Ace and I woke up yesterday morning in a Motel 6 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was the cheaper of the two in town, at $29, probably because it lacked a certain amenity — that being hot water. At least my room did.
We woke up today at the Hotel Monaco in Washington — after an evening that included a long hot bath, washing my hair with complimentary Aveda products, drying off with big fluffy towels, then cloaking myself in the complimentary leopard print robe.
Ace, because I wondered what he’d look like as a leopard, tried one too.
After seven months of living on a shoestring, and staying in dozens of Motel 6′s during our 22,000 mile journey, checking into the Hotel Monaco was culture shock. I like culture shock.
Upon arrival, Ace immediately ate an entire bowl of dog treats left by the front desk, then asked for more. One of the desk clerks proposed to him, and he received a gift bag to take the room. Hotel Monaco is very dog friendly, charges no fees, and has no size, weight or breed restrictions, which is as it should be.
The hotel’s awesomeness goes beyond that, though. It’s in what was once Washington D.C.’s General Post Office, built in 1839 by Robert Mills, the architect who designed the Washington Monument. We were able to enjoy our nicest lodgings yet courtesy of my publisher. At least it better be courtesy of my publisher. Otherwise, I am officially over my credit limit.
We’re here for an appearance on the Diane Rehm Show this morning to talk about my new book, “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.” Ace will luxuriate in the hotel room while I do that, and tape another radio show in the afternoon.
Then we’ll head back home to Baltimore for a book signing party tonight, and another tomorrow.
The one tonight — and everyone is invited to both — will be from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Idle Hour, 201 E. Fort Avenue.
Tomorrow (Thursday) we’ll be signing books (and of course selling them, too, with help from The Book Escape) at Captain Larry’s, 601 E. Fort Avenue, also from 7 to 10 p.m.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, author, baltimore, book, book escape, captain larry's, cloning, diane rehm, dog friendly, dog inc., dog's country, doginc, dogs, dogscountry, hotel monaco, idle hour, john woestendiek, motel 6, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, signings, the book escape, travels with ace, washington
And one kitten.
Esperanza, as she’s been named (Spanish for “Hope”), was found on a central Alberta reserve by Criss Gerwing, who runs a small animal rescue group. The dog, a white shepherd mix, led Gerwing to her pups, and a kitten that, somehow, ended up nestled in with the rest of the litter.
“I cried because she was in such bad condition with her leg, but she was obviously nursing her puppies and this kitten,” Gerwing said.
The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Gerwing took all the animals to the Edmonton Humane Society, where veterinarians thought they’d have to amputate the mother dog’s bad leg. But a local veterinarian, Dr. Milton Ness, saying she was “a special soul” volunteered to perform surgery to save her leg.
“She is such a sweet, sweet dog,” Shawna Randolph at the humane society said. “She has such a wonderful personality.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alberta, canada, car, cat, criss gerwing, dog nursing cat, dr. milton ness, edmonton, edmonton humane society, esmerelda, injury, interspecies, kitten, leg, litter, mother, news, nursing, ohmidog!, puppies, pups, rescue, saved, shelter, struck, surgery
Newt Gingrich has been issued a lifetime VIP card by an upscale Dallas strip club, entitling him to free admission, preferred seating, free auto detailing, steak and lobster dinners and access to the the club’s “intimate members-only lounge.”
The owner of The Lodge, Dawn Rizos, thought it was the least she could do after Gingrich — who awarded, then snubbed her last year — got in touch with her again through American Solutions, his conservative “citizens action network,” sending her an unsolicited membership card and requesting a $2,000 donation.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
Last year, Rizos was informed that her gentlemen’s club — doing business as DCG, Inc. — had been selected to receive one of the American Solutions “Entrepeneur of the Year” awards for is efforts to stimulate the economy.
Gingrich invited Rizos to a private dinner in Washington to receive the award, provided she made the requested $5,000 donation, which she did.
The week before the event, though, American Solutions realized they had accidentally bestowed the award on a strip club, and rescinded the invitation. The organization refunded the $5,000 to Rizos, who donated it to an animal rescue organization — specifically to create a shelter for pit bulls, which was dubbed “Newt’s Nook.”
This week, apparently not having learned from the mistake, American Solutions, under the signature of Gingrich, sent Rizos an unsolicited membership card and again asked her for money.
The letter referred to Rizos as “a key member of our American Solutions family of supporters” and added, “Will you enclose a special year-end contribution of $1,000, or even as much as $2,000, to American Solutions, Ms. Rizos?”
The letter said the money would go toward American Solution’s mission — more important than ever since “the resounding rejection of Barack Obama’s leftist ideology and governing policies on Nov. 2.”
“Thanks to members like you, American Solutions played a critical role in helping create this year’s sea-change election,” the letter said. ”But our most important role now lies ahead of us … helping our newly elected officials lead the country to a future of jobs and prosperity.”
