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Tag: homes

Onward, upward, backward, homeward

Get back to where you once belonged

– The Beatles

You can’t go home again

     — Thomas Wolfe

The Beatles had more memorable lyrics – ”Ob-la-di, ob-la-da” notwithstanding — but Thomas Wolfe (and here we mean the ”Look Homeward Angel” one, not the modern-day, white-suited “Right Stuff” one) is probably best remembered for that one phrase, which also served as the title of one of his fine books.

“You can’t go home again” — meaning, of course, not that you can’t physically return, but that, if and when you do, what was there then isn’t likely to be there now, or how you remembered it isn’t how it is now, or maybe even how it was then, or that time has a way of erasing your past, just as it will one day lay claim to your future.

Whether one can go home again has been a recurring theme of Travels With Ace. In our journey, we’ve revisited the places of my youth — in Houston, in Tucson, in New York, and in Raleigh. (I had a lot of homes, both in my youth and since — 28 in 16 different towns.) Sometimes the reconnection has been strong; sometimes it has been faint. But you can go home again.

And you should.

And I am.

A week from now I’ll be settling into the modest little apartment unit in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in which my parents lived when I entered the world — not with with a bang (though obviously that occured at some point) but with a whimper.

Now, in the denouement of, if not life, at least this blog, it’s back to John: Chapter One, Verse One.

(Note: At 57, I’ve found I prefer my metaphors mixed. So I run them through the blender, on puree, sometimes with an added pinch of Metamucil, ridding them of the hard to digest lumpy bits. They are both tastier and easier to swallow that way.)

In the beginning was the word — and I was born of two wordsmiths. I followed their footsteps into the newspaper industry, put in 35 years or so, then — as newspapers became glimmers of their former selves — jumped ship to write a book, and write these blogs, and find a new identity to replace my old one.

Now, I’ll be stringing them — words, I mean — together in the same room where I once rattled the rails of my crib, documenting the denouement, or the final resolution of the intricacies of my plot, if indeed I have either plot or intricacies.

It will be — at least for a while — the somewhat circular ending of my year on the road with my dog Ace, who has helped me reach the decision.

His herniated disc is still an issue, and the 11 steps down to our temporary apartment in the basement of a mansion, probably isn’t aiding his recovery.

We came here to spend a couple of months close by my mother, and to reconnect with my own roots, much like I sought out Ace’s several years ago.

It was on the way home from one such reconnection, a family reunion, that my mother showed me the house she and my father lived in when I was born. In the window was a “for rent” sign. There was only one step up to enter.

I signed a lease — as is my style, and given my lack of a plot — on a month-to-month basis.

So next week, given my birthplace is unfurnished, it’s back to Baltimore to reclaim my stuff, now nested in a storage unit on Patapsco Avenue.

Then we’ll lug it all back to College Village, a spanking new apartment complex when my mother and father moved in 60 years ago. Now, it’s far less upscale than its surrounding neighborhood, a collection of mostly squat brick units that look like something you’d see on an Army base.

I, having only lived there one year, and it having been my first, have no real memories of it, but it was interesting to see, when I brought her over for a visit, how it triggered some for my mother.

Ace, too, seemed to like it better than the basement. When we dropped by to sign the lease, his tail was up and wagging. He visited the tiny kitchen, then sniffed out the two bedrooms, paying far more attention to the front one. Did my baby smells still linger after 57 years? Only then did he walk up to meet the landlord and his daughter.

Yes, he seemed to be saying, this will do nicely. Only one stair. Lots of sunlight. 

As the landlord ripped the “for rent” sign off the front window, I think my dog and I came to the same conclusion — that one intricacy at least, at last, had been resolved, and that we were home, for now.

KC woman aims to help the dogs of the poor

chain of hopeSix days a week, Kate Quigley leaves her Kansas City neighborhood and ventures into those whose residents are less fortunate, meaning, often, that their dogs are, too.

In a 25-year-old pickup truck, she scouts out animal abuse and neglect — and situations verging on that — and offers food, hay, doghouses, toys, spaying and neutering and more.

Often referred to as “the dog lady” or “Miss Kate,”Quigley knocks on doors, talks to owners and drops off supplies — up until recently as a representative of  Spay & Neuter Kansas City and No More Homeless Pets KC, where, last year alone she brought in 438 cats and 562 dogs to be spayed and neutered, gave away 95 doghouses and 14,700 pounds of dog food and talked to 3,030 households.

Now she’s started her own non-profit called Chain of Hope, according to the Kansas City Star. The newspaper reports that several volunteers have switched affiliations from other groups to join Quigley, a recently divorced mother of three,  in her cause.

