Once again, I’m watching too many of those HGTV and DIY network home improvement shows — mostly, of late, the ones in which a homeowner’s backyard is “crashed” and transformed from a barren expanse into a Spa-Like Retreat, or a Tropical Paradise, or Awesome Party Area so they can invite over the numerous photogenic friends they always have.
It’s one way I pass the time when it’s too hot to go outside. I stay inside and watch shows about people who are getting makeovers for their yards, which are probably also too hot to invite friends over, unless, of course, a swimming pool is being added.
Watching those programs inspired me enough to go outside and attempt my own poor man’s version of a makeover – of a neighbor’s backyard, or at least the grassy area behind her apartment that I’m not sure who actually owns, probably the homeowner’s association.
I’ve told you before about where Ace and I ended our travels and where I’m staying for now — renting the very unit my parents lived when I was born, at a former apartment complex called College Village, since turned condo. It’s a modest development of one and two-story brick buildings that serve as an oasis of affordability in a neighborhood that otherwise consists of fine and expensive homes, with big trees and country clubs in every direction. College Village is mostly, as the name might imply, college students, along with people just starting their careers, and people on fixed incomes, or, as in my case, broken incomes. (There should be a TV show where personable, good-looking and enthusiastic experts come to your house and fix your income.)
I’ve also told you before about my neighbor dachschunds, short and chunky Frank and long and slim Bogey. Most days, Ace and I walk around the block with them. (Frank’s trying to shed a few pounds.)
Several times on those walks, their owner, Faren, has mentioned how she’d like to get a kiddie pool for the dogs to cool off in during the summer. It was taking her far too long to get this accomplished, though.
So I decided to “crash” her yard and transform that simple patch of grass from drab to fab, from bland to grand, from blah to something that rhymes with blah — oh yeah, “ahhhhh” — to, as they say in the parlance of these shows, “trick it out.”
While Faren was at work Friday, I made my move. I had but a few hours to complete the surprise transformation (all these shows have a beat-the-clock element to make them more exciting).
I decided to set a budget of $50. (That — staying within budget — is another dramatic element designed to make these shows more suspenseful than hammering and painting would otherwise be.)
First, I headed to K Mart, where I purchased a blue kiddie pool for $15. On an aisle nearby, I picked up some accessories — vital in any makeover. I couldn’t find any pink flamingos, but I bought two tiki torches for $5, and a bottle of bug repelling oil to fuel them, for $8.
Then I bought myself some sandals, because there was a half price sale on them, for $12.
That brought me in, even counting the sandals, at $10 under budget.
I gave myself a high five and, back home, assembled the team members — me and Ace. I found a flat place for the pool, borrowed a neighbor’s hose and filled it up. I stuck the two torches into the ground, but just barely because the ground was really hard and dry.
I proclaimed Ace lifeguard and myself facilities manager, as well as a charter member of the country club’s membership selection committee. I am also thinking about being editor of the country club newsletter.
Then I put on my new sandals and waited for the reveal, which I figured would take place when Faren got home. In the interim, I watched more home improvement shows and lots of advertisements for Glidden paint.
Faren and her boyfriend, Richard, pulled up without me seeing. So I can only imagine that, before I got there, they both said “ohmigod!” and “this is AWEsome!” numerous times.
When I saw they were home, I went over and walked Faren through the tropical paradise I had created, pointing out its many features, including her white plastic chair, which I had moved closer to the pool area. It took about four seconds.
Ace traipsed through the pool a few times, deciding, while it was perfect for getting a drink, it wasn’t big enough for him to lie down in.
Nevertheless, I foresee countless hours of enjoyment ahead as Faren, Frank and Bogey, and probably lots of mosquitos, make the most of their brand new, totally tricked out, awesome tropical paradise.
As for the lifeguard and facilities manager, they’ll probably be staying in the air conditioning.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, back yard, bogey, college village, crashers, dachshund, diy, dogs, frank, heat, hgtv, home improvement, kiddie pool, make over, neighbors, north carolina, pets, pool, summer, swimming, transformation, winston-salem, yard crashers
She rushed to the other side of her house to see her son Stanley in the swimming pool, and Bear, her black labrador retriever beside him, struggling to keep the boy’s head above water.
“We all believe that if it wasn’t for Bear he would have sunk down,” Patricia Drauch told the Sturgis Journal. “It was incredible to see Bear holding him up like that.”
Drauch said her son was unresponsive when removed from the water. Unable to get a cell phone signal, she took him to the Marcellus Fire Department Sunday afternoon. On the way to the hospital, Stanley regained consciousness. He was found to be in good condition and later released.
Drauch said she has had Bear since he was a puppy.
“I’ve always told him (Bear), that these are his babies and he has to watch over them,” she said.
Drauch said she realizes the outcome could have been much worse.
“Don’t leave your kids outside alone no matter what age. Keep your eyes on them at all times,” she said. “It only takes a second.”
