MSG, I Curse Thee!

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned some water retention issues I was having. They are back this week, big time. I’m troubled. I have had to take water pills three of the last four days. I got on the scales and didn’t like what they said. I had gained back the pounds I lost. And this, despite the fact that I’ve been very strict on my Keto. I have eaten a ton of veggies the last two weeks. Fresh ones.

As I looked closer at my notes, I see that on Friday, and on Monday, I ate hot dogs. I cooked them on Friday, and ate the leftovers on Monday. Turns out, they are loaded with MSG. Bingo. Nailed it. But what’s going on with my body that I’ve become so sensitive to MSG?

I’m not a scientist. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not going to attempt to answer those things from a medical perspective. Just doing some research, and using my noggin, I’ve come up with some sad conclusions.

First, MSG is in so many pre packaged things. It’s a flavor enhancer. It makes bland things taste better. I remember as a kid, my mom would buy ‘Accent’ from the supermarket to sprinkle in recipes. It was a little miracle in a shaker. It was MSG. I believe it’s still sold in the USA.

MSG is a staple in Asian Restaurants, at least in the States. I remember there being lots of MSG jokes once upon a time. It’s in, or at least was, many fast food items.

I’m not against it’s existence, or it’s use. But I have developed an intolerance to it over the years. And now that the years have started to add up, the intolerance has increased. I know that when B and I went out to restaurants, I was often swollen and bloated the next day. Heck, sometimes by the time we got in the car to go home.

Now I realize that I have to avoid the stuff. Keep in mind, that my blood pressure medicine already makes me retain fluid, so I’m at a disadvantage from the get go. So it might mean that I have to avoid pretty much all pre packaged food. I don’t know. I never gave a thought to the hot dogs. I did notice they tasted a bit salty.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered my pork rinds were full of MSG, and I haven’t had any of those in the last two weeks.

My veggies have all been fresh or frozen, mostly fresh, except for some Brussels Sprouts, and they were frozen. It has to be from the pre packaged meats. I will need to check the packages more closely on my salami, sardines, and smoked salmon.

I don’t use bouillon cubes, because of MSG. And I hardly add any salt to my cooking. I might uses a tea spoon for my whole supper, and that would surprise me. I have had lots of diet cola lately. That could be the source of some of the extra sodium.

Some people have said that as they’ve gotten older, they can’t eat as much spicy food. Fortunately, that has not happened to me. But saltiness has become a challenge to me. And apparently, the sodium load in MSG has become almost an allergy. So, I have to watch closely, and read labels thoroughly.

This is one of the reasons I track what I eat. I want to know what goes into my body, and how my body responds to it. My body is changing.

For example, I’ve always liked hot peppers. No, I love them. When I was young, they always affected my bowels; both in terms of volume, and burn. Not any more. When people say, ‘oh, that will hurt tomorrow’, I just smile.

Oh, I just thought of something. I don’t sweat in this country. In America, I used to sweat up a storm. Partly from work on the farm, and partly because summers are just plain hot. Here, I hardly ever sweat. That would get rid of some extra saline. I would need a sauna, and the only one in town is closed due to Covid. Hmm… something to think on.

Ok, I’m starting to ramble. Stay tuned.

Some Thoughts on The Smooth Collie

As most of you know, I love dogs. Some of you will remember my days as a dog musher. Those memories are some of my fondest. Sadly, I got a bit old to keep up with that. But huskies have not been anywhere near the only breed of dogs I’ve owned. Brittan and I have kept a good variety. It’s only been our move to Scotland, and living in an upstairs apartment with no yard, that has changed all that.

I still read all I can. I watch dog shows. I watch you tube videos. I will walk dogs, and even help people with training challenges. I’ll do pretty much anything I can to be around them.

Recently, I read an article about British breeds that are at risk right here in the country of their origin. These breeds are not necessarily at risk world wide, but some are very close to disappearing here in the land of their birth. As I read through the list, I was utterly shocked at some of the breeds on the list. Brittan and I have owned three of them, and would own them again. There are several others on the list I would gladly own. And perhaps I will do an article about each of them, who knows. But I’m going to write about each of the breeds we’ve owned, that are at risk of extinction here in Great Britain.

The first of those, is the Smooth Collie. The Smoothie, is identical in build and color to the Lassie style, Rough Collie, only it has short hair. In fact, they are the same breed. A litter can actually have both smooth and rough coated pups, depending on the genes carried by the parents.

Everything about them is the same, except the grooming requirements in the Smooth variety, are much simpler. They are amazing family dogs, are great watch dogs, and are strong herding dogs. There are many who would contend that the Smooth Collie is actually better at herding. I would contend that is merely because more of them have been used as working dogs in recent years, due to the difficulties in coat maintenance required for a Rough, and the popularity of the athletic little Border Collie.

