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Tag: promotion

How I got free kitchen knives for $1,678

DSC06041For those of you who expect dog news — and only dog news — on this website, I apologize, but I thought I’d share this tale of how I, as a savvy consumer, got nearly an entire set of free kitchen knives for $1,678.

It was through a “game” (those are sarcastic quotes) called Kitchen Kaboodle. So much fun! (That’s a sarcastic exclamation point.)

In Kitchen Kaboodle shoppers at my grocery store — Lowes — were awarded stamps for their purchases that they could later redeem for kitchen knives.

Having no sharp kitchen knives, never being any good at sharpening them and always looking to save a buck, I jumped right in.

Lowes is a North Carolina-based grocery chain, not to be confused with the home improvement chain that uses an apostrophe in its name. Lowes grocery stores consider themselves a “community” (more sarcastic quotes). They reinvented themselves a year or so ago, revamping their outlets to look more like country stores, with lots of cracker barrels. But it was an upscaled kind of down-home feel, with higher prices, built-in coffee shops, never-ending wine selections, cooking classes and such.

They named the cash register lines after local roads, and clearly trained their employees to exude a cult-like howdy neighbor ambience. Employees are (with rare exception) that oozy kind of friendly you find in the south and never are convinced is sincere (even though it sometimes is).

Announcements over the public address system now begin, “Attention Lowes Community …” We’re no longer “shoppers” but instead we are friends … member of an extended family that reunites every week or so when our milk, bread or coffee run out.

DSC05850In Kitchen Kaboodle, you got one stamp for every $10 you spent, and back at home you painstakingly detached them from a strip to stick them in a little book.

That’s assuming the stamps survived the trip home. They are so small — about the size of a dime — they often didn’t.

I generally tossed the green and white stamps into one of my green and white plastic Lowe’s grocery bags, where they become all but invisible. Sometimes, after returning home and putting the groceries away, I have fished through 12 empty bags in search of them. Sometimes I found them later, adhered to my bologna in the refrigerator. Sometimes I never found them.

Given the game is probably most popular among older folks, Lowes could have made the stamps a little bigger. In addition to having trouble seeing them, and remembering where we put them, peeling them off the strips and putting them in the book can be challenging to those whose fingers have lost some of their dexterity.

(I would suggest they made it harder on purpose, but that is no way to speak about one’s community.)

s&hStill, I’m old enough to find them a pain in the ass, and old enough to remember S&H green stamps.

As a child, after my mother convinced me how much fun it was, I would lick them (that couldn’t have been healthy) and stick them in the books until my body was totally saliva free.

In the 1960s, collecting the stamps was highly popular among otherwise bored suburban housewives. S&H claimed it issued three times more stamps than the U.S. Postal Service. Its reward catalog was the largest publication in the country.

It was a sticky way for a family to bond, and it wasn’t uncommon to find a stray green stamp stuck to your clothes or homework.

So maybe it was green stamp nostalgia that made me want to play Kitchen Kaboodle. More likely it was my love for getting things for free.

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The kitchen knife set consisted of the following: Knife block, cutting board, sharpener, shears, steak knives and seven other knives.

It quickly became clear that — however hard I were to spend — I was not going to get the whole set.

As the deadline for collecting stamps approached (Feb. 12), I’d review how many stamps I had and lower my expectations, ruling out the cutting board, the shears, the sharpener, the steak knives and some of the others I didn’t see myself using much.

Bread knife? Bread already comes sliced, and I have an old and never-used one, anyway.

Slicing knife, for carving meats? It is rare that I, living alone, cook a big hunk of meat that needs slicing. I deemed it non-vital.

Santoku knife, with a scalloped blade? I have no idea what that is for, so it was easy to mark it off my list.

I didn’t foresee a need for the Chinese cleaver. But I had to have it.

DSC06048The most expensive of the knives offered, at 80 stamps, it’s an impressive looking piece of cutlery that would allow me to hack through bones, and signify to visitors that I know my way around the kitchen.

In truth, I’m not a real sophisticated chef. I don’t make things like Peking duck. I could, I suppose, use the Chinese cleaver to cut up Chinese things, such as bok choy, but I don’t make bok choy.

In fact, I can’t remember ever having a need to cleave.

