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Tag: rentals

Eclipse or not, dogs know better than to look at the sun; so why don’t we?

Britain Europe Solar Eclipse

Most experts agree there is not much danger of your dog going blind from looking at the sun during today’s “Great American Eclipse.”

Dogs, they say, know better than to look at the sun — during the eclipse or any other time.

Humans, from all indications, do not.

We just HAVE to see it during an eclipse — live, as it happens. Even though we get darkness every night, experiencing it during the day, and observing the source of the phenomenon, qualifies to many as a must-see event.

True, this is the first total solar eclipse view-able in the U.S. since 1979. True, it’s the first whose path will run from one coast to the other since 1918. True, it is considered “spectacular,” even though it lacks any sort of booms or grand finale.

Sure, we could wait and watch it on TV again and again and again and again. But, for us humans, that won’t do. We want to have been there, in the “path of totality,” as if it were Woodstock or something.

As a result, traffic jams were reported throughout the weekend as thrill-seekers traveled to points along the 70-mile wide, coast-to-coast path of the eclipse.

eclipsepath

Long lines continued to form to get eclipse glasses that may or may not be legit. Tiny towns have been inundated with more eclipse followers than there are restaurants or toilets for. Motels along the route are filling up, despite jacked up prices, and property owners are happily gouging travelers as well for space to sleep or view the eclipse.

It will be like one big coast to coast party, and therein lies a big hunk of its appeal, to both science nerds and non-science nerds.

But that appeal doesn’t extend to dogs.

Dogs — just as they don’t smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or spend hours tanning — don’t stare into the sun, eclipsed or not.

(Even so, most experts recommend playing it safe and keeping pets inside when the eclipse’s path passes through your area.)

To help us survive the event, the news media is offering plenty of tips — albeit not the most obvious one — on keeping our human eyes safe.

Eclipse sunglasses are a must, we’re told. They are also pretty much sold out, we’re told. Many of those being marketed don’t actually offer the recommended amount of protection.

Creating a pinhole viewer from a cardboard box, as I believe I learned to do in junior high school, is also suggested. Now, as then, it seems a lot of work to see what is basically just a shadow of one orb passing in front of another.

I’m pretty sure schools were teaching us about pinhole cameras and eclipses before they ever started telling us the facts about sex — safe or otherwise. As a result, many of us were left with the misconception that there were two activities that could lead to blindness, three if you count running with scissors.

Now, we’re being told to bring protection if we’re going to go out and view the eclipse.

Sex and eclipse-viewing may have some things in common. Both seem prompted by some strong and mystical urge. Both, if not practiced safely, can be risky behaviors. Both seem to be opportunities most people don’t want to miss.

But they are as different as night and day. Eclipses, in my experience, occur far more often. Pinholes are suggested for one, and can be disastrous in the other. Which one people will drive a greater distance for … well I don’t think any studies have been done on that.

Still, common sense requires me to point out, the safest route when it comes to eclipse viewing is to show a little of the smarts dogs have and not look directly at the sun, with or without special glasses, today or any other day.

That’s right, abstain.

Humans being humans, and myself included, that’s not likely to happen.

You gotta love this landlord

judy guthLandlord Judy Guth has some strict rules about pets.

If you don’t have one, she won’t rent to you.

And if a resident of her 12-unit apartment house in North Hollywood loses a pet, they must get another. She insists renters whose dogs die go with her to the shelter to adopt a new one.

Some have criticized her policies as discriminatory. We find them — and her — a highly refreshing change of pace when it comes to landlords and their rules.

“My experience has told me you get people with a lot of love in their hearts when you get pet owners,” says the 84-year-old widow, who was born in Hungary.

Most of the tenants in Guth’s 12-unit apartment house have lived there over a decade, according to Los Angeles Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy, and any apartments that do become available are generally quickly snatched up.

Guth thinks landlords who don’t allow dogs and cats are missing the boat.

“I’ve talked to other rental property owners about it, but they just laugh,” she said. “They’re stupid. The only vacancies I’ve had are when people had to move because the economy forced them out of state for a job.

“Within a day or two, there’s a new dog or cat moving in. I can’t remember all the people, but I can remember their pets.”

As for any accidents on the carpets, Guth has found a fairly painless way to make tenants pay for that.

Rather than charging a security deposit, she installs new carpet for each incoming tenant, and requires them to pay an extra $100 a month for it. When a tenant leaves, they — having paid for it over the course of a year — can take the carpet with them.

guthsignGuth’s apartments run from $1,2000 a month to $1,500 a month for a two-bedroom unit. She bought the building 40 years ago for $260,000. Last month, someone offered her more than $2 million for it.

