the Cold Creek Kennels. The adoption application can be found at:


End Original Message