The Secret Life of Dogs


I honestly don't venture out into my back yard very often. When I bought the house, I decided that the back yard was for the dogs. It's fenced and that should keep them safely contained.

That was before I brought in Zach, the Destroyer. Zach is my Golden Retriever. Zach has lots of energy. Zach eats everything. Zach likes to dig. Zach has completely destroyed my back yard.

For a while, Zach liked to dig under the fence to escape into my neighbor's yard, which is also fenced. I put some stones in the hole so he couldn't dig there anymore. He didn't. Instead, he moved three feet to the left and started digging there. Once he tasted the fresh air of freedom, Zach was no longer content to reside in my back yard while I left for work. If a root or something prevented him from digging deeper, he chewed off part of my wooden fence so he had room to slide under.

Eventually, I had to line that entire section of fence with chicken wire covered with stones to keep him from digging. It took a lot of trial and error, as Zach learned how to push the chicken wire aside and continue digging. My other two dogs weren't instigators like Zach, but they also liked the fresh air of freedom.

My neighbor didn't like it, though. Twice, he called Animal Control to come take my dogs away (although I wish he would've called me). Each time, Zach managed to elude capture. The fines for the other two dogs set me back $300. The county apparently thinks they could use this money. I would've rather put it into better repairs to keep my dogs from digging out. So I spent more money to make the repairs, and the dogs remained in my back yard for a month or so.

This morning, I'm working from home because I have a nasty sore throat that's part of a lovely cold. I put the dogs outside for a while. When I opened the back door to call them inside, no dogs. Eventually, I see Zach's nose. He's inching his way back from the other side of the fence. This isn't part of the fence where he previously had any interest in digging. Humphrey came inching along behind him, but Max did not.

I called. I yelled. I repeated his name many times. The furry little bugger didn't appear. After locking the other dogs inside, I got in my car to drive around the neighborhood in search of this wayward ball of fur. If he gets caught on a third strike, it'll be even more expensive. Of course, I don't see him anywhere. When I finally get home, he's in the front yard right by the garage door.

So, it's cold. I'm sick, and my dogs have a new escape path. The only thing for me to do is put down more chicken wire and top it off with some stones. This is exactly what I wanted to do while suffering from a lovely cold.

Why Dogs Attack Their Masters

, originally uploaded by dooce.

I've always been impressed by Heather Armstrong's ability to put objects on her dog's head while he remains perfectly still. This time, she's gone too far. Chuck can now go on disability due to emotional castration.

Indian Call Centers Selling Private Data

A year ago, Britons learned that Indian call centers were selling their private identity information. It sems there's nothing new. SC Magazine reports that Indian call centers are still selling private credit card data on the black market. According to the article:

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) – adopted by the major credit card brands – requires organisations to monitor outsourcing service providers and states they are liable for fines if that provider compromises their data.

Good job, guys.

Another Laptop Stolen – More Personal Data At Risk

I checked the mail after getting home from work and found an envelope from th Harley Owner's Group (HOG). That got my attention, since Biketoberfest is around the corner in Daytona. Could it be an interesting offer coming to town during that event?

No, it was a Personal Information Advisery. It seems that a Harley-Davidson employee reported a missing laptop on Monday, August 14, 2006. The laptop contained HOG member data to facilitate registration at HOG events.

The letter claims that Harley-Davidson conducted an extensive investigation, notified law enforcement, and still want to retrieve the laptop. I'm sure that's true, though the word “extensive” means different things to different people. There are no circumstances provided regarding how the laptop disappeared, whether it was stolen or misplaced.

Harley-Davidson sent a letter to 60,000 people (including me) because the file contained either a credit card number and/or driver's license number. I know that HOG has both pieces of information from me, since I had to provide that information for a Fly & Ride rental during a trip to Salt Lake City in April this year.

Additionally, Harley-Davidson provided me with a free one-year account with ConsumerInfo.com to provide credit monitoring. There's a forum on the HOG members web site, and a promise to mail any pertinent information to me about the case.

This is a case where I understand why an employee had customer data on a laptop. Event registrations happen in the field without network access to a corporate database. Also, you never know who may attend an event. Harley owners frequently travel to HOG events out of their own state, so it makes sense to keep information on hand to accommodate those travelers.

However, I do not see any mention of security measures taken to protect data on the laptop. Theft or loss in the field is a reasonably high probability risk. Is the information password protected? Was the disk encrypted? I tend to doubt it, or the letter would probably try to assure me that my identity information was reasonably secure. How can a major corporation allow sensitive customer information outside of its walls without taking these reasonable precautions to protect it? These days, it's inexcusable to let a laptop with sensitive information go without disk encryption.

I appreciate the notification and apology from Mike Keefe, Vice President and Director of Harley Owner's Group. To Mike, I strongly recommend that you take my advice. Encrypt the hard drive on all of your remaining laptops. Customers like me depend upon your precautions.