Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake errrr I mean Cookies

     This is both a blog and an update on our family's weight loss challenge as well as my unique plan for losing weight, week 9. 

     It is said that Marie Antoinette uttered these words upon hearing that the working class in France were experiencing a shortage of flour for making bread during a country wide famine.  "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche (Then let them eat Cake)", showed her disconnect with both the people and apparently the baking process too.  I start this week's blog with these words as I can relate to a hungry feeling from dieting these last 8 weeks and to Marie's love of baked goods also.  In fact, this week's diet plan will use the latter to solve the former.

     I really and truly don't mind diets that much, it's the moderation thing that gets me.  I'm a person of extreme behaviors and as one brother pointed out recently, I think it's all a competition and I always play to win, but I like to play on my own terms.  I've never been a person who blindly follows the rules and in fact bucked them a majority of my life, choosing instead to adapt the rules to suit me (If you just thought of James T Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru, then you are as twisted as me).  So here is how I'm setting my own terms this week.  I am really not a sweet eater, per se, but I do have a fondness for oatmeal raisin cookies.  Most diet gurus will tell you that these types of treats should be avoided while dieting or at least eaten in moderation.  I've taken this advice thus far during the diet and I've had successful weight loss (wouldn't you all like to know how much?)  This week, however, I snub my nose at the diet experts, turn my backside to them and promptly drop trou, and boldly announce "Hogwash" to them all.  This week, I propose to eat nothing but oatmeal raisin cookies and lose at least 2lbs. 

     Those that know me best know that this is exactly what I will do.  Those who don't are busy thinking of reasons to list below as comments to try and stop me from doing such a "crazy" or "dangerous" thing, but save your comments, I'm committed to doing this (or should be for doing this).  Maybe if I explain it a little more, you'll feel better about my choice.  My primary motivation this week is to have a little fun with my siblings and
A counter full of delicious oatmeal raisin cookies
other challenge dieters.  I suspect I'm in the running for the highest percentage of loss right now but there are quite a few of us vying for the top spot.  This week my sister Hummingbird is drinking only juice (YUK), and my brother Ace is severely limiting his carbs, and I am sure that the rest of the field are denying themselves things that they enjoy, that's the nature of dieting.  So how fun would it be if I lost more weight this week than them, and did it while over-enjoying my favorite treat?  Lots to me, not as much to them.  My second motivation is that I did hit a weight loss plateau last week and suspect that I accidentally put my body into starvation mode by consuming too few calories, so I really needed a drastic change to reset my metabolism.  I think this plan qualifies.

     The idea actually came from my sister, "She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named".  We spent a day together last month and I think it was then that she told me about the professor in Kansas who lost 27 lbs in 60 days eating
Professor Haub with his diet foods in front of him
nothing but Twinkies, Doritos, and snacks.  I liked the idea of this, of course not long term, but as a lark and a social experiment, so I decided I would try it sometime during this diet, and the plateau gave me an excuse to do it.  The professor alleged that it was all a matter of calories in and calories out, and that the weight loss would take care of itself if you watched both and set up a good plan.  I think I have.  I will allow myself to drink a variety of things like V-8, coffee, tea, milk, and maybe even alcohol (wait a minute, didn't he say he was giving up alcohol until he lost 20 lbs, hmmmm), but during this week, I will chew nothing except oatmeal raisin cookies, and to be particular Otis Spunkmeyer's Supreme Indulgence Cinnaraisin Cravin 3oz cookies that have a whopping 340 calorie count for each cookie.  My
I did check the nutrition.....
wife, who wants no part in this, was nice enough to bake them fresh for me, so that I would have a week's supply. Her rationale was something akin to, "The only thing worse than Bill eating oatmeal raisin cookies all week, is Bill eating burnt or bad oatmeal raisin cookies all week" and she would have been right.  I'm not much of a baker, I have a better shot at being the uncaring monarch.

     I'll share a couple of neat tricks that I am using this week to both drive my metabolism a little faster, and to break up the monotony of eating just one food.  I'm allowed spices, so I am sprinkling some of my cookies with either cinnamon or cayenne pepper.  I like both of these and both are proven to increase metabolic rate.  The cinnamon actually helps to lower blood sugar too, which is a concern when all you eat all day is cookies.  I'm spacing my meals and exercise out to about every 3 hours, and give myself a cookie when I complete at least 10 minutes of strenuous exercise.  I've no doubt that I will have developed a Pavlovian response (look it up, I can't hold your hand on every blog)  at the mention of oatmeal raisin cookies by the end of this week, with my legs twitching at the near-mention of them.  I'm using about 10 other tricks to keep my metabolism elevated, but I won't share them, as after all, I'm in it, to win it.

