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Tag: barney

When dogs descend on Mayberry

Ace’s herniated disc — steadily improving, it seems — has slowed our wandering ways, leading us to limit out travels for at least another week. So far, during our stay in North Carolina, we’ve mostly stuck around the mansion grounds, taking it easy.

But that doesn’t mean we still can’t go to Mayberry, one way or another.

There are those who will tell you there is no real Mayberry in North Carolina. They’re the same ones who will tell you there is no Santa. In truth, in North Carolina, Mayberry is never more than 30 minutes away from wherever you are. You just head down that country road, away from the city, past the suburbs, and stop in the first town big enough to have gas pumps and a barber shop. If you’re greeted with a smile, and it appears genuine, you’re in Mayberry.

Of all the smallish towns in North Carolina, Mount Airy is the one that makes the most of its link to Mayberry, and — it being just up the road — we’ll be going there once Ace is up for it.

For now though, we get there via the couch, with a remote control as our steering wheel. Usually, if you keep flipping, you can find it and, for 30 minutes, go back to a time and place where gigabytes didn’t exist, the pace was slow, things were black and white, and life had just the right amount of complications — enough to keep it interesting, but not so many as to overwhelm your hard drive.

That’s what I liked about Mayberry: Every problem could, in less than 30 minutes, be resolved with some calm and unrushed reasoning — even what to do with a pesky pack of stray dogs.

PART ONE: In which Otis gets his breakfast and Opie finds a dog …

PART TWO: In which Barney takes the dogs — 11 of them now — to a happy place …

PART THREE: In which the strays save the day …

We’ve got to stop linking like this

Finally, some good press.

Ace got a nice mention — and I didn’t fare too badly, either — in our friend Susan Adcock’s “Carny Dog” blog last week.

We had the pleasure of meeting Susan, a long-time ohmidog! reader, and her pit mix, Stella, when they came to Baltimore from Nashville last week — a pilgrimage prompted by the last request of a carnival worker named Barney, who Susan befriended as a photographer.

After Susan spread Barney’s ashes on the grave of his mother, we met up at Riverside Park, stopped to hydrate with the dogs at a neighborhood bar and went out to eat.

Among Susan’s kindly notations on my dog and me:  ”…It didn’t take long to realize that the two of them were as much a part of the neighborhood as the park itself. Everyone from homeless guys to moms pulling wagon-loads of kids knew them well enough to stop and talk, and they did. Humans called out to Ace from a distance.” Ace, she noted, was “one of the more well-adjusted dogs we’ve encountered.”

She was also impressed with our impromptu dessert. We stopped at the house of some friends on our way back for some leftover birthday cake. “It is a true friend who will let a man show up with a complete stranger, at nine-thirty at night for dessert,” Susan wrote.

On that point, I couldn’t agree more.

I think, for Susan, it was love at first sight — for the city, I mean. I think she saw in Baltimore what I see in it: its curiously appealing grittiness, its near total lack of pretentions, its quirkiness, its deeply etched character, and characters — some as shiny and polished as the Inner Harbor, some as rough-edged and splintered as a ratty working wharf.

Having just pulled out Friday, I miss it already.

I think Susan does too. “Seriously,” she wrote, “it made me want to move.”

(Photo: Ace, Stella and me, by Susan Adcock)

Barney gets last wish, Susan gets crabcakes

This one’s about a dog named Stella, a carny named Barney and the woman who sort of adopted them both — a Nashville photographer who motored up to Baltimore last week to carry out Barney’s last wish: that his ashes be spread upon the grave of his mother.

Susan Adcock became enamored with carnival workers more than a decade ago, and continued to count them as her friends long after she completed a newspaper assignment documenting their lives in photos. A highly compassionate sort, she helped them through troubles and sometimes even gave them shelter in her own home.

Among those she befriended was Barney, a down on his luck, hard drinking sort from Baltimore who she met while taking carnival photos. Barney, for a while, had a job as Barney, the dinosaur. He’d put on his purple dinosaur outfit and delight when the audience cheered and called his name, which was actually his name.

When Barney died, it was Susan who saw to it that he was cremated, in accordance with his wishes, Susan who took possession of his ashes, and Susan who cleaned out his apartment.

“I packed up his apartment over the weekend and by Monday afternoon, twelve years of hard living evaporated into space,” she wrote on Pitcherlady.com, one of her blogs. “People that hadn’t seen Barney in forever stopped by to say how sorry they were. They asked for things and I didn’t mind them asking. Most of them loved Barney too. Just not enough to stop by and help him get to the bathroom when he needed it …”

The next day, she took the Baltimore native’s ashes back to her house in Nashville, and found some comfort in having them around.

