Friday, October 31, 2014

Lucky's Best Day

Look at this adorable face!

This is "Lucky" on his way to Benton Animal Hospital yesterday.  He was found by a former student of mine after being starved and abandoned.  Now, Lucky is at BAH getting the veterinary care that he needs.

Lucky breaks my heart because as soon as we got him to the vet yesterday, we learned that he was definitely used as a "bait dog."  You can see on his tail where he had been repeatedly tied to a stake and therefore unable to defend himself.  His ears are chewed away at the edges and he has defensive wounds on his legs.

Lucky is about a year old and has probably never known proper nutrition; his feet are flat because he never had the proper amount of calcium and nutrients for them to grow properly; this can be remedied with vitamins, supplements, and good nutrition.

My mission here is two-fold.  First, we have got to have tougher laws against animal abuse.  We have got to do a better job educating people about the existence of this kind of behavior and somehow make a change.  How in the world anyone could tie a puppy to a stake and use him as bait in training
fighting dogs is beyond me.  There must be tougher penalties for this!

Second:  Lucky needs some financial donations.  The good people at Benton Animal Hospital are taking care of him.  Steve and I took him in yesterday afternoon and by the end of the day he had been examined (no heartworms!  no parasites!) and given a round of vaccinations.  He's got to be neutered when he is healthy enough and he's got to have a strong nutritional program.  If we can get some donations phoned into Benton Animal Hospital for Lucky, he can get the care he needs.  And when it's time for him to go to a foster or a rescue, having donations tagged to him will help make him a more attractive candidate.

Lucky has never known love until my friend found him last week.  All he has known is abuse.  I believe we can do better for him.  No more abuse.  He deserves to know love.  He deserves a safe, warm bed at night and to be a loyal companion for someone.  This is the friendliest dog I've ever seen.  After everything he's been through he is totally people-friendly and dog-friendly.

He is still offering unconditional love.

We can help him/  Please call Benton Animal Hospital at 318-965-2371 and tell them you want to make a donation to Lucky.  Even if it's just $5.00, it will help him./

He's a good dog!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shreveport Police Storm the Wrong House and Draw Down on Innocent Citizen

UPDATE #2: 11/1/14:  I've received some emails asking about the status of this investigation; there is no update to share yet.  I can only say that we have filed a formal complaint with the Internal Affairs Department of the Shreveport PD and we are awaiting the outcome of that investigation.  Beyond that I don't want to say anything else; I want to let the investigation take place without putting the officer or the PD on trial here.  

The comments on this post have been vigorous and interesting.  Please remember to refrain from insulting each other!  Be nice!  And remember, not all officers are over-zealous like this one.  Most are doing good, honest work.  

I'll update more details when I can.  Thanks.

UPDATE:  The Shreveport police administration is actively responding to this investigation in a positive manner and have been in contact with us.  I'll update with what I can when I can, but please know that we do support the Shreveport police department and the officers on the job.  This was a bad situation and hopefully an isolated one.  Thank you for your support.

As the wife of a retired police officer, I appreciate more than most people the dangers that police officers face on a daily basis.  It's a dangerous job and most people wouldn't do it.

That being said, I had my first encounter with an over-zealous police officer last night and it scared the ever living hell out of me.

Scene:  Saturday night, about 8:30.  Steve and I are sitting in our living room with the World Series on television.  Kansas City was leading the Giants 4 - 1.  Steve can't stand listening to Joe Buck so the sound was turned way down.  He was working on his computer and I was reading a book on my iPad, and all three dogs were sleeping around us.

We have relatively new neighbors in the house directly behind us and these people have small children.  Lately the weather has been cool, turning to fall, and the evenings pleasant so the children are often playing out in the backyard, squealing and screaming as kids will do.  Yesterday their father was out there with them doing some home repair because I heard saws going and some hammering.   The kids don't bother me; I'm glad kids play outside and are not stuck in front of video games.

As Steve and I are watching the game, we can hear the kids playing and screaming; he asked me if I heard that because he wasn't sure what he was hearing; it could have been on the TV, which as I said, was turned way down.  I confirmed that I heard the kids screaming and we went on about our business.

About 15 minutes later, about 8:45, Steve looks up from his computer and says, "Hey, there are police outside, I mean RIGHT outside."  He could see the lights flashing through the blinds.  He got up and peeked out the blinds and saw patrol cars, and he saw officers with flashlights running down the driveway that cuts between my house and the neighbor's house: it's a wide double driveway that we share.

I stood up from the couch to look and as I crossed my living room I saw officers with flashlights running between my house and the neighbor's house on the other side.  One was shouting "It's back here, it's back here!"

I said, "Steve, they're over here now," and pointed to the window.  About that time there is a fierce pounding on my front door and lights pointed at my house.  "Open up!  Open up right now!"  Pounding, pounding on the door.