     I'll close with a quick challenge update.   It's tough to be accurate with this as some of my siblings haven't been forthcoming with the information on where they stand currently, and some people may have even spread rumors of alleged success or failure to confuse the other dieters (OK, that was me), but here's my take.
Hummingbird is leading slightly in the challenge currently, but I see Ace and I doggedly on her heels.  I have at least 3 other challengers who have lost double digits, and are still within striking distance.  If I had to pick a dark horse in this race, it would be Ace's wife who has been quietly shedding lbs at a steady pace. I have not seen her since the challenge started, but everyone who has, mentions how skinny she looks. It's those quiet ones that you have to watch out for.  I think everyone is still engaged in the contest, and I hope to be able to say that we have lost a couple of hundred lbs at the end of it, as a family.  I joke that we no longer will need the wide-angle lens at family reunions.  Seriously though I commend each and every challenger and have been proud to have them as competitors.  The point of the contest was to make some healthier changes in our lives and to shed some lbs and I think everyone participating has had some success doing this,and to all I say Congratulations ! I'd like to thank my family for fully supporting me during this, and point out that my wife has lost significant weight by dieting with me, yet chose to not participate in the contest.  I suspect the same can be said of Hummingbird's husband.  It's a lot easier to diet when you have a partner to do it with.  That's my plan for the week, and the 2/3 mark update on the Challenge, I've got to close now, it's time for my 6:00 cookie. 
March 3rd Update - I did indeed stay on the oatmeal raisin cookie diet all week.  At the end of the week, I have to admit a craving for other foods, but I did not get tired of my favorite treat.  I did make a modification to my plan and started drinking a protien shake in the am as well, but I did as promised and ate only fresh baked delcious oatmeal raisin cookies.  The end result was a net loss of..........

                                            5 lbs!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ace, my brother.

     I started this blog 4 months ago, and that's how this works sometimes, I get a little inspiration, but then don't know which direction it will take me in.  I chip away at some, like a sculptor, envisioning something in stone and then spending weeks chipping away what doesn't belong. Other times I write like the Hemingway quote “There is nothing to writing, all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.", although many of my family and friends think I write like another famous Hemingway quote "Write drunk; edit sober".  This blog was a combination of the 3 methods above and I hope it does justice to the relationship that I share with this brother.

     Were we always close?  Not a chance.  One of his favorite stories from our youth is how he used to "babysit" me at the local park. We'd walk down there together and he'd strap me into a swing, push me a few times, and then leave me there trapped and dangling 2 feet off the ground, while he went and played basketball.  That didn't exactly put him in the running for "Brother of the Year", but did define our relationship for many years, older brother with things to do, younger brother who got underfoot.  The four years that separated us might as well have been fifty in our youth as there was nothing I could teach him, and I thought that he knew everything, and we were both right.  I'll freely
Hello? Is anyone still there?
admit a little hero worship of him while growing up, and why wouldn't I, he seemed to have it all. He was an athlete, pickup football games across the street, basketball at St. Mary's and later track in High School. He had an knack for the mechanics of things and got to work with my father, and unlike some of us others, didn't annoy him at all.  He had a wide range of friends, a sweet car (a cherry red Scamp), and then there were the girls.  I can't exaggerate the number of girls that my brother Ace brought home in both high school and the few years beyond while he was still living at home.  He seemed fearless in his pursuit of these women and I'll be honest, some of them were way out of his league, but yet there they were sitting on the couch next to him when I'd get home from work or school, so yeah, what's not to idolize? That was our relationship right up until I graduated high school, after that, the playing field leveled out.

