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This is a wordle I made out of all of my blog posts in MountaineerLife.

This is basically my blog in a nutshell!

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The answer is your pet. Neuticles have been around for nearly 16 years. And since the first surgery was performed on a 9-month-old Rottweiler named Max in 1995, more than a quarter of a million cats, dogs, and horses (yes horses) have been “Neuticled” in the U.S. and 49 other countries. What exactly are Neuticles you ask? Well, they’re essentially fake testicles for male animals that have been neutered, so they still look like they have their ‘manliness’.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Gregg Miller and Buck the Bloodhound

The idea for Neuticles was the brainchild of Gregg Miller from Oak Grove, Missouri in 1993. When the time came to neuter his Bloodhound named Buck, Miller was distraught over the fact that his beloved pet was, more or less, being castrated. That concern suffered by Miller over Buck the Bloodhound would soon change veterinary history forever. And nearly 3 years and one-half million dollars later, the first commercially “Neuticled” canine surgery was performed on Max the Rottwriler.

The cheaper polypropylene models sell for $25 to $32 at set; while the newer, solid silicone alternative, called “Neuticle Naturals”, sell for $80 to $129 a set. The procedure takes about 2 to 3 minutes, and so far, no medical complications have been reported. There’s even an entire website devoted to the things: www.neuticles.com.

A pair of Neuticles

I couldn’t find any veterinary clinics around Morgantown that offered cosmetic surgery, which didn’t surprise me, it seems that vets who offer cosmetic surgeries tend to be in bigger cities where the demand is higher. Most of the receptionists didn’t even know what the things were; and when I tried to explain the concept to them, they just looked at me like I was some crazy lady trying to get fake balls for her dog. Great.

So what exactly is the point of shelling out $130 for a set of fake testicles for your pet?

The answer is there is no point. Neuticles aren’t for the animal; they’re for the owner. Dogs could care less about what they look like; animals aren’t vein. They are more for owners who are having a problem with the idea of their pet being castrated; thus the reason why the things were invented in the first place.

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I’ve been looking forward to this story more then any other. It’s ironic, of course, that I am running late on posting it to Mountaineer Life. Please forgive me. Yesterday, at U92, we had our annual reunion sports talk show, bringing back hosts from the last several years and having them on for what turned out to be a three hour session of wild sports talk and old memories.

That being said, I still have to talk about racquetball. So first and foremost let’s talk about the sport. Four walls, two people, two rackets, and one ball. One high octane ball that takes odd bounces and comes off the racket in strange ways. One tiny ball that if you get hit point blank with it (and I have been) will definitely leave a mark. But the sport is pure adrenaline when you get a good volley going. The ball bounces all over the place, making this possibly the most instinctual game you can play.

Lets talk about the rules. You serve to an opponent from the middle of the court. There is a line that you must get the ball past on the serve or it’s a fault. However, you can’t serve and hit the back wall without the ball landing first. So once you serve it in play the volley begins, and whoever wins the volley wins the serve. If the person serving wins the volley, they get a point. If the returner wins, they get to serve. The first to 15 wins. You can pretty much hit the ball off of any wall, but the only stipulation is that the ball absolutely can’t hit the ground twice–like in tennis.

So over at the Rec. Center there are three racquetball courts available all day every day of the week from early in the morning until ten o’clock when they close. During the week, the sport is extremely popular. You’re often hard-pressed to find an open court (though weekends are a little easier).

You can rent gear for the sport downstairs at the gear rental if you don’t have your own. Junior Ryan Ross often participates in these benefits.

“Just swipe my card and go downstairs and get some gear. Obviously you have to call ahead of time to get a court, but it’s really good that they provide equipment.”

Ross just recently started playing. He’s actually a pretty decent player. I challenged him to a game, and I’ve been playing for a few years. His technique was off, but his natural athleticism and great wingspan allowed him to get to nearly every ball unless I hit it perfectly low and into the corner. He clearly had some potential.

“It’s so much fun. It’s just you, your opponent, and your instincts.”

Courtesy: Prime Time Athletic Club

But it isn’t all fun and games. Quite a few players at the Rec. Center don’t wear protective eye gear when they play, and in closed quarters this can be a dangerous sport. Said sophomore John Scherch, “It’s ridiculous that anyone would play without protective goggles. I don’t play anybody unless they’re wearing goggles.”

But a recent addition to the racquetball scene is someone you may remember from a previous story: Jared Ramos. The hard-working Ramos is still looking for ways to keep college food weight off. He has turned to racquetball, but he doesn’t wear the eye glasses.

“It restricts my movement sometimes and sometimes can make it difficult to follow the ball totally. I’m new at this game and I won’t get better if I can’t hit the damn ball.”

