Age: Almost 6 months
Breed: German shepherd/beagle mix
Encountered: At Reynolda Village, in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Backstory: Adopted two months ago by a young couple, Elsie bumped into Ace, quite literally, as we rounded a corner in a collection of shops, restaurants, galleries and businesses known as Reynolda Village. The village was originally built by tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds to house workers at his estate.
What was the Reynolds country home is now the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, and it and its surrounding 1,067-acre estate — complete with hiking trails and formal gardens — seems to be pretty dog- friendly (though not leash-free) territory.
Elsie — and our guess is she was headed for K-9 Doggie Bakery and Boutique, just around the corner — was initially taken aback upon running into Ace, but only for a second. Then she seemed mostly curious, and fearless. She sniffed those parts of him she could reach, then attempted to engage him nose to nose, before she and her humans moved on.
To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, beagle, breeds, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, elsie, encounter, gardens, mix, museum, north carolina, pets, photography, reynolda, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, shepherd, travels with ace, village, winston-salem
Breed: Boston terrier
Age: 14 years
Encountered: At Heart of Gold, a jewelry store in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Backstory: Ace and I were sitting outside a coffee shop when suddenly I felt my seat start moving. I’d looped Ace’s leash over the back of my chair, and he moved it a full inch before I turned around to see what he was trying to get to.
It was a Boston terrier. She did her business in the pine needles and disappeared as quickly as she had appeared.
Despite the situation, she was happy to talk about her greying old dog, Betty, who comes to work with her every day.
She got Betty as a pup in Florida, part of a litter sired by a pedigreed Boston terrier who went by the name Willie B. Cute.
Betty’s owner, who’s moving to Texas after the shop gets packed up, happily agreed to me taking Betty’s picture, but — not wanting to be in any pictures herself — handed the dog off to her employee.
The result was a photo that captured — if I do say so myself — both the quiet dignity of old age and the joyful energy of youth.
After our quick photo session, Betty, who’s going deaf, was returned to the floor, where she immediately began scooting her butt across the carpet. She was scolded only mildly and continued scooting. That’s one of the things that comes with the dignity of old age — when you have an itch, you scratch it.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: age, animals, betty, boston terrier, boston terriers, breeds, closing, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, economy, encounters, gold, heart of gold, jewelry, north carolina, pets, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, travels with ace, winston-salem, youth
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 John Woestendiek 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 John Woestendiek 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
Breed: German shepherd
Encountered: On I-40, then at a liquor store parking lot in Maumelle, Arkansas.
Backstory: When a pickup truck was passing me on Interstate 40 in Arkansas, I did that quick little sideways look we all do — or at least I do. I’m not sure why I do that. Is it to see if it, against all odds, it might be someone I know? Is it in hopes of making a love connection, or at least some eye contact to break up the interstate monotony? Maybe it’s just to check and see if that person is giving me the sideways look.
In this case, the eyes that looked back at me were those of a German shepherd, sitting in the passenger seat. When the pickup he was in pulled off at the next exit, I followed, all the way to a liquor store, where, in the parking lot, I parked alongside it and asked the driver if I could take a picture of his dog.
Underdog’s owner, who appeared to be on a run to secure some New Year’s Eve essentials, runs his own company, called, according to the side of the trailer his truck pulled, Leaf Removal & More. He used to live in Little Rock, but recently moved to nearby Conway.
“I got me a house by the lake,” he said. “I’m happy there.”
Happy New Year to Underdog, and all underdogs everywhere.
To see all of our Roadside Encounters, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, breeds, cars, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, driver, encounter, encounters, german shepherd, i-40, interstate, look, maumelle, passenger, passing car, pets, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, sideways glance, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, underdog, underdogs
Names: Buddy Holly (named after the performer) and Peggy Sue (the fawn-colored one, named after Holly’s hit song)
Ages: Buddy is 3; pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Peggy Sue is 4
Encountered: At what’s billed as the largest free-standing cross in America, located near Interstate 40 in Groom, Texas.
Backstory: The two pugs, and the couple who owns them, were headed home to Hobart, Oklahoma after a Christmas visit to Arizona.
The owners of the pampered pugs planned a stop at the cross, which is 19 stories tall and, in the flatlands of the Texas panhandle, visible from 20 miles away.
They were big fans of God, Buddy Holly, pugs and, judging from their racing jackets, NASCAR.
Buddy Holly and Peggy Sue enjoyed a long potty stop on the periphery of the property, then jumped back in the car while their owners went to see the church and gift shop.
