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Tag: dog park

Poop-slinging mayor resigns in California

The California mayor caught on video flinging a bag of dog poop into a neighbor’s yard has resigned.

Dennis Kneier’s resignation as mayor of San Marino — he’ll remain on the city council — came amid mounting criticism about his behavior in what some have dubbed “Poopgate.”

About 100 community members attended a June 11 city council meeting, where some residents called for Kneier’s resignation.

He offered it, effective immediately, yesterday.

The controversy began after Kneier’s neighbor Philip Lao discovered the small bag of dog poop outside his home.

He reviewed video from his home’s surveillance cameras, which showed Kneier tossing the bag.

San Marino police cited Kneier for littering that same day, and the video, which Lao shared publicly, went viral.

Lao — apparently not good buddies with Kneier — believes the mayor intentionally tossed the bag in retribution for putting a “No Poop Zone” sign outside his home and publicly opposing a proposed dog park, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Our take on all this? We think his honor behaved childishly, and less than honorably, but we also think — when it comes to the amounts of shit politicians routinely sling — Kneier’s poop-pitching was probably both less heinous and less harmful than much of what, historically, has been hurled.

In San Marino, Vice Mayor Eugene Sun will assume mayoral responsibilities through June 27 when the council is scheduled to meet and select a new mayor. Kneier will remain on the City Council until his term ends in November 2015.

In his letter of resignation, Kneier apologized, saying he suffered a moment of bad judgment.

“I thought it would be the very best thing for us to move forward and have a reorganization and have a new mayor,” he said in an interview with NBC in Los Angeles.

Decisions, decisions


Dog park or ball park?

Ace and other Winston-Salem area dogs have at least two entertainment options to choose from this Sunday, and unfortunately they overlap.

Tanglewoof,” the long-awaited, much delayed dog park at Tanglewood holds its grand opening Sunday — around the same time that the Winston-Salem Dash has its first “Pups in the Park” baseball game of the season.

What’s a dog to do?

The Tanglewood event kicks off with a blessing of the dogs at 12:45 p.m., followed by an afternoon of presentations on doggie topics ranging from health to agility training.

From 1 to 5 p.m., there will be presentations every 30 minutes, along with vendors offering food and more. Admission is free, but organizers are asking people to bring a donation of food, kitty litter, paper towels or bleach for the Forsyth or Davie humane societies.


The three-acre park, which features small and large dog areas, was built with donations from businesses and private donors. The village of Clemmons pitched in more than $9,000 for plumbing and Forsyth County donated the land in Tanglewood Park. Money was also raised through earlier dog-friendly baseball games held by the Dash.

The minor league team’s first “Pups in Park”  game this season is Sunday at 2 p.m. It’s one of three listed on this year’s schedule. (The other two are June 9 and Aug. 25.)

Pooch passes must be purchased in advance, and written proof of rabies vaccinations are required. (For more information, contact Sarah Baumann at 336-714-6878 or email sarah.baumann@wsdash.com.)

Roadside Encounters: Mikey and Soju

Names: Mikey and Soju 

Breeds: Pug and Great Dane 

Encountered: At Riverside Park in Baltimore

Backstory: I got to spend some time with two of my favorite local dogs yesterday — a day whose warm temperatures led both humans and canines to linger at Riverside Park, in no particular hurry to get back home.

Even if it’s not here to stay, the mild weather was welcome — especially to Ace, after a winter of being rushed through the dog walk by an owner hoping to quickly get the “mission” accomplished and himself back indoors …

“C’mon, do your business, my toes are frozen. It’s too cold. Let’s go.”

In retrospect, in this past month, I’ve probably been, in Ace’s eye, a bit of a buzzkill.

Doing his duty, I don’t think, has ever been the foremost mission in Ace’s mind during trips to the park (hence the urging). He sees it as more of a happy hour, or preferably two – a chance to add to his scent portfolio, visit old dog friends, meet some new ones, and track down those folks who, at some point in history, have provided him with a treat.

Yesterday was the kind of visit he likes best — a long one, with good dog friends to play with, new ones to sniff out, and lots of humans to mooch off. (If you have treats in your pocket, Ace will determine which pocket and, should you need prompting, attempt to insert his nose inside it. When it comes to freeloading, I think I have learned some of his skills, and he has picked up some of mine.)

We got to catch up with our old friend Soju — he’s named after the vodka-like (but sweeter) Korean beverage. Soju and Ace are old friends, and they used to wrestle endlessly at Riverside, a true up-on-the-hind-legs, paw-swinging battle of the titans. When one of them went down, you could almost feel the earth shake.

