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Tag: baltimore sun

Saying goodbye to Ace

SONY DSC

He was a well-traveled dog who loved the road more than anything, except maybe you and me.

He was a survivor of Baltimore’s less tender side who was picked up as a stray, placed in a city shelter, found a home with some writer guy and went on to become a therapy dog and minor celebrity.

He was the subject of a five-part newspaper series examining his roots, a book (unpublished and unfinished), the inspiration for this website, and my reason for being.

SONY DSCHe was an ambassador for mutts, and, more particularly, for all those disrespected breeds his sweet, gentle self was made up of — Rottweiler, Akita, Chow and pit bull.

And now the hardest words I’ve ever written: Ace is dead.

Last week, he was frolicking in the woods. This week, he slowed down to a state near lethargy and showed little interest in eating, and in the past two days he began swelling up — mostly in the belly region.

Having recovered from his recent bladder surgery, he was the same dog he always was — until Monday night when he came inside showing no interest in his nightly treat.

The vet’s diagnosis was congestive heart failure and possible tumors — hemangiosarcoma.

Blood was not getting to his liver, and fluids were pooling up inside.

Based on Ace’s age (nearly 12, a good 90 in human years for a dog of his size), based on the poor outlook in either case, or the even worse outlook in the case of both, and based on his apparent discomfort, the vet recommended putting him down.

When I asked for some time to think about it, the vet said that wasn’t a good idea. When I asked to take Ace home and bring him back today, he said that wasn’t a good idea, either.

So we took an hour before the deed was to be done. We started walking. It started raining. It was taking all of his effort to keep up with me, and I (being a fellow member of the congestive heart failure club) walk pretty darn slow.

brendanfinnertyWe only walked a few hundred yards, yet in that time I was asked twice what kind of dog he was, and thanked four people who complimented him on his good looks.

We stopped at a Domino’s and sat on the pavement under an overhang. I bought him a small cheese pizza — his favorite food. He took two bites, but only because I insisted.

We stopped in the rain on the way back. I briefly debated whether I was doing the right thing. I held his head in my hands, rested my head on his and looked into his eyes. I could still see the love in them, but not the joy.

Back at the vet, on the floor with his head in my lap, the vet administered a sedative. Ace was soon snoring. Once the lethal injection was administered, his heartbeat slowed within minutes and then, around 6 p.m. Thursday, stopped.

I’ll get his ashes in a week or so, and I’ll spread them in Black Walnut Bottoms, the trail in Bethania he loved.

Having written a lot about dogs and death, I thought I’d be better prepared for this. But I’m a wreck.

In answer to one of the questions asked a lot over the years, no — a resounding NO! — he will not be cloned. Having written a book on dog cloning, people ask that of me. Clearly, they never read the book.

SONY DSCIn answer to another — whatever happened to that book you were writing about Ace? — well, 95 percent of it exists, but only on the Internet.

In 2011, Ace and I set off on a trip duplicating the route John Steinbeck took in “Travels with Charley.”

It ended up lasting a year, and covering 27,000 miles. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was the time of our lives.

Travels with Ace” didn’t interest any publishers, but it will hang around on the Internet — at least until my time comes.

I still need to finish the last chapter, but I can promise you this:

In the book, Ace won’t die.

(Photos: Top, Ace at Salvation Mountain in California; Ace at the Bandera County Courier in Texas; Ace and John (photo by Brendan Finnerty); Ace with a bust of John Steinbeck in Monterey, California)

Urine big trouble now: The yellow snow debate

In light of the utterly ridiculous, yet strangely fascinating debate over yellow snow here in Baltimore, we thought it was time for Frank Zappa to weigh in on the subject.

Also, it gives me the opportunity to showcase my art along with the Baltimore-born legend. Call it a joint exhibit. As you listen (above)  to Frank, you can view (below) my work, “Yellow Snow,” which, after being showcased here last week, met with rave review. I briefly considered turning it into a streaming video, but good taste (which Frank never let bother him) overruled:

yellowsnow.
What brought yellow snow to the forefront in Baltimore — in addition to three feet of snow and dogs having to relieve themselves — was an item in Jill Rosen’s Baltimore Sun blog, “Unleashed.”

It focused on the the complaint of one woman whose sensibilities were offended by the sight, and who suggested dog owners make some attempt to remove the yellow snow their dogs created.

More than 75 “Unleashed” readers have commented — some agreeing with her:

“The person who wrote this letter is absolutely right. The replys and comments also shows the stoopidity, selfishness and lazyness of the ignoramous dog owners in Baltimore. I cannot wait to move from my home town. This snowstorm has shown the worst in most of you.”

The majority considered it a fact of winter life, and pointed out the pee is always there; the snow just makes it visible. Others offered suggestions ranging from spray painting the yellow spots white, to requiring dog owners to cover up the yellow snow with clean white snow (something nature may be giving us a hand with by tomorrow.)

That’s right, more snow, which will lead to more yellow snow and, if it’s a large snowfall, more city residents setting out furniture (chairs, usually) to save the parking spaces they shoveled out.

The mayor has asked residents to stop doing that, but she hasn’t taken a stand on the issue of yellow snow yet (and I’m not saying she should). In a way, those who save their spaces with chairs are already paying a price, I’ve noticed. Dogs — though not mine, of course — tend to christen new vertical objects that appear on the street, and a lot of the parking place staker-outers will be lugging those objects back inside.

Among the many things worse than yellow snow, I’d think — and I’m sure Frank Zappa would agree — is yellow furniture.

Rescue Ink comes to town, by popular demand

Touch

 
The tough tattooed guys from Rescue Ink are coming to Baltimore.