I’ll leave it up for you to decide–whether you’ve played racquetball or not. The courts are high, but enclosed. Does this look like some place you’d like to be near a person swinging a racket or a small aerodynamic ball coming straight to you?

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For my post this week I’ve decided to touch on a little known issue: Grey Hound Rescue. I did a radio story on this issue about a year and a half ago (one of my first broadcast stories) and thought that it would be a good and different way to blog this week…I just added a few visual effects to make it a bit more interesting. Hope you enjoy!

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So it’s four o’clock and I head down to the bowling alley in the bowels of the Mountainlair. I’m thinking to myself that it should be no problem finding some bowlers only to find that the entire bowling alley was empty.

Fate it seems, was not on my side to interview some amateur bowlers. Well, until, luck would have it in walks one of my best friends, Caitlin Fitzgerald with one of her friends–Scott Levine. Scott was visiting from New Jersey and the two had decided that a trip to the bowling alley was just what the doctor ordered (and good thing to because we crossed paths while I was just about to leave the bowling alley, dejected).

The exchange of greetings was followed by a trip to the front desk. A pair of shoes for just $1.06 and a lane all to yourself just as long as you have your WVU student ID. We hand over the money, grab our shoes, and grab some bowling balls and set off on a trip to Lane 15.

Now I’ve been bowling in the Lair a fair few times, but never had I seen it so empty. Another thing I had never seen was amidst the nine white pins, an oddly placed blue and gold West Virginia pin that turned up in our lane in almost every frame that we bowled. Said Levine, “It was almost like it was taunting us. I had a couple of frames where I’d knock nine pins down, but I couldn’t knock that blue and gold pin down.”

It almost became more important then the game. Who could knock down the blue and gold pin? Obviously, Caitlin and Scott and I weren’t taking the game too seriously. It was hard to take the game seriously anyway considering I bowled a 25 in my first five frames (not my best work).

Then things got interesting two strikes and a spare later…and before you know it I’m closing in on Caitlin and Scott who had been duking it out for first all game. Going into the final frame Scott had 104 points. Caitlin had 113. Scott had been bowling well, but tapered off in the end, and in the final frame hit only 6 pins to finish with 110. Caitlin didn’t finish very strong either, knocking just three down to finish with a 116. I came in last with a 99 (still 74 points over the final five frames was a nice improvement from the awful first five).

“I need to work on my approach,” said Levine. Levine continually joked that Caitlin, who claims “she never plays” was hustling us. I was almost inclined to agree…until I saw the second game.

Scott finished with a 99. I bowled a 114. Caitlin bowled an 80. Well so much for hustling, right?

While we were down there, we had the entire alley to ourselves. It made me think of a couple of random things.

1. Why is it called a bowling alley?

No one really needs to answer that.

2. Why is it so hard to be consistent?

This one I actually didn’t have a hard time answering. People who bowl for fun don’t do it every day for one, and that makes it harder to get good. Secondly, people who are bowling for fun are simply there too have fun and don’t really take the game too seriously. It almost gets to a point where you start rooting for the people you are playing against. It’s almost like golf, everybody’s bad. Because if you were good, you’d do it professionally.

It was an interesting experience. I hadn’t been down to the bowling alley in a couple of months, and it reminded me that this is one of those things that people do as a hobby–truly only for fun with absolutely no drawbacks.

So I’m sure all you readers out there have bowled for fun many a time? What’s your best score? And this week’s poll question…how many times do you throw a gutter ball per game (I would say I guttered at least seven or eight times in the first game)?

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Hey guys! Here are this week’s pets available for immediate adoption at the Mon. County Animal Shelter!

Tebow

Tebow is a 10 month old male beagle/pit mix who is very playful and enjoys other dogs.

 

 

Kyser

Kyser is a 2 year old male beagle who is quiet but loves attention.

 

 

Diesel

Diesel is a 2 year old male boxer mix who is very sweet and energetic.

 

If you are interested in one of these dogs, or just in rescuing an animal, please contact Dana Johnson at (304) 291-7267. She’s the facilities manager at Mon. County Canine Adoption Center, and is eagerly trying to save these animals! You can also visit them on River Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.

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I have to apologize in advance for this post. I had originally intended to talk to different local trainers and get some inside pointers as well as a few short videos demonstrating some simple training techniques. Well, I called about 3 different local trainers and, while they were very polite on the phone, they either didn’t have classes running or have had issues before with people wanting to come in and film/watch apparently the people who bring their dogs to obedience classes are embarrassed at how badly they dogs behave (at least that was the sense I got). Although I am going to still go over a few basic pointers and provide a map of some local training places, it’s not as elaborate as I was planning on…I’m planning on revisiting this topic a little later after training classes start and I can actually get in and get some useful video, but until then here are some brief training tips.