In Great Britain, last year, only 60 Smooth Collie puppies were registered with the Kennel Club. That got a big WOW out of me. Although the breed is from right here in Scotland, I have never seen one in this country. I’ve seen a few at dog shows, but never anywhere else. And that’s a tragedy.

Brittan and I have owned three, all while we lived in the States. Our first, Dream, was a Blue Merle, with brown eyes, and we rescued her from a puppy mill when we lived in Maine. She was 6 years old at the time. As an aside, I wrote the last chapter of my upcoming book, Life Lessons From A Lead Dog, about Dream, as an introduction to the next book, which I’m currently calling, Choose Joy.

Dream was an absolute delight, despite her tough start in life. She had been seriously over bred during her 6 years. One of the first things we did, was have her spayed. But despite her difficult time, she was loving, and smart, and a tremendous watch dog. She was not a guard dog. But no one sneaks up on or into a collie’s home. They will make sure their owners, and everyone else in the neighborhood knows someone in in the yard. They have huge barks, and to be fair, when they are standing at attention, barking at a stranger, they look quite intimidating.

Smoothies are not as glamorous as their Rough Cousins. But they are, in my opinion, more so than the amazing, and popular, Border Collie, but don’t have nearly the exercise requirements that Border’s have. I can’t think of a single negative characteristic they possess.

Our last two, did have a tendency when they were young, to kill chickens, if the birds got into the yard. But in time, we managed to train that out of them, and one of the two, Lady, would even help me corral loose ones and get them back to where they belong.

Our third Smooth Collie, Karma, was a beautiful tri color, who was rather beautiful in every way, but a bit small. Not Shetland Sheepdog small, but rather small for a collie. She got over killing chickens before Lady did, but she had a taste for fresh eggs, and if she got into them, she could gobble them up before you could say, ‘Don’t do that!’

Dream used to go hunting with me on our property in Maine. We would walk through the woods and she would enjoy every minute of the outing, until I fired the gun. She hated it, and would take off running back to the house. When I got home, she’d be sitting on the back porch waiting for me. Eventually, I stopped taking a gun when Dream was along.

She was the first dog I ever owned that I could walk off leash. She would go down to the sled dog kennels with me and show off to them that she was free. The huskies didn’t mind her. They were perfectly self assured. After all, they were sled dogs. It their minds, that made them extra special.

Dream lived to be 13. She died of cancer. In my memory she was the perfect dog. She set a standard that Lady and Karma could never quite live up to. They were very good dogs. I was crazy about them. Lady was as smart a dog as I’ve ever owned. She was funny. Karma was photogenic. She loved cuddles. But she was not confident, and training was difficult. She took corrections personally, and got depressed. And she loved to get in your lap. We have a photo somewhere of Brittan on the mower, trying to cut the grass, and Karma is on her lap.

My one regret, is not training Lady for agility. She would have been awesome at it. She was trainable, athletic, and easy to reward.

Smooth Collies are the perfect family dog. They do shed. Girls more than the boys. But, as a breed, they are the perfect fit. They are light footed, meaning they won’t wear a path in your yard, like German Shepherds will. They will be great friends who you can train to do anything.

Fortunately, the Europeans really like them. I follow several on Instagram. Americans like them, too. Not like Rough Collies, but there are plenty of them in the States. But for some reason, I can’t figure out, the British have turned their noses up at the grandfather of all the Scottish Herding Dogs, the Smooth Collie.

If you are looking for a puppy, I encourage you to check out this breed. If you’re in the U.K. chances are, any one breeding them is a responsible breeder, but check out the breed club if you’re in doubt. If you live in the States, check out the breed club, or the AKC. Don’t just buy a pup you see advertised. And look into the breed rescue groups. There are often Smoothies looking for a new home. We’ve had a love of great dogs this way.

If you’ve got any questions about Smooth Collies, drop me a line and ask. I would love to hear from you. And here’s a hint, our next article will be about the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

An Update Regarding Water Retention

I am finding things rather interesting at the moment. It’s only the 4th day since I renewed my real focus on Keto/South Beach. But I have already noticed some dramatic changes.

First, I haven’t been as hungry. That’s weird. I’ve been starving for several weeks. I had to start eating breakfast again about 6 weeks ago. Obviously, that has something to do with the sugar and wheat that had crept back into my diet. I look at my notes and see that I had donuts at least once a week. Not the half dozen or so that I used to have. But I would have 2 at a time. Sometimes twice a week. And it looks like I had a small frozen pizza once a week for several weeks. I wasn’t paying attention. In fact, I have one in my freezer now. It’s been there for a week, tempting me.

I just ate fat and protein the first two days. I had no vegetables. I paid a price for that. Do I need to go into it? Yesterday, I had broccoli and cauliflower, and I had a little bran. I will do similar today. Figure it out!