At the urging of Jill Rosen, author of the Baltimore Sun’sUnleashed” blog, more than 100 Baltimore residents  pledged to get tattoos if the motley but warm-hearted crew of the National Geographic Channel program would visit Baltimore.

Appropriately enough, they’ll be making their appearance on Pit Bull Awareness Day, Sunday, Oct. 25, teaming up with the Baltimore Humane Society and B-More Dog to hold a rally against animal cruelty.

The day before — Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. — will be the Tattoo-a-thon, sponsored by Baltimore Tattoo Museum, 1534 Eastern Avenue. The shop says it will try to accommodate all of those who pledged to go under the needle, operating on a first come, first served basis. Proceeds from the Tattoo-a-thon will benefit both the Baltimore Humane Society and Rescue Ink.

The party continues on Sunday from 12 p.m. to  4 p.m. at the Baltimore Humane Society, 1601 Nicodemus Road, when Rescue Ink will be on hand to celebrate Pit Bull Awareness Day and to rally people against animal cruelty. B-More Dog will also be on hand to conduct demonstrations and speak on responsible pet ownership practices.

For more information call 410-833-8848 or visit www.baltimorehumane.org

Vote for ME! Vote for ME! Vote for ME!

mobbiesI was honored to learn today that ohmidog! is in the running for a “Mobbie” — a new series of awards for the best blogs in Maryland, sponsored by the Baltimore Sun.

I’m even more honored to learn that we are in the category “misfits.”

Click the link on the top of our leftside rail to vote for us, though I should point out it does requiring logging in and setting up an account with the Sun — meaning not that you have to subscribe, only that they will probably bug you to later.

As I am a good week late learning of this competition, and as dogs don’t get to vote, I don’t hold out much hope of  besting the other “misfits.”

But a respectable showing would be nice — at least topping, say, “The Baltimore Sewing Examiner.”

Carjacked and dogjacked, she gets one back

JoJoAn Easton woman was reunited with her dog today, but not her car, after losing both to carjackers earlier this week.

Amy Gaffney, 46, says she rolled down her window to ask for directions from two young men in west Baltimore when one of them reached in and grabbed her Lhasa Apso-poodle mix, Jojo.

When she jumped out of her car to try and get her dog back, someone else jumped in and drove the car away. In only about a minute, both her dog and car had disappeared from sight.

Gaffney filed a police report and got a ride back to Easton, according to the Baltimore Sun.

At about 2 a.m. the next night, Melissa Garland found a dog wandering the street in west Baltimore. She coaxed the dog out from under a car and took him home. The next morning dropped the dog off at the Maryland SPCA.

Gaffney, meanwhile, had called the SPCA that morning to file a missing dog report. SPCA staff alerted her that her dog had been found, and she arrived to pick it up this morning.

“His tail was wagging like crazy and he was kissing me,” Gaffney says. “I was crying and so happy.”

After the story appeared in the Sun, several readers questioned what the Easton woman might have been up to in that section of the city — and some even went to the trouble of looking up her criminal record, which includes some drug charges.

As the Sun’s blog, “Unleashed” points out today, Gaffney admits to some run-ins with the law, but it’s still a heartwarming story.

Maybe something less than thorough — newspaper management these days prohibits reporters from that luxury —  but still slightly heartwarming.

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.

Airedale airs her views in letter to editor

Finally, the Baltimore Sun is giving dogs some say. Either that, or it has laid off so many people it has to turn to dogs to provide content. In any case, the once-great newspaper printed a letter to the editor today from an Airedale, who may or may not have been assisted by her owner, Tom McCracken.

Apparently provoked by the new $1,000 penalty for unleashed dogs, the dog unleashed some opinions of her own in the letter, which was directed to Baltimore’s City Council. Here are some excerpts:

City Council Members: Please do not be surprised to get an e-mail from a dog …  My name is Maggie Mae, and I am a very lucky dog. My people live along a wonderful park …  A lot of my friends and I get to meet in this park almost daily for socialization and exercise, and any dog will tell you that a happy dog is a much better citizen than a frustrated one.

The park itself gets a tremendous amount of use. Why just tonight at 3 a.m., I was awakened by Loyola College students having a party there …  Well, that got me thinking about all of the people who do share the park and ways that they do or don’t take care of it. The college students will leave their empty beer cans scattered about. My owner often crushes them and carries them home in a poop bag because there are no trash cans there. Speaking of poop bags, we should all hope that The Baltimore Sun doesn’t go out of business, because that would be the end of poop bags as I understand it…

Another problem in the park is trail erosion. Every afternoon a hundred or so young humans come running through the park. They are wearing shirts that say Friends, Gilman, RPCS, Bryn Mawr, Hopkins and Loyola. They wear shoes with lugged soles that destroy the grass and cause mud puddles. I think it would be smart if the City Council asked them to wear collars with annual $10 ID tags, and maybe keep them all in a tight pack with a leash…

My purpose in writing this morning is to lodge my concern about the new $1,000 leash-law fines … I like my owner’s leash. It is important to get me safely across streets and past urban areas heavily populated with humans. It keeps a good dog honest. Conversely, a leash is a detriment in safe wooded park areas like mine.

If it is necessary to crack down on real dog threats, the dog police need to be given discretionary authority, to focus on those parts of the city where humans are being irresponsible … Barring that, the city should create and maintain fenced parks, for dogs only, where there would not be drunken college kids, high school runners, bicycles, and flowing sewage. There was a time when blacks and women could not vote. Council people, there will come a time, thanks to the Internet, when dogs will.

Thank you for your careful consideration on this matter.

Maggie Mae Airedale