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Tag: charity

Man and his guide dog hiking 1,000 miles

A legally blind North Carolina man and his guide dog are hiking a thousand miles for charity.

Trevor Thomas, of Charlotte, and his guide dog, Tenille, set out on April 6, hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind, which is where Tenille came from.

“The dogs are very expensive, the school receives absolutely no public funding at all,” Thomas said. “It’s all done on donation.”

blindhikerThomas, who calls himself “Zero/Zero,” a reference to his eyesight, was the first blind person to complete a solo hike of the entire 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail.

He has also completed two hikes through the Shenandoah Mountains, four through the Smokey Mountains, and, according to his website, is the first blind person to hike the length of the John Muir Trail in California.

“Getting Tennille was probably the best decision I’ve made since going blind,” Thomas said. “She has changed blindness from a negative to a positive, especially in my interaction with people. Now that I have Tennille people want to engage us, they want to find out more about this amazing dog that I have.

“She is literally the final piece in the puzzle to be able to undertake this trek working as a team, that’s the only way we’re going to be able to get from one end of this to the other. Just the sheer companionship alone is worth its weight in gold,” he added. “Tennille’s not only a guide, she’s a friend.”

For more information about his hike, visit blindhikertrevorthomas.com

Miracle on Baltimore’s 34th Street

Through the month of December, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) has been holding a bake sale on 34th Street, an area of Baltimore known for its over-the-top display of Christmas lights.

In addition to raising money for the shelter, BARCS is using the opportunity to educate the public about the shelter and about pit bulls — and how, despite the stereotypes, they aren’t innately evil. Generally, when a pit bull turns bad, it’s a human who has turned him that way.

As if to prove that point — that our problem is not bad dogs, it’s bad humans — a particularly heartless member of the latter species approached the BARCS booth last night, asked a BARCS volunteer if the money was being raised for charity, then ran off with the donation box.

A BARCS staff person chased the thief down the street, and he was eventually caught by another man and an off-duty firefighter.  When police arrived, the box of donations was recovered and the suspect was arrested.

Meanwhile, back at the BARCS booth, 34th Street residents and citizens there to enjoy the lights came forward in droves, offering assistance and donations to replace those that had been stolen.

“Yes, we DO believe in Santa Claus!” BARCS said in a press release yesterday.

 BARCS will be selling baked goods on 34th Street from 7 to 9 p.m. every night through December 31.

The strip club with a heart of gold

How did Ace end up next to the stripper’s pole at a gentlemen’s club in Dallas?

It’s a long story, but the main factors are these: The decline of American journalism, Newt Gingrich and dogs.

Dallas doesn’t have more strip clubs per capita than any other U.S. city, it only seems that way. In some parts of town they are pretty hard to avoid. Most are big and glitzy, and they advertise heavily on billboards featuring scantily clad women with come hither looks.

But that’s not our excuse.

No, our connection to The Lodge — an upscale gentlemen’s club modeled after a Rocky Mountain hunting lodge — goes back about eight months when, while compiling an article for ohmidog!, we got in touch with the strip club’s public relations man, or, as his business card puts it, the club’s “Writer-in-Residence.”

Michael Precker — like me, I learned then — had devoted the bulk of his life to newspapers, serving as a Middle East correspondent for nearly seven years, covering a wide variety of stories across America and ending up, like me, as a feature writer.

Our career paths were similar, as was our dissatisfaction with the way newspapers were heading. Both of us, seeing the ships we were on seemed to be sinking — at least in terms of quality and depth — had recently jumped off.

Both of us took buyouts — the captains way of helping staff make the decision to go overboard — he from the Dallas Morning News, me from the Baltimore Sun. I ended up writing about dogs. He, after meeting the club’s owner at a charity event, ended up in a strip club.

Life’s funny that way.

I got in touch with Precker — whose unusual job transition made the pages of the Wall Street Journal — last October. I had called to get some details and a photo of “Newt’s Nook,” a sanctuary for pit bulls that was being established with funds provided by the owner of the gentlemen’s club, Dawn Rizos.

Rizos had donated $5,000 to the cause — the amount being a refund of what she paid in advance to attend a private dinner in Washington to receive an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Newt Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.

