Mystery writer Dennis Lehane is hoping surveillance video from a nearby McDonald’s may help shed some light on his own personal whodunit — the Christmas Eve disappearance of his beagle, Tessa.
The author, who has offered to name a character in a future novel after the person who finds and returns his dog, says Tessa escaped after a visiting friend left open the gate into his Brookline yard.
Some sightings of the dogs were reported after that — the last one being at a McDonalds in Brighton. Lehane told the Boston Herald that the manager of the restaurant has agreed to review surveillance tape to see if Tessa might have been picked up or lured into a car.
“He’ll have to see a lot of videotape. I’m hopeful he will see a dog in the dark on Christmas Eve,” Lehane said. “I hope for the best, but it’s too easy to get your heart broken.”
“I’ve never had a dog this loving,” Lehane said of Tessa, who his family adopted from Beagle Rescue in Florida two months ago. ”She’s the kindest, sweetest dog.”
The author of Gone Baby Gone” and “Mystic River” said he’s been moved by all the community members who have offered help and support.
“What we’ve seen every step of the way is humbling. I’ve never seen more people help. It’s ridiculous. This is the reason I love this town.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, beagle, brighton, brookline, dennis lehane, disappearance, dogs, manager, mcdonald's, missing, mystery, pets, review, sightings, surveillance, tessa, video
Reports out of Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa, say residents have been terrorized by a “bizarre pig-dog hybrid” with a doglike head and the body of pig.
That’s not him to the left — just the closest we could come.
For, unfortunately, there’s no photographic evidence — not even of the fuzzy, grainy, Chupacabra, Bigfoot sort — of the dog headed pig monster.
But legitimate news organizations, like MSNBC, and the Huffington Post, are reporting that the dog-pig hybrid (and no, dogs and pigs can’t successfully mate) have been spotted, chasing and attacking dogs, goats and other domestic animals.
One Namibian official, regional councilor Andreas Mundjindi, was quoted in Informante newspaper as saying, “This is an alien animal that the people have not seen before.” It seems to appear out of nowhere, he added. “We don’t have a forest here, only bushes. So, this must be black magic at play.”
Some villagers suspect the animal belongs to a reputed witch doctor in the area.
The piece on MSNBC — from the website Life’s Little Mysteries — says it’s not the first time unusual animals have been spotted in rural parts of Namibia. In July 2009 concerns arose over unknown creatures reportedly sucking the blood out of livestock, including nearly two dozen goats.
Nobody ever saw them though, and those who tried to track their footprints said they mysteriously stopped, as if the animal had vanished, or been beamed up, or spontaneously combusted.
Is it black magic, or just yellow journalism?
Only the dog headed pig monster knows.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: africa, alien, animal, animals, attacking, beast, black magic, body, chasing, chupacabra, creature, dog, dog headed pig monster, dogs, head, hybrid, legends, monster, mystery, myths, namibia, news media, pets, photographs, pig, reports, terror, yellow journalism
We start the New Year by looking back at one of last year’s most downer dog stories (and there were many) — that of a stray pit bull who wandered into a hardware store and ended up getting euthanized, despite the efforts of rescue groups and a community to save him.
And we start – Happy New Year! — with what is both its latest twist and its silver lining:
A Detroit rescue group’s efforts to save that pit bull — named Ace – has moved an anonymous California woman to donate $1.5 million to build a no-kill shelter in a city that sorely needs one
Detroit Dog Rescue says the donation — in the form of stock options — came from a woman they described as “a fellow dog rescuer who is battling a life-threatening illness.”
“She just kind of nonchalanty, very humbly, just rambled off very quickly, ‘I just want you to know that we’re going to do this very fast and it’s just going to be a quick transfer of stocks to you guys. You should have the million dollars overnight,’” co-founder Daniel “Hush” Carlisle told Channel 4 News. “And I was like, ‘Excuse me? Did you just say a million dollars?’”
On November 4, the rescue learned through emails and Facebook posts that a dog had wandered into an Ace Hardware store on E. McNichols. He was emaciated, and there were wounds on his neck. DDR staff rushed to the store — knowing all stray pit bulls seized in Detroit are euthanized — but animal control had arrived there first.
