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Tag: riverside park

Roadside Encounter: Clyde

Name: Clyde

Breed: Great Dane mix

Age: About 1

Encountered: At Riverside Park in Baltimore

Backstory: We ran into this handsome Great Dane mix at the park Friday. Clyde was found last year at a school near Patterson Park. Signs were posted seeking his owners, who eventually responded and said they didn’t want him anymore, according to his new owner.

Clyde has been in his new home since October, adopted through a rescue organization.

He was a new face, for us, and even though Clyde seemed very mellow and non-threatening, Ace, contrary to his normal behavior, seemed to feel the need to let Clyde know who was in charge.

Generally, Ace doesn’t throw his weight around, unless he sees some dogs fighting, or some humping going on. Then he responds swiftly, letting both parties know they need to break it up.

While Ace always acts like he’s the sheriff of the park, he usually doesn’t go all macho — but with Clyde he did, following him around, leaning his head over Clyde’s back, and seemingly challenging him to a showdown at the water fountain.

A couple of times he has met dogs he, at first, didn’t seem to like — usually large black male ones, especially if they still have all their boy equipment. He’ll do a bit of posturing, but usually nothing comes of it and they end up friends.

With Clyde, Ace continued following and  hovering over and around him until he left.  Clyde didn’t seem bothered by the attempted indimidation. All the Great Danes I’ve known seem cool that way. Their ability to take things in stride is as huge as their actual stride.

Ace, would go on acting strange, long after our encounter with Clyde. Later that night, he switched into wimpy, ultra-sensitive mode, as he’ll do sometimes when there’s a loud noise. He was antsy, his tail between his legs, seemingly afraid to be outside. The heavy winds seemed to be bothering him, or maybe, someone suggested, the full moon was the cause.

In any event, he had, in a matter of  hours, gone from Bruce Willis to Woody Allen. He’s quite complex, my dog, with moods as interchangeable as my own, which is all OK. As long as he doesn’t start acting like Mel Gibson.

Roadside Encounters: Mikey and Soju

Names: Mikey and Soju 

Breeds: Pug and Great Dane 

Encountered: At Riverside Park in Baltimore

Backstory: I got to spend some time with two of my favorite local dogs yesterday — a day whose warm temperatures led both humans and canines to linger at Riverside Park, in no particular hurry to get back home.

Even if it’s not here to stay, the mild weather was welcome — especially to Ace, after a winter of being rushed through the dog walk by an owner hoping to quickly get the “mission” accomplished and himself back indoors …

“C’mon, do your business, my toes are frozen. It’s too cold. Let’s go.”

In retrospect, in this past month, I’ve probably been, in Ace’s eye, a bit of a buzzkill.

Doing his duty, I don’t think, has ever been the foremost mission in Ace’s mind during trips to the park (hence the urging). He sees it as more of a happy hour, or preferably two – a chance to add to his scent portfolio, visit old dog friends, meet some new ones, and track down those folks who, at some point in history, have provided him with a treat.

Yesterday was the kind of visit he likes best — a long one, with good dog friends to play with, new ones to sniff out, and lots of humans to mooch off. (If you have treats in your pocket, Ace will determine which pocket and, should you need prompting, attempt to insert his nose inside it. When it comes to freeloading, I think I have learned some of his skills, and he has picked up some of mine.)

We got to catch up with our old friend Soju — he’s named after the vodka-like (but sweeter) Korean beverage. Soju and Ace are old friends, and they used to wrestle endlessly at Riverside, a true up-on-the-hind-legs, paw-swinging battle of the titans. When one of them went down, you could almost feel the earth shake.

They went at it for a bit yesterday, with Ace, the older of the two, watching as Soju galloped around him in circles, then tackling him like a lazy linebacker when Soju veered close enough.

Mikey stayed out of the fray — a wise choice given he’s not much bigger than a football. Mikey, a therapy dog with one of the more expressive faces you’ll ever see, generally avoids the roughhousing, choosing instead to sit at your feet, looking up at you with big brown bulging eyes until you give him a treat, no matter how long it takes.

Good things, he seems to know, come to those who wait – and spring is one example. Yesterday didn’t mark it’s arrival, but even a false precursor was welcome, and dogs and humans soaked it up. It occurs to me that we should send thank you notes to spring — perhaps that would lead her to stay around a little longer and forestall the inevitable arrival of her evil sister summer, who always comes to early and stays past her welcome.

Speaking of staying past one’s welcome, Ace and I — after a glorious month in a friend’s empty house in Federal Hill — will be hitting the road again next week.

