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Tag: new york

Saying goodbye to dog who gave him a boost

goynes

A formerly homeless man said goodbye earlier this month to a dog who gave his life some purpose.

Raymond Goynes was living in a refrigerator box on the streets of New York when he first met Sonja, a wheaten terrier, in 2005.

He’d spent decades on the streets by then, but he’d kicked his cocaine habit a few year’s earlier and was doing odd jobs to help buy food.

He’d regularly see Sonja being taken for a walk and asked her owner, more than once, if he could help with that.

“After I got Sonja, he saw various people walking her when I was at work,” Mary Kilty told the New York Times. “He said to me, ‘I can walk your dog.’ He said this to me several times and eventually I thought why not give it a try, because he clearly needed some income and support.”

Goynes began taking Sonja for two-hour walks to and around Central Park on Saturday mornings.

“It helped me get myself together,” Goynes said. “It keeps you from messing around, doing other things bad. ‘I got a dog-walking job, I’ve got to maintain.'”

“… She helped me, I helped her,” he added.

Goynes found a permanent home in 2007 — a small room in a building on East 28th Street run by the nonprofit supportive-housing provider now known as Breaking Ground.

He continued to walk Sonja on weekends, and would house-sit the dog, sometimes for weeks at a time, in Kilty’s penthouse.

“He was so reliable and so good, and she loved him so much,” Kilty said.

Last spring, Sonja, 11, began a slow decline due to cancer.

goynes2In his last visit with the dog, Goynes, 67, let himself in to Kilty’s home and crouched down beside Sonja.

“If there was anything I could do to help her stay up … Sonja, get up, come on, get up.”

He held her paw, gazed into her eyes and then left so Kilty could spend some private moments with Sonja before a veterinarian arrived to give her a lethal injection.

Kilty said Goynes asked for Sonja’s tags, so he can wear them on a necklace.

She honored that request, but says she’s not ready to grant his second one.

“He keeps asking me when I’m going to get another dog, which I don’t think I’m going to do quite yet.”

(Photos: Nicole Bengiveno / The New York Times)

How a Australian journalist in New York became babysitter to an inmate’s dog

tiny2

When a man in a dirty overcoat stops you on the streets of New York, and begins opening up that overcoat to show you something, your best bet is to walk away quickly.

After all, it could be hot watches he’s trying to unload. He might be dealing drugs. Or maybe he wants to show you something else you really don’t want to see. Guns and body parts come to mind — or at least to the mind of a cynical type.

But journalists are also curious sorts. So when a man approached Jo Jarvis as she hailed a cab, she heard him out long enough to see what was behind his overcoat — a Yorkshire terrier named Tiny.

tinyThe man explained he was about to start serving a prison sentence and that he needed to someone to care for his dog, so he was trying to sell her for $100.

(Hang on now, don’t go judging him quite yet.)

Jarvis, a freelance journalist and meditation teacher from Australia who’s living in Brooklyn, admits that some darker possibilities were the first thing that went through her mind.

“I was immediately concerned. Was he running some sort of illegal puppy farm operation, or had he stolen the dog to make some money?”

Jarvis said she gave the man her phone number — her real number (we guess she is new to New York) — and told him to call the next day if he hadn’t found a new owner.

When he called the next day, Jarvis agreed to take Tiny, but only if she were free and he delivered her to her door.

Two hours later the man, named Jose, was in her kitchen. (Gotta be new to New York.)

jojarvis“It occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t smart to allow someone about to go to jail in my place with the door closed. But strangely I felt very comfortable with Jose and I could see immediately how much he loved the little Yorkshire terrier whose name was Tiny,” Jarvis wrote in an article for News.com.au.

Jose explained to her that he was pleading guilty to a charge that would land him in Rikers Island.

He said it wouldn’t be his first visit there. But he assured her it would be his last.

Jarvis said she didn’t ask Jose what his crime had been.

“As Jose left he asked if he could ring when he got out to see if Tiny was OK. I assured him that was fine and that he could have her back at any time.

“So while Jose’s in Rikers Island, I’m Tiny’s dog sitter. Who knows if he’ll ever come for her. In the meantime, she has fallen on her little feet with her every need met in my Brooklyn loft.”

(Photos from News.com.au)

Kentucky is the most Scrooge-like in survey of what we spend on dogs for Christmas

xmasdog

Residents of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania spend the most on their dogs at Christmas — and a good three times more than dog owners in Oklahoma and Kentucky, whose residents ranked as the most tight-fisted.

That’s according to a survey called the “Santa Dog Index” that appeared on TheNosePrint.com, an online pet source from Big Heart Pet Brands, the company that makes Milk-Bone and Pup-Peroni.

The survey polled 3,000 Americans about their dog-related holiday habits, including how much they spend on gifts for dogs, their reasoning for spending money on gifts for dogs and how they include their dogs in Christmas traditions.

xmasdog3The survey reported that 71% of people with dogs will give their pups gifts, and 48 percent hang up a stocking for them.