     I graduated high school and worked full time while attending college.  I had moved out of my parents house and soon my brother was a regular visitor to my home.  This didn't change years later, when I married and it became our home, although, my wife does make me keep him quiet in the mornings when he visits, as we get a little loud for that hour of the day.  I visited him while he worked Bingo at the Knights of Columbus
Me, in the shadow of my brother Ace
hall (he met his wife doing that), and he visited me when I slung pizzas, first at Papa Franks (I wooed my wife doing this) and then at Morey's.  He had a history with the Morey's location, as he had worked for the owner of the West Avenue Diner, that was previously there.  He's still good friends with that boss, and that's one of his admirable qualities, the ease in which he makes friends and the investments he makes in keeping them.  If you are a friend of my brother Ace, you know it and know that he would do anything for you, cuz he likely already has.  After high school the hero worship of my brother faded, but a deep appreciation for what kind of man he was started, and has grown to this very day.  Of all my siblings, he reminds me most of my Dad.  It may be his jovial nature, or his ability to entertain a crowd, or his mastery of these weird things called tools (that seemed to skip over my skill set), or his flirtatious nature with women, or his love of family, or his ability to parent, I really can't define why, but he does remind me most of Dad.  He's always there when I need him too, just like my Dad.  When we purchased our home in Hall, our refrigerator was too tall to fit into the space underneath the cabinets. My wife was distraught that it would sit in the middle of the kitchen and I was of no help in this situation.  I called Ace and although it caused him grief at home, he came over immediately and shaved the cabinets so the fridge would roll right underneath.   I'm sure he told his wife, that's what brothers do, but you see, they don't always, but Ace does. I can't look around any room in my house and not see something that he helped to fix or that he gave me advice on how to fix.

     There are so many stories of our interactions that it's tough to choose them, but I'll try and pick some that show his character.  On the night prior to my wedding, he saved me from getting beaten up in a drunken fight.  Now, the person he saved me from was him, but I had been drinking, belligerent, was mouthing off and accusing him
Ace and me somewhere, they must have required mustaches.
wildly of dastardly deeds, but he calmly put me down and knelt on my arms until I was tired out of fighting.  A lesser man would have loosened a few of my teeth and deservedly so and my wedding pictures would have been entirely different, but that's not Ace.  Another time we were camping with friends and he set up an elaborate prank that made me think that sand in a fire would cause pretty blue/green flames and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Only when my wife suggested that she would use it for her Girl Scout Troop, did he reveal that he had planted a copper pipe in a piece of garden hose, under the sticks, and that was what caused the colors. I had about put the fire out by then by adding "Magic Sand" and trust me it
Ace cooking while camping
was funny as it sounds right now.  That is my brother Ace.  Speaking of my wife, she is unemployed right now and as expected Ace has been helping her to find work.  So far the pole dancer, the drug mule in Rochester, and the surrogate mother jobs haven't panned out for her, but he keeps calling to help.  That's my brother, Ace.

     I spoke of his ability as a father, and it's no coincidence that his sons are 2 of my favorite nephews, they are just like their Dad.  I learned from my father how to parent, but I also learned from this brother how to parent. Put their asses in church pews each week, on sports benches, in Scouts, and teach them to give back.   I suspect that my kids count him as their favorite uncle.  He has nicknames for them all and still plays the "Wingnut"
Me, Ace and Molly, and Dad
game with my youngest son (Whomever sees each other first, calls out Wingnut, and that's your name until next time you see each other).  Ace is slowing down a little now, but Ace going half tilt is still the most fun Uncle you'll ever have.  Ace has always worked in the blue collar trades of some sort, mechanic, home framing, chimney sweeping, environmental remediation, and a few others, but he has a knack, albeit unused for sales.  He has
Me, Char and Ace
an innate ability to find common bonds with people and make them instantly like him.  He can't fake interest in them, but he can have actual interest in other people and their experiences and the following is said of many people, but true of my brother, I've never met a person that didn't like him.  I visit a bar in Binghamton on occasion, and although it's been 5 years since Ace has been there, I'm never through my first beer before the patrons are asking about him and then start telling their stories of the times that he visited.  That's my brother Ace.

     I'll close this blog before I canonize my brother.  I'll reflect last on how we both have prioritized our time spent together over the years, because if you care for someone, don't you find excuses to spend time together? Sure you do.  In the 80's we played racquetball regularly. We next started playing euchre with another brother and brother in law. After that fell apart we joined a poker group and played together for many years. While we stopped doing it weekly, we still host a game a few times a year.   We created an annual
Christmas shopping trip, we created big family camping trips, we hosted and cooked for our family reunions often, he started a catering business and invited me along for the ride, we golf together not often or well, we worked charity events together, we were in each others weddings, we went to Vegas one time just the two of us, we have breakfast together almost every Saturday and we talk on the phone almost every day.  There are times that I catch him not really listening to what I've been saying and there are times that he catches me too, but when you talk every day and you spend as much time together as we do, you'll find a little predictability and redundancy in the conversation, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Our talks of retirement always includes each other, and we speak of playing euchre together at the American Legion or of chasing the women in the nursing home (we don't think we'll outlive our wives, we just think that we won't remember we are married at that point, and our wives may not remind us),or of building our own commune down south together with some of our shared friends.  I'm looking forward to that, and we might have enough time even, for him to teach me about tools. 

