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Tag: portland

Angry cat to get some therapy

lux

That 22-pound cat whose aggressive behavior forced an entire Oregon family (including the dog) to take refuge in a locked bedroom is going to get some therapy, according to its owner.

Lee Palmer, of Portland, says the 4-year-old part-Himalayan cat, named Lux, is scheduled to see a veterinarian and to get a house call from a pet psychologist, according to the Associated Press.

Palmer called 911 Sunday to report that the cat had “gone over the edge,” scratching his infant son and chasing the family into a bedroom.

“We’re trapped in our bedroom and he won’t let us out of the door,” Palmer told the emergency dispatcher.

“He’s trying to attack us. He’s very, very, very, very hostile. He’s at our door. He’s charging us.”

You can download an MP3 of the 911 call here.

Palmer says Lux attacked his 7-month-old son, inflicting several scratches, after the baby pulled its tail. He said he kicked the cat in the rear to make it stop, which only led the cat to get angrier.

Officers arrived at the home around 8 p.m., according to the Portland Oregonian, and used a catchpole to snare the cat, who had darted into the kitchen and jumped atop a refrigerator.

Police issued a press release about the incident Monday and by Wednesday it had gained international attention.

Palmer says the family has received proposals from people wanting to adopt Lux, but the family is not taking them up on it

While Palmer told officers the cat has a history of violent behavior, the family plans to keep him, and keep a close eye on him, he said.

“We’re not getting rid of him right now. He’s been part of our family for a long time.”

Ace Hotel: Shaggy dogs and shabby chic

Here’s the good news: There’s a chain of hipster, dog-friendly hotels bearing the same name as my dog.

Here’s the bad: Much as we’d have liked to stay in one of them, much as we are — in our own view — “hipsters,” Ace and I can’t even afford “Bohemian.”

“Minimalist,” it seems, is beyond our means.

We dropped in at the Ace Hotel in Seattle, where the chain got started, and checked out the one in Portland, where it’s now headquartered, but — even with the sliding scale it offers, with lower prices if you share a bathroom – it was out of our league.

So here, I’ve decided, is what America needs — a level of lodging slightly below Bohemian, but slightly above the YMCA, a motel chain that’s dog friendly and mostly free of germs, crawling bugs and psychos. Motel 6  probably comes closest – hopelessly unhip as it is.

The Ace Hotels, from what I saw of them, do minimalist much better, except for the price part. All four are in old buildings with rich histories, and the furnishings– from hotel to hotel and from room to room – are varied and eclectic, as opposed to going the cheap motel route of putting the same cookie-cutter formica furniture in every room across the  nation.

Therein lies the difference between Bohemian and Institutional, and who wouldn’t rather spend the night in a place that makes you feel like a beatnik, as opposed to an inmate.

Depending on your own personal economic condition, Ace Hotels are worth checking into if you’re traveling to New York, Palm Springs, Portland or Seattle, because, on top of their dog friendliness, they have some character, which the big chains always lack.

There is another solution to this issue — this issue being getting accurate information on lodging that has character, and is both dog and wallet friendly — and it doesn’t involve chains at all. Instead it involves looking at the world through something other than a corporate lens.

There are some otherwise fine guide books and websites out there that can help one find dog-friendly hotels and motels. The problem is, most of them don’t make much effort to include the non-chains, the mom-and-pop, small independent motels — many of them dog friendly — that don’t charge exorbitant prices for a room. And still have character.

Perhaps it would be too much work for the guidemakers. Perhaps mom and pop aren’t Internet-savvy enough to get their establishments listed. In any case, the result is, from AAA to bringfido.com, the options presented are almost always the big boys — Motel 6, Super 8, Best Western, La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt and on up the ladder of chains.

As a result, pup-friendly mom and pop — who are probably much more in need of the boost in business that comes with being known as dog-friendly – are ignored, because they own one motel instead of 500 of them.

