Let me tell you the story of Jasmine. She came to me at the same time as her brother Sergeant. They were Christmas gifts after I lost my last riding partner, Sigmund (a German mix) who came to me after I lost my first german, Precious to cancer. My husband and I rescue a lot of animals, so these are not our only pets.
Bred for police/security work, they came from a kennel that was closing, and this brother and sister were the last pups from the last litter. They lived in their kennels, separated for the first year of their lives. The female had not been handled, the male, if handled, was not handled right. Though bought, I will always consider them rescues. They were so terrified for the first week with us, they would hide in our house. If I went to pet one, they would both flee. I allowed them their week, so they would learn we weren’t going to hurt them. Having them to support one another, it became extra difficult because unlike every other dog, they did not come to seek me out for companionship. I separated them occasionally, to try to win them over, but I was getting nowhere because every time we moved, they ran.
So, one day when I was cleaning the dishes, I tied Serg to my waist. He had no choice but to be with me as I moved and by default, Jasmine because she wouldn’t leave his side. After this, we were able to move around the house without them running to hide in the farthest corner. It took almost a year for them to start showing their personalities.
Serg is a huge baby. I see why he was culled from police work. I thought this would be my partner, but Jasmine would not have it. Serg will throw himself down in front of me, give me his belly, rub himself against me like a cat. He’s goofy and he grins. Though he doesn’t ride with me often, we are buddies. Serg looks at me with all the love and trust he possesses, which is a lot now.
Jasmine is the aggressive one. She holds herself back from everyone. Thunderstorms and guns terrify her. I think she would make a great police k9 if not for this fear. Her favorite thing to do is to bark at anything moving. The only thing she likes more than that is to be in my car and barking. She also likes to chase things. I have had a number of police officers just thrilled by her and how she puts her heart into her barking. I have been pulled over and they just stand in a position that they could watch her try to intimidate them through the glass. It is who she is. If she had had good handling and training as a pup, she would be unstoppable. She is the epitome of what she was bred for.
As I began training them, I met another roadblock, they couldn’t be bribed. It took two years before they started to take treats, and of course, they won’t play with humans. But I learned quickly they would obey simply to be called a “good boy” or “good girl.” If I tried to give them a treat, they would politely take it and go lay it down. Serg has come around and will eat almost any treat. Jasmine still thinks someone wants to poison her. Though she loves McNuggets and bacon.
From those two dogs, I thought I would choose my partner. But my partner chose me, and it seemed she talked it over with her brother. He is comfortable in cars but makes it clear he is more comfortable staying home. Jasmine, despite her hard-headedness, will joyfully choose to jump into my car over anything else that is going on. Serg is also developing hip issues, so our outdoor activities can become taxing for him. Jas, however, never stops. Last year, we learned she loves playing in water and chasing jet skis from shore.
She is the kind of dog that has to have a purpose. Serg is happy just being a dog, not my Jas. In my car, Jas has become my buddy and my protector. At home, she is my guardian, following me in and out. She would rather follow me than be with her brother most days. She has learned to open our front door, so I really have no choice. At the lake she will perch on the jet ski in front of me. Or she will chase jet skis from the shore.
I wanted to share that story of my Jasmine because in my videos you may hear her barking or me in the middle of a weird conversation with her. She is always the one you hear me question as to what is happening on the road ahead. I’m not sure why I ask. Mainly because she won’t answer. But secondly, because she is usually asleep. I sometimes ask her if we should turn around to find a better route if the road is blocked. Again, I don’t expect her to answer, but even if she did, I don’t think she would care because she has no schedule to keep. I will share videos of her chasing a jet ski or romping with her brother. I could go on all day about my germans and all our other pets. But Jasmine, I think you will get to know well here, because she insists I take her wherever I go.
I see a lot of bad driving examples. Unfortunately, some are those who call us down for our bad driving. Granted, this is a weird intersection. I did pause to let the police officer finish running his or her stop sign, which the officer ignored before ever coming into view of my camera. If the officer stopped at his sign, he would have seen me pulling out from mine. He or she finished this up without signaling a turn. (Special note: Ignore the weird conversation I am having with my dog. And use your blinkers!)
Writing can sometimes be quite the chore. Whether fiction or non-fiction, sometimes that focus to sit down and make the words come to mind is just missing. Nothing is more frustrating than having a newspaper deadline and you can’t even come up with the first line of the story.
I have leaned if I am having trouble getting started, I move beyond what I am struggling with. If working on news, I can move on to the quotes I want to use, sometimes that is enough to make the rest of it flow. Sometimes, it’s easier to start at the end and work backward. In fiction I can create a conversation, or a scene, that doesn’t really relate to the area I’m trying to concentrate on but can kick start my creativity.
I must be careful though, in fiction. One scene can lead to another, and I find myself way off track. In news writing, it is not as easy to get lost down a different road. There are parameters, an end to the interview or information. For fiction, those side roads can become endless.
What really works best for me is after a couple of minutes of typing nothing, I tell myself “something is better than nothing.” Then “really, you’re not going to type anything.” Which can lead to, “NOTHING? Really, that’s how you want to spend your time?” Then I tell myself with a great deal of frustration, “one word, that’s all you need.” After another amount of time, “So, you can’t even come up with one word.”
