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Tag: maryland

A Penny saved is an honor earned

Even more than we love his name …  Americus Rambeau … we love what the Baltimore police officer did on Dec. 29, 2010 — namely, jump into the icy waters of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to rescue a dog named Penny.

“She was happy to have somebody to hang onto,” he was quoted as saying after saving the dog’s life.

Aren’t we all.

On Jan. 26, at noon, the Baltimore Humane Society (BHS) will honor Rambeau and three other members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Marine Unit for their rescue of Penny, a black lab mix who ran out of her Federal Hill home, across Key Highway and into the harbor.

The ceremony will take place at the shelter building on the grounds of BHS.  The event is open to the public.

Rambeau, along with Sergeant Michael Kain, Officer William Edgar and Officer  John Wagner, arrived by boat to save Penny. She avoided them at first, but once Rambeau was in the water, she allowed him to get close enough to help her.

Once ashore, Penny was treated for “cold-water exposure and hypothermia,” said a spokesman for the BPD Marine Unit.

Penny’s owner, Rachel Naumann, was at work when her roommate opened the front door to sign for a package and Penny, who’s about a year old, got out and headed straight for the harbor, possibly in pursuit of a seagull.

Rambeau, who has multiple cats, told the Baltimore Sun he didn’t hesitate to jump in the water for Penny. He has done the same thing for other dogs, cats, deer and, in 1998, a 79-year-old man.

Naumann picked Penny up from the shelter the next morning, happily paying a $95 fee to pay to reclaim her pet.

“I’m just happy she’s back,” she said.

(Baltimore Sun photos by Kim Hairston)

Back in Baltimore, looking for a home

 

The past week has been a hectic one, mostly spent avoiding snowstorms, seeking out landlines for radio interviews and, just when we thought our traveling was done, traveling some more.

No sooner were Ace and I back in Baltimore than we left again — this time back to North Carolina for my mother’s 85th birthday celebration.

Now we’re back again, just in time for a snowstorm – that’s the ohmidogmobile at the bottom right of the picture — seeking a place to squat for a month or so while we ponder our long terms plans.

Step one is to visit my storage unit to try and find some winter clothes.

We packed for a three-month summer trip. It turned into a seven-month one that didn’t wind up — and in a way still hasn’t — until January was upon us.

Living out of one’s car — convenient as it is in some ways — is a pain in the butt in others. I can easily locate most things I need in the course of a day, but when it comes to things that I only sometimes need, and are thus buried deeper, it’s nearly hopeless, requiring a good bit of unpacking and repacking.

It will be nice to have that chaos straightened out. And Ace, though he has said he enjoys the constant traveling — 22,000 miles of which we’ve done since May – is, in my interpretation, ready for a return to something resembling a routine.

Back from North Carolina, we lodged one night at the home of his godmother, and we’re freeloading for two nights at the home of my teacher friends.

Our goal is to find someplace dirt cheap to stay for a month or two before we wear out our welcomes. I have not been focusing on it as I should, and I think, deep down, it might be because I don’t want to return to the routine.

I want a bed, and a refrigerator, and a TV and heat. I want a big table on which to spread things out. But part of me hesitates to get back into that situation of paying all those bills every month — rent, utilities, Internet, cable, telephone, and all those other things I’ve come to see as sucking away not just my money, but my freedom.

Then, too, promoting my new book “Dog, Inc.: The Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” — is also taking up a lot of time, most of it spent searching for landlines to borrow for radio interviews.

Speaking of the book, which has been out about 10 days now, it has been having some pretty nice things happen to it.

It got nice mentions in Mother Jones and Real Simple magazines, and was chosen by Parade magazine as a “Parade Pick.” This week, it was named one of January’s ”Mover and Shakers” by Goodreads.com, where it has also gotten some good reviews from the public.

Thanks, public.

Some kind of miracle

Was it an Internet miracle, or a Christmas one? Or does that even matter now that Willis, a Clumber spaniel who went missing just before Christmas last year, is back home?

Willis belonged to Karen Martin, of Portsmouth, Va. Four days before Christmas last year, she went out to her back yard to find him gone. After a year of posting fliers and searching, she’d all but given up hope of finding him.

Little did she know, he was hundreds of miles from home, and had a date with death, metro columnist Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post reported last week.