Still I wanted it, and I had to have the knife block, too, because it had a big slot into which the cleaver neatly fits.

As stamp collecting time ran out, I made one last trip to the store, buying things I didn’t need at all, buying expensive brands instead of generic ones, looking around for something I could buy and later cleave. (I settled on green beans.)

Back home, I pasted and tallied things up — two full books of stamps, and five more, or 165 stamps.

DSC06054I weighed my alternatives and made my final list. The knife block was 15 stamps plus an additional $15. I would get the chef’s knife, for 60 stamps, and the utility and paring knives, at 30 stamps apiece.

That left me with 30 stamps — not enough for the Chinese cleaver, unless I forked over an additional $13.00.

With $28 of cash money, and 165 stamps (gained from $1,650 in purchases over about four months), I sought redemption and, after only a little bit of confusion with all the math that had to be done at the cash register, achieved it.

Back home, I proudly inserted my new knives into the appropriate slots of my new knife block, where they sat for a week before one was required to cut an onion, at which point I nicked one of my fingers.

That led me back to the Lowes Community for some Band-Aids. After that, I decided I may hold off on using the Chinese cleaver — at least until Lowes adds a community emergency room.

Zeutering — the non-surgical neutering alternative — hits New Orleans

There’s a new way of neutering, and it’s slowly making its way across the country.

This weekend’s stop on the national tour is the New Orleans area, where local veterinarians and animal advocates will get a chance to learn more about “Zeutering,” which involves an injection into the testicles of a new zinc-based drug, called Zeuterin.

(Warning to the faint of heart, or the faint of scrotum: The process is shown in the video above.)

ARK Sciences, the manufacturers of Zeuterin, say it could revolutionize the way male dogs are sterilized and help reduce animal overpopulation. The procedure takes only 10 minutes.

Zeuterin has been approved by the FDA for use in dogs from 3 to 10 months old, and Ark Sciences says it anticipates the agency will soon approve it for use in dogs of all ages.

For now, the company, and its nonprofit branch, Ark Charities, Inc., are demonstrating the product and training veterinarians in its use in select cities across the country.

In Ponchatoula this Sunday, veterinarians will have a chance to learn more about the treatment at a presentation sponsored by Ark Charities, Inc. and Friends of the Shelter, an organization based in Hammond, according to the Times-Picayune. At least eight area veterinarians will participate, and gain certification to administer the compound. 

The shot consists of zinc gluconate and arginine and is adminstered to the testicles, killing sperm-producing cells and reducing testosterone by about 50 percent. Testicles, while shrunk, remain visible. Because a Zeutered dog still has his testicles, each dog injected receives a tattoo on his inner thigh, indicating he has received the procedure.

Unlike traditional neutering, general anesthesia is not required — just a mild sedative. No slicing is involved either, meaning quicker recoveries, less risk of infection and much less expense. It costs about $20.

Zeuterin was used in Japan to control the dog population in abandoned areas after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and it also met with success in controlling feral dogs in the Philippines.

In the first U.S. clinical study, involving 270 dogs, only 1 percent had adverse reactions to Zeuterin, and half of those were attributed to improper administration.

Zeuterin lowers testosterone rates 41 percent to 52 percent compared to neutering, which eliminates testosterone entirely.

BARCS celebrates St. Pittie’s Day

A dozen adoptable pit bull-type dogs from Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) will put on the green and march Sunday in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Crystal, Wisteria, Penny and others will don green T-shirts, beads, bowties, shorts and shamrock headbands. Volunteers will walk the dogs in the parade, beginning at 2 p.m., and carry posters with pictures of other pit bulls available for adoption at BARCS.

The volunteers will dress the dogs at 1 p.m. Sunday, meeting at the Washington Monument, 600 N. Charles St.

The parading dogs are meant to show that pit bull terrier-types who are loved, spayed or neutered, properly trained and socialized, make happy and affectionate pets — and that anything else you might have heard to the contrary, according to BARCS ” is just a bunch of blarney.”

In conjunction with the parade, the shelter is having an adoption promotion March 13-19. All week, adopters of pit bull-type dogs will go home with a a goody bag filled with dog treats, toys, T-shirts, collars and leashes, as well as educational information on pit bull terrier-type dogs and tips on responsible dog ownership.  