(Photo: Sturgis Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, bear, black, boy, dogs, lab, labrador, labrador retriever, michigan, mother, patricia drauch, pets, pool, protection, rescues, retriever, saves, security, stanley, swimming pool, toddler
We don’t know the story behind this video — it seems nobody does — but that isn’t stopping anyone from voicing opinions about it.
On the surface, it appears to show a dog saving a puppy from a swimming pool.
Did the puppy need saving? Was it thrown into the pool? If the pup was drowning, why didn’t whoever was doing the videotaping try to save it?
Don’t expect to find any answers. Every story we looked up was just assumption and conjecture. More and more that seems to have become the norm, online, for what we once called news: “Post first and ask questions later, if at all.”
“Hero Lifeguard Dog Saves Puppy From Drowning in Pool,” says the Huffington Post.
“Dog saves puppy in pool while owner nonchalantly films,” MSN’s headline said.
The accompanying stories contain no facts, but lots of speculation — even more of which can be found in their comment sections.
Our guess is it’s a backyard trick that dog and owner have done before — why else have the video camera at the ready? And based on the splash in the middle of the pool at the beginning of the video, it does appear the pup was tossed in.
So, unlike some commenters, we aren’t sure that the dog’s owner should be tracked down and arrested, or that the golden retriever should immediately be awarded a trophy — at least not until a fact or two surfaces.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, golden retriever, hero, life saving, lifesaver, news, news media, pets, pool, puppy, puppy rescued from pool, rescue, rescued, swimming pool, video
(UPDATE: Plans to bring back the diving horse act have been scrapped.)
In what would be a stunningly stupid return to yesteryear, Atlantic City’s Steel Pier plans to bring back the diving horse act.
This summer spectators will be able to watch as horses ridden by stunt divers jump from a platform and plunge into a pool of water.
Perhaps you’ve seen grainy black and white footage of the event, in which swimsuit-clad women rode horses off a 40-foot platform. It began in the late 1920s and — with all due respect to nostalgia and extreme sports — should have stayed there.
Yet it’s returning as part of a multimillion effort to bring “family entertainment” back to Atlantic City. In other words — irony alert – let’s get all those folks we chased away with gambling to come back, and bring the kids, so that they might be traumatized and learn that animals are on this earth to help humans make money.
“This is a full-scale, custom act,” Tony Catanoso, one of the pier’s owners, told the Press of Atlantic City. “We know the diving horse is controversial, but I think people need to look at the bigger picture. A diving horse is going to be iconic. It’s going to be a small piece of the development project that will bring family entertainment back to Atlantic City.”
Plans for the show’s return were announced last week when the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved a $6 million contribution to the $20 million first phase of the Steel Pier improvement project.
Animal welfare groups are, of course, chomping at the bit, and a petition to halt the act is gathering signatures at Change.org.
“It just boggles the mind that they’re going back and doing this again.” said Janine Motta, a spokeswoman for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. “Certainly, we’ll be looking into finding out more about it.”
Motta was among the protesters when the show returned briefly in 1993, only to be terminated by the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, then the owner of the pier.
The Humane Society of the United States says equine diving acts expose the animals to “inhumane and potentially abusive situations in the course of their training, transport and performance.”
“The stress and trauma endured by these animals, in addition to the risk of injury to them, make these acts unacceptable,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the HSUS. “They are senseless animal exploitation, for the sake of entertainment and profit.”
HSUS was among the organizations that protested the short-lived return of the diving horse show in Atlantic City in 1993. It featured two ponies, a mule and a dog jumping 15 feet into a pool of water, and it lasted only a couple of weeks.
Catanoso says the event will be neither cruel nor inhumane. An out-of-state consultant is training three horses with trick divers that will rotate through the shows. The dives will be the finale to a 15- to 20-minute show at an amphitheater at the pier.
Expect some fallout on this one, as animal welfare organizations will likely mount a campaign against it. Expect as well that those involved with the act will step forward and say how much the horses enjoy it — much like greyhounds “enjoy” racing because it’s “in their blood.”
We’d suggest the brilliant minds behind this idea take a long walk.
Off a short pier.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abusive, animal protection league, animal welfare, atlantic city, casino, cruel, diving, diving horses, entertainment, equine, extreme sports, family entertainment, horse diving, horses, hsus, humane society of the united states, improvement, inhumane, initiative, new jersey, nostalgia, platform, pool, project, steel pier, stunts
The mansion whose basement I’m living in has a big back yard, and in that big back yard is a big swimming pool, covered with a big black plastic tarp.
Ace likes to venture deep into the ivy behind the pool to do his business, and he’s always careful to avoid the pool on his way back.
Yesterday — and I blame the Valium — he didn’t.
As I watched — I’m monitoring him closely because he has been diagnosed with a herniated disc – he finished up and started walking straight for the pool. As I yelled “NOOOOOO!,” or words to that effect, he stepped right onto the black plastic tarp, which, unable to hold his 127 pounds, split, causing him to fall into the pool with a huge splash and disappear.
