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Tag: golf

The Ace Files: What to do when your dog won’t let his claws be trimmed

Ace was born and raised a city dog, and however mean one might consider the streets of Baltimore, they (and its sidewalks) always did a good job of keeping his claws filed down to a less than deadly length.

That was a good thing, because, when it comes to a toenail trim, Ace will have no part of it.

Groomers, vets and I have all attempted it, only to receive the clear message from him that — as much as he likes to have his paws played with, as much as he likes to hold hands — bringing any sort of grooming tool near his claws is a declaration of war.

Ace’s claws, for that very reason, have always been too long.

That poses problems, to himself and others. Ace is quick to shake hands, and sometimes does so unsolicited. In Baltimore, when he was working as a therapy dog, I feared he might inadvertenly and with all good intentions rip apart the small children reading to him, and I monitored him accordingly.

They were too long when we pulled out of the city, for a year-long, John Steinbeck-inspired tour of America. But by being constantly on the go, his claws remained at least at a tolerable length during our travels.

They were too long, despite daily walks around the block, after we ended up in Winston-Salem, N.C. and moved into the apartment of my birth.

ursula 053And since becoming a country dog, when we moved to a little house in tiny Bethania, N.C., they’ve only gotten worse — to the point they may now be described as a tad freakish, if not lethal weapons.

Once again, I went out and bought some expensive clippers, having  misplaced several old and never-used ones. But the latest attempt didn’t work either. No brand, no style, no method of claw trimming seems to work on Ace.

He doesn’t snarl, or bite, he just bucks and flails and, at 115 pounds, overpowers anyone attempting to trim his nails. What’s much scarier is the immense stress it seems to cause him. His heartbeat speeds up. He pants and drools and squirms. His eyes get a frightened look. Maybe I just imagine it, but he even starts to exude an odor. The smell of fear?

Once, back in Baltimore, I asked Ace’s vet to trim his nails. Ace resisted. The vet muzzled him and tried again. Ace resisted more. Then the vet called two burly men into the room to usher Ace upstairs.

From below, I heard the ruckus. It sounded like a professional wrestling match was underway, and about two minutes later they brought Ace back down, saying they’d been unable to accomplish the task — despite their muscles and whatever implements of restraint were upstairs.

It was concluded then that the only way to do it would be by sedating him. The idea of that scares me at least as much as how stressed he gets.

For my my most recent effort, I bought the most expensive professional nail clippers I could find. I let them lay around the living room for a week so Ace would get used to them. Then I recruited a friend, and had her feed him treats as I attempted the deed. Despite even that incentive, he balked. By the time it was over, I was almost fully sprawled atop him while whispering sweet nothings into his ear. He bucked me off, and not a single nail got trimmed. (Anybody need some expensive professional nail clippers?)

I described all that to Ace’s most recent veterinarian, here in North Carolina, at his check-up last month.

He suggested we start jogging on sidewalks. Then, seeing my reaction, he suggested I find a young and energetic friend to jog with Ace on sidewalks.

He also suggested a complete blood work-up that, in addition to checking for any health problems, might also help determine how well Ace would handle sedation.

We didn’t take him up on the second offer, deciding to wait until Ace turns 9 for that.

We did consider his  other suggestion — though not to the point of taking up jogging.

Since moving to historic Bethania, and having our own back yard, Ace doesn’t go for a walk every day. Bethania doesn’t have a lot in the way of sidewalks.  Three or four times a week we take a short walk — mostly on the street — to the little post office where I pick up  my mail. Two or three times a week we walk the dirt trail that meanders through Black Walnut Bottoms, behind the visitor center.

Once in a while, Ace will hear a hunter’s gunshot there, prompting him to turn around and head home. Ace also fears loud, cracking noises — anything from a bat hitting a ball to the crackle of the fireplace. His fears, as he grows older, seem to become more pronounced, but then maybe that’s true of all species. Whatever little fears we have turn into big looming nightmarish ones. Probably, there is a drug to help deal with that. But I am increasingly fearful of pharmaceuticals.

Given the lack of options, I decided Ace needed to spend more time pounding the pavement — and at a pace quicker than the slow one at which I prefer to move along.

So we took some of the vet’s advice, and reshaped it to fit our lifestyle (OK, my lifestyle). We headed down to the golf course where I work as a bartender a couple of nights a week. (Ace not having appeared in a movie in a while, I took my new camera along, too, to test out its video capabilities.)

