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Archive for May 13th, 2009

Scary, smelly, germy: The scourge of joggers

I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.

But after a little opinion piece that appeared yesterday in a Baltimore Sun feature called Second Opinion — one that opined all dogs should always be on leashes because some of them interfere with joggers — I have no choice.

I’m coming out against joggers.

The Sun editorial blurb begins this way: “The city is fining people who let their dogs roam off-leash $1,000. I say good.

“I’m a runner, and I can’t count the number of times dogs have snapped, lurched and barked at me as I went past. Perhaps even more galling than the canine response in these situations is the human one. Almost without fail the dog’s owner will look at me with wonder and bewilderment, as if I must have done something wrong to elicit such a mysterious reaction. You may think your furry friend is cute and harmless, but I’ve got news for you: He or she is almost never quite so well behaved as you think … I object to many dog advocates’ apparent belief that leash laws should merely be a suggestion.”

Typical jogger logic, or lack thereof. The consistent jarring of the brain that occurs while jogging is the culprit, leading joggers to think they have dominion, not just over animals, but over non-jogging man, not to mention motor vehicle and bicyclist.

Joggers annoy me. Joggers scare me. Joggers get in my way and, more often, make me feel I am in their’s. They leave foul scents in their wake, and often fling off little sweat particles, which assuredly contain swine flu or other germs, as they churn their arms and pant, interfering with my God-given (but city taken away) right to enjoy tobacco products. Worse yet, they make me feel fat, lazy and unhealthy, which, even though I am, there’s no reason to so relentlessly pound that point in.

Joggers tend to eat only healthy and fibrous food, and as a result have no sense of humor.

Most irksome though, they think they are above everyone else. They — though I must admit some dog people fit this one too — often come across as holier than thou, or at least skinnier than thou.

Joggers like everything to be predictable. Dogs are not. That’s what makes them more interesting than joggers. True, humans are more intelligent, meaning they should have the brains to maybe adjust their path or swerve out of the way when nearing dogs. But joggers don’t, because they don’t want to vary their monotonous route and run the risk of seeing something new.

They are a hazard, traveling at an unsafe speed, often while tuning everything out except the music pumping through their ear buds, thus endangering small children, and the elderly.

On the sidewalks, they get impatient if someone is so crass as to be walking in front of them at a normal rate of speed, forcing them to slow their all-important pace. If they run up against a traffic signal, they tend to either violate the law and jayrun, or, far more annoying yet, do that little running in place thing they do while they wait for the signal to change.

There is, I’m told, something called a runner’s high. While I would not interfere with a joggers’ right to achieve this state of euphoria, I think it should be done in the privacy of their homes, or in a stinky gym on a treadmill — not out in public, and certainly not, in their intoxicated state, on the roadways and sidewalks.

It doesn’t seem right that dogs are taking all the heat when it comes to park issues — least of all from joggers. There are far more annoying things at the park — any park — on any given day. Joggers, as I believe I’ve mentioned, but also operators of little remote control cars that make an awful whiny noise, annoying to both humans and dogs. Also people who drop the f-bomb every third or fourth word, often with their children alongside them. Also skateboarders. Also drug dealers. Also spitters. Also people playing music louder than any dog could ever bark. I could go on, but the point is, should we criminalize all of them?

Of course not.

Only the joggers.

Lost Florida Chihuahua found in Ohio

Chachi the Chihuahua ran out the front door of a house in Orlando, Florida on July 4, 2008.

Nearly 10 months later he was found — in Ohio, nearly 800 miles away.

Robert Bartman, 30, of Gainesville, Fla., Chachi’s owner, said the dog disappeared while being watched by friends. He has no idea how he got to Ohio.

“When you lose a dog for that long, he’s dead or someone stole him,” Bartman said. “You figure the worst.”

The dog was spotted by Patricia Ross and her boyfriend Lonnie Mason at the end of April, walking down the street in Middletown, Ohio, according to the Oxford Press.

Ross took the Chihuahua around the neighborhood, seeking his owner. Finding none, she took the dog, who was wearing no collar or tags, to Alll About Pet Care.

There, Chachi was discovered to have a microchip. When Bartman was notified that Chachi had been found  in Middletown, there was a pause on the phone.

“Middletown?” he asked.

“Middletown, Ohio,” Coheen said.

Chachi was driven to Dayton International Airport and flown to Florida. After receiving medical treatment there, he’s back home with Bartman.

“You could tell he had been on the street for a while,” said Bartman, who said the vet bills amounted to more than $700.

“He’s worth more than that,” Bartman said. “With that type of love, you can’t let them go.”

Miami-Dade: a dozen dog parks and growing

Everything, of course, is relative, but, compared to almost any other major city, it’s clear Baltimore — with one small dog park and another on the way– has a severe dearth of dog parks.

Today’s case in point: Miami-Dade County.

For a while, there were only three — Flamingo Park and a pair of parks in Coconut Grove. But in just the past few years, more fenced areas for dogs have popped up in Miami Beach, Coconut Grove and Hialeah, bringing the number of dog parks in cities around Miami-Dade to more than a dozen, the Miami Herald notes.

In Palmetto Bay, after a push by residents, the village responded in 2007, converting the almost three-acre Perrine Wayside Park into a dogs-only zone. The park has a walking path, waste bag stations, pet water fountains and dog washing stations. Dogs can frolic alongside the ducks in the middle of the park’s picturesque lake.

Aventura residents got their own dog park last summer. And Sunny Isles Beach opened “The Bone Zone” at Sen. Gwen Margolis Park last May. Homestead has a “bark park” under construction and Doral is also considering creating a dog park.

Miami Beach, meanwhile, has four do parks and is considering a fifth at the newly renovated South Pointe Park. The city is also weighing whether to create a dog beach.

Numbers like that are enough to make a dog owner in Baltimore — which has one small dog park in the city, another in the county — drool.

It makes you wonder what Miami-Dade has that we don’t — other than more sunshine and money — whether it’s a matter of the people pushing harder, or having fewer bureaucratic obstacles thrown in front of them. Why do some cities spawn dog parks like bunnies, while others move at a tortoise’s pace?

Your thoughts are appreciated.

(Photo: Perrine Wayside Park, a three-acre dog park in Palmetto Bay, Florida, from dogparkmiami.com)