Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dangerous Blogger

This is a bit old, but check out this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. File this under “weirdness.”

The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.
Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events.

Since when did free speech become a threat to national security? Big Brother is not only watching, he’s getting weirder and more paranoid.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Losing the Dog

I’m a big advocate for “doing the right thing.” Whatever that is. As a parent it’s even more important to me to instill this kind of thinking in my children. I want them to follow moral principles. I want them to live just lives. I want them to treat others with consideration and mercy.

Sometimes doing the right thing sucks.

Three months ago my wife called me on the phone and told me that we had a new dog, little Pekinese named Abbey that she had gotten from someone outside the local department store. Apparently it was a beloved dog, but they just had too many and needed to get rid of a few. Knowing that the price was right (free is good price), my wife snatched up the dog. It was an older dog and had already been housebroken. Bonus!

Now, I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first. My wife’s relationships with previous pets have been less than longstanding, for one reason or another. I didn’t want a repeat of “isn’t this a great pet” only to be followed by “we can’t take care of this cat anymore (my youngest and I are allergic)” or some other thing. I do think having a pet is good for my kids, though, so I went along quietly.

The other day we got a phone call from the Abbey’s original owner. It turns out that the original owner is not the person we got the dog from. She had raised Abbey from a pup (her mother owned Abbey’s mother) along with at least one of Abbey’s “sisters” from a previous litter. She and her husband had gotten divorced, but she couldn’t keep the dogs, so he did. For about a year she would go and visit the dogs. On one visit she finds that, unbeknownst to her, he ex has gotten rid of them and won’t tell her where they went. Doing her best to track the dogs down (they went through a couple of owners after her ex, it turns out) led her to us. We live in a small town so I doubt it was too hard.

Long story not quite so long, she wants her dog back.

My wife and I discussed the issue, and we decided that she was telling the truth. We also thought it would be the “right thing” to give the dog back. How would we want to be treated if the situation was reversed?

The trouble was the kids. They loved her. My wife loved her. Even I had gotten a bit fond of her. How do we help them “do the right thing,” and also help them deal with the loss of a beloved pet?

A sensible person would lie. We decided to tell the truth. Shows you how much we know.

Talking on the phone with the woman for a second time, my wife arranged for them to come and pick her up the following day. Trying to push the subject they wanted to “just come and see her” that evening. My wife is not good at confrontation and I started to hear her say “Well, I guess it would be okay to just come and visit with her tonight.”

I am not a subtle person when my children are involved. In order to stop my wife from rolling over and playing dead to this request, I yelled “NO WAY” across the room at her. “They can come tomorrow and pick her up like we arranged, and that’s it.” I’m not sure if the woman on the other end of the phone backed up as fast as my wife did, but it had the desired affect.

Try to understand. I wanted my kids to have one more night to say their goodbyes and deal with the issue at hand. I didn’t want them to have to deal with someone snatching a dog they loved out of their hands without notice. I also didn’t want this lady to further manipulate my wife during a “visit” and try and taker her dog home earlier. We would do the right thing and return the dog, but it would be on our terms, not hers.

Sunday came and the expected tears and cries of loss did not disappoint us by failing to show up. My middle daughter had the hardest time with it, but even our youngest is still asking where the dog is, and she can’t really talk yet.

I’d like to think that the dog wasn’t happy about leaving us, although she didn’t fight too much I admit. I’m probably just hoping they’ll have problems and bring her back. Abbey did seem angry at the dog they introduced as her “sister,” though. When she barked and growled at her (after being sniffed way too long and then finally being picked up), there was a part of me that was pleased. I thought to myself, “Yeah, you’ve got your dog back. But it you won’t be happy about it.”