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.

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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

The Rant Of A Cornish Geek!

As some of you know I’m originally from the south-west of the U.K (Cornwall).
I’m a proud Cornishman- yes it has its problems as do most places in the World.
On the whole, its slow pace of life can be a good thing. The phrase that correlates to this is “Dreckly!” Meaning I’ll do it after a long period of time has amassed, or when I feel like it etc. For example
Person a) “Ere boy, do us a tea will ee?”
Person b) “I’ll do un dreckly pard!”

Cornwall on the whole- is a very serene and nice place to live/visit. Its a fantastic place to grow up, and evolve ones creative imagination whether you are a writer/artist/musician etc

Everyone together now… BUT!

One thing bothers me, there are very few Fantasy/Sci fi or geek events!
For example there are seldom book signings by a Fantasy/Sci Fi author/s and there seems to be (as of yet) no established conventions (as far as I’m aware), for fans to gather and hear authors discussions, get their memorabilia signed, and celebrate their favourite pastimes, and if they so feel like it dress up as Fitzchivalry Farseer carrying a toy Wolf named Nighteyes.
The majority of book signings that do occur consist mainly of celebrity chefs, or someone who is predominantly in the public eye and sometimes poetry and anything to do with painting.
There is nothing wrong with this at all, more power to em!

I can’t help but feel we are somewhat left out of the great fan/author events that happen all over the U.K.
The other day a favourite Fantasy/Sci Fi author of mine, announced that he/she was touring the U.K to sign their new book. Immediately I went to see the dates and where they would be. Well they are everywhere in the U.K except… Yep you guessed it… Cornwall! This is such a common occurrence.
Now one might say to me “Maybe that is because there isn’t many Fantasy/Sci Fi fans to ratify doing something of this manner.”
To this I say, (rather loudly) Pish Posh! According to the U.K 2011 census, Cornwall has an estimated gross population of 532,300.
Now you cannot tell me out of that number, there is only a few readers/geeks/fans of Speculative Fiction living in the county, therefore an event such as the ones i have mentioned previously wouldn’t attract the hordes of Cornish Orcs to warrant it being done because I think you would be surprised!
Now I completely understand that you cannot please everyone in this life, and regarding authors they are extremely busy people. Someone somewhere is going to be disappointed when it comes to these matters.
I know most people would say “Travel elsewhere if you’re that bothered!” but this is my point, because its such a famously creative place with legendary stories of King Arthur and Merlin, Tristan and Isolde etc.

Why then is there a lack of conventions/Fantasy and sci fi book signings/ and other similar events? (Don’t even get me started on comic book shops! There used to be a couple of really good independant ones. Now there is ONE! One- in the whole county! Right out in the sticks and over an hours drive!)

I digress

People may say, “Yes Romeo, but we. feel the same in ___(place name here)____” and I would agree with them to a point; I guess a lot of places are in the same boat as Cornwall.
Although I guarantee that a lot more places have these things going on. more frequently than in my own humble county.
Obviously if there have been some of these great events featured down here 1) I apologise, I must be living under a rock
2) They then were not promoted very. well.

During the writing of this post I did come across an event that happened in 2008, in a popular chain of bookshops by a very popular fantasy author.
However this was only done because they lived in the county at the time!
I just think and feel that it would be awesome to have a pure geek event in a fantastical county, a county that I feel should have its roots in fantasy celebrated and not be left out.

Rant over, and apologies if I have offended anyone.

Till next time Insomniacs

Awaiting The Sun: A Poem

Now for something completely different!
Here is a short Poem written a while ago, by my fair hands.

The moon ethereal, fingers of dim light,
be thine force to guide thy flight.

Among the fields and the wind that sweeps,
an evenings song by dark; Rejoice! Thy eyes sleep.

Shadow of night, in a shrouded haze, forget the day, forsake the day; for a thousand seeing eyes await the coming grey.

Alas! The sun, it fails to be; for the sky cries out, and the rain doth grieve.

© R. A. Kennedy

Morgawr: Cornwalls Sea Monster

In my welcome post I promised you the occasional sea monster, and dammit I’m goin to do just that!
Ladies and Gents I present you with a sea monster that unfortunately gets less coverage than that of Nessie.
I give you Cornwall’s, Morgawr!

Me and my wife have a big fascination with all things deemed unexplained. One such example is Cryptozoology (In Greek the term literally means study of hidden animals) the timeless search. animals whose existence on our tiny planet have not yet been proved.
We have heard of The Loch Ness Monster of Scotland, and of course Big Foot, and The Abominable Snowman, but there are a lot of lesser known examples of these fascinating Cryptids (as they are called).
Morgawr hails from the Cornish Seas (mostly around Falmouth). its name means Sea monster in the now disused language of Cornish. There have been documented cases of sightings as far back as 1876. Cornish fishermen have claimed to have caught Morgawr in their nets and claim it is about 20 feet long.
One of the documented sightings at Pendennis Point Falmouth, September 1975, witnesses claim to have seen a humped creature with ‘stumpy horns’ and bristles on its long neck, catching a conger eel in its mouth. The waters where Morgawr has been sighted, usually contain plenty of conger eels, it has been sighted as far as the Plymouth coast but tends to favour the waters around Falmouth and surrounding areas.
Theories have been passed around as to what Morgawr might actually be. Some say that it is mistaken for a rare species of long necked seal, others say it could be a Basking Shark or even a dead Basking Shark. To both of these theories I say nay! Basking Sharks are notoriously shy and stay submerged, and although they are peculiar looking they don’t resemble anything like what is stated by the many witnesses. The more plausible theory is that Morgawr is a species of prehistoric Plesiosaur.
This in my opinion is most probably what it is. After all why not? We know less about our own Oceans than we do about our Galaxy. Who knows what mysteries really lie in our seas? Why shouldn’t a species of Dinosaur survive? With the time they have spent on this earth they are probably rather good at hiding!
Of course there are those who of course cry “hoax” at the many documented sightings of any sea monster or anything that is unexplained for that matter. My view is, there is more to this world than meets the eye and just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean its not there!
Hopefully one day the unexplained will become clear! One worry I do have about the future of these unexplained creatures is, that I hope we (as humans) do not attempt at some sort of capture of any Cryptid creature and exhibit him/her for tourist and monetary purposes. These creatures are doing very well without our interference we as humans need to let them do just that.

Many people see Cryptozoology as a pseudoscience and not a reputable use of scientific study. But in this day and age who can truly say what a true science is and what is not? Is the search for Extra Terrestrial Biological Entities a true science? Some would say no! I would yet again disagree with that. If other life can exist on undiscovered planets why can’t undiscovered creatures exist on our humble planet? Let us not forget some milestones of Cryptozoology, include the Mountain Gorilla and the Okapi both of which were said not to exist, and also the Komodo Dragon which before 1912 was referred to I believe as a Monitor Lizard. Other Hallmarks include proof of the existence of the giant squid by photographic evidence In 2004 I’m also to the understanding that a giant squid has recently been filmed.

I hope to one day (along with my wife) see Morgawr for myself as well as other sea monsters.
Some might see me as foolish, to them I say; the world that exists underneath us, and above us is much stranger than fiction and holds countless possibilities!
So here’s to Morgawr! The sea monster of Cornwall! May he/she never run out of conger eels!