It’s never too early to start training your new puppy, especially basic obedience skills. The ideal age is between 6-10 weeks (most training places have an age requirement for puppies) but it’s never too early to start learning basic skills at home. And likewise, it’s also never too late to teach an older dog new tricks, or just how to behave.

Most training places will teach your new puppy the basics of obedience: sit, stay, lie down, walk calmly on a leash, and come when called. If you have a specific problem like jumping, play biting, barking, soiling the house, chewing, etc. those issues are usually addressed in an intermediate class (after the dog has learned the basics) or in a private session with the trainer. Some of the dog training places I found in/around Morgantown are below:

Most training places all practice the same type of teaching: positive reinforcement. Besides getting your dog to behave a little better, training classes are designed to bring owner and pet closer together and strengthen the bond between them. For new puppies small treats may be required at first, but fear not, treats will not be needed forever.

It is also important that you are firm with your pet while training them, but remember, ALWAYS be friendly. When demonstrating commands like come and heel you should use a more “puppy-friendly” voice; yet when giving a command such as sit or stay, your voice should be lower and more firm.

Also remember that puppies are like babies: they have a very short attention span. Unless you are in a class training group with multiple dogs, keep the one-on-one training to about 15-20 minutes.

And probably one of the most important things to remember when training your pet, regardless of age is to BE PATIENT! You didn’t just start off running, you had to learn to crawl and walk first; and the same goes for your pet. If you feel that you are already frustrated even before you start the training session, don’t do it. Just walk away and start at a later time. Dogs are smart and they can easily pick up on your emotions; and this is supposed to be fun for the animal as well as the owner. Being angry or frustrated toward your pet while training is only going to make your dog afraid of you, and you don’t want that!

I hope these tips helped. Just think of this post as part 1 of 2 on training your dog. Part 2 will be a little more helpful with pictures and videos (hopefully!) demonstrating the training techniques and positive reinforcement.

Until next time!

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As a member of the human race I tend to have thoughts. Sometimes they are rambling and sometimes they are well formed (when this is over you tell me which one you thought this classified as). I’ve been doing some thinking about pick-up sports since that is the general theme of my posts. Why do people play them? The general consensus involves three answers–fun, exercise, and the spirit of competition.

And while those are the obvious answers, sometimes people shy away from playing sports at all. Sometimes they think just because they aren’t very good means that they shouldn’t play.

Well let’s just look at professional sports for one minute. How many Hall of Fame players wind up becoming great coaches or general managers? I’ll wait while you count on one hand, maybe two in the plethora of different sports. Certainly there are a few you can think of, but look at modern coaching. It’s a totally different aspect of the game. Bill Belichick, a three time Super Bowl champion coach and considered the greatest coach of the past decade, if not of all-time in football, favors lacrosse over football as a sport that he plays.

One of his proteges, Eric Mangini, was a former nose tackle at Ohio Wesleyan. Ohio Wesleyan doesn’t exactly scream NFL does it? It’s not about how great of an athlete or a player you are. You need other things to be a great coach.

Then you could look at hockey. In the NHL you could be the best player and still not be the captain of the team. The New York Rangers were a prime example of that in the late 90’s. There captain was a veteran defensemen named Brian Leetch. Now, don’t get me wrong, Leetch will one day be in the Hall of Fame as maybe one of the greatest American defensemen of his generation, but he wasn’t necessarily the most talented or the best player on his team during this span, but he was the team’s leader and thus he was the captain of the team. Those Ranger teams weren’t great, but the point is that you don’t have to be the best to be a leader.

And what I’ve come to notice sometimes about pick-up sports is that people sometimes won’t play because they aren’t that good or aren’t “the best.” Sometimes people who love to play won’t play because they are going up against somebody who they know is better than them.

For junior Jamie McCracken, that’s not the case. Jamie has spent the better part of his free time in his three years at WVU playing basketball at the student rec center. He’d sometimes spend as much as fifteen hours in a given week playing basketball with anybody who wanted to play. Usually, Jamie just shows up, gets a ball, and gets into a game. He doesn’t care who he’s playing, he just wants to play.

Said McCracken, “It’s one of those things where it’s not like football. Anyone can pick up a ball and go play.”

Now the same can be said true for football, but playing two-hand touch or having a seven-on-seven tackle without pads still doesn’t quite simulate a real football game. With basketball, all you need is a couple of highly energized people, a ball, and a basket (in pick-up games you don’t even need that second basket depending on how many you’re playing with). It’s a totally different feeling, and Jame embraces the competition.

“When you play this much you start to notice different things about the people you play with. I’ve noticed how many good players there are in Morgantown and it makes you appreciate, that even in a football town, this is a popular sport there are students here who may be talented enough to play at some level in college.”

