Tag: riverside park
We got word this week that an old Baltimore friend had passed — Lucas the Lab, with whom Ace and I logged more than a few slow-paced laps around the paths at Riverside Park.
Whether he was a moseying around the park with his owner, Tobey; waiting to be tossed a treat by Stan,the biscuit man; or visiting me as a houseguest, as he did once or twice, Lucas was an easy going guy. I don’t remember him ever meeting a person, a dog, or a mud puddle, he didn’t like.
Rest in peace, Lucas.
There, for years, he was dog’s best friend.
He knew almost all the regulars by name, and many of them, like my dog Ace, could spot him from hundreds of yards away. They’d run to greet him, then follow him as he slowly trudged up to the park gazebo, his dog — his very, very fat dog — Louie, at his side.
There, on a bench by the gazebo, Stan would hold court daily — complaining about politicians, grumbling about bureaucracies, and breaking out his big bag of treats, which he’d fling, one at a time, to the dogs that would congregate.
I got word yesterday that Stan, the biscuit man — a fixture, if not a legend, at Baltimore’s Riverside Park — had died, on Christmas day.
Stan was one of the first friends Ace made at the park, and one he never forgot.
Last year, when we returned to the city after nine months on the road, we stopped first at the park. Ace was reacquainting himself with its smells when, a good 100 yards in the distance I saw a man rolling up the sidewalk on one of those powered scooters, a fat black dog following him.
And of course Stan had treats. He always did.
Some called him Stan the biscuit man, some called him Stan the cookie man. Some just called him Stan — easy to remember because it was stitched right there on his blue mechanic’s jacket.
Dogs always perked up when they saw Stan, and vice versa.
Not all the humans appreciated his generosity. There were those who detoured when he was sitting at his bench of choice — those who either didn’t want their dogs to fill up on treats, or feared that, with so many dogs vying for them, it could lead to trouble.
But I rarely saw any of that. Instead, dogs — sometimes three, or four, or five or six — would sit and waiting patiently for their turn, as he tossed the bargain biscuits into the air.
If any got too eager, too pushy, or tried to grab the biscuits before he tossed them, he’d gently admonish them by name: “Wait your turn, Argus. Don’t be greedy, Ace. Let this little guy in here to get some.”
His own dog, Louie, a pit bull mix, nearly as wide as he is long, always seemed to get his fill. After a while, Louie would stop eating the treats he was tossed, instead just catching and dropping them to the ground, where other dogs would scoop them up.
Stan, who was out of work on disability and suffered from back problems, eventually stopped walking all the way to the gazebo, settling for a bench on the edge of the park, closer to his home, at least until he got the scooter.
While I’ve not heard the details of his death, I’m told Louie, who Stan lived alone with, is being cared for by a friend. If you knew Stan, and want to share any information or memories about him, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.
What I’ll always remember about him is, no matter how worked up he got grumbling about politics, his ire subsided and his face always brightened up when he talked about Louie.
“It’s like living with a cartoon character,” he once told me.
I don’t know if Louie’s new guardian lives in the same South Baltimore neighborhood, or whether Louie will continue waddling up to Riverside Park everyday. But even if he does, without Stan, Riverside Park will be one character short.
Postscript: After this post appeared, we heard from Stan’s sister-in-law Mary. (Her full comment appears in the comments section below.)
According to Mary, Stan was diagnosed in July with lung cancer and went through chemotherapy and radiation. While he beat the cancer, he became weak and developed pneumonia.
