Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
I never thought that this far into being back to school that I would miss working so much. It's not just the money either. That's definitely a big part of it, but I miss the actual job too. Like many teens, I started working around the age of 14/15 and have been ever since. I've had a number of great jobs that I'm very happy to have had. My favorite jobs by far have been the ones that many people don't even know exist. I have worked for a total of about 4 years as a dog handler for Canada goose control companies and programs. It all started at the golf course my father works at. Canada geese are a widespread problem on the east coast of the U.S. due to the fact that the geese more or less follow the coast during migration to the warmer weather of the south in the winter, and back to the milder north for summer months. The problem is that they have had it pretty easy for decades, and now populations are much higher than they should be. They thrive on the lush grass that folks work very hard to grow nicely in parks, athletic fields, lawns, and the #1 choice: golf courses. Back in the early '90's a local guy started a company called Geese Police. 10 years ago he was charging over $300 a week to come to the golf course once or twice daily to chase the geese away with his border collies. Now he has a multi million dollar company with franchises all over the east coast. So anyway, the golf club decided that it would be cheaper to buy their own dog. $3,000 later Roy came to live with us from a breeder/trainer in NC. He was a 2 1/2 year old border collie with 2 1/2 years of training. With a little bit of tweaking he was a goose clearing machine, and a great family pet at the same time. I love working with border collies because of their super high intelligence. Not only are they incredibly smart, but the instinct they are born with is quite impressive. Within about a week we had Roy trained to not step foot into certain rooms or the upstairs of our house. He would drop down and stay if you so much as whispered "lie down". One of my favorite ways to show off his obedience was while running him with a golf cart I would have him lie down, drive as far away as I possibly could, yell or whistle for him and watch him start from a little speck and sprint right up to my feet at his confirmed top speed of 25mph. I had been working with Roy for years when I found an ad in the local paper in the spring of 2005 for a dog handler position. This turned out to be a unique new project initiated by 8 NJ shore towns in order to keep lakes, parks, schools, and athletic fields clean from the messes associated with Canada geese that everyone was all too familiar with. I worked with a border collie named Cam who lived with a local family in Belmar. It was nearly a dream job, I got to hang out with a cool dog all day, drive up and down the beach, kayak, and skim around the lakes in a little motorboat. The program was very successful, but state funding ran out in the Fall of 2007 and I was laid off. The next year I found an ad for a similar job being offered by a private company. It required that I take the dog to live with me full time. This was a big step, especially since we already had Roy, who was a great family dog, but as most loyal dogs go, he is not too friendly around other dogs. I ended up moving into a house with some friends and I was able to take the job and the dog. Her name was Phoebe and she was one of the friendliest and most well behaved dogs I've ever known. When I got accepted to DelVal this past summer, I had to leave the job, and that meant giving Phoebe back to the owner's of the company for the next employee. Even if they had given me the option I wouldn't have been able to care for her (or afford her) as a full time student here. We developed a great working relationship and I still miss her very much, but I hope to have another border collie some day that is half the dog she is.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I just got back to Doylestown from a nice long Thanksgiving break. It seems like its been forever since I've been in my apartment but it also seems like the break went by in no time. I guess thats how it always goes. Its nice to be back at school in the peace and quiet of my apartment, but on the other hand I did have an awesome time at home. I got to see my family from Virginia that we usually only see about once or twice a year. My two cousins are a few years younger than me, and they also brought their foreign exchange student along to experience Thanksgiving. The student's name is Ivonne. She is from the Netherlands. She speaks fairly fluent English and it was great hearing about her home and very interesting to discuss and learn about the cultural differences amongst us. Overall the week was a great time with family and friends (one could argue maybe even TOO good of times with friends), but I'm glad to be back to wrap up my first semester at Delaware Valley and I am now looking forward to doing it all over again for the Christmas time holidays.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The great thing about fishing at the shore is that theres only a small period of time where there's not much to fish for. As far as saltwater/ocean fishing goes, theres pretty much always something to catch, as long as you're willing to brave freezing temperatures, higher winds, and higher seas. The summer flounder, or fluke season in and around NJ waters runs May through September. This is what most people go out for this time of year in the inshore waters (within a few miles of shore). They're one of the better fish for eating around here. Another popular game fish in the spring is the striped bass. They are a migratory species, so it's very exciting in the early spring and the fall, around this time, for stripers. Last weekend my friend and I went out on his boat around sunrise traveling up and down the coast in search of the elusive and highly sought after striped bass. We started the morning out of the Manasquan Inlet aboard his 25 foot center console fishing boat, "Relentless", and headed south trolling a couple hundred yards off the beach. No hits. We then headed north and tried fishing by hand this time; jigging lures and fishing clams. We moved around to a nuber of different areas with not much luck, just a few skates (similar to a sting ray, not a desirable catch). Finally we ventured further offshore, about 3 miles. We began to notice fish breaking the surface of the water feeding on schools of baitfish. By this time it was gorgeous out, about 65 degrees and sunny, in November! I threw out a few casts with a weighted jig and sure enough I got a hit. It was a big fish, and these things put up a great fight. We battled for a few minutes as the fish kept taking line. Finally I got the fish up to the boat and it nearly pulled me overboard, bending my rod nearly under the boat. Travis grabbed the net and scooped him up. It was a 36" striper, well over the legal size limit of 28". This was the biggest fish I've ever caught and my first keeper striped bass. Needless to say I was very excited about my catch, as some people go through multiple seasons without landing a fish like this. Dinner was delicious, and the beast ended up feeding about 10 people.