Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lethal Force

[inset- Gloria, an example of a family pet killed by police]

This morning I learned of another incident regarding the use of lethal force against a family dog, this time against a 30 pound mixed Boston Terrier Pit Bull. Admittedly, this time the shooting occurred in a parking lot, and some responsibility must fall to the family for failing to keep their pet monitored and secure, it still raises the question of the escalation of danger officers face in the performance of their duties, and how they are to properly respond.

"The use of deadly force is justified only under conditions of extreme necessity as a last resort, when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed." (definition from Wikipedia) Certainly, police must protect themselves and others from violent criminals, and because guns can be fired, this necessitates a snap decision in many cases. Guns are drawn and held ready in the event their use is called for.

However, in the case of family pets, they don't have guns. The only way they can hurt a human is to close and use their teeth. Therefore where dogs are concerned, officers should be authorized to use lethal force only when lethal force is used against them, instead of shooting the animals down in cold blood.

Police now have a variety of options that do not require discharging their weapon. I am uncertain whether mace or pepper spray are effective in deterring dogs (I would assume so, given dogs sensitivity to smell.) Tasers are proven in their effectiveness to stop threats and are not necessarily lethal.

We don't need officers who respond to ankle-biters with this kind of stopping power. We need instead officers who use common freaking sense, something that seems to have in many cases, gone by the wayside. The law does support officers who kill family pets. Police have the right to pursue their duties without interference. Lethal force justifies the use of sidearms. Non lethal force does not.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Numbskulls For Lawyers

Numbskulls For Lawyers

I've been reading about the Collective Bargaining Agreement that recently fell through in the National Football League over the past few weeks. I've listened to arguments from both sides and have several thoughts on the matter, which I would like to share.

1. The players union states that it requires the ledger sheets from all the clubs in order to continue negotiations. Let me restate this so that it is more understandable and consise. "We need the books so we can sack you for more of your money." There, that's a little more plain, isn't it? I disagree with this. It's the same philosophy that says, you have money, we don't, so we deserve some of yours. It's the same philosophy that President Obama's Robin Hood approach that says, lets take your tax money and spend it on "stimulus" in heavily democratic districts on inane spending projects, like the airport to nowhere.

It's wrong. It's not the amount of money the owners make that dictates what the players receive. It's the principle of the thing.

2. The jobs and the money belong to the owners, and to the league. Period. These resources do not belong to the players. The players are free to go form their own league, but they don't, because that's not where the money is. They are motivated by greed. I work hard at my job, just like they do. Because I make less than they do, does that mean that I am entitled to some of their money? No, not by withholding my money for tv fees, and not by taking it from them and redistributing it to myself via taxes.

3. What is the minimum wage for playing in the NFL? In 2010, rookies and first year players earned a minimum of $320,000. Second year players earned a minimum of $395,000. Third year players earned a minimum of $470,000; fourth year players earned $545,000 and fifth year players earned 630,000. Given that the players mentioned in the lawsuit against the NFL include the highest paid players in the game, including Drew Brees and Peyton Manning I have only this to say...

Shame on you! For shame! I hope that they replace your sorry selves with replacement players, like they did in the 80's. How can you go on strike making that kind of salary? I would love to see the Browns, the Cardinals, the Seahawks or the Falcons win the Super Bowl. Hopefully, when you cling to your overused, anti-American, industry-draining, greed-promoting lawyers and union organizers, you will find yourselves wishing you had not gone back to soak the till one too many times.

I appreciate the dedication Commissioner Goodell has taken in reducing his salary until the negotiations are concluded.

armchair coach
amateur historian

cc: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Roger Goodell

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Passion and Devotion

A picture can be worth a thousand words. In this case, I have taken pictures of my precious ones, Snoopy and Mikey, which speak, well, volumes, at least to me. They also speak another lesson to me, as well.

You see, our pets, dogs particularly, have had their puppy-like emotions and behaviors bred into them. It’s what makes them different from their wolf ancestors they descended from. Right now there is a continuing project in Russia to breed in these same characteristics into foxes that has been continuing for 40 or 50 years, and some have been reasonably domesticated enough to live with humans. Their fear response to humans has been selectively bred out, making them more childlike and trusting.

