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Tag: god

Ohmidog! I want that rug

indogwetrust

(An update to this story can be found at the bottom of this page.)

A Florida sheriff’s office sees it as an embarrassing mistake.

I see it as a collector’s item, and I want it.

After installing some official rugs with the county’s official seal on their official lobby floors, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office noticed a printing mistake on one of them. Instead of saying “In God We Trust,” it said “In Dog We Trust.”

After a deputy noticed the error Wednesday, the rug was rolled up and stored, according to WFTS in Tampa Bay — but not before the station got some pictures. The large green rugs with the black and yellow Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office logo cost about $500.

The Sheriff’s Office said the manufacturer of the rugs, American Floor Mats, has taken responsibility for the error and will replace the one with the error.

Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, the company calls itself “a premier supplier of floor mats and matting. With over 25 years of floor mat experience, our customers rely on our vast knowledge and expertise …”

As for what becomes of the “In Dog We Trust” version, I’d love to have it, but I have some other ideas, too.

fullrugs

Put it back on the floor. There’s nothing wrong with trusting in dog, and God would understand.

Wouldn’t He?

At the very least, give it a home in the department’s 12-man K-9 unit.

Given the rugs look pretty lush and comfortable, Pinellas County Animal Services might find one of them useful — either as decor or dog bedding.

Or, it could be auctioned online. Who knows, they might be valuable — like those rare coins with mistakes on them.

Then again, American Floor Mats might want it back, so their boo-boo doesn’t live on.

The best solution? Dog only knows.

Update: An online auction it is: Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says that the rug in question will be sold to raise money for a nonprofit rescue group called Canine Estates.

(It’s the rescue from which he adopted a 13-year-old Maltese last year.)

As of Friday afternoon, bids had gone over $2,600 for the rug.

Gualtieri says his office has been getting calls from all over the world from people saying, “‘Oh my God, don’t throw it away.”

“We’re so excited,” Canine Estates’ founder Jayne Sidwell told The Huffington Post. “We need the funding so bad.”

The auction closes at 4 p.m. next Wednesday, Jan. 21. Bids are being accepted at OnlineAuction.com.

Another update: The rug sold for at auction for $9,650. Details here.

(Photos: WFTS)

Pastor finds she can retrieve more souls with her dog, Kirby, at her side

kirby

The Rev. Arlene M. Tully jokes that there are some similarities between her dog and members of her congregation.

“He sleeps through my sermons like everyone else,” the Methodist minister said.

But there is someone that Kirby — the golden-lab retriever mix who is almost always at her side — reminds her of even more:

“Kirby is a living, breathing metaphor for God’s love,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “The way he expresses love is as unconditional as God’s love. He instantly and fully embraces every person that he meets and that is a more accurate metaphor for God’s love than human love.”

Kirby the Ministry Dog attends services at First United Methodist Church in Bangor, Maine. He’s present for church dinners and other functions. He accompanies her on home visits, and trips to nursing homes and hospitals. And everywhere they go together, she notes, Kirby has a way of connecting with people, and getting them to open up.

“He’s a catalyst for those kinds of conversations,” said Tully,

The 2½ -year-old dog was trained as a service dog by Canine Companions for Independence at its campus in Medford, New York.

If Tully tells him to “visit,” Kirby will put his head in the lap of a person. If she says “lap,” he’ll gently place his paw on the leg of the person he’s visiting. When she say’s “push,” he’ll open an automatic door by pushing the button.

Tully, 57, became the church’s pastor in July. While she grew up a Roman Catholic, she left the church as a college student. She worked in restaurant management for 25 years before attending Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.

Kirby, her second “ministry dog,” came to live with Tully in February while she was pastor of Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville, and he’s been helping her reach out to people ever since.

“Together, we have an instant bridge to people that I alone might not have otherwise,” she said.

(Photo: Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News)

Group urges Catholic parish to cancel human-pig mud wrestling event

pigwrestling2

(If you’d like musical accompaniment with this article, click on the video at the bottom of the post, then scroll back up to read.)

The mission of St. Patrick’s Parish in Hortonville, Wisconsin, is to “be one with Christ in making the reign of God a reality … celebrate His love in Word and Sacraments … and be responsible stewards of time, talent, and treasure.”

Yet the Catholic parish has no problem sponsoring a fundraising event in which frightened pigs are punched, kicked, body-slammed and crammed into steel vats.

Apparently, they don’t see pigs falling under their “stewardship.” Or they think that “dominion” we supposedly have over all God’s other creatures includes the right to thrash farm animals in the name of sport. Or maybe the 44-year-old tradition is just too big a moneymaker to cancel.