Each tenant is allowed up to two dogs. And they can be of any size. Up to three cats are allowed. Prospective tenant dogs are interviewed, and are required to be vaccinated and wear an ID tag. Dogs have to be on a leash when they are outside the apartment.

According to the column, there’s no law that prohibits requiring tenants to have pets — just as there is no law that prohibits landlords from banning them, or banning certain breeds, or banning dogs over a certain weight.

Jerry Schiess, who manages the property for Guth and owns a shepherd-mix rescued after Hurricane Katrina, says he gets calls every day from people asking if anyone’s planning to move soon.

Terri Shea, operations manager of the 3,000-member Apartment Association of Southern California Cities, says Guth may be one of a kind: “Tve never heard of a landlord renting to only people with pets,” she said.

(Photos: Michael Owen Baker / L.A. Daily News)

Sunny goes down — because he got too big

Sunny’s first offense was growing.

Being a Rottweiller-mastiff mix, he — as  you’d expect — quickly surpassed the 100-pound mark, well over the weight limit imposed at the Florida apartment complex where his owner, Denise Wilkinson, lived.

She started searching for a new home for him, but, unable to find one by the landlord’s deadline, dropped him off at Pinellas County Animal Services, with plans to pick him back up when she found one.

On its website, the county said dogs are kept seven days there. In person, they told her 48 hours. In reality, they euthanized him before a day had passed.

When Wilkinson, a day after dropping him off, went to pick up her dog, she found out Sunny had been euthanized — within hours of being dropped off.

“He wasn’t sick; he wasn’t old. He still had a long life ahead of him,” Wilkinson told Tampa Bay Online.

Senior Animal Control Officer John Hohenstern said Sunny was aggressive and caused concerns about the safety of shelter workers. “It was determined that because of the aggression in the dog it was not an adoption candidate,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything with the dog.”

Hohenstern  said that, despite the wording on the website, Wilkinson had initialed a paper stating she understood that the surrender was is unconditional: “Pinellas County Animal Services makes no promise, actual or implied, regarding holding time, treatment, adoption or disposition of this animal.” Hohenstern said the document initialed by Wilkinson superseded the website.

The county, Tampa Bay Online reports, has since changed the language on the website.

Hohenstern said with more animals being surrendered, possibly because of the economy, the animal control office encourages people to consider other options before dropping a dog there. “We try to … let them know this is kind of their last resort,” Hohenstern said. “They don’t want to do this.”

Hero pit bull turned away by landlords

Diamond is a documented hero — credited with saving the lives of her California family and named one of the nation’s top ten “Valor Dogs” — but landlords only see her as trouble.

Her owner says that despite being named one of the nation’s top ten “Valor Dogs” by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), dozens of landlords are turning away “Diamond” because she’s a pit bull, WBIR-TV reports.

Darryl Steen, Diamond’s owner, says she woke him up when his apartment caught fire last October. He was able to get one of his daughters to safety by dropping her out of a window, but couldn’t reach the second child.

When firefighters finally got to her, Diamond was laying on top of the girl in an effort to protect her from the flames.

The dog suffered severe burns, but has recovered.

Steen says that several landlords have told them that pets are welcome, only to renege when they learn that Diamond is a pit bull.

Ruffing it at Four Paws Kingdom

It took a couple from Germany to show America the true meaning of dog-friendly – at least when it comes to campgrounds.

It doesn’t mean fencing in a small strip of grass and calling it a dog park. It doesn’t mean welcoming dogs — only for a fee, or only in certain sizes, or only if you follow three pages of special dog rules.

It doesn’t mean seeing dogs as dollar signs. Dog friendliness isn’t simply tolerating dogs, but adoring them, as the proprietors of Four Paws Kingdom seem to do.

So abused and exploited is the term that Meik and Birgit Bartoschek have created their own for describing their 35-acre campground outside Rutherfordton, N.C., where dogs – though they don’t actually rule – are treated like royalty.

America’s first “dog-dedicated” campground, they call it.

With eight dog parks, a lake and a creek (both fenced in to allow dogs to play in them off-leash), two agility courses, bathhouses for both dogs and humans, regularly scheduled activities (also for both dogs and humans), it’s clear that Four Paws Kingdom – which in an unusual variation on a theme, doesn’t allow children — was clearly built with dogs in mind.

