Early this morning– Sometime before the birds wake I find myself sitting up in bed. Man that was a shitty dream. Something about tornadoes and volcanoes suddenly appearing out of nowhere. What the hell is that all about? Looking around the dorm and it’s peacefully quiet. It’s still very early and almost everyone is asleep except for the usual suspects. I make my way down the long aisle to the bathroom because I need to take a leak. My cube is located at the farthest distance away from the bathroom as possible because I am in a dog cube (as I am a dog trainer and handler in the staff dog program). The location of my cube is a blessing really, because I have the entire corner to myself and it’s traffic free. No one has any business being there except for myself and my cubemates. It’s a curse because by the time I return I’ll be half awake having walked all over tarnation. Thankfully I get back to sleep. **
I, and the whole dorm, awake to the sounds of dogs barking and wanting to attack each other. Someone just brought one of the regulars in, a female black lab/doberman mix that does not get along with any of the other dogs. This is a morning regular with this dog. I now hear the deaf dog quacking. I wonder how the deaf dog knew there was a commotion? Maybe it felt the vibrations? Yeah, it really is deaf and its bark really does sound like a quack. It’s sad, but funny at the same time–the poor thing. It’s here for 10 days of boarding while its owner is on vaction. The dorm eventully settles down and I fall asleep again. **
The first rays of the sun have begun to peek from the darkness. I’m up again to piss. Man I need to lay off the coffee. So long for sleeping. I sit here for a moment rubbing my eyes. Man they hurt. **
Back from the bathroom– I flick the TV on and catch the weather. Rain all day long. Yuk. That means I’ll be dealing with wet and muddy dogs today. I set out a couple of dog towels in preparation. Today I’ll have Murphy, a 13 month old AKC certified Beligian Shepherd. The people that own Murphy have thousands of dollars in this dog. They bring him to me for training. It’s a job I take seriously, and nothing makes me happier than when I am able to work with these wonderful pure breds. I’ve taught Murphy all the basics and am currently working with him in off leash disciplines. His weakness is his dog socialization. He has terrible dog socialization skills, as he was never socialized with other dogs when he was a pup. So he likes to bark and jump in the presence of other dogs. So we’ll be working on dog introductions today. **
The sun is up now and I head to chow. Breakfast is two hard boiled eggs and bland grits. I fight both eggs for what seems like an eternity trying to pluck the shells off. I grumble to myself. Dammit, I forgot to grab a cup of cold water to dip them in so the shells would peel easily. By the time I’ve peeled them I have mostly egg yolk remaining. Is this how the rest of my day is gonna go? **
Back at the block now. I’m sitting at a table blogging for a bit as I await the arrival of my first charge of the day. Sometime around 7:30am Murphy arrives. His owner is exasperated. She says when she was coming in through entry there were four other dogs leaving (the deaf dog, and siblings), and Murphy promptly went off. I am frustrated to hear this. Thankfully the other dogs paid his machinations no mind. I take him back to the cube and promptly dry him off. His paws are muddy!
“Buddy,” I say to Murphy, “you found the one bare patch of yard didn’t you?”
He looks up at me as if to say, You gonna dry the other paws? **
Shortly after, I take Murphy to the dog room along with my cubemate’s dog Jade, a 1 year old German Shepherd. For the next 3 hours they play together. Jade is owned by a different staffer, and is Murphy’s defacto girl friend. I like to get them together so he can work off some energy before I take him outside to train. They play peacefully for the entire time and I watch to make sure no one gets upset over a stray bite or misplaced paw. **
Mid-morning– Murphy suddenly stops playing and gives me his ‘I need to potty’ look. It’s a combination stare, interspersed snips, and whines.
“You got to potty buddy?” I say.
Murphy whines and snips at the air in front of me.
I put the “gentle leader” on his snout and secure it behind his head. The leader is a training tool used to control dogs from pulling while on leash or otherwise acting out. We head outside without incident and he promptly potties. I stay a bit just in case he decides to gift more. **
Back at the cube now– Murphy is curled up on my bunk content to watch the chaos around me. I tell him to “stay” and I go to heat up a cup of coffee. On my way back into the bay from the dayroom a mob has gathered. Something is wrong. So I casually and quickly make my way through the crowd, all the while listening intently for clues as to what’s brewing.
What? Someone has contacted another guy’s sister? Surely he had permission right?
“Fuck no he didn’t have permission,” says the aggrieved party.
“Well how did he get your people’s info?” I say.
“The creep dug his letter from the trash,” says another guy.
My jaw hangs open for a second. I close it.
I am shocked to hear this. This is a giant no-no. You just don’t do dumb crap like that. I’ve seen guys get beat to within inches of their lives for stuff like this. One guy had a 30 pound locker box dropped onto his head from the second tier range one year. Even though I am removed from this incident, I feel my blood pressure rise and my senses sharpen. The situation is volatile. Plus, the thought of someone doing the same thing to someone in my family brings thoughts of anger. I quickly suppress them.