Canceling the event — scheduled for this weekend — is what a Wisconsin-based animal advocacy group is calling for.

The Global Conservation Group says the event violates state laws prohibiting cockfighting, dogfighting, and other fighting between animals or between animals and humans. They say even being a spectator at such an event is a felony under state law.

The parish says the annual “Round Up” event consists of two to six people getting into a muddy ring and wrestling a hog — one they say is “sized accordingly” — into a vat.

“We take very strong precautions to make sure our pigs and our participants are taking care of each other,” organizer Glenn Van Handel, the chair of Saint Patrick’s Parish, told NBC 26.

The Global Conservation Group says the pigs face a high potential for being injured in the event, in which it says pigs are punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket.

The group says it has filed reports with local, state and federal agencies alerting them to what they say is an illegal event.

A petition urging the church to cancel the event can be found at change.org

(Photo: Change.org)

Praise the Lord, I saw the light

 

It’s dark down here. Even with every light on, even when the sun’s up, the temporary home Ace and I have landed in — a cellar apartment in an old southern mansion — is, given its subterranean location, something less than bright and cheery.

I have window wells, but little light shines through. I look out and assume it’s a rainy day — only to step outside and see that it’s as sunshiny as it can be. Down here, it’s as if it’s always 3 a.m. Ace wakes up, looks around, and — like me — assumes it’s not morning yet.

I haven’t been cursing the darkness. That’s best reserved for internet connections. But I think it has been keeping me from being awake as I might be, and I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done. Instead I’ve mostly been oversleeping, setting up housekeeping and visiting my mother. She lives about a mile down the road, so Ace and I have visited almost nightly — conveniently around dinner time.  I mentioned to her how dim things were in my apartment, and she, being a former newswoman, felt the need to share that — at least with my sister.

“This just in: John’s apartment is kind of dark. Details at 11.”

I’ve introduced you to my sister before, when Ace and I passed through Madison, Wisconsin. She’s prone to random outbursts of karaoke singing, sermonizing, deep thoughts and good deeds, and I was about to be a recipient of one of them — luckily the latter.

She called to tell me she had found four lamps on Craigslist, and that she was giving them to me as a Christmas present. All I had to do was drive to some town called Midway, and find the home of a man named Ken. She sent me an email with the directions. Like all her emails, it ended with the same quote from Edith Wharton: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” (Buying lamps via Craigslist wasn’t an option in Edith’s day.)

Thankfully, Midway was only about 20 miles away. Ken was in the driveway when I pulled in.

I popped open the back window of the jeep. He greeted Ace, noticed there was no air in the tires of my bicycle, still attached to the rack, and offered to pump some in. He helped me load the four lamps into the car, and told me to help myself to the kitchen items packed in boxes in his barn. They, like the lamps, had belonged to his mother, who died last fall at age of 98.

I tried to pay Ken $60 — $48 for the lamps, the rest for everything else I grabbed – but he insisted on giving me change. I stuffed as much as I could into the car — or at least as much as Ace would permit. Ace doesn’t like things rattling around back there, or any of the contents to shift while we’re driving, and given the back seat has been his home for most of the past nine months, I try to oblige.

After loading up, we stopped for lunch in Midway, which is next to a town called Welcome, at a place called The Dawg House, then headed down the road to the Midway General Store, where it was hard to find things because it was dark inside. But I got three copies made of the key to my new place, bought two plug adaptors, three packages of cuphooks and a big greasy hambone for Ace — all for a mere $11.

Ace nibbled his bone as I took the back roads home, passing church after church — all with marquee signs out front:

‘Hands joined in prayer are never empty,” one said.

“The church is a pit stop in the race of life,” read another.

“God’s plans for us are better than our own,” another advised.

Space being limited on church signs, attribution for the words of wisdom on them is seldom provided — so you never really know whether they come from God, the local preacher, Edith Wharton or some book, like “1001 Catchphrases for Your Church Marquee.”

Whether they are original words, or a reflection of somebody else’s, doesn’t really matter — as long as they are getting shared, because church marquees, even those that don’t light up, are all about spreading the light, giving life some meaning, tossing a little hope, inspiration and joy our way.

My new lights, once plugged in, didn’t lead to a hallelujah moment of the religious kind. But I can read now, and find where I put my coffee filters, and make sure the socks I’m putting on match.

On top of that, never having lived in darkness before, I’ve learned that, much like a chili cheese dog, light – the non-symbolic, simple wattage kind — makes me happy.

For Ace, a hambone works just fine.

