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Tag: manners

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.

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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.

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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.)

Bulletin: Not everybody loves your dog

Farhad Manjoo doesn’t want to pet your dog.

In fact, he’d prefer it if you’d keep your dog to yourself — out of the park he wants to read in, away from the cafe where he enjoys his Frappuccino, and definitely not in the gym in which he works out.

It was a case of the latter that triggered a well-written, semi-playful, anti-dog diatribe he wrote for Slate last week.

Manjoo argued that dogs are getting too many privileges. He pointed out that not everybody enjoys their presence, cited health hazards they could conceivably pose, and suggested all those people who take their dogs everywhere start leaving them at home.

Not sharing one’s dog? To me, that’s the equivalent of hiding a Van Gogh behind an ironing board in the basement. Or putting a newfound cure for cancer in a time capsule. Or shielding your eyes — just to be safe — from a blazing sunset.

Still, we’d defend Manjoo’s preference to live life without somebody else’s dog in his face. That’s his right. It’s his loss, but it’s also his right.

Manjoo is Slate‘s technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. So it doesn’t surprise me — he being caught up in all things digital — that he has failed to catch on to or be captivated by the wonder of dogs.

Microchipping aside, dogs and technology are best kept separate. They don’t always get along, maybe because they are the antithesis of each other. Technology may be the cure for everything, but dogs are the cure for technology. We’ll get back to this point, but first let’s look at what Manjoo said — after an unwanted encounter with a Doberman inside his gym.

“The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond… I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened — for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time. 

“Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here?

“…No one was asking because no one could ask. Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices… Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs. …”

Manjoo admits to not being a dog person, but at least — unlike most anti-dog types — he has a sense of humor about it.

“It’s not that I actively despise mutts; I just don’t have much time for them, in the same way I don’t have time for crossword puzzles or Maroon 5,” he writes.

“But here’s my problem: There’s now a cultural assumption that everyone must love dogs. Dog owners are rarely forced to reckon with the idea that there are people who aren’t enthralled by their furry friends, and that taking their dogs everywhere might not be completely pleasant for these folks.”

And seldom, he points out, does anyone whose dog accosts him say they’re sorry.

“… I can promise you she won’t apologize for the imposition. Nor will she ask you if you mind her dog doing what he’s doing. Nor will she pull on its leash, because there won’t be a leash, this being an office, where dogs are as welcome as Wi-Fi and free coffee.”

The same holds true, he notes, at coffee houses.

Here we should point out that the dog pictured atop this post is mine, and that, in the photo, Ace is enjoying an iced coffee product at Starbucks, offered to him by a customer whose behavior indicated she wanted him to visit her table.

When I take Ace to a Starbucks, or most anywhere else, it’s usually pretty apparent who wants to meet him and who doesn’t, and I restrain him accordingly. I don’t have to compile any data or crunch any numbers, I can just tell. It’s not brain surgery, or computer science.

Even though most people go to Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi, or the expensive coffee, I’d estimate about one of two customers wants to meet my dog. Ace — and this isn’t true of every dog — has a way of figuring that out himself, and generally will avoid those who show no interest in him, unless they are in the process of eating a muffin or pastry, in which case he’s willing to overlook the fact they may not be dog lovers.

What makes the numbers even more impressive is that 8 of every 10 customers at your typical Starbucks are under the spell of their computer device and not at all cognizant of what’s going on around them.

Ace is sometimes able to break that spell, at least he does for me.

As for me, I’d rather have access to Fido then Wi-Fi anyday. Fido will soothe me. Wi-Fi will likely, at some point, make me angry and frustrated. Fido will focus me. Wi-Fi will distract me. Wi-Fi will accost me with uninvited and intrusive messages, and send me alerts, and remind me of all the things I need to do today.  Fido will remind me all those things aren’t really that important and can wait until tomorrow. Wi-Fi will take me out of the moment; Fido will keep me in it. Wi-fi has no soul. Fido does, and his presence allows our souls – those of us who have them — to be refreshed. Dogs keep us from becoming an entirely manic society.

No one, if I have my laptop on, will want to come up and pet it, except maybe Farhad Manjoo, who — while not having the least bit of interest in my dog — is probably curious about my gigabytes and apps.

On this much I will agree with Manjoo: There are dog owners who seem unaware that not everybody will delight in their dog, oblivious to the fact that some might find their dog annoying and intrusive. Similarly, though, there are parents of children who don’t realize not everybody will delight in their antics. Similarly, too, there are grown-up people who fail to realize that they themselves are annoying and who we’d prefer not to have inflicted upon us.

Unfortunately, we can’t just ban them. Our choices are limited. We could work on being tolerant –  of all ages, sizes, shapes and species, despite their noise, intrusiveness and abrasiveness levels. Or we could go somewhere else. Or we could complain.

