30 July 2007



Someone had tried to name him "Buckshot".

Actually, that's a lie – someone HAD NAMED him Buckshot. Of course, that's not really a surprise. This was in a part of Virginia called the Blue Ridge, a rural area where one could find the highest (read: lowest) order of the redneck/mountain hick hybrid. People with more teeth than brain cells – thanks, generations of inbreeding! And at the short end of that inbred mindset was a fat little black and white dog; when I came upon him, he was in a 5x3 cage with an index card taped to the corner.


He was, as the classic denomination goes, a mutt. A something. A tweener. He had spots like a Dalmatian, a body like a sausage and a head…well, like something that didn't belong in either of those two categories. As soon as I approached the cage, he came right up to me, bounding and wagging his tail. Please, though, don't think this is going to be one of those "But the dog picked me!" kind of stories. That would be a lie. The truth is that this dog couldn't have cared less who approached him. He could just get worked up about anything. Squirrels. Cotton. Air. Any excuse to pretend like there was something to get excited about, he would take it.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Back to that part about not knowing what kind of dog he was for a second. I remember specifically asking the lady at the SPCA what she thought he might have been. "He's a Jack Russell and something, probably," she chirped happily. When I tried to dig for more, she got just a little bit too serious for the moment, leaned in, and said, "Best not ask questions, lest you upset the lady-friend you got with ya." I'm not going to try to tell you that I have ever known what that meant, but thinking about it still nearly causes a bowel release out of pure fear. Remember: mountain redneck people. They're officially 1.5 times more dangerous than your ordinary white trash and infinitely more frightening. Sorry, carry on.)

Upon getting him back to my apartment, he had already started to grow on me. Cute little fella, that of the accidentally adorable breed. And squeaky. I didn't know it at the time, but he would never really bark that much. When he got jazzed about something – usually someone moving more than an inch or the fact that he'd just found his tail again – he'd just grunt and squeal a lot. Sounded more like a pig than a dog. My then-girlfriend Jenna and I decided that "Buckshot" wasn't going to f*cking cut it. And though my hyperadolescent mind could only conjure up the most unoriginal and pop-cultury name imaginable – I called him Jameson, after my favorite brand of whiskey – the name I'd utter most frequently more fit the bill: Pigman.

My Pigman. The two of us were a pretty good team. After Jenna and I parted ways we'd pick up chicks together (I have to believe that some or all of the one times I'd get laid in the period when we were on our own were mostly or directly due to his ability to positively smolder the human female's heart), watch movies together, roll around on the carpet together, sometimes vomit together after I tied on a few too many (his bile was sympathy bile). During a summer where I stayed in Harrisonburg, everyone else I knew was back at home. The area surrounding James Madison University was a ghost town.

The Pigman was all I had. It was that balmy triad of months when we really bonded the most. It was that time where my dog became my companion. If you're one of those people who thinks that you can't truly come to love an animal, to befriend a lesser mammal, to need a little stubby-legged ball of fur more than you need water and oxygen…well, maybe you can't. But I did. It no longer annoyed me that he dug into my crotch everyday at 7AM to be taken out, or that he somehow positioned his 20-inch body on the bed in such a way that he seemed to take over every square inch of mattress. I considered it – and still consider it – and honor to be at his service. How else could I have felt? When I was down, he'd instinctively jump onto my lap and lay his head on my chest. When I needed a laugh, he'd run headlong into the screen door. When I was sick, he wouldn't move an inch from my side.

How do you repay something that gives itself totally to you and asks nothing in return but your love and attention? That's simple: you never stop loving it, never stop attending.

The day that I had to give him away still was and will likely be, for a very long time, the worst day of my life. I was in transition. I didn't know where my next home would be. I didn't know what my next job would be. My life had become a scattershot of impracticality and improbability. But Jenna didn't have that problem. She was about to move to a new place. She knew where her adult life was starting, knew where she was laying down a foundation, and knew that it was going to be horrifying. But in this place she knew no one. Since Jameson loved her and since she loved him, it made perfect sense: he should hop a train (er, well, the backseat of Jenna's car) to Connecticut. It was time to let him go. Someone else needed a Summer Buddy.

