Kurt The Wonder-Doberman: One Of Many Canine Heroes

(This post is a tribute to all dogs of the armed forces and other services that go above and beyond the call of duty)

As most of you probably know, I’m a very proud owner of a Doberman.
His name is Buster and he didn’t have the greatest start in life.
It would seem that Buster became a stray at a very young age, and remained so for a long time.
He was taken to a local National Animal Welfare Trust centre, and it was not long before he had a new family.
The family had Buster for five years of his life, and then decided they didn’t want him anymore, after a marriage break up. He was taken back to the NAWT centre with a very bad case of ‘Lick Granuloma’ which is a common condition for Dobermans and is often caused by anxiety. It is when the dog repeatedly licks its leg until its red raw sometimes chewing it as well. This condition was exacerbated by Buster being left on his own for days at a time.
So after being taken back to the centre, he was there for two weeks when myself and my wife arrived at the NAWT centre we went to donate bowls, food etc, as our previous dog (Rupert) died 6 weeks prior to our visit.
Whilst we were donating, my wife and I thought we would have a look at some of the dogs and cats (fatal mistake).
We came across Buster who stood out from the rest and we both immediately fell in love with him.
Buster became part of our family so quickly and he and I, are inseparable, I think of him as the brother that I never had.

Dobermans have a reputation for being aggressive, this is a stereotype used mainly in films etc where the Doberman is a vicious guard dog and will rip you to shreds if you so much as glance at it sideways.
In fact, they are quite the opposite.
They are highly loyal, intelligent, and make fine companions.
They are also incredibly obedient and easy to train (although one must show the Dobie who is in charge otherwise they will rule the roost).
The high intelligence and adaptability of the Doberman, became used to full effect by the military in the Second World War and the use of Combat dogs of other breeds has continued in other conflicts across the years.
In WWII the U.S Marine Corp used dogs in combat (something that was already tried and tested in WWI by the Germans) they were utilised as scouts, couriers, and infantry dogs,
During WWII, approximately 75% of dogs used during combat were Doberman pinschers, with 25% German Shepherds. Through a non-profit organisation, Dogs for Defence, the public could loan their family dogs to the Marine Corps. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America also supplied many of the war dogs.

Known as ‘Devil Dogs’ the Dog handlers rigorously trained their canine comrades over a period of six weeks in scouting and mine detection amongst other things they were also trained to use signals as opposed to barking. The War-Dog platoons were mainly stationed in several areas of the Pacific.
One of many tales of ‘Devil Dog’ bravery is that of Kurt, A Doberman who saved the lives of 250 U.S. Marines July 23 1944 on Guam. Brave Kurt went ahead of the troops, pointing to alert them to a presence of approaching Japanese soldiers.
Sadly, Kurt was mortally wounded by a Japanese grenade. He became the first to be buried in what would become the war dog cemetery and he is the dog depicted in bronze, sitting quiet but alert atop the World War II War Dog Memorial, along with 24 other brave Dobermans whose names are also inscribed on the memorial.
Kurts bravery and loyalty saved the lives of many men on that day, his sacrifice to those around him is a tale that should always be remembered.
25 dogs died in service in the Pacific many of those were on Guam. To commemorate the Dobermans service the ‘Always Faithful’ memorial was placed at the United States Marine Corp War Dog’s Cemetery on Guam.
Kurt and his troop of Wonder Dogs will never be forgotten, a beautiful yet tragic example of mans best friend’s loyalty and love to man.

The Demi-Monde (Winter) by Rod Rees (a review)

‘It is the year 2018. The presidents daughter, (Norma Williams), has gone missing inside the US military’s nightmarish virtual training ground for urban warfare- The Demi-Monde!
The Demi-Monde is the most sophisticated, complex and unpredictable computer simulation, ever built.
Among its thirty million inhabitants, some of the most terrifying and fanatical historical figures reside, including: Nazi SS butcher Reinhard Heydrich, Stalins arch-executioner Laventii Beria, Aleistair Crowley, and Mathew Hopkins- among others.
These duplicates of The Demi-Monde- or “Dupes” as they are referred to- have the cyber world locked into a never ending cycle of hatred and civil war.
Enter Ella Thomas: The Presidents daughter’s last hope. Ella must immerse herself in the virtual killing fields of the Demi-Monde and rescue Norma Williams. The clock is ticking, and the real world stands once again against the tyranny of our own technological creation.’