As of now, it appears we will be heading south, where we plan to stay in an undetermined location for an indeterminate period of time. How’s that for a plan?

Once again, we’ll tear ourselves away from Baltimore, where — in addition to promoting my new book — the last month has allowed us to get ourselves organized, experience a semblance of stability, soak in a hot tub on a rooftop deck (just me, not Ace) and savor the pleasures of our old neighborhood.

I’ll miss my corner bar. Ace will miss his favorite park. But, as I think I said nine months ago — when Ace and I first embarked on our journey to discover America, its dogs and the people who love them — there’s one thing we’ll miss most of all:

Friends … big and small.

(To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.)

Squatting and plotting in Federal Hill

 

For the past week, Ace and I have been enjoying the latest in our continuing series of lodgings — digs that have ranged over the past eight months from boat to trailer, motel room to tent, friend’s spare rooms to a stranger’s air mattress.

We get to stay here, in a three-story rowhouse by Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, complete with rooftop deck and hot tub, three more weeks, until the tenants to whom it has been rented — three soldiers who’ll be coming back from Afghanistan — arrive.

It probably represents the pinnacle of my achievements in freeloading, and Ace is loving it — especially since I brought a few pieces of furniture over from my storage unit to furnish the otherwise empty house.

He got particularly excited when he saw the futon mattress arrive. He has hung out on it since puppyhood, and the frame still bears tooth marks from his gnawing on the wood. He watched me write a book while laying in it. And, at night, when he got tired of being in the bed, or possibly me snoring, it’s where he used to go and sleep the second half of the night.

I didn’t bring the frame — knowing full well I will never get it assembled again — but I did bring the mattress for us to sleep on. The second I slapped it on the floor he was on it, giving it a good sniffing and not budging for the next four hours.

He likes having three floors to wander, and having Federal Hill Park close by, though he still prefers his old park, Riverside. We try to make it over there once a day.

Furniture-wise, I have the mattress, a couple of chairs, the fold-up cot that came along on our 22,000 miles of travels, and some tray tables. I also reclaimed my microwave, coffee maker and CD player. I passed on the TV, which makes nights much quieter and a little lonelier, but ensures that I’ll do some of the reading I need to do.

Future-wise, we’re considering a few options. We’re looking for someplace cheap — not too far from Ace’s park – to rent in Baltimore. We’re also looking at heading back to North Carolina for a few months — either the beach, the mountains, or in between. 

Where we go may depend on where we get the best bang for our bark, I mean buck. This week, at the tender young age of 57, I applied for my pension, from the nearly 20 years I worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Do not call me “retired,” though, or I will sic my dog on you.

For now — until mid-February – I have a place where I can actually hang up clothes. It’s nice not having to dig through a suitcase to find something to wear.

The person behind my temporary lodgings is Nancy Dixon, the proprietor of Lucky Lucy’s Canine Cafe, on Charles Street in Baltimore, an ohmidog! reader and advertiser.

You can rest assured that her act of kindness will not influence our editorial decisions (the editorial part being what you’re reading now, the advertising being over there on the leftside rail), but if you want to patronize her shop for all your pet needs for eternity, I would have no problem with that.

Here, in the editorial part, we’ll limit ourselves to saying, “Thanks Nancy.”

For the next few weeks, we’ll be extremely busy with continuing interviews for my new book, “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend,” keeping ohmidog! fresh and updated, doing our taxes, and a few other writing projects. And, of course, our continuing quest to figure out where home is.

If you can’t reach me immediately, check the hot tub.

Home park advantage

How happy was Ace to see Riverside Park again?

Let’s put it this way: He woke me up early today, much earlier than I intended, and all but pushed me down the stairs of the home in which we are temporarily freeloading. Thinking he was in urgent need, I — before getting coffee, which is unheard of  – stumbled across the street to the park with him, where he sniffed around for 20 minutes. We weren’t back in the house five minutes when he was back at the door, nosing the knob, lifting both front paws off the ground at the same time, telling me it was time to go to the park again.

Back from that jaunt, he went back upstairs and into my bed, but 15 minutes later, he was at the top of the stairs, looking down at me and staring longingly at the door again. There are friends, canine and human, that he hasn’t reconnected with yet, and he seems to be eager to find them, especially those who have given him treats over the years. Somehow, he manages to keep meticulous records of those people in his brain. I imagine its something like Facebook, but more smell-based.