“Often you have three days or so to say goodbye and then that person in in the ground under a stone. This experience taught me that being able to take the remains of the deceased home with you is much more bearable. I knew in my head that Barney was gone but I was able to sit the box on my kitchen table and we hung out all summer together. That was a gift. My grief was tempered by having him around.”

As summer wound down, Susan planned the trip to Baltimore. Barney wanted to be “returned to the arms of his mother.” She died in 1978. This week, Susan drove to Baltimore with her dog Stella in the back seat, and Barney’s boxed ashes in the front. She took the ashes to a cemetery on Eastern Avenue, where she me Barney’s daughters, and a grandson he had never met.

“Their pictures used to be stuck on the side of his refrigerator with magnets and he told me once that he wanted them there so he could see them from his bed whenever he looked up. He used to tell them goodnight before he went to sleep, ’like the Waltons,’ he said.”

Barney was a big fan of TV, and, for 12 years, never turned off the one in his apartment. “I remembered Barney saying once that wherever he ended up, they better have cable,” Susan wrote.

Once Susan accomplished her mission and the ashes were spread, she — along with Stella, a pit bull also adopted from the carnival — saw a little of Baltimore. She visited Edgar Allan Poe’s house, they took a ride in a water taxi, and she went in search of crab cakes — finding none below $20. That’s when she wrote me.

A regular reader and commenter on ohmidog!Susan knew Ace and I were on the road, and didn’t know we were back in Baltimore for a bit. Long story short, as they say, we emailed back and forth, talked on the phone, met with our dogs in Riverside Park, and went to Captain Larry’s for crabcakes.

Susan, though she has a degree in psychology, decided to become a full-time photographer almost 20 years ago. You can see her work on her blogs, including pitcherlady and carnydog, which centers on Stella, the pit bull she adopted two years ago. Stella belonged to some carnival workers and was three months old when Susan took her in. By then, she — Stella — had already been to four state fairs and a variety of other spots throughout Wisconsin and Illinois.

Knowing how hard carnival life can be, on dogs and people, Susan volunteered to adopt her and the owners agreed.

Stella and Susan left Baltimore Thursday, headed for a visit to the beach before going back to Nashville. We wish them safe travels, and count ourselves lucky to have met someone so compassionate, so talented and so aware that not every creature in need of rescue has four legs.

(Photos: Barney photo by Susan Adcock; Stella photos by John Woestendiek)

Who lets the First Dog out? Often, Dale Haney

boobama5You don’t know the face, but you may know the leg: A khaki-clad hunk of it often shows up — generally from the knee down — in photographs of Bo Obama.

The leg belongs to Dale Haney, who, when the First Family is too busy to walk the dog, assumes the duty.

As a keeper of the White House grounds for nearly 40 years, Haney has managed to cultivate  relationships with the presidential pups — all the way back to Richard Nixon’s Irish setter, King Timahoe.

“They heard about me and they called me to come over here for an interview and I came and here I still am,” he told the Associated Press  during a tour of the gardens on a rainy morning when first lady Michelle Obama — Bo’s primary walker — was out of town.

“I have him a little bit more” when she’s traveling, said Haney.

haney-100Before Bo came along, Haney had walked and played with President George W. Bush’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. But he says he was most fond of Spot, an English springer spaniel whose mother, Millie, belonged to Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.

“I do have a soft spot for Spot,” he said in an online chat in 2003. “I was there when she was born and now she’s back.” Millie gave birth to Spot at the White House in 1989; the younger Bush and his wife, Laura, put Spot to sleep in 2004 after she’d had several strokes.

Haney began at the White House as a gardener, then was supervisor of grounds maintenance and lead horticulturist before becoming superintendent of all the grounds last fall.

Besides helping out with Bo, Haney tends to the nearly 19 acres of lawns, trees and gardens around the White House.

White House makes a final Barney video


The White House has produced its final holiday video (I’m hoping this isn’t our tax dollars at work) featuring the president’s dog, Barney.

In this year’s “Barney Cam” Christmas greeting, the first family’s Scottish terrier scampers amid the White House’s red, white and blue holiday decorations before retiring for a nap and imagining himself as an athlete.

The Barney Cam was introduced in the 2002 holiday season, and got 24 million Web visitors on its first day, according to the Associated Press.