On the worst days I just think, “there’s laundry that needs done, a floor vacuumed.” I should lead with that. Nothing gets my mind back on track like the thought of housework.
Camp Douglas was called the North’s Andersonville. I found a link with information regarding Camp Douglas, the link and part of that info I have shared at the end of this blog. It reminded me (yes, I often forget after a time some of the things I have written), about one of my characters in Shadows who was held there after being captured. That character is Justin Malin, a haunted individual who has been fighting the war since the beginning. He lost his best friend and fought several battles, including Shiloh. Justin was taken prisoner on John Morgan’s “Great Raid” of the North. I wanted to share a small excerpt from Camp Douglas…
Wednesday, September 30, 1863, Camp Douglas Chicago, Illinois
I received some treatment for my leg at Camp Morton. It appeared as if the bullet had passed all the way through my thigh, when it was examined and treated. However, something was creating an infection that told me fragments of the bullet remained in my leg. I still did not want to spend my time in a hospital, among the dying who did not yet know it, or worse, those who did. Finally, the day came I could no longer deny I was in great peril. The day had progressed slowly, like all the others that came before it in this place. I remembered stumbling out for roll call. I remember the cold, how it seeped deep into my bones.
Sam stood beside me, and it was unspoken between us that the time was coming for escape. The weather was changing, and we decided we would make our break when the first freeze came. By the time we were noticed missing, our tracks would be evaporated by the sun, but the ground would be too hard for our feet to leave indentations. The timing had been Sam’s idea. He was apparently a good tracker. Growing up with the wealth he did, I imagined he had few responsibilities, so was able to spend his time hunting and honing those tracking skills. We had spent hours talking about our escape, and he’d told me things our trackers would be looking for. Some I knew, some I didn’t. I never questioned him, but he apparently had more faith in the tracking skills of the Yankees than I did, it was better safe than sorry.
I’d stumbled around the camp, for how long I do not know. Then I was being awakened in my bed, shivering. There was very little light, and many faces I recognized, gathered around, to stare down at me. Despite the low light, I recognized their concern, the way it etched its way across their shadowed brows, and pulled down the corners of their lips.
Sam said something, but it sounded garbled, insignificant. All I wanted was to sleep, and get warm, which was unlikely in this god- forsaken place.
My own scream awoke me. My leg, which had previously grown to a burning numbness, was now on fire. Only when I tried to raise my head did I feel the hands on me, holding me down. I opened my eyes to see the blur of people I most likely knew, but I could not make out their features. My involuntary scream came again as a pain, so agonizing I had no choice but to try to expel it from my body through my voice, shot from my thigh, all the way to my brain.
“What..…?” I heard myself stammer, but I felt I was far away from this place, despite the pain ripping through me.
“Danagon is trying to get the lead out of your leg,” Sam said, who hovered by my head.
“Make him stop,” I gritted out, as more pain shot through me. I could feel it now, the knife as it dug around in my thigh. Then the fire again that made everything threaten to go black.
“I can’t, or you will die.”
“Let me,” I croaked, between my clinched teeth. I did not want to scream before these men. I didn’t want to do anything but be left alone. If that meant I would die, so be it. I would not be able to escape on my leg. I knew this, as the agony increased tenfold. The probing ended for a moment and I was able to catch my breath.
“I see two more pieces,” Danagon said, before I felt the blade of his knife again. “Keep him still!”
I looked at the faces gathered around me. I saw Duncan and I knew all the other dead men were with me too. Suddenly, I was afraid to die. I was afraid because some of those men who stared down at me had gone before, and they would be waiting.
Justin is only one of my three main characters who are caught up in the war between the North and South. You can find the entire story by following the link below..
The North's Andersonville!Camp Douglas was located in Chicago near the shores of Lake Michigan. It was known as the northern prison camp with the highest mortality rate of all Union Civil War prisons.
The first prisoners arrived in February 1862. Conditions were horrible and it is reported that 1 in 5 prisoners within those walls died. Punishment by officials and guards was unusually cruel. Confederate soldiers starved to death as food rations were withheld and many, being deprived of blankets while living in tents, froze to death in the severe weather.
"Prisoners were deprived of clothing to discourage escapes. Many wore sacks with head and arm holes cut out; few had underwear. Blankets to offset the bitter northern winter were confiscated from the few that had them. The weakest froze to death. The Chicago winter of 1864 was devastating. The loss of 1,091 lives in only four months was heaviest for any like period in the camp's history, and equaled the deaths at the highest rate of Andersonville from February to May, 1864. Yet, it is the name of Andersonville that burns in infamy, while there exists a northern counterpart of little shame." Read more of this story at: Camp Douglas"
What remains of Camp Douglas, the prison camp story that was swept under the rug? A monument erected by Southern Veterans is all that remains of Camp Douglas. It is located at Oak Woods Cemetery surrounded by of an untold number of Confederate soldiers. Records of the dead at Camp Douglas seem to have been lost and/or miskept. It is truly unknown how many and who the southern soldiers were who lie beneath the ground in a large mass grave. The inscription on the monument reads: ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF SIX THOUSAND SOUTHERN SOLDIERS HERE BURIED WHO DIED IN CAMP DOUGLAS PRISON 1862-5. Bronze tablets on the monument list some of the dead Confederate soldiers buried there but how many more soldiers in The Camp Douglas Confederate Mound will always be unknown??
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