Working Dogs – and the Security System!

I work nights at the Oakland airport where the year round average temperature is about 65 degrees F (18 C).  There is always a breeze blowing and basically the weather is the primary reason I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I drive a small toyota truck with an extended cab and nice camper shell on the back.  I have 2 wonderful dogs that go with me almost everywhere.  They only accompany me when the weather is conducive.  Having lived in Texas for about 12 years I am well aware of the dangers of a hot vehicle and as far as I am concerned any vehicle parked in the sun when the outside temperature is above about 65 deg is too hot for my dogs.  I work graveyard shift, the overnight shift, so I can have my dogs accompany me to work and hang out in the back of my truck while I work.

I have a 10 hour shift and with 2 hours for driving….if I left them home they would be home alone wondering where I am for 12 hours and no way to go outside or eat etc … In my current situation they have a huge bed in the back of my truck, 3 water bowls, they get to go outside at least once a night usually at least 2 or 3 times and they get to stop at dog parks on the way to and from work.  There has been one night that I deemed to be too hot to take them (last night) – not because of the outside temperature but rather the accumulated temperature of my vehicle over the day seemed to me that it would take too long to cool down so I did not want to have them in the vehicle for the possible 1 hour of slight discomfort.

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This is the picture of their encampment in the back of my truck.  The bed is a PVC frame with 2 large couch type cushions on top.  It is super soft and they seem to sleep in about every position on this bed!  It measures about 4 1/2 feet square! Windows all around and newly cleaned blankets almost daily.

I park in an area of the employee parking where I am allowed to back in.  My goal is that if the dogs bark at anyone – for example getting into their car, I impact the fewest amount of people.  The most people I could impact are about 2.  A person parked on either side of me.  No one can park behind me.  There is a dirt run right behind which I use to walk the dogs at night.  I was concerned that maybe my dogs barked more than I thought so I found a way to add cameras to my truck and have a camera aimed on the dogs and at the time of the incident I am about to speak of there was a  camera aiming forward out of my vehicle so I could see people walking by in the event my dogs barked at them

The following 3 videos show what took place at 0135 am on the morning of August 3rd, 2015.  The employee bus had just passed my car at 1:28 am as seen in the still picture.

Employee bus passing my truck at 1:28 am


People would have been let out at the bus stop about 50 ft behind the location of the bus as it is driving away from that bus stop.

This video was taken at 1:32am -the dogs are awake, looking around -not barking.

This video was taken a minute later. Dogs awake and aware but still not barking or agitated in any way.

Now Check out this video and see how quickly things change!!

This video was at 1:35am. I now have a video camera aimed on the back door of truck. It appears to me from the video that some unsuspecting person decided to try and open the vehicle and did not realise there were dogs inside. As they started to open the back hatch of the truck Sky, the white Australian Shepherd lunged at the door and them and pushed the door the rest of the way open and Zulu decided to follow along for the heck of it I guess.  Now I keep the camper shell locked and have a camera aimed at the back door in the event someone tries this again.  The security system was definitely effective.  Whoever it was was scared off by the dog coming at him or her … Sky ran and was on the outside of the parking lot fence when I go there. Zulu stayed right behind the truck.  I reailised they were gone about 10 minutes after it happened and rushed out to the parking lot to see why my dogs were not in the truck.  The back camper shell door was open and the video evidence I was able to review later gave me a better sense of the chain of events short of having an actual suspect.

I called the police to see if they had any surveillance outside the vehicle.  They didn’t and their thought was that someone who heard my dogs barking and felt sorry for my dogs let them out.  If you look at all three videos the main thing you should notice is that if anything- they did not notice the person who had to have come up from behind my vehicle to open it.  There were no barks ahead of time -only the barks when they were surprised by the intruder.  Hopefully that person has learned better than to open other peoples vehicles and I now lock the camper shell to avoid such intrusions!

Here’s a video of their ride to work – my truck could use some better shocks!  But they seem to be enjoying the ride and the view

And here is Zulu making himself comfortable –making his bed – as you can see ample room for both pups!

I do love my dogs -they are my family and though it would be more convenient for me to leave them at home when I work -but would that really be the humane thing to do.  Left at home wondering for 12 hours where I am .I had to leave them home the other night because it was just too hot.  They seem more on guard and less restful than they do at work …

I had the videos on them of course- Zulu slept peacefully as usual but Sky was vigilant all night long -pacing looking and listening and staying on perpetual guard.  As you can see the size of the bed they chose to sleep in is actually slightly smaller than the one in my truck.  They chose to sleep outside on my other boat as opposed to inside out of the weather.  It was hot inside so I don’t blame them for wanting a little breeze …

I know I’m crazy about my dogs and maybe a bit crazy otherwise but they are worth it.  Right now as I write this, Zulu is sound asleep in his bed and Sky -always needing to know where I am is asleep at the foot of my bed with her head on my leg so she knows my every move.  She is so faithful!!


Too long

What sort of a writer doesn’t write?  I would have to say a lazy one or one who has more excuses than reasons.  I’m speaking of myself and alluding to the challenge of maintaining a consistency in publishing to this blog on a regular basis.  It is certainly not for a lack of things to say or thoughts to share but rather those other things that seem to come up just as I am sitting down to the computer to get those words formulated in some cohesive manner.

Alright -enough said about not writing.  How about saying something!

The good news!

swa_bd3I have finally returned to work after a year’s absence due to Posterior Tibial Tendon transfer surgery in my left ankle.  The road to recovery was long and not completely over but the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely getting brighter and the complete healing seems close at hand.  The surgery took place last July.  July 10th, 2014.  I returned to work on June 1st of 2015.

The return to work has been challenging in many ways.  I started out on an 8 hour shift that was split between evenings and graveyards.  I would come to work and get the work packages ready for the overnight shift (the overnight shift is technically my shift)  and then I was supposed to get off at midnight while my co-workers on graveyards worked till 7am.  The biggest challenge of trying to leave after 8 hours was leaving in the middle of all the work.  The other challenge is returning to a job that I haven’t done in a year and even then, really for the last two years before this surgery I have been rather limited physically.  So I have returned to a job where there has been a lot to relearn and remember.

I am back on my normal overnight schedule with adjusted days off for the moment to allow for me to finish up a therapy program I in at the Veteran’s Admin.  My therapy so for the moment I have Tues/Weds/Thurs off instead of my normal Thurs/Frid/Sat.  The first 2 and half weeks or so of my return to work seem to have come at the worst timing as far as workload.  Last Saturday, 27th of June was probably the first time since I have returned to work that there was enough manpower for the work at hand.  Try being on light duty or getting the hang of things again when the workload is over the top!  Then on top of that, try going home because your 8 hours are up when everyone else is still slaving away.  not good for my morale any more than my coworkers.

As recoveries go I am learning about balance.  Now that I can walk in general without pain, I have also discovered that a good balance between walking and sitting is important.  Some days I am pretty sore and have to really try and pace myself -other days I have felt like everything is normal with no regard for the need to pace myself.  I spent my first weekend off mostly in bed recuperating from work!  Balance is good in all aspects of life and overall this is the lesson I am learning at the moment.  While still on light duty I have to be aware that even when things feel great, ‘don’t overdo it!’