Cheers to you, my brother. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The saga of Barney the Beagle - The final chapter

     The last part in a 3 part series on the trials and tribulations of owning a beagle.  I doubt his blog will get linked to any PETA pages, but it is the unvarnished truth of this family's time with a purebred beagle named Barney.

     The next decade was a mix of the same behaviors that had occurred during the first five years.  Barney continued to bark, dig, bite, break his run, get the neighbors to hate us (each night I looked for the crowd with torches approaching our house), wet and poop in the house if allowed to run at night and in general be a
How Barney looked after every misadventure
major pain in the ass.  Now, my children, and maybe my wife, will argue how much love he brought into the family. He would jump up and snuggle with you, and I do recall a few days when the kids were having bad days, that Barney sat quietly by and listened to their stories of life's injustices, and did so without judging or commenting.  He had that natural empathetic looking face that just said "Yeah, I know, right?". Since most days, I was the one doling out these injustices to the kids, it was unlikely that they would go to me to seek comfort and support, so Barney was the logical choice (Sometimes Char, but we have to parent as a team).  What they didn't know is, after they went to bed, I'd do the same thing questioning my behaviors about parenting, and Barney would look up at me as if to say "Relax Bill, you're doing fine, you've got this".  These were some of the few times that Barney reminded me of my dog growing up, Princess.  If Princess could talk, she would have been able be to write a better blog than me, as she got to listen to 12 kid's rant.  Barney just had the 5 of us, but I'm sure he
Pick the dancers or the laptops, trust me.
took some of our secrets with him.  I want to finish this blog with the story of how he almost died and then tell of the day he actually did, but I'm not sure I've painted the picture of how he behaved clearly enough yet. I think one more example would be in order.   When Barney was still young we decided to bring him to my sister Meter Maid's annual pig roast in Ithaca NY.  I've been to parties before and seen an animal, uninvited, wreaking havoc, or running amok or just being an animal, and thought "Who would bring a dog/cat/ferret to a party?"  The answer, of course, was me, but I likely forgot this incident on purpose.  Even though we had a plan for "controlling" Barney during this party, he spilled a whole can of used motor oil with his chain, he broke his chain and ran directly into the middle of the road, he bit my sister's youngest child who had tried to rescue him from the road, and got stuck under an electric fence (Think shock collar times ten).  Did I mention that this was all within the first five minutes of our arrival?  If you were there that day, you got a good feel for what life with Barney was about.

     The day he almost died - Barney was about 12 and I had taken him to the vet on a Friday afternoon. After his normal check up (he was fine, dammit), our vet casually mentioned that she would be out of town
How he looked headed to the vets
that weekend, so she jokingly said "Don't have an emergency this weekend or it will cost you $75 to have the vet that is covering for me come in".  I laughed along with her as what were the chances of needing a repeat visit a day later?  I, of course, had forgotten, that I owned Barney.  It was a scant 18 hours later that the kids came running in shouting that Barney had been hit by a car on our side street.  Barney had worn through the run once again and ran directly under a car and was rolled several times. The car owner was apologetic and of course was not to blame, but I had to scoop Barney up from the road and bring him unto our back porch.  He was going into shock and his eyes were rolled back in his head and it wasn't looking good for the Barney dog.  My wife asked me what we should do, and considering the
How he should have looked at the vets
12 years that I had spent with the dog and remembering also the $75 fee just to call the vet, I said something like "He doesn't look too good honey, this may be it, let's just surround him with our love, and ease his passing"  She was not amused and said something like, "Get the van, stupid".  She drove and I bundled Barney up in an old blanket and we started to drive to Canandaigua with Barney, in shock, and me cuddling the dog on the floor of the back of the van.  We were less than a minute out of the driveway, and of course after we had called the vet in (Ka-Ching) when Barney realized that we were in the car.  His eyes rolled back into place, he rolled over, and jumped up and his tail started wagging, and his tongue came out as if to say "Ooh Boy, we're going for a ride, I love rides, I wonder where we are going?, maybe back to that farm, ooh Boy"  It was another 20 minute drive into the vet and there I sat controlling a
How he did look at the vets
very excited, but apparently, unharmed dog.  After examination, the vet said he had a broken pelvis that would heal by itself, but other than that the dog was perfectly healthy.  I wasn't going to let it go that easy, after all I had started out of my driveway with a near dead dog, and $100 later, I wasn't going home with a perfectly healthy one.  I said " Well Doc, we'll understand if you have to put him down, we don't want him to suffer or anything...."  The doctor replied that other than walking a little swayback, the dog would fully recover.  I said, "Doc, we'll understand if you have to put him down, because we wouldn't want him to suffer with the other dogs mocking him because he'd walk all swayback and stuff....."  The doctor just looked at me and said "Mr. Yarger, you don't like your dog much do you?"  Ignoring his question I next brought up the "seizures" that he had occasionally only to be told that it was harmless "reverse sneezing" that was common to beagles.  In my final attempt to gain some value out of this trip (no, I did not consider the vet saving Barney a value), I reminded the Doc that Barney was purebred and in general that meant he would pass away sooner than regular dogs.  The Doc's next words haunted me for a long time after... "While that's generally true, Mr. Yarger, beagles are one of the longest lived breeds, so you can expect another 5-10 years of living with Barney"   We drove home, with the kids elated and now me in a state of shock and $100 poorer.  It was like paying for a bad fortune.

