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Tag: downtown

L.A. flaw: Where’s a downtown dog to pee?

downtownlapee

Downtown Los Angeles is enjoying a spurt in growth, and with that has come a growth in spurts.

But just where in that concrete Shangri-La-La is a dog supposed to pee?

With the revitalization of downtown, and a campaign to attract upwardly mobile types (and their dogs), more of both are relocating to the area — only to find that convenient places for dogs to urinate weren’t part of the makeover, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The latest attempt to address the problem has been to locate small — and we do mean small — patches of artificial turf in areas designated (by humans) for canine toileting needs. As you can see above, it’s hardly a dog park.

Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District, said patches began being installed in August as part of a trial run. Three tree wells that no longer contained trees, in spaces away from restaurants and heavy pedestrian traffic, were used to install 4-by-4-foot patches of artificial grass.

If they’re popular and hold up to regular use, the program may be expanded, Besten told the newspaper.

By redirecting dogs to the patches, she said, the city can cut down on odors, peed-upon buildings, sidewalks and trash cans, and the residue that is tracked into offices and apartments. The patches are located at Spring and 7th, near the corner of 7th and Main, and on 6th just after Main. 

“They should have put them in a long time ago,” said downtown resident Helena Gaeta, who has trained her dachshund-Chihuahua mix to go in tree wells.  While downtown advertising campaigns targeted dog owners, she noted, there isn’t much greenspace available to dogs.

A survey by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District this year showed one of every three residents of the area owns a dog.

“Dogs have been the greatest thing for the downtown L.A. renaissance,” said Hal Bastian, executive vice president of the district. ”It creates a community because more people are on the streets. It’s a better environment.”

But even with dog owners scooping up poop — and, of course, not all do — pee remains a problem.

Not all dogs find the patches pee-worthy. Josh Jacobson, who recently moved from downtown Long Beach, said his two Chihuahuas avoid the turf patches, possibly because they hold too many scents.

“The dogs are still trying to figure it out,” he said.

(Photo: One of the patches of artificial turf installed in downtown L.A.; by Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times )

Why drinking and bricklaying don’t mix

We don’t see either Jesus or the Virgin Mary in this — and nobody else does, either.

While strolling in downtown Winston-Salem, Ace and I came across this seeming testament to how not to lay bricks.

It’s the side of what’s known as the Pepper Building. Whatever adjoined it was torn down,  revealing this strange patchwork of bricks and mortar that apparently dates back to its construction.

We can only think of three possible explanations:

1. A bit too much bricklayer partying the night before.

2. Somebody didn’t want to haul the extra bricks back to the truck.

3. The Pepper Building sneezed.

A parade of pit bulls, prompted by pride

If you happen to be strolling around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Sunday and run into a pack of pit bulls, fear not — they are there to make friends, influence people, and lick away any misconceptions you may have about the breed.

B-More Dog, the organization behind “Pit Bulls on Parade,” plans to make group walks like Sunday’s a monthly event, held in various parts of the city — all aimed at erasing the stereotypes surrounding the breed.

While all breeds are welcome, dogs must be signed up in advance to take part in the parades. So while it’s too late to get your dog into Sunday’s, you can find out about participating in next month’s by emailing bmoredog@gmail.com.

To check out Sunday’s parade, show up around the Inner Harbor at 11 a.m.

Pauline Houliaras, a founding member and current president of B-More Dog, came up with the idea for the parade after noticing how often she’d be stopped and asked about the dogs she was walking. Her own dog, Ravenopolis, she found, often got greeted on walks around the harbor by tourists and locals alike, who’d stop to ask questions and pet the dog.

Taking the concept to the next level, B-More Dog organized groups of pit bull owners to walk together and spread goodwill about the breed. Then they decided, rather than just do it once a year, to try and parade pit bulls every month.

B-More Dog is an outreach and education organization that formed in the fall of 2007 to speak out against breed specific legislation being proposed in Baltimore County. That legislation, which would have required all pit bull owners to muzzle their dogs and confine them in locked kennels, was not passed.

Since then, B-More Dog has gone on to focus on improving the breed’s image and promoting responsible ownership of pit bulls and all other breeds through education, mentoring, and outreach.

Its members work with local shelters to provide information packets about the breed to adopters. B-More Dog also offers a “Humane Education” program in which members take their friendly, trained and well-mannered pit bull to community centers and after-school programs.

Portraits of Ace, in sculpture

Ace will clamber right up on a picnic table. He’ll settle on a park bench just like a human. And when it comes to public sculpture, he will –  with the slightest encouragement and if there is room — climb aboard as well.