But the main thing I’ve noticed, has to do with the water retention I wrote about a couple weeks ago. It got to the point where I was taking my prescription diuretics 5 to 6 days a week. I was getting concerned. Every night, my legs were swollen to the point my socks were uncomfortable.

My refocus began Saturday. On Sunday, I started having a natural diuretic effect. That’s normal when you start any kind of diet. I was surprised it started so quickly. I can’t explain that yet. But I eliminated more water on Sunday and Monday, without the pills, than I usually do with them. Seriously. I’ve even had to get up three times each night to go to the toilet. And it has continued so far today.

I realize that’s a bit TMI, but it’s quite interesting. It makes me wonder how much of my recent weight gain has been water. And what caused it? Does sugar cause fluid retention? Does flour? Is it a combination of my blood pressure medication and sugar or flour? How much MSG has been in the frozen pre prepared meats I’ve been eating?

These questions are worth investigating. But right now I need to get over to the greenhouse and tend to my tomatoes and peppers. I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

NOTE: I found it. I was just munching on some Pork Rinds, my favorite go to Keto snack, and there it was in the ingredient list, MSG. I threw them out. I had only eaten a few of these, but that explains so much. I have been eating those like they were going out of style. For the last three months I’ve had an individual serving bag of them nearly one a day. That’s a lot of MSG. My heart is broken, but the mystery is solved. Now I just have to figure out what I’ll do for snacks. I don’t like veggies for snacks. Thinking caps on.

Starting Over….Again!

Final Punch Stock Illustrations – 43 Final Punch Stock Illustrations,  Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

Those of you who are regular readers, know most of this, but there are quite a few newbies, so a little review of my weight loss journey will do us all some good.

I’ve been morbidly obese since I was 19 years old, except for 7 years, 1990 – 97. I’m 64 years old. I peaked out at 305 lbs a few years back. Yikes. Even the full moon hid behind me when it got scared of werewolves. I was not just big, I was….enormous. At 5’9” tall, you get the picture. I was round. And round IS a shape.

Off and on, all my life, I have lost weight and regained it. And usually a bit more to boot. I lost down to 220, about 20 years ago. Then I ballooned up to 305. I got down to 250, and went up to 25. Rinse and repeat that 275 to 250 several times. Then in 2019 I started the Ketogenic diet. I lost a lot of weight, though I didn’t weigh myself. I know from clothes sizes. I gained it back. I started Keto again in early 2020, and got down to 215. I was cruising. Along the way, I started this blog to talk about it.

But about 5 months ago, and I haven’t talked much about it, something happened that put me into a major depression. I mean big time. For two or three weeks, I just ate and drank myself into oblivion. Eventually, I stabilized a bit, and got my eating mostly back under control. Alcohol, though, was another story. I had several drinks every night of the week except Saturday, to help me sleep. Such was my depression. I didn’t go out and drink. I never drove with alcohol in my system. I did frequently get tipsy. Anything to get some sleep.

The main problem with that was, calories. Beer has calories AND a lot of carbs. The low carb beer tastes awful. The only reason I think anyone would drink it is for the alcohol. Good beer, is loaded with flavor. Flavor, alcohol, carbohydrates, and calories. Wine has fewer carbs, but still a good amount. And whiskey, like tequila, gin, and vodka, is quite low in carbs, but very high in calories.

I was having several drinks every night. And sometimes, of course, I got hungry and ate. Most of the time, it was keto friendly food, but not always. I’m just being honest here.

About a month ago, I came to the conclusion that I don’t like the taste of alcohol every night. It was getting yucky. And it was taking more and more to get to sleep. That was getting expensive. So I quit drinking. I wasn’t addicted, I was depressed. There’s a big difference. I was using it to hide from my pain. But I didn’t like my hiding place.

So, it’s been a month since I quit drinking to get to sleep. But I noticed early last week that my belt felt a bit snug. It wasn’t bad, but it was not comfortable, either. Yesterday, it was particularly distracting. And yesterday, I was also in a major funk. I mean a major one. I was depressed all day. I cried a lot. I haven’t done that in a while. I locked my doors about 6 p.m. And just watched Amazon films the rest of the evening. I went to sleep about 1 a.m.

This morning I weighed myself for the first time in several weeks. I was stunned. The scales said, 235. So I weighed myself again. 235. I moved the scales and got on again. Even moving the scales, I got the same results. Well, crap!

So I’ve spent the morning, going over my notes, and figuring out what went wrong. First, those weeks of binge eating probably accounted for some of it. And the months of ever increasing alcohol probably accounted for the rest.

