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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.

Guinness recognizes longest dog tongue

Puggy, a tiny 10-year-old Pekingese living in Texas, has been recognized by the 2011 edition of Guinness World Records for having the longest tongue of any dog.

Judges confirmed that Puggy’s tongue is 4.5 inches long, which, though a bit freakish for his size, doesn’t seem all that world record breaking to me.

Possibly they are just measuring that portion of tongue that protrudes from the mouth; or possibly they are looking at tongues in relation to a dog’s overall size. Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty big tongue.

According to The Telegraph, Puggy was abandoned by a breeder as a pup because of his looks, but then taken in by a Texas couple.

“‘People who meet Puggy for the first time do a lot of double takes; they are in total disbelief and are amused by his unique appearance,” said Becky Stanford, Puggy’s owner.

”It means a great deal to us that he has accomplished what he has. From being a stray dog, being dumped, to being a Guinness World Record Holder is just phenomenal. I just can’t believe it.”

Nearly 200 pets seized from Arizona home

Pinal County Animal Care and Control officers seized 152 cats and 19 dogs from a home in Hidden Valley, Arizona, this week.

Seven officers arrived at the home to remove the animals, which took about eight hours. “It was shocking,” said Animal Care and Control Director Ruth Stalter. “This is the largest rescue from hoarding-type conditions in the history of Animal Care and Control.”

Six years ago, ABC15 reported, 98 animals were removed from the same home.

The animals that were removed will receive veterinary check-ups and put up for adoption. Residents interested in adopting animals can call the Citizen Contact Center at (520) 509-3555 or visit the shelter at 1150 S Eleven Mile Corner Road near the Pinal County Fairgrounds.

The largest crackdown on dogfighting — ever

The most ambitious crackdown on dogfighting in American history has now led to the seizure of more than 450 dogs, with raids and arrests in eight states.

Following an investigation initiated by the The Humane Society of Missouri, officers from multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies made arrests and seized dogs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas in what was ”the largest simultaneous raid of multiple dogfighting operations in the history of the United States,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.

“This intervention is a momentous victory in our ongoing battle to end the cruel, criminal dogfighting industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. 

Pacelle reported on his blog: “Four United States Attorneys and a bevy of federal law enforcement agencies, along with The HSUS, The Humane Society of Missouri, and the ASPCA, raided multiple dogfighting operations, and seized at least 450 dogs, in what was the largest single day of actions against dogfighting in American history.”

The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs —  mostly pit bulls — seized in the Missouri and Illinois raids. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an  emergency shelter in St. Louis.

Read more »

Multi-state dogfighting raid nets 30 arrests

Thirty people have been arrested and as many as 350 dogs have been seized in raids across five states that animal welfare groups are calling the largest simultaneous raid of dogfighting operations in the U.S.

Authorities said that the raids were conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma.

The raids followed a more than year-long investigation prompted by information from the Humane Society of Missouri, according to the Associated Press.

The ASPCA, which cooperated in the investigation, said the targets of the investigation ran what was believed to be the largest dogfighting operation in U.S. history.

John M. Bales, the U.S. attorney in eastern Texas, said nine people in his state were indicted on June 30 of three counts — conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture and buying, selling, delivering or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture. If convicted, the defendants each face up to five years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Bales said eight people were arrested Wednesday in Panola and Gregg counties in Texas. Nine dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, were seized during a search of property in rural Panola County.

Surgery postponed for Britain’s largest dog

     Samson — the biggest dog in all of Britain — has been put on a crash diet after vets decided he was too heavy to undergo a life-saving operation.
    Public donations have poured in to help Samson — who stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall on his hind legs – get the operation, but his vets say because of his weight (280 pounds) he would not recover properly, and might never walk again were the surgery to take place now.
     Samson, a Great Dane-Newfoundland mix, has a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left hind leg.
     His owners Ray and Julie Woods, from Wyberton, Lincolnshire, say the four-year-old dog will begin a regimen of dieting, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy in an attempt to get his weight down.
     “The operation is on hold for the time being,” said Mrs. Woods, “but we have been told that there is a 90 per cent chance that he will need it in the next six months.”

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