Nearly three-fourths of dog owners said they bestow gifts to their pet to express love. Other popular reasons were “because it’s fun for me” (60 percent) and “so the dog will feel included.”

Just under 30 percent dress their dog in a holiday-themed outfit, and 43 percent include the dog in their Christmas card photos.

The national average for Christmas spending on the dog is $23.10.

Here are the state by state rankings.

1. New Jersey: $30.01
2. New York: $29.55
3. Pennsylvania: $28.75
4. Utah: $27.75
5. Georgia: $27.04
6. California: $26.07
7. Washington: $25.81
8. Florida: $25.13
9. Illinois: $24.98
10. Virginia: $24.58
11. Texas: $24.47
12. Colorado: $24.11
13. Arkansas: $24.00
14. Maryland: $23.79
15. Mississippi: $23.31
16. Alabama: $23.05
17. Massachusetts: $22.91
18. Iowa: $22.86
19. Idaho: $22.83
20. Wyoming: $22.71
21. Ohio: $22.63
22. Wisconsin: $22.47
23. Rhode Island: $22.38
24. Alaska: $21.89
25. Hawaii: $21.75
26. Montana: $21.60
27. South Carolina: $21.53
28. New Hampshire: $21.50
29. Michigan: $21.33
30. West Virginia: $21.00
31. New Mexico: $20.40
32. Indiana: $20.14
33. Louisiana: $19.47
34. Kansas: $18.38
35. Missouri: $18.33
36. Tennessee: $18.19
37. Oregon: $18.07
38. Vermont: $17.67
39. Minnesota: $17.08
40. Arizona: $16.20
41. South Dakota: $15.35
42. North Dakota: $15.25
43. Nevada: $15.00
44. Connecticut: $14.30
45. Delaware: $14.14
46. North Carolina: $13.58
47. Nebraska: $12.00
48. Maine: $11.00
49. Oklahoma: $9.44
50. Kentucky: $8.63

(Photos: Lookanimals.com)

Dog parking? Baguetteaboutit

They may be well-intentioned and address a real issue, but these parking crates for dogs that have appeared on the streets of New York worry me.

The woman behind them hopes to have 100 of them in place in Brooklyn by next spring, place them throughout New York City and, eventually, other cities across the country.

It works like this: You sign up for a membership, and receive a member card in the mail that unlocks the temperature controlled doghouse. Then you’re billed through the mail at a rate of 20 cents per minute.

Chelsea Brownridge told Fox 5 the idea grew out of her own concerns about leaving her dog Winston tied up when she has to run into a store.

Of course, that’s a troublesome practice, too — and more than a few dogs have been stolen after being left tied outside stores in New York, and elsewhere.

Dog parkers are now in test mode outside of two Fort Greene businesses, including Baguetteaboutit on Vanderbilt and DeKalb, where a spokesman welcomed the idea.

“A lot of our customers will open up the door and yell out to us, ‘Can you bring me out a sandwich? Can you bring me a menu? I don’t want to leave my dog.’ And we’ll accommodate them. This gives them an opportunity to take care of their dog while they come in and take care of themselves.”

Seems to me taking steps to accommodate dog-walking customers outdoors would be an easier solution — as would people leaving their dogs at home when they have the need to shop.

My main objections though come from being claustrophobic, and a technophobe.

The dog parking crate reminds me a little bit of those newspaper boxes (which you can probably get a pretty good deal on nowadays) — and simple as they were they often malfunctioned.

Dogs can see out of the boxes through a small plastic window, but the boxes still seem uncomfortably confining. And anything that is “temperature controlled” can see its temperature go out of control.

On top of that, anyone who has had to return to the hotel lobby three or more times to get one of those key cards rejiggered — so it actually opens the door to their room — knows those cards can’t be trusted.

What’s going to happen when a dog owner can’t get his dog out of the box?

An app is in the works that will allow customers to reserve boxes, but they otherwise will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Will New Yorkers end up fighting over them too, as they do parking spaces and taxi cabs? Will Uber dog parking boxes surface, charging only 10 cents a minute?

If a key card is able to open any dog parking crate in the city, might thieves just maybe figure that out and sign up for membership?

There are just too many questions. It might be easier to just make all business establishments dog friendly.

Until then, always walk with another friend when out with your dog, or leave the dog home, or — difficult as it may be — skip the baguette.

Woman and her guide dog are reunited

figo

A legally blind woman and her guide dog have been reunited after recovering from injuries they received when they were hit by a school bus in New York.

“Oh, my good boy. You’re home, finally,” Audrey Stone exclaimed upon greeting her golden retriever, Figo, in the driveway of her home in Brewster, about 60 miles north of Manhattan.

Figo got in between Stone and an oncoming minibus in June as they crossed a street a block from her home.