So with no disrespect to the artists intended — actually quite the opposite — here are some photos of Ace, who is feeling much better, thank you, posing on and in public sculpture in Seattle.

Being, in my view, a work of art himself, Ace only adds to the artists’ works, breathes new life into them, and, hey, they are public. If they were fenced off, of course, we wouldn’t trespass upon them, I’m pretty sure.

Above and to the left is “Changing Form,” by Doris Chase, located in Kerry Park in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood .

I’d like to think that Doris, who died two years ago, would have no problem with Ace climbing into her 15 foot tall steel sculpture — that she and other creators of outdoor art would actually want people to touch and climb on and fully experience (except for peeing, which Ace didn’t) their works.

The sculpture consists of stacked geometric shapes with cutouts opening to views of downtown Seattle. (The view of the skyline from Kerry Park is a famous one, and also served as the view from Frazier’s condominium on the television show.)

Chase, a Seattle artist who later became known for her pioneering work in video art, finished the sculpture in 1971. The piece was commissioned by the daughters of A. Kerry, the benefactor who gave the city Kerry Park.

This donut-looking work is “Black Sun,” by Isamu Noguchi, a prominent Japanese-American artist who died in 1988.

It’s located in Seattle’s Volunteer Park, where tourists frequently photograph it with the Space Needle showing through the hole.

We managed to capture the Space Needle and Ace, who,  though he would have preferred a real giant donut, still eagerly approached and jumped up on the sculpture.

I suspect that doggy types will have no problem with Ace climbing up on treasured works of art, and that artsy types might view it as rude, and that doggy-artsy types will have mixed feelings.

But I would argue that art placed in a park — as opposed to behind a glass case in a museum — is meant to touch, and be touched by, the populace, and I consider dogs part of the populace.

There was one statue Ace didn’t have a chance to climb aboard. The artist beat me to the punch. It already sported a canine – a coyote, to be precise.

This statue of a coyote standing atop a cow used to be in Pioneer Square in Seattle. It now calls a sidewalk in Kirkland home.

It was the first statue cast by artist Brad Rude — a Montana born artist who grew up in Walla Walla and attended Maryland Institute College of Art.

He sculpted the life-sized cow and coyote in plaster while working at a foundry. When he asked the foundry owner for a raise, the owner volunteered to cast the cow and coyote in bronze.

Some people find the concept odd — a cow with a coyote standing on his back.

But it makes perfect sense to me.

Expressing yourself, doggie style

As was the case with our kudzu dogs, this one requires just a squirt of imagination.

Ace and I were walking the streets of downtown Missoula when we saw a chocolate Labrador stopping to pee — well, not really stopping at all, which was the interesting part.

For almost half a block, he zig-zagged along the sidewalk, leaving a squiggly trail behind him.

Perhaps he, or his owner, had no time to stop — maybe the human had an urgent appointment, or maybe the dog had a weak bladder; or maybe, just maybe, the dog was expressing himself in the other meaning of the phrase.

Maybe he’d discovered a way around not being able to speak human — and it’s just a case of no one having discovered his amazing ability yet.

Sure, it doesn’t look like much now, but let’s see what happens when we turn it sideways.

Don’t bother moving your computer; allow me:

If I’m not mistaken, it spells Missoula, Montana.

Flinging French fries in Fargo

There are things to do in Fargo, North Dakota.

There’s the Celebrity Walk of Fame at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, where Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond, Debbie Reynolds, Jesse Ventura and others have left their signatures, handprints and footprints in cement.

There’s the Plains Art Museum, the Fargo Air Museum, the Red River Zoo, and just across the way from my motel, a big mall.

Yes — despite the stereotype of it as a place where boredom reigns, where temperatures lean toward the bitter extremes (and we won’t even go into woodchippers) — there are things to do in Fargo.

We’re just not doing any of them. Instead, we’re holed up in a Motel 6, where I’m flinging french fries into Ace’s mouth.

Why? Because it’s so damn cold.

Just as John Steinbeck, on his trip west with Charley, worried about getting across the northern states before winter set in, we’re beginning to fret as well; only we have ample reason — predictions of a October blizzard.

All night long, the wind rattled the windows of my motel room. The three-to-five inches of snow the local weatherman predicted hasn’t fallen — at least not here, not yet — but the warnings were enough to get me to book another night.

Just walking to the Burger King next door yesterday was bone chilling. Ace thought so, too. As eager as he was to get outside, he was even more eager — once experiencing it — to get back in.