“Due to Detroit Animal Control’s egregious policy of euthanizing 100 percent of dogs that they deem to be pit bulls or pit mixes, we knew that Ace would almost certainly be put down,” DDR’s account of the story on its website explains.
“Luckily, the media had gotten a hold of the story as thousands rallied together. A group of people started a “Save Ace” Facebook page, and a licensed rescue (Stray K-9 Rescue) confirmed that they would take Ace if Detroit Animal Control would release him.”
Ace’s supporters attended a city council meeting to urge the dog be released.
Despite that, city health department officials said Ace wouldn’t be released, and that if no owner came forward, he would be killed after the mandatory four-day holding period.
An owner did come forward, after seeing Ace on the news, stating the dog had been stolen from her home. But when she arrived at animal control to claim her dog, the dog she was shown wasn’t her’s. Nor was it Ace, DDR says.
The rescue group suspected animal control might have euthanized Ace the day he arrived, and that it was attempting to cover it up.
Hiring lawyers, the rescue group and the owner went to court and were granted an injunction that barred animal control from killing any dogs resembling Ace until a hearing could be held.
On Nov. 10, though, animal control reported it had euthanized Ace.
“We at Detroit Dog Rescue believe that Detroit Animal Control put the dog they tried to pass off as Ace down early rather than have to prove whether he was or was not Ace … Their preferred method is one of eradication and they believe themselves to be above the law. They bumbled, lied, tried to backtrack, and then disregarded a direct order from the judge,” the DDR website says.
While unsuccessful in saving the dog, DDR’s efforts impressed the mystery donor.
DDR spokesman David Rudolph said the donor tracked the organization’s work after seeing it on TV in May, and decided to make the donation after learning about the group’s attempt to save Ace.
Carlisle said the donation brought him to tears. “To have a donation of this size given to us in the amount of time that we’ve been up, 10 months, it’s going to be a really exciting time,” he said.
On top of that donation, DDR — whose budget had reportedly shrunk to $43 at one point — saw an influx of donations, more than $200,000, after it was featured on an NBC Nightly News segment called “Making a Difference.”
“This donation is just the beginning,” said Monica Martino, who co-founded the organization after city officials denied a Discovery Channel request to film her series “A Dog’s Life.”
“While Hush and I were working on the streets of Detroit, we saw firsthand the true scope and scale of the stray dog situation. This problem in Detroit is an epidemic and the system that is in place to control it is broken. The first step is to build a no-kill shelter.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, ace hardware, animal control, animals, daniel carlisle, detroit, detroit animal control, detroit dog rescue, dog, dogs, donation, donor, euthanasia, euthanized, facebook, group, happy new year, hush, million, mystery, no-kill, pets, pit bull, pitbull, policy, rap artist, rapper, rescue, rescues, save ace, shelter, shelters, stray dogs, strays
Was he part German shepherd, as most people guessed? Maybe some mastiff, or Great Dane, to account for his size? Some thought they detected retriever, or ridgeback, Catahoula or coonhound. It was a true whodunit – who exactly got together to produce such a beast? What made him so big? Where’d that curly tail come from?
It was an enjoyable mystery, unlike the kind of guessing game that becomes more common as a dog ages.
Then it becomes not what he’s got in him, but what he’s got. (I know that’s bad grammar, but I like it better, and I’m in control, at least of the words on this page.)
It’s amazing, and depressing, all the things that can go wrong with dogs, not to mention us. And the path to figuring out which one has – even when you do have medical insurance — can be torturous.
Breed determination tests require just a simple swabbing of the inside of the cheek (or a blood test), but determining what’s wrong with your dog will likely take numerous even more expensive ones that may or may not yield an answer, or even a general category into which his ailment falls.
Is it orthopedic, neurologic, digestive, cognitive? Or could it be, instead of a purebred disease or disorder, some sort of mix?
But first things first, or at least now. Ace seems back to normal. Unlike the previous two days, when he was a mix of clingy and anxious and, while he would sit, refused to lay down – an American Clinganxious Setter, maybe? – he’s himself again, and seems to have no complaints.
He’s back on the futon as I write this — one of the areas he has avoided for the past two days – back in the role of muse, as opposed to object of my fretting. He’s laying — or is it lying — down at will. He’s eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, playing and breathing normally.