The Bartoschek’s — that’s Lucy, one of their two corgis, above — left their native Hamburg in the 1980s. Both had corporate careers, working for a consulting firm that trained employees for jobs in resorts. As part of those jobs, they’d visited 60 countries, but not America. So they chose it for a vacation.

“It was the only place that didn’t remind us of work,” Meik explained.

They liked what they saw of the U.S. and decided to move here

“We quit our jobs and said ‘lets start brand new,'” he said.

They settled in Florida, where Birgit worked as an artist. They’d travel a lot to attend art shows, always taking along the other corgi they had at the time, Schroeder.

“Schroeder went always with us, and that’s how we started camping,” Birgit said. “We brought a trailer so we can go with the dogs, because at that time dogs were not all that often allowed in motels. We saw a lot of campgrounds and we thought there was something missing. And that was doggie friendliness, doggie parks — not just a ten-foot-long stretch where dogs are allowed to pee where already a thousand dogs have already peed.”

They started dreaming of starting their own dog-friendly campground, and making a list of the features it should have, figuring that, with their combined experience in the hospitality industry and their other skills — Meik is a chef, and Birgit an artist and dog trainer — they could make it work.

(Birgit’s art — she paints on silk — is on sale in the lobby, and evident in other parts of the campground. The bathhouses, for instance, have pawprints running across the walls, and the hind ends of dogs painted on the toilet seat lids.)

After several months scouting locations, they settled on one they stumbled upon in North Carolina. They bought the land and started mapping out the campground.

“We were the crazy Germans going through the forest with a measuring tape … We didn’t tell anybody what we were planning to do,” Birgit said.

“We didn’t want to do the coporate treadmill anymore, we wanted to do something for ourselves,” Meik said. “We wanted to be the first. We knew there were corporations with more money than we had who could have put it out faster and even better. But, interestingly, after seven years  we are still the first and only dog dedicated campground. There are people who copy certain features we have. More and more campgrounds now say, ‘yeah we have a dog park,’ but look at their dog park and look at ours. It’s like if you drive a Kia or a Mercedes.”

In addition to its dog parks — for big dogs, small dogs, swimming dogs, wading dogs, even one for dogs who want to be alone — the campground has 41 RV sites, three cabins and three fully equipped rental trailers, one of which Ace and I, along with my 18-year-old son, stayed in over the weekend.

Birgit held an agility training class on Saturday morning, and there was a breakfast-for-dinner pot luck Saturday night, followed by a trivia quiz. Activities are scheduled just about every weekend, and every holiday is marked by special events, such as obedience classes, dog swimming classes, doggie massage, and fests for the people as well, including one in which Meik does a dead-on tribute to Dean Martin.

Ace loved it — from the agility class, to wading in the lake, to meeting the other dogs, to all the sleeping nooks in our trailer, the biggest of which he claimed for himself.

About 95 percent of visiting campers come with dogs, and of the 5 percent who don’t, many are former dog owners who — though they don’t see another dog in their future — still like to spend time around other people’s.

The campground, which opened seven years ago, allowed children for four years, but later decided to cater to adults and their dogs. Children between 3 and 14 aren’t permitted.

“For 95 percent of our visitors, their dogs are family,” Meik said. “Many people, 40 and over, have traded their kids for dogs.”

The campground does require dogs to be on leashes when not in off-leash areas, but with eight dog parks, there’s generally an off-leash area nearby. It also bans pit bulls and Rottweilers, because its insurance company requires it.

They’ve also stopped allowing tent camping, because too many dogs were getting loose.

“Dogs like to escape out of tents, or chew through tents,” Birgit noted. Added Meik, “There were quite a few sites where a dog was left in a tent, and all of the sudden the  tent was rolling across the ground like a tumbleweed. Our main priority has to be safety for the owners and the dogs, and the tent’s just not a sturdy enough entity to keep things safe.”

They also don’t hesitate to ask owners of a troublesome or aggressive dog to leave.

In addition to keeping the campground safe, the Bartoscheks are determined to keep it small.

“Any other campground owner would build at least 200 sites on the property. But we said no,” Birgit said. “We want to have nature.”

There’s plenty of that around, with deep woods in every direction.The campsites take up only a small bit of the land. All are named after dogs, and the first three were named after the Bartoschek’s corgis — Schroeder, Linus (deceased) and Lucy.

“With 35 acres, we could put in lots more campsites. We could pave parts over, but then we’d be like a Wal-Mart parking lot. Lots of peers say we should expand, but life isn’t all about bringing in money,” Meik said. “It’s about having a product or something you feel good about, where you get up in the morning and love what you do, and not just look at your bank account.”