Here’s the deal, alcohol not only has a lot of calories, it slows down your metabolism so that you don’t burn as much. That won’t matter whether it’s carbs or fat. You just won’t burn. And, as I’ve often said, regardless of whether you’re on keto, or some other diet, calories count. The just do. Perhaps not at first, but eventually, they matter. It’s basic science.

I have one other problem. Two days a week I eat in the home of friends. They are good friends. I love going to their homes. But neither of them understand my dietary restrictions. Plus, they fill my plate. I don’t even get to choose what I will eat. And both of them, insist on giving me dessert. They are being hospitable. No one is trying to mess with my weight loss. These are people who actually care about me. I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do. Maybe just not clean my plate. My mom would be extremely disappointed in me for that, but I might have to.

I’m going to go hard core keto for two weeks, then shift to South Beach phase 2 diet, which is still very keto friendly. I’m bored with keto. Bored to tears. I like vegetables, but I don’t like fancy vegetable dishes. I like steamed and boiled veg. I like them plain or with butter. I have tried recipes from books and the flavor is not worth the extra work. Sigh.

For the next month, I will weigh myself twice a week. Then I will go back to once a week. The scales are there, I might as well use them.

Here’s he deal. I’ve been knocked down. Again. It happens. It’s time to get up again, and start over. I could quit. I could give up and say screw it. I’ve done that before. But not now. Not this time. I’m just going to get up, dust myself off, and fight on. I want to win. Somewhere along the way, this time, my attitude has changed. For the first time, in decades, I have no intention of quitting. Watch This Space!

Water Retention War!

Happy Water Droplet vector files image - Free stock photo ...

I’m always amazed at how many rather deeply personal matters I describe to you. It’s like I have no filter or restrictions when it comes to my body and the challenges related to weight loss. So be it. I tell you this stuff, because it’s real. And I want you to know the truth. On Instagram, for example, there are thousands of awesome, motivational, before and after pics of people’s weight loss journeys. I love them, too. They keep me going. Yet they rarely talk about the struggles they faced.

Have you noticed how many more of them are photos of women, than of men? Yes, I know there are men who have Instagram pages. Most of them are guys who have become body builders. That’s cool. As odd as this might sound, I was once one of those dudes. It was long before Instagram. Frankly, it was before the internet. So it was many hairs, and pounds ago.

When we look at Instagram closely, we can see that many of the women are also using the gym to shape their bodies as they lose weight. It’s obvious in the muscle tone. There is nothing wrong with that. But the fact is, some of us are getting a bit long in the tooth for highly strenuous workout routines. And there just isn’t much demand for photos of 60 something individuals on the world wide web. Discrimination! 🙂

In the world of the Great Apes, the big bellied Silver back Gorilla is much more desirable to females than the young, buff members of the society. How I wish….

I digress. Sometimes, I see a rabbit, and just want to chase it for a while. Thanks for your patience.

I told you last week, that I’m stuck. I’m not just on a plateau, my tires are spinning and I’m throwing mud, but getting no where. This week I’m going to address one of the factors contributing to this crisis. I’m retaining fluid. Badly.

Three years ago, this month, I had open heart surgery; a triple bypass. It would have been a quadruple, but one of my valves is in the wrong place. It is connected to another valve rather than to the heart itself. Now that’s weird, and it looks odd on the scans and diagrams I’ve seen, but when I had my heart attack and strokes, that weird deformation kept me alive. It was placed just right, so that it didn’t clog up with plaque, so when the rest of my heart flow slowed down, that valve stayed open.

Anyway, I am on blood pressure medicine. I take three kinds. One statin, one actual blood pressure med, and a blood thinner. As a side note, the thing I hate most about the blood thinner is when I cut myself shaving or get a scratch on my arm, or, a nose bleed. They bleed forever. They just don’t want to stop.

I have changed the blood pressure medication a couple of times, because it causes me to retain fluid. My legs were swelling up and felt like they were going to explode. My doctor, switched medications and gave me a diuretic to help relieve the retention. It worked great. In fact, I usually had to take the diuretic only once, sometimes twice, each week.

But in the last month, I’ve had to take one on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I only skip Friday and Sunday, because my schedule is so full that I don’t have time to stop and go to the toilet every ten minutes. But the next day, I’m desperate for a pill.

It scared me at first. I was afraid something was wrong with my kidneys. But according to tests, they are working just fine. Relief. Unfortunately, my blood pressure is still so high I can’t wean myself off the medication. I need to lose more weight. Grr….

By tracking my food intake, I have found a possible factor, salt. Let me explain. I don’t use much salt it my cooking. It’s already in my butter and cheese. I will sprinkle a little on my hamburger as I cook in, or on my chicken thighs, pork chops, etc. But not much, and not often. I use a lot of hot sauce, and mustard, and those are also full of salt. I don’t like the taste of over salted food.