A visit to the vet — and yes, I still want to marry a veterinarian — brought no definite answers. A battery of blood tests showed that liver, kidneys and pancreas were all clear, and that he had an only slightly elevated white blood cell count.
He was dispensed some anti-inflammatory pills, which may or may not account for his improvement. Still, upon the vet’s recommendation, I will engage in the also-not-fun, though highly challenging, game of catching one’s dog’s pee in a cup, and will tote a urine sample to their office this week.
Then, depending on what the pee reveals, and depending on whether he shows any more symptoms or strangeness, more tests are a possibility — X-rays of his stomach to ensure no parasites or other foreign objects are lurking there, neurological tests because of his earlier problems, and a day-long test for Cushing’s Disease, which the vet mentioned was also a possibility.
Or, given what appears at least today as an apparent recovery, was it nothing at all? For all I know it could have been the full moon, a ghost, a sound he was hearing that I wasn’t, or an extended blonde moment, even though he’s more auburn.
Adding to the uncertainty, when your dog appears to be ailing, there’s always the question you ask of yourself, or at least I ask of myself: Am I under-reacting, or over-reacting? The answer of course is that, in circumstances like these, over-reacting is preferable, if not good for the bank account.
For you newcomers who haven’t memorized Ace’s breeds, I won’t repeat them here. You’ll have to look it up, just in case I ever move to one of those backward towns that enforces or is instituting breed bans — though I probably wouldn’t — but in the event of which Ace is a collie.
Let’s just say, of those breeds that showed up in the three DNA tests he has had in the past two years, one is Japanese, one is Chinese, one is German (but not a shepherd) and one is an overused and misunderstood catch-all that’s not really a breed at all.
As for all those friends and readers who have offered their opinions, I do appreciate the input, the sharing of your own experiences, and the support.
As for Ace, once he wakes up, I think he’s due for a not-too-strenuous hike.
It’s always good to work a little sunshine into the mix.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, animals, behavior, breed, cushings disease, diagnosis, disease, disorders, dna, dogs, guess, guessing, health, identification, medicine, mix, mutt, mystery, pets, strange, tests, travels with ace, uncertainty, veterinarian, veterinary, won't lay down
Lisa Ison was going through a rough time four years ago when she met Bella, a Pekingese-Pomeranian mix, at an animal shelter in Denver.
“I was depressed. I was lonely. It was a real hard time and she saved my life,” said Ison, who was recovering from a back injury, a divorce and getting laid off. “I live alone, so having her there, she is always happy to see me and she is so loving. My life would not be the same without her.”
So when Bella became severely ill earlier this week after eating a ham bone, Ison was understandably distraught when a vet told her that trying to save her dog was going to cost around $1,800, half of which would be required up front.
“She was dehydrated, vomiting and not eating,” Dr. Jeff Steen at the Alameda Vet Hospital told 9 News in Denver. “She could have gotten septic and died.”
Ison didn’t have that kind of money. “I live paycheck to paycheck … I was hysterical. I was crying,” she said.
Ison stepped into the rest room to compose herself, and when she came out, a middle-aged couple she had met in the lobby gave her a hug and told her not to worry.
When she went to the front desk, the $900 had been paid.
After a few days, Bella pulled through. Ison still has the other half of her bill to pay, which she plans to do over time. Her donors remain anonymous.
“I was so touched and so moved that somebody would randomly do something so kind and so giving in these hard times. It restored my belief in human kindness,” Ison said.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alameda veterinary hospital, bella, bill, costs, denver, donation, donors, emergency, ham bone, health, illness, kindness, lisa ison, mystery, pekingese, pomeranian, strangers, vet, veterinarian, veterinary
Yesterday, in updating you on Ace’s miracle recovery, we acknowledged in a backhanded kind of way all the prayers and well wishes you sent his way.
Allow us to do it in a forehanded way, too: Thank you.
Ace remains, from all appearances, over whatever it was that seemed to make him lose control of half of his 130-pound body on Monday.
He’s raring to go, darting all over the place when I take him outside, grabbing my hand in his mouth to pull me along for what he’d like to be a long walk. He seems to have totally forgotten the condition he was in two days ago. I, on the other hand, have not, and so, like an over-protective parent, offer up the kind of buzzkill only humans can provide.
“Let’s wait one more day. Slow down. Be careful. Stop frolicking, dammit.”
