Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Suka and Dakota have come to extra-energetic life - Cold weather is simply a God-send to these heavy-coated girls. Dakota, especially, has taken to bouncing and looking at me wth her head turned sideways every time I get to my feet. She *knows* the routine, but still she's looking for an exception. Every. Single. Time. Suka mostly reacts by being much more noisy than usual, and more persistent.
Dakota has made things a bit more interesting... She and Suka had a resource spat a week or so ago, and Suka bellied-out immediately - and Dakota stopped. This is a good thing; Exactly the way a dog fight - if you *must* have a dog fight - should go. But it was Suka submitting. That's a first. And yet, at any other time, including after the fight, Dakota still defers to Suka, whom hasn't changed her pushy, bitchy ways one iota. It's as if, having made her point, Dakota has decided to humor Suka. And smart as Dakota is, I'd not be surprised if that wasn't exactly the case.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Lin had a choice between going to a museum to see a really spectacular touring exhibit of art, or stay home and help clean with her mother, or come to The Farm with me and get really dirty and a bit cold whilst working. I'm quite pleased that she chose The Farm, and she did me proud.
We got there a bit later than I'd have preferred, but some random idiot took off with my gas cap, and I had to replace that, first. But we made it, and Lin immediately discovered Puppies. As in a pair of female rescuees, maybe 16 weeks old, wandering about the place busily being cute. Then she discovered barn cats, also busily engaged in the demanding task of being prime distractions for a young teenager. I left her to play with kritters while I filled food bins at various places, but soon enough, I was ready for the main event, which was putting an end to the last chaos and mess in the feed trailer. Lin immediately dropped the play, and turned-to with a will. She toted, and carried, and ran back and forth on various errands without complaint or slacking the entire time I was up to my elbows in disordered and spilled flats of canned food. She lifted and hauled while I was moving out bags of kibble and cat litter (yeah, it was another donation from Fibber McGee's closet o'stuff). Once the food was sorted, she happily shifted surplus cat food over to another trailer to be hauled over to the local shelter, then helped me transport and off-load it at the shelter.
Back at The Farm, she helped clear out a truck, and load yet more food for distribution. And she picked shredded fiberfill from destroyed dog toys out of the grass and fences. And helped shift a pen for the puppies and learned how to corral puppies whom don't wish to be caught. Oh, and still somehow found time to play with puppies and dogs and kitties, and stare at sheepies and other livestock, and generally have a good time. And get generally filthy - It *IS* a farm, after all!
All in all, and without over-working her, Lin's help made it possible to get done more than twice as much as would have otherwise have been done without her. AND she had time to play! She made a strongly favorable impression on the HBIC, and I daresay my job of corrupting... Um, expanding her horizons... was a major success. Certainly, I was pleased to spend the day with her, and there was none of the teenaged angst or whining that can often come with a bored child. Just a good day of doing good.
Now it's time to sing one of my favorite songs again:
Times are hard, and volunteer-based organizations are hurting for resources and man-hours. It doesn't matter if you have no major skills and are tight on resources yourself - there are things to be done by all. A little lifting, a little organizing. Maybe a load of laundry or two. Perhaps something needs be driven from 'here' to 'there'. Maybe it's just stuffing envelopes for an afternoon, or making some phone calls. Who knows? Find a cause that speaks to you, and find out! It doesn't matter if you haven't a lot to give - Small help is still help.
OK, OK - *ONE* picture:
Monday, October 18, 2010
But I want him so bad my teeth hurt.
Financially-speaking, I have no right to even make a bid for him, but he needs a home... And he's SO my match in temperment and attitude. And he'd add some much-needed male energy to my small pack... If the economy were even a bit better, I'd snap him up so fast, his breeders would think he'd vaporized. :)
So who is this? He's Zeus - A nearly* breed-quality male ISSR Shiloh Shepherd (same breed as Dakota) puppy, 16 weeks and 48 pounds. A bit defiant, but laid-back and confident, and with a medium temperment. Pretty much describes me, yanno? Also my wife... And my daughter... And my son. :p
Can't afford the cost of healthchecks and potential puppy-type disasters, although I could possibly pull together the actual up-front costs. Since I can't afford the care, I can't afford the puppy. :( Would that more people thought this way... Though that would mean a lot more frustrated dog lovers. But fewer hurtin' pups.