Picked up by animal control officers in Charles County more than a month ago, Willis had been taken to the Tri County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, Md.  Shelter workers scanned Willis for an identification chip, but, though he had one, it was not detected. Shelter workers put a photograph of the  7-year-old dog on the facility’s “at-risk” list, meaning euthanasia was ahead.

The at-risk list, including a photo of each dog, is e-mailed to animal rescue groups and other dog lovers around the country in hopes that someone might be willing to adopt the animals listed before they are euthanized.

Terry Walker, an office manager for a veterinary hospital in Calvert County, was one of those who received it and recognized the dog pictured as a Clumber spaniel.

After an Internet search, Walker found an organization called Clumber Spaniel Rescue of America, and forwarded the dog’s photograph to the three contacts whose names were listed.

One of them ended up in the spam folder of Sally Day, of Washington Crossing, Pa. — a friend of Willis’ owner, Karen Martin.

She said she was deleting her spam when something told her to open this one.

“A voice said, ‘Open it,’ and the hair stood up on the back of my neck,” Day recalled. “The e-mail was from a stranger, and there was a photograph attached. I instantly thought I recognized the dog. I said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Karen’s boy.’ ”

Martin called her friend Day, then e-mailed her the photo, and Willis is back home now — a bit the worse for wear from his journey of more than 200 miles. He had an injured eye, a respiratory infection and a skin allergy that had resulted in scratching off patches of hair.

Martin, who now lives in Williamsburg, said she expected this Christmas to be a lot more joyful than last year’s.

(Photo: By Jay Paul / from the Washington Post)

Miracle on Baltimore’s 34th Street

Through the month of December, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) has been holding a bake sale on 34th Street, an area of Baltimore known for its over-the-top display of Christmas lights.

In addition to raising money for the shelter, BARCS is using the opportunity to educate the public about the shelter and about pit bulls – and how, despite the stereotypes, they aren’t innately evil. Generally, when a pit bull turns bad, it’s a human who has turned him that way.

As if to prove that point — that our problem is not bad dogs, it’s bad humans – a particularly heartless member of the latter species approached the BARCS booth last night, asked a BARCS volunteer if the money was being raised for charity, then ran off with the donation box.

A BARCS staff person chased the thief down the street, and he was eventually caught by another man and an off-duty firefighter.  When police arrived, the box of donations was recovered and the suspect was arrested.

Meanwhile, back at the BARCS booth, 34th Street residents and citizens there to enjoy the lights came forward in droves, offering assistance and donations to replace those that had been stolen.

“Yes, we DO believe in Santa Claus!” BARCS said in a press release yesterday.

 BARCS will be selling baked goods on 34th Street from 7 to 9 p.m. every night through December 31.

Neglected dogs will head to better homes

Credit Facebook, or credit Michelle Ingrodi, but four neglected dogs in Cumberland, Maryland, will soon find better homes.

Ingrodi, of Baltimore’s Charm City Rescue, was visiting relatives when she came upon the dogs, all of whom were either chained or confined in and outside of what appeared to be an unoccupied house. Ingrodi fed them and took some video, posting it to her Facebook page and YouTube.

“The dogs had been in there a long time. They didn’t get walked. They don’t get played with,” Ingrodi told the Channel 11 News I-Team in Baltimore. “They were neglected. They lived in there. The smell was nothing I ever want to smell again.”

Ingrodi said that, within an hour of posting the videos “I got a call from Georgia, Alaska, New York and Alberta, Canada … They wanted to send donations. They wanted to find out what they could do to get them out of there.”

Police were called when someone complained that Ingrodi was trespassing as she arrived to feed the dogs, Channel 11 reported. She wasn’t arrested, and the police contacted the property owner, who agreed to surrender the dogs after she was assured they would be made available for adoption.

“She made it clear as long as they would not be taken to animal control — as long as they would not be euthanized and they would go to a good home — and they will — she would agree to surrender them,” Ingrodi said.

The dogs were taken from the property late Saturday afternoon and are now in the care of Dogs Deserve Better, a rescue organization, awaiting medical clearance to be adopted.

(Photo: Dogs Deserve Better)

Last day on the — ouch! — boat

As much as we’ve enjoyed life on a boat, both Ace and I will disembark with a few bumps and bruises.

Speaking just for myself, I think I’ve bumped almost every body part I have: head (four times), knees (three times), toes (two times), elbows (two times).