The letter, which carried Gingrich’s return address, included a facsimile of the membership card he said was on its way. Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, is general chairman of American Solutions.
Rizos said she will hold off making a new donation to Gingrich until they can discuss last year’s disinvitation. Instead, she said, she is sending him, at no charge, a Lifetime VIP membership card to The Lodge – with all the perks and privileges – which the club says is worth $2,000.
“His letter included an American Solutions membership card with my name on it, so I’m very happy to reciprocate,” she said. “It’s just a temporary card right now, but I promise we will have the permanent one waiting for him at the door.”
(Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as suggesting Newt Gingrich has ever been to The Lodge. But Ace and I have.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, american solutions, animals, card, conservative, contributions, dallas, dawn rizos, dogs, donations, elections, former, gentlemen's club, gingrich, government, ideology, leftist, lifetime vip, membership, news, newt, newt gingrich, newt's nook, obama, ohmidog!, pets, pit bulls, politicians, republican, rightist, speaker of the house, strip, strip club, strippers, texas, the lodge, travels with ace, vip
Pete, a dog whose likeness has appeared on ohmidog! since it inception — and a dog whose human played a big role in that inception — died over the weekend at the age of 10-plus.
Baltimore artist Gil Jawetz, who designed the ohmidog! website and helped get it off the ground, posted notice of Pete’s death this week on his website, buskerdog:
“On Sunday, November 28, 2010, after over 10 years of enriching our lives, of spoiling us with his endless love, and of making us laugh, smile, and cry, Pete passed away. He gave us more than he ever could have imagined. He was a muse and a best friend, a confidante and a rock in the storm. He will be profoundly missed for the rest of our lives.”
Pete entered the life of Gil Jawetz and Tracey Middlekauff when the couple found him in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, ten years ago.
“We don’t know how old he was when we found him,” Gil said. “We optimistically hoped he was one but he could have been anything.”
Tracey paid tribute to Pete on her food blog, Tasty Trix, yesterday.
“… Pete was my best friend. Any of you have ever loved a pet with your whole being know exactly what I mean. My relationship with him went deeper than silly words can express … He showed us what it means to be truly good and open and unselfconscious and funny and sweet and noble and artless. He gave us all of himself, fearlessly and completely. I am honored that I had the opportunity to know him for just over 10 years, a time that now seems maliciously brief.”
Pete had degenerative mylopathy and a nasal infection that turned out to be, likely, a tumor. After a seizure on Sunday, his vet suspected the tumor had spread to his brain.
“Rather than put him through more (and stronger) seizures, we took his calm exhaustion following the seizure as a sign that he was ready to go,” Gil wrote in an email. “He spent his last few hours on the floor of the examining room with his head in our laps, staring into our eyes.”
Pete’s image appeared in numerous galleries and art shows, and it has been on ohmidog! ever since Gil, a painter of dogs and other things, designed this website for me. (See the advertisements on the left side.)
“We are beside ourselves with grief, as you can imagine,” Gil wrote. “Our world as it has been for over a decade is utterly changed. The world is a less joyful place for not having Pete in it.”
(Photos: Courtesy of Gil Jawetz)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, artist, baltimore, death, dog, dogs, gil jawetz, grief, in memory, loss, ohmidog!, pete, pets, tracey middlekauff, tribute
I’d pulled into a trailer court to turn around after my visit to the Howdy Manor when a voice called out: “Hey, bro!”
It being a neighborhood that’s even sketchier than it was 35 years ago, when I briefly lived in it, I was going to pull out when I heard it again. “Hey, bro!”
So I rolled to a stop there in the driveway next to the Bucking Bronc motel and trailer court, a couple of motels down from the Howdy Manor.
Four people — three men and a woman — were sitting in front of a trailer enjoying beverages that included beer and vodka. One of them approached my car, with something in his hand.
Thinking he might have mistaken me for a drug buyer, I was ready to beg off when he passed it through my open window.
I hesitated to open it, fearing some illicit narcotics might be hidden between its pages — that maybe children’s books were the drug dealer’s delivery method of choice in this particular neighborhood.
Seeing my skepticism, he grabbed it back and opened it himself, showing how, through the holes in the cardboard, you could touch the fake fur and fake skin and get an idea what each animal — tiger, lion, alligator, polar bear, chimpanzee — feels like.
“Tiger, tiger, running through the grass, your black-and-orange stripes go quickly past,” read the first page. “Tiger, tiger, I can hear you growl, as you get ready to go on the prowl.”
I wasn’t sure why I deserved the book, and told him he really should give to a child. He explained that he saw the ohmidog! magnet on my car door, and figured I liked animals. I should have it, he said.