Chain of Hope’s mission, she says, is to break the chain of ignorance for pet owners who neglect their outside dogs, to break the chain of unwanted litters, and to persuade dog owners who leave their animals tied up to unchain them, or at least use less harmful cable tie-outs.

“I don’t get it when people tell me that a dog is for protection, but the dog is tied up on a chain at their back gate. How will a chained dog protect them?” 

(Photo by DAVID EULITT / Kansas City Star; to see the entire gallery, click here.)

Concert benefits pit bull rescue group

If you’re looking for some good music, a good cause and something to do on Valentine’s Day, there’s a benefit concert at the 8×10 Club in Federal Hill tomorrow to raise funds for MidAtlantic Bully Buddies, a Baltimore pit bull rescue.

Tickets for “Peace & Love for Bully Buddies” are $15 and doors open at 7 p.m. The show is open to all ages and features the bands Can’t Hang, Woo & the Yellow Dubmarine and Mobtown Saints.

All proceeds benefit Mid Atlantic Bully Buddies, a rescue organization that provides foster care for dogs while seeking to find them permanent homes, and works to educate the public and correct misconceptions about pit bulls.

The truth about cats and dogs in the UK

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There are more cats and dogs in the UK than anyone thought.

According to figures in a new study, there are around 10.3 million cats and 10.5 million dogs in the UK, a total of 4 million more than pet food manufacturers had estimated, according to The Guardian.

The report, based on polling, also concludes that cat owners are better educated.

The study is the first published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 20 years — when there were 6.2 million cats and 6.4 million dogs.

Cats, according to the study, are more likely to live in households with someone with a college degree. A poll of 2,524 households found that 47.2% of those with a cat had at least one person educated to degree level, compared with 38.4% of homes with dogs. We will presume that cat owners did the math.

Last year, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association estimated — not too precisely, as it turns out — the size of the UK domestic cat and dog population at about 8 million each.

The new study, published in the Veterinary Record by Jane Murray, a cats protection lecturer in feline epidemiology at Bristol University, does not take into account strays or those animals in shelters.

About  7% of UK households own both a cat and dog.

(Photos: My dog Ace, your cat Miley, both of whom got their education on the streets; by John Woestendiek)

Chihuahuas fly to where the odds are better

Virgin America flew 15 Chihuahuas from San Francisco to New York this week in an effort to aid the overcrowded population of Chihuahuas in California.

West Coast shelters, overwhelmed with Chihuahuas, have been looking for help from shelters on the East Coast, where there is a demand for the dogs.

Escorted by a veterinarian, the dogs were to arrive at JFK and be picked up by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which will help them find homes on the East Coast.

Virgin America’s Facebook page documented the flight, with videos and photos posted while in the air.

The Chihuahua glut goes beyond L.A.

beverly_hills_chihuahuaChihuahuas are becoming the most common dog in California’s animal shelters, replacing the pit bull as the breed most often forsaken by owners.

The “101 Dalmatians” effect that many predicted the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” would lead to seems to have come to pass, exacerbated further by the Paris Hilton effect and, maybe even moreso, the yukky economy effect.

About a third of the dogs in San Francisco’s animal shelter are Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes, Kat Brown, deputy director of City and County of San Francisco Animal Care & Control, told Robert Siegel on NPR’s “All Things Considered” Wednesday.

About 60 percent of the Chihuahuas coming into the shelter are owner-surrendered, she said.

“I think it’s because a number of things. Some movies featured Chihuahuas. Also, a pocket pet kind of thing, from some of the movie stars, Paris Hilton. Also, the economy. I think we’re seeing more owner-surrendered animals generally across the board,” she said.

“But Chihuahuas unlike other dogs are more difficult to handle sometimes. People think of them as something, they’re like stuffed animals or whatever. But in fact they’re like a little dog, and they need all of the things that a big dog needs.”

Brown said the phenomenon seems to be California-wide:

“We have shelters from the Bay Area who also have the same sort of problem. Oakland, Contra Costa, Peninsula Humane Society. Silicon Valley. San Jose. LASPCA (in Los Angeles) said to us we don’t have time to count, there are so many of them.”

You can listen to the interview here.

Hundreds of greyhounds soon to need homes

greyhoundaaGreyhound rescuers in Wisconsin are preparing to find homes for hundreds of racing dogs that will lose their jobs when Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, the last of Wisconsin’s five greyhound racing tracks, closes at the end of the year.

Pat Zimmerman of Fond du Lac, a member of Heart Bound Greyhound Adoption, estimated between 300 and 900 dogs will need to find homes. The group will be taking many of the dogs into foster homes to prepare them for adoption, according to the Post Crescent in Appleton.

Zimmerman said  that some of the racing greyhounds will go home with their owners, others will be relocated to out-of-state racetracks, and a third group will go back to racing farms to be bred.