“He’s a cho-mo,” said a different guy.
“Who? Who did this?” I ask. I’m immediately greeted with a chorus of guys pointing and swearing toward a fellow in the dayroom who is sitting alone at one of the tables. I look too see who the offending party is. When I see who it is, I’m not the least bit surprised. He’s a short, fat fellow with grimy hair and beady glasses. He even looks like a perv. He’s doing time for posession of child pornography. Worse, he goes home in four weeks.
I’m disgusted at the thought of it all, that men like that never serve any time for their crimes. The ever categorized non-violent crime, as if what they do is harmless. A short slap on the wrist and then they are spat back into society, where most of them go on to reoffend for similar things.
I tell you there’s something wrong with this picture.
According to one of the voices nearby, I’m told Cho-Mo thought he could contact the other guy’s sister and then hook up with her when he got out. I immediately wonder how old the girl is but I don’t ask.
I judge that the situation is serious, as the mob of men have refused to allow Cho-Mo back into the bay. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to come back here anyway, as he’s sure to be met with an unpleasant situation. Guys are saying he’s attempting to check in to protective custody. **
I head back to my bunk and drown out the drama with my headphones. Murphy is asleep, oblivious to the what’s going on around him. **
Lunch time– Today it’s a fish patty small enough to piss off a 5 year old. I scarf it down along with the green beans, two slices of bread, and an apple. I sit for a moment looking at the empty tray. My stomach grumbles. **
Here back at the block, and I make myself a bowl of cereal because I’m still hungry. I feel better now. **
The rest of the afternoon is spent walking and working with Murphy outside. He’s doing remarkably well. His mom is working the yard today as a Yard Dog, and she drifts by to say hi to Murphy. Murphy is momentarily afflicted with mommy happiness, and then she is off into the distance back to work.
Murphy watches his mom recede into the distance before looking back up at me. We go back to training without missing a beat. Man he’s doing so good this afternoon! **
It’s evening now, and I just returned from the chow hall. Dinner was a breaded and processed chicken patty between two slices of bread, apple sauce, coleslaw and mashed potatoes. I drown everything in ketchup. I discovered years ago that if I bring condiments, I can eat just about anything that’s served. Finished, I gather up my plasticware lest I accidentally leave them on my tray. I bring my own plastic fork and spoon and cup to every meal. There’s no way in the world I will ever eat off of the plasticware and drink out of the cups that are offered at the meals. The guys in the dishroom that are responsible for washing the cups and flatware could care less about proper cleaning. The dishroom is a punishment job in the chow hall, so the guys working it are getting through the job as fast as possible so they can get the hell out of there. And guys wonder why everyone around them are sick all the time. **
Murphy has gone home. I blog for a bit before stopping to watch the world news, flipping constantly from ABC to NBC. I can’t stand ABC, their anchor dramatizes everything, but sometimes they will lead off with something that’s meaningful other than the weather. NBC is better in the sense that they tend to lead off with meaningful world news (and not the weather). Oh, wait, there’s something breaking right now. There’s thunderstorms down south and heavy snow up north! I promptly grab the remote and switch to NBC. **
So it seems that Cho-Mo has been moved to another housing unit. I don’t seem to understand what that’s going to accomplish? As soon as the guys there hear about what he did, he’ll have the same problems all over again. I guess it’s the best that can be done, as there are far more pressing issues to contend with than some perv being a perv. So I get it. **
I check my emails on the kiosk in the dayroom. Several emails from friends and family. Jeez, it’s friggn’ loud in the dayroom tonight. Some jackass and another idiot are behind me at a table yelling and screaming in a game of spades. Maybe they should yell louder, they don’t seem to be getting their point across. I spend the next 30 minutes answering my e-mails before grabbing a shower and calling it a night. **
Before I go to bed, I decide to spend time watching internet videos on television. One of the local Columbus stations plays viral internet videos and other cool stuff from the internet all day long. Tonight’s fare is something called “Animals Unscripted.” Cat and dog videos, and videos of other animals doing funny and heart warming things. I laugh and chuckle and smile. I set the timer and watch until I fall asleep. **
I’m awoken some time later by a commotion nearby. I grab my clock and it reads 2:10am. Someone on their top bunk went to climb down and missed his hold in the darkness, grabbing ahold of everything and anything–television, fan, clock–everything crashing down with him. I hear someone say, Are you okay? And then it’s quiet again. I roll over and promply fall asleep. **
My family is here early in the morning to pick me up. I’m in the lobby about to leave through the front door, and when I push on it the door doesn’t open. I turn to say something to the guards but they’ve gone. Where the hell? I think. There’s a terrible rumbling from outside, and I look to see tornadoes everywhere. My family is in the parking lot running. I scream and pound and pull on the handle of the front door but it won’t open. Somewhere in the far distance a volcano has exploded out of nowhere and the sky is suddenly dark. **
I awake to the pounding of my heart and for a moment I feel like I’m suffocating. The dorm is quiet. Eventually I fall asleep and there are no more dreams. **