Mind you, if someone reading this decided Zeus (or his sister Hera) were their perfect puppy, I'd hardly be offended. ;) Their breeders are trying to do things the right way, but responsible breeding is a good way to lose money, and with only two puppies in this litter, they're hurtin' too - the economy hits responsible breeders FAR harder than it hits puppy mills.
But DAMN, I want this puppy. ;)
*Technically, a "Pet-Upgradeable" puppy - One with faults, but might be upgraded to breeding status, if he shows offsetting strengths as he matures.
Monday, October 11, 2010
No pictures - not this time.
The HBIC got another donation shipment, and with volunteer time at a premium, it helps to have the food sorted so that she and the other volunteers can get to the food quickly and easily. So I again went south and sorted and stacked food. I quickly ran out of space to maneuver and stack food, so will have to go back after the current stack is whittled down a bit. But that's still a useful thing... Whilst I was climbing in and out of the trailer, categorizing, moving, sorting, seperating, and stacking, the HBIC was free to do a behavioral consult, and another senior volunteer was able to focus on conducting a class on behavior and manners for a goodly number of students, and they neither one had to worry about the lifting and toting whilst they attended to tasks requiring more nuanced skills.
I've sung this song so many times, but I feel the need to sing it again:
It doesn't matter if you're lacking in fancy or highly developed skills, or if you have no money to spare - there is something for everyone to do, when you volunteer. Find a spot where you can put your hand out to help. You don't have to carry the whole load. If you can't lift a whole load of work, you can lift a little bit - Every little bit sets the stack that much higher. Find a cause that speaks to you, and help stack it up.
In only peripherally-related news, Suka is free of the 'Cone of Shame.' Poor thing was having a terrible time navigating with it, and actually shattered it on the final day she was to wear it by jacking herself up slamming into the furniture. So - Even if she were *supposed* to still be wearing it, she couldn't.
Oh, and I have some spectacular linear bruises on the backs of my calves - I never really thought about how closely she follows me, or how little free space there is to navigate when The Girls are zipping around me.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
So, spent some time, and she got clipped, and and cleaned up, and some steroids (Prednisone) and a goofy collar which is giving her no end of grief in navigation. Poor girl is getting hung up on everything... Even the ground. She lives to sniff stuff, and likes to do it at a trot... But when she lowers the cone, it snags on anything, including polished floors, and suddenly stacks Suka up on end.
Monday, September 27, 2010
So we park in the usual off-street lot, and walk through the alleyway, and are confronted with large herds of happy, boisterous, loud students. Calling back and forth across and up and down the street, hooting, squealing, and generally sounding off, the 'herd' description is more appropriate than you may think. I've seen cattle drives less noisy. Oddly, the police, normally so evident, were nowhere to be seen. But it's OK - As noted, the crowds were in a good mood.
Now, Suka and Dakota are a highly noticable pair - And noticed they were. Almost immediately, a male voice bellows from across the street "that's a HUGE @#^#$& dog!" My head swivels, and I find the source - A group of kids hanging out on a second level balcony of an apartment - But why's he bellowing? Clearly, he's not talking to me - He's talking to his companions, though he's pointing more or less accurately at Dakota. Why is he bellowing at the folks right next to him? Ah - right. It's a 'loss of volume control' accident - One of the more common 'drunk casualties.'
OK, this is fine enough, I suppose... But then some well-basted (as in 'cooked to a fine turn') girl comes blundering across the street (God protects fools and drunks) and makes a beeline for Suka.
Drunk Girl barely seems to notice.
I'm desperately reeling Suka in and getting her behind me.
Drunk Girl pulls up to a swaying halt in front of me and blinks owlishly at me... "SHE'S SO PRETTY!"
Bacardi. I'm sure of it. BAC probably .06+ and she's maybe 19.
Meanwhile, Suka is in full-on "Kill the zombie" mode - I've only once or twice seen her lips roll like that, and her entire coat is standing on end, making her look about three times normal size. Dakota looks mildly perplexed, as does my wife. This is why when on Main Street, I handle Suka - Dakota is FAR less likely to confront than Suka is, and Suka needs a confident hand when she's out of her depth. Like now.