For Ace, I think it has been even tougher. He’s fine once he’s settled on the deck, or ensconced in the cabin on a cushion, but — being sneakerless — getting around on the boat’s slippery surface has been more difficult for him.

He has become adept at turning around in tight spaces, climbing up and down the ladder-like stairs to the cabin, and getting on and off the boat by crouching to fit under a railing and then leaping to the pier.

For the most part, he obeyed my commands to “stay on the boat!” when I ventured off to hit the bathroom or bar, but the other day was an exception.

The boat’s owner, Arnold Sherman, had come aboard. I had taken some photos of the boat’s interior and exterior, so he could use them in his attempts to sell my temporary home. After passing them on, we persuaded each other to go to Nick’s, where the boat is docked, for a beer and some of their happy hour, half-priced, fist-sized fried oysters.

“Stay on the boat!” I told Ace. The way the boat is tied, there’s a gap of one to three feet between it and the pier and, given the railing in the way, I worried he might end up in the water if he tried to get off when I wasn’t there — a bad thing because once one falls in the water, there aren’t a lot of ways out.

And at 130 pounds — him, that is — I’m relatively certain I wouldn’t be able to hoist him up.

Arnie and I had walked 100 yards down the pier, turned left and were headed to the gate when a dog head suddenly brushed up against Arnie’s leg. Ace, in total silence, had somehow managed to get off the boat, tippy toe up behind us and nonchalantly fall into step, with a look on his face that said, “Where we goin’, guys?”

I walked him back to the boat, put him in the cabin, gave him a mild reprimand and a pile of treats — mixed message, I know – and put a barrier at the top of the stairs.

Other than that defiant moment, he has adapted, once again, magnificently.

He loves walking along the pier, watching the birds, humans and other goings on, and sitting on the boat’s deck with his head draped over the side.

In the early evenings, he’ll climb up on the deck while I’m writing and position himself in a way he can see all that’s going on at the marina.

When he gets tired of that, or knows it’s almost dinner time, he’ll rearrange himself so he can peek through the entrance to the cabin, watching me — until dinner is served.

His only truly anxious moments were on Sept. 11 when the city saw fit — though it seems somehow wrong to me … a bit too festive and explosive — to have a fireworks display.

We sat in the cabin, his head on my lap, until it was over.

I’ve made sure to take him to nearby Riverside Park everyday, so he can enjoy some time on solid ground and sniff some grass, and yesterday — having some errands to attend to — I dropped him off for doggie day care at the Downtown Dog Resort & Spa, just around the corner.

Five hours later, I picked him up, along with his report card: “Ace was a little shy at first, not knowing any of the dogs. In the afternoon, he loosened up and played with Kallie (a Lab), Coby (a boxer) and Mocha (a pit mix) in the pool. He and Mr. Brown (his favorite playmate) seemed inseparable.”

From there we headed to Ace’s favorite bar, where he got his requisite human attention, and then some.

We stopped and picked up a cheesesteak and fries on the way back to the boat, and he bounded down the stairs to the cabin, not wanting to miss out on that.

As Ace sees it, home is where the cheesesteak is — no matter how cramped and slippery it (and by that I mean the home) might be.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Philadelphia — home of the cheesesteak, home, once, to me. After a couple of days there, we’ll move on to New York, in search of John Steinbeck’s Long Island home. There, in the backyard of a cottage in Sag Harbor, under a willow tree, Charley — the dog he toured America with — is buried.

That will be the starting point for the next few months of our journey, in which we plan to retrace, at least partially, the route Steinbeck and Charley took — starting with three ferry rides to Connecticut, then heading up to the northernmost tip of Maine, then moving west.

You can stay on the boat, or come on along.

More adventures in freeloading

After three days in the South Baltimore home of Mister Kitty, who never seemed to warm up to our presence, Ace and I are packing up for our next destination — a boat.

Since returning to visit Baltimore, we’ve already been bobbing around a lot — from Federal Hill to Dundalk to Federal Hill again. Next we’ll be bobbing in the Patapsco, in the sailboat of an old friend, who used to live on it himself.

I met up with Arnie last weekend, and was more than willing to help him work on his boat when he mentioned the possibility (or perhaps it was I who mentioned it) of living on it with Ace for a few days.

I agreed to help him install a cleat and a stanchion, having no idea what those things were.