BARCS works in conjunction with Best Friends Animal Society on the Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project, with funding support from PetSmart Charities. The project is designed to encourage responsible pet guardianship and reduce euthanasia of pit bull terriers and similar-type dogs, as well as to improve the public’s perception of pit bulls.

Adios, desert: Working our way back east

It’s time to pull out of Petite Acres, say goodbye to Arizona and make our way back east.

We’ll hit the road tomorrow morning – bound, eventually, for Baltimore — having accomplished most of what we stopped here for.

First on the list was sleep, and I got lots; followed by catching up on work, at which I was somewhat less  successful; and getting organized, a goal I didn’t fully reach, either.

We had our recreational vehicle experience, staying four weeks in a camper in the desert – though, come to think of it, I didn’t recreate in it. Nor, it being a detached trailer, anchored in a trailer park, did I use it as a vehicle.

Nevertheless, we got to spend Christmas with family. (And, yes, they all liked their regifts.). We got the car washed, our clothes clean, and did some hiking in the desert.

And, last night (though this isn’t one of them), I finally saw some javelina.

I peered out the window of my camper before I went to sleep and saw three of them, about 30 yards away, walking through the shadows of the trailer park, appearing almost comical with their giant heads and tiny legs. They walked in a row, one behind the other, from trailer to trailer, looking like a family shopping at the mall.

It was one final offering from the desert, in whose wild side I find serenity. I’ll miss it.

I’ll miss my little trailer, which – with its pop-outs popped out — actually is quite big; I’ll miss Petite Acres, my modest trailer park, which actually is owned by a millionaire, who lives in a trailer, too; I’ll miss Cave Creek, which transforms from a quiet little town during the week to a hopping destination on weekends.

I’ll miss my neighborhood bars – the Hideaway Grill (the biker one) The Buffalo Chip (the cowboy one, with live bull riding two nights a week) and Harold’s (the Pittsburgh Steelers one).

Crowds gather at Harold’s when the Steelers are on TV, and, with their cheerleading led by a guy on a microphone, I can hear them from my trailer: “Here we go, Steelers, here we go.” Once you hear that phrase chanted 300 times, it tends to keep replaying in your head, long after the game is over.

I stopped in for a beer there last Thursday, not knowing a game was about to start. When I took a seat at the bar, I learned that they were all reserved. People buy season tickets to sit at the bar and watch the game. Each stool had a placard with a name on it, and I had inadvertently taken “Wild Bill’s” spot. I thought about moving over one stool, to one marked “Brenda,” but decided if Wild Bill showed up – hopefully without guns a blazin’ – I would just explain I was keeping it warm for him. Wild Bill never showed up, but then I only stayed for the first quarter, as the game, against the Carolina Panthers, wasn’t much of a showdown.

Ace seemed to enjoy the break from traveling – tune in later this week to learn more about his feelings on that – especially his visits, several of them unauthorized, with my closest neighbor, Ramiro, who dispensed a few treats, including slow-cooked pork and a tamale. Ace, not understanding Mexican culture, ate the corn husk, but returned it later, in my yard.

Knowing a soft touch when he sees one, Ace would station himself in my yard, waiting for Ramiro to come outside. When I wasn’t watching, he’d sneak over to Ramiro’s, taking a seat at his feet and leaning on him. Ramiro, who thought Ace looked like a lion, called him “leon,” which is Spanish for lion, or would be if I knew how to make an accent thingy over the “o.”

Before leaving, we’d like to thank, first off, our landlord, Tami, for providing our housing, teaching us the ropes of trailer life and showing us around town.

Thanks as well to Desert Foothills Library – the first library on earth to get a copy of my new book, “DOG, INC.” They – in addition to being where I checked out free movies to watch in my cable-less trailer — allowed me to use an office and landline for a radio interview.

Thanks also to the Sonoran News for letting me do another radio interview there.

The book — about the cloning of dog, and the marketing of that service to bereaved pet owners — officially comes out Dec.  30, and promoting it is the main reason for my return to the east coast. Assuming we make it across the country in one piece, I’ll be in Washington for the Diane Rehm Show Jan. 5, and in New York for the Leonard Lopate Show Jan. 7.

