If in your house you have a wall
In a kitchen, bedroom or a hall
And if sometimes you can’t recall
What day it is — no, not at all
Here’s a gift that will enthrall
Almost each and every one of y’all
It’s about a dog quite tall
Who crossed a country far from small
But here’s the best part of it all
You can skip the shopping mall
Happy Black Friday. I — in exchange for forcing you to ready my hasty poetry — am about to make your life easier. No need to thank me.
The calendar recaptures some of the more memorable moments from our one year and 27,000 miles of travels across the country, about half of that spent retracing the route John Steinbeck, 50 years ago, took with his poodle in “Travels with Charley.”
The way I figure it, if you buy enough copies, you might be able to avoid the mall altogether, and you’ll be contributing to a good cause.
Half of all profits will go to Rolling Dog Farm in New Hampshire, formerly Rolling Dog Ranch in Montana. The sanctuary for blind, deaf and disabled animals relocated last year, and it was one of the stops on our journey across America.
Inside our calendar, you’ll find 18 unusual slices of American life – from our visit to John Steinbeck’s grave in Salinas, California, to dropping in at a gentlemen’s club in Dallas, where Ace spent time with Mel, a former Michael Vick dog.
From Dog Mountain in Vermont (one artist’s tribute to dog) to Salvation Mountain in California (one artist’s tribute to God). From Maine’s magnificent coast to Niagara’s roaring falls. From standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona to spotting dogs in the kudzu in Mississippi.
The calendar allows you to relive our journey, without spending a penny on gas; to see the places we went, the people we met and the dogs we bumped into.One month also features some of our old dog friends back in Baltimore.
It’s $25, plus $3 for shipping and handling, and each copy is hand signed by me – not Ace, though, as he has declared a moratorium on pawtographs.
It’s an 18-month calendar, which will carry you all the way to June, 2013.
And, or so we hope, it will raise a few bucks for Rolling Dog Farm, which you can learn more about here.
To place your orders, visit this page.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 18-month, 2012, ace, america, animals, arizona, baltimore, blind, calendar, california, deaf, disabled, dog mountain, dogs, donate, gift, holiday, john steinbeck, john woestendiek, kudzu dogs, maine, mel, michael vick, niagara falls, ohmidog!, pets, photography, photos, proceeds, profits, riverside park, road trip, rolling dog farm, salvation mountain, sanctuary, travels with ace, vick dog
Utah’s Deseret News describes him as Michael Vick’s meanest dog — “Mike Tyson, Hulk Hogan and a little Ray Lewis rolled into one.”
But these days Lucas, one of 22 former Vick dogs placed in the care of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary four years ago, is one social animal, spending several days a week greeting visitors to the organization’s office in Kanab.
“Open the door to the executive offices, and there he is, a smile on his face, a lick on his lips, and eager anticipation of either a pet or a treat written all over his eyes,” writes Lee Benson, a Deseret News columnist. “Only the fading scars on his neck and face suggest that he was once the toughest, scariest and most-abused dog in Virginia.”
To Judah Battista, the director of animal care at Best Friends, “Lucas is Exhibit A in the argument that all dogs are good dogs if they’re treated well,” Benson reports.
Six of the 22 Vick dogs that ended up at Best Friends — Mel, Cherry, Oliver, Halle, Shadow and Handsome Dan — have been adopted. A seventh, Little Red, is in a foster home about to be adopted.
The column reminds readers that some organizations — including the Humane Society and PETA — wanted to euthanize all 49 dogs that were found in Bad Newz Kennels.
“Historically, dogs were punished or killed for the crimes of their owners,” Battista said. “There was a prevailing assumption that all dogs in these circumstances were innately vicious, rather than that the people who owned them and were responsible for them were innately vicious. It was very fear-based decision-making…
“What we needed to prove was that man could be dog’s best friend as much as dogs could be man’s best friend.”
(Photo by Lee Benson / Deseret News)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bad newz, best friends, cherry, deseret news, dogfighting, dogs, halle, handsome dan, judah battista, lee benson, little red, lucas, mel, michael vick, oliver, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, rehabilitation, rescue, sanctuary, shadow, shelter, vick, vick dogs
Ace’s favorite strip club — and, to be clear, the only one he has ever visited — is hosting a car wash this weekend to benefit Best Friends, the Utah animal sanctuary that rehabilitated many of the dogs seized from Michael Vick.