It’s the main difference between dogs and people. He being a dog, doesn’t let his past, even recent-as-yesterday past, bring him down. He doesn’t let fears of the future dictate his behavior, or maybe he knows better than me that the possibility of being hobbled tomorrow is all the more reason to run your ass off today.
I don’t know if your responses made Ace better, but they absolutely served that purpose for me. (I have more friends than I thought — or at least he does — and lots of them are strangers.)
Through comments left on ohmidog! and Travels with Ace, through personal emails and phone calls, we heard from several dozen people, including a few of those we encountered during the past year as we criss-crossed America.
Our intent in Travels with Ace was not to bog you down with reports of our physical ailments, not to bemoan the obstacles we were confronted with, not to get all cantankerous about the small stuff life throws our way.
Just as we didn’t ignore the country’s warts, we shared our personal bad moments, too – not to evoke sympathy, not to tug at heartstrings, but to reflect reality. The same holds true of our financial condition. Being unemployed was one of things that sparked the trip; and traveling, with the dog, on a shoestring, was an exercise in frugality mandated by the times and my own personal economic situation.
I, like a lot of Americans, and like America, am having trouble paying my bills.
Embarassing as that may be, I’ve admitted it — far more often than my mother would like me to — and I acknowledged again during Ace’s trauma that, short of draining what little remains in the old 401 K and pulling off a heist of some sort, I’m likely not in a position to scrounge up what any surgery he needed would probably cost.
One of the people we heard from yesterday was a woman who offered to pay for any veterinary care Ace needed. We declined her kind offer, given Ace’s recovery. I wrote her back, thanking her, telling her Ace seemed to be doing fine now, and, for some reason, baring my soul. (Apparently, much like a stripper, I will bare my soul for tips, or even the offer of them.) I explained to her how, in selfish pursuit of doing what I want to do, I’ve decided to scrape by without a job, and in the process have become an insufficient provider.
Putting personal dreams above salary and health insurance may be noble, or it may just be stupid. In any event it’s a choice that, for me, leads to some feelings of guilt during times like this week — times that seem to say, “Get a job, doofus.”
I did suggest she buy my book, which would add several cents to my portfolio.
She wrote back: “That’s wonderful news about Ace, John! I bought your book long ago, it’s how I discovered your blog and “met” Ace. It’s a fascinating book, btw, you’re a compelling writer. I understand your reservations about the money – been there, done that, so to speak. Ace is your family though, and by virtue of your blog, he’s my friend, so I hope it will never be necessary but if it should become necessary, I hope you would let his friends help. And pursuing your dreams is a great way to spend a life. Give Ace a good belly rub for me!”
The belly rub has been given, her compliments have been read and re-read (they serve as a belly rub to me), and her email address has been put in a file marked guardian angels, in the second drawer of the file cabinet on the right. (I write that here in case I forget, should I ever need to find it.)
Wrote another total stranger, upon reading of Ace’s improvement, “ …Amen And Pass The Kibble that Ace is doing well this morning. Having read ohmidog! for the past few years, you and Ace are a couple o’ ramblers that I’ve come to care about in that funny internet way. You just about killed me when you described losing your composure when he leaned on you. I know, I know! I was with you, in that moment. I was with you yesterday in the midst of your nerve-wracking vet visit with an IV bag tied to your roof rack. That would be why you’re an award-winning journalist. Big hugs to both of you, and if you’re ever in the upstate NY area, give a holler on-blog beforehand. We would love to meet “our” sweet Ace. Oh, and you, too, of course. You know how it is.”
More belly rubs for me, but, more than that, it was another note that reinforced what we learned during our travels: However down America might be right now, its people, and its dogs, are a resilient bunch; and people still care about people, especially dog people.
Having invited any theories readers might have, I also heard from several people offering guesses on what it might have been that knocked Ace’s legs out from under him
“My vote still goes with ‘ate something that disagreed with him.’ I woke up absolutely dreading this day for a number of reasons. I checked here before I even looked at the news. Now I’m smiling. You guys stay cool, and we’ll keep rolling out those prayers and good thoughts.”
That one was from Anne, one of several from my friend, technical consultant on internetty issues and web space provider in Baltimore, who, though she lost her husband at the end of last month, though both she and her beagle are still working through the grieving process, took the time to pass on her best wishes.
