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Tag: seattle

Lost dog is found — even though dyed black

waffles afterA Cairn Terrier stolen from outside a grocery store in Seattle was tracked down by her owner — despite having been dyed black by the homeless woman suspected of the theft.

Waffles, a formerly blond and gray dog, is back home after police and a veterinarian determined she was indeed the same dog that Robert Lucier and his family had spent four days looking for.

“Thank goodness she had a microchip,” Lucier told the New York Daily News.

The family had put up posters and searched for the dogs since she was stolen last week, while briefly left tied up outside a grocery store.

On Saturday, Lusicer received a tip from someone saying he saw a homeless woman “washing the paint” out of his dog in a public bathroom at Seattle Center. Lucier hopped on his bike and began searching the area.

He saw a woman with a dog that strongly resembled Waffles — except for being solid black.

He confronted the woman, who insisted it was her dog.

Lucier remained suspicious, especially after he got close enough to the dog to detect the scent of chemicals.

He said he and the woman wrestled a bit, and that’s when three police cars pulled up.

wafflesbeforeBoth sides insisted the dog was their’s and a veterinarian was called in to check for a microchip.

Sure enough, the dog had one, identifying her as Waffles and Lucier as the owner.

She is back home now, and, after a few baths, still mostly black — but Lucier expects the coloring will fade away over time.

“She’s still shocked. She’s normally such a friendly, outgoing dog. She’s still walking around with her tail between her legs,” he said. “It’s going to take a little time for her to get adjusted.”

Waffle’s family decided not to press charges against the woman who he said “has bigger problems” to deal with.

The case of the grieving Rottweiler

I eschew anthropomorphism. I eat meat. I am neither touchy nor feely. Yet even I, a (mostly) cynical and unemotional sort, couldn’t help feeling some emotions rise up in me when watching this video of a Rottweiler seemingly grieving the death of his litter mate.

It was posted on YouTube last month, by a Seattle man who says he awoke to find one of his Rottweilers dead, and the other resting his head atop the deceased dog, refusing to move.

“Clearly you can see in his eyes, he is crying for his brother who had passed as his world around him just crumbled. We both grieve and cry for our brother … This is proof that animals DO have emotions and feel pain just like we do,” Brett Bennett wrote in the YouTube post.

I, being a cynic, question some of that, particularly the crying — I’m not sure dogs shed actual tears of emotion. But I do believe dogs have emotions, and can feel sadness. 

What I question much more than whether Brutus is truly grieving, though, is how Bennett is using the video to get online donations to buy himself a house in the country.

On the post, he provides a link to an Indiegogo page he created, seeking donations he says will be used to provide housing for himself (he says he’s homeless) and his dogs (he says he has four).

In fairness, he began the campaign before Hank died in late January, initially seeking enough money for a security deposit and first and last month’s rent required to rent a home.

Since reaching that goal, and since the death of Hank, he has apparently set his sights higher:

Under the headline “Help Grieving Rottweiler Buy a New Home ,” he explains, ”before Hank passed, we had started a fundraiser to help us into a nice warm home and off the streets … We have succeeded in our goal, but have been approached by animal lovers from around the world to reach for the stars and to ask for donations to not rent, but to own a home.

“As everyone knows, it is very hard to rent a place with a Rottweiler or with several rescue animals. It would give us the option to rescue as many animals in need or as possible. Our mission goal, our dream, is to buy a house out in the country, on some acreage, with the ability to freely rescue and foster as many animals that we can…”

I applaud his stated intentions — to rescue more animals — and I have no problem with people who are experiencing hard times seeking the public’s help, or with the public providing it.

But even assuming Bennett and his plea are all on the up and up, it still strikes me as a rather bold request. Asking for help to pay for a life-saving veterinary procedure is one thing; asking us to help buy a house in the country for him and his dogs is quite another. And recording and broadcasting the heartstring-tugging reaction of Brutus to the death of Hank may be laying it on so thick as to border, in my opinion, on exploitation.

(Then again, the same could be said of those ultra-sad ads some animal welfare organizations use in their quests to raise funds.)

“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks, “Please share our story.”

So I’m kind of doing that, with obvious reservations.