As far as scary moments in our continuing travels, it was right up there, second only to when, while I was holding his leash, he jumped over the railing at Niagara Falls, landing on a patch of grass that led to a sheer unprotected drop off into misty oblivion.
Fortunately, he jumped right back over then. And fortunately yesterday, his head almost immediately popped back up through the same hole he went through, and it was close enough to the side that he could drape his front paws over the edge of the pool and cling to it with a look of panic in his eyes.
On doggie swim days at Riverside Park back in Baltimore, Ace only went into the big boy pool once, preferring to wade in the baby one. When he did try the big one he was unable to get out. It took me and two friends to hoist him up and over the pool’s edge.
Yesterday, thanks either to adrenalin or the harness he’s been wearing instead of a collar since his diagnosis, I was able to pull him up enough for him to be able to get his back paws on the edge of the pool. I pulled, he pushed, and within a few seconds, he was out.
At that point, either invigorated by the cold and slightly green water, or just happy to be alive, he took off, darting around the yard for five minutes over my protestations. He’s supposed to be limiting his physical activity.
Once he calmed down, I noticed how bad he smelled and, with a public appearance scheduled for tonight, a bath was in order. In the middle of that, fully soaped up, he took off again, running in circles around the yard.
His herniated disc seemed far from his mind. I feared the incident would lead to a relapse, but all day, as in the past two days, it appeared to be bothering him less and less, and the yelps have ceased.
Between the tranquilizers and the the NSAIDs — and despite an unplanned morning swim in a yet to be opened pool — I think he’s making progress.
I haven’t yet told the lady of the manor about the damage he did. Earlier, she offered me the job of pool boy, if I end up staying into the summer, which would certainly look good — unlike the actual pasty and balding, pot-bellied, 57-year-old pool boy would himself — on the resume.
Now I may have no choice, needing to work off my debt for the torn tarp. How’s this for a deal? If you pay me extra, I’ll keep my shirt on.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, ace, animals, basement, disappearing, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, drugs, health, herniated disc, mansion, north carolina, pets, pool, pool cover, safety, swimming pool, tranquilizers, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, valium
Baltimore dogs and their humans took to the water today at Riverside Park’s doggie swim — held after the pool’s last day of the season.
For more photos, see my Facebook album.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baltimore, city, closing, dog, dogs, ohmidog!, park, parks, pets, photography, photos, pool, recreation, riverside park, summer, swim, swimming, swimming with dogs
Breed: German shepherd
Encountered: Poolside, kind of, at the Motel 6 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Backstory: Motel 6′s allow dogs — just not in the pool. So Baby’s owners, spending some time at the motel while between houses, hooked her leash to the gate so she could watch — longingly, it seemed — as her family cooled off in the water.
Baby probably would have been happier inside the fence, but she seemed content to be at least close to her family. She found a shady spot in the mulch, made herself comfortable and, in true German shepherd style, looked on.
(Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of Dog’s Country, the continuing story of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounters, greensboro, lodging, motel 6, motels, north carolina, ohmidog!, pool, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, swimming, travel, traveling with dogs
All too often at my park, and maybe your’s, conflicts develop between those who go there to let their dogs get some needed off-leash romping and those who go there to experience something other than big, slobbery, barking, dirty-pawed creatures careening around like a pinballs.
The law, as most of us know, is on the side of the latter. Dogs are required to be on leashes at all times in all of the city parks in Baltimore, and violation of that law can result in a $100 fine.
Nevertheless at my park, Riverside, as at Patterson, Federal Hill, Carroll, Latrobe, Druid Hill, Wyman and others, dog owners regularly take that risk to allow their dogs some exercise. Dogs gotta run and, in the city, the parks are the only game in town.
Having only one official dog park — though more appear to be on the way — means all the rest of the parks must be shared by dogs and humans, which, with a little common sense and respect, is not all that hard to accomplish. In other words, we can all just get along. Read more »
Here’s another opportunity for your dog to make a splash — at the Doggie Paddle Pool Party, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the New Town Pool in Owings Mills.
Admission is $10 and all proceeds go to the Humane Society of Baltimore County. Dogs and people are welcome to use the pool, and pizza, doughnuts, and other refreshments will be served.
For directions to the pool, and our complete list of BYODOG activities, visit our doggie doings page.
It was wet, wild and wonderful, and we weren’t even in West Virginia.
Right here in Baltimore yesterday, Riverside Park celebrated the last day of summer by opening its kiddie pool up to the dogs that frequent the park.
It was 45 minutes of soggy chaos — with more than 30 dogs running, splashing, playing and barking as their smiling owners looked on. It was also a very elegant gesture by the swimming pool staff at a park where tensions often flare between people who go the park to let their dogs run and people who go there to swim.
At 5:30 Sunday — the last day the of the season for the city pool — Nikkie Cobbs opened the doors to the dogs and the line of people who had heard about the spontaneous dog swim. We filed in, unleashed our hounds and got out of the way.
All the dogs got along fine, and none of the non-dog people at the pool, who were warned of what was about to transpire, appeared bothered.
All in all, it went … well, swimmingly.