After a few minutes of running through the 'calm down and demonstrate control' routine, Suka stands down, and consents to retun to her job of sniffing everything in sight - Including Drunk Girl (Able to ignore threats near and far - It's like she's got a super power!), whom is still standing there gushing over how cute Suka is - With the volume cranked to 11. Yeah, another 'loss of volume control' casualty. My poor ears. Suka's poor ears! Well, and Dakota's, too. Then Suka high-marks this girl's leg, and loses interest in her. The girl utterly fails to notice, and wanders off, shouting at a passing herd of Hooting Boys.
That pretty much set the tenor of the evening. Suka regarding drunks with towering suspicion, Drunks randomly blundering across our paths, Dakota content to walk with my wife and look perplexed at the Silly Human Tricks, and me with my head on a swivel, watching that no one snuck up on us (not likely, considering, but still...). I know - Someone's going to ask why I didn't turn around and get the heck out of there. Well, I considered it a teachable experience. Suka, once she 'got' that I know how to handle the alcohol zombies, was gaining confidence and I was making sure she learned to cope with sodden humans. IOW, socialization.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Weather broke this past weekend* - MUCH nicer. Took the Girls downtown for their walks, instead of having to sneak them in the early AM and late evening before or after the heat of the day. The college students are seriously BACK. They're everywhere, like so many (thousands of) clueless happy puppies - Making messes, bouncing all over, eager to play and be welcomed (and love the daylights out of the Girls!), but not quite sure how to go about things.
Ah, well. Just like with puppies, can't quite work up enough 'crotchety old man' to whack 'em with a rolled up paper (which is what many need, I 'spect), but just kinda shake my head in rueful amusement, and mosey along... As long as they're not clinging all over the Girls. Again.
Unfortunately, the predators have clued-in early already this year. A couple kids - Freshmen, too wet behind the ears to know what's what - got assaulted the other day. The girls were maced and robbed on a residential street that leans heavily to student rentals. They were fortunate to escape without any worse than that, and they clearly hadn't learned their safety measures yet.
They'll learn - Hopefully the word gets 'round fast on this one, and the freshmen get wise. The sooner they do, the sooner everyone will be more safe - once the easy pickings are gone, the predators go eleswhere.
* IRT the weather: I caused it, I'm quite sure. :-p Bear with me a minute...
Earlier, I took the dogs to get their bordadella booster - No problems, and the tech simply took each back into the procedure area one at a time instead of dirtying up a treatment room. Suka was her usual stress-puppy self, and Dakota was quite adorable trying to get back into the back areas to go find her. You could see her thinking her way through the situation, looking at each possible route she could take, trying to determine where her best path lay. She'd look at a door, cock her head and consider it, then shift, and check the next door, and repeat. No slamming into doors or tugging at the lead - just tense and ready to go, and consideration.
When one of the doors opened to let Suka back to us, Dakota was already moving towards the door before it even opened. I daresay if Suka hadn't come through, then Dakota might well have tried to drag me through going the other way. Dakota, OTOH, was much more calm about the whole business - In and out in about two minutes.
Anyway - the dogs are now legal and safe if I wish to board them to get them a respite from the heat - Say, if our A/C should fail - at the local doggie daycare center. And that, like washing a car brings rain, brought the cooler weather.
I'm quite sure of it. :-p
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I may've mentioned that Dakota isn't fond of stairs. Short flights she can manage, but often has a hard time figuring out where to place her hind feet. If she doesn't hit the stairs at a run, she'll do this kind of 'shuffle step' with her hind feet until she figures out what to do with them - Kinda like watching a clumsy novice dancer trying to figure out the first movement in a dance. Eventually, though, she figures it out, and comes up the steps. If, however, she's at a run, she flows right up the steps like they weren't even there - I think it's that she's already in-motion, and isn't thinking about what she's doing. Again, like our novice dancer; once he gets moving, he's OK.
But the long flight of stairs up to the second floor? I *know* she can negotiate them, as I've been woken by a paw the size of my palm smacking me in the face. Or I'll be sitting on one side of the bed, and out of the corner of my eye I'll see a stealthy shape glide past the other side, and I do a double-take to see Dakota sneaking into my son's room (She likes his bed to lay upon). But usually, she stays downstairs. And she never goes upstairs when I or Jenn are watching. Ian reported that she goes upstairs backwards, and whilst I believed him, I couldn't, for the life of me, picture how that worked.
