Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Roxy has found a new home! (updated)

I adopted Roxy from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in August 2009. Roxy is an approximately 1.5-year-old, 55-lb, suspected Labrador Retriever/Siberian Husky mix, though she might have some Bull Terrier in her as well. She was rescued as a stray in Kansas, and brought to HSBV.

However, my personal schedule has changed recently, which was not expected when I adopted her. I will be traveling for 7-8 weeks over the next four months: 2-4 weeks starting March 22, and five weeks starting in the last week of May. This is too long a period of time to board Roxy, both for cost and from the standpoint of her health. Further, Roxy's life with me is sub-optimal - she's either at home in my small condo, or on a leash outside, with only weekly visits to day care to let off steam.
Considering the combination of my upcoming travel and her quality of life, I tried to relinquish Roxy earlier this week to HSBV. But her multiple issues - most of them borderline, see below - deemed her unadoptable at HSBV.

Rather than euthanize her, I reclaimed Roxy, but with the explicit view of finding her a new home soon. Below, I describe her issues and good points, and hope that someone out there can take her up and provide her a good home.

Issues with Roxy: Roxy has gotten over her separation anxiety, though it took her about 6 months. Initially, she expressed her anxiety through scratching and pawing at the door for up to an hour, before tiring/giving up - nothing more destructive. (I have videos!)
In the last month or so, she has started misbehaving while at daycare (ankle-biting). She plays rough, and even if the other dog doesn't want to play, Roxy nips at him/her and starts a fight (thankfully, nothing serious yet). The attendants at Camp Bow-Wow put her down for a nap, which seems to help. I just realized that this misbehavior started after I took her off ClomiPRAMINE, which was supposed to help her get over the separation anxiety.
Roxy has also shown signs of guarding her food bowl and rawhide while at daycare and at the Humane Society, though never at home with me.
Now that Roxy's over her separation anxiety, she tends to run off exploring for up to an hour or more, if I let her off-leash. She returns when she's exhausted, but this means that I now keep her on-leash at all times - there's a school close by, and a loose dog that sorta looks like a pit bull terrier could scare kids (but definitely their parents!)
Roxy chases cats, but more out of curiosity. Still, I would not recommend a home with cats.

But Roxy's a good dog:
Roxy is great with people and kids, unless the person is a stranger with a large bag (she barks.)
She was house-broken when I got her, so someone owned her before she became a stray. She has been through the HSBV beginner's training class, and knows commands like sit, down, stay (working on recall.)
She usually plays well with similar-size/larger dogs and confident little dogs, though not with yappy little dogs or cats.
Now that she has spent a good length of time with me, she is OK left alone at home for 8 hours or so, though at the start of such days I run with her for about 3 miles and feed her with a frozen Kong.
I have only had her chew a couple things over the last 7 months, and that was when I was away for longer periods than usual. It could be that her experience as a stray made her rather self-reliant, and the switch back to domestic life, in addition to her energetic nature, makes her bored, resulting in gnawed furniture! I believe that if she had a largish yard to play in and explore, or another doggy companion or doggy daycare* 1-2 times/week, she'd be quite content, and leave the furniture alone.
I recently left her with friends for two weeks while I was out of town, and she quickly became attached to my male friend. She'd get somewhat anxious if he left the room, even if his wife was there. However, her anxiety manifests at a much lower level than it used to when I got her from HSBV. So any separation anxiety with a new owner might not be too bad.
*I have re-started Roxy on ClomiPRAMINE, but this drug takes 4-6 weeks to become effective. However, once she's on it, Roxy's misbehavior at daycare might likely reduce - while on ClomiPRAMINE, she was a great dog at daycare.
I will be working on her food bowl-guarding issues, with the aid of an HSBV trainer.

If you think you can provide Roxy a good home, please contact me: randomsubu AT gmail. Thanks!

UPDATE: Pictures! The three nice pictures were taken by Theron (notanyron) - thanks!
UPDATE 3/13/10: Roxy has found a new home! Thanks, Tabetha!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Buying local: books v/s music