Some thought it might be heat related, and another reader suspected tick paralysis.
“I’m so glad ACE seems to have had a spontaneous recovery! We had a situation eerily similar to what you described with a newfie mix of ours several years ago. Our vet diagnosed tick paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick_paralysis), which he had seen kill several dogs over the years. I had never heard of it, despite living in a state where Lyme and such are common. I thought I’d mention it since our vet said there are a lot of vets who aren’t familiar with it due to its rarity. Warm hugs to Ace!”
And, after our initial report on Ace’s affliction, there were many like this — both from people I know and people I’ve never met:
“I’m crying, and my own dogs are wondering why. Much love and all of our support to both Ace and you. Nothing scarier, for me at least, than a sick pup. Please keep us updated. You two are FAMILY.”
The pesky part of me wanted to write back and ask if my room is ready and what we were having for dinner tonight. Here’s the thing — some of my friends, possibly even some of those stranger friends I’ve never even met, would say come on over. However cash poor America is, it’s rich that way.
We send thanks, too, to Dr. Raymond Morrison, Ace’s vet at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, here in Winston-Salem, who went beyond the call of duty — and didn’t charge for it — when I ran back into his office after our visit to inform him Ace was copiously vomiting in the back of my car. He strung an IV bag to my roof rack and had a technician adminster about 20 minutes worth of a subcutaneous drip that seemed to immediately improve both Ace’s panting and his legs.
Once he was back home and out of the car, the ailment seemed to disappear as quickly, and mysteriously, as it had arrived.
That we’re living a somewhat insulated life here — partly by choice, in pursuit of another dream, which is to turn our travels into a book — made all the comments and notes, from old friends and new ones alike, worth even more.
What restored Ace’s legs back to full power may be a mystery, but it’s no mystery what reconfirmed my faith in humanity.
It was you.
(Graphic: Pawprint thank you card available at Etsy.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, america, americans, animals, belly rubs, control, dogs, dreams, economy, faith, finances, friends, heat, humanity, legs, letters, mystery, notes, ohmidog!, pets, recovery, resilience, road trip, strangers, support, thank you, thanks, tick paralysis, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary
If I had to guess what was on Ace’s mind at a given moment, here’s what I think it would be:
“Food. FOOD. How about some food? Got any food? Gimme food. I really like food. I like you, too, but I really like food. Is that food I smell? Perhaps you’d like to give me some. Is it time for food? Food. Food. Food.”
But, when it comes to the mysterious song that plays in his head — and I’m guessing it’s a song, for all I know it could be haiku – food would have to be the repeated refrain.
When, during our weeks in Cave Creek, Arizona, we sat down with animal communicator Debbie Johnstone of Listen 2 Animals – I sat down, anyway, Ace kind of wandered – I was hoping that he wouldn’t be so stuck on the chorus that the other lyrics couldn’t come through.
But they did. According to Debbie, Ace spoke to her – sometimes in words only she could hear, also by conveying images and feelings. Only a minute after we sat down, she’d gotten her first impressions of him:
Animals have spoken to Debbie since she was a toddler, she says. At first, she figured everybody could hear them. Born in West Virginia, and raised in Ohio, she didn’t have pets of her own, but she had long conversations with neighborhood animals – until her mother told her at age 7 that she was a big girl now and it was time to stop doing that.
So, for several decades, she did. She stopped acknowledging that she could hear what animals were thinking, and went on to become a computer programmer.
Her job with a major corporation brought her to Arizona in 1992, and she took on new responsibilities as she rose through the ranks — including laying off people. After 9/11, she found herself doing more and more of that, to the point it was making her physically ill.
“I said, ‘I can’t do this any longer,’” and with that she began searching for a new calling. While trying to figure out what that was, she started doing volunteer work at Arizona Equine Rescue, where she met a Shamanic healer who sensed she had the gift. With his help she enrolled in a course in animal communication and resumed talking to animals.
In 2003, she started her own company, Listen 2 Animals, where, in addition to serving as a translator between the human and animal worlds, she helps find lost animals, resolves animal-related conflicts and coaches humans on how to better communicate with their animals. Her sessions, with horses, cats and dogs, usually range from 15 minutes to an hour and run $30 to $90.