Ranting aside, we stopped by the Ace Hotel in Seattle to take a look, and considered staying at the one in Portland. Both, in the parlance of the trade, are considered ”boutique” hotels — which is basically a term meaning it hasn’t grown into full chainhood yet and is still small enough to be charming

While both qualified for our hipster seal of approval, both were beyond our budget, even if we shared a bathroom.

The desk clerk at the Ace in Seattle explained that the name was chosen because aces can be both high and low, and the hotel strives to provide lodgings at both ends of the spectrum, as well as provide high quality at low price.

The hotel in Seattle is in a former Salvation Army halfway house located in the Belltown neighborhood. In Portland, the Ace moved into what was the Clyde Hotel, the lobby of which served as a setting for scene in the movie, “Drugstore Cowboy.” The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel is in a converted Howard Johnson’s; and in New York it occupies the Breslin, a former single-room-occupancy hotel at the corner of 29th Street and Broadway. Transforming it meant displacing some longtime residents.

A New York Times review of the hotel called it “shabby chic” before snottily adding, ”a bit too redolent of the past.”

Ace Hotels got their start when Seattle native Alex Calderwood and some friends decided to create a hip yet minimalist hotel. The Ace Hotel in Seattle opened in 1999; and in 2007 they opened one in Portland.

Calderwood’s hipsterness went back even further than that. He used to throw warehouse parties for the grunge set, later moving up to hosting events for Microsoft. Today, he holds four Aces, and, at last report, had his sights set on a fifth.

Given that growth, I think it’s time the chain start considering some advertising, and perhaps a spokesdog. I have one in particular in mind, whose services can be obtained for a reasonable fee — a sliding scale even. I’ve got some other promotional ideas, too, such as complimentary slightly used flannel pajamas for all guests, and even a slogan to help get across the message that the hotels are dog friendly:

“We’ll leave the bowl out for you.”

The color red in the state of Maine

The color for today, courtesy of the state of Maine, is red.

There has been no avoiding it since Saturday, when we made our way from Portland to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park amid a dazzling array of fall colors.

Nearly every town we went through was sporting red. Yellow and orange, too, but red seemed to be the dominant hue.

Leaves, vines, shrubs, stop signs and cars, barns and sunsets all seemed to be vying for the honor of reddest red.

Apple Fests were underway, and roadside stands stood ready with rows of baskets, filled with red and green apples. At every turn, it seemed, I encountered flashes of red.

Even when I stopped for lunch — and ordered my first lobster roll — the fluffy white meat had red running through it. I sat outside under crisp skies, at a red picnic table, as Ace sat at my side and drooled.

Just across the street sat a red pickup truck, under a tree that was putting its best red forward as well.

The reds especially popped when set against the backdrop of the deep blue sea, as was the case as we made our way through coastal towns like Rockland and Camden.

We saw red antique stores, and red vines climbing up brick buildings, turning redder and redder as if challenging the brick: “You think you’re red? We’ll show you red.”

We saw barns fighting, amid the beating Maine takes from the weather, to hang on to their red, picnic tables with a new coat of red, lobsters soon to depart their deep red shells.

I’m not sure whether Maine is a red state or blue state when it comes to politics. I’m sure I could look it up.

But I’m too busy … enjoying the red.

(To see a synopsis of Ace’s travels so far, click here.)

(To see all of “Travels with Ace,” click here.)

Dry at last: Our route through Maine

After three drippy days in Portland, Maine, we took off yesterday to see some more of the state, and eventually work our way, like John Steinbeck and Charley did, to its northernmost reaches.

Finally, everything was dried out, so it was just a matter of loading up my new rooftop carrier and heading for Bar Harbor, where we’ve received an offer to bunk for two nights, and where we’ll see how Ace fares amid horses and cats.

He’s already fallen into a routine in Portland — our morning walk to the Clipper Mart next door for coffee, where I’d tie him to a post while I filled my cup; his morning constitutional on the grassy slope to the side of the motel; and frequent stops in the lobby, where he’s developed a bit of a fan club among staff and guests, several of whom ply him with treats.