Live nude kudzu, and other thoughts

 

Sweeping back through the south, we’ve crossed Tennessee and made it to North Carolina, this time without the benefit of what, back in the summer, was our favorite form of highway entertainment — looking for dogs in the kudzu.

The Vine That Ate the South is naked now, having lost its leaves for winter, leaving behind only long strands of clumped-together, spindly, bare vines. I can no longer see big green animals in the leaves, only stick figures, spider webs, spaghetti and road maps.

The kudzu will be back, though, in spring — and ready to spread as quickly as “adult superstores” have through Tennessee. There are a lot of “adult superstores” in the Volunteer State. Going down I-40, it seems like every other billboard is either touting an “adult superstore” or the fact that Jesus Saves.

After crossing the Mississippi River, we stopped outside of Memphis for a quick visit with my son, checking into a Best Western, where I had reserved a room online, after seeing it touted itself as dog-friendly.

Not until I arrived did I see that there were pet fees, according to a posting at the front desk  – $15 for a dog between 5 and 20 pounds, $25 for dogs 20 to 40 pounds, and $35 for dogs 40 pounds and up.

I immediately squawked — I’ve become a bit more of a squawker in recent months – pointing out that I’d be paying almost as much for the dog as for me.

“How much does your dog weigh?” asked the desk clerk.

I thought about lying, but, having seen too many God billboards, couldn’t. Over 100 pounds, I said, adding that he’s much better behaved than a lot of 10 pound dogs, and pointing out that the whole charging by weight concept was ludicrous.

The desk clerk made a face like he’d swallowed something yukky and excused himself. Ten minutes later he was back, with a room assignment and news that they’d only charge me $25 for the dog.

Too tired to have any principles, and wanting to get off the road on New Year’s Eve, I accepted the discount and took the room. Then I seethed about the whole thing — especially the weight part — for a couple more hours.

Charging fees for dogs is not dog-friendly; its dog-greedy. I wonder how much damage dogs do to motel rooms across America, compared to that done by people.

Rather than pet fees, maybe motels should be looking at rock star fees — for they, if we’re going to stereotype, are famous for trashing rooms. Why not a fraternity boy fee? A student on spring break fee? A crying baby fee? A loud sex fee?

Only twice in our travels have we experienced loud sex — both times from the room next door. Ace and I did the only thing we could. We tilted our heads and looked at the wall the sounds were coming from, then turned up the TV.

This particular Best Western — where we neither experienced loud sex nor managed to stay awake until midnight — had another sign at the front desk that bothered me: “No Visitors.”

Is that constitutional? Even prisons allow visitors.

Depite all the control being exercised in motels, or at least the one we stayed at, Tennessee, as a state, seems less successful at reigning in kudzu, or adult superstores. (Not that I have anything against adult superstores; it’s a free country, except at the particular Best Western we stayed in.)

As we passed through Tennessee, I stopped at several huge thickets of kudzu (and at no adult superstores, though I was wondering what exactly made them “super”).

I searched the bare vines for dog shapes, which some some of you may recall became a bit of an obsession for me over the summer, but I could find none.

Instead, all I could see in the withered and weepy vines were hunched over old witches, overworked peasants and evil motel desk clerks who charged exorbitant pet fees.

Roadside encounters: Buddy and Peggy Sue

 

Names: Buddy Holly (named after the performer) and Peggy Sue (the fawn-colored one, named after Holly’s hit song)

Breed: Pugs

Ages: Buddy is 3; pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Peggy Sue is 4

Encountered: At what’s billed as the largest free-standing cross in America, located near Interstate 40 in Groom, Texas.

Backstory: The two pugs, and the couple who owns them, were headed home to Hobart, Oklahoma after a Christmas visit to Arizona.

The owners of the pampered pugs planned a stop at the cross, which is 19 stories tall and, in the flatlands of the Texas panhandle, visible from 20 miles away.

They were big fans of God, Buddy Holly, pugs and, judging from their racing jackets, NASCAR.

Buddy Holly and Peggy Sue enjoyed a long potty stop on the periphery of the property, then jumped back in the car while their owners went to see the church and gift shop.

To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.

Groom, Texas: My cross to bear

 

With God on my side and Jesus in my cupholder, Ace and I passed through the Texas panhandle Wednesday, revisiting the site where, 18 years ago, almost to the day, I nearly got myself killed.

This time around, the roads weren’t icy, there was no snow; only vicious winds that tried to blow me off the road.

Just to be extra safe — well before my dreaded approach to the tiny town of Groom — I stopped to fill my thermos with coffee at the Jesus Christ is Lord Travel Center, on the east side of Amarillo.

