A few months ago I adopted a dog from our local humane society. My dog, Bronco, had lost his mother, Zöe, six months earlier and seemed to miss her very much. He was acting lethargic around the house and would whine pathetically upon seeing another dog on one of our daily walks.

Bronco is a 20-lb. male wire-haired fox terrier. He had just turned ten but normally acted much younger. He is a bit frightened of large dogs but acts aggressively with animals smaller than him. The best thing for us would be a 3- or 4-year-old companion dog about his size, preferably a female. The animal shelter's web site had photos of several adoption offers that I liked.

Arriving at the shelter kennels, I was told that all the featured animals had been immediately adopted. However, there was a room next to the lobby which held many small dogs waiting for adoption. Again, the ones that interested me had "adopted - waiting to go home" tags on their cages.

As I was leaving, the receptionist suggested that I go outside and look at the dogs that had just entered the facility.

"They aren’t brought up in front here until they've been evaluated, processed, and neutered or spayed," she said. "That takes four or five days and by then the popular ones have already been spoken for. Go out there and, if you see one that you like, come back here and put a hold on it."

Sure enough, there was a dog I liked. The information on his cage said he had been picked up the day before in the rural fern-farming region of the county, that he was “young”, and a “Jack Russell mix ”.

I couldn’t see any Jack in him myself. True, he was the right size and a shorthair, but definitely the wrong shape. He looked more like a hound to me   :   long-bodied and short-legged, forming a rectangular rather than the square body profile common to most terriers. He had heavy haunches and almost a pug nose. I later learned he also had the deep baying voice of a hound rather than the yap-yap tone of a terrier.

Nevertheless, he was a very cute dog, practically all white with a faint lemon marking on one ear. And he was friendly, coming up to the wire mesh with a happy face.

I took the dog into the exercise area to see how we interacted. He was alert and responsive. He didn’t cringe at threatening gestures. He was docile on leash but didn’t seem to have been trained to heel. That would not be a problem.

I’ve always had two dogs and the resident dog always helps to train the newcomer. If I put this little guy on a coupler with Bronco, positioning him between Bronco and me, he would be heeling properly within a few days.

Bronco, a very dominant dog, would teach him the rules of the house, just as Zöe had taught Bronco, Toutounette had taught Zöe, Snoopy had taught Toutounette, and on and on, back to my first dog. I decided that if I could adopt him, I would name this pound dog “Ici”. It suited him and I had been waiting for years to call a dog that.

I put a “hold” on Ici and was told to bring Bronco to the kennels for an obligatory introduction visit. This was judged successful (they immediately started to play together). I paid $70 for the various shots and vet fees and was told to come back after Ici's upcoming surgery.

The day I took Ici home he was still a bit groggy from the anesthetic. Bronco was overjoyed to see him and eagerly accepted him in the house. I put Ici in a holding cage overnight so he could recover. He was fully alert the next morning.

Day Two. The first thing he did was to eat three breakfasts   :   his, Bronco’s, and then the second breakfast I put down for Bronco. Wow! I walked them together and Ici not only peed, he had a bowel movement while on leash. Good, he obviously had some training in that respect.

Ici was caged again until I came home at mid-day, when both dogs were walked together, followed by a very energetic romp throughout the house. This was Saturday, my half day, so Ici was free in the house with Bronco. No problems. The evening walk after their suppers was another success. That was the end of the honeymoon.

From the third day on, Ici was the Hound from Hell. He intimidated Bronco at meal time, staring at him when Bronco tried to eat. Ici insisted it was his right to sleep on the sofa. He refused to spend an hour tied on the front porch with Bronco (who enjoys watching the neighbor’s kids play). After a few minutes he would bark and bark until I brought him back into the house.

When alone in the house, my dogs are confined to the laundry room. Ici tore the room's café doors off their hinges by jumping against them whenever he heard my car coming into the garage.

Worse of all, he started having his bowel movements squarely in the middle of the living room carpeting. This was pure protest.