Steve tells me to grab the dog (the Lab who is very protective, but not barking) opened the front door and starts to ask what in the world is going on when this cop with his gun drawn and aimed at Steve's chest starts screaming "Get back!  Get back!  Who is screaming in this house?  Who is screaming!"  The cop props one foot on the threshold-step and continues screaming at us.

Steve raises his hands in an open gesture, the way you do when a cop is aiming a gun at you, and said, "What are you talking about?  Nobody is screaming in here!"

The cop, with the gun still aimed at Steve, looks at me and yells:  "Who else is in this house, who is doing that screaming?!"

I said, "Nobody is screaming in here!  It's those children behind us!  We have kids living behind us and they play in their backyard!"  And Steve is saying "We're just sitting here watching the baseball game!"  And the dog is standing there, who I've never managed to grab because this happened so fast, but he isn't barking or charging at the cop, thank goodness.

Steve tells him, "I'm a police officer, I'm a retired Bossier City police officer; we are just sitting here watching baseball!"

At that point the cop turns his gun so he's no longer aiming it at Steve but still has it in a firing grip, he turns to the officers standing behind him and in the driveway, and says "It's the house behind, on the other street!"  and takes off running.

Steve hollers after him, "What's your name!" and the officer gives it to him.

We closed the door in stunned silence.

We stared at each other, in silence, and then the fear and adrenaline hit me.  I started shaking and trembling and could not stop.  I sat back down on the couch, got back up, Steve is dumbfounded and then furious.  He gets on his cell phone and calls to speak to a supervisor and I walked outside on the back deck to see if I could hear anything.

I saw flashing police lights and the neighbor's back flood light was still on.  I heard a stereo playing, maybe from their house, maybe another house.

I went back inside and Steve was still on the phone demanding to speak to a supervisor.  He finally got a lieutenant to come to the house to talk to us; he came within about thirty minutes and he had Mr. Over-Zealous Cop with him.  We had the door open, watching through the storm door for the lieutenant to show up and we saw Mr. Over-Zealous walking the supervisor through the run down the driveway and down the other side of the house, explaining what they did.  Then Mr. Over-Zealous walks back to the street, crosses his arms, and leans against his patrol car watching us as we speak to the supervisor.

In the end, the whole thing was terrifying.  I know it could have been much worse; I kept thinking what if my dog had jumped at the cop?  He would have shot him.  What if the cop thought Steve was making a threatening move?  Would he have shot him?  He was definitely drawn down on him.  What if my 22-year old son had come out of his room, walked around the corner into this scene - would he have shot him?  What if Steve and I had gone out and my son was home alone to face this craziness?

The what-ifs kept me up all night long and haunt me.

Like I said, I know it could have been worse, because no shots were fired in this case, and you certainly read about incidents that have gone wrong all the time.

I blame all this on the over-militarization of the police force.  Officers dress like SWAT teams now in all black or in riot gear with cargo pockets all over them.  What happened to first assessing the scene before you draw down on a civilian?  What happened to knocking on the door and saying, "Hey, we've got a noise complaint and just need to be sure everything is OK in here."   And if he really thought someone was in mortal danger, why just take our word for it before running off to terrorize someone else?  When they were running between the houses, we had open windows (actually OPEN windows, as well as open blinds and curtains) and any officer could have looked inside or listened to see what was going on before drawing down on us.

I know police work is dangerous and I know that domestic calls are often the most dangerous.  I appreciate the difficulty of their job.  But with any job, your first responsibility is to do no harm, to avoid making any situation worse, and to act responsibly.

It is my own personal opinion that this officer is a menace and should not be on the street.  He very easily could have done something very, very bad last night.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In the Weeds

I am beginning to see why this book hasn't been written by anyone else in the past.  I think I'm also beginning to see why OCD people can not write books.  Or maybe they write the best books.  I'm not sure yet.

It drives me insane when none of my sources agree on the most basic of dates - dates you think should be able to be confirmed rather easily, like say, a marriage, or a death.  A newspaper article says one thing, a wedding announcement another, and a family genealogical chart says still another.  I can't even get a clear consensus on the name of a parish where someone was born - Assumption or Ascension?  My subject herself has said both in her own handwritten notes.

Even sources you think would be reliable do not even agree on the correct number of children - that one, however, I have nailed down.

Yet still, I spend all my time in the weeds, confirming each tiny fact with multiple, as-reliable-as-possible sources.  Checking, cross-checking and re-checking.

I'm going to drive myself crazy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bill Bush: A Shreveport Legend

Shreveport has lost a music legend.

