Austin Bound

‘I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.’ – John F. Kennedy

Left base: Runway 17L, Austin, TX. Southwest Flight 767

Arriving in Searcy we pulled over to get some avgas. As I got the plane grounded and the fuel pump started my little brother came out with his mom and proceeded to get completely engrossed with a helicopter that was taxiing to its hanger. I was sure that he’d be interested in going up for a ride, but apparently after seeing the chopper my ordinary little plane paled by comparison. He wanted to watch the helicopter and nothing was going to change his mind.

Off we went into downtown Cabot. Cabot is in Lonoke County, one of those wonderful places where the government thinks it is smarter than you and should therefore make decisions on your behalf. I refer, naturally, to it being a dry county. This has been a great opportunity for Ace Liquors, a few yards over the border.

As we continued toward Dad’s house we noticed the local pastime. At least if quantity of stores is any indication, pawning is what people in the area love to do. There were big shops, small shops, junky shops, better shops. Shops of all kinds of variety. I guess if the nanny won’t let you drink you have to find something to do with your time.

When we get to the house we get to play with Marley, the young Border Collie of the house, and get our dog fix. Over the past few years we’ve lost our last two dogs and don’t intend to get anymore for a while. We’re on the fly too much these days and it wouldn’t be fair to try and keep a an animal that wants to live in groups in those sorts of circumstance. Getting a shot of oxytocin from playing with an energetic puppy was just what the doctor ordered.

Border Collies are among the smartest breeds of dogs, so I thought it would be fun to try and teach him something. I know there is controversy about what dogs are smart or dumb, but as a former Basset Hound owner I can speak authoritatively that there is a wide gulf between these two breeds. I decided to try and teach her to fetch. Having been told that she didn’t like to fetch that seemed like a good challenge.

First I found out her favorite toy and we started playing with it. I would take the toy and make it squeak. She would get very excited. Then I let her play with it some while I played with her. Finally, I threw it and she went running full speed to chase it down. I’ve read that one of the keys to training is to quit before the dog gets bored. Then they will crave it and be excited next time. So, after just a few throws we stopped.

On the heals of that success I decided to try a bit of table manners with her. Our Basset used to be terrible around mealtime. He would always sit around the table staring and drooling. We finally fixed this with an idea we used with him, the begging mat. We had a doormat that we designated the begging mat and the Basset was trained (slowly) that if he stayed on the mat that he would occasionally get a treat. If he begged at the table he never got anything and instead was shoed onto the begging mat. This took a really long time, but then it stuck.

With the Border Collie it didn’t take nearly as long. She, understandably, had no idea why I was putting her on her bed instead of letting her sit starting at me while we ate. After all just a few minutes prior we had been playing a second round of fetch, so clearly I was part of her pack. Still, once I gave her a little treat for staying on her bed she started to get it. After a couple false starts she didn’t get off again the rest of the meal. The next night she didn’t get off at all.

Clearly Border Collies are much smarter than Basset Hounds.

The next day we tried to see downtown Little Rock. It was a miserable, wet, cold day. This is to be expected, if it weren’t we would have been in the air. With Dad as our tour guide we headed downtown.

First we stopped at Flying Fish for lunch. Beth had a mexican shrimp cocktail. It was a nice large serving and a bit spicy. Not too much to handle, but a bit of a kick to it. I’m not really a fish fan so I got a combo basket with a couple pieces of fried catfish and a chicken strip as a backup plan. Their cornmeal coating turned out crispy and delicious and the catfish equally tasty. I also had a bowl of red beans and rice that were fantastic. To top it all off, it turns out they have a location in Garland, TX where I have been doing a bit of consulting. More of this grub is in my future.

We also went to the Clinton Presidential Library. The building is a large rectangular structure with glass on all sides. The 3rd and 4th floors contain a history of the Clinton presidency. Combined the two floors are modeled on the Trinity College library in Dublin. It’s a great place that reminds us that a lot of good things happened when he was running the show.

The weather still stinks, so we finally made the call to abort our plans to fly ourselves to Austin and instead booked tickets on Southwest in order to get there in time to ring in the new year.

Comments are closed.