Any dog who dumps in the house will usually try to find a discreet corner for his business   :   using the space in the middle of a room is a deliberate act of calling attention to something the dog knows he should not be doing.

On the tenth day I took Ici back to the animal shelter. I explained that he was incorrigible and was wrecking my house. They told me he was a “baby” and that I should be tolerant of him. I was also told that I would never be allowed to adopt another dog from their association.

My vet had examined Ici and thought he was between 15 and 18 months old, certainly not a young puppy. I had seen Ici before he was neutered; he had full-size, fully descended balls. That was no puppy, just a very spoiled, headstrong dog. Found as a stray out in the fern section? More likely someone dropped him off in the countryside to get rid of him. But he was a cute little thing and I’m sure he was soon adopted again. Good luck to his new owners! The next time I want another dog I’ll buy one, thank you.

And Bronco? He seemed relieved to be rid of the Hound from Hell. Since Ici made his brief appearance in our lives, Bronco has met a number of canine buddies that he sees on a regular basis during our walks. He seems happy with that, at least for now.

February 17, 2004 - The day that changed my life

(22:28:59) Ari: daniel - can i ask you something point blank and you will answer it point blank (because i won't be upset either way) and you won't feel too weird - as this whole conversation is weird so why not go for it?
(22:29:29) Heartstab (AOL): I'll answer
(22:29:46) Ari: do you think you love me?

More than a year later, I have no question I answered correctly. Sure, I was caught a little off-guard, and sure, I may have qualified my answer more than I really meant. But yes, I loved her. I love her.

It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, I'll be honest. I suppose that's the price you pay for being in a long-distance relationship at age 20 (21 now). But I wouldn't trade her for anything else in the world.

A short story I wrote last night at work

The only thing that I remembered was being struck in the back of the head by something hard and heavy. "Jesus Christ that hurt like a bastard!" I remember saying to myself upon waking up. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I was in some type of a hedge maze. It was sunny out and I could hear Robins and Sparrows chirping. I knew that I was still in North America. The only problem was that I had no idea where I was. This place, this garden of hell, could be anywhere. I had estimated that I was knocked out for a relatively long time. At least six hours. My body felt like it had been drugged. I decided that I was not going to get much achieved by just sitting in one spot. So I went looking for a path that would lead me home.

There were a total of four paths that I could take, so I decided to take the one closest to me. I began walking and suddenly noticed that there was something in my back pocket. I reached in a grabbed it. It was a note. This is what it said:
Hello David. Congratulations! If you are reading this note, then you must be in The Garden of Sorrows. If you need to something to eat do not hesitate to blow the tiny little whistle also located in your back pocket. We have taken all of your material belongings. The only way you will ever return home is if you can decipher the four, three-digit combinations for the locks on the door at the beginning of the maze.

I immediately ran back to the beginning of the maze. Sure enough, there was a door. It had been locked with four large combination locks. Well, four locks, four paths, I'm betting I gotta go find the combinations for these locks. I had started down the first path when I began to feel a bit nauseous. At that point I remembered the whistle in my back pocket. I pulled it out and gave it a healthy toot. Sure enough a can of Spaghetti O's materialized right before my very eyes. Only one problem. No can-opener or spoon!!! It took some doing but I managed to get the damn can open and eat the spaghetti o's that lay waiting for my parched mouth to just swallow up. I continued down the first path not noticing that it was starting to get dark. A very unsavory feeling crept up my spine, but I continued onward.

The first path was full of twists and turns that just seemed impossible. It seemed like I was walking in circles, but I most certainly was not. It was really dark out now. But the maze seemed to be emitting a glow of it's own. As if the paths were lit with thousands of light emitting diodes. Needless to say this made me feel a bit better. As I came near the end of this path I noticed a shred of paper on the ground, then another, and then one more. I realized that these scraps of paper were the first combination for the first lock. Thinking to myself "oh great, I have to walk all the way back through this maze," I turned around a noticed a small ring on the ground. Like a door knocker, but much bigger. I lifted the iron ring and to my surprise there was a hidden door. Underneath the door was a staircase. "Whatever is down there cannot be any worse than what I am going to have to do up here," I said to myself. and I went on down the stairs.