Dogs have their own limited language. Their posture, their tails, the sounds they make; even just a look with the ears up all convey *meaning.* Check out the bottom half of the picture. Snoopy is talking to me, bellowing from his entire body in my direction. He is focused on me, crying out, and if an interpretation could be suggested, it might be “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Would that our prayers to God be filled with such desire, energy and focus. Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 “Truly, I say to you, if you do not have a change of heart and become like little children, you will not go into the kingdom of heaven.” Mark 10:15 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Then look at little Mikey, bless her. She’s smiling, ears up, mouth open in a gesture of play. The tail I am sure was going. Such innocence in thought and joy in the moment. I learned a saying from Pastor Alex that goes like this: “Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little feet where you go.” In order to change and transform our minds and thoughts, we should be immersed in God’s word daily, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Then check out the top picture. What a beautiful moment! Snoopy and Mikey would just follow me around the house in those days, watching me, ready to respond to my slightest initiative to interact. Such devotion. Their attention and concentration would magnify should I happen to be carrying food or a treat for them. But guess what? God has snackaliscious, way-cool “treats” for you, for your life, that make the scraps I fed to the dogs seem like cold porridge in comparison. He is waiting for us to drop the things of the world which we so stubbornly hold on to so that we may receive, with open hands. 1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

So God continues to bless me through my wonderful guys, even though they are gone. What an awesome, incredible, beautiful gift. But there is another greater gift we all need to receive- God’s son, Jesus. He came, that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He died, willingly, for the sins of the world; what we do with that, ultimately, is up to us.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Goodbye, my Little Girl

The food bowl sits on the floor- empty… untouched… alone… like my heart feels right now. My companion who shared my home for a decade and a half has gone, and I’m still grieving. As I reflect on it, I realize my mourning is normal- to some extent at any rate. The house where I live has never been empty. I moved in with Snoopy and Beauty my first night here, back in 1995. Always the pitter patter of little feet has graced this home.

Mikey was born to Snoopy and Beauty in Beauty’s first and only litter- thirteen puppies, one stillborn. Out of all of them, I picked her. Beauty passed away from a bad case of parvovirus a few months afterwards. Both Mikey and Snoopy got ill, but they made it through.

One of my students today asked why dogs don’t live as long as humans. I thought about it and replied simply that they live life filled with abandon. I miss coming home and seeing my bedspread all over the place from where they used to jump up and down on it all day, chasing away mailmen or any stray animal that got too close to the house. In the back yard, Mikey would chase Snoopy and both would run themselves into exhaustion. It was a joie de vivre (French for a passionate “joy of living” or “zest of life”) that I have never seen repeated, anywhere, before or afterwards.

When Snoopy died three years ago my heart was heavy, and so was Mikey’s. She did not understand, and up to a few days before she died, she always went out to my truck to check and see if Snoopy was there. In this, her emotions were plainly evident.

In her later years, she had some hip dysplasia, so she spent most of her time lying and sleeping. Yet, whenever I arrived home from work, she always dragged herself up to come and greet me. I would leave the radio in my bedroom turned to a Christian music station when I left for work, and when I arrived home I would ask her, “Did God sing over you today?” She was so faithful… so filled with love. What a beautiful gift from God!

The end happened all too quickly. Friday, I arrived home and Mikey let out a whine, gathering herself up from the floor to come and greet me as was her usual custom. I spent the weekend at home, happy and content. Sunday however, she was a little wobbly. As she went down the three steps from my porch to the front yard, she tripped, and landed smack down on her chest with her front legs splayed out on the concrete. I went to her and helped her get up, but she was never really the same after that. She was not too interested in food. I made her a chicken breast with some bread, but it came back up later in the day. I was very concerned that she had hurt herself.

The truth was that her liver and kidneys had ceased functioning and when I got her into the vets on Monday, she had a temperature of 104. I asked them to get her hydrated and waited for the blood test results. When I learned that her organs had started to shut down, I knew it was her time.

They brought her in and she looked better, now that she had gotten some water into her. I had a talk with her, and told her how good she had been and how much I loved her. Even with her temperature, and the wastes building up in her blood, she reached forward and gave me a snog on the face. It was… so very touching.

Now, the house sits silent. I know that one of these days, I am going to come home and forgetting, expect to see her. I leave the radio on for now when I go to work, even though she’s no longer there. I miss her so. Yet even in this, I believe she has accomplished the task set for her- to show me the meaning of love, pure and unfettered by human concerns.

So now, I say good bye to my sweet little girl. You have done so well. I love you very much. Look for me in heaven. Now, go chase Snoopy!

Dear Lord, I thank you for Mikey, for her steadfast devotion and care for me. Words cannot express my heart right now. I humbly ask, that as Mikey was to me, make me to You. Let me be faithful. Let me love You, as Mikey loved me. When you call, let me turn and listen, and not be distracted by the cares of this life. And in doing so, let Your will be done. Amen.