     The day he did die - After the accident, Barney slowed down a lot. He did indeed walk swayback and arthritis set in fairly quickly.  He stopped digging holes and running after cars, but never did stop barking.  As the years went by he got slower and slower and would take several minutes just walking down the 3-4 steps from our deck, and of course he did it sideways now.  It was the morning of Molly's wisdom teeth surgery that his condition worsened considerably.  His back legs stopped working altogether and he was dragging his hind end around.  After Molly was home and recovering, I ran Barney into the vet and this time the diagnosis was permanent nerve damage and he recommended putting Barney down.  Both Char and I knew that we couldn't do this with Molly still doped up, she would never have forgiven us, so we made an appointment for Monday and brought Barney home with us for a last weekend with the family.   All the kids were able to spend some time with Barney and Molly slept next to him for the majority of that weekend.  We all took turns carrying him out to do his business.  Monday came and even Molly had come around to understand that this was the humane thing to do, so she and I went together and were with him when he passed. We had him cremated and chose to spread his ashes along the run where he so enjoyed chasing things, digging and barking.

     Barney was a major pain in the ass, but he taught us all many lessons in the years we had him.  We all learned the benefit of researching these kind of decisions prior to committing to them.  We learned that sometimes it is impossible to change bad behaviors after they are learned, so it's better to teach good behaviors early and repeat often.  We learned about loving unconditionally.  The last lesson Barney taught us was that the physical disabilities that come with age by no means detract from one's ability to provide positive interactions with others.   I hope the kids learned something about taking care of someone who is aging and in failing health, that is, shower them with love and affection, but allow them their dignity when it is time for them to go.  I'll close this blog with a paraphrased quote from Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (cuz great wisdom comes from Star Trek).  As Kirk eulogizes Spock he says....

" He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

    I feel the same about Barney.
We miss you Barney

Monday, February 6, 2012

The saga of Barney the Beagle - Part 2

    The continuing story of 15 years living with a Beagle.  The jury is still out as to which party was mentally defective, the dog, or the family that chose to keep him  for 15 years. 

      I left the story with us borrowing a cage (temporarily) from my mother to help train Barney to not wet in the house, and to sleep downstairs instead of coming up to try and get in our bed.  Temporarily turned out to be the entirety of the 15 years that we owned the dog (Sorry Mom).  We could not undo the 6 weeks of bad training with this
Not Barney, but close.
dog, no matter what we did.  We read the books, we tried the methods, but each time we let the dog run for a single night in the house, he would wet or mess somewhere.  He learned to pick the lock early on, so we switched to padlocks, but if they were too long, he'd push his way through the narrow slat between the door and cage.  He did eventually get used to it, but for years our sleep routine included a few hours of rhythmic hammering of cage door against cage each night. 