The annual charity car wash, “Headlights and Hounds,” has been scheduled for Saturday, July 16 at The Lodge, an upscale gentlemen’s club in Dallas where Ace spent some time during our travels.
A spokesman for The Lodge said the event, which lasts from noon to 6 p.m., will be “family-friendly,” featuring dancers in bikinis and other staffers washing cars and motorcycles to raise money for Best Friends.
Best Friends, best known for its animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, is a national organization that works to eliminate the needless killing of millions of animals through supporting shelters, adoption programs and spay/neuter efforts around the country.
It was one of several organizations that took in and rehabilitated some of the animals seized from the dogfighting operation of NFL quarterback Michael Vick.
Almost all of them have since moved on to happy homes — including Mel, who was adopted two years ago by Sunny Hunter, VIP manager at the Lodge, and her husband, Dallas radio personality Richard Hunter. (Ace got to spend some time with Mel last summer.)
“We have a special connection with Best Friends because of Mel,” said Lodge owner Dawn Rizos. “But beyond that, this is a wonderful organization and we’re proud we can help support all the good that they do.”
The Lodge, which is donating all proceeds from the car wash to charity, has raised nearly $200,000 for animal causes over the years.
The car wash will also feature a buffet, music, games and psychic readings by Sandra Larson, a Texas pet psychic.
The Lodge is located at 10530 Spangler Road in Dallas, just off Northwest Highway and one mile west of I-35E.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, benefit, best friends, bikinis, car wash, carwash, charity, dallas, dawn rizos, dog, dogs, family friendly, fundraising, gentlemen's club, headlights and hounds, lodge, mel, michael vick, pets, richard hunter, strip club, sunny hunter, the lodge, travels with ace
Now, Mel, one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, has one, too.
As for who’s more deserving, well, you know how I feel.
Mel was only about a year old when he was seized from the Vick estate and dogfighting operation in Virginia, where he was believed to have been used as a bait dog. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah.
After spending nearly two years at the Utah animal sanctuary, Mel was adopted by Richard Hunter, a Dallas radio personality and his wife Sunny, manager of VIP services for a swanky gentlemen’s club called The Lodge.
When our travels took us through Texas we met up with Hunter and Mel, joining them for a ride around town because Mel seems most comfortable in the car. Ace piled in the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s older dog, Pumpkin.
The next time we heard from Richard Hunter, was in February, after he confronted Vick during a Dallas appearance.
Hunter, one of many who were outraged that Vick was being presented a key to the city by interim Mayor Dwaine Caraway, got as close as he could to him and offered him a chance to see his former dog Mel. Vick didn’t take him up on the offer and Hunter was shoved away by the quarterback’s entourage.
Now we get word that, over the weekend, Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt surprised Hunter by presenting him the John LaBella Award at an Eastlake Pet Orphanage banquet — and presenting Mel with a key to the city.
During the presentation, the Dallas Morning News reports, Hunt had some choice words for Caraway.
“One of my colleagues in the city of Dallas showed a grave lapse in judgment by awarding the highest honor our city an bestow – our key to the city – on someone who was entirely undeserving and someone who has shown serious cruelty and inhumanity,” she said.
Hunt then awarded Mel with a key to the city — an edible one no less.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, angela hunt, animals, bait dog, best friends, confrontation, dallas, dallas city council, dogfighting, dogs, dwaine caraway, former vick dog, interim, key to the city, mayor, mel, michael vick, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, richard hunter, sunny hunter, survivor, texas, travels with ace, vick dog
We can’t remember a week — at least not since 2007, when federal authorities raided 1915 Moonlight Road – that pit bulls have grabbed so many headlines … without even biting anyone.
Here in Baltimore, the week began with a pit bull parade, sponsored by B-More Dog and designed to improve the image and shatter the misconceptions about the breed — such as the one that they are innately inclined to inflict violence.
Those who ran into the pack of four-legged goodwill ambassadors at the Inner Harbor Sunday got a chance to see beyond the myths.
The very next day, a mistrial was declared in the case against twin brothers in Baltimore accused of setting a pit bull on fire in the summer of 2009. Phoenix, as the dog was dubbed, died five days later. The police investigation that followed, testimony at the trial indicated, was something less than thorough — likely, I think it’s safe to say, because the murder victim was a dog, and, in particular, a pit bull.