Being cynical, I’m a little wary of pleas by dog owners appealing to the public for financial help via crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo. There’s really no way to know — short of playing detective yourself  – which ones are legit, and which ones are scams.

With his video of Brutus going viral — more than 2.5 million views as of last weekend — and with it bringing in advertising revenue as well, I suspect Bennett is on his way to amassing a decent down payment, and he’s definitely showing some initiative.

But as with another dog-related story I’ve covered at length, pet cloning, there’s something distasteful about turning people’s tears and grief into big bucks.

Bennett says on his Facebook page for the dogs that he suspects Hank died of a broken heart.

“I’m so sorry you guys … I wasn’t strong enough and had a breakdown in front of the dogs. Hank was right by my side with his Therapy Dog service and grieved with me as I was so upset. He looked so sad. I noticed Hank never came out of his grievance and stopped eating. He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay. A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep.”

He says the video was shot “about 30 minutes after we woke up and were missing our baby. I normally don’t video record my real life catastrophes or share but decided I needed to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in as he loved his Twin so much.”

Bennett says Brutus is weeping on the video. And, in it, you can hear Bennett sobbing himself. I’m not suggesting any of it is fake. I’m no expert on human emotions, or animal emotions. Is there really any difference between the two? I don’t know, but my hunch is, based on how the video is so blatantly being used to raise money, that it’s the reaction of Brutus that may be more sincere.

Seattle dog takes the bus to the dog park — by herself

Eclipse knows where she wants to go. And she knows how to get there.

So maybe the fact that the black Lab-mastiff mix regularly boards a Seattle city bus — by herself — to get to the dog park shouldn’t be that surprising.

But, damn.

The 2-year-old dog often jumps on the bus alone — most of the drivers know her by now — roams the aisles, greets her fellow commuters, finds a seat, and watches for the bus stop near the dog park, where she gets off, about four stops later.

“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater told KOMO as she rode the bus through downtown Monday. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”


Local radio host Miles Montgomery is among though who were dazzled when they figured out what the dog was doing.

“It doesn’t really appear to have an owner. The dog gets off at the dog park. I just look out the window and I’m like, ‘did that just happen?’” Montgomery asked. “She was most concerned about seeing out the window, and I couldn’t figure out what that was. It was really just about seeing where her stop was.”

As it happens, Eclipse does have an owner, Jeff Young, who lives with her in an apartment near the bus stop at 3 Ave. W. and W. Mercer Street in Belltown.

They started off going to the park on the bus together. Then one day, when Young was finishing up a cigarette, the bus pulled up and Eclipse ran and jumped aboard without him.


That has happened numerous times since — Eclipse being a somewhat impatient dog, and Young being a man who likes to finish the cigarettes he starts, apparently.

Apparently, too, the duo is not big on leashes.

“We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Young. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.”

“She’s been here the last two years, so she’s been urbanized, totally. She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog,” he added. “Probably once a week I get a phone call. ‘Hi. I have your dog Eclipse here on 3rd and Bell,’” he recounted. “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.”

(Photos: KOMO)

A rowboat is home for Three Stars and Lulu

You know we can’t pass up a homeless person and dog story — whether it’s one we stumble upon, or one somebody else has.

Erik Lacitis, of the Seattle Times, came across such a pair living in a 14-foot aluminum rowboat, anchored in a foot of water, under the pillars of the Highway 520 bridge.

There, William Kaphaem — who prefers his Mohawk name, “Three Stars” — lives, cocoon-like, with his  dog, Lulu, under a brown plastic tarp that, inside, affords a few feet of headroom and, outside, blends in with the muddy shore.

The story appeared in the Times yesterday.

Inside his rowboat home, Three Stars, who is 51, reads by lantern light and listens to baseball games on a battery-powered radio. Across the boat’s benches, he has laid a sheet of plywood that serves as his bed. Three Stars has five spinning rods he uses to catch perch, bass and the occasional trout, and a collapsible trap for catching crawdads.

Among the some 2,400 homeless counted living outside this January in the Seattle area, the newspaper says, his one of the more unusual living arrangements.

Three Stars told the reporter he moved onto the rowboat because he needed someplace to store his stuff.