As this is book one in the series, The Demi-Monde (Winter) explores some fantastic themes, and plunges the reader right into the thick of it. The character exploration is brilliant and it will be very exciting to read the rest of the books in the series to see how the characters develop and mature and the attitudes of the Demi-Monde’s inhabitants (and visitors) all contribute to a very fractious environment.
Rod Rees weaves intricate technology with histories most dangerous characters. The Demi-Monde contains elements of a dystopian SF with elements of steampunk, (technology within the computer programme is held at 1870).
The historical “dupes” are fantastic choices by the author and not at all obvious. My personal favourite is Archie Clement, who in our history was an acolyte of Jesse James, and was once a confederate guerilla, known for his brutality against Union troops in the American Civil War; he is particularly vile and tenacious but makes a fantastic villain.

I found the Demi-Monde an exciting read. A real page turner from start to finish. Two of my favourite characters are Baron Dashwood and his Butler Crockett. I would love to see Dashwood and Crockett in their own novel series, like a victorian esque Miami Vice.

Although it is a novel that explores serious themes of religion, gender, and class and cultures among other themes- it is decorated with points of light humour which is a lovely nuance to the darkness within the Demi-Monde. Some of Colonel Vanka Maykov, and Burlesque Bandstand’s conversations are particularly funny.
The historical elements throughout the novel are very well done and anyone who has an interest in history will be fascinated by the way Rod Rees has manipulated them within this cyber setting.
All in all, I highly recommend The Demi-Monde (winter) a fantastic read from start to finish. The concept is well executed as are the themes explored. The wordbuilding is magnificent as is the authors use of wordplay.

The Demi-Monde series is published by Jo Fletcher Books

Till next time, Insomniacs!

Crohns Crohnicles: Raising awareness

Now for something completely different to my usual ramblings:
There are some of you who will be thinking, why on earth are you blogging about an auto-immune disease?

So- I hear you cry- why am I writing this blog?

First of all, my wife has suffered with Crohns for 23 years of her life, she has a very extreme case of it, which unfortunately requires long stays in hospital and more often than not surgery.
Over the last week on my Twitter profile, I have been tweeting about my wifes latest hospital stay, by using the hashtag #CrohnsCrohnicles. Both my wife and I, had some fabulous messages from people sending good thoughts and kind words. For this we are very grateful.

This post is to raise awareness to others about something that has been a very big part of mine and my wife’s lives.
I dedicate this post to my amazing wife and all sufferers of the disease.

Crohns disease was discovered by an american gastroenterologist: Burril B. Crohn.
Crohn published a landmark scientific paper in 1932 identifying the disease that bears his name.

But what actually is Crohns disease?

First and foremost Crohns disease is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (or I.B.D). It has nothing to do with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S). There should be no confusion between the two!
Crohns can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus. The large and small bowel are the main places that it can be found.
Crohns is classified as an auto-immune disease, in which the immune system attacks itself within the Gastro Intestinal tract (or G.I). This appears as inflammation, which as well as being extremely painful can lead to symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and lethargy.

There is no known cure for the disease and no one really knows why it happens. Different theories suggest that crohns is genetic although there are some sufferers that have no traces of the disease in their immediate family or immediate families medical history. Other theories have also been investigated regarding to the establishing of a cause.

Crohns can be treated, usually with very strong steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, (other types of medication are also used to manage the inflammation and treat the symptoms, the example given is one of many).

In the most extreme, chronic cases of Crohns disease, surgery becomes the only option. This is not the case for all patients, in less serious cases surgery is only considered when all other treatments have been explored and/or eliminated.
The surgery that takes place usually involves parts of the diseased bowel cut away, and then the bowel is rejoined; this is known as a re-sectioning. Obviously, there is more than one major surgical procedure, but a re-sectioning is a common operation within chronic sufferers.
The problem then with surgery, is that it can lead to adhesions- when the bowel becomes stuck together and can also stick to the abdominal wall, and also organs!
With adhesions there is nothing they can do other than to unstick them which requires more surgery, which can then lead to more adhesions. unfortunately from this, a vicious circle ensues.

In conclusion: it is an incredibly nasty disease, it can be very debilitating, and very painful in most cases. There are some fantastic studies being done within the field of Gastroenterology and the treatment of Crohns and I.B.D.

If you would like to know more about IBD and Crohns,
the incredible organisation NACC has a lot of information on different types of IBD (Including crohns) and are a fantastic charity to get behind.
http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/content/home.aspc