Jurors were unable to reach a decision, and a new trial is a possibility, but as of now, it appears the fatal burning of Phoenix will go unpunished. Despite that, she leaves a legacy.
“We waited almost two years for justice for Phoenix and though justice was not met for her, she became the change agent and public figure for animal abuse,” said Jennifer Brause, executive director of Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS). “Thousands of people offered their support on her behalf. Because of her, a Mayor’s Commission on Animal Abuse has been formed and the seriousness of animal abuse has been elevated to a national level.”
No dog, I will go out on a limb and educatedly guess, is more often the victim of abuse and neglect than the pit bull type — just as they are the most often maligned. Society, rather than simply label them as aggressive, and ban and muzzle them, needs to come to terms with the fact that, in those instances when they are violent, our fellow humans are responsible for it, training them to fight, attempting to breed for viciousness, and trying to turn their natural born tenacity into something mean and macho.
Which brings us, once again, to Bad Newz Kennels.
Down in Dallas, the adoptive parent of one of Michael Vick’s dogs confronted the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and offered him an opportunity to meet Mel, a shy and fearful pit bull who was apparently used as a bait dog at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.
The convicted dogfighting ring operator — in Dallas to receive the key to the city — declined, and his entourage shoved Mel’s new owner, local radio personality Richard Hunter, who captured the whole episode on his shaky camera, out of the way.
A few days after that, reports surfaced that Vick’s former estate on Moonlight Road, the Surry, Virginia, headquarters of Bad Newz Kennels, which has sat empty for three years, may be getting a new owner — Dog Deserves Better, a Pennsylvania-based dog rescue and advocacy group.
They hope to turn the former Vick mansion — where 51 dogs were seized by authorities and eight more were found dead and buried on the grounds — into a training and rehabilitation center for rescued dogs.
As usual, bringing up Michael Vick brings on lots of comments, on this blog and others, from his supporters — those who say “give it a rest,” those who say “he served his time,” those who say he’s a different person now who should be permitted to move beyond his besmirched reputation.
Be that as it may, I’m wondering when pit bulls — given they are regularly accused and punished without any trials, given that any violence they display has been instilled into them by humans, given that their bad reputation is mostly undeserved – will be afforded that same opportunity.
As a breed, they’ve done their time.
(Photo by Tim Quinn)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, aggression, animal abuse, animal welfare, animals, bad newz kennels, baltimore, baltimore animal rescue & care shelter, barcs, brothers, burned, burned dog, cruelty to animals, dogfighting, dogs, doused, fire, image, investigation, media, mel, michael vick, myths, news, parade, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, prosecution, richard hunter, stereotypes, trial, vick, vick dogs, violence
Richard Hunter, the adoptive parent of one of Michael Vick’s dogs, confronted the Eagles quarterback in Dallas after a ceremony Saturday in which Vick received the key to the city — and asked him if he wanted an opportunity to see one of his former dogs.
Instead of getting an answer, Hunter, a local radio personality who we met this summer in our Travels with Ace, got pushed out of the way by Vick’s entourage. He put together this video of the event afterwards.
Hunter and his wife, Sunny, VIP manager for a Dallas gentlemen’s club, adopted Mel about two years after he was seized from the Vick estate in Virginia. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah. He spent nearly two years there before trainers pronounced him adoptable.
Ace and I got to meet the whole family during out visit to Dallas, which included a car ride in which Ace shared the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s other dog, Pumpkin.
Michael Vick showed little interest in learning more about Mel, despite Hunter’s persistent offers, and at one point a member of Vick’s security team told him, “We don’t care about the dogs.”
In presenting the key to the city, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway told Vick, “You deserve it, you earned it.”
Hunter’s response to Vick getting presented the key? Maybe, he said, it’s time to change the locks.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, city, confrontation, dallas, dog, dogfighting, dogs, dwaine caraway, Key, mayor, mel, michael, michael vick, national football league, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bull, pitbull, richard hunter, travels with ace, vick, vick dogs
I never expected our “Travels with Ace” adventures would include Ace riding in the back seat of a car with a former Michael Vick dog.