This morning, though, I finally saw what she does. And it is indeed backwards. Sitting in my easy chair, I looked over to see Dakota standing on the stairs, looking upwards longingly. She left her front paws about four steps up, and walked her hind paws up to the same tread, and stood there, sideways. Then she sat down. On the fifth tread. The she stepped her front paws up to the fifth tread, and stood up. Completely on the fifth tread. Then sat down. On the sixth tread...
Back and forth, sitting down, moving her front paws, standing up, sitting down... Up and up she worked until out of sight. Astonishing!
Then I heard the squeak of surprise from my wife and the sound of the headboard slamming into the wall.... Dakota had clearly just bounded up on the bed and woken her. Seconds later, Dakota came launching down the stairs, in the more traditional headlong manner, big ol' doggie grin on her face, and my wife flying after with vengance in her eye - Until she saw me laughing my butt off. Then *I* was the target of her ire!
What posssesed her to learn this method? I dunno. How did she learn this method..? I dunno. But she's a smarty, and I don't doubt she put those brains in gear until she found a way that didn't involve the hindfoot shuffle - Like our clumsy dancer inventing a step that only he knew... One that didn't make him feel clumsy any more.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Of course, with bordetella on the loose, can't take any chances, so a quick call to check - Sure enough, they're due for their updates.
Off to the vet.
Just me with the girls... Everyone else were at my mother's place. So, a bit of management, but able to get them in, and no drama until I'd actually settled them in the waiting room. Dakota made friends with an elderly man awaiting his wife and their dog, calmly resting her head in his lap and accepting his attention. Suka was her usual stress-puppy snoopy self, trying to get her nose into every corner and nook. Everything more-or-less under control.
A random samaratin wanders in with a dog to get it chip-checked. Seems he's plucked it out of the middle of a very high-traffic road, and wants to find if it's ID'd. It's a nice, mannerly older pibble-mutt, with a very good collar. And no damn tags. What The Hell, people?! Clearly, this isn't just a random stray - It's a well-cared-for (though slighty portly), neutered older dog wearing an expensive, high-quality collar, not a fighting dog, nor an unwanted pup. Someone took care of this dog. Why doesn't he have some kind of tag? MAYBE the finder will hold onto the dog. Clearly he loves dogs, but he already has two. MAYBE he'll post flyers. MAYBE someone will see them, and collect their dog. Or, more likely, this dog will end up in the county shelter, and there MAYBE its owner(s) will find him in time. Or maybe not.
This dog is in peril - Needlessly. A simple tag with basic info costs maybe ten bucks. Or less. Boomerang Tags (http://www.boomerangtags.com/) charges US$9.20 for a basic stainless steel tag that has enough space for all the key info. It's cheap insurance. Someone out there is missing their dog, and may never see him again. All for the lack of a simple metal disc.
Oh, and the mandatory (and not costly) county dog liscense (and tag) was also not present. That also would've solved the 'lost' issue. Why does somone risk having their dog lost to them forever for the lack of an inexpensive hunk of steel?
Anyway, got the needles in the dogs - They were both sweetness personified during the whole business, though Suka would've happily have been anywhere else. Dakota was just calm and dignified, as she usually is at the vet. Neither one even thought about snarking at the other or at the tech, nor did they tangle leads or otherwise act up.
As I was checking out, a casualty rolled in - A woman came in, in tears, and the techs ran out with a stretcher, though it was already too late. An elderly yellow lab in convulsions, died en-route. I fled the scene with my dogs, glad they were alive, healthy, and protected in every way I can manage, including a backup plan if the heatwave(s) continues and my A/C falls over.
One day, I will be that devestated person with the elderly dog - It's inevitable. But I won't be in mourning for the lack of vaccinations or for the lack of an inexpensive hunk of steel.
Friday, July 9, 2010
I've been to real desert, here in the US (Death Valley, Johsua Tree, Painted Desert, and the like) and abroad (Bahrain, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, etc.). I've been to real tropics, too (Guam, Penang, Singapore, P.I., among others). So I know the heat and humidity can be far more beastly elsewhere. But still, when you hit temperatures a full twenty degrees (f) above normal, you have to sit up and take notice. Certainly, the dogs have!