After three days of rain, Saturday brought clear, crisp skies. Fall colors popped under the bright sun and it was a perfect day, weather-wise, to get back on Steinbeck’s 50-year-old trail. He stopped in Bangor, then backtracked south to Deer Isle to visit a friend with a “hateful” female cat named George: “George is an old gray cat who has accumulated a hatred of people and things so intense that even hidden upstairs he communicates his prayer that you will go away,” he wrote.

From there, he followed the coast of Maine along Route 1, which we’ll be doing for a while as well, arriving Monday in Aroostook County, the massive, remote and northernmost county in Maine.

We’re hoping to avoid the “wet gray aluminum” skies he encountered up that way, for having finally reached a state of dryness (and we don’t mean Maine), we would like to hold on to it for a bit.

Ace, comfortable as he was at the Motel 6, knew, as he always does, that it was time to roll even before I began packing up. Somehow, he reads me. Like a map.

Change — spare, and otherwise

With the weatherman saying it would be noon before the torrential storms that have soaked the east coast arrived in Portland, Ace and I squeezed in a quick visit to the city’s waterfront early Friday.

My hope was to get there early enough to see some fishing boats coming in, maybe some loaded with lobster, 40 million pounds a year of which are harvested off the coast of Maine before making their way to bib-clad diners in fancy restaurants. But, seafood-wise, there wasn’t much going on.

So, taking in the sounds and smells of a city waking up and getting down to business, we walked down some wharves and alleyways as the sun came up — though it did so all but hidden by layers of grey clouds, some passing so low it seemed you could reach up and grab a handful.

Only a few souls were on the streets, one of whom, an employee at the Porthole Restaurant, saw Ace, then went back inside, returning with a handful of sausage balls.

In addition to those giving handouts, there were those seeking them, including the woman above who — treatless though she was — Ace quickly befriended, partly curious, I’d guess, about what might be under her blanket, partly, I’d like to think, because it looked like she needed a friend.

It being the first of the month, her rent was due. She didn’t have it. So she made a sign, grabbed a blanket, took a seat on the ritzy side of the street and hoped for the best.

We contributed $4 to the cause before wandering on. Following a sweet smell in the air, we walked down to the Standard Bakery, next to a Hilton. I had a cup of coffee while Ace stationed himself in a position not too far from the door, in case somebody came out with spare croissant, or spare scone.

Like the lone pigeon wandering the bakery parking lot — that showed some street smarts, I thought — Ace had no luck.

Plenty of upscaling has gone on in Portland’s Old Port District, as it has in harbors and riverfronts across America. As in Baltimore’s glitzy Inner Harbor, panhandlers — showing some street smarts, as well —  occasionally sneak in, as if to remind us of the incongruity of it all.

Unlike in Baltimore, Portland’s waterfront remains a working one — at least on one side of Commercial Street. On one side, former warehouses are now home to boutiques, restaurants and bars; on the wharf side, condos and cruise ships have joined the soggy blue- collar fishing operations.

Maine’s not an easy state to survive — much less prosper — in. The state government itself, like most, is having hard times. Just yesterday, the governor announced $10 million in spending cuts, mostly in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The cuts would not result in layoffs, the state said, or in a significant cutback to people currently receiving services — which sounds like a pretty good trick.

“What we have done is tried to absorb in programs funding that we otherwise would have used to expand or increase the program, because as you all know, we have significant demand on services,” DHHS Commissioner Brenda Harvey said.

I’ve read that sentence four times, and still don’t understand it.

Meanwhile, due to the poor economy, the number of people waiting for services– in nearly all the department’s programs — just keeps growing.

With many of its biggest industries being seasonal — potatoes, lobster, blueberries (the state produces more than 95 percent of them) – hard times are nothing new in Maine, leading it to turn to tourism to fill in the gaps.

An expansion of its casino industry is also being looked at. Maine voters will decide in November on a proposed $165 million casino and resort in the western part of the state.