But over the last few months, since my wife has been in the USA working, I’ve been cooking for one. So I’ve often bought frozen meat products. Things like Pork Tenderloin, frozen cooked hamburgers, chicken kiev, things like that. Those are loaded with salt. Some of them even have MSG.

The biggest culprit of all, has been my consumption of pork rinds. Pork rinds are highly recommended on the Keto Diet. They are full of fat, but have no carbohydrates. I love the things. I will crush them a bit and use them in salads to add some crunch. I will eat them with homemade dip. But it turns out, that here in the U.K. They are chocked full of salt. I’ve eaten them at least 5 days a week for a couple of months.

So, what am I to do? First, I have to cut back on my Pork Rinds. I found a variety that doesn’t have as much salt. Unfortunately, those are not always available. I’ll have to stock up on them next time they are available. But I’ll also have to go back to cooking ‘raw’ meat. No more, frozen pre made stuff. It has other carbs, I know, but I factor those into my daily allowance. I just hadn’t factored in the salt. Hot dogs will have to be reduced, too.

The main disadvantage of this, is, cost. Those frozen meats, and hot dogs, are so cheap. And they taste great. Calories and carbs have not been affected. But this water retention is becoming troublesome. So I have to do what I have to do.

I will track this for a couple weeks, and get back to you on the results. I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any problems with water retention? If so, what has caused yours? I know some other people here who have had it caused from their blood pressure medication. The good news is, the water pill they give me is called Fouresemide. It can be taken daily with no side effects or addiction. I have asked often about it. I don’t want to risk my kidney function.

One other thing I need to do, is sweat. I need to exercise in the heat, and maybe visit the sauna. I’d love to hear your tips. Talk to you soon.

STUCK!!

Blogged Down: A bogged down blog, stuck in the mud - Craig ...

Have you ever been in a vehicle stuck in the mud or snow? I mean really stuck. The more you try to do, the worse your situation becomes? Sometimes you have to get out with a shovel. Sometimes you have to put something solid under the wheels. Sometimes you just have to call for help.

Well, that’s where I am with my weight loss. I am not on a plateau any more. I am now stuck. My wheels spin and throw mud, but the hole just gets deeper, and my situation gets worse. Yikes.

In the past, I would just give up, say the heck with this diet crap, and go back to eating what I want to eat. But this time, it’s not the past. I’m happy with my Keto/South Beach diet, and I’m not going to give up.

I’ve done a lot of reading this week. It seems that scientific studies are starting to show that there really are some people who become obese for biological reasons. It’s in their DNA. And those people often cannot lose weight. It was an interesting read. I’m not buying it, but I see the connections between DNA and my weight.

Three of my four grandparents were obese. Both of my Dad’s parents were morbidly so. My maternal grandfather was also chunky. In fact, I am built like both of my grandfathers. I have no waistline. I have a chest, a gut, and hips. Even when I am fit, I have no observable V shape. My chest and back have gotten big, but my waist will not shrink much.

I have about 50 pounds still to lose. I’ve lost about 70 or 75. But I am seriously stuck. Nothing works. I know this was about the weight I was for 15 years. I think my body got used to it, and thinks it’s normal. I have been thinner, but not for 20 years. In my opinion, I have hit the brown, hard fat that takes a lot of movement to shake it.

Starting Monday, I’m going back on a level one, South Beach, or a very strict Keto diet. Same thing. I’m also, gulp, going to increase my exercise and track that along with my food, to see what happens. I need to do something dramatic. I am dialing 911. I don’t like working out. I’m 64, not 34. But I hate this weight. So I’m taking action. Watch this space.

Some Thoughts On The Westminster Dog Show 2021

Saluki Persian Greyhound stock image. Image of nature ...

I have absolutely been head over heels crazy about dogs since I was in the first grade. We had an American Eskimo named Prince. He was white, fluffy, and probably drove my mom nuts with his shedding. As a kid, he’s the only dog we ever had in the house. I’m pretty sure that cured my mother of the practice. After Prince, my dad got a little 13 inch Beagle, we called, Duke. Duke was everything a kid could want in a dog. He was a perfect companion. My dad bought him as a hunting Beagle. I was way too young to hunt. Duke was my adventure companion in the hills and forest lands around our small town in Indiana.

Sadly, Duke got out one day, and a drunk neighbor found him, caught him, and beat him almost to death, breaking nearly every bone in his body. My sister and I were at my grandparents when this happened. My mom said that Daddy cried like a baby, and had to put Duke down. The mystery as to why Daddy didn’t return the favor to the neighbor has stumped me for the last 58 years.

Dad said he would never get another dog. He meant it. When I was old enough to go to the library, school and public, I would read about dogs. I read everything I could get my hands on; stories, breed books, I read them all. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I had read every dog book in the elementary school, the Jr. High, and the public libraries in Lexington, KY. I resorted to buying books designed for teenage girls, like, “Love Me, Love My Dog.” I kid you not.