“I’ve got a lot of stuff. I didn’t want to schlep it around town like some tramp,” he said. “I’ve got more dignity than that.”

He lives on $636 a month SSI, and until last year he was renting a room. But when the owner of the home died, he had to look for a new place.

Three Stars told Lacitis he’s prone to talking too much. He said he has held ”40 jobs in two years, and I got fired in all of them … Burger King, grocery store … sometimes I can’t shut my face.”

He grew up in Massachusetts and Florida, and came to Seattle to be a street musician. He used to play, with Lulu at his side, on the sidewalk outside of Pacific Place in downtown Seattle — until his wrist started falling asleep. Three Stars says Lulu is a mixture of wolf and husky, and is almost 10 years old.

Three Stars says he likes the solitude of the living arrangement he shares with Lulu.

“It’s a very peaceful experience.”

(Photo by Mark Harrison / Seattle Times)

Ace Hotel: Shaggy dogs and shabby chic

Here’s the good news: There’s a chain of hipster, dog-friendly hotels bearing the same name as my dog.

Here’s the bad: Much as we’d have liked to stay in one of them, much as we are — in our own view — “hipsters,” Ace and I can’t even afford “Bohemian.”

“Minimalist,” it seems, is beyond our means.

We dropped in at the Ace Hotel in Seattle, where the chain got started, and checked out the one in Portland, where it’s now headquartered, but — even with the sliding scale it offers, with lower prices if you share a bathroom – it was out of our league.

So here, I’ve decided, is what America needs — a level of lodging slightly below Bohemian, but slightly above the YMCA, a motel chain that’s dog friendly and mostly free of germs, crawling bugs and psychos. Motel 6  probably comes closest – hopelessly unhip as it is.

The Ace Hotels, from what I saw of them, do minimalist much better, except for the price part. All four are in old buildings with rich histories, and the furnishings– from hotel to hotel and from room to room – are varied and eclectic, as opposed to going the cheap motel route of putting the same cookie-cutter formica furniture in every room across the  nation.

Therein lies the difference between Bohemian and Institutional, and who wouldn’t rather spend the night in a place that makes you feel like a beatnik, as opposed to an inmate.

Depending on your own personal economic condition, Ace Hotels are worth checking into if you’re traveling to New York, Palm Springs, Portland or Seattle, because, on top of their dog friendliness, they have some character, which the big chains always lack.

There is another solution to this issue — this issue being getting accurate information on lodging that has character, and is both dog and wallet friendly — and it doesn’t involve chains at all. Instead it involves looking at the world through something other than a corporate lens.

There are some otherwise fine guide books and websites out there that can help one find dog-friendly hotels and motels. The problem is, most of them don’t make much effort to include the non-chains, the mom-and-pop, small independent motels — many of them dog friendly — that don’t charge exorbitant prices for a room. And still have character.

Perhaps it would be too much work for the guidemakers. Perhaps mom and pop aren’t Internet-savvy enough to get their establishments listed. In any case, the result is, from AAA to, the options presented are almost always the big boys — Motel 6, Super 8, Best Western, La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt and on up the ladder of chains.

As a result, pup-friendly mom and pop — who are probably much more in need of the boost in business that comes with being known as dog-friendly – are ignored, because they own one motel instead of 500 of them.

Ranting aside, we stopped by the Ace Hotel in Seattle to take a look, and considered staying at the one in Portland. Both, in the parlance of the trade, are considered ”boutique” hotels — which is basically a term meaning it hasn’t grown into full chainhood yet and is still small enough to be charming

While both qualified for our hipster seal of approval, both were beyond our budget, even if we shared a bathroom.

The desk clerk at the Ace in Seattle explained that the name was chosen because aces can be both high and low, and the hotel strives to provide lodgings at both ends of the spectrum, as well as provide high quality at low price.

The hotel in Seattle is in a former Salvation Army halfway house located in the Belltown neighborhood. In Portland, the Ace moved into what was the Clyde Hotel, the lobby of which served as a setting for scene in the movie, “Drugstore Cowboy.” The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel is in a converted Howard Johnson’s; and in New York it occupies the Breslin, a former single-room-occupancy hotel at the corner of 29th Street and Broadway. Transforming it meant displacing some longtime residents.

