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Tag: hospitals

I can’t drive 2.5

It’s one of the things you do when you’re in Winston-Salem. You see the giant coffee pot. You eat some Krispy Kreme Donuts. You take a picture of the big downtown building that looks like a penis. And you stroll around Old Salem, or in our case – given a mom that doesn’t get around like she used to and a still gimpy dog – you drive.

Since we were at the Moravian Graveyard, or God’s Acre, anyway — to place some flowers on the grave of a great aunt — Ace, mom and I decided to cruise around Old Salem, a restored Moravian settlement that, like a smaller scale Williamsburg, features old-time craftsmen and shops staffed by people in period garb.

Before Winston and Salem became one (in 1913), there was Salem to the south and Winston to the north. After the merger Winston-Salem became, for a while, the most populous city in the state, and enjoyed a major boom powered by tobacco and textiles.

In some ways, it’s still bustling; in some ways it’s sleepy. Its tobacco-based economy has given way, ironically enough, to a health-care based one. Hospitals, it sometime seems, are taking over the town. There’s a thriving arts scene. Still, overall, the pace is slow.

Even though I knew that, even though Old Salem is a pedestrian experience — and I mean that in terms of people walking — I was surprised to see the speed limit that was posted in Old Salem: 2.5 miles per hour.

I’d never seen a speed limit that low, and when I tried to drive 2.5, it was nearly impossible. It’s just a smidge, or a skosh, above being motionless. But, laws being laws, I did my best, creeping along like a snail in my red jeep, traffic gathering behind me, mother beside me and Ace in the back seat wondering, I’d guess, “What is this? Are we stopping or not?”

As we crept along, my mother showed me the house my sister born in, and, nearby, the building at Salem College where she worked in the public relations department. As we left, I insisted on pulling over to take a picture of the speed limit sign, for by then – even though I’m all for playing it safe and slowing down in life — I’d concluded that the the 2.5 mile speed limit was one of the most ridiculous things ever.

It was only then, through the lens of my camera, that I realized the speed limit wasn’t 2.5; it was 25, the dot between the 2 and the 5 being the bolt that affixed the sign to its post.

By that time, I needed a strong cup of coffee, for driving 2.5 makes one sleepy at an amazing speed.

I settled for the coffee pot, just a couple of blocks away and one of  Winston-Salem’s best-known landmarks.

The coffee pot is 12 feet high, 16 feet in circumference and was made by tinsmith Julius Mickey in 1858. In the town then known as Salem, Mickey opened a grocery store and, in its loft, a tinsmith shop.

The tin shop turned out to fare far better than the grocery. It was the source of cups, plates, pots, pans, coffee and tea pots, buckets and lanterns and more — items in such demand that a second tinsmith opened just down the street.

To distinguish his shop from it, Mickey built, of tin, an enormous coffee pot, large enough, it is said, to hold 740 gallons of coffee. He placed it on a wooden post in front of his shop on the side of the street -– in a way that it actually extended into the street. Over time it became banged up by horse-drawn buggies that bumped it.

By the time Mickey sold his shop to another tinsmith, L. B. Brickenstein, the pot was considered both a town symbol and a nuisance.

In 1920, a horse and buggy driver struck the pot, knocking it off its wooden post. According to a 1966 article on the coffee pot’s history, published in the Winston-Salem Journal, the pot landed across the sidewalk, and just missed hitting a woman and child who were walking by.

The Winston-Salem board of alderman – the two towns having become one by then — ruled that the pot was a traffic hazard and a violation of a town ordinance regulating advertising signs. The board ordered it taken down. It was stored, but only briefly. After an outcry from those who saw it as an important landmark, it was put back up — just a little further away from the street.

In 1924, the Vogler family bought the old shop, and decided to leave the coffee pot standing, even if it didn’t exactly go with their expanding business – a funeral home.

In the 1950′s progress dictated — and progress does have a way of dictating —  that the pot must go. Interstate 40 was coming through town, and the route went right through where the coffee pot stood.  Suggestions that the highway be rerouted to skirt the pot were overruled.

Instead, the coffee pot was removed from its location at Belews and Main Street and, early in 1959, relocated to an expanse of grass at the point where the Old Salem bypass enters Main Street.

Coffee pot lore is abundant, some of it possibly even true. One legend has it that the pot served as a mail drop for spies during the Revolutionary War – a little hard to swallow considering it wasn’t built until 1858.

Still percolating as well are accounts that, during the Civil War, the coffee pot, which does have a trap door built into it, once hid a Yankee soldier (caffeinated version), or a Confederate soldier (decaffeinated version).

People do move slower in the south, and I think that’s a good thing.

In my travels with Ace, I’ve found that decreasing one’s pace, avoiding a schedule, allows one to see more, hear more, experience more, meet people more, and make fewer misteaks. (If you didn’t catch that, you’re reading too fast.)

Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I’m getting southern, but I think we’d all be well served by not trying to do everything so fast — even if it does cut into the profit margin. We’d be better off — and I’d bet the average tinsmith agrees –  to do our jobs more slowly and carefully, not to mention walk a little slower, talk a little slower, eat our Krispy Kreme donuts a little slower, even drive a little slower.

I’d highly recommend it — just not 2.5 mph.

A dog once dragged now helps others


A dog who was dragged behind a car in Kentucky seven years ago now helps people who are dealing with an illness in their family.

Roadie, an 8-year-old beagle and a certified therapy dog, greets guests at the Hospital Hospitality House of Lexington, WKYT-TV reports. The facility provides temporary overnight accommodations to family and friends of patients in Lexington area hospitals.

“Everybody loves Roadie,” said Hospital Hospitality House Executive Director Lynn Morgan. “Roadie knows people very well and she knows how to make them feel comfortable.”

In July of 2004, the beagle was dragged on the street behind a car in Pulaski County, losing an eye and nearly her life. Dennis Wayne Fitzpatrick, of Somerset, pled guilty to cruelty to animals and was fined

After the accident, volunteers at Hospitality House put in an application to adopt her. Morgan said that initially he wasn’t sure the house was the place for a dog.

“To my surprise I was wrong, it was a very good place for a therapy dog. Roadie has been a companion and a caring counselor to our guests,” he said. “She is so much like the people who stay with us — she’s been through a very difficult medical situation and she survived it.”

California man seeks vet insurance — for self

You can’t blame Hal Ziegler for trying — what was good enough for his golden doodle, he figured, would be good enough for him.

Facing exorbitant increases in his health insurance payments, Zeigler, a self-employed consultant, called up the pet insurance company that covers his dog Charlie — for $37 a month — and asked if he could get a policy for himself.

“They laughed,” Ziegler, 47, of Mission Viejo., told the Orange County Register. “I knew what the answer would be but in reality I wasn’t joking.”

Ziegler noted that his dog, Charlie, has seen his claims paid promptly and without dispute by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) , including those for vaccinations and a trip to the veterinary emergency room.

Ziegler’s dealings with Anthem Blue Cross haven’t been nearly as simple and swift, and the price of his coverage keeps going up — a 34 percent jump this year alone.

And even then, it sounds like he lacks coverage for a major medical event. “One one of our greatest fears is to be in a catastrophic medical emergency,” he said.

Being without health insurance myself I can relate to the problem faced by Ziegler and so many others who have been priced out of the health market. So I’ll share my secret plan, if a major medical problem comes my way: I’m going to go to the vet, get him to give me a bacon-flavored treat, scratch me behind the ears and gently put me down.

To the Rescue: Found Dogs with a Mission

rescue_dogs_7

 
Rescued dogs — and the courageous work many of them go on to do — are the theme of “To the Rescue: Found Dogs with a Mission,” a new book written by  animal adoption activist Elise Lufkin.

Lufkin, who also wrote ”Found Dogs: Tales of Strays Who Landed on Their Feet “ and “Second Chances” has put together a series of stories about rescued dogs who have gone on to visit hospitals, prisons and nursing homes, guide the blind and deaf, and detect narcotics and bombs.

While her previous books look at how dog owners have been rewarded by the dogs they rescue, this one focuses on owners of rescued dogs who have trained and certified their dogs for special work that has an impact on the lives of many more humans.

Lufkin, as with her two previous books, is donating all profits to shelters and other animal-related organizations.

The poignant photographs in the book are the work of Diana Walker, a contract photographer for Time magazine since 1979.

The dog in the photo above is Marlee, who has a partially amputated right foreleg and was discovered by a group of veterinary students at a local pound.

Veterinarian Karen Lanz explains in the book what happened next:

“…If left at the shelter, the dog would surely have been euthanized … Marlee’s sweet, gentle nature made me realize immediately that she would make a wonderful therapy dog. After a little fine-tuning at local obedience classes, we were ready … Soon my brother-in-law, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, suggested that Marlee’s status as an amputee could make her a welcome addition to the therapy dogs visiting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“I contacted People Animals Love (PAL) and was fortunate enough to join their groups on visits to Walter Reed. Marlee was well received at the hospital, and I think she was a source of inspiration for some of the brave veterans who are returning from the Iraq war with missing limbs and other disabilities. Guys in wheelchairs marked “Purple Heart Combat Wounded” would say to this little dog, ‘I know what you’re going through’ … I will always be grateful to the students who saw potential in a badly injured dog and rescued her. Marlee has been a joy every day.”

The book is full of similar stories, and even more can be found on the book’s website.