Then again, I never expected we’d be hanging out in a strip club, either.
But our visit to The Lodge in Dallas led us to meet Mel, a still meek and fearful, sad-eyed, mostly black pit bull — small in stature, short on confidence, and sweet as pecan pie.
Mel was adopted from Best Friends by Sunny Hunter, manager of VIP services at the swanky Dallas gentlemen’s club, and her husband Richard Hunter, a talk show host whose outlook on life isn’t as bleak as his goth appearance may lead you to think — especially since Mel came into their lives.
For one thing, you see – in his fearful eyes, his tentative stride – the effects of the torture Vick inflicted; for another you see a true innocent; a mild-mannered dog whose lack of killer instinct led him to be designated a bait dog, a living chew toy.
But you also see a dog who, despite all that humans did to him in his first year of life, seems to hold no grudge against the species.
Mel was only about a year old when he was seized from the Vick estate in Virginia. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah.
He spent nearly two years at Best Friends, where trainers worked to help him overcome his fearfulness and eventually pronounced him adoptable.
Richard and Sunny already had an application in by then — starting off a process that would take more than a year. Sunny had grown interested in adopting a Vick dog after seeing a documentary. Richard had one of Best Friends’ trainers on his talk show.
The couple waited for nine months, then underwent a criminal background check, and a home visit. Finally, they were invited up to Best Friends to spend a week living on the grounds and getting to know Mel. They brought their dog Pumpkin, a terrier mix, along as well.
Pumpkin immediately became friends with Mel, and became his guardian — a role he continues to fulfill.
Last fall, the adoption having been approved by the same judge who sent Vick to prison for two years, Mel was delivered to the Hunter’s home in Dallas by a Best Friends trainer and caregiver, who stayed in town for a week, visiting daily.
Richard describes the adoption process as “daunting,” but worth it. Mel slowly came out of his shell, and though he still quivers at first when strangers show up, or when he’s in new surroundings, he’s getting more used to meeting people. It used to take three visits before he was comfortable with a stranger, now it takes only 20 minutes or so.
Pumpkin, who is 13, has been a huge factor in his transition.
“At home, when a new person shows up, Mel sits in the corner with his back to the wall, like a statue. Pumpkin gets in front of him and screens him. Pumpkin has been instrumental in getting him to relax,” Richard said.
Mel has never barked, or made any sound, in the time they have had him. At night, if Mel needs a trip outside, Pumpkin takes note of him standing by the door and barks for him.
Mel seems most comfortable when he’s in a car, Sunny and Richard said — so we decided that’s how we all should meet. We greeted Mel and Pumpkin through a window, then loaded Ace into the backseat with them — a tight fit, but no one seemed bothered by it. Pumpkin shielded Mel the whole time, allowing him to be sniffed and petted, but never leaving his side.
Richard says Mel was used as a bait dog, due to his small size and mild temperament. He was likely muzzled when he was thrown into the ring with other dogs being trained to fight. He was not one of those that Bad Newz Kennels terminated — sometimes by drowning or hanging.
“Most people really didn’t take the time to look at the details of the case – the jumper cables, the hanging, the drowning, the distance throwing contests. That’s just bizarre. It’s diabolical,” Richard said. As for Vick’s return to the NFL, he said, “It was very disappointing to me that the American public stood for it. He’s psychopathic, like a serial killer.”
While Vick’s dogs were, in most cases, rehabilitated, Richard is among those who doubt the same was truly achieved by Vick, despite his appearances in an anti-dogfighting campaign.
Mel’s tail, which was broken in his youth, stayed between his legs for the first few months, Richard said. ”Now, he smiles and he walks with his head up. His tail was broken, so it doesn’t really wag.”
“His resilience is amazing to me,” Richard said. “He really has changed my life. It’s amazing to me that he’s willing to love us — that he’s still able to judge people individualy when for the first year of his life, if he saw a human being, it meant something terrible was going to happen to him.
“We just want to make him as happy as can be.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, adoption, animal welfare, animals, best friends, cruelty, dallas, dog fighting, dog's country, dogfighting, dogs, gentlemen's club, mel, michael vick, pets, pumpkin, rehabilitation, rescue, resilience, richard hunter, road trip, shelter, sunny hunter, the lodge, torture, travel, traveling with dogs, vick, vick dogs