Both of them, Dakota especially, have taken to looking cross-ways at me when I go to let them out. They'll stand in teh door of the garage, and look at me out by the door to outside, and cock their heads at me like I've lost my mind. After all, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun, right? And clearly, whatever else they may be, my dogs are far from mad! Except this isn't the noon day sun - We're talking evening hours, after a long day without play or head calls. Still, they look at me, checking to see if I'm seriously going outside, and do I really want them to accompany me? Even at 7pm, temps have been hovering around 90 deg(f), and that's just too warm for comfort, what with the fur and all.
For Dakota, especially, this is unusual behavior. Normally, she can't wait to scramble out the doors and race off to bark at all four points of the compass - once at each fenceline to let the neighborhood know the backyard security peremiter is armed and active. Then she'll go pace the back fence and look over her shoulder at me to see if she can get away with barking at the dogs on the other side - A favorite activity of hers if she's not being watched. After exchanging unpleasantries with the dogs on the other side (or at least checking to see if she can get away with it), she'll usually pace the peremiter a few times looking for potential intruders, and make use of the trees, as needed. Suka, meanwhile, will have taken a ring-master position in the center of the yard, and will be watching the goings-on with keen interest. Or she'll be rolling in the grass - whichever strikes her fancy.
But not these days.
These days, the pair of them will stand in the doorway and cock their heads at me like I've taken leave of my senses. And when I lead them out, they follow reluctantly, attend to their needs as quickly as possible, and bee-line for the door back inside.
I've a small kiddie pool available for them, but that's not as cool as inside, and besides, they'd rather drink it dry than actually splash in it. Suka has even given up on the den she's dug under the back steps - just too hot for comfort there!
Normally, I'd try to say something witty at this point, or at least deliver some kind of summation. But not today... my brain's melted.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
I've been updating all my pets' physicals - One at a time, 'cause it's a bit spendy. It can be VERY spendy. I can understand why people might feel a bit put on, especially when you come away with vaccines, blood work, urinalysis, fecal float, hazmat disposal fee, and exam fee taking you maybe over US$300 or more. Sometimes MUCH more. But the Vet has a school loan to pay off. An office to rent or pay for, staff who'd like to eat and maybe get a bit of health care coverage, phones and other utilities to pay, some random insurance fees to pay (actually MANY fees there!), and the HazMat (blood, urine, expired meds, used 'sharps,' stool, and even worse) that has to be disposed LEGALLY and safely... Plus your vet would probably like to eat themselves, and maybe even have a place to sleep...
Trust me - they *know* their services are spendy. And a good vet will do whatever they can to ease the burden, consistent with meeting their responsibilities. But they *do* have to make ends meet. Fail that, and there *is no* vet practice about which people may complain.
But it's not just dealing with clients unsettled by high costs. In the last six weeks or so, I've been in to see the vet four times, and I've seen her, her partners, and their collective staff dealing with people they'd just as soon smack into the middle of next week for all manner of bad or stupid behaviors. Hell, *I* wanted to smack these people!
Beyond that, it's dealling with the treatment room full of a sobbing family as their beloved pet is put to sleep. Dealing with a waiting room full of appointments that are stacking up because there's a sudden string of emergencies to be triaged and dealt with, whilst every treatment room is full up and more crisis are calling in to warn of impending arrival... Puncture wounds, bite wounds, gustatory indiscretions, and cases of "something's wrong but I don't know what." All that and more beyond.
OK, so I'm sitting in the waiting area with an unhappy cat in a carrier, and time is marching on... Or maybe it's a large and worried dog. Or an elderly and begining-to-fail cat. Or maybe an anxious border collie trying to climb into my lap. None of those are emergencies. If I have to leave because my schedule won't accommodate the delay, I *don't* lay into the front desk staff and techs - I make a new appointment. But I've seen people verbally flay the staff for doing their jobs right. The staff takes it with a smile (and mentally gritted teeth, I don't doubt). If I can wait, I don't hector the staff - They *know* I'm there - They can *see* me; They don't need to be reminded of my existance every few seconds. But I've seen that bad behavior, too. All that and more beyond. Stupid people tricks. Performing idiots on parade. Bizarre reactions of many stripes. No doubt, the staff have seen far more, and far worse.