A New York Times review of the hotel called it “shabby chic” before snottily adding, ”a bit too redolent of the past.”

Ace Hotels got their start when Seattle native Alex Calderwood and some friends decided to create a hip yet minimalist hotel. The Ace Hotel in Seattle opened in 1999; and in 2007 they opened one in Portland.

Calderwood’s hipsterness went back even further than that. He used to throw warehouse parties for the grunge set, later moving up to hosting events for Microsoft. Today, he holds four Aces, and, at last report, had his sights set on a fifth.

Given that growth, I think it’s time the chain start considering some advertising, and perhaps a spokesdog. I have one in particular in mind, whose services can be obtained for a reasonable fee — a sliding scale even. I’ve got some other promotional ideas, too, such as complimentary slightly used flannel pajamas for all guests, and even a slogan to help get across the message that the hotels are dog friendly:

“We’ll leave the bowl out for you.”

My highly thoughtful hosts in Seattle

Dogs are too smart to hold elections, and it would be presumptuous of us to do it for them. But if there ever were a vote for which breed to make class clown, the bull terrier would be a strong contender.

I say this having only limited experience with the breed – virtually all of it through a woman named Marilyn Bailey, and most of it in the last three days, during which time her two dogs kept a smile on my face, made me laugh out loud and even brought Ace out of his diarrhea doldrums enough to play.

Ace is better now, thanks in large part of Marilyn, who spoiled him with cottage cheese, eggs, rice and other forms of pampering, and to Browser (above left) and Ivy (above right), whose goofiness — though young Ivy is far goofier than old Browser — is, while laughable, also somehow soothing, like an old sitcom.

Marilyn and I worked together at a newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky. That was 30 years ago, and I believe her bull terrier then was named Hot Shot. In the interim, I’ve seen her maybe three times. Yet, when she heard about our travels, she invited us to stay when we came through Seattle, and she treated us like family — in the good and functional, kind and caring sense of the word.

She’s a serene and laid back sort, which can be an advantage when one is raising bull terriers, or when one is married to Carleton W. Bryant, as she is.

If Marilyn and Carl were a Chinese food entree, they’d be sweet and sour something.

If Marilyn is the epitome of graciousness, Carl is the personification of sarcasm, prone to hilariously biting comments, skewering those in need of a good skewering, and a bluntness that can leave you disarmed. Acerbic and gruff as he is, though, there are signs that, deep down, he’s actually a tender-hearted soul.

Marilyn is a copy editor for the Seattle Times, Carl is a media consultant whose current projects include a website he developed called

It offers a solution for those men who just can’t seem to remember to acknowledge significant dates –  birthdays, anniversaries, etc. — with a card, or, at best, wait to the very last minute to do so.

The website serves as an automatic, surrogate card buyer.

Users register and create a profile of events and relationships — who in their lives they should send what cards to when. Then, as the significant dates approach, they receive by mail the appropriate card and envelope, as well as an email reminder to make sure it gets to the intended recipient.

Magically and with little effort, they appear to be thoughtful guys, fooling everybody. (There’s also a, but the marketing pitch is slightly different. It’s for the woman too ”busy” to buy cards, as opposed to just being a negligent oaf.)

But back to their dogs, dog show quality both, and members of what, to me — with their huge and sloping, football-shaped heads — is one of the more unusual looking breeds of dogs. It was rare, back in Baltimore for Ace to run into a bull terrier. The one time he did, he approached it slowly, almost as if he wasn’t sure it was a member of his species.

Browser, 11, is a mellow sort, content to sidle up to you and stay there – for days, it seems. Ivy, not yet two, is contagiously playful. By the second day of our stay she had Ace fired up. Of course, they chose to let loose in the formal living room, where she’d run up to Ace, jump on him, then scurry away, somehow managing, while traveling at high speeds, to slide her whole muscular body under the sofa, before repeating the process.

Ace, who likes to softly bite the legs of the dogs he’s playing with, or stick their entire head in his mouth, had some difficulty with the latter, but that didn’t stop him from trying.