My maternal grandparents had a riding and boarding stable. All of my aunts, uncles, and most of my cousins were horse daft. I can’t blame them. I liked the horses. But all of my grandpa’s love for horses was passed on to me, in the love of dogs.

I think the summer of 1976 was when I saw my first dog show. It was outdoors, in Joplin, MO. I stood there with my mouth open and my chin on the ground. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I roamed from ring to ring watching dogs of every kind compete for ribbons and trophies.

I went to one back in Lexington, in 78, and focused mostly on Belgian Malinois and Siberian Huskies. By that time, I had a husky and an Alaskan Malamute. One was just a back yard bred pet, and the other, a rescue dog from the local animal Shelter.

My own library was brimming with books on Siberian Huskies, and other sleddogs. I had one on Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and one on Belgian Shepherds. I was seriously obsessed.

I got my first show dog, A Siberian Husky, in the mid 1980s in Scotland, when I was living here the first time. She was a typical gray and white girl with blue eyes. She was a thing of beauty to me. She had an average show career. Nothing special. She did qualify twice for Crufts, the UK’s biggest dog show. I took her once. Her name was Dawn. She gave birth to several dogs who qualified for Crufts, at least one Champion, and a boy who was my first lead dog, and who qualified for Crufts for life, during his limited show career.

I loved dog shows. I loved the competition, and the camaraderie. I loved the feeling of collecting ribbons. I loved showing off my dogs. I loved getting together with friends and bashing the judge when he or she didn’t give anything to our canine companions. I drove thousands of miles, and spent thousands of dollars in pursuit of those ribbons. Then I got involved in training and racing my huskies. Everything changed.

At first, It was loads of fun keeping my show dogs in shape. Then I started to notice small differences between the most successful show dogs and the most successful racing dogs. In the early days, I considered the show dogs superior examples of the breed, while the successful athletes at least had that to fall back on when no one wanted their photos, and they had no ribbons.

For several years, I worked as a ring steward in some major dog shows. That allowed me to talk to breeders, owners, and judges. I was a sponge. I soaked up everything I could learn. And I got to work with dozens of different breeds from Chihuahuas to English Mastiffs.

Over time, and with experience, my opinions completely shifted. I began to understand what made a successful athlete, and how they fit the breed standard best. I also noted how the breed standard for the Siberian Husky, and other breeds, changed over the years to highlight certain features that had no role in their working ability.

In the last 30 years, my eyes are totally different in what I’m looking for in a working dog, a gun dog, a hound, or a herding dog. I watch for dogs who can still excel at what the were originally bred to do. In nearly every ‘working’ breed, including Terriers, there is a vast difference between successful show and successful working dogs. Most breeds have arguments in their breed focused websites and discussion groups. It’s fun and it’s funny. It’s also sad.

Now, nearly two pages in, I finally get to last weekend’s Westminster. I didn’t get to watch it live, due to the 5 hour time difference between the US east coast and Scotland. But the internet had all the breed judging as well as the groups and best in show. I fixed a cup or 10 of tea, and in between projects and before going to bed, I watched hours of it. Have I mentioned how much I love dogs?

The first thing, is I loved the fact that Covid drove the show outdoors. I think outdoor shows are the best. I think the dogs look better on grass, and have better footing outside. I love the fresh air, and the whole atmosphere of an outdoor show. I wish they all could be outside. Here in Scotland, we have a few open air shows, but not many, because the odds of rain are pretty darned good. I congratulate Westminster on the outdoor event.

I think the coverage was excellent. The crews and commentators took the show, dogs, and handlers seriously. Awesome.

I hated the fact that spectators were not allowed in. I know that’s been true of all kinds of sports since Covid mania has taken control of the world. The vendors and spectators make the shows truly exciting. And the best dogs feed off of the crowd noise. The just do. Ask any judge or successful handler. So that was a bummer.

I did not watch every breed. First, I’m not interested in every breed. I’m glad some people are. I personally don’t particularly like some breeds in every group. I’m glad that others do. Every dog has a group of fans. Yay.

I watched the breed judging for about 30 breeds. I watched the groups. And Best in Show. The first thing I saw was the Hound Group. I stumbled on it on YouTube. From there I went to the Show website to watch the rest.

The Hound Group made me realize that I was going to have some problems, as usual, with the dogs, and with the judging. No surprise there.

First, I wouldn’t even had put the Whippet in the final four. I was delighted to see the two coonhounds placed. I remember when Bluetick and Redbone were not even recognized by the AKC, so to see that result made me cheer.

While I watched the dogs moving, the Saluki actually took my breath away. It was stunning. I honestly thought there was no way that dog was not going to finish first. Boy was I wrong.

