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Tag: companionship

Ferry tales can come true — for my dog

Trying to make up for lost time, and not all that keen — no offense, Chicago — on driving through the Windy City, Ace and I strayed from John Steinbeck’s route again and got from Michigan to Wisconsin by ferry boat.

Had we driven, circumnavigating Lake Michigan, it would have been 275 miles, about about five hours and nearly a tank of gas. Instead, we rode in relative comfort on the two-and-a-half hour trip across Lake Michigan — he in the car, me in a cushy seat.

It came with a price though — $92 for the car and $85 for me. Ace rode free, as dogs do on the Lake Express.

By taking the high-speed ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee, we bypassed Chicago, where Steinbeck boarded Charley at a kennel and spent a few days with his wife at the Ambassador Hotel.

I, having no spouse with whom to rendezvous, didn’t even consider replicating Steinbeck’s stay there. The Ambassador runs $139 to $309 a night, and allows only small pets.

The Lake Express seemed pretty dog friendly — although pets are not allowed in the ferry’s seating area, or on the deck. They are welcome in the passenger lounges in the terminals at both ends of the trip, and they are permitted to stay in the car during the crossing.

While Coast Guard regulations require all windows to be rolled up, that doesn’t seem to be too strictly enforced. In fact, a member of the ferry crew suggested I leave the window cracked, and, after meeting him through the window, was also kind enough to promise to check in on Ace from time to time.

The ferry has kennels on board, available for free on a first come, first served basis — but I figured Ace would feel safer and more comfortable in the car, as it has become his primary home over the last five months.

I, meanwhile, took a seat and worked on my laptop until the ferry got out of port. Once it did, the waters were a little rough — enough to keep me from working or reading. It was, however, just the right amount of slosh and sway to fall asleep to. So I did.

The ferry travels at about 35 miles per hour, making going on the top deck, at least on this day, a little too cold and windy to be enjoyed. It doesn’t have the romance of other ferries I’ve been on — at least I didn’t see it — and is more like a trip on Amtrak, only with no stops and side-to-side sway.

I’m told the ride can get quite hairy during bad weather; fortunately, though, we only had some “slight chop,” as the captain put it, and it got smoother once we were halfway across the lake.

Not too long after that, the crew member I’d met when boarding came and sat down across from me, asking questions about Ace and our trip. She reported that he was watching everything intently down in the cargo area, and admitted that she’d been sneaking over to pet him and give him treats.

There I’d been, snoring away for most of the trip, while Ace was working his magic a deck below — from the sounds of things flirting up a storm, all but conducting a shipboard romance. If I took a few tips from him (he has always had a way with the ladies), maybe I’d have someone to meet at the Ambassador Hotel, preferably someone who could afford it.

By the time the ferry docked in Milwaukee, we were back in the car and waiting to pull off. I was looking for the cigarette I was anxious to smoke once we cleared the boat. Ace was sticking his head out the window, desperately looking one way and then the other for his new crew member friend.

I didn’t bother telling him she was wearing a wedding ring.

One in five prefer pet as their Valentine

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So, with only three days left to Valentine’s Day, your honey still hasn’t firmed up the plans?

Could be he, or she, is planning to spend it with the pooch.

Rather than spending Valentine’s Day with their human partner, a fifth of adults would prefer to be with their pet, Reuters reports, based on a global poll conducted in conjunction with the market research company, Ipsos.

The survey of 24,000 people in 23 countries found, globally, 21 percent of adults would rather spend February 14 with their pet than their spouse or partner.

Interestingly, Turkish people were most inclined to want to spend the day with the dog (49 percent), while the French were least likely (10 percent).

The survey found that age and income were even bigger factors than country of residence, with younger, less affluent people more likely to choose their pet as their Valentine’s Day companion. About  25 percent of people aged under 35 opted for their pet over their partner, compared to 18 percent of those aged 35-54 and 14 percent of people aged 55 and over. Men and women were evenly split over the question.