Back in the room, for entertainment, I set aside half of my French fries and, in what’s become a habit during our travels when I get fast food, tossed portions to Ace. He gets the discolored ones, and the pointy ended ones. For some reason, I don’t like my fries to have pointy  ends. Though he was on the bed, four feet away, he missed but one fry, snagging each of the rest with a snort.

So far I haven’t seen much of Fargo, and that which I have has been through fast-flapping windshield wipers. The night I arrived, after checking in, I went off in search of downtown Fargo. On my only other trip here, three years ago, I didn’t explore at all. I did, during a stop for lunch, ask a waiter where downtown was, and he informed me there was no downtown. Maybe he was new here, or it was his way of saying Fargo’s downtown didn’t meet with his standards. Maybe he was having fun with tourists.

But I can report there is a downtown, and that the road to it, at least from my motel, is lined with pawn shops. Once there, I couldn’t see much, because it was so dark and rainy, but I sensed tall buildings.

It has remained grey since then. That alone normally wouldn’t keep me inside, but the wind is downright cruel, and the rain is a stinging one and the one time I did go out in the car — to buy dog food — my car door, powered by the wind, attacked me both when I got out and when I got back in.

Even the wildlife thinks it’s too cold. Tonight, when I went downstairs for ice, I saw a rabbit huddled between a trash can and the wall by the motel’s side door, seeking shelter from the wind and rain.

I was going to offer to share my room with him — invite him up for a discolored French fry, maybe suggest he consider relocating to warmer climes – but he ran off when I approached the door.

The boost that dogs can provide a community

stlouisDowntown St. Louis has joined the growing list of cities and neighborhoods that are catching on to the fact that dogs can improve a community’s health — both socially and economically.

The city held a ribbon-cutting for its new Lucas Park Dog Park Saturday – a $125,000 project that created a three-quarter-block long area where dogs can run unfettered.

It was a small and little-noted event, but it’s another sign of the growing awareness — reflected recently in Frederick, Maryland; Santa Cruz, California; and Hollywood, Florida – that being more dog friendly can increase an area’s appeal to humans, both as a place to live and a place to visit.

And that, city, business and neighborhood leaders are realizing, can help a community trying to pull itself out of recession-related doldrums.

For downtowners in St. Louis, “the renaissance of their neighborhood arrived on four legs,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

On top of being good for business, becoming more dog friendly — and creating areas where dogs and their owners can congregate — can also help lead to a stronger sense of community.

“We may not know all of our neighbors,” said Todd Wise, a radio producer who moved downtown with his wife and Delilah, a basset hound, 18 months ago. “But we know the owners by their dogs.”

“The idea is get people out of their apartments, said downtown-dwelling law student Sarah Hunt, owner of Roxie, an 8-month-old beagle-pug mix. “…When you get people out of their apartments, things happen.”

(Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch /Elle Gardner)

Santa Cruz may reconsider downtown dog ban

santacruzNearly 35 years after it banned dogs from downtown, Santa Cruz is considering allowing them to return.

The coastal California city, plagued by strays that were being picked up at a clip of 200  a month in the 1970s, banned dogs in its central business district in 1976, at the urging of merchants.

More than three decades, merchants are again urging change — but this time it’s to allow dogs back into the business district, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Today, the Downtown Association, which represents business owners, will discuss recommending the council overturn the ordinance while strengthening leash laws and other safeguards.

An association poll shows a majority of merchants believe they are missing out on business from tourists and locals who would bring their dogs downtown for a stroll or dining at outside tables, much as they do in well-known dog-friendly towns like Carmel and Los Gatos.

In Santa Cruz, dogs are also banned from some local beaches and the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

“Forty years later, the council has the right to reconsider something,” said Mayor Mike Rotkin, who has served a total of 26 years on the council since 1979. “It’s a very different council and times are different.”

Former Councilwoman Carole De Palma, who voted for the 1976 ban, said the city should reconsider reversing the law because dog owners tend to be more responsible these days. De Palma, who owns a 7-year-old dachshund-Chihuahua mix named Pearl, said increasing safeguards could reduce problems that led to the ban.

Stinky update: There’s life in the old boy yet

Time for an update on Stinky Madison, the stray and hopeless dog found in a downtown Baltimore parking lot, and taken in by a good samaritan.

sitnky2In a nutshell, Stinky – who appeared pretty much on death’s doorstep (left) when Matthew Wagner found him, Facebooked him, Craigslisted him, and raised enough money on the Internet and among his co-workers to get him medical attention — is thriving, healthy and available for adoption, as you can see in Matthew’s video (above).