Debbie says the messages from animals come to her in different ways.
Sometimes she senses it. ”I’m empathic I can feel what the animal feels,” she said. Other times she might see a picture, experience a taste or smell, or hear a noise. Some of the information is conveyed to her through what she calls “thought drops,” which made me think of the comic strip device, where what one’s thinking appears in a cloud with dots leading down to the person’s head. Sometimes she hears words, as if they are actually talking. “Sometimes they just come right out and tell me. Sometimes animals know exactly what’s wrong and can tell you, other times they don’t know.”
Her clients range from people who want to know why their cat stopped using the litter box, to what the old dog thinks of a new dog in the house, or — most commonly — people seeking some guidance in making the decision to put an old, sick animal down.
Amost half of her calls are from people whose animals are “getting ready to transition” and want to know how the animal feels about it. More often than not — despite all the human angst – the dog or other animal in question is ready to proceed. “They’re not afraid of death,” she said.
Debbie met Ace and me in a fenced yard behind a store in Cave Creek. It was Ace’s second meeting with an animal communicator. (You can read about the first at the Baltimore Sun.)
The first thing Debbie did when Ace approached was seek permission from him. She says she always asks an animal first if she can communicate with them — “otherwise, it would be like walking into somebody’s house without knocking.”
I’d explained to Debbie that Ace had been traveling for seven months, and that I wanted to know what he thought of our nomadic lifestyle.
After relating her initial impressions, Debbie said Ace was communicating to her in words: “I actually heard the words, ‘This is what I was born to do.’
“He takes this very seriously,” she continued. “He really feels this is an assignment, or a job, if you will. He’s sharing a feeling of always moving, moving a lot … moving and freedom.” She compared how Ace feels with the feeling she had when she got out of the corporate world and started doing what she really wanted to do.
“Passionate, energized, that’s the feeling he gives me — that his life is about more than just going through the motions. He finds it joyful to met new people, go new places, see’s new things. He’s not tired, he finds it energizing … He likes doing different and new things … What’s really important to him is being with you.
“But still,” she added, “he’s looking forward to the day you get in one place, in a home.”
Debbie passed on some other information as well:
- Ace likes the color red.
- The chain link fence around the yard we were sitting in reminded him of his days in the shelter. She saw him as one of a litter of three, who was dropped off at the shelter by someone who didn’t speak English.
- Ace has some achiness in his left hip joint, but it’s not painful.
- Ace “thinks everybody really, really likes him.”
- Ace likes eggs, and would like to be served them more often.
- When I asked Debbie if Ace would prefer to eat twice a day, as he used to, or once a day, as he now does, she responded, “He wants to know if there’s a third choice.”
- Ace enjoys being a dog, she says, as most dogs do. “If we could feel about ourselves like our animals feel about themselves, we would be very, very free. They’re just pleased about who they are.”
Debbie said Ace doesn’t mind riding in the car (which is red, by the way). “It’s not something that bothers him because he likes to be with you. But he would like you to stop more often so he can get out and sniff and stretch. He likes to investigate and see new things.”
The last seven months have provided ample opportunity for that, and it was good to hear that — in her opinion — he didn’t consider our trip a total drag.
Debbie didn’t say that Ace was eager to get back to Baltimore. Even though he doesn’t speak to me in words, I think that’s a safe bet. I’m not certain whether that city will become home for me again, but according to Debbie, Ace already has that part figured out.
“Where you are, that’s home to him.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace talks, animal communicator, animals, arizona, cave creek, communicate, communicating with animals, debbie johnstone, dog, dogs, empathic, empathy, happy, home, horses, job, listen 2 animals, listen2animals, mind, mission, mystery, nomads, passionate, people, pets, phoenix, road, road trip, thinking, thoughts, traveling with dogs, travels, travels with ace, vagabonds, what dogs think
As we ponder where to go next on our road trip to nowhere, we’re feeling drawn to Texas — where two stories this week have piqued our curiosity.
First is the tale, told yesterday, of the Methodist pastor who’s calling for a stray dog hanging out behind his church to be shot, and the ire that has raised. Second are the two recent sightings — and subsequent terminations — of alleged Chupacabra, the legendary dog-like creatures who, according to myth, suck the blood of goats (which is what Chupacabra means in Spanish).
