August has been a emotional roller coaster of a month for me.

It started on an extremely happy note. We announced the Lab Management capability of VS 2010 on August 4 at VS Live, and we released the feature on August 19. The capability is now available to all users of Visual Studio Ultimate and Visual Studio Test Professional – and you can read about the details around availability in Brian Harry’s blog.

I joined the Visual Studio Test group three and a half years ago, and assembled a team to build the Lab Management product. Putting together the team, figuring out what we would build and how we would differentiate our offering, the hard push to get part of the VS 2010 cycle, the building of the product, incorporating customer feedback and trying to ship with the rest of VS 2010 – all of this was a great experience. I held the product back to ensure that we had adequate customer adoption and addressed the important feedback we had received. A lot of hard work had gone into this product, so finally shipping this earlier in the month felt great! We had indeed built something very innovative, and getting it into the hand of customers was a fantastic feeling – it made all of the sweat and toil of the last three years well worth it! What a joy indeed!

As August winds to an end, it reminds me again, how life is such an intertwining of happiness and hurt.

Three and half years back was also a joyous time on the family front. I took on German Shepherd puppy – Archie – as the second pet in the family. He was going to be a great companion for the 6 month old Labrador (Asterix) and a darling for my boys, my wife, and me. Archie was six weeks old when we brought him in. Over the course of this time, he grew into a very handsome animal – extremely active, a great source of joy for us, and a core part of our family.

 

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Archie had one problem though. He was extremely aggressive with all strangers – humans, animals, or birds. We have a big yard (fenced of course) in our house – and Archie would be all over the place – letting all strangers know that he did not appreciate their coming into his home. Our neighbor once remarked that Archie wouldn’t let even a fly get into our home without a good contest. I must admit I did feel proud of this trait.

We of course had to leash him up when we did want friends and others to come. I actually turned my two-car garage into a huge kennel for him – and put up steel collapsible gate that we would close and lock, he was in there.

But we had trouble. It wasn’t a completely fool-proof arrangement – we had a few occasions when our lapse led Archie to be loose when strangers were in our home and out in the open. Archie bit several people. Some of these bites were bad. I know if I were living in the USA still, the first such accident would have been his last one – I would have had to do something decisive about it. Here the system just happens to be more tolerant and lax. After each such accident I resolved to be more careful – but over time- we ran into newer lapses we learnt about – and each time, Archie would have bitten one more person. Some were complete strangers, and some were close friends. Some were complete acts of stupidity of the victims (why would the ignore the “Beware of Hunting Dog” sign on the gate and walk in?), and others were lapses on our part.

The count of such accidents rose - it reached 20 last weekend – and that was the last trip-wire for me. I finally took the decision that I would have to give Archie away :-( This led to a tremendous uproar in the family – the kids were particularly sad and angry too. Archie was too much part of our life. Ram Cherala suggested I contact Cesar Milan – though I didn’t know how I’d have possibly done that here in India.)

All of last week was very agonizing for me. How would I part with him? How could I betray his love for me? Who would I give him away to? I finally went back to the breeder that I had gotten Archie from, and he agreed that he would keep Archie in his home.

It was a sad morning today. I had to take Archie to his new home. I thought he looked sad himself – and took a last few pictures with the kids.

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He has had a great time in our house – lording over the yard and sleeping on our bed.

 

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I realized how much of a “dog’s existence” he would now have when I saw his kennel in his new home this morning

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Archie reminded me again, though, how aggressive he can be with strangers – here he is clearly expressing his displeasure, and those vicious fangs reminded me of the pain he has caused to many.

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Sigh! This was the right decision. I hope that Archie gets used to his new home, and perhaps I will visit him in a couple of months once he has gotten used to his new environment.

I returned back home with a heavy heart – remembering Archie’s first week in our home – an adorable and naughty pup.

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Visitors to our home will now heave a sign of relief – no more to face this magnificent but ferocious beast – patrolling the boundary of our home.

 

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But today, I know, we lost a part of our family – a faithful friend who would cheer us up when we were stressed and bothered by mundane situations. One who reminded us time and again what unconditional love was all about - yet it was I who betrayed him.

Archie – you will always be in my heart – farewell, my friend.