In between, with help from The Book Escape in Federal Hill, we’ll be squeezing in a couple of book signings in my old south Baltimore neighborhood – Jan. 5 at the Idle Hour, 201 E. Fort Ave., and Jan. 6 at Captain Larry’s, 601 E. Fort Ave.

(Javelina photo from BisbeeBirders)

Rescue Ink roars into Pennsylvania

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They left the choppers at home (too cold), but members of Rescue Ink arrived in Pennsylvania Friday to help search for the killer of a Chester County family’s two dogs — and promote their TV show at the same time.

The tattooed stars of National Geographic’s TV show “Rescue Ink Unleashed” greeted fans at the Chester County SPCA, and later Friday night at a town hall meeting.

Then they set out to search for the killer of Emma and Luna, two dogs found slain in October.

The dogs were reported missing from a Pocopson Township farm on Oct. 25 and were found later that day several miles away in Pennsbury Township by a resident walking in the woods near railroad tracks along the Brandywine Creek, Britton said. The dogs were shot between the eyes and lined up tail to tail.

Rescue Ink had this message for the perpetrator: “Come find us before we find you.”

Joe Panz, one of the members, said the group plans to spend several days canvassing Chester County neighborhoods. “We’re street guys; we know how to get information from people,” he said.

Members of the New York-based group chatted with visitors at the SPCA Friday, many of them members of the animal-rescue community, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Anyone with information about Emma and Luna is asked to call the Chester County SPCA at 610-692-6113, Ext. 213. A $50,000 reward has been posted.

(Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic Channel)

$13 dog adoptions, for 13 days, at BARCS

barcsdogBaltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) puts no stock in silly superstitions — not even in the Halloween season.

BARCS is offering $13 adoptions for 13 days as part of a special “Howl-O-Ween” promotion.

Apparently, they decided against the black cat specials (shelters generally frowning on promoting gimmicky impulse adoptions).

But gimmicky alone is OK. So, from Oct. 19 through Oct. 31 the shelter will be doing $13 dog adoptions. Regular adoption procedures will apply. All dogs will be spayed or neutered, de-wormed; and be given rabies, DHLPP and bordatella vaccines. BARCS also provides a flea preventative, a general examination, a food sample, and even a month of free health insurance.

“We’re celebrating Howl-O-Ween, but not with tricks, just treats,” says Jennifer Mead-Brause, executive director at BARCS. “We’ll treat you to a new best friend.”

BARCS is the largest shelter in the Baltimore area, taking in over 12,000 animals each year. BARCS has taken in 3,749 dogs from January 1 through September 30, 2009.

To adopt an animal from BARCS, stop by the shelter on Stockholm Street, (behind M&T Bank Stadium), call 410-396-4695 or visit baltimoreanimalshelter.org. BARCS is open for adoptions Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.

(Photo: Majesty, a two-year-old male, is one of the adoptable dogs now at BARCS)

Elvis has left the room

An up-for-adoption puppy who appeared at a special screening of the movie “Hotel for Dogs” this weekend to benefit the Maryland SPCA, has found a home — with the movie’s publicist.

Kevin Perkins, senior publicist with Allied Advertising, which is handling publicity for the movie in the Baltimore area, helped organize the advanced screening — then went home with one of the adoptable dogs the SPCA brought to the event.

The dog, who now goes by the name of Elvis, went to work with Kevin yesterday.

“He’s here at work with me right now!” Kevin said in an email. “The first few weeks I want him to have constant supervision, to both work on potty training and to bond with him, and not have him alone at home in a new place.  So far he’s fantastic … He just likes to nap on my jacket here at work.”

Elvis brings to three the number of dogs at the home Perkins shares with his fiancee. He joins Tesla, a miniature pinscher-dachsund mix, and Buzz, a Keeshond mix adopted through Pet Finder.com. 

Asked what prompted him to adopt Elvis, Kevin wrote, “A combination of winning personality, overall adorable-ness and the fact that my family loves dogs more than anything.  My parents have had up to 10 at the same time.”

All of which makes Perkins a fitting publicist for the movie, in which two orphans and their cohorts turn an abandoned hotel into a haven for homeless dogs.

The Maryland SPCA reports that the other two dogs brought to the screening were adopted as well.