It was opened less than two years ago by Sam Kohli, who also runs a Jesus Christ is Lord trucking line, whose 100-plus trucks are all emblazoned with that phrase.

“He just felt there were a lot of people who didn’t know Jesus Christ is Lord,” the woman at the cash register explained to me, charging me a mere $1.18 to fill my thermos and wishing me safe travels.

Between the caffiene, her well wishes, and Bobblehead Jesus, who has accompanied us on all of our 20,000-plus miles, I felt prepared for what was ahead — namely Groom, Texas.

In 1993, returning to Philadelphia after a three-year assignment in California, my Isuzu Trooper slid off icy I-40, turning over twice before coming to rest, right side up, at the bottom of an embankment.

To your left is how that embankment looks today, not nearly as steep and rugged as it was in my memory.

Anyway, back 18 years ago, I managed to restart the crumpled vehicle and drive half a mile to the nearest motel, where I checked in, along with my dog at the time, a mutt named Hobo.

As I stood in the lobby, trying to contact my insurance company on the pay phone, the desk clerk kept pointing me out to new arrivals, and each time he told the story he added one more roll: “That’s him over there, rolled over four times, he’s lucky to be alive.”

For the next three days, the dog and I licked our wounds and waited for the motel owners to come through with a ride they promised to the Amarillo airport, where I could rent a car for the rest of the trip. The Isuzu was totaled, and I’d been ticketed for reckless driving, though I was driving slower than anyone else on the road.

I kept waiting for our ride to the airport, and I started fearing there was a conspiracy to make me a permanent resident of the town of 500. Groom, coincidentally, is where much of the filming was done for the 1992 movie “Leap of Faith,” about a faith healer who bilks believers out of their money.

Finally, on day four — my room bill rising, my faith waning – I left the dog in the room, walked to a truck stop (it’s gone now, burned down, they say) and hitched a ride on a chicken truck to the Amarillo airport to get a rental car. Then I went back to the motel, picked Hobo up and drove on.

Back to the present: My original plan was to avoid Groom, on this trip and for eternity, but Wednesday, on a route that was sending me right past it, I decided to confront my fears.

The first Groom exit is the site of what bills itself as the largest cross in America.

It’s made of steel, 19 stories tall, with a cross arm that spans 110 feet. It took 250 welders eight months to complete, and weighs 1,250 tons. The man behind it is Steve Thomas, who was disgusted with billboards advertising “pornographic” services and decided to send travelers a different message.

It wasn’t there on my earlier trip — not being finished until two years later — so it took me by surprise. At first I thought that America’s largest cross (Effingham, Illinois, claims it has one eight feet taller) had been built at the precise spot of my accident.

I realized later, though, that the spot where I almost met my maker was a mile ahead, at the next exit.

Rather than get back on I-40, I took the back route, turning left on Route 66, driving through town, and approaching the scene of the accident from a side road.

I parked on the side of the road and left Ace in the car — not wanting him anywhere near the Interstate, or the accursed spot. I did grab my camera and pulled Bobblehead Jesus (B. Jesus, for short) from the cupholder so that he could accompany me.

I felt chills as I gazed at the spot, though maybe that was from the 60 mile per hour winds.

Feeling I had successfully confronted my fears — that I had found closure (not that I’m a big fan of closure; it’s so … final) — I went off in search of the motel that held me hostage.

Turns out it is now a storage facility, its rooms no longer holding people — only people’s stuff.

Next door, I stopped in at a restaurant called The Grill, asking what happened to the motel. The owner told me that what used to be called the Golden Spread Motel stopped being a motel about 15 years ago, changed hands a few times and ended up as a storage facility.

I told her Golden Spread sounded like something you’d put on a sandwich — or maybe a pornographic term describing some act with which I’m not familiar.

I stepped back outside, into the wind, and thought about the gigantic, non-pornographic cross, which, without any guy wires, can withstand gusts of up to 140 miles per hour. In the car, I gave B. Jesus a pat, sending his head to bobbing. Then I gave Ace one.

I was still a little sour on Groom, but I felt a vague sense of gratitude, and gave God that conditional nod I’m prone to giving him or her: I’m not sure I believe in you, but if you’re the reason Hobo and I survived that accident, thanks so much for the ensuing 18 years (in Hobo’s case, about four).

By then I was back on I-40, traveling eastbound, buffeted by winds, bolstered by Jesus Christ is Lord coffee, strengthened by having confronted my demons, and inspired by a giant cross.

Ace looked around, as if confused: What were all those stops about? I’m not sure I know. I get overwhelmed when I start thinking about God and the hereafter. I have enough trouble handling the here and now.

But this much I know I do have: A deep and abiding faith in dog.