It seems American Solutions had mistakenly bestowed the award — “in recognition of the risks you take to create jobs and stimulate the economy” — on Rizos and the Lodge, which does business under the name DCG, Inc.

They’d sent the fax to the wrong DCG — though, as Precker points out, The Lodge does stimulate the economy (among other things), and it has created a lot of jobs, not to mention helped a lot of its dancers pay for college and move into more “respectable” careers.

Realizing their flub, American Solutions rescinded the award – just a week before the ceremony Rizos had made arrangements to attend. But they did at least offer her a refund.

Rizos donated that money to an animal rescue organization seeking to build “Newt’s Nook,” named in honor of the former speaker of the House.

But that, it seems, was neither the first nor last time that the Dallas gentlemen’s club and its staff have done their bit, and then some, for animals.

Earlier this month they held a charity car and bike wash and buffet, with all proceeds going to the Metroplex Animal Coalition. Over the years, The Lodge’s car washes have raised more than $160,000 for local animal causes.

Also this month, the club’s manager of VIP services, Sunny Hunter, and her husband Richard Hunter — adopters of a Michael Vick dog — were among those who tried to help catch a stray dog that was holding up traffic for days on the LBJ Freeway. Once the dog, nicknamed Alley, was caught, Rizos adopted it, and now brings it to work along with her Chihuahua, Pedro.

Richard Hunter, a local talk show host, caught the dog with help from comedian Hal Sparks and Operation Kindness. Hunter has also been involved in trying to capture the elusive stray that has been hanging around a Dallas church whose pastor has threatened to have it shot.

According to Precker, who I’d agreed to look up if I ever came to town, The Lodge has a lot of dog lovers, in addition to its owner, on staff.

He and Sunny even went so far as to invite Ace for a visit. While I had lunch and an interview with Precker, Ace stayed upstairs in the office under the supervision of staff. He was more enamored with a stuffed bear — one of numerous mounted animals in the club — than the dancers.

The next day, before business hours, Ace was allowed to climb up on a stage, check out the stripper’s pole and pose for pictures with Carrie, one of the dancers, and Vanna, who works the front desk.

Dawn Rizos, who has been honored for bringing class and flair to an industry often viewed as seedy — and here we’re talking strip clubs, not journalism — was out of town, so we didn’t get to meet her, Alley or Pedro.

But Ace and I did get to meet Michael Precker, who’s found job security in a strip club;  and the Hunter’s and their Vick dog, Mel, whose found some security as well. We’ll bring you that story — unless some gentlemen’s club hires us as writer-in-residence in the interim — tomorrow.

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

A sled race where humans pull the dogs

Here’s an interesting role reversal. Snausages, the dog snack, sponsored what it describes as the first man sled race earlier this month — one that let the humans pull the dogs for a change.

Four teams, each representing a pet related charity, competed in the March 2 race in Anchorage.

The Snausages Man Sled Race was no Iditarod;the human teams only had to cover 75 yards. The winning team received a $5,000 donation to their charity. The second, third and fourth teams each raised $1,000.

Dogs hit the surf for charity in California

California dogs hit the surf in Huntington Beach over the weekend for a new charity event called the Surf City Surf Dog Competition. Here (after the obligatory advertisement — how better to sell gasoline than with a dancing dog?) is a news report on the event.

Pit bulls: They want you to want them

In honor of today’s Great Pit Ball in Las Vegas — an all-day charity event to benefit the Villalobos Animal Rescue Center — we bring you two videos portraying pit bulls in the kind of positive light that seldom shines on them.

Partying for pits in Vegas: The Great Pit Ball

The Great Pit Ball, an all-day charity event to benefit the Villalobos Animal Rescue Center, the largest rehabilitation and placement facility for abandoned pit bulls in the world, is scheduled to take place March 14 in Las Vegas.

All proceeds from the night will go to the rescue center.

“Like many non-profits today, Villalobos has been under financial duress for some time due to the economic climate so we knew we had to do something to help,” said Brandon Bond, a tattoo artist from Atlanta  who co-organized the event.

“People have many misconceptions about pit bulls, when in reality, they are the most loyal, loving and amazing animals,” said co-organizer Ralph Perazzo, award-winning pastry chef and owner of Rare Concepts Group.

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