Since then, Barney’s holiday videos have featured former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush adviser Karl Rove, country singers Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson and other stars. Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin guest star in the final holiday doggie video from the White House.

Barney is shown in cutout animation as an Olympic vaulter, swimmer and synchronized diver with fellow terrier Miss Beazley, both in red swimsuits.

He also dreams of sinking the final putt to secure the Ryder Cup, with the entire U.S. Ryder Cup team chanting “Barney, Barney, Barney!”

The Barney Cam spot introduced Monday starts with President George W. Bush, his wife, Laura, and their daughters, Jenna and Barbara, reminiscing about their times together in the White House, then sending Barney off to decorate and nap.

Biting political commentary: Barney bit before

Whether George W. Bush is leaving the White House in disgrace is a matter best left for the political pundits — a group I am proud to say I don’t belong to — but as for his dog Barney, it seems he is definitely going out on a low note.

In addition to nipping a television journalist (good boy, Barney) this month, it has been revealed that, back in September, there was another biting incident — this one involving a public relations director (attaboy!).

Heather Walker, the public relations director for the Boston Celtics basketball team, has revealed how America’s First Dog bit her wrist and drew blood after she tried to pat him during a White House ceremony honoring the team’s 17th NBA championship.

“I walked into the White House and in the first area you walk into, there are Miss Beazley and Barney,”  Walker said. “They were sitting on this Oriental rug, and I just reached down to pat Barney and he attacked me.”

Both Miss Beazley and Barney are Scottish terriers.

Walker, who had her wrist wrapped with a bandage by a Boston Celtics trainer, spoke about her ordeal on Friday, just days after Barney bit Reuters television reporter John Decker’s finger when he reached down to pat the seemingly docile hound.

Walker said she had wanted to keep the Sept. 19 incident under wraps, but her hometown newspaper, The Salem (Mass.) News, reported it Friday, according to the Associated Press

Barney, despite starring in several White House Christmas videos and having his own official website, isn’t likely to go down as one of the most beloved first pets.

Karl Rove once described him as “a lump,” while former Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who owns a black labrador called Koni, is said to have remarked that such a small dog was unfitting for a world leader, the London Telegraph reports.

(Photo from www.barney.gov)

What’s in a name?

Naming a new dog is no simple task. One could go with the name of someone they admire (Stay, Phelps!), a place they once lived (Good boy, Wichita!), or perhaps a predominant trait: Here, Tinkler! Sit, Humpty!

Daniel Wallace, in an article for Garden and Gun magazine, suggests spending some time observing your new pooch. Unlike naming a child — often done before he or she is born — dogs generally have the advantage of being observed before they get their moniker.

Wallace’s basset hound, for example, was clearly a “Barney” — a name he suggests be avoided for humans.

“(People) given this name out of the womb … will without a doubt become sad. The name dictates the sadness to follow. Dogs benefit from being dogs in that we have a good idea of what they’ll look like and the general characteristics they possess before we give them their names,” he writes.

For his boxer, he chose “Mugsy.” 

“The name Mugsy works because a boxer looks like a boxer, and in that sense it’s easy to imagine what a dog like that might be named,” Wallace wrote. “One could even claim it’s clichéd, but I think the only person who would claim that is the kind of person who would begin a sentence with the words one could.

For his mixed breed, Wallace came up with “Rudy.”

“… His big red eyes were so needy, so pitiful, and when he looked at you, it was not love you saw but the last hopeless look of a man falling off a cliff. Maybe you’ll throw me a rope or something? Maybe? No? That’s fine. I didn’t expect you to. He whimpered. He whined. He shivered for no good reason. Women seemed to like Rudy, but it was really just pity.”

The best name is one that fits the dog’s personality, Wallace seems to think — though he admits that  personality will evolve as a dog matures.

“Dogs have been hanging out with people for over ten thousand years. They are empty vessels we fill with a reflection of ourselves; or, alternatively, they come ready-made with their own strong personalities, which, insane as they sometimes are, we accept, because they accept ours. Having a dog is possessing a life, and dogs are in fact like children, but better, because they don’t grow up to rob banks or hate you. They love you the same until they die.”

Speaking of names, I’m not sure who came up with Garden and Gun, which struck me as an unlikely combo. When it was first mentioned to me, I pictured folks planting a vegetable patch, then waiting around with shotguns for varmints to infiltrate it. Actually, it’s a far more civilized publication, headquartered in Charleston, S.C. (which is named after King Charles II of England).

(Photo couresty of cafepress.com)