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Archive for May, 2010

Congratulations to the class of 2010

Ace didn’t get to go to my son’s high school graduation, but we let him wear the cap for a while afterwards — stopping short of awarding him a dog-torate degree.

There were close to 300 seniors graduating from Florence High School in Alabama, and, being a Woestendiek, Joe’s turn to accept his diploma came pretty close to last. 

As hard as those bleacher seats had grown by then, it was a small price to pay for seeing the moment.

I only misted up once, when the seniors filed in, and my mind flashed back to the day 18 years ago when Joe, at 6 months of age, arrived from Korea at Los Angeles International Airport, whiny, tired and his full head of  jet black hair sprouting every which way, kind of like he’d stuck his finger in a wall socket. The hair eventually calmed down, and so did he.

And 18 human years whizzed by — too many of them spent too far apart.

His mom and stepdad are newly moved to New Albany, Mississippi, where Joe will spend the summer before going on to Rhodes College in Tennessee in the fall.

Ace and I plan to hang around here for a while, maybe taking a few day trips, and testing how long ex-wife hospitality lasts.

We checked out of the Knights Inn (where Ace got away with being 110 or so pounds over the weight limit) and made the two hour drive to New Albany this morning in a caravan of four cars — Joe’s mom, Joe’s grandparents, Joe, and Ace and me pulling up the rear.

This being ohmidog! and not ohmison!, it’s probably not the place to go on about how proud I am of my son … but I’m pretty darned proud of my son.

What would God want with a dead dog?

TV legend Art Linkletter died this week at 97.

A Canadian immigrant, Linkletter was an orphan, adopted by “a one-legged preacher.” He left home at 17 and bummed around America as a hobo —”a great way to see this great country,” he noted.

He went on to become one of the most famous voices on radio in the 1930s, successfully making the transition to television in the 1950s. As Stephen Moore noted in this week’s Wall Street Journal, the most enduring of his hit TV shows was “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

One of Linkletter’s personal favorites was the comment of a 7-year-old boy whose dog had recently died.

“Don’t be sad because your dog is up in heaven with God,” Linkletter said, attempting to appease the youngster.

“Mr. Linkletter,” the boy responded, “what would God want with a dead dog?”

Alabamer Glamour: The ultimate makeover

When you get off the Interstate Highway system, the country becomes a far more interesting place.

We finally did that today, for the first time on this trip, leaving behind all the monotonously lookalike exits to get a taste of yet-to-be homogenized America, where some character still exists.

Our drive across Alabama from Huntsville to Florence on Highway 72 — less than two hours — took us through Decatur, where we noticed this establishment on the side of the road.

I didn’t have time to drop in — I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of makeover, anyway  — because I had to get to Florence, get checked in and get myself gussied up for my son’s high school graduation tonight.

Ace won’t be attending that function. He’s more than content, I’m sure, to stay in the air conditioned room, even if it means he’ll be by himself.

The Knights Inn in Florence allows dogs, with a an extra $10 fee, but has a weight limit of 20 pounds, which wasn’t pointed out — neither the fee nor the limit — on the website where I made the reservation.

“What kind of dog do you have?” the desk clerk asked.

“A big mutt,” I answered.

“We have a limit of 20 pounds,” she said.

“Okay,” I said, “then he’s 19 and a half pounds.”

I’m not sure how I will handle it if I get confronted about my 130-pound dog — nearly seven times the limit:

Maybe, “He’s grown a lot since I checked in.”

Or, “He’s actually very small, he just has a lot of hair.”

Or perhaps, “Praise the Lord! He was a Chihuahua yesterday. It’s a miracle!”

For all of “Dog’s Country” — the adventures of Ace and me as we spend a month or more traveling around the country — click the picture to the left.

261 dogs seized from rescue organization

More than 250 dogs were confiscated from a rescue organization in Polk City, Florida, and its operators were arrested.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says 261 dogs were seized from Mid-Florida Retriever Rescue. Diane and Charles “Chuck” O’Malley were charged with more than 200 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and are being held at Polk County Jail.

The sheriff’s office received a tip at around 3 p.m. Wednesday that about 100 dogs were being mistreated at the O’Malley home, said Carrie Eleazer, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

Animal control officers went to the home Wednesday night and asked to see the dogs. The couple wouldn’t allow animal control staff into the home, but brought out one dog at a time to be inspected, Tampa Bay Online reported.

