Shelter From the Cold

It was October of 2020, and it was an average day here in west Texas. The sun was shining, the temperature was 80 F (27 C), and the breeze was pleasant. But that was soon to change. A mass of Arctic air was barrelling down from the north, bringing freezing rain and snow. The weather forecast predicted three days where the high temperature would barely claw its way above zero F (-18 C).

The dogs and I were out in front of the shack, watching the front move in. It looked like a sharply cut mass of black clouds reaching back beyond the low horizon. I knew that the edge of the clouds was where the frigid air was punching all the moisture out of the sky. We had an hour, maybe less, and then the deluge.

It was at this point we all noticed a dog on the other side of the chain link, eating some rotten road kill.

She was really skinny, and really friendly. Claws were long, untrimmed for a time, and she was obviously starving. My dogs and she sniffed noses through the fence, tails started wagging, and I let her in the yard for a romp and a feed. I looked up the breed while the dog food was being wolfed down by all involved, an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog.

She was wearing a collar, as you can see, so after the meal I clipped on a leash and took her around to the landlord’s. Did he know where her owner lived? Right over there? I’ll just bring her home, then.

I led her through the gate, and then felt fear like cold poison flow through my heart. Lying in the dirt, unprotected from the unforgiving sky, were 8 tiny puppies. They were so new to the world that their eyes and ears were still closed, totally exposed, completely helpless.

I knocked on the door of the old broken-down travel trailer, and the owner stepped out to talk to me. I pointed to the newborns, the skinny mother, the oncoming cold. I said he needed to start feeding the momma, and get the puppies inside, or they would all die in pain.

He said that he did not want puppies, so he had been deliberately withholding food from his dog in the hope she would miscarry. When that didn’t happen, he kept starving her so her milk would dry up and the puppies would starve in turn. But now that winter hell was almost here, he didn’t have to worry any more.

If you have been reading this blog for any time, then you know what happened next. In less than a minute I was the owner of all eight puppies and their mother. And, before anyone asks, I want you to know that I was charming as hell and asked him nicely. Nicely!

Okay, so now what? I live in a tiny shack, too small for myself and the two dogs I already had. Added to this was the fact that I had to work 14 hours every day or I wouldn’t be able to make rent and we would all be out in the cold. If I moved Blue the Momma Dog and her puppies inside, the instinct to protect her puppies would result in bloody fights as soon as I left to punch the clock.

What to do?

I’ve never had any money, always been a minimum wage kind of guy, but I also wanted to have some adventure in my life. Instead of skydiving and deep sea scuba expeditions I would take a blanket and a .22 handgun in the deep North American woods, trying to see how long I could stay out there by hunting game and digging roots. Most importantly to Blue the Momma Dog and her puppies, I also would make the long drive to Glacier National Park in the dead of winter to test my resilience by building snow caves and surviving the cold.

Paid Training

I started my students off focusing on safe gun handling, firearm storage, marksmenship. You know, the bare basics. It was all I could do, all I had time for, and it used up what resources I could spare.

I’ve always urged my students to seek out formal training courses, if they were able. Most, unfortunately, were not, either due to infirmity or lack of money.

I just read an article in WIRED magazine, where they sent one of their reporters to Gunsite Academy for training. She described entering a shoot house, where the scenario was the rescue of a small child named Timmy who had been kidnapped by those of ill intent.

” I still had a bad habit of jerking the trigger in anticipation of recoil, but at certain moments, like when I stepped across the threshold of the fun house’s final room and saw a swarthy man holding a gun to little Timmy’s head, my focus narrowed and my hands and eyes and weapon synced up in a benevolent conspiracy, and I shot the bad guy right in the ocular cavity. It was hugely satisfying, and it felt—I don’t know how else to describe it—like being right. “

Well, it was right! And good for her.

Check the article out. Worth a read.

A Word About A 2016 Shooting Outside The White House

ABC News has posted video of the shooting that occurred on June 29, 2016. A single male approached the White House on foot, openly carrying a gun in his hand!

What in the world did that idiot think was going to happen? That he’d be invited inside for tea? As it is, I think the Secret Service treated him with the greatest of gentleness. They only shot him once, after all.

The gun appears to be a Ruger Mk IV, the target model.

This is a handgun chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. It is a rugged and extremely durable gun, and it is very useful for anything you might want to do with a handgun chambered in .22 LR.