To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, black, breed, breeds, buddy holly, church, cross, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounters, fawn, god, groom, largest, nascar, panhandle, peggy sue, pets, pug, pugs, road trip, roadside, roadside encounter, texas, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Name: Sonny Barger
Breed: Hell’s Angel
Encountered: At The Buffalo Chip, a bar and restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona
Backstory: Sonny (at right, that’s me on the left) was a founding member of the Hell’s Angels, helping establish the Oakland, California, chapter of the club in 1957.
I ran into him this week after I stopped to buy a cowboy hat.
“Those are Hell’s Angels,” the parking lot cowboy hat salesman told me, pointing out the five motorcycles lined up outside of a bar and restaurant called The Buffalo Chip.
“Yeah, right,” I thought, and possibly said out loud. While I’ve seen thousands of motorcyclists descend on Cave Creek in my brief time here — most of them right next door to my trailer park at a place called The Hideaway — they are mostly stockbrokers and accountants and the like, who transform into bikers on the weekend.
“No, this is the real deal,” said my roadside haberdasher. “Sonny Barger is in there.”
Ralph Hubert “Sonny” Barger just so happens to be a founding member of the Hell’s Angels.
So, leaving Ace in the car, I walked in, rudely interrupted a conversation he was having and asked if I could take his picture.
Barger shook my hand and said he could do better than that. “I have a photographer with me.” He called over one of the members of a crew from Fox Movies, in town to scout out locations for a movie based on his autobiography. I handed the photographer my camera and he took the photo at the top of this post. (So, if you don’t like it, Sonny, blame him.)
I apologized to Barger for not taking my newly purchased cowboy hat off, and explained to him that it had just been dipped in water and was forming to the exact size of my head. Barger was polite and accommodating, and he told me that the movie was something he’d been hoping to get done for 10 years. Now, it appears, it’s going to happen.
Barger was a prominent figure in Hunter S. Thompson’s bestselling book, Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. He’s also mentioned in Tom Wolfe’s best seller, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
He has shown up in movies, too. He appeared in “Hells Angels on Wheels,” and was one of several members of the motorcycle club (I think they prefer the word club to gang) who had cameo speaking parts in “Hell’s Angels ’69.” Just last month he made a short guest appearance on “Sons Of Anarchy,” the television series about a fictional outlaw motorcycle club, based on the Hell’s Angels.
Altogether, Barger has spent about 13 years of his life behind bars, four of those for conspiring to blow up the clubhouse of a rival motorcycle club, the Outlaws, in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1983, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer, suspected to be connected to smoking three pack of Camels a day for 30 years. He underwent surgery, smoking a cigarette, it is said, on his way to the operating room. His vocal cords were removed, but he learned to speak again using the muscles in his throat. When he talks, he holds a finger over the hole in his neck.
In more recent years, he has become an author, and his books include Freedom: Credos from the Road, Dead in 5 Heartbeats, 6 Chambers, 1 Bullet and his 2001 autobiography, Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. In recent years Barger has worked to promote motorcycle safety, co-authoring The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles and, in 2010, Let’s Ride: Sonny Barger’s Guide to Motorcycling.
Barger is a resident of Cave Creek and remains an active member of the Hells Angels Cave Creek Chapter.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, arizona, cave creek, chapter, club, dog's country, dogscountry, encounter, founding, gang, hells angels, member, motorcycle, oakland, pets, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, sonny barger, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Breed: Pit bull
Encountered: In a parking lot in Cave Creek, Arizona, where her owner sells cowboy hats at a roadside stand.
Backstory: Everyday, Michael Chazan, of Phoenix, sets up his tables on a dusty parking lot and hawks hats from Guatemala. At first, he would bring his daughter’s dog with him — partly for company, partly because, he’s found, dogs can help bring in business.
When she moved away, he debated whether he should bring along his dog, Sarah, who he’s had since she was a pup. While amazingly and unwaveringly friendly, she is a pit bull, and while he knows she’s a sweetheart, some customers, he feared, might shy away.
He gave it a try anyway, and Sarah proved to be as good for business as she is at being a friend.
I had no choice but to go over and say hello. And now — though I’m not the cowboy hat type — I’m wearing a cowboy hat.
Michael says Sarah is good at luring in customers, and while he sometimes tells customers that his dog will eat them if they don’t buy the hat they tried on, one look at Sarah’s smiling face lets them know, if they didn’t already, that it’s a joke.
He, as is usually his way with assertive females, all but ignored her.
I, on the other hand was smitten – and not just because we both have big heads. It was her sweet disposition that hooked me, reeled me in and sealed the sale, with a big sloppy lick.