In 2003, voters approved slot machines at a racetrack, now known as Hollywood Slots, in Bangor. Since then they’ve rejected three casino referendums. This time around, who knows? They might decide it’s the best way to weather the economic storm.

As Ace, the pigeon and the down-on-her luck tenant could tell you, you do what you have to do.

(To see all of “Travels with Ace,” click here.)

Spending big in the frugal state of Maine

Rolling into Maine, about the same time fall decided to, we’ve decided to lay low in Portland a few days, dry out from our camping experience and perform a little maintenance — on the new website, the car, the dog and myself — before we head into the remote, northernmost reaches of Maine.

Among those things needing to be dealt with: broken eyeglasses, dirty laundry, a shaggy and unkempt appearance (me, not Ace), and a seriously moldy smell in the car. In addition to all the wet stuff that had been riding in the back of the car for two days — I halfway expected to look back there and see Ace amid a field of mushrooms – there was still more wet stuff atop my car in my leaky rooftop carrier.

So we pulled into (you guessed it) a Motel 6 and got to work on our top priorities — for Ace, scoping out possible sources of treats; for me, doing something about the small lake that had formed inside the black plastic rooftop bag.

I decided a new rooftop carrier would be a good investment, because without it, Ace would be riding amid a mountain of camping gear, luggage and other miscellany. I hoped to get a carrier with a hard shell — one that would be easy to get stuff in and out of, and one I wouldn’t have to tie down with ropes and bungee cords.

I left Ace in the room and headed to the Sears auto center at the Maine Mall. While they had the hard-shelled carriers, they didn’t have the hardware necessary to attach it to my luggage rack, so I ended up with another soft one.

Since I was already there, I decided to get the oil change I’ve been postponing, and asked them to check my tires.

After a quick bite in the mall’s food court, I went into the Pro Vision Center, asking them to accomplish what I could not –  at least not without wearing my glasses, which one can’t do when they’re trying to reinsert that little screw that secures the temple to the front of the frames. They did it in two minutes, and charged me nothing, an act for which, by the end of the day, I would be even more thankful.

Sears called to tell me my car needed some realignment, and that my brake pads were wearing thin (which explains that squeak I’d been hearing.) I opted to have the back ones replaced and let the front ones live out what little life they have left.

That meant I had more time to kill, so I stopped for a quick and drastic (at my request) haircut, and — because the temperatures are dipping up this way and I brought no winter clothes along — bought a jacket at J.C. Penney. I opted for a black microfiber bomber jacket, though I plan no actual bombing in the near future and I have no idea what microfiber actually is.

From there, I picked up Ace so he could tag along for my next chores: doing the laundry, emptying and removing my old carrier and throwing everything that was wet into dryers – shoes, pillows, sleeping bag and tarps included. Despite my efforts, my workboots and a pair of sandals still had  strange fungi growing on them, so I disposed of them, along with the old and holey black plastic carrier and the massive amounts of dog hair left after I gave Ace a good Furminating.

When I tallied what I spent — $10 lunch, $15 at the laundromat, $20 (counting tip) for haircut, $40 for a jacket, $10 for batteries at Radio Shack and a whopping, but not unfair $473 at the Sears auto center — it added up to almost $600. Ouch.

And this just when we were completing the most frugal month yet of our travels.

In month four, we, for the first time, were headed for spending less than $1,000 for our food, gas and lodging combined — thanks mainly to staying still in Baltimore for a bit, and freeloading off friends both there and in Philadelphia.

September saw us spend only seven nights in motels, two at a campground, one in a car, 10 in the homes of friends and 10 on the boat of a friend. All tolled, we spent only $400 on shelter, only $240 on gas and about $300 on food. (Knowing we were saving money elsewhere, we treated ourselves to some nicer dinners than usual.)

Perhaps I need some lessons in frugality from the people of Maine, who, according to the stereotype anyway, have adjusted to living in a state where incomes fall far behind the rest of New England. The state’s farmers and fishermen are accustomed to an up and down economy, and know how to make ends meet during the downs.