Seven months ago, Ace and I left Baltimore on a journey that took us around the country twice, covered 22,000 miles and ended up lasting seven months.

And while I think we both enjoyed our time on the road a lot, it’s good — if I may speak for us both — to see some familiar faces, smell some familiar butts and remark what once was and may be again our territory.

Our first day back in Baltimore — yesterday — Ace was eager to revisit Riverside, see and sniff old friends and remind one and all that (the way he sees it, I think) he’s the sheriff of this particular park and answers to no one, unless they have treats.

He stalked about proudly, as if to tell all other dogs, “This is my domain, and, in case you’ve forgotten, I’m the master of it.”

We hit the park twice yesterday, and he’s already dragged me there twice today.

Last night he came along for my first book signing for DOG, INC. — at the bar he spent a lot of time in during his formative years, the Idle Hour. (Thanks to all the friends who showed up, all the folks who bought books and to the Idle Hour management, to which I apologize for walking out without paying. Put it on my tab, please.)

There will be another book signing tonight — sans Ace — at Captain Larry’s, 601 E. Fort Avenue, from 7 to 10 p.m.

By then, Ace will have been dropped off at his godmother’s house because I have to go to New York tomorrow for another radio interview, this one with Leonard Lopate.

Then — just when we’re both ready, after all our travels, to sit still for a bit — we’ll be driving back down to North Carolina Saturday for my mother’s birthday and another radio interview.

So, in a way, our travels aren’t over; and I guess they won’t really be until we figure out where we’re going to live. Between that and any book related traveling we’ll be doing, this means you might have to bear with us a while longer before “Travels With Ace” officially concludes.

And that won’t happen until we figure out where home is.

Meanwhile, anyone need a housesitter?

Swimming with the dogs

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.

Encore: Another dog swim at Riverside Park

Thanks to an extended pool season, dogs will once again have a chance to take a swim at Baltimore’s Riverside Park.

The pool will be open to dogs and their owners from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Labor Day, Monday September 6th.
  
Riverside Park has for the past three years allowed dogs to jump in the pool after the swim season ends. This summer, the end was supposed to come three weeks ago — and a doggie swim was held — but last minute donations from T. Rowe Price and an anonymous private individual allowed the city to keep the pools open longer. T. Rowe Price put up $117,000, and an unnamed individual donated $300,000.
The entry fee for Monday’s doggie swim is $5 a dog, and owners are welcome to swim with their dogs. 

More than 100 dogs come to see Santa

santa_DSC8933More than 100 dogs showed up Saturday to have their photos taken with Santa in Baltimore’s Riverside Park.

Most, like this sweet beagle, seemed happy to get a little face time with St. Nick. About 2 percent wanted nothing to do with the fat bearded man in red. Only one growled at Santa. And Santa only growled once, when he stepped in dog poop.

Other than my boots, which I’ll clean up one of these days, there were no casualties, and about $1,000 was raised for the Franky Fund at Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS).

Combined with an earlier Photos with Santa event in November at Federal Hill Park held last month, nearly $2,500 was raised for the fund, which is used to provide medical care for seriously sick and injured animals.

Those who purchased photos can view and download them here.

(Photo by Gail Burton)

Pet pix with Santa — this Saturday

santalolaIt’s time for some good cheer, dammit.

And in that spirit, Santa  invites all pets and their owners – both those who have been good and those who have been bad — to come to Riverside Park in south Baltimore this Saturday to have your pet’s photo taken with his merry old self.

If seeing Santa, and getting a lasting, suitable for framing memory of your pets’ visit with old St. Nick, isn’t enough, there will also be free treat bags, while supplies last, and Santa himself will award a FURminator to the dog who appears in most need of it.

And there’s also the fact that all proceeds go to a very good cause –  the Franky Fund at BARCS, which is used to provide emergency medical care to seriously sick and injured animals so that they may be doctored up and adopted out, as opposed to that nasty alternative Santa doesn’t like to talk about.

Santa will be at Riverside Park between 10 a.m. and noon, assuming he can find a parking space for his sled.

The event is sponsored by BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter), Brazen Tails, Ride Entertainment and the South Jersey Thoroughbred Rescue and Adoption Center.

Photos will be taken by Gail Burton, a freelance photographer who works for the Associated Press covering the Ravens and Orioles. The fee is $10, and the photos will be posted online for easy downloading.

How does Santa know all this? Because he’s Santa. And as for those two or three dogs who — like leaping Lola above — wanted nothing to do with Santa last year, I’m looking into ways to make myself less intimidating and more appealing, including smearing myself with bacon grease.