In the past week, two of the coyote-like creatures were spotted within 10 miles of each other, outside of Dallas, one of which was bagged by an animal control officer. The other was shot by a rancher. News reports seem to give no reason behind the shootings, other than the fact that the animals were “ugly.”
“All I know is, it wasn’t normal. It was ugly. Real ugly,” said Frank Hackett, the animal control officer who killed one of the creatures.
Reports of Chupacabra sightings are fairly rare; there’s one about about every year — including this one, where a law enforcement official followed and videotaped what he thought could have been one.
Of course, there are plenty of modern-day theories — ranging from them being pets left here by extraterrestrials to them being the result of government experiments gone awry. More often than not, though, they turn out to be coyotes with skin problems.
News reports say neither of the two slain creatures has been identified, though the DNA of at least one of them is being analyzed.
There is no documentation that the species or sub-species exists; instead the word ”Chupacabra” has become a catch-all term for anything dog-like, but not immediately identifiable, kind of like Bigfoot is for anything hairy, human-like and not immediately identifiable.
This won’t be the first alleged Chupacabra to have its DNA tested. In 2007, Texas State University biologist Mike Forstner performed a test on what turned out to be a coyote.
Another strong possibility, I’d suspect, is that some of the ”beasts” that have been spotted are actually Xoloitzcuintle, a Mexican hairless dog breed.
In any event, we’re headed east, and Dallas is on the way. If that’s where we end up, we’ll let you know what we find out.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, analysis, animal, animals, blood, chupacabra, creature, dallas, dna, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, goat, hood county, killed, mystery, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, shot, study, sucker, tests, texas, traveling with dogs
It was 117 degrees.
Which normally would be a good argument for not going back to Phoenix, after completing our swing through northern Arizona and Utah. But, as it’s home to my brother and father, and I’d left some of my baggage there — the physical kind, with zippers and handles and pouches in which to put things and then forget them — we returned.
Also, I had to pick up some ohmidog! materials I’d ordered online and had sent to my brother’s home — some new business cards and magnet signs that allowed me to turn my regular old, overloaded, as of yesterday officially paid off Jeep Liberty into …
I figured, with all the ground we’re covering, why not do a little advertising for the old website? Now my fellow motorists can see my ohmidog! sign, maybe even remember that it’s spelled o-h-m-i-d-o-g, and look it up online when they get back to the comfort and convenience of their homes — if not sooner.
In hopes of keeping my big magnet sign from being ripped off, I also attached some little magnet cards to which people can help themselves.
We’re giving the ohmidogmobile! its first test this week, as we drive back to Santa Fe for a weeklong pet-sitting gig at the home of some friends. I’ll be taking care of their three dogs in exchange for getting to use their home, and hold wild parties in it, while they’re gone on a trip to New York.
We’ve made a few decisions — holding wild parties not actually being among them – regarding our continuing journey. We still have no solid plans — that would be wrong — but we’ve decided to try and stay on the road for six months. We’ll start heading back east after Santa Fe, work our way to the Atlantic Ocean, dip our toes in it, maybe check back in on Baltimore, and then head back west again on a more northerly route, zigging and zagging — but mostly zagging — across the U.S. for another four months, plus.
Why? Because we gave up the old homestead. Because job offers aren’t pouring in. But mainly because we love it — I’m sure I do, I think Ace does – and I’m thinking it might be worth writing about someday in a form other than blogging.
Not that we have anything against blogging. I wonder though. Would John Steinbeck — our inspiration for this trip — have blogged? As he crossed America with his poodle Charley, would he — were the technology available — have sought out power sources, logged into his computer and jumped on Facebook? Or would he have viewed it all as a massive waste of time — time that could have spent connecting face-to-face with fellow humans? How shameful would it have been, in retrospect, if John Steinbeck, rather than writing “Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men,” was spending his time composing html, fighting off hackers and Tweeting what he ate for dinner?
(Which reminds me, I had some excellent dim sum the other day, including several dishes I couldn’t identify, at C-Fu Gourmet, a Chinese restaurant opened in Chandler by Ron Lou, a former professonal football player.)