     We wanted the dog to have a good amount of outside time, so we installed a 75 foot run on the side of our house, that went from the north door to a 100 year old tree that sat near our quiet side street street.  I went to the local hardware store (shout out to Quackenbush Hardware in Hall NY), and purchased the cable.  I up-sized it to a 700 lbs test strength aircraft cable so I would only have to string it once.  That was wishful thinking.  We would put the dog out each morning and the barking would start half a second after he was on
How Barney spent most of his time
the chain.  He would immediately pick up some scent and he would start barking and howling and he normally did this each day, all day. We were new to town and didn't want to upset our neighbors, so we immediately started to look for solutions to lessen the barking.  We started with a $40 ultrasonic collar that emitted a high pitched sound when the dog constantly barked and it was supposed to condition your dog to bark less.  The sound was so high that only dogs could hear it, that was, all dogs except Barney, who never missed a beat in his constant yapping, yelping, baying, howling and barking.  We then decided to go for the big guns, and bought a shock collar.  This collar had 2 small metal probes that touched the sensitive underside of his neck and was powered by a single 9 volt battery.  It would sense the barks and after 3 it would emit a high pitched warning sound and then if the dog barked again, it would administer a shock.  Now, I know a lot of folks are already thinking how inhumane we
How Barney looked with the collar
were to the animal, but it was always a balance of who to be more inhumane to, the neighbors or the dog? (If I ever became a prisoner of war, I would spill my guts and confess to anything if I had to listen to a beagle bark all day).  I was concerned about how much of a shock that the dog was going to get, so before we put it on the dog, I put it on my own neck and tested it by barking.  That is a sensitive part of your body, and it worked for me, and in fact I haven't barked since that test 20 years ago.  I only wish it had worked as well for Barney.  The biggest problem with the unit was that it continued to shock you as long as you continued to bark.  If you stopped, it stopped and reset, but if you didn't, it was a constant current coursing through your throat.  I worked at home some days at the time, and I can't tell you the number of times I would be talking to customers and I would start to hear the barking and cringe knowing what would happen
How I looked testing the collar
next.  The 3 barks would come (Arf, Arf, Arf) and then on the start of the 4th bark the Arf would morph into a ArGHGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH...) and go on continually with the dog getting shocked but never stopping it's bark, instead just delivering a strangled incessant cry.   I would have to run down the stairs, and take the collar of the shaky, sweaty dog who then would finally stop.  We wore out a few batteries before we gave up on the idea of that ever working.  We finally switched to a muzzle and used it sparingly throughout the day to give the neighbors a break sometimes but to try and let the dog do what it wanted to do instinctively.

   Barking was not Barney's only endearing treat, he also loved to dig hole (ruts) in our lawn, and occasionally bite the random neighborhood kid. In 15 years he never figured out where the end of his run was either.  Now, it never
changed during that time, but that beagle chased every car down the street (along side it of course, in our yard parallel with the road). Inevitably
 the momentum of the dog would carry longer than the end of the cable and the dog would be yanked back at the end, surprised each time and emitting a strangled "Urk".   One day I watched him do it twice in about 3 minutes, that dog had a serious memory issue.  It was reminiscent of the dog on Looney Toons that Foghorn Leghorn used to tease. I did learn a lesson from Barney though and that was know your boundaries.  The stress of the dog would break the cable every few months, and I had to repair it each time.  We'd catch the dog normally before he did too much damage, but one time he chased a bicyclist down the street and gave him quite the scare (I think his name was Lance).  When he wasn't barking he was digging his nose and paws into the dirt and creating huge ruts in the lawn on that side of the house.  He was responsible for at least one mower blade becoming bent and I'm pretty sure 2 kid's sprained ankles, or broken growth plates, it was something like that.  He never apologized for any of it either, that was Barney's nature, he'd just look up at you make you feel bad for expecting more of him than that.   
What the guy on my porch looked like
     One time Barney almost got me in a fight on my back porch.  A neighborhood kid had wandered unto the lawn and Barney had jumped up and scratched her stomach with his claws.  The kid ran home and told her mother about how our dog had bitten her in the stomach while she was walking in the road.  The overprotective mother called our house and my wife was very apologetic, that was, until the mother started F-bombing.  My wife has little tolerance for this so they shouted and eventually hung up on each other.  I arrived home that evening and Char had just enough time to tell the story before there was a knock on the back door.  When I peered out the curtains, there was the neighbor's husband standing squarely in the middle of my back deck.  He was big, and stocky.  He carried roofing shingles up ladders all day. He was angry.  And the door was for me.  As I considered my options, I seriously thought about just opening the door and taking a run at him and knocking him off the deck with my momentum.  I reasoned that my only chance was to take him by surprise and knock him down first.  I, instead, opened the door and tried to explain how it had gotten to this point (Women).  He bought it a little bit, but later sent the Animal Control people down to see me.  After I offered that gentlemen a chance to wear Barney's collar and to run towards the side road at full tilt to see if he could get there, we came to an understanding that I hadn't been negligent, I'd just been stupid enough to buy a beagle. 

End of Part 2 - I'll try to wrap it up next week