I think that I shall never see
a tree unscathed by doggie pee
– Not Joyce Kilmer
Maybe there are some out there — a tree or two that, in their lifetimes, have somehow avoided ever being annointed by dog.
But, sharing the country with 75 million dogs, as both trees and we do, that is unlikely — and even more so in paved-over urban areas, where dogs sometimes outnumber trees, the living things they seem to most like to pee on.
For centuries, there seems to have been an unwritten agreement — a pee-ful coexistence — between dogs and trees. But, at least for half a century or so, there have been worries expressed about the cumulative effect of the continual sprinkling that some trees undergo, especially those in densely populated urban areas.
Some were recently voiced by a Philadelphia woman with an interesting perspective. Carrie Maria owns Monster Minders, a Philadelphia dog-walking service, and she’s a graduate of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders program.
“Urine is highly acidic,” Maria wrote on the The Monster Minders blog. “Simply put, dogs’ urine ‘burns’ the tree’s trunk to the point that the tree becomes susceptible to diseases, pests, dehydration and nutrient loss.”
Maria’s report drew the attention of The Atlantic, which ran a lengthy piece on its blog, Atlantic Cities, complete with photos she had taken of disfigured trees in her neighborhood she says are likely victims of pee-blight.
We can’t confirm that the damaged trees she photographed (pictured here) are solely victims of dog pee — and neither could experts. But we give her credit for speaking up for the underdog, which in this particular case is trees.
“Your dog ‘marks’ the tree, then another dog walks by 10 minutes later, smells your dog’s scent and hits it again, 15 minutes later and another dog walks by, hits it again. This goes on day in and day out … One dog’s scent ends up on a tree and others just keep marking it, over and over until the tree is compromised.”
Where I live — not in a real big city, not downtown — the yard in front of my apartment has huge oak trees, planted probably a good half century ago, or more. Ace pees on his favorite one regularly, but it’s so well-established it doesn’t seem to mind, and show no signs of damage.
About this time of year, the oak trees start raining acorns, and every once in a while one drops and hits Ace in the head. He jumps up and looks around, unaware he has been the victim of poetic justice.
Impervious as the big oaks in my yard may be, saplings in cities — the ones growing in a few square feet of dirt, the ones that have become potty stops for dozens of dogs daily — are another story.
“Repeated hits with urine basically causes an ‘open wound’ right on the base on the tree. Since the bombardment from pee is semi-constant in an urban environment, the trees never have a chance to heal from past damage. These wounds open the trees up to a slew of diseases that they just can’t fight off.” Maria wrote.
Her solution: Curb your dog.
It’s an old phrase, and one that – outside of places like New York — lots of people don’t even understand. It means to pee where the street meets the curb. And while that may lead to gutters running yellow, and car tires taking on a pee-scent, thereby attracting more to dogs to take aim on them, Maria finds that preferable to the tree assault.
“It’s simple. Redirect your dog when he/she is headed for a tree,” Maria says. ”Teach your dog to ‘curb it.’”
How big a factor is dog pee, compared to all the other hazards urban trees face — like road salt, car doors, poor soil, limited room to grow and youths with pen knives? As the Atlantic Cities blog points out, experts aren’t sure:
“Whether pee hurts trees is a question that’s attracted virtually no research attention since its earliest mention in the academic literature …”
The post mentions one presentation, way back in 1959, in which a plant pathologist named Pascal Pirone warned of the dangers. In ‘Why shade trees die along city streets,’ a presentation given at the International Shade Tree Conference, he said ‘dog canker’ could kill trees up to 6 inches in diameter.”
But the Atlantic post also quoted a staff member at the Smithsonian Institution’s horticulture department as saying the trunk damage shown in Maria’s photos could have come from a number of causes, “including mechanical damage [i.e. mowers, car doors, pedestrians], southwest injury, disease [cankers], and insects [borers].”
While the extent of the harm caused by dog urine remains untallied, most experts agree it can’t be helping trees.
“We deal with it in the sense that I imagine trees get added stress or maybe anxiety” from dogs, says John Thomas, associate director at Washington, D.C.’s Urban Forestry Administration. “I don’t know how much dog urine you need to kill a tree. But there’s definitely something there…. Somebody could definitely get a masters or Ph.D. out of studying it.”
(Photos: Top photo by John Woestendiek; tree photos by Carrie Maria / Monster Minders)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acid, animals, atlantic cities, blogs, carrie maria, curb, curb your dog, damage, dog, dogs, downtown, health, horticulture, marking, monster minders, pee, pets, philadelphia, saplings, scent, trees, urban, urination, urine
Stray dogs. Stray humans. Lori Weise encountered them both when she started work 16 years ago at a furniture factory on the edge of L.A.’s Skid Row, where homeless dogs and humans were both often treated with something less than respect.
So she created Downtown Dog Rescue — right there in the back of the factory — in the hopes that, through trapping strays, and persuading the homeless to get their dogs spay or neutered, she and her co-workers could make a dent in the homeless dog problem, if not the homeless human one.
She posted fliers promising free pizza for those who brought their dogs in. In addition to paying for thousands of surgeries, the rescue organization has placed or fostered thousands of dogs. And because homeless people can’t a dog license without an address, Weise used the factory’s address to get those dog’s registered. The address of the company, Modernica, was used to license 300 dogs.
The Associated Press, in a story by reporter Sue Manning, took a look this week at Downtown Dog Rescue — both where it has been and where it is going.