“One thing lead to another and he finally could no longer fight. He died on Christmas day. Louie is living with Tom in Catonsville. Tom had been Stan’s friend since elementary school. He has 3 dogs of his own and now added Louie. He has lost 6 inches from around his waist and now runs and plays with his new pals. Tom’s wife met us at the funeral home after the cemetery and had Louie with her. He looks happy and much thinner and full of absolute ‘dog joy.’ She said when she looks at Louie she sees Stan.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baltimore, characters, dog, dogs, fixture, louie, parks, pets, regular, riverside park, south baltimore, stan, stan the biscuit man, stan the cookie man, treats
If in your house you have a wall
In a kitchen, bedroom or a hall
And if sometimes you can’t recall
What day it is — no, not at all
Here’s a gift that will enthrall
Almost each and every one of y’all
It’s about a dog quite tall
Who crossed a country far from small
But here’s the best part of it all
You can skip the shopping mall
Happy Black Friday. I — in exchange for forcing you to ready my hasty poetry — am about to make your life easier. No need to thank me.
The calendar recaptures some of the more memorable moments from our one year and 27,000 miles of travels across the country, about half of that spent retracing the route John Steinbeck, 50 years ago, took with his poodle in “Travels with Charley.”
The way I figure it, if you buy enough copies, you might be able to avoid the mall altogether, and you’ll be contributing to a good cause.
Half of all profits will go to Rolling Dog Farm in New Hampshire, formerly Rolling Dog Ranch in Montana. The sanctuary for blind, deaf and disabled animals relocated last year, and it was one of the stops on our journey across America.
Inside our calendar, you’ll find 18 unusual slices of American life – from our visit to John Steinbeck’s grave in Salinas, California, to dropping in at a gentlemen’s club in Dallas, where Ace spent time with Mel, a former Michael Vick dog.
From Dog Mountain in Vermont (one artist’s tribute to dog) to Salvation Mountain in California (one artist’s tribute to God). From Maine’s magnificent coast to Niagara’s roaring falls. From standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona to spotting dogs in the kudzu in Mississippi.
The calendar allows you to relive our journey, without spending a penny on gas; to see the places we went, the people we met and the dogs we bumped into.One month also features some of our old dog friends back in Baltimore.
It’s $25, plus $3 for shipping and handling, and each copy is hand signed by me – not Ace, though, as he has declared a moratorium on pawtographs.
It’s an 18-month calendar, which will carry you all the way to June, 2013.
And, or so we hope, it will raise a few bucks for Rolling Dog Farm, which you can learn more about here.
To place your orders, visit this page.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 18-month, 2012, ace, america, animals, arizona, baltimore, blind, calendar, california, deaf, disabled, dog mountain, dogs, donate, gift, holiday, john steinbeck, john woestendiek, kudzu dogs, maine, mel, michael vick, niagara falls, ohmidog!, pets, photography, photos, proceeds, profits, riverside park, road trip, rolling dog farm, salvation mountain, sanctuary, travels with ace, vick dog
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.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, baltimore, behavior, breeds, bruce willis, clyde, dog's country, dogs, dominant, encounter, fearful, great dane, interaction, macho, mel gibson, moods, pets, riverside park, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, submissive, travel, travels with ace, wimpy, woody allen
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.
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.)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, baltimore, breeds, dog park, dog's country, dogs, dogs on the road, dogscountry, encounter, federal hill, freeloading, friends, great dane, great danes, home, mikey, parks, pets, play, pug, pugs, riverside park, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, socializing, soju, spring, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, baltimore, decisions, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, federal hill, federal hill park, home, hot tub, housing, inner harbor, kindness, lucky lucy's canine cafe, pets, rent, rental, riverside park, road trip, rooftop deck, south baltimore, travel, travels with ace
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?
Posted by jwoestendiek January 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, author, baltimore, book, captain larry's, cloning, dog inc., dog's country, doginc, dogs, dogscountry, home, idle hour, leonard lopate, pets, riverside, riverside park, road trip, signings, travels with ace
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
Thanks to an extended pool season, dogs will once again have a chance to take a swim at Baltimore’s Riverside Park.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 2nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, city, dog, doggie swim, dogs, donation, extended, parks, recreation, riverside park, season, swim, swimming, t. rowe price
More 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)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, barcs, dog, dogs, franky fund, fundraiser, fundraising, pet, photography, photos, photos with santa, pictures, riverside park, santa, santa claus