Stone spent months in a rehabilitation hospital. Figo underwent surgery and went back to his trainers for a determination of whether he could work as a guide dog again.

As of Monday, he is back on duty.

Figo, who had been Stone’s guide dog for more than six years, leaped to put himself between her and the oncoming bus, then stuck by her side until help arrived.

“Basically, he would have died for me, doing what he did,” said Stone, who suffered a broken ankle, elbow and ribs and needed stitches in her head. Figo had a serious gash in one of his legs, according to the Associated Press.

On top of being reunited with Stone, Figo will be receiving the Dog of the Year award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“We’re tremendously proud of Figo, who really did show a great deal of bravery,” said Wells Jones, of the Smithtown-based Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. Figo was the third dog the organization had placed with Stone.

Stone says she’s happy to have him back.

“You feel better with a dog,” she said.

(Photo: By Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Hasidic dog walker turns some heads

Ultra-orthodox Jews, much like some followers of Islam, would rather not be among dogs.

There is a common view, among Hasidic Jews, that dogs are impure and unhygienic, should never be inside the home, and are best avoided.

So Gedalya Gottenger makes for an unusual sight as he plies his trade on the streets he grew up on, in what was a nearly all-Jewish enclave in New York’s Williamsburg.

Gottenger is a Hasidic Jew, and a dog walker.

Gottenger said that, growing up, he rarely saw a dog in his neighborhood. As a result, he saw dogs as a little bit frightening.

“Dogs were seen as frightening by default,” Gottenger told The Forward which featured the dog walker in a recent article.

“It doesn’t matter the size, the shape or the color. They were always scary.”

hasidicIt wasn’t until after he started attending Brooklyn College that he began relating to dogs, starting small. He got to know a friend’s chihuahua while they were studying together.

When the friend asked him to babysit the dog, he agreed.

Now, he walks up to five dogs regularly.

He knows some might see what he’s doing as an act of rebellion, and admits that might be one of the factors that led him into the job.

“I get to spend time with dogs, which is the most important part, I guess,” he said. “And then there is the rebellion part, the money part, but it’s all intermingled in a way.”

He said he was worried at first that other Hasidic Jews might be upset with his new undertaking, which he started about a year and a half ago. But he likes the fact that he is shattering a stereotype.

He says his father “doesn’t know, or at least doesn’t tell me that he knows” about his occupation — even though he has a Facebook page about it.

On the streets, he says, any comments made to him while walking dogs are “very benign.”

Will quest for profits bring end to dog park?

watertown

Will the city of Watertown, N.Y., pull a fast one and, in a blatant quest for profits, sell land intended for a dog park to a developer?

The city council is considering it, though it took no such action Monday night.

Even though signs announcing the new park are already up, even though citizens have raised $3,000 of the $80,000 needed to open it, even though the land has been designated as parkland and the city accepted grants to accomplish that … a developer’s offer of money for the land is being considered.

Last week, the city received an offer from developer P.J. Simao to buy the land allotted for a dog park at Factory Square, Fox 28 in New York reported.

Simao’s offer came after plans started months ago to turn the site from some unused green space with a trail going through it into what some say would be a focal point for the city’s efforts to revitalize the Factory Square Park neighborhood.

So who will win out? Dogs, dog owners, citizens, community revitalization and the environment? Or one developer, and the city’s hunger for bucks — both from the immediate sale and in terms of future property tax revenue?

“To have that property back on the tax rolls, I think, would be beneficial to us,” council member Steve Jennings said at the Monday night meeting.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that Jennings introduced the proposal to sell the land to the developer, saying the city could use the money generated from the deal for the dog park and relocate it someplace else.

We’ll assume he’s talking about relocating the park, and not the money.

Fortunately, there are a few obstacles in the way of what Jennings probably sees as progress.

And it will probably be one of those obstacles — as opposed to lying to and deceiving dog owners and all those who have donated to the project — that, if anything can, stops the sale.

Factory Square is designated park land and was built with grant money, and selling it would involve going through the state and the National Parks Service.

“I think it’s intentionally made to be a difficult process,” City Planner Ken Mix said. “The purpose for putting the money into park land was to provide park land and to keep it as park land.”

“It’s not that I’m anti-development or anti-free money,” Mayor Jeff Graham said, “it’s just I don’t see that park land hurdle as something the city can overcome.”

The city’s consideration of the offer also hamstrings those trying to raise money for the dog park.

“We’re at a halt right now,” said dog park supporter Erin Gardner, who’s also director of the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

“There’s nothing that we can do,” Gardner said. “I ask that council not delay the decision-making process in this so that we can stay on this momentum.”

A better question to ask might be why the offer is even being considered — given the commitment the city had already made to the dog park. Why wasn’t the developer just told that land is not for sale?

The city council of Watertown should keep its promise — they should take a lesson from dogs and should show those they are serving a little loyalty, no matter how much money drooling developers are dangling in front of them.

(Photo: Watertown Daily Times)