This afternoon, while walking Ace behind the Motel 6, I noticed a group of four young people. One jumped into the Dumpster and tossed cans and glass and plastic bottles up to his cohorts.

They left with a full sack.

Frugality, they say, is a tradition here — though one can be both frugal and generous.

Take Gordon, who is temporarily living down on the first floor. He’s been a Motel 6-ite for more than two weeks.

He seems to limit his luxury purchases to treats for the dogs he meets at the motel and his daily cigar, which he steps outside to smoke, disposing of his stogies in an ashtray on the side of the building.

He spends much of the day sitting in the small lobby, handing out treats and making friends with the dogs who pass by. He plans to stay a couple of more weeks before going to visit some family in northern Maine.

If he ever needs to figure out exactly how many days he has been in this Motel 6, I know how he can do it. Just step outside and count the stogies.

“Wendy and Lucy” features director’s dog

Michele Willliams is said to give a stunning performance in this movie of a girl and her dog — one that’s otherwise getting mixed reviews.

Depressing and, to those seeking escape, maybe a little too accurate a reflection of our times, “Wendy and Lucy” is about a woman whose life is derailed en route to a summer job. Her car breaks down, her dog is taken to the pound, and her financial situation turns dire.

Made for less than $500,000, and filmed in 18 days in August 2007 in and around Portland, Oregon, “Wendy and Lucy” premiered in May at the Cannes film festival where Lucy, director Kelly Reichardt’s own pet, won the unofficial “Palm Dog prize” for her role.

Reichardt wrote the screenplay with Jon Raymond, who she also worked with on her 2006 film “Old Joy.”

Reichardt, in a Reuters interview, said she wanted to make a film about people who fall through the cracks, and delve into a couple of myths.

For one, the idea you can ”go West and improve your situation.”

For another, the idea that, whatever your situation, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps — “that if you have spunk and ideas and initiative, that’s all you need to improve your lot in life, and if you aren’t able to pull yourself out of poverty it’s clearly because you are lazy.”

Nuts (and bolts) about dogs

As the owner of a dog who has an entire hardware store chain named after him (well, OK, maybe the hardware store chain came first), I can appreciate a dog made out of nuts, bolts, screws and other assorted doodads.

The pooch above, and below, is the work of Portland, Oregon artist Brian Mock, who specializes in pieces made out of found and recycled objects.

His series of D.O.G (Done out of Garage) sculptures is no exception.

“I’m intrigued by the challenge of creating something unique, fun, and inherently curious,” Mock says on his website. “I merge imagination with technical skill by incorporating unusual found objects and everyday items into one-of-a-kind pieces.

His works include abstract wall art and freestanding sculptures, such as auto art and welded works produced from found objects and recycled metals.

I think they’re pretty cool, and so does my dog, Home Depot. Just kidding. His name is Ace.

(Photos from brianmock.com)

Newspaper urges restrictions on pit bulls

The Portland Oregonian, in a Sunday editorial prompted by several recent dog attacks, called for laws classifying all pit bulls as “potentially dangerous.”

“We don’t favor a total ban on pit bulls: Some have good dispositions and can be wonderful animals if well-trained. However, we do think Oregon should reconsider breed-specific laws, rather than treating pit bulls as if they were puppies,” the editorial said.

Under the current Multnomah County ordinance, any dog can be classified as “potentially dangerous,” but only based on its behavior. Owners whose dogs are classified as “potentially dangerous” can be required to take extra steps to protect the public, such as getting liability insurance and attending obedience school.

The newspaper called for pit bulls to be automatically classified as potentially dangerous, then allowing owners to take steps to get their dogs declassified through the already established procedures.

In other words, if you’re a pit bull, or possibly a Rottweiler, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

The editorial cites misleading figures – then makes the same knee-jerk conclusion a lot of jurisidictions have been making.

Fortunately, the paper’s pet blogger sees it differently and provided some balance, and more than a few online commenters (at the bottom of the article) are pointing out the fallacy of breed-specific legislation.