I did not pick a winner in any single group. Nor would I ever pick a Pekingese as Best in Show. But, honestly, those are the type of dogs best suited for a dog show.

As I watched the breed judging I was almost sickened by the quality in some of the dogs. Some breeds hardly even resemble the breeds from my youth. So many are much blockier, with heavy bodies and shorter legs. One thing I learned early on in showing dogs, was that short legged dogs move better in indoor rings. They are often smaller than outdoor rings, and longer legged dogs need a little more room to get fully into stride. This has had a major impact on breeding over the years.

I noticed it in Siberian Huskies, in some of the Belgian Sheepdogs, Lakenois, and Tervuren. I saw it in some of the Smooth Collies, and in loads of the retrievers. I thought the Bullmastiffs, and Boerbels looked pretty good. Most of them needed a little more exercise. This showed in their toplines. The English Mastiffs were much smaller than I expected them to be. Gorgeous, but more like pocket mastiffs. I won’t even comment on what’s happened to the German Shepherd breed, in the show ring. If you look at those dogs, and look at the ones being successful in IPO, or flyball, they don’t even look like the same breed. The health issues they face are incredible.

In short, (I’m thinking three full type written pages is anything but short), my thinking is that Dog Shows have not been good for any breed of dog that was created for an active purpose. Whether that is running and pulling, digging out vermin, hunting down pigs or deer, protecting and herding livestock, you name it. For the Toy, and Non Sporting Dogs, it’s all fine. But for most breeds, the show ring has been a long term disaster.

Don’t misunderstand me, the dogs were all….drop dead gorgeous. Some of the Siberians nearly took my breath away. There were very few who could make my team, but they were groomed to perfection, and they behaved impeccably. How can anyone not love a well groomed Papillon, or fail to fall in love with a French Bulldog? But I wonder if there was a single musher, hunter, or farmer who thought they saw their next dog in the Westminster Kennel Club Show.

I guess when all is said and done, I had mixed reviews. Some stunning canines. But some big disappointments. Well done to all the competitors. You did well. Your dogs looked fantastic. Well done to the judges. I’m sorry you didn’t ask my advice, but you did alright. And I can’t wait till next year!

BTW, I’m still upset about that Saluki. For my money, the Best in Show didn’t even get placed in Group!

A Review of The New American Standard Bible

NASB Outreach Edition Trade Paper | Bible translations ...

Those who listened to my old podcast, Rediscovering the Bible, know that I used to review various translations of the Bible after I’d read them. Since it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to continue that podcast I’m going to use this space to keep you updated on my perceptions of translations. And, I’ll, overtime, go back and write up some reviews for you of the translations I talked about on Rediscovering.

I know that many of you read my page because of the Keto Diet posts, and I appreciate that. A few stop by looking for posts on dogs. Stick around, I’m going to do one of those tomorrow. I’ll be writing about the Westminster Dog Show that was held on Saturday and Sunday. And a handful of readers are here because of some of the podcasts I recorded dealing with paranormal activities. You’re in luck, too, because I have some things to write, or maybe record, about that.

The fact of the matter, though, is that of all the topics I write and talk about, Jesus tops the list. The Bible is His Word, and I love it. I read an average of 6 chapters a day from the Bible. Sometimes more, once in a while a little less. But one of the things I try and do, is read a different translation through each time. That way I can see the Bible from a slightly different angle each time. I’ve done this for years, and I really like it.

I have studied Greek and Hebrew. But I’m not proficient enough in either language to read the Bible devotionally from those original tongues. When I need to, I can translate a verse or two, and I can certainly look up words and phrases. But I’m not a language scholar, by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I’m from Kentucky. I’m not even an English scholar!

This time through, I’m reading an English translation of the Septuagint as my Old Testament version. The Septuagint, sometimes referred to as LXX (70), is the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was popular in the first century. This was the translation that the writers of the New Testament used most often when they quoted the Old Testament. This was the Bible the early Christians used to spread the good news throughout the world. I will review it for you once I’m done. I’m only in 2 Kings right now.

For the New Testament, I used the New American Standard Bible (NASB). A new edition came out in 2020, so I thought it was time I tried it. Here are my thoughts.

First, I have never been much of a fan of the NASB. I had to use it for some classes and projects back in the mid 1970s during my undergrad work. I didn’t like it then, at all. In those days I was a huge fan of the shiny, brand new, New International Version. I found that things hadn’t changed much in my enjoyment of the NASB.

The NASB is unique in modern Bible translations. Many, like the New Living, the Good News, or the New International, have tried a style of translation that translates thought for thought, rather than word for word. It makes the Bible much easier to read, but it has a tendency to lean a bit on the translator’s theology. That’s why there are committees that do these translations. The committees are always from a variety of denominational backgrounds to try and weed out any biases.