But I was able to hand him tools, when I could find them.

“It’s behind the bulkhead,” he’d say.

“What’s a bulkhead?” I’d respond.

“Hold that screw on the aft side.”

“OK. What’s aft?”

I did help him make a little progress, though, on a boat that hasn’t been away from the dock for close to three years, one that, since he moved off it and into apartment a year ago, had become a bit of a mess, filled with tools and numerous parts I don’t know the names of. It had become sort of a floating toolbox.

I wasn’t entirely sure Ace — being 130 pounds — could get on board, or get down the ladder-like stairs into the cabin. Nor was I sure that we could squeeze in among all of the assorted tools and marine stuff tossed here and there.

Yesterday, we returned to make sure Ace would be willing and able to climb aboard. With a little maneuvering of the boat, named Grendel, he jumped right on. I followed and — after opening the mandatory can of beer — checked out the cabin upon Arnie’s advice.

It was a different boat. Totally cleaned up. Everything in its place. As if Martha Stewart herself had boarded and directed her staff to make it spiffy and shipshape.

We’re looking forward to a few days floating dockside at Nick’s Fish House, and reporting on the adventures that I expect will ensue — none of which will involve actually leaving the dock, as Arnie’s motor still needs work, and my skills as a mariner, while Titanic in some ways, don’t qualify me as an old salt, or even a salt substitute.

But, knowing Nick’s, and having met a few of the colorful characters anchored there, I’m sure that — in addition my own ineptitude as I make my first solo (except for Ace) overnight stay on a boat– there will be some grins ahead.

As for the cat we’ve been feeding, Mister did stick his head out from under the chair today, getting a little closer to Ace, who seems to be dying to meet him. But then he hurried to his other hiding place upstairs.  Mister, unlike Ace, doesn’t want to rush into a relationship.

He sought my attention, it seemed, only when I went upstairs to use the bathroom. He would stick his big white paw underneath the crack at the bottom of door, get a grip, and tug and tug until it opened. Then,  he’d come in and brush back and forth across my legs until my mission was completed.

Probably, were we to stay a few weeks longer, Ace and Mister would become good friends. But the occupant of this house (thanks, Tobey) is coming home, and we have a boat to board. Stay tuned for some dockside drama.

Done with Dundalk, the dog and I move on

Gotta love Dundalk.

It’s Baltimore at its blue collar, unpretentious best, and it’s where, as our wandering continues, we’ve hung our hat (and leash) for the past three days as we attempt to figure out what to do next.

Once again, we were in the home of an ex (no bridge-burner me) — a modest little house on a traffic circle, across the street from the Dog House, a  to-go restaurant painted highway stripe yellow that serves up hot dogs, burgers and greasy breakfast sandwiches that I eat on the front porch as Ace and his better-than-ever friend Fanny frolic in the front yard.

We sleep on the couch, wake up to the best kind of coffee (already made), take daily walks down to Bear Creek and spend most of the time on the front porch, writing.

Ace and Fanny alternately wrestle and rest in the shade, and Fanny always leaps up and runs along the fence when a motorcycle, boat on a trailer, or skateboarder passes by — those apparently being among her triggers.

We’ve gotten to know Brutus, a six-month old, but already huge, chocolate lab next door who likes to jump on (but not over, yet) the chain link fence, dangling his paws over the top rail and leaning as if to say, “C’mon over, let’s talk for a while.”

We’ve watched as the school buses roll by, and fresh-faced students head to bus stops, falling into the routine of another school year. One paused at the fence — a Mountain Dew in one hand, an open and half eaten plastic bowl of microwaveable macaroni and cheese in the other, her requisite blue uniform shirt open to display more cleavage than I would think her school would deem appropriate – and asked me for a cigarette.

“Fresh out,” I replied.

In Dundalk, people say what they mean, mean what they say, and wear what they want. If they’re feeling crabby, they show it (especially in the traffic circle), and if they’re feeling friendly, they show that, too.

Today, Ace and I bid farewell to Fanny and head back to the old ‘hood — South Baltimore, where I’ll stay again with my schoolteacher friends for a couple of days before heading to another friend’s home nearby for a few days more. She’s going to the beach, and her cat needs feeding. Even though her cat hissed at me the last time I fed it — and after I fed it, no less — I quickly volunteered for the job.