(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)

Lufkin will hold a book signing Thursday, Nov. 12 at Halcyon House Antiques, 11219 Greenspring Ave. in Lutherville,  from 5-7 pm. Admission is $50 and includes a copy of the book. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Maryland SPCA. For more information, contact Halycon House or the Maryland SPCA.

Paws in the pews: Ministry dogs

Mosby, a 3-year-old golden retriever who was deemed too friendly for work as an assistance dog for the disabled, has found a purpose in God’s house.

Mosby is a ministry dog, one of a growing breed of assistance dogs assigned to clergy and church workers. He was featured in a Boston Globe article yesteday.

A few times each week, Mosby visits hospitals and assisted living centers. But his busiest day is Sunday, when he can be found in a pew alongside his owners, Lynda and Larry Fisher, at the First Baptist Church of Littleton, where they are longtime members and he’s the official greeter.

“A dog ministry breaks down barriers right away,’’ said the Rev. Deborah Blanchard. “It helps put aside the barriers and connect on a real level to offer comfort and love.’’

The idea of a formal training program for ministry dogs sprang up just over a decade ago, when a divinity student and dog lover made a case to NEADS, Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, a nonprofit organization based in Princeton, Mass., that is one of the nation’s largest assistance-dog training programs.

“She explained how she’d be going to hospices and working with the elderly and sick children, all populations who can’t have a dog but could really benefit,’’ said Sheila O’Brien, the agency’s chief executive officer. “She said, ‘You know, Sheila, dog spelled backwards is God.’ ’’

NEADS has trained more than 15 dogs as ministry dogs since 1998.

Lynda Fisher approached NEADS  last year in hopes of being matched with a ministry dog afer she and her husband, Larry, lost their dog, a 15-year-old Brittany spaniel named Jessie.

“I told them, ‘I’m a deaconess at my church. Part of my duties is to visit the sick and infirm, and it would go so much better with a dog,’ ’’ Fisher recalled.

Although the dogs are generally designated for ministers, Fisher’s 40-year affiliation with First Baptist and enthusiastic devotion to her faith, and to dogs, won her an exception to the rule.

Researchers warn of bite-related infections

Doctors treating people for dog and cat bites should be aware of an increasing risk of MRSA — Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — being transmitted from pets to humans, newly published research says.

MRSA, an uncommon strain of the bacteria in domestic animals, is being seen more often, according to research reported in the new issue The Lancet that focuses on infectious diseases.

“As community-acquired strains of MRSA increase in prevalence, a growing body of clinical evidence has documented MRSA colonisation in domestic animals, often implying direct infection from their human owners,” reports a team led by Dr Richard Oehler, of the University of South Florida. “MRSA colonisation has been documented in companion animals such as horses, dogs, and cats and these animals have been viewed as potential reservoirs of infection.”

“Pet owners are often unaware of the potential for transmission of life-threatening pathogens from their canine and feline companions,” the researchers said. “Clinicians must continue to promote loving pet ownership, take an adequate pet history, and be aware that associated diseases are preventable via recognition, education and simple precautions.”

Each year, dog and cat bites comprise around 1% of accident and emergency visits in the US and Europe. Severe infections occur in about 20% of bite cases, and are caused by bacteria in the animal’s mouth, plus other infectious agents from the person’s skin.

Getting tripped up by facts, and dogs

 You can’t consume media these days without tripping over this story — roughly 240 Americans wind up in emergency rooms every day for sprains, fractures or other injuries from a fall caused by a dog or cat.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs and cats account for about 1 percent of the 8 million fall-related injuries that end up being treated in emergency rooms each year.

Yes, 1 percent. Why, then is it such a big story? I’ll tell you why. Partly because newspapers are becoming less likely to do their own work these days. They want to fill their newsholes as cheaply as they possibly can — so they rewrite, or use wire stories, which are often already rewrites. And bloggers? They’re even worse, rewriting the rewritten rewrites.

Just as a sentence gets screwed up the more times it’s repeated from one person to the next, so can news, or alleged news.

Here’s what Reuters reported: ”Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs and cats account for 88 percent of all fall-related injuries in emergency departments.”

Some simple math: 87,000 falls a year is not 88 percent of 8 million.

What the CDC did report was that 88 percent of reported pet-caused falls were caused by dogs, but that’s entirely different from saying 88 percent of all falls were caused by pets.

If 88 percent of all falls leading to hospitalization were caused by pets, that would be a big story. One percent? That’s barely a story at all. Yet it’s everywhere.

Words, math, dogs –they’re all easy to trip over. But before we start portraying pets as a health hazard — and at this point I would ask how many of those falls were caused by dumb humans, as opposed to dumb animals — we might want to take steps to get the facts right and put them in perspective.

(Photo courtesy of ihasahotdog.com)