By the phrase “… anything you might want to do with a handgun chambered in .22 LR…” I mean hunting small game or target shooting at the range. I don’t think it is appropriate for walking up to the White House while openly displaying a gun. But, then again, I don’t think any gun on the planet is appropriate for that!

I used an earlier version of the gun during my charity self defense course. It was a Mk II, and was similar in many respects to the Mk IV.

It was an essential training tool, and thousands of people were introduced to the shooting sports via this gun.

Of course, the guy who got shot outside the White House used his to get introduced to prison and life after a potential felony conviction. I don’t recommend using them for this purpose.

UPDATE – Robert Evans very kindly points out that the date stamp on the video was 4 years ago, and he has my thanks. I have updated the essay to indicate the correct date.

Finding Ammo

Riots, murder, burning and destruction!

People interested in self defense have taken note. Firearms and ammunition are tough to find nowadays.

I was in the local big chain sporting goods store and decided to take a walk down the ammunition aisle. So sad, nothing but bare shelves.

Oh, there were a few offerings. I managed to find 500 rounds of .22 Long Rifle, but it was bare lead bullets instead of the copper wash I prefer. There was a supply of 12 gauge shotgun shells, but they were loaded with 7 1/2 birdshot and so were unsuitable for self defense. Oddly enough, I also found several boxes of .32 ACP.

I suppose there just aren’t that many people who favor .32 ACP for defense in west Texas. Go figure.

Did any of this cause me woe? No, not really. I always keep a stock of ammunition on hand just in case something like this happens. I measure the amount I have by how many layers are stacked on the shelf, and don’t bother keeping track of how many individual rounds are left. I can wait out the shortage, even if it takes a few years for the situation to resolve itself.

For those of us who are of the buy-it-when-you-need-it sort, I have two suggestions if you are looking for ammunition.

The first is Lucky Gunner, an online retailer of ammunition.

Keep in mind that they don’t have endless supplies of ammunition so you are certain to get what you want. They are suffering from the same bullet drought that everyone else is trying to overcome. But they are worth a look because they show you exactly what is in stock, and process your purchase almost immediately. They might not have what is needed, but if they do you can buy it before anyone else gets to it.

The second suggest is an online utility called Gunbot.net.

Gunbot is not a website per se, but is instead a no frills utility that looks for ammunition that is for sale online. The list can be sorted by price, so you can only choose to look at ammo that is in your price range. It is the easiest and quickest way to scour the Internet for bullets to buy.

Keep in mind that Gunbot only shows that sales offered on other websites, and those retailers are often sold out. But if you show some dogged persistence then you will eventually be rewarded with some gun food delivered to your door.

So what happened at the big chain sporting goods store? I bought the .22 Long Rifle ammo, of course. Why wouldn’t I? It’s .22 Long Rifle! Can’t have enough of that.

Inside The Kidnapping Business

Really interesting article concerning the money side of kidnapping. Some criminal gangs and terrorist groups run it like a real business, and legitimate companies have arisen to help mitigate risk to those who may be taken.

Worth a read. Further information for those interested in purchasing insurance to help in case they are kidnapped should start with this excellent essay on Investopedia.

Lost Dog Update

Katy at the vet

Remember the little puppy I found, crying and alone next to the crushed body of her Mom? Remember how she was so heartbroken that she would just sit still and stare at nothing? At least, that is, until I introduced her to Pete the Dog?

Katy and Pete

I thought you might be interested in an update. This is Katy as of today.

Pete and Katy

She was 5 1/2 Lbs (2.5 kilos) when I found her. Katy is now 35 Lbs (16 kilos), all in a little more than 4 months. Kids! Seems they always grow really fast.

In case you are wondering, Pete was 50 Lbs (23 kilos) when Katy first arrived. He is now 55 Lbs (25 kilos). He chunked up a bit due to the high energy puppy chow I put down in front of Katy. He just gets regular kibble, but they always switch bowls a bit more than halfway done. I suppose dog food is tastier if stolen.

Notice their tails, the dark blur? Currently forming an X behind both dogs? That is because I was bribing them with treats to pose for the camera. Their tails were moving so fast that I could determine velocity or position at any given moment, but not both. Their back ends have entered the quantum realm.

One thing that is readily apparent to anyone who comes to visit is that Pete really, REALLY loves his treats.