The biggest thing for Jamie is that he doesn’t care who he plays with. He doesn’t care if he winds up falling flat on his face because he’s playing superior competition. He loves to play, purely for the love of the game.

Sometimes, amidst the collective bargaining issues in sports, we fail to see the players in a certain light. We don’t realize that for us it’s  game, but for them it’s a career. For Jamie, he doesn’t have to worry about his career, because as a skinny 5’10” kid from Clarksburg he isn’t concerned with playing professionally. He wasn’t even concerned about playing in college. He just likes to play, and that’s why he spends so much time on the courts.

Jamie is even willing to take the challenge of playing with Division I basketball players–namely WVU men’s basketball players.

“Probably my best memory was me getting dunked on by John Flowers.”

Jamie contrasted the players when they are simply playing for fun and when they are playing serious basketball.

“You see a totally different side of these guys when you play a pick-up game with them. It seems like they never miss. After all when there is no pressure on you, the game becomes that much easier. It’s a sight to watch.”

During one pick-up game, Jamie played with Darryl “Truck” Bryant, and the Mountaineer guard could seemingly do no wrong. After all, it’s a pick-up game. Everything seems that much easier when you aren’t shooting over a 6’8” power forward with a hand in your face.

Even with John Flowers dunk putting Jamie on his backside, he said it didn’t bother him in the slightest. This is why he plays–because he loves the game, and that’s part of the game.

It made me think about the people, not just in Morgantown, but throughout the country who get together on a daily, weekly, etc. basis to play a pick-up game. And it made me think of the people who choose not to play those games. Why not? What’s the harm of playing?

My only answer is that people are afraid to show weakness. If you’re not the best at something, you don’t want to be a part of it. Something that has been lost amongst the glorification of American history and American sporting history is that every great accomplishment may have been built by a star, but the foundation (as cliche as it sounds) was laid down by someone playing a particular role. From a personal standpoint, when I play basketball, I know that I’m an awful shooter. I take as few shots as I can, pass often, play good defense, and even with my incredibly short stature, go for every rebound. I’ve found that playing with high energy is the most important part about playing any sport. It’s a wonder that at 5’5” I somehow tend to come down with double digits in rebounds every time I play even though I’m the shortest player on the court.

And for Jamie, he says it doesn’t bother him if his best isn’t good enough to beat John Flowers. That’s to be expected. Jamie simply wants to play, and that’s why when he does play, he’s always going full motor.

Alex Wiederspiel is a senior journalism student at West Virginia University and sports director at U92 Radio.

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Hello fellow pet lovers! Here are this week’s pictures of some animals currently at the Mon. County Animal Shelter & ready to be adopted!

 

Petey

RJ

Petey and RJ are 3 year old brother Shih Tzu mixes. They are both very friendly and do great with other dogs.

 

Taboo

Taboo is still here! Click here to see more about him!!

 

Bristol

Bristol is still here! Click here to read more about her!

 

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is still here! Click here to see more about her!

 

If you are interested in one of these dogs, or just in rescuing an animal, please contact Dana Johnson at (304) 291-7267. She’s the facilities manager at Mon. County Canine Adoption Center, and is eagerly trying to save these animals! You can also visit them on River Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So this week I’m going to build off of last week’s post on Tips for Adopting a pet and explore some apartment complexes around Morgantown that allow pets (and some that don’t!)

BLUE Points=Pet friendly & RED points=No pets allowed

I took a look at some of the popular apartment complexes around campus and found out if they allow pets and if so what the costs are; and here is the breakdown:

West Run Apartments: Do allow “all pets”. They did not specify a weight limit or any breed restrictions. The price is a $450 refundable deposit (refundable only if nothing is destroyed upon moving out) and an additional $25 per month.

The District: Do allow pets, but they have a 30lb weight limit (i.e. no pets over 30lbs). They also have a $200 non-refundable deposit as well as $25 per month after that.

Mountain Valley Apartments: Allow pets up to a 55lb weight limit. They have a one-time non-refundable fee of $300 for dogs, $200 for cats, and $100 for everything else (i.e. fish & squirrels–yes the woman in the office actually said someone had a flying squirrel there as a pet).

Copper Beech Townhomes: Do allow pets, however weight limits and breed restrictions were not specified. The cost here is a $300 non-refundable deposit and a $25 per month fee after that.

Some of the apartments I looked at that did not allow pets were: The Ridge and Bent Tree Court.

These apartment complexes seem to be some of the more popular one’s on campus, but I’m sure there a lot more smaller complexes or privately-owned apartments (too many for one person to cover!) So if you know other complexes that are pet-friendly feel free to add them in the comments!!

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