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Archive for September 5th, 2010

Candle blowin’ time: My birthday wish list

For my birthday, which is today, I was thinking of writing up a wish list — all the things Ace and I need to continue, for the next three months, our travels across America.

At the top would be use of a state of the art motorhome — not one of those gas-greedy, road-hogging behemoths, but something a bit more compact and economical, where I won’t constantly be worrying about how quickly my wallet is draining or whether I’m in my own lane.

After that, I’d ask for a continuation of the cooler weather that has finally shown up, reasonable gas prices, an end to any and all weight limits and “fees” charged for bringing a dog along anywhere, health insurance (for me and my dog), world peace, and that Ace and I manage to continue to avoid life’s potholes. Cash, of course, is always nice, too.

Yes, as our financial situation grows bleaker, sending us back to the 401K to continue our journey– assuming there’s still something left of the 401K — I could work up quite a wish list.

But wish lists are a waste of time — they lead one to get so focused on what they’d like to get that they fail to appreciate what they have gotten. They tend to itemize the material things, while leaving out the more important ones. In my case, in the last three months, what I’ve gotten has been a lot. With the possible exception of when I got my first dog — that’s him and me in the picture — I’ve probably never been happier.

I think I was about 10 when it was taken — apparently in the days before focus had been invented. You’ll just have to trust me when I say we were a good looking team. I’m not sure what happened to the snappy red blazer, but Tippy — a gift for my 5th birthday — died, as all dogs do.

Since then, another 45 years passed — as have about a dozen more dogs. There were jobs, and wives, high points and low ones, honors and criticism, thrills and disappointments, challenges and victories, all of which led to where I am today. Specifically, that’s in the house of a friend in Baltimore, who has gone to the beach and offered me lodging in exchange for feeding her cat, named Kitty, who so far has just hidden underneath a chair making noises like a constipated aardvark.

Or at least what I’d imagine a constipated aardvark would sound like.

Where I am, in the broader sense, is: 57 years old, unemployed, without a home (mostly on purpose) and halfway through what I hope to be a six month journey, weaving back and forth across America. With, of course, my dog.

Right now, I am actually in several states: Maryland, Flux, Uncertainty, and, perhaps the most scenic of all, Disarray. I am attempting to make some sense of the jumble of paperwork, books, shoes, clothing and garbage that inside of my car; and fighting off the nagging insecurity of not having a real home, a real job, a real bank account. I am tired of Motel 6’s, fast food and tailgaters.

Yet, for some reason, as Ace and I simultaneously ponder the wisdom of, and rest up for, the next leg of the journey, I am more thankful than ever for all I have — my dog, family, friends and the last three months being at the top of that list.

Ace has truly dazzled me with his ability to adapt to new situations (though we’ll see how he does later this week when we attempt to spend a few nights aboard a not very large and difficult-to-climb aboard boat). He has adjusted with ease to everything so far — new accomodations, new dogs, long drives, curly fries,  hot weather, canned food. Being with each other pretty much around the clock, we’ve become even closer, more co-dependent than before, which may or may not be an entirely good thing.

Family and friends have opened their homes to us as we’ve hopscotched the country — and so, on occasion, have complete strangers. We’ve met authors, and Michael Vick dogs, we’ve “couchsurfed,” visited ex-wives and ex-cats, spent time at shelters, rescues and sanctuaries that are doing wonderful things, and had some fantastic encounters with everything from space aliens to strippers.

I’ve learned that people are good, dogs are even better, and America — mired as it may temporarily be by the bad economy — remains, like the old song says, beautiful … and by that I mean both its landscape and the people who occupy it. I am lucky to have seen so much of it and met so many of them — the latter, more often than not, being made possibly by my amazing one-of-a-kind dog.

So, to heck with the wishes;  it is a happy birthday; we are going to push on; and the cat under the chair, as I wished, has stopped making noises.

Really, the only thing Ace and I need to continue our journey across America is each other.

On the other hand, if someone insists on providing us with an RV, we will accept.

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America)

Were pups thrown in river saved downstream?

A grandmother in Bosnia is claiming she saved the six newborn puppies that a young woman tossed into a fast flowing river — an act that was captured on video and has outraged dog lovers internationally.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Ruza Pavlovic, a 75-year-old woman who lives in Bugojno, Bosnia, says she saw the pups struggling in the river and fished them out.

The Mail article points out that it hasn’t been confirmed that the puppies are the same ones that a woman in a red hooded sweatshirt was videotaped throwing one by one into the river.

The “saved” puppies seem to have a brownish coloring not seen on those in the video. And the “savior” is making it known that she is too poor to provide them with food. “They are healthy and happy,” they quote her as saying. “My problem is that they need at least three litres of milk a day and I live only on my small pension, but I do not have the heart to abandon them.”

Police, the Mail article reports, have tracked down the girl they believe threw the animals into the river and are set to interview her. The name of the girl, also from Bugojno, has not been published to protect her safety.

The video was posted on Facebook, and appeared on YouTube and LiveLeaks, enraging animal lovers at least as much as last year’s video of a man in Lithuania throwing a dog off a bridge.

Another animal rights group – SOS, which is based in Sarajevo – also claimed to have information confirming the location of the girl, who was reportedly filmed by her brother.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the young woman.

Meanwhile, several Facebook groups have formed, seeking to bring her to justice as well.

Florida dog fatally shocked by lake

A walk in a park turned fatal for a Florida man’s dog, which was apparently electrocuted last week when he jumped in a lake while playing fetch.

Victor Garcia was walking with his 6-month old Labrador retriever, Ruger, Wednesday afternoon at the Perrine Wayside Dog Park in south Miami-Dade when he threw an object into the park’s man-made lake for the dog to fetch,  CBS4 reported

After the dog jumped in, Garcia said, he began acting strangely.

“All of a sudden, as he got closer to the center of the fountain, he started screaming, yelping, bloody murder,” said Garcia.

Garcia said when he ran into the lake to rescue he too was zapped by what felt like electric shocks.

“I just couldn’t pass this wall of electricity and I had to watch my best friend drown right in front of my face, essentially, I mean that dog is my whole entire world to me, he’s the reason I wake up in the morning.”

Garcia didn’t require hospitalization, but his dog was killed.

Park officials say the fountain in the center of the lake was turned off, but apparently it was still sending an electric current into the water. Electricians have removed the fountain to inspect it.