(To see all of our Roadside Encounters, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, attracting, breeds, business, cowboy, customers, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounter, hats, misperceptions, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, roadside stand, sales, salesman, sarah, stereotypes, travel, travels with ace, vendor
But how do you like it?
I bought it yesterday from Michael Chazan, a roadside vendor of handwoven palm leaf hats made in Guatemala, and his sales assistant, Sarah.
And, to be honest, it was Sarah that clinched the deal.
Chazan sets up his highway haberdashery nearly every day in Cave Creek, in the parking lot of The Buffalo Chip, a bar and restaurant that features live bull riding two nights a week.
I went last week, and noticed nearly everybody had a cowboy hat — except for the bull riders, who wore helmets.
I wanted a cowboy hat when I was five — and maybe a couple of times since then. Once or twice, while out west, I’ve even bought one, then proceeded to never wear it.
This time around, I didn’t feel the need to get one of my own, especially after my younger brother gave me his blue jean jacket (would that be a hand-me-up?), which provided enough of a western wear ensemble for me. Seems either he had grown, or it had shrunk. We’ll say it must have shrunk. Yeah. That’s what happened.
Yesterday, though, while visiting the laundromat, I noticed the man across the street, stacking hats on a table, his pit bull at his side, and decided I’d go take a photo.
Michael, once he was done bragging about his dog, began bragging about his hats — how they were hand made by Guatemalans, and would last forever — and before you know it, I was handing over $40 for the size 7-1/2, with a 4-inch brim, that he picked out for me.
It seemed a little loose, but he explained that if I dipped it in water, shook it off, and then wore it for a while, it would magically conform to the shape of my head. I told him, after checking my laundry, I’d be back for the dipping.
Upon my return, Michael immersed my hat in the metal tub of water he keeps nearby, shook it off and popped it back on my head. I was worried the dipping might wash off the signature in the hatband of the Guatemalan who made it, whose name was Manuel, but the name stayed intact.
Michael said to leave it on for at least 15 minutes, so I spent about 10 minutes petting his dog, then headed off to a Target a few miles yonder. I couldn’t quite work up the nerve to wear the hat into the store, so I set it on my gearshift, hoping it wouldn’t conform to the shape of that little knob. (It didn’t.)
It wasn’t a sidearm I was shopping for — not chaps, or spurs, or chewing tobacco. Not a buckknife, or a saddle, or kerosene, or leather gloves.
No, what I had a hankering for, partner, was a particular type of cookie I had bought the week before, for only $1.69.
This rough and tumble cowboy was ropin’ himself some coconut cremes. I might just eat them with my hat on.
Why? Because that’s how I ride.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, arizona, cave creek, cowboy, cowboy hats, cowboys, dog's country, dogscountry, guatemala, guatemalan, hat, hats, leaf, michael chazan, palm, pit bull, road trip, roadside, sarah, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, vendor, wear, western
Breed: Chihuahua mix
Encountered: Atop a scattered pile of discarded clothing in Slab City, outside of Niland, California.
Backstory: During my visit to Slab City, I stopped to take a photograph of a pile of clothing spread across, what else, a concrete slab. It serves as a drop off point, where denizens of and visitors to the makeshift community can discard unwanted clothing that others might be able to use.
I saw something move in the pile; then saw that it was a dog.
He lay there trembling, and wouldn’t come when I called. Nor did he get up when I tossed a dog treat, even though it landed just inches away.
There were two bowls, one that held water, one that had held food, but both were empty.
I looked around for some humans, but no one was in sight. I approached a couple of trailers to see if they might be the owners of the dog, but nobody was home. When a woman with a Chihuahua of her own walked by, she said she, being new there, didn’t know anything about the dog and left.
I tossed some more treats, refilled his water bowl, and anguished over what to do. Report him to animal control as a stray? But what if he wasn’t? What if he’d just wandered over there from his owner’s trailer or RV to take a nap in the sun? What if animal control picked him up and did what they often do before any owners had time to claim him?
He had a slight bump on his lower jaw, and he seemed well fed, but the bowls led me to think he’d been abandoned, and he just kept trembling.
Mind your own business, the voice on my left shoulder said. Take him with you, said the voice on my right.
Unable to just drive away, I called him again. He didn’t budge. But when I went to pick him up he did, jumping off the slab and heading toward a trailer. He seemed to have a destination in mind, and, though he stopped a couple of times to look back at me, he kept walking away.
And, after watching him disappear around a corner, so did I, wondering if I had been on the verge of being a do-gooder doing wrong, or if I hadn’t done good enough.
If you know anything about him, let me know.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, ace, america, animals, california, chihuahua, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounter, pets, rescue, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, shelter, shivering, slab city, stray, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, trembling