I’m thinking of making it a twice-a-week routine. The mile-long trot seemed to make an immediate difference. His claws weren’t really any shorter, but they were much less sharp and pointy.

Ace slept great that night, but then he sleeps great every night, with only occasional scary dreams that makes his paws flutter as he emits little whimpers. I don’t think he’s chasing rabbits in his dreams. More likely, he’s running away from scary monsters that want to clip his nails.

(Ace has appeared in one professionally made movie, and several unprofessional ones. You can see some of the latter here.)

Why don’t more dogs play golf?

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Last weekend, I went out to take some photos of golfers and ended up with mostly photos of a dog.

His name is Rufus, and he’s a very well-behaved six-year-old boxer.

A tournament at the golf course where I’ve started working, part-time, as a bartender seemed a good opportunity to test my new camera and try to take some photos of people (instead of dogs) for a change.

gsgt 249Then Rufus caught my eye, and wouldn’t let go. He was riding along patiently in the golf cart with his owner, staying there on command, and galloping along on the fairways when his owner gave him permission.

It made me wonder why there aren’t more dogs on golf courses. They would seem — were country clubs not such stuffy places — to go together nicely.

My bartending job is at Long Creek Golf Club — a not at all stuffy place. It’s a public course just down the road from my house in Bethania.

Last Saturday a charity tournament was being held there to raise funds for Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, in memory of parishioners Neena Mabe and Justin Mabe.

gsgt 229

I proclaimed myself official photographer for the event, commandeered a cart and started taking photos of golfers — at least until I saw Rufus.

By morning’s end, I had about 150 photos of golfers, and about 50 of Rufus. I couldn’t help myself.  Boxers, it seems to me, have among the most expressive of all dog faces — including that one that seems to say, “What, you’re not going to take me along?”

That may or may not be why the owner of Rufus, who was competing in the tournament, brought him along. Rufus had perfect manners, didn’t bark once and seemed to totally enjoy the outing. As far as I could see, he bothered nobody, and charmed dozens.

gsgt 026

I’m sure those who take golf ultra-seriously would probably be averse to dogs on the course. Dogs could be distracting, or slow down play. But with one as well-behaved as Rufus – or, generally speaking, Ace — I see no problem with them tagging along with their owner, on a slow day, assuming their owner is cleaning up after them.

Given golfers have to bend over at least 36 times anyway — between teeing up and getting their ball out of the cup — what’s one or two more squats to pick up a little doggie waste?

Having a dog along could even be helpful — at least for me. I generally need a search party to find where my ball landed. (Usually it can be found in the ruff.) Plus, I could blame all my bad shots on him.

I don’t play golf much because it can lead to me getting very frustrated. With a dog along, that might be less likely to happen, given dogs tend to both help us keep things in perspective and soothe us when we get ourselves frazzled.

gsgt 298I’m not sure Ace would be as good as Rufus is at riding in the cart — or whether the two of us can even fit in one — but I’m determined to give it a try. (Yes, we could walk, but to me driving the golf cart is far more fun than the actual game.)

Sometime in the next month or two, on an afternoon I’m not behind the bar, we’ll put a few bottles of water in a cooler, and perhaps a beer or two, pack up a bowl and some poop bags and hit the links. Rest assured, we’ll give you a full report.

And we’ll prove, maybe — or maybe not — that dogs and golf are made for each other, assuming the dogs can learn a few simple rules:

– Don’t pick up the golf ball, unless you’re improving my lie, or moving it closer to the pin.

– Be quiet, and courteous to other golfers.

– Stay with your group and, at least until they’ve hit the ball, behind them.

– Don’t pee or poop on the greens.

– And, of course, always tip the bartender.

(Do you golf with your dog? Know any dog-friendly golf courses? If so, please feel free to share your tips and experiences — good, bad and ugly — via a comment.)

8-week-old pit bull beaten to death by kids

A pit bull puppy died after being beaten by a group of youngsters Saturday near Baltimore’s Carroll Park Golf Course.

Officials say golfers saw three kids beating the puppy and chased them away.

The golfers tried rushing the animal to a vet, but it was too late. The puppy died on the way.

The golfers returned to the golf course where Animal Control was called to pick up the puppy, WJZ reported.

Officials say the dog, which was about eight weeks old, was beaten with a stick.

A necropsy was to be performed today. Anyone with any information is asked to call Animal Control at 410-0396-4688.

The incident is the latest in a series of cruel attacks on animals in Baltimore, and they come at a time when the city is cutting back funding to the Bureau of Animal Control and animal welfare organizations such as BARCS.