Two years later, just about the time I was feeling less than devastated about the way things worked out, Jenna had moved back to Harrisburg, PA - our hometown - and brought Jameson with her. Now a bona-fide LA boy, I was back for a brief vacation and decided to pop in for a visit. I was hoping that he'd recognize me and react in his usual way: sprint fifteen times from the front of the apartment to the back, grunt in his piggly way, jump into my chest, knock me down, lick me too hard for far too long, then walk in a circle three times and nearly pass out on the floor, tuckered out from all the wildly unecessary excitement. But this reunion of sorts featured a melancholy ending to our story. He didn't recognize me, didn't squeal, didn't sprint, didn't remember. He whined when I tried to pick him up. I was unfamiliar. I had gone from companion to manhandler. Seeing him after that would have just been too hard. I remember him peeking out the window as a left, but it was more of a cautious observation than a longing send-off.

It was then that I was taught a rough lesson in human-pet relations: when you let a pet go – willingly or unwillingly – you never really let it go. Not if you have any kind of heart beating in your chest. But they let go of you.

Jameson, my Pigman, was put to sleep this Sunday afternoon. He fought a long, hard battle with a litany of illnesses and maladies, one of which was just too much for the little guy to handle. He was brave throughout, I'm told, trudging through countless medications, procedures, examinations and surgeries. He was never without a comforting presence. Jenna, redefining what it means to "have a pet", spent thousands of dollars over the last several years piggybacking him up one medical mountain and down the next, thousands of hours giving him the only thing he really needed: unconditional, unwavering love. His body may have failed him, but his keepers most certainly did not.

For a long time, I felt guilty – I felt as though I'd either forgotten or discounted one-half of that simple equation: never stop loving, never stop attending. I've always been bad with math, but never in my calculus class had botching a proof cost me the affection of a small dog that was the most important thing in the world to me. Only recently have I considered that, though I may have sputtered in my calculations, I arrived at the correct solution despite my best efforts to muck it up. By giving Jameson away, he got the best of everything – better than I could ever have given him. Jenna was his best-case scenario. I was a glorified kennel. My only hope now is that he's in a place where he remembers me not as a grabby stranger but as an again-familiar, unending source of happiness that was reluctant to let him go. Because of one thing, there is no question: I never stopped loving him.

Life sometimes works in mysterious ways, they say, but sometimes it's just good to know that life works.

Goodbye, friend. You had the head of a bat, the brain of an infant, the spirit of a pig and the heart of a lion. I fear that what I gave you amounted to so little, but I smile when I think of your eminent glee every time I came home, woke up, walked to the porch, rolled over, coughed, breathed or performed the lowest brain function possible. I will think of you every time I successfully stretch out in my bed. Being comfortable won't be so comfortable ever again. I guess that's my funny way of saying…I will miss you.

If there are squirrels in Heaven, don't let them rattle your cage.

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26 July 2007



Oh, PETA. Poor misguided, mismanaged, disillusioned PETA. Like the scourge that is the Herpes, you just seem to irritate, go dormant, irritate, go dormant again…but never really go away.

According to PETA's own statistics, there are over 40,000 people in this country involved in the underground dogfighting industry. Forty thousand! How can the human brain even calculate such a sum? With that in mind, can I point out something that should be obvious to everyone who isn't retarded? I was never a math whiz, but with over 300,000,000 people in this country…that leaves, by my count, well over 299,960,000 people who aren't involved in the underground dogfighting industry.

But let's step out of our heads, give you a ton of credit – way more than you troglodytes should ever deserve for anything – and guesstimate that there might be 960,000 additional dogfighting supporters in this country, if not active participants. That would make, even with all of my flattering inflation, less than 1/300th of this country dogfighting supporters. Of course, as with any sentient being, I can draw a conclusion from this: even at its worst case scenario generation, America doesn't support dogfighting.

It's a point that needs to be made, because PETA acts as if the general public is madly in love with watching dogs kill each other in a humid basement. Do you really need me to assert that dogfighting is barbaric? That it's unconscionable? That it's one of the lowest levels of mammalian degradation? That anyone guilty of practicing it should be thrown in a dark, violent prison? Does all that even need to be proffered in rational discourse?

Why then, PETA, are you trying to derail the Constitutionally-granted due process of an innocent man?

Make no mistake about it, you can't paint it any other way – Michael Vick, as of this very moment (and until the gavel comes down for the final time in his trial this November), is an innocent man as defined by the law. There's nothing else to be said about it. Of course Dan Shannon, who, as PETA's Assistant Director of Campaigns, is perhaps one of the biggest degenerates in the world, doesn't worry about things like the Bill of Rights or the judicial system.

On ESPNEWS today, Big Danny was asked the following…

ESPNEWS ANCHOR: "Dan, how do you balance a scheduled series of protests against the argument that Michael Vick hasn't been found guilty of any criminal charge?"