They went at it for a bit yesterday, with Ace, the older of the two, watching as Soju galloped around him in circles, then tackling him like a lazy linebacker when Soju veered close enough.

Mikey stayed out of the fray — a wise choice given he’s not much bigger than a football. Mikey, a therapy dog with one of the more expressive faces you’ll ever see, generally avoids the roughhousing, choosing instead to sit at your feet, looking up at you with big brown bulging eyes until you give him a treat, no matter how long it takes.

Good things, he seems to know, come to those who wait – and spring is one example. Yesterday didn’t mark it’s arrival, but even a false precursor was welcome, and dogs and humans soaked it up. It occurs to me that we should send thank you notes to spring — perhaps that would lead her to stay around a little longer and forestall the inevitable arrival of her evil sister summer, who always comes to early and stays past her welcome.

Speaking of staying past one’s welcome, Ace and I — after a glorious month in a friend’s empty house in Federal Hill — will be hitting the road again next week.

As of now, it appears we will be heading south, where we plan to stay in an undetermined location for an indeterminate period of time. How’s that for a plan?

Once again, we’ll tear ourselves away from Baltimore, where — in addition to promoting my new book — the last month has allowed us to get ourselves organized, experience a semblance of stability, soak in a hot tub on a rooftop deck (just me, not Ace) and savor the pleasures of our old neighborhood.

I’ll miss my corner bar. Ace will miss his favorite park. But, as I think I said nine months ago — when Ace and I first embarked on our journey to discover America, its dogs and the people who love them — there’s one thing we’ll miss most of all:

Friends … big and small.

(To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.)

Reflections on our time Down East

The coast of Maine is one of those places that, even once you leave it, stays with you.

It has been two days since Ace and I departed — to venture up to the northeasternmost part of the state, like John Steinbeck did 50 years ago — but our trip up the coast of Maine, onto Mount Desert Island and around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park has got to be one of the highlights of our four-plus months on the road so far.

So forgive us as we, well, reflect.

The mountains, the lakes, the ponds, the crashing surf, the mossy forests, the sunrises and sunsets, the dog park, the rocks, the cliffs, the quaint towns and scenic winding roads — thinking back on it all makes me heave a big sigh, and try to figure out a way to get back.

It’s a place, at once, so vastly civilized and vastly uncivilized, offering nature in its rawest forms, or, if you prefer, a horse drawn carriage ride to enjoy the traditional tea and popovers.

I didn’t pop for that, but I did have some magnificent blueberry pancakes — an “order of blues,” as they say — at Jordan’s Restaurant, and a memorable Greek pizza at Tamarind, the restaurant owned by the couple that provided Ace and me with a room, multiple tours and the run of their property for two days.

Ron and Karen Greenberg were the consumate hosts, and Ace mostly got along with their animals.

There were Spike and Two Spikes, both named for the white streaks on their otherwise black foreheads, a thoroughbred named Mona and a white pony named Goblin (left), who was probably my favorite — probably because he reminded me so much of a dog.

That may be because Karen has trained the 34-year-old pony using something called the Pirelli method, which is based on understanding the psychology, personality and nature of horses. Its practitioners say it leads to a ”deep, seamless and mutually beneficial human-horse relationship.”

I’m no expert on it, but my guess is — given that the key is trying to understand why a being behaves as it does — it’s a good philosophy to practice with dogs as well, not to mention other animals, like humans. Understanding and emotionally connecting, I’d think, are much more useful than berating, punishing and criticizing — as any good horse trainer, school teacher, parent,or dog owner can tell you.

And it’s a good practice when it comes to places, too. Learning its history, geography, geology, dipping your toe in its surf, sitting on its rocks, hiking its trails, cleaning its dirt out from underneath your fingernails all lead to better appreciating a place.

Ron and Karen, who have lived there for 30 years, were perfect examples of that. In our travels, it has been heartwarming to come across people who truly love where they live, to the extent that they want to show if off, whether it be Albuquerque or Acadia.

Almost like proud parents, they address the highlights, pull out photos, show off the trophies – and in the process, they pass that emotional connection they have on to you.

It’s almost as if what they’ve seen over decades, or a lifetime, in a place, starts being reflected in you.

Even if you only get to spend a day or two there.

It’s the best kind of contagiousness.

And on Mount Desert Island, I caught it.