The couple showed 117 dogs to authorities, but by then it was midnight and they said they would not show any more, officials said.

The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant and returned to the home at around 2 a.m. Thursday, confiscating all 261 dogs that were at the home — 35 of them puppies. The dogs were mostly Labradors and Labrador mixes.

Sheriff’s officials said many of the dogs were malnourished and had fleas, parasites and tartar build up on their teeth.

“It was deplorable living conditions, even for humans,” Eleazer said.

The Facebook page for Mid-Florida Retriever Rescue said the nonprofit, founded in 2005, is dedicated to placing “Labrador retrievers and other working dogs in loving permanent homes.”

Poisoned meat kills two dogs in Virginia

Investigators in Virginia are looking for the person who threw poison-spiked meatballs into the yards of at least three homes in Fairfax County, killing two dogs and making a third ill.

One of the fatalities in the Centreville neighborhood was a five-month-old pit bull puppy; the other, an adult West Highland terrier. The third was taken to a vet for treatment, NBC in Washington reported.

The meat was found around homes in the 15000 block of Olddale Road.

Fairfax County police haven’t figured out what was in the meat, but they are warning all residents, especially those with children and small pets, to inspect their yards for anything suspicious.

All the way to Alabama

Your guess is as good as mine, but my guess is the person in charge of rest areas in North Carolina is a cat person.

Why else would have they created this giant litter box, installed at an I-40 rest area west of Asheville?

My dog certainly wasn’t interested in doing his business there, and I doubt many others are. Not to mention the dangers inherit in tying your dog, the sheer indignity of having to poop or pee while lashed to a wooden post, and the distinct possibility — in the event you and your dog do follow the directions — of soggy leash syndrome once the deed is done.

Perhaps I’m just not getting it. At the rest area, there’s a sign with an arrow pointing in the direction of a designated dog area, but no designated dog area — unless this horseshoe pit is it. We can only  hope children don’t see it, say “yeah, a sandbox,” and jump in.

Another traveler I encountered, accompanied by her Rottweiler mix, Bianca, couldn’t figure it out either. So both Bianca and Ace peed where they wanted, despite the state highway department’s apparent desire to have dogs tinkle only while tied.

Not long after the rest area stop, after cruising along that wonderfully winding stretch of I-40, we were in Tennessee, passing through Knoxville, Chattanooga, a smidgen of Georgia and then back into Tennessee before turning south and making it as far as Huntsville.

There we checked into a room at a La Quinta (Spanish for “we don’t make your dogs pee while tied to posts”), turned the air conditioner as low as it could go and cooled off, which we intend to do for the rest of the night and well into the morning before taking off for Florence, Alabama.

After two nights of free lodging at my mothers, and free meals, our budget took more of a hit today, after spending nothing yesterday.

Here’s how today’s expenses broke down:

Gas: $70

Food: A $2 meal deal at Taco Bell. (Ace got most of the tortilla and all the burrito filling that oozed out of it and hit the ground.)

Lodging: $60 at La Quinta.

Dog-friendly motels that don’t charge deposits, and air conditioning: Priceless.

Reputed NC dog fighter busted in VA

The Humane Society of the United States says a major figure in the dog fighting world has been arrested in Bedford County, Virginia.

The Humane Society says Jeffrey Denny, of North Carolina, has acknowledged selling hundreds of dogs for breeding or fighting all over the country.

According to WSLS, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office says Denny attempted to sell a pit bull to an undercover deputy. Two pit bulls were seized along with Denny’s van, which is crammed full of dog crates.

Police in North Carolina searched Denny’s Franklinville Home where sixteen more dogs were seized. Police also found break sticks, needles and syringes, an auto suture gun, a tool box containing medical supplies, medications and veterinary supplies, IV supplies and saline solution, mineral supplements, dog collars and a dog harness. Police said they seized eight guns and ammunition, drug paraphernalia and computer and written records from the home.

Denny faces one felony charge in Bedford County for transporting animals for fighting. After that, he’ll be returned to North Carolina to face sixteen felony dog fighting charges, eleven misdemeanor dog cruelty charges and one felony count for possession of drug paraphernalia. The sheriff’s office says Denny planned to sell the two pit bulls for $900 each. Deputies seized $392 from Denny’s van.