Local legend Bill Bush died yesterday.  You can go to the very nice Shreveport Times article for the official write-up, courtesy of the talented John Andrew Prime.  In fact, I'll copy/paste some of it here because it won't be there forever:

Bush was elected to represent Council District D in 1982 and was unopposed in a re-election bid in 1986. He chose not to run for re-election for a third term in 1990, opting instead to run for Shreveport mayor in a 12-candidate field. He placed third in that primary, which wound up pitting Hazel Beard against Dr. C.O. Simpkins. He ran unsuccessfully for state Senate District 38 in 1987.
Bush’s first race was in 1978 against local attorney John B. Hussey, who praised his one-time opponent.
“We were both Democrats,” recalled Hussey, who served as mayor from 1982 to 1990. “It was kind of an open primary. There were four of us running, and Bill and I got into the runoff. I beat him in the runoff. But unlike a lot of political campaigns, we got to be friends.”


A Byrd High School and Centenary College graduate, Bush was involved with alumni associations, the Progressive Men’s Club, Local 116 of the American Federation of Musicians, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Downtown Shreveport Unlimited, Historical Preservation of Shreveport, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, the Shriners and the Elks.
He was known for his work with the Bill Bush Combo, an entity he first formed after being asked, as a football player at Byrd High School, to perform at a pep squad talent show his senior year.
“Before each Byrd game,” a Times profile of Bush in 1968 read, “the football coach warned players ‘Don’t step on Bush’s fingers,’ because he played for the post-game dances.”
He also encouraged younger musicians, taking them under his wing for stints in his combo, or hiring them for gigs at his downtown nightclub, Bill Bush’s Moulin Rouge, which he owned and operated from 1971 to 1990.

I, along with hundreds of others, called Bill a friend.  Of course we all knew Bill from his days as owner of the Moulin Rouge on Common Street in Shreveport, and his political days, and for the past few years Steve and I have been going to The Anvil restaurant on Tuesdays to hear Bill play.  I'm going to have to change my Anvil night - I don't think I can do Tuesdays anymore.

There are so many stories and reminiscences about Bill that people have shared in the past 24 hours.  Mine are trivial in comparison, I suppose.  Honestly, there was never, ever, ever a time that he didn't come sit at our table with us and visit about something.  We talked about baseball, politics, music, travel, just about every subject under the sun.

I was always amazed at Bill's memory: he could tell you who wrote nearly every song you threw at him and who recorded it and what year.  And more than likely, he could play it.  He had the kindest heart I've ever seen in a human - for both adults and children.  Many nights we saw him sing "The Wheels on the Bus" for a kid at the restaurant or he might pull a child up and hand him a cowbell or a tambourine to play along with him.

One night his mother was in town from Texas and he had her come up to the keyboard and play.  They did a couple of songs together and it was the sweetest thing I've ever seen.  And Bill's sister Becky, who worked at The Anvil, stood by smiling from ear to ear.

And Bill laughed: he had the funniest stories.  One night he told us about a trip he made to France when he was on the City Council.  He was trying to set up a "sister city" deal and was in a club one night; in visiting with the staff he told them that he lived in the US and that he was the owner of The Moulin Rouge.  Language barriers being what they are, they thought he meant the Moulin Rouge in Paris.  They questioned him and he produced his AmEx business card which said, "Bill Bush Moulin Rouge" and he said he got the best service of his life after that!

Bill loved his trips to Mexico and he had a song he always played for me; he said he wasn't sure of the name, that a friend had played it for him, but he thought it was "La Bochina."  I've never been able to find the same song recorded anywhere, but I have a recording of Bill playing it for me on my iPhone.

I listened to it last night and cried.

I can't believe I'll never hear him do that song again.

He always played Route 66 for Steve and me because he knew we loved taking that trip in the summers.

He was such fun; one night last December his friend Jeri brought him a Santa hat to wear while he did his Anvil gig and of course he wore it all night:

One night he slid into our booth, scotch in hand, and we got into a discussion about politics.  Well, you know that Bill and I were polar opposites on politics, but it just didn't matter to him.  He was so good natured about hearing differing opinions.  This was shortly after Obamacare had passed and of course Bill was all for it.  He simply couldn't understand what we all thought was bad about it and genuinely listened to our position.  And then he began to explain his position, and my jaw dropped.  I said, "You really believe that?"  and he looked at me as innocently and intelligently as anyone I've ever seen and said, "Well, yes, I do."

If ever a liberal made any sense at all to me, Bill could.  He so whole-heartedly believed what he believed but he would always, always listen to the other side without animosity or hostility.

He was as good a man as I have ever known and I will miss him every single day.  He was, by all definitions, a gentleman.

I know that Bill missed his wife Judy deeply after she died earlier this year.  He grieved for her.  When she was in the hospital he took her dinner and held her hand before coming to his gig at the restaurant.

I like to think that now they are sipping a cocktail together and he is singing love songs to her once again.

Rest in peace, my friend Bill.  I miss you.

(Top photo courtesy of The Shreveport Times)