BIG DANNY SHANNON: "Uh, well, again, whatever happens in the court of law won't change the fact that these dogs were found on his property, they did have injuries consistent with dogfighting, and that there was all this illegal equipment. Uh, those facts aren't gonna change, and we feel that those facts speak for themselves. It's up to the courts to decide that he's guilty or innocent of a crime, but uh…everybody knows that somethin' wrong was goin' on at Michael Vick's property."

(EDITOR'S NOTE: That's an exact quote that I obtained with a tenuous level of patience and the help of my DVR. In other words, you're welcome.)

Now keep in mind PETA's MO over the past few weeks: though Michael Vick is an innocent man, they've petitioned/protested the NFL multiple times attempting to get Michael Vick banned from the NFL. They've done the same at the Nike HQ and will continue to do so in the coming weeks until Nike discontinues sales of all Michael Vick-related apparel and merchandise.

This tells me two really interesting things about PETA:

1. They are dropping an awful lot of money trying to destroy the life of someone who, until today, hadn't even seen the inside of a courthouse on the charges they're ramped up about. They're committing serious resources based on a presumption of guilt based on evidence that no one has seen.

2. They see themselves as above the law.

Whenever there's a rape accusation made in this country – especially if it's made against a noteworthy person or collection of persons – a similar rush to illegitimate irrationality occurs. The man is always convicted in the court of public opinion before he's even given the opportunity to sniff a jury of his peers. He's lambasted with hatred and vitriol by the entirety of the media and labeled by any citizen with a cursory knowledge of the situation as a monster. After all, rape is a terrible crime, is it not?

But that's not really the point, is it kids? The point is that, while rape may be of the most abhorrent acts in existence…no one is guilty of such a crime, legally, until they're convicted in court. Am I beating a dead horse here? Well, maybe PETA has an Equine Corpse Sensitivity Division. They're just going to have to come after me, because I think I'm the only one that gets this.

So what if an ACCUSED rapist, someone who hasn't been brought to trial, finds themselves convicted in the court of public opinion? What if they find themselves verbally and physically attacked on their way about their daily lives? What if they find people protesting them with signs everywhere they go, lies being spewed about the "facts" of their case so that an alleged-rape-victim-sympathetic public turns against them? What if they then find these same people are trying to cut off the means of their livelihood?

Weird. Because that happened. Last year. To almost (if not) every one of the Accused in the Duke Lacrosse Rape Scandal. What's funny about that – what's hilarious, really – is that the case against them was such a sham that the DA got fired for his negligence and later admitted that there wasn't nearly enough evidence to even charge them in the first place. He just knew the public would want blood after hearing the drugged-out stripper's story.

Funny how PETA is doing exactly the same thing to a man who, say "Thank You" again to the Constitution, is innocent of the charges brought against him. Except he's not even accused of raping anyone. He's accused of promoting dogfighting, a charge he steadfastly denies. That's neither here nor there to PETA. To them, it's clear that SOMETHING happened at Michael Vick's house. The facts of what that "Something" is, however, is really of laughable inconsequence to them. They've got a scapegoat, they've got a platform, and now they're going to try to ruin someone's life before he's even had the chance to defend it. In a world that's becoming increasingly Elementary School in the way terrorist organizations deal with perceived opposition – and trust me, they are nothing less than a terrorist organization – PETA is bringing an assault rifle to the rumored fistfight under the playground's old oak tree.

And like a Summer's Eve factory, PETA continues to churn out d*uchebags, like Big Danny Shannon, to sell their tainted product. In their America, the appearance of dogfighting is grounds enough to deny someone their liberty. In their America, protests happen and lives get ruined before lawful responsibility is determined. Because it would be impossible to just speak out against dogfighting in general, riding on the publicity of the case itself rather than laying the blame on the most famous person, and wait for the trial to be over to decry or excuse the man based on the evidence. And it would be wrong to le the public decide for themselves the "truth" after reviewing the evidence. Dogs are dead, that's the highest tragedy that could ever be, and some poor b*stard – really, any poor b*stard, but hopefully a high-profile b*stard with a ton of money – is going to pay.

Personally, I think most people involved in PETA just want to protect animals. They're either too stupid or too high to do some research and find out that the executive infrastructure of the cult is staffed by nutcases and social deviants. If you want to protect animals, do what I do: become an ASPCA Guardian. Here's a link to the donation site; put your f*cking money where your mouth is. If you'd rather spend all your time and means trying to sabotage football players who may or may not have done anything wrong, then you're just a f*cking joke. All I can do is pray to God that something furry kills you one day. Hopefully one day soon so this planet can get a little less deranged.