Last week, a family’s pit bull-shepherd mix was attacked by a neighbor wielding a machete, resulting in numerous injuries and the loss of an eye. On Easter Sunday, a pit bull was pelted with stones by a group of youths, and last summer a dog named Phoenix was set on fire, later dying from her injuries.

My adventures as a pinup photographer

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Darned if it isn’t February already — time for procrastinators like myself to get a 2010 calendar.

Allow me to suggest one that doesn’t feature my work — Pinups for Pitbulls.uptopar

When Pinups for Pitbulls issued a call for submissions for its annual calendar last year, I answered — vaguely entertaining the notion that I, too, could have a career in photographing beautiful women, or at least have my photo make the calendar.

First, I recruited friend Carey Hughes and her pit bull Bimini to serve as my models. The challenge: to loosely recreate, with a pit bull, the vintage pin-up poster to the left, called “Up to Par.”

Carey enlisted her sister Kelly to serve as fashion advisor and hair and make-up person. Kelly was also to be the skirt-blower-upper, using a battery operated leaf blower I bought from Home Depot for the occassion to poof up her sister’s skirt and ensure our photos showed the requisite amount of leg.

On the day of the shoot, Kelly had another commitment, and Carey’s mom, Jeanne, ended up replacing her as the skirt-blower-upper — and doing a fine job, I might add.

We all met at Carroll Park Golf Course in Baltimore, where officials let us take over an unused hole. Not surprisingly, we drew a few a gawkers.

pinup4Both Carey and Bimini proved remarkably patient — though he wasn’t too thrilled with the golf cap he was initially sporting.

I sent the best of my shots into Pinups for Pitbulls, where we’d end up in the pile of those that didn’t make the cut. You can look at some of the other contenders not chosen here.

To see the winners, you can buy the calendar.

The calendar, in its fourth year, highlights stories and images of 12 pit bull-owning women and their dogs.  Sales from the 2009 calendar raised almost $20,000 for pit bull rescues across the nation, double the amount raised in 2008.

Pinups for Pitbulls, a non-profit organization, works to educate the public about pit bulls, remove the stigma associated with the breed and save the lives of abused and abandoned pit bulls throughout the United States.

The video below highlights the organization in more detail.

Meanwhile, if you need a slightly used battery-powered leaf blower, contact me.

Great moments in deer hunting history

Deer_on_golf_course

 
For some reason, even though I’m in Baltimore, I’m feeling a bit of unease about Ridgefield, Connecticut’s plan to allow deer hunting on the Ridgefield Golf Course.

True, nobody’s playing golf there in the winter — so, thankfully, we don’t have to worry about hunters getting hit with golf balls.

But given the course is a popular place for sledders, snow-shoers and cross-country skiers in the winter, the plan to allow bow-hunting seems a little ill-advised.

The managed deer hunt – designed to reduce the herd — extends only into the wooded areas, and it’s only on weekdays, and only for three weeks, and there will be signs posted at all the course’s entry points warning the public about the hunt, according to the News-Times in Danbury.

“The hunt will take place in the woods, in swampland,” said Tony Steger, the course’s superintendent. “The people who come to the course in winter are out in the middle of the fairways.”

Surely there will be no risk for those enjoying snow sports — given arrows, like golf balls, always go where they are intended.

And, if not, well … FORE!

White House makes a final Barney video


The White House has produced its final holiday video (I’m hoping this isn’t our tax dollars at work) featuring the president’s dog, Barney.

In this year’s “Barney Cam” Christmas greeting, the first family’s Scottish terrier scampers amid the White House’s red, white and blue holiday decorations before retiring for a nap and imagining himself as an athlete.

The Barney Cam was introduced in the 2002 holiday season, and got 24 million Web visitors on its first day, according to the Associated Press.

Since then, Barney’s holiday videos have featured former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush adviser Karl Rove, country singers Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson and other stars. Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin guest star in the final holiday doggie video from the White House.

Barney is shown in cutout animation as an Olympic vaulter, swimmer and synchronized diver with fellow terrier Miss Beazley, both in red swimsuits.

He also dreams of sinking the final putt to secure the Ryder Cup, with the entire U.S. Ryder Cup team chanting “Barney, Barney, Barney!”

The Barney Cam spot introduced Monday starts with President George W. Bush, his wife, Laura, and their daughters, Jenna and Barbara, reminiscing about their times together in the White House, then sending Barney off to decorate and nap.