The shelter is still located in the back of Modernica, but with homeless people having left downtown Weise now brings shelter services to Compton, where for the last two years it has helped fund a monthly spay and neuter clinic, run by the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control.
In 2011, the clinic sterilized close to 800 dogs, according to Weise, and the euthanasia rate for pit bulls at the county shelter dropped 30 percent.
DDR also holds weekly obedience classes at the Los Angeles Coliseum, teaching owners basic commands, agility, and other urban survival skills. The class draws between 30 and 50 dogs a week.
Downtown Dog Rescue has grown from a couple of kennels to 22. The furniture company has grown, too. Owners and brothers Frank and Jay Novak don’t consider themselves activists for either dogs or the homeless, but they say the work Weise has done helps define the company.
“She never talks down to people,” Novak said. “She is so genuine. I think people are impressed by her sincerity and people know none of the money (close to $200,000 in donations a year) goes to administrative costs.”
Eight months ago, Modernica began moving its production plant to Vernon, and they’ve promised Weise a half-acre where she can build a new shelter there. For now, the dogs remain in the downtown factory, where the company’s prop department will stay.
“She is fearless. She will go into neighborhoods nobody in their right mind would go into. She just goes with her conviction and knowledge she is going to help somebody,” said Carole Pearson, founder and president of Los Angeles-based Dawg Squad.
Most of the men Weise befriended 15 years ago are in prisons or hospitals or have died, the Associated Press story notes. But many of them left the streets — voluntarily or not — with the knowledge their dogs would be taken care of.
“I promised a lot of the men as long as their dogs are alive, they will have a good place to live and I’ll love them,” Weise said.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, dog licenses, dogs, downtown, downtown dog rescue, factory, furniture, homeless, humans, licenses, licensing, lori weise, los angeles, modernica, neuter, pets, rescue, shelter, skid row, spay, strays, streets
(Which is why we didn’t stop there during our travels across America.)
Now, with conditions, the California coastal city may let them back, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.
The impetus? Not so much love for dogs as love for sales — specifically, those of downtown merchants who say they could use the boost, and that visitors who arrive with dogs often pull out once they learn their dogs aren’t welcome.
At the request of merchants, the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday will consider temporarily overturning the rule banning dogs on Pacific Avenue. The Sentinel says there appear to be more than enough votes to make it happen.
The council is expected to approve a three-month trial, during which licensed, leashed and vaccinated dogs would be allowed on Pacific Avenue and several feeder streets during daylight hours.
If passed, the revised ordinance would kick in within 30 days and be made permanent after Nov. 30, unless the council changed its collective mind.
“I think the economic benefits to our downtown merchants will be most welcome,” said Councilman Tony Madrigal, who owns a miniature dachshund named Shortie and is one of three council members proposing the rule change. “My hope is that by allowing dogs on a trial basis that more people will feel welcome to come downtown with their pets, many of whom they consider part of the family.”
The Santa Cruz Downtown Association board voted unanimously this spring to pursue a change.
The city banned dogs on the Pacific Garden Mall in 1976 and side streets several years later after numerous complaints about out-of-control dogs and unscooped poop. Merchants may allow dogs inside, but dogs are not permitted on the street, which, short of beaming your dog in, would seem to make it difficult to get them into a store.
The city council will hold a discussion on instituting the trial period Tuesday night.
During the trial period, the ban would be lifted for three-months in the area bounded by Water, Laurel, Cedar and Front streets, and including the Town Clock and Scope Park.
The rule change would not affect dog bans in effect on some beaches and at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, beaches, business, california, city council, dogs, downtown, leashed, lifted, merchants, ordinance, pacific, pacific avenue, pets, revised, revision, santa cruz, tony madrigal, tourism, trial period, wharf
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.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bricklaying, bricks, building, construction, demolition, dog's country, dogscountry, downtown, mortar, north carolina, pepper building, travel, travels with ace, winston-salem
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, b-more dog, baltimore, bmoredog, breed, breed specific legislation, breeds, dogs, downtown, goodwill, harbor, humane education, image, information, inner harbor, march, myths, outreach, parade, pauline houliaras, pet owners, pet ownership, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, pride, responsibility, responsible, stereotypes, training
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.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, black sun, brad rude, changing form, cow, coyote, dog, dogs, donut, doris chase, downtown, isamu noguchi, kerry park, kirkland, outdoor art, pets, public art, sculpture, seattle, sightseeing, skyline, statues, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, view, volunteer park, washington
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, behavior, bladder, chocolate labrador, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, downtown, missoula, montana, pee, pets, road trip, sidewalk, trail, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, urination, urine
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, blizzard, boredom, burger king, coen brothers, cold, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, downtown, entertainment, extreme, fargo, french fries, harsh, john steinbeck, motel 6, motels, movie, north dakota, pets, rain, road trip, snow, stranded, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley, walk of fame, weather
Downtown 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)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boost, business, california, community, dog friendly, dog park, dogs, downtown, economic, economy, florida, frederick, health, hollywood, lucas park, maryland, neighborhoods, news, ohmidog!, pets, recession, santa cruz, st. louis
Nearly 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.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, banned, business, california, central business district, city council, dining, district, dog friendly, dogs, downtown, ending, law, lifting, merchants, news, ordinance, pets, proposal, restrictions, return, reversal, santa cruz, shops, tourism, tourists