I was waiting for him to quote a price, but he never did. Instead he asked about my dog. I got out and popped open the back door to let Ace out. He greeted the man with the book, then went over to see the rest of the gang.
He snuggled with Sherry, and knocked over her bottle of beer. She didn’t mind at all.
Then he met Johnny, who said he was a former Marine and Vietnam vet who now sells newspapers to get by.
There used to be two daily newspapers in town. He sells copies of the remaining one, the Arizona Daily Star, where 35 years ago, I used to work as a reporter. The newspaper costs 75 cents now, but Johnny sells them for less. My suspicion — and perhaps it’s just my cynicism again — is he pays for one paper, then pulls them all out of the vending machine and sells them on the street. Call him an entrepreneur.
Ten minutes later, he was still looking. When you carry your life in a knapsack, things can be hard to find.
I asked them if they lived in the trailer court, and they said they didn’t — that they just lived “around.”
After another five minutes, Johnny’s search paid off, and he pulled a slightly rusty harmonica out of his bag.
Johnny sat on a plastic chair, Sherry on a cinderblock. I took a seat on the guest rock — actually a rock atop a cinderblock, which functioned kind of like a rocking chair. Everyone’s jackets hung on a nearby tree.
Johnny brought the harmonica to his mouth and started playing a happy but unidentifiable song. Everyone tapped their feet and hummed along, and one member of the group started howling like a dog, leading Ace to look at him with tilted head.
I love the tilted head — a dog’s transparent, non-judgmental way of expressing puzzlement when he hears or sees something different. It seems to say – and here I am wrongly interpreting dog behavior by human standards – ”I don’t get this … I will turn my head slightly to the side and focus even harder to understand.”
If only humans could do that. Instead, when we see something different, we far too often judge, frown and walk away. As adults, our childish curiosity gets crusted over with cynicism — to the point we can get fearful of something as innocuous as a “touch and feel” children’s book.
Johnny played for about five minutes, and the song never really came to a distinct ending; it just kind of tailed off, once Johnny switched from harmonica to the vodka bottle.
I thanked them for allowing us to hang out, wished them all the best and headed for my car – feeling I’d made some new fleeting friends, but still, being human, expecting to be asked for money. They had, after all provided me with a book and musical entertainment.
As I started the car, the man who’d given me the “touch and feel” book appeared at my window. But all he did was shake my hand one last time.
“Vaya con Dios,” he said.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, arizona, benson highway, book, books, children's books, cynicism, dogs, harmonica, homeless, howdy manor, johnny, marine, motel, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, skepticism, touch and feel, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, tucson, vaya con dios, veteran, vietnam, wild animals
“Putting My Trust in You”
Sexy voice … street smart
Kind, patient … You complete me,
(Highway Haiku is a collection of poetry, composed on the road, that appears semi-regularly in ”Travels with Ace. To see all of them, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, direction, directions, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, faith, global, gps, haiku, highway, highway haiku, lady, maps, ohmidog!, pets, poetry, positioning, road, road trip, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, trust, voice
Finally, some good press.
Ace got a nice mention — and I didn’t fare too badly, either — in our friend Susan Adcock’s “Carny Dog” blog last week.
We had the pleasure of meeting Susan, a long-time ohmidog! reader, and her pit mix, Stella, when they came to Baltimore from Nashville last week — a pilgrimage prompted by the last request of a carnival worker named Barney, who Susan befriended as a photographer.
After Susan spread Barney’s ashes on the grave of his mother, we met up at Riverside Park, stopped to hydrate with the dogs at a neighborhood bar and went out to eat.
Among Susan’s kindly notations on my dog and me: ”…It didn’t take long to realize that the two of them were as much a part of the neighborhood as the park itself. Everyone from homeless guys to moms pulling wagon-loads of kids knew them well enough to stop and talk, and they did. Humans called out to Ace from a distance.” Ace, she noted, was “one of the more well-adjusted dogs we’ve encountered.”
She was also impressed with our impromptu dessert. We stopped at the house of some friends on our way back for some leftover birthday cake. “It is a true friend who will let a man show up with a complete stranger, at nine-thirty at night for dessert,” Susan wrote.
On that point, I couldn’t agree more.
I think, for Susan, it was love at first sight — for the city, I mean. I think she saw in Baltimore what I see in it: its curiously appealing grittiness, its near total lack of pretentions, its quirkiness, its deeply etched character, and characters — some as shiny and polished as the Inner Harbor, some as rough-edged and splintered as a ratty working wharf.
Having just pulled out Friday, I miss it already.
I think Susan does too. “Seriously,” she wrote, “it made me want to move.”
(Photo: Ace, Stella and me, by Susan Adcock)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, baltimore, barney, carnival, carnival workers, carny dog, carnys, dog's country, dogs, john, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, stella, susan adcock, travel, travels with ace, visit, visitor