Sometimes, when visiting a Starbucks or other coffee place, I wonder if I should lodge an official complaint with management about Wi-Fi — objecting to its omnipresence, and how it seems to be turning people into keyboard-pushing zombies.

“No,” I’d say, “I’m not technically allergic to it, but I’m uncomfortable with it near. I’ve had some bad experiences with it. Sometimes it bites people when they least expect it, and I’m pretty sure it harbors germs.”

“But it’s wireless,” the manager might say.

“Exactly,” I’d say with a huff. “Put a leash on it.”

Dog poop: Do I need to draw you a picture?

All Over Albany” has noticed that dog poop is, well, all over Albany — and they’ve fashioned a helpful flow chart to help address the (fecal) matter.

(Click on the illegible version above to be taken to the full size chart. Then come back, for this isn’t just an upstate New York issue, but a national, nay, global one.)

At my park in Baltimore, and probably your’s, it seems that, when the snow and cold arrive, the manners of some otherwise responsible dog owners depart.

Whether it’s because people don’t want to traipse throught the snow to scoop it up, or because it’s just so darned cold, there are a lot more lingering dog droppings to be seen, and stepped in.

In a perfect world, those not scooping would be the ones stepping in it — but it never seems to work out that way.

And while, granted, solidly frozen poopage won’t despoil your footwear, neglected droppings, amid continued freeze and thaw, can come back to haunt us.

“We’ve thought a lot about this issue,” Alloveralbany.com reported in a piece last month. “And we finally came to the conclusion that winter somehow impairs the ability of some people to make good decisions about whether they should pick up their dog’s poop.

“So, we’re here to help. We’ve constructed a flow chart to assist citizens of the Capital Region in their decision-making process on the all important question: ‘It’s winter. My dog has pooped. What now?’”

Leaving the city of brotherly love

Pardon my haste, and the typos I’m sure will follow, but sitting here in the tranquility of the Grover Cleveland Service Area of the New Jersey Turnpike, hoping to pop off a quick post, I notice my computer’s battery is quickly draining.

Not mine, though. It has been recharged by my time in Baltimore and Philadelphia, reuniting with old friends and, I’ll admit it, hoisting a few, by which I mean beers, not friends.

During our Philadelphia visit, Ace and I stayed with my longtime friend and colleague Margaret, and her husband Will, and their three cats, Tammo, Cali and Papi.

They were but the latest of many cats Ace and I have stayed with as we continue to freeload, as much as possible, our way across the country. But Ace, who’s enamored with felines, hadn’t been amid three at a time before.

Each one had a slightly different personality, and a different reaction to Ace. Cali, the oldest at 15, was the most mellow, hissing once in a while if Ace got too close, but otherwise acting as if it were no big deal to suddenly have a 130-pound dog in a cat-specific house.

Tammo kept his distance, sometimes approaching Ace, then running off.

Papi was the most curious, not, I wouldn’t say, antagonistic — but definitely confrontational. On second though, maybe I would say antagonistic. He’d cautiously stalk up behind Ace and come up next to him and, during the first approach, gave him a good right jab, which Ace responded to by standing up and issuing one bark.

After that Ace, though still curious, kept a respectable distance, for the most part.

Even then, though, he seemed to delight in laying down somewhere near one of them and gazing at them, or the chair they were hidden under.

Seeing they had reached something close to detente, I left Ace and visited my old newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, which happens to be on the auction block today, if you’ve got a few million and are looking for a good investment.

Given all the insecurity, it amazed me that my former colleagues weren’t babbling idiots by now. Somehow, in that limbo, they manage to do their jobs and produce a pretty decent newspaper.

As in Baltimore, I was struck in Philadelphia by how much I’ve missed people with whom I’ve done a terrible job of staying in touch.

With 10 years having passed since I worked there, I was surprised to see so many familiar faces (and sorry I didn’t have more time), surprised as well when a colleague showed me a dictionary that still had my name written on it.

We’re headed now to Long Island, where we will hop three ferry boats tomorrow as we begin duplicating, at least for the time being, the route John Steinbeck and his poodle covered in ”Travels with Charley.”

By tonight, we’ll be in North Merrick, have dinner with a Steinbeck afficianado and librarian and try to find someplace to stay before heading to Sag Harbor in the morning.

My hour-long Internet search for affordable (by my definition) and dog-friendly lodging was a huge waste of time, with little to be found for under $100 a night — a price we feel so strongly about not paying that we will sleep in the car for the first time if we have to.