Meanwhile, the newspaper reported, the state chapter of Greyhound Pets of America is trying to quell a rumor being circulated through email and Facebook claiming 900 greyhounds could be killed if they’re not adopted soon.

In addition to the closing in Wisconsin, hundreds more greyhounds will be in need of homes in connection with the closing at the end of this year of Phoenix Greyhound Park, one of three remaining dog tracks in Arizona.

For a list of links to greyhound adoption websites, visit Grey2kusa.

Dogs seized in record raid head for new homes

 

Dozens of rescued dogs — among the 400 pit bulls that were rescued in July in the largest dog fighting bust in U.S. history — left St. Louis yesterday morning for new homes across the country, Fox2 News in St. Louis reported.

The dogs were brought to the Humane Society in July after being seized in a five-state raid that led to nearly 30 arrests.

Twenty-six of the pit bulls left in the morning to be dropped off at adoptive homes in Utah, Oregon and California.

Another 31 dogs were leaving St. Louis yesterday for homes on the east coast.

Greyhound racing is done in Wisconsin

Greyhound racing is nearing the finish line in Wisconsin.

Dairyland Greyhound Park, in Kenosha — the last operating track in the state –  announced Tuesday it will close its doors after racing ends Dec. 31.

Dairyland was one of five Wisconsin tracks that opened after a 1987 amendment to the state constitution allowed for a state-run lottery and legalized parimutuel betting. The others closed earlier, unable to compete with the state’s tribal casino offerings that began to emerge in the 1990s.

According to the Kenosha News, the 19-year-old track has lost $17 million over the last seven years.

Dairyland has remained in operation in recent years with the hope that the Menominee Nation wins federal and state approval to develop a $1 billion casino complex on the site. The tribe is now in litigation to overturn a January denial of the project.

Closing the track will put about 180 people out of work, and, track officials say, leave the 900 dogs that race at the facility in need of homes.

If you’re interest in adopting, here’s how to find a greyhound rescue near you.

Stay at home, mom

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Yesterday, I came across the website Momlogic, by virtue of an article appearing therein that triggered my special Internet alarm that goes off when somebody, somewhere is verbally bashing dogs.

The article was headlined Your Dog Grosses Me Out.

In it, Jennifer Ginsberg — a Los Angeles mother, writer, addiction specialist and producer of the website angstmom – recounts a dinner party experience in which she encountered not one, but two dogs, who were not only inside the house, but behaved, well, like dogs.

“If you choose to cohabit with dogs, then how about putting them outside for meals and parties? I know that you consider them to be a part of the family, but they are animals, not people, and it is not acceptable for them to infringe on the comfort of your guests.”

She continues: “It is freaking annoying when I sit down on your fur-covered sofa with a plate of food and your dog stands one inch from me, panting his nasty doggy breath and whimpering as he begs for my crudites. My 2-year-old daughter didn’t enjoy when Shlomo sucked on her toes while she was eating birthday cake, either!

“Humanizing animals is a glaring example of our society’s broken moral compass. It’s easier for some people to feel frothy emotion about the imagined plight of an animal over actual human suffering. It’s also simpler to have a relationship with a pet than a person — there aren’t any real emotional requirements, and you get to feel loved unconditionally for no good reason.

“If these self-proclaimed dog lovers really cared about animals, perhaps they would strive to meet their genuine needs, rather than attempt to turn their dogs into submissive love slaves. These poor dogs are tools for people to get their narcissistic needs met, while they deserve to be respected for the animals they are. The truth is, dogs don’t belong in houses — their natural habitat is outdoors — and they certainly don’t belong at a party with young children running around.”

I’m guessing Ginsburg won’t have to worry about being invited back to a party at that dog-contaminated house again. What’s puzzling, though, is why she went to the party in the first place, given her feelings (or lack thereof) about dogs, and given she admits to knowing there’d be at least one there: “I knew that I would have to deal with Shlomo, their big, stinky dog.”

From time to time, I see a similar sort of behavior at the park: The person with an unsocialized and leashed dog, though plenty of alternate routes are available, opts to walk him right through the middle of 20 unleashed ones, then complains when their dog is approached by one of them. Some people just seem to thrive on confrontation.

While it’s true that wolves, from which dogs evolved, may not “belong in houses,” neither do apes, from which we evolved into the ruling, supremely intelligent, somewhat bossy species we have become.

Given her field of expertise, you’d think Ginsburg would at least be a little more understanding about the plight of the dog-addicted.

Meanwhile, I have only this advice for the next time she’s invited to a party where there might be a danger of her comfort being infringed upon by her gracious host’s lowly dogs:

Stay at home, mom.