As I walked down this underground stairway I began to think of what would happen if I didn't get out of this place. Hell I didn't even understand why I was here. Is this some type of prison? Or is it just some crazy bastard's reality television show? At this point I was a bit worried. My girlfriend was probably worried sick by now. The tunnel seemed to go on forever. The walls of the very thing seemed like they were alive, almost breathing. I continued on my way noticing a small light coming from my destination. It looked like campfire light. "That's odd" I thought to myself. As I neared the exit of the tunnel, I realized that I could also hear voices. I stopped for a second of two to listen, but could not make out what they were saying. I reached the end of the tunnel and climbed up the stairs.

To my surprise I was In a totally different place. Some type of storage building. I thought I heard something in one of the shadowy corners move, so I went closer to take a look. There were to young girls holding each other and crying. A brunette and a blonde "Please don't kill us," the brunette said. "We will do anything you want," the blonde said. I told them I wasn't planning on killing them, and that I just wanted to know what the hell was going on and where I was. "So you don't work for Mr. Sledge?" asked the brunette. "No" I said, "Who is Mr. Sledge?" They told me that this Mr. Sledge is a serial killer with a really odd fetish. He likes to keep human guinea pigs and watch them run around in a maze all day or until they die. They went on to tell me that they had been trapped inside Sledge's maze for almost three months. There were no combinations for the locks. It was a load of shit. Mr. Sledge just wanted us to wander aimlessly around hoping we could get out of his crazy fucking death maze. Luckily for them and me, they found the secret exit. I still had no idea of where I was though. There was only one door in the building so I figured it would take me outside. Sure enough, it did. I ran three blocks before I could find a fucking pay phone. I dialed 911 and within a half hour a search and rescue team picked us up. They never found Mr. Sledge.


Now my fucking rotor needs to be replaced!

I went up to town yesterday and bought two used tires for my car. Well upon changing the passenger's side front tire I noticed that the break pads that I had just installed were already almost gone. Now if you know anything about automobile breaking systems, you will know that this is not normal at all. The only thing I really think it could be is the rotor. It is in pretty bad shape anyways. I bought a new rotor this morning for $30.00, and put it on about an hour ago. So far it seems to be driving fine. The breaks feel a lot stronger now as well. As long as I don't lose my breaks in town or while I am hauling ass at seventy miles an hour.

A conversation with a friend in Iraq

My friend Dan is currently stationed in Abu Gharib. I haven't talked with him in a very long time. I thought he was dead. Any way here is our conversation:

fenwickdrummer: Holy shit it's you man! I thought you were dead. daniel_horricks: No, not dead. Just sleeping. daniel_horricks: You ever get a job man? fenwickdrummer: I'm working at the BP gas station in Greenville. Over by TSC. daniel_horricks: SWEET fenwickdrummer: Yeah, it works. fenwickdrummer: Better than nothing. daniel_horricks: At least you don't have to wear all of the shit I have to wear. Shit loads of ammo, grenades and shit. fenwickdrummer: Anything interesting going on over there? daniel_horricks: We had a bunch of militants try to ambush us last week. I had to shoot three men. It was difficult and it was the first time I had to do it. But you know, it was either us or them. And I am not ready to die. I want to come home and start a family with Marissa. fenwickdrummer: Craziness daniel_horricks: I am tired as fuck man. fenwickdrummer: Looks like it. fenwickdrummer: What time is it over there? daniel_horricks: It's 9:43 PM here and I have 14 more hours of work to go. fenwickdrummer: Only 1:45 PM here. I gotta work at 4:30 until 11:30. daniel_horricks: Well have fun, and don't work too hard man. fenwickdrummer: Yeah man you too. Later. Keep in touch. daniel_horricks: Peace man.

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