Today, on my way north, I took a quick tour of Yardley, Pennsylvania, my hometown for about 15 years and noticed, despite continued upscaling — fancier restaurants, even more Realtors, a Starbucks and lots of hair salons — it was still pretty much the same quaint, one-stoplight boro.

Somewhere today, I think, we also crossed the Continental Polite Divide. In my experiences the southern half of America — whatever else you might say about it — is far more friendly. Baltimore is still mostly friendly. Philadelphia is kind of friendly. But somehwere along the way — possibly Princeton, New Jersey — we crossed the zig-zagging imaginary line across America into a place where people are more insular, where doors aren’t often held open, where conversations aren’t as likely to start up, unless maybe you have a dog and they want to know what kind of dog it is.

In Philadelphia, I felt among friends — old and new. My friend Margaret’s close-knit block, in the shadow of the old Eastern Penitentiary, was a wonderful slice of the city to hang out in, and an example of one of many neighborhoods — once mostly all ethnic enclaves — that have become little melting pots. This one boiled over with kindness.

Except maybe for Papi, who continued to most surreptitiously — and I’m sure I spelled that wrong — try to provoke Ace.

Deep down though, I think she was as enthralled with him as he was with her.

I think — gross generalization that it is — all these impolite northerners would, if they gave it a chance, be more enthralled with each other as well, if they took the time. More often, they are in a hurry, wrapped up in themselves, not seeing the world around them –  like the one who cut me off with his car, or the one who let the door close on my cheeseburger and fries, or the three (out of five) men in the restroom that were talking on their cell phones while they urinated.

C’mon fellas. Even with hands free technology, it’s still bad manners.

Dear me! Abby flubbed this one, readers say

Dog-Trash-CanIt seems I wasn’t the only one to disagree with “Dear Abby’s” recent opinion that throwing the bagged poopage of your dog into someone else’s garbage can was acceptable.

“I’m sorry to say my advice … landed me in the doghouse,” the columnist noted earlier this week.

Back in September, Abby advised “Pooped Out in North Carolina” — who was getting the business from his family after tossing his dog’s bagged feces in a neighbor’s garbage can — that “as long as the bag was securely sealed, I don’t think adding it to someone’s trash bin was a social no-no.”

ohmidog! quickly pounced on Abby for dispensing such bad advice. It’s bad manners and, worse yet, gives the anti-dog types something else to complain about.

As it turns out, we weren’t alone. Many others disagreed with Abby, and a sampling of those opinions were included in her column Monday.

“DEAR ABBY: … As a homeowner who is a frequent recipient of foreign feces, there is a practical issue that you may not have foreseen. Our garbage collectors will not dispose of small bags of dog poop; they will only take trash bags of the larger size one would expect to contain household waste,” wrote Frequent Feces Finder.

“DEAR ABBY: You should have told “Pooped” to check the local laws first. In my community, if you’re caught putting your trash in someone else’s container, you are made to clean it out, fined and sometimes given jail time,” wrote Tom in Reed City, Michigan.

“DEAR ABBY: We walk our dogs four times a day and place their carefully bagged “deposits” only in the trash at our house. We do this for two reasons: One, people can be territorial about their refuse containers and resent any ‘unauthorized’ garbage placed there. Two, many homeowners hate finding animal waste on their property or in their trash,” opined Picker-Upper in California.

(Photo from the flickr page of left-hand)

Park etiquette I: Opening the discussion

Last week, while going through fan email, I came across a note from a dogless mother of two in Locust Point — unusual because (A) she doesn’t have a dog, (B) she was reading my blog anyway, and (C) she managed to complain about off-leash dogs with a sincerity and civility that rarely accompanies such concerns.

She was seeking an answer, as opposed to grinding an axe, and I thought her concerns were valid, reasonable and so well-stated that I’m reprinting — with her permission —  the whole thing.

I offered her a couple of pointers (not the dogs), and suggested that — If it’s solutions she wants — why not throw it open to the readers, a couple of whom I know for a fact are smarter than me. She was game.

On top of that, her letter serves as a reminder for those of us who sometimes put our dogs needs above everyone else’s. I’ll give you my opinions tomorrow, but for now, here’s Jen:

The family and I are sorta new to the area (about 1.5 yrs coming up). I’m currently a stay-at-home-lose-my-mind-some-days Mom to two girls 2.5 yrs and 15 months respectively.  I’ve had a few troubling incidents with unleashed dogs in Latrobe Park (our ‘hood)  and have been browsing around looking for tips on how to approach the situation. 

Now, before you get all bentoutashape, asking yourself “why are you emailing the author of a dog-centric blog?…let me first say that I am most definitely one of those people who are middle of the road on everything and I try to see everyone’s point of view before taking a stance on something.  I say this before soliciting your opinion/response/advice regarding my predicament:

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