Matthew reports: “Stinky is doing great. He really is getting better every day. He still spends most of his time sleeping in his kennel, but is getting used to having somebody pet him and rub his tummy.

“We’re doing three or four walks a day and he’s been great around my dog, other folks and other dogs. He loves sniffing around in Patterson Park.

stinky3“He’s up for adoption. Kim at the Bulldog Rescue Farm offered to set up a Petfinder page for him.

“I have directed a few people over there to begin the adoption process. I am trying to schedule a visit with some one from Sparks, MD now who has a nice farm were she trains horses.”

Meanwhile, Stinky’s staying with Matthew and his other dog (left).

Interest in Stinky, like the donations that paid for his medical care, have come from as far away as California, but, as of today, no adoption has been finalized.

The Petfinder page describes Stinky, estimated to be about 10,  as  a dog who was “barely able to stand when he was found cold & hungry in a Baltimore parking lot,” but is now “warm and healthy.  Stinky will be a dream dog for almost any family, he’s housebroken, walks great on a leash and is well socialized with both people and other dogs. He’s got a bit of stiffness in his back legs, which should be easily manageable with daily glucosamine, about $17/month.”

Old dog brings out the charm in Charm City

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Stinky in the parking lot

From all appearances, the stray dog laying on his side in the parking lot was already acquainted with the cruel side of Baltimore: The scars on his face, a tattered ear, a pus-filled eye, the ribs visible through his fur were all signs of neglect, and possible use by dogfighters.

But before the day was over, he’d find Baltimore — despite the high profile stories of dogs set afire and tortured cats — has a sweet side, too.

An employee of Agora Publishing came across the dog Friday in a nearby parking lot on St. Paul Street.

Matthew Wagner took photos of the dog, posted them on Craigslist and his Facebook page, and put a call in to the city’s Animal Control office.

Meanwhile, Michelle Ingrodi, a receptionist at Boston Street Animal Hospital, logged on to Facebook before going to work. She’d been sent a link from a friend she hadn’t seen in 10 years, who happened to be a friend of Wagner’s. It was about the dog Wagner had found.

When Ingrodi arrived for work, one of her first calls of the day was — in true Smalltimore style — from Wagner.

“He said he’d found a dog on the side of the parking lot and didn’t know what to do,” Ingrodi said. “He said he’d called animal  control and they hadn’t shown up. I told him, ‘You don’t want to call animal control.’  This dog was old and sick and they might put him down immediately due to lack of space and lack of funds.”

Wagner asked how much it would cost if he were to bring the dog in to be checked, but Ingrodi told him there was no way of knowing. It depended on how extensive his problems were. She suggested that Wagner bring the dog in and — through his friends and Internet connections — ask anyone who was willing to donate to the dog’s care to contact the animal hospital.

Wagner made an appointment for 4 p.m., then went back outside, got the dog, and brought him into the offices of Agora Publishing. He got back on the computer, revised his posts, including the veterinary office’s phone number; then he began asking co-workers if they might be willing to contribute.

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Stinky at the vet

At 4 p.m., when he walked into the vets office, Ingrodi told him what had happened, within just a few short hours: The animal hospital had received $1,325 in donations — some form Wagner’s co-workers, most from strangers who’d seen the account he’d posted and photos of the dog on Facebook and Craigslist.

The dog was malnourished, had a bad cut on his eye, and had several infected wounds. He was estimated to be 10 to 12 years old. X-rays showed nothing was broken. His cuts were treated, and the dog — initially dubbed Stinky Madison — was given a bath and, later, an assortment of food and supplies at Dogma. Wagner took the dog home and, after a $500-plus vet bill, still had $700-plus for future care and treatment.

“His co-workers started calling first, making $50 donations,” said Ingroti, who was answering the phones at the animal hospital. “Then people started sharing it on a Facebook, random people –  even someone from California. We had $325 within 25 minutes. Our phones have never rung like that. I had to turn down four or five donations.

“Here’s a dog who probably lay down in the gutter thinking ‘this is it.’  Then all these random people come together to save him — just complete strangers. I’m blown away, especially considering the way things are going in shelters now, with a lot of people giving up their pets. Something like this restores your faith in humanity.”

Wagner plans to care for the dog at least temporarily, she said.

Ingroti said the dog left the hospital looking tired but content. “He’s got some tired old bones, and he’s a little apprehensive.  You can see in his eyes that something has happened to him, and he’s  just not sure it’s a good idea to come near you. But he takes love if you give it.”

Baltimore, this time, gave it.

And the number, but only for temporary use, use.