Ty turned 15 this past weekend. I have his original vet records. Here are the first two photos I ever took of him at about 1.5 years, before I adopted him our first visit at the pound. He growled at very first greeting.
Our first winter, a few months after adoption. In those days I was still doing rescue and trying to find a permanent home for him. Ultimately I couldn’t place him because people balked at his dog aggression. You wouldn’t think it now to see him, but he easily dominated dogs twice his size. He’d respond to their aggressive advance with a lighting-strike lunge to the neck, clamp down, shake his head, making them sing, as I hurriedly plied the breaking stick. It happened several times despite my warnings to other dog owners. Eventually, I’d just pick him up if we were around other dogs. It was amazing how stupid other dog owners could be! It was like they didn’t understand English. Everyone was much happier if I scooped Ty and kept him for interacting.
He began athletic training in spring.
And showing the ravages of time, slumbering just before his 15th birthday:
During my commute I recently listened to, American Spirit: A Novel, by Dan Kennedy. In it I came across one of the best profiles of what marriage is or can be like. I’m not sure of the punctuation as I transcribed it from the audio track but it was such a wonderful piece of prose, such an accurate representation of the feelings of living with and loving a partner, that I had to post it.
And for years there were dinners to cook up and make the house smell like chicken and spices and smell like a home that had people in it instead of a house making boarders out of the hearts of lost kids. There was an annual ski trip. There was watching romantic comedies on the couch with pillows clutched to chests for comfort and making heads or tails of the feelings from it. There were photo albums of the new house and vacations, and even the nights spent on the living room floor making the photo albums. There was staying home together on New year’s Eve because it felt better than being out there in the fray of mania of love being thrown around like party favors or cheap sentiment. There was the silly, dumb, old-fashioned thrill of a fun thing for desert that one of the two of them had brought home. There were simple little things like deciding together to splurge on a pay-per-view movie and sitting on the couch for it, having showered early and gotten into clothes that were comfortable and dumb, clothes that neither of you would ever be seen in. Sitting there showered and PJ-ed with a special desert treat and feeling like one was circling back and getting some of the fun of being a kid again, of being a kid for the first time, really. There were simple little things like two feet touching in bed after a long day in the city working, the top of one pressing into the arch of the other. And it always felt like there must be no better feeling on Earth. There was simple sweet excitement about deciding Friday night to sleep late together on Saturday monring and then do something good for breakfast.
Most of my life, I thought life long vitality and performance would be mine given my passion for and consistency of training. Now that I’m older, I’m realizing many such success stories happen for people who’ve been sedentary much of their lives and, having only started training late in life, have not yet accumulated the high mileage wear and tear of decades of performance training. I don’t know anything about the lifter in the video below but Milo Steinborn was said to have been squatting globe barbells (Without a squat rack he had to tip onto his shoulders from off the floor. Call a chiropractor!) If memory serves me, he was reputed to being doing 500 lbs. this way for crowds when in his sixties. Go to most gyms today and you’ll find very, very few who can break parallel with a solid 500 lbs. squat, never mind doing it Steinborn style.
Early twentieth century strongman Milo Steinborn weathering the aging process.
All of my friends who’ve been pushing themselves for decades no have chronic issues. Ya can’t do battle without gettin’ scarred. But whether from lack of chronic wear and tear or from freak-of-nature supremo genetics, some lucky ones still get to push themselves in late years. This is 286 pounds:
…I heard a barking dog. This wasn’t the sound of a typical country hound howling at a chicken. This was a ferocious and yet forlorn noise. After a few moments other dogs joined in, an unholy cacophony befitting mythology’s hellhounds. You have heard of these creatures, have you not? They are described as supernaturally fast dogs with malevolent glowing red or yellow eyes. Their duties are said to include guarding the entrance to the world of the dead, hunting lost souls and protecting treasures. It is written that if you look into their eyes three times you most surely will die. To hear them howl is an omen of death or even worse. - from Seduction by M.J. Rose
…The moon is full tonight,
The hair stands on my neck something isn’t right
The howling echoes eerie through the air So listen people beware – Whoah oh oh These beasts of prey wanna take your life, When there’s howling on the hills someone dies…
I started this tiny blaze after digging down to bare ground. I also used a large piece of bark to build on. It kept fledgling flames dry and gave them something to munch on from the bottom up.
Though I had enough dry wood on hand to make splitting kindling minimal, it’s always good to be prepared. This is the inexpensive Shrade 10 Bowie. It’s blade is disappointingly thin, more suited to slicing fruit than splitting wood… or processing wood in any way. Still better than being empty handed though. It has a back swedge that could easily be sharpened for combat (illegal in some states) but for my far more likely use, batoning, unsharpened is much better.
Other than in blazing summer, a weekend doesn’t feel “right” to me without at least one woodland fire.
Fire gives warmth, light, a sense of security and a way to cook. It’s also an enjoyable challenge to light at times, a pleasure to tend and mesmerizing to watch. Fire can be of medical use to sterilize water and instruments and provides fairly clean trash disposal. Because of all those things it provides at least temporary sense of ”home” anywhere. No wonder the campfire is usually the focus of a campsite.
And the great thing about fires in snowy winter, is you never have to worry it’ll get away. Here it’s burned down to a bed of embers creating an orange pinpoint in a field of deep blue.
A rare treat for Mak, long-lining is usually only feasible on the beach where there are no obstructions. Here he shows his joy by whipping around like an idiot.
Because I don’t want him pulling my lower back in sudden jolts, he’s attached by a Herm Sprenger choke (pretty ineffective in this application). The line runs through the harness which keeps his forelegs from tangling. The heavy collar ahead of the choke prevents it from the unlikely event of it slipping off his head. This is belt and suspenders security; since his head is much bigger than his neck, it’s a tight fit. Taking off the choke is a slow, deliberate two-hand operation.
Evidence of my filthy species: beer bottle embedded in the ice. I was able to free and remove it.
How to walk a hydraulic pit bull on ice? Mountaineering crampons. Best be careful not to step on the dog’s feet wearing these!
I was chatting with Lori today and she surprised me by saying she’d never seen the video of the guy swimming with his polar bear. What? Not everyone looks these things up? This bear looks as tame as Mak. But bears are the wild animals most known for attacking without warning. (Because bears aren’t visual, they haven’t evolved visual cues as we have which makes their attacks seem unpredicted.) But my guess is if this guy were to be killed by his bear, it’d probably be his first choice in “way to go.”