On another holiday related note, tune in tomorrow (Thursday)  for an ohmidog! quiz, the five winners of which will receive holiday treat bags for their dogs. The quiz will be posted at 9 a.m., and the first five contestants to submit the correct answers win.

Animal Control: Stuck in the mud

squirrel

 
Here’s a nutty, and muddy,  little story — one we’ll tell in pictures and words.

homelessguy2

All the pictures were taken Sunday, at Riverside Park in Baltimore, where after three straight days of rain, sunny skies had finally prevailed, along with temperatures so toasty that the squirrels took a break from hoarding their nuts to eat some, and the homeless guys — usually homelessguy1up and gone by mid-morning — slept in.

It was really more like a spring day, except for  the turning leaves, hitting their peak of redness on some trees, burning bright orange on others. Those already brown and fallen, after three days soggy, were starting to regain their crunch under the warming sun.

Football and softball games were getting underway on the sports fields — never mind the puddles. Parents and children filled the swings and slides in the fenced-in play area. 

parkdog2

And dog walkers were out in abundance — some with their pets on leash, some of whom had let them off, which, in this particular park, as of now, is against the law.

Nevertheless, a lot of us do it — keeping an eye out for the white animal control van while we let our dogs enjoy a little freedom, exercise and squirrel chasing.

It was one of those free and easy, good to be alive, laid back Sunday mornings — quiet but for the happy squeals of children, the chirping of squirrels and that thwickety thwickety noise of dogs charging through piles of leaves — when what should appear but …

DSC07382The white animal control van. Usually the animal control van keeps to the paved paths, stopping to warn those with their dogs off leash to hook them up, sometimes writing citations, which carry a $200 fine.

This animal control van was — for reasons unknown — driving through the grass, which, in addition to not being good for the grass, could prove problematic for homeless guys sleeping thereon, not to mention children playing, families picnicking, or squirrels a scurrying.

DSC07379

Anyway, the animal control officer pulled his van to a halt in the grass, apparently to confront some lawbreakers, and when the time came to leave, he couldn’t. The van’s back wheels became mired in the mud, sinking deeper the more they spun.

stuckvanThe officer called for a tow truck and, about an hour later, one arrived. Its operator attached a chain to the animal control van’s axle and hoisted it out of the muck.

While his van was being saved, the animal control officer found the time to take some photos of off-leash dogs running in the distance. That’s what his camera was pointed at, at least. Then again, maybe he was just shooting the foliage.

acphotoOnce freed, the van departed the park, leaving some big muddy ruts behind.

It’s unknown if the animal control officer issued any citations Sunday morning — and if so, whether the revenue those bring in will be enough to cover the towing fee and other damages left in the wake of his morning patrol.

After freeing the bogged down animal control van, the tow truck operator acccidentally hit a bolted-to-the-ground trash can, which he then used his truck to bend back into an upright position before pulling off.

garbagecanMaybe sending animal control officers to hunt for unleashed dogs walking in parks with their owners — as opposed to cracking down on abuse, neglect and dogfighting — is a legitimate use of their time. Maybe citing the owners of dogs who are bothering no one, and who no one has, specifically, complained about, makes the city a safer place. Maybe it’s not just a heavy-handed, wheel-spinning waste of tax dollars.

But the only visible marks left by yesterday’s patrol were these:

ruttrashcan2

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photos by John Woestendiek/ohmidog!)

Dog park designates small dog hours

basset

 
Locust Point Dog Park has announced designated hours for small, elderly or otherwise fragile dogs — 9 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. daily.

The new policy — now posted in signs at the park — will be self-policing, meaning that little dog people will have to ask the big dog people to leave in the event they are not following the rules.

The dog park committee also announced that Saturday’s “Pet Pictures with Santa” fundraiser — with City Councilman Ed Reisinger as Santa — raised $550 to help support the maintenance of the dog park. Baltimore City, though it helped build the park, does not pay for its maintenance. Clean-ups at the park take place on the second Saturday of each month, with the next one scheduled for Dec. 12 from 10:30 to noon. The dog park is closed during clean-ups, and volunteers are invited to pitch in.

If you missed getting your pet’s photo taken with Santa, there are more opportunities on the horizon. Canton Dog Park will be holding a similar fund-raising event on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 to noon.

Two more pet photos with Santa events are being held to raise money for BARCS Franky Fund for sick and injured animals. On Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 to noon at Federal Hill Park, and on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 10 to noon at Riverside Park.

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