When you finally *do* get in to see the vet, she (or he) doesn't need a laundry list of complaints - They need your attention on the purpose of your visit - Treating your pet. If you really want to vent, save it until you're outside the building. Blazing away at your vet will NOT speed things up - Nor will it make the visit any more pleasant for anyone else. The VAST majority of clients would just as soon be somewhere else, I'm sure. Blowing up will not endear you to anyone. And frankly, that sobbing family in the next treatment room? THEY don't want to hear your foul-mouthed diatribe, either.
So be kind to your vet. And their staff.
They deserve it.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Dakota didn't much feel like doing anything but drink and hang in the shade. She didn't actually lay down in her play-pool, but she did stick her entire face into it. Suka couldn't be bothered to actually get wet, but did her best to match Dakota slurp for slurp.
Yes, she *did* come out of the shade to see what lunatic game I was playing with the weed whacker. Mad dogs, Englishmen, myself, and apparently, Dakota. Suka was too smart to come out.
So, now that the day's heat is past, and the house is quiet, I was poking through my library of images. What should my wondering eyes behold, but a winter video of Dakota lurking in an obscure directory on my computer. So, with out further ado, and to remind us that summer (which isn't even officially here yet!) is only temporary, I present:
Stay frosty, friends!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It's such a relief to come home to uncomplicated demands. The dogs don't require conflicting walk specifications, nor do they much care about order of operations in assembling their meal (though order of service *is* enforced. :-p ), nor do they care about smoothing inconsequential details. That's not to say that they don't have their quirks, nor that you can get away with ignoring anything below the surface - It's just that they don't lie, they don't fiddle, and they don't give a damn about the stupid shit. Get the big details right, pay attention to the emotional climate, and all is well.
Suka doesn't care if we walk the neighborhood to the right or to the left. Dakota doesn't care if I use the black lead or the red one, the nylon, or the cotton, or the leather. If the wet stuff in their meal is on top of the dry stuff, well that's every bit as good as the dry stuff atop the wet.
Do I sound fried, burned out, weary? Well, that's because I am. But the Girls bring me out of it - When I've had enough and too much of family, other people, or work, I can count on them to be simple, happy, loving companions.
It means a lot.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Too much activity, too little of it of my own choice. Too many commitments, too much work, too much of other peoples' priorities .
I saw that Suka was starting to blow coat this AM, and it pulled me up short... I spend so much time looking at what *must* be done, that I forget those things I love to do. It's been weeks since I gave her a really thorough brushing. Not the lick-and-a-promise brushings necessary to get mud out of her coat, but a really deep-down get-ALL-the-dead-coat-out kind of going-over that leaves you with a bag of fur and a contented pup sitting at your feet.
No, I haven't been neglecting the girls. But I haven't been enjoying them as much as I should. I take them on walks downtown, by myself or with my wife. I mow the yard in their company, and ruffle their fur and feed them and watch them, but I haven't really played with them recently. Not in any meaningful sense. I haven't taken the time to just *be* with them - not recently. So maybe, yes, I *have* been neglecting them - at least by the standards I like to believe I hold.
I have family to care for, and work to be done, and events to drive people to, and.. and...
I have excuses.
Time to climb out from under my excuses. Time to seize a little of my life back. Time to do the things I love for a change. Even if only in small doses. Small doses are better than none, and "none" is what I have right now. Time to call Sarah down at MABCR and see what she needs done. Time to take the dogs for a walk in the woods. Time to break out the brush and create me a bag of dog fur. Time to spend a little less time 'running' and a little more time 'being.'
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
On walks downtown, they do the same to passers-by, every time. Between Suka's lively charm, and Dakota's calm dignity, they've something for every dog lover. :)
I'm not doing entirely so well, though... Family issues (no, no one is getting divorced!), and work... I'm responsible for items that could literally cost my company a billion US Dollars, if I were to fail. Plus cost my job. ;) Family comes first, but clearly, the job is running a close second. :p
When I have time, I'll add more. Until then, just know that I have my nose to the grindstone and, to a degree, my back to the wall.