Even the venerable King James Version is loaded with theological and even political biases. Loaded. Some day we’ll talk about it.

The NASB, has stood head and shoulders above the crowd, working hard to make a word for word translation of the Bible, yet make it readable. It’s that last part where problems come in, and it’s natural. Greek and Hebrew syntax are different than English. All languages are different, that’s one of the things that makes learning a new language difficult. And one of the things we find amusing when someone from another country is trying to speak English.

The translators have been aware of this from the 70s, but their noble and faithful commitment to produce a great translation left them some challenges. They have improved them over the years, to be fair, but, for me, it is still hard to read the NASB. It doesn’t flow. It is stifled. I would honestly call it work to read. It’s fine for a few verses, or a chapter, but for reading devotionally, it requires a type of concentration that I do not possess.

Don’t get me wrong, the translation is awesome in it’s faithfulness (so says the non language scholar). It is great to keep around for study. Every preacher, every teacher should have a copy on his or her bookshelf to check regularly. Especially if you are weak in your Greek and Hebrew knowledge. I truly appreciate that aspect of the NASB. And I highly recommend it for that purpose.

As for devotions? Perhaps if you are a true literal thinker you might really like it. Certainly, if you’re at all concerned about doctrinal biases creeping into the Bible, you will not have to worry much. There is one place in Hebrews 6, where I have some questions, but again, I’m getting wordy, so we’ll save that for another day.

After all that, my summary is, I did not enjoy reading the NASB in my morning quiet time. It was work and if I was not committed to the Word, I would have stopped reading somewhere along the way in Matthew. I was, however, reminded of what a great study tool it is for use in preparing sermons and lessons, and will use it more frequently in that capacity.

If you’re new to the Bible, this has probably confused the fire out of you. And for that I’m sorry. What I try and do is help people find a translation that is easy for them to read and understand so that they learn to love the Bible. If you want to know more, and I hope you do, I will recommend my ebook, ‘(Re)Discovering the Bible‘. Just follow the link, or search in Amazon.

Thanks. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a look at this past weekend’s Westminster Dog Show. Have a good one.

Some Changes In Content Coming!

https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/360000/nahled/time-for-change-black-stamp-text-on-blue-1594663689u6q.jpg

It won’t be much of a surprise to regular readers of this space to hear me announce some coming changes. I really appreciate your patience as I try and find my groove. A few months ago, I used this space for my Paranormal Investigations Podcast. Sadly, that only lasted a few months. It just didn’t catch on. I went back to posting mostly about my Keto Diet experience. I must admit, there have been a lot of readers of that information. Thank you. I’m going to continue it, just not quite as much.

I intend to use this space to write about my experience and life with purebred dogs. I’m in the middle of writing a new book, called, “Life Lessons Form a Lead Dog”. The book is going to be a collection of stories and adventures from my 32 years showing and mushing sled dogs. It’s a lot of fun reliving those stories. But I’ve also spent a lot of years working with rescue dogs, and other purebred canines. And I want to launch a podcast and maybe a YouTube channel, built around my experience, and to use it to promote purebreed Rescue agencies.

There are thousands of purebred dogs, in these Rescue Centers looking for homes. There are lots of people looking for a purebred dog but not knowing about these rescue agencies. I want to connect the seekers with the providers. This way, everybody wins.

I want to talk to people about how to feed, exercise, and train your rescue dog. The posts, and podcasts will not be designed for people who want to compete with their dogs, though I’ll provide the resources to do so. It will be mostly about people who want to have an excellent canine companion.

I will still post quite a bit of stuff regarding my Keto Diet experience. And I will include the occasional money management diatribe.

I’m getting close to retirement. Yikes. And I want to spend a good deal of time working with dogs and the people who love them. I don’t want to start a bunch of different websites and blogs. I will use this one. The search engines already know this site. It makes the most sense.

Please stick around and enjoy all the discussions. If you subscribed for the Keto posts, don’t panic. I will post plenty of food stuff. If you subscribed looking for Paranormal discussions, I’m sorry. I’ll only rarely post about that. Although, I expect a couple in the next month or so. But no more podcasts. I recommend you try Paranormal Round Table. Check them out on YouTube, and on Facebook.

For those who want to follow me on Social Media, I’m on FB, Twitter and Instagram as @samburtonga. I’m fairly active on them all. I post a lot of Keto related stuff on Instagram. On FB I’m all over the map. On Twitter, I have been fairly inactive, apart from replying to posts, but I’m about to kick that up with ‘Life Lessons…’. And I’ve started a new Instagram page, @lifelessonsfromaleaddog. That page will be only related to dogs, dog stories, dog photos, and dog products.

I think that will do it. You are updated. I really appreciate all of you who have stuck with this page through all it’s iterations. Have a great weekend. I’ll talk to you soon.