(To see a synopsis of where we’ve been so far, click here.)

(To follow “Travels with Ace” in its entirety, click here.)

Now THAT’S a dog park

Those who loyally follow my travels with Ace know that we feel a far stronger connection to the poor than the rich, and that our compassion for the former stems largely from our envy of the latter, along with our liberal bias, and the fact that we are, for now, living a few steps under the poverty line.

From time to time, we come close to bashing the wealthy — mostly for good reason, sometimes for no reason at all.

In our travels so far, we’ve noticed that some of the nicest parts of this country — be they desert, mountains or  oceanfront — have, in effect, become playgrounds for the rich, sometimes to the extent that the not so rich are nudged, pushed or priced out.

From Santa Fe to Cape Cod, we’ve seen communities that were established and long occupied by the working class – miners and fishermen and the like — that have refocused on tourism and are appealing to an upscale demographic, turning them into places everybody wants to come, but not everybody can afford.

So it was a bit to my surprise, and ran counter to my thinking — namely, that rich people achieve that state through selfishness — when I learned that the postcard-pretty, wonderfully open, unfenced and totally free dog park Ace and I were walking through in Bar Harbor, Maine, was a gift from a rich man’s family.

The philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and family — donors of much of the land that would become  Acadia National Park — included ensuring that there would also be a place on the island where dogs can run free. And you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to go there.

Dogs on leashes are permited in Acadia National Park, but if you ever head up that way with your dog — and by all means you should — you need to know about the trail around Little Long Pond. I don’t have a problem with National Parks enforcing leash laws, but it always strikes me as incongruous that when walking through our country’s most free and open lands we must rein in our dogs’ spiritedness by means of a rope.

At Little Long Pond, dogs can romp through woods and grasslands, run on the deck of the boathouse, leap into the pond and sniff nature to their heart’s content.

Ace and I worked in two visits while on Mount Desert Island, and while he seemed to thoroughly enjoy peering over rocky cliffs to the ocean below, being the first dog in America to see Sunday’s sunrise, and spending time at the home we were staying at, with two cats and two horses, Little Long Pond seemed his favorite place.

Unlike Sag Harbor, the now upscale, former working class fishing town in Long Island where we started this leg our journey, retracing the route of John Steinbeck, Bar Harbor was pretty much upscale from the get go. Mount Desert Island  was settled by the rich and for years was their mostly private vacation spot.

When it opened up to the public, it did so carefully, and under the guidance of the wealthy families who came here first. That’s why, in Acadia National Park, you can still ride in a horse drawn carriage, along paths designed by Rockefeller, to get tea and popovers. That’s why the roads for cars are designed not in a way that get’s you where you going most quickly, but in a way that affords the best view.

Yes, the island is still pricey — that’s in its heritage — but there are lots of affordable options, and even some freebies, like the dog park, which adjoins the park service lands and is still owned and maintained by the family.

Acadia National Park is well worth the price of admission, and well worth spending more than the two days I scheduled.

Steinbeck didn’t include Bar Harbor on his route; instead, he visited Deer Isle, located on the next peninsula south, where he stayed at the home of a friend with an unfriendly cat. Rereading that part of the book, it doesn’t sound like either he or Charley had a real good time there.

In that way, given our days on Mount Desert Island,we’ve already got them beat.

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.

Bear-Bear decision still a week away

Prosecutors say they are still at least a week away from deciding whether charges will be filed against the federal officer who shot and killed a Siberian Husky he thought was acting too roughly with his dog at a Maryland dog park.

The officer, though authorities have withheld his name, has been identified as Keith Elgin Shepherd, employed by the Army at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Northern Virginia.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors told the Baltimore Sun yesterday that it may take another week for them to finish their investigation. The investigation was prompted by a public outcry after authorities originally said no charges would be filed.

Public interest in the case remains high. About 20 people demonstrated yesterday outside the Anne Arundel County courthouse in Annapolis, supporting of the owners of Bear-Bear, fatally shot Aug. 2 in a private dog park in the Quail Run community in Severn.

Police say the shooter thought Bear-Bear, who was unleashed, was getting too rough with his German shepherd, who was leashed. 

Police have refused to identify the shooter, and his name was blacked out on police reports supplied to the news media. But a report without redactions obtained by the Sun identifies him as Shepherd.

Prosecutors said last week that key issues focused on whether the shooter was legally allowed to carry a personal handgun off-post, and whether he broke the law in shooting the husky or was acting to defend his dog, self and wife.