In 1961, when Steinbeck made his three-month trip with his dog, he was marveling at things like vending machines that dispensed soda with ice, and hot cups of soup and coffee, and at a cutting edge form of housing known as mobile homes. Technology has dizzyingly and exponentially advanced since then, not so much saving us time and effort as giving us new headaches and making us more dependent on that which we don’t really understand.
John Steinbeck, for instance, didn’t have a malfunction indicator light on Rocinante, the name he gave his camper truck. He couldn’t Google in search of dog-friendly lodgings. He couldn’t check in with loved ones by cell phone, order pizza online, or turn to Mapquest to figure out how far he could get by when. On the other hand, he didn’t have to worry about Internet connections, or keep track of what needed recharging. Something always does — cellphone, camera, voice recorder, computer, myself.
I don’t fancy myself a modern-day Steinbeck. I’m not traveling with a bottle of applejack to share with those I encounter on the road. I’m not even sure what applejack is. (I could Google it, and get an instant answer. But instant answers, on top of often being wrong, can suck the mystery out of life. What fun is going over that next hill, around that next curve, when you already know what will be there?)
But I am a huge Steinbeck fan. So I was pretty excited when, on a return visit to my father’s house, he managed to dig up a letter he once received from Steinbeck — in connection with an article Newsday was doing at the time. It was mailed the year before Steinbeck and Charley departed on their trip.
In re-reading the book for the fourth time — like driving a familiar road, I get something new out of it each time — I’ve come to the conclusion that, while I’m no John Steinbeck, my dog Ace is a far more interesting canine than Charley.
This week we push on, eastwardly — though we’ll definitely be back this way again to see some people and write about some things we missed. Meantime, we’re in search of new hills, new vistas, new dogs, new folks, new mystery, new people to freeload off of … and maybe some applejack.
(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, america, animals, applejack, blogging, charley, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, facebook, google, john steinbeck, lodging, mapquest, motels, mystery, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, steinbeck, technology, travel, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with charley, twitter
In my current nomadic phase, as in my previously still life, Ace — my “Big Ass Dog” — draws a variety of responses from humans. There are those who experience love at first sight, those who cross to the other side of the street to avoid him, and, most of all, those who want to solve the ongoing mystery … What Kind of Dog is That?
It’s a question we answered years ago, and have been answering daily since.
Putting the curiosity factor aside, Ace provokes some pretty visceral reactions — my past two motel stops being a good example of that.
At the Motel 6 in Biloxi, the staff couldn’t get enough of him. Everytime we passed through the office, Ace stood and put his front paws on the counter, got petted and praised and generally adored. They bestowed him with a nickname, the notorious B.A.D. (for Big Ass Dog) and begged us to come back and visit again.
At a Motel 6 on the outskirts of New Orleans — from which we departed yesterday — the staff, while friendly and accepting, didn’t want him anywhere near them.
“That things a horse,” a desk clerk said, asking me to hang around while she called a fellow employee to come see him. “She’s a real dog lover,” she said.
When that employee came around the corner, she shrieked and then ran behind the counter. As it turned out, she was afraid of dogs, and we’d been roped into a practical joke.
Sometimes I wonder what Ace makes of it all — if he wonders why some humans have an irrepressible desire to meet and pet him while others can’t get away fast enough? He can sense, I think, which are which. Rarely will he approach a human who isn’t urging him to, unless that human has, say, an open bag of Fritos. Those he bonds with, meanwhile, will get leaned on and, likely, have their foot sat on, as if to say, “I like you. Stay a while.”
Ace seems to be getting used to motel rooms. He stayed at the Motel 6 while I went to St. Bernard Parish for interviews, then took advantage of time without dog to stop for something other than fast food — a Chinese buffet around the corner from the motel. I’d avoided it the first day because its name was R P Buffet, and I thought maybe an “I” between the “R” and “P” had fallen out during a hurricane, and who wants to eat at the RIP Buffet?
It had a dazzling array of food, though, and I loaded my plate repeatedly before leaving with my fortune cookie. I decided Ace, being room-bound, deserved both the cookie and the fortune.
As it turned out, it was a fitting one.
(To go back to Day One of “Dog’s Country” and read all the entries, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, america, animals, biloxi, chinese food, dog friendly, dog's country, dogscountry, fortune cookie, motel 6, motels, mystery, new orleans, ohmidog!, pets, r p buffet, reactions, road trip, travel, what kind of dog is that