About 1,000 individuals per country took part in the poll, with Turkey showing the largest numbers by far of owners who preferred their pet’s company on Valentine’s Day.  Next came India with 41 percent, Japan with 30 percent, China with 29 percent, the United States with 27 percent and Australia with 25 percent.

The nations where residents were the least likely to want to spend the day with a pet over their spouse or partner were France at 10 percent, Mexico at 11 percent, the Netherlands at 12 percent and Hungary at 12 percent.

Friends work to reunite dog, homeless man

Those who know him say a homeless man named Tim — despite his living conditions — took good care of his chocolate Lab, Pudge.

“No matter if it was five degrees below zero or if it was really hot, he had water for the dog and he took care of that dog before he took care of himself,” said Cheryl Munro.

For reasons unexplained, a Detroit police officer notified Animal Control and Pudge was picked up, according to a report by Fox 2 News in Detroit. She spent a week in the a nimal shelter because Tim lacked the money to pay for the license and vaccinations needed to get his dog back.

It looked like things were headed for a cruel end when those familiar with Tim and Pudge learned what had happened and began raising money.

“My co-workers and I, we work at Detroit Edison, and we went around and collected some money… to get this dog out of the pound for him,” Munro said.

Even the city Health Department, of which Animal Control is a division, helped pave the way for Tim to get his dog back.

“That’s his only companion. That’s his friend for life, and when you’re out here in the cold, you need some comfort,” said Detroit Health Department Spokesperson Mike McElrath. “We understand that at the Health Department, and what we’ve done, at this point, is we’re trying to reunite them. But because the gentleman is homeless, we know there has to be a legal residency, and so, we’re going to transfer it over to a friend.”

While the friends are having trouble locating Tim, one, Sharon Maceri, offered to take Pudge in until he can be found.

“I can’t imagine what this dog is going through with not being with Tim right now,” she said.

Injured soldiers, shelter dogs help each other

Soldiers recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and homeless dogs at the Washington Humane Society are helping each other out.

The arrangement — the dogs and soldiers get together twice a week at the Washington Humane Society — is producing benefits for both, according to an Army press release.

The soldiers get some time out of the hospital, and something to get their minds off their injuries. They take classes in animal behavior, learn grooming and practice training dogs. The dogs, meanwhile, get some attention and, through the training, become more adoptable.

The program got its start last spring when volunteers walking dogs for the Washington Humane Society — located across the street from Walter Reed’s main gate — noticed how patients would brighten up when the dogs came buy.

“They’re right across the street and we have an entire campus of recovering soldiers who have a lot of time in their days for the most part, and we have a lot of dogs and animals who need that extra human interaction and training and companionship,” Kevin Simpson of the Humane Society said. ”So it was just seeing that need and figuring out a way to put the two together.”

“We’ve learned how to make dogs sit, recognize their names, how to heel, how to leave things alone without bothering it. Just a lot of training of dogs and their reactions and personalities,” said Staff Sgt. Ladeaner Williams after completing a lesson in dog agility and guiding dogs through a series of obstacles.

Williams is undergoing treatment at Walter Reed for post traumatic stress disorder. She thought that working with the dogs would be a good way to develop her interest in becoming a veterinarian. The dogs also have the added benefit of helping her relax.

“I look forward to this every Tuesday and Thursday,” she explained. “The dogs look forward to it. It’s kind of sad. You train the dogs and you come back the next week and they may be adopted, so you don’t get to work with them again. But it’s nice to know that they are being adopted and that the training is paying off.”

(Footnote: A staff member at the Washington Humane Society reports that a dog she impounded was adopted by a graduate of the “Dog Tags” program. “They’re making each other’s lives better than they ever could have been otherwise. The dog was sure to die (as five of her puppies had) where she had been left before I found her, and her dad has found a new reason to get up in the morning.”)

 (US Army photo by Elizabeth M. Collins)

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