Our time in Dundalk has been peaceful, work-friendly and comfortable, but one shouldn’t overstay one’s welcome — especially with an ex, even if she is your dog’s number one fan and Godmother. For ex’s move on from the shared life and start their own and, painful as it might to no longer fit into it, that’s reality.

Like the signs say, one must yield to the traffic in the circle.

Rolling back into Baltimore

Ten thousand miles and three months later, we’re right back where we started.

Ace and I rolled into Baltimore Friday, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

He sensed we were home about the time Raven’s stadium came into view. In the rearview mirror, I saw his head pop up. He sniffed the air, got up, stuck his head out the window and looked around. When we passed BARCS — Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter, where he once resided — his suspicions that we were home seemed confirmed.

By the time I pulled up to Riverside Park, his old stomping grounds, he was raring to go. He bounded out of the car as if he were ready for an extended gallop, then seemed to realize that, in his absence, there was much new to smell in the grass. For the next hour or so, that’s exactly what he did, sort of like a human with three months worth of newspapers to catch up on.

Then he saw his old friend Stan the biscuit man — recognizing him even though, while we were away, Stan had switched from walking to the park to riding in a motorized chair. Stan, as always, came through with treats, pulling a handful of biscuits from his large sack and tossing them to Ace and his own dog, Louie, who remains as enormously fat as ever.

After that, we kept running into more old friends at the park and, later, at Ace’s favorite bar, where we idled away the rest of the evening

Though we are back where we’re started, whether we’re “home” is another matter.

For one thing, we moved out of the house when we started this trip, seeking to live on the road for what we once paid in rent  (Two months, we came close; the third remains to be tallied, but I’m sure we went over budget). Finally getting home and not having a home is strange — a rather insecure feeling — but with offers from friends to stay awhile, we’ve yet to resort to camping in the park.

The urge to nest — to have my own place, with my own stuff, where I can flop my own self down on my own couch — has grown stronger; and, in all honesty, I think Ace would prefer a return to routine. But the road is still calling. It’s saying “three more months.” It’s saying “keep running free.”

My economic situation is disagreeing, saying “don’t do it!” Running free isn’t exactly free.

Of course, neither roads nor economic situations can verbalize — though both can still slam a point home wordlessly.

In the days ahead, we’ll be trying to figure our immediate future out — and probably sharing our thoughts on it all with you, for in putting it down in writing, choices often become clearer.

As of now, we’re leaning — well I’m leaning — to sticking with the original plan: a few weeks in Baltimore, a visit to Philadelphia, then going to Long Island and, starting the same day he did 50 years ago, following the northerly route west that John Steinbeck took with Charley.

Ace might disagree. He has loved reconnecting with old friends — dog and humans. He has loved revisiting the old haunts. Yesterday, standing outside his favorite coffee house, Ace watched as a familiar pickup truck pulled up and the driver passed him a soup bone.

“See,” he would say if he could talk. “Where else does that happen? I’m telling you, this is home.”

Of course, Ace can’t talk. Nevertheless, we’ll be having some long and wordless ones in the days ahead.

Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six (we’re pretty sure) months criss-crossing America. 

Bear-Bear decision still a week away

Prosecutors say they are still at least a week away from deciding whether charges will be filed against the federal officer who shot and killed a Siberian Husky he thought was acting too roughly with his dog at a Maryland dog park.

The officer, though authorities have withheld his name, has been identified as Keith Elgin Shepherd, employed by the Army at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Northern Virginia.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors told the Baltimore Sun yesterday that it may take another week for them to finish their investigation. The investigation was prompted by a public outcry after authorities originally said no charges would be filed.

Public interest in the case remains high. About 20 people demonstrated yesterday outside the Anne Arundel County courthouse in Annapolis, supporting of the owners of Bear-Bear, fatally shot Aug. 2 in a private dog park in the Quail Run community in Severn.

Police say the shooter thought Bear-Bear, who was unleashed, was getting too rough with his German shepherd, who was leashed. 

Police have refused to identify the shooter, and his name was blacked out on police reports supplied to the news media. But a report without redactions obtained by the Sun identifies him as Shepherd.

Prosecutors said last week that key issues focused on whether the shooter was legally allowed to carry a personal handgun off-post, and whether he broke the law in shooting the husky or was acting to defend his dog, self and wife.


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