I went to the Pearl St Mall in downtown Boulder today - something I haven't had a chance to do the past few months, ever since I adopted Roxy. Now that Roxy seems to have gotten over her separation anxiety, I can go out again without too much worry.
Anyway, went to the Boulder Book Store. Each time I go to a physical book store, I feel that I should instead buy an e-book reader, since (a) no dead trees! and (b) local book store prices are usually way more than at Amazon, e-book or not. Still, I have bought a few books over the past couple years, partly out of a sense of supporting the local independent store, and partly if the title really interests me. In that sense, the local book store is great - allows me to browse through new and old titles quickly. I probably would not have looked for, or found, Padgett Powell's The Interrogative Mood, which I bought today. And I very likely would not have got a signed-first-edition through Amazon!
Still, I hesitated to buy Joseph Stiglitz' new book, Freefall. The book looks really interesting, but it's 42% cheaper through Amazon, and almost 65% off in the Kindle edition*. So I came away without the book. I figure the gentry that now occupy most of Boulder (and have raised property values in the city so much that I have to live in Gunbarrel) can shoulder the burden of keeping the local book store open...
Alas, that last option has not quite worked out for Bart's CD cellar. Tonight was their last night, going out of business and everything, including fixtures and furniture, on sale, 60-80% off marked prices. I ended up buying a dozen CD/sets and a pair of funky "beer-sunglasses" (for a friend!) for under $50. Good for me, not so for the local small-business environment. I have benefited on occasion from talking to the sales folks at the brick-and-mortar record stores, as they are usually quite knowledgeable. Still, iTunes and Amazon's (many free!) MP3 collections have diminished the local store's importance.
Or not? Is the local music store just as important as the local book store? Should I help keep the local book store open, even if it creates a significant dent in my wallet?

*I don't even have to own a Kindle to buy the Kindle edition - thanks to Kindle-for-PC, I now own a copy of Freefall.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reasons why I refuse to call myself a liberal or progressive

Usually, I find myself aligning more with Democratic/left positions, and consider myself extremely socially liberal. However, I do not call myself a progressive or liberal, because these labels apparently come with a set of positions I find annoying and even reprehensible. Here is a list of these positions, in no particular order:

1. “Bring the troops home/War is not the answer”: This is a nice slogan, but not a policy. For better or for worse, the US is involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the Obama administration [WH] is drawing down the troop levels in Iraq, this will take some time. As for Afghanistan, I agree with WH that Al-Qaeda/the Taliban need to be destroyed, and this theater includes Pakistan (where WH sends drones.) Pakistan at the very least has a functioning central government (not to mention a strong Army); Karzai's administration is still weak. Withdrawing US troops in a knee-jerk fashion now will only lead to more instability in the region, possibly allowing the Taliban/Al-Qaeda to return to their pre-9/11 ascendancy.

2. Single-payer healthcare/Medicare-for-All/public option: First, eliminating private insurance companies – effectively nationalizing the insurance industry – is just not going to happen. While the existing system has many deficiencies, a majority of Americans are generally happy with their healthcare. Nationalization of an integral part of people's lives is too radical a change that will not go down well especially for a Democratic WH. But second, and more importantly, Medicare-for-All will not contain costs – Atul Gawande's famous New Yorker article compares healthcare costs through the Medicare prism, and finds that existing Medicare can pay twice as much for care that is not much better, if not actually worse. Current healthcare reform legislation tries to correct many of the deficiencies of private sector insurance – caps, recissions, no denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions – in addition to (AFAIK) delivery system reforms which really bend the cost curve. It would help if the Cornhusker kickback and other sweetheart deals (including that for unions*, see later) were removed from the legislation, but overall, just because the legislation does not achieve single-payer healthcare or include a public option is no reason to kill the bill.
(* I believe the union exemption is not yet part of the Senate bill, but a proposed fix in conference - not sure about its status in reconciliation fixes.)

3. “Unions are the greatest and can do no wrong!” - Unions provide a lot of important protections for their members, and collective bargaining gets better deals for workers. But unions also institute a hierarchy where pay rises with seniority, protect incompetent teachers/workers (Classrooms of Death), and have looked to better benefits in lieu of higher pay. Now that healthcare benefits may be taxed and at a flat rate rather than at the progressive income tax scales, these union-negotiated pay structures are looking really bad. This has apparently resulted in a sweetheart deal where union workers are exempted from the fee on healthcare benefits for a longer period than non-union workers, which makes everybody else angry. Remember, unions are a minority of households these days (just 12% of voters reported being part of a union as per the 2008 presidential election exit polls).

4. Finally, some liberals/progressives demand exactly the same purity tests as teabagging Republicans - “Alan Grayson for President, 2012!” These folks forget George McGovern's 1972 performance. Extremists – rather, public/outed extremists – rarely, if ever, win Presidential elections. And if you would rather lose a Presidency than compromise on ideology, just remember – SCOTUS appointments and other important priorities, like environmental protection, hang in the balance.

That's it for now. Your mileage will vary, for sure, and your comments are welcome – so long as they are civil and relevant to the content of this post. My moderation policy errs on the side of free speech.