Both Browser and Ivy have an endearing habit of approaching when you are seated, bowing their head and pushing it softly into our stomach. Ace will do this from time to time, but only for half a minute. Browser seemed happy to stay in that position for five minutes.

While speedy dogs, as Ivy showed, they are also very adept at standing still — perfectly still. It’s almost as if they become statues, motionlessly pondering what to do next and whether it’s worth the effort.

Both loved to snuggle, Browser for extended periods, Ivy only briefly before nibbling your ear, climbing your torso or scooting off in search of something more interesting.

Once seated in Marilyn’s lap at their home in Kirkland, though, she settles down, almost as if hypnotized.

Marilyn sent us off  with a huge care package — sandwiches, beverages and apple cobbler for me, and for Ace, dog biscuits, atop which she spread peanut butter. Carl, who provided us with several great Seattle area tours, sent us off with a list of places to see on Oregon’s coast and one of his website’s promotional caps, allowing me to show the world just how incredibly thoughtful I am. Ivy and Browser — members of a breed whose faces seem to say, “Yes, I’m a dog, and I plan to engage in some dog-like antics. You want to make something of it?” — sent us off with a warm and giggly feeling.

One day soon, I’ll need to thank them for all that southern hospitality, Seattle-style.

Maybe I’ll send them a card.

The Seattle he saw; the Seattle I saw

When it came to Seattle, John Steinbeck found some charm in the downtown market area, but otherwise painted a bleak portrait. To him, by the time he and Charley rolled through the Emerald City, the flower was off the bloom. 

Seattle had boomed repeatedly before he arrived, thanks to lumber, gold, shipbuilding and Boeing; and, decades after he was gone, it would boom again, thanks to Microsoft, Amazon and a slew of other high tech and biotech companies that located there. 

The Seattle Steinbeck and Charley pulled into in 1960 was far different from the Seattle of today, and far different from the one he remembered — its rapid growth, in his view, having tarnished the land: 

“I remembered Seattle as a town sitting on hills beside a matchless harborage — a little city of space and trees and gardens … It is no longer so. The tops of hills are shaved off to make level warrens for the rabbits of the present. The highways eight lanes wide cut like glaciers through the uneasy land. This Seattle had no relation to the one I remembered. The traffic rushed with murderous intensity … 

“Along what had been country lanes rich with berries, high wire fences and mile-long factories stretched and the yellow smoke of progress hung over all, fighting the sea winds’ efforts to drive them off … Everywhere frantic growth, a carcinomatous growth … I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.” 

That’s not the Seattle I saw. 

To me, Seattle seems a city that has come to handle growth far better than most. It’s one of America’s most scenic, literate, educated, progressive, well off and environmentally conscious cities. It’s green in all three meanings of the word. And it’s highly dog-friendly

Maybe it’s a case of the difference 50 years makes, or of how city leaders have taken control of the reigns of growth. Maybe, too, Steinbeck’s less than flattering description was partly a result of being a little down when he arrived — what with his dog having been sick, himself being travel weary. Likely, Steinbeck — who waited several days in Seattle for his wife, who was having difficulty getting a flight –  was getting a little crabby. 

He spent three or four days luxuriating in his hotel room near the airport, watching “I Love Lucy” and other TV shows — not the best way to get one’s fingers into the fabric of a city — as he waited for Elaine Steinbeck.

Once she arrived, they visited the downtown market before heading down the coast of Oregon together to California. Sections of the original manuscript recounting his time with his wife were later edited out of the book — the “we’s” changed to “I’s”. 

“… I walked in the old part of Seattle, where the fish and crabs and shrimps lay beautifully on white beds of shaved ice and where the washed and shining vegetables were arranged in pictures. I drank clam juice and ate the sharp crab cocktails at stands along the waterfront. It was not much changed — a little more run-down and dingy than it was twenty years ago.” 

Seattle — now better known for grunge than dinge — would continue to have it’s ups and downs  after he left. Two years after Steinbeck’s visit — the year “Travels with Charley” came out — Seattle was the site of the 1962 World’s Fair. In the late 60s and early 70s, its economy took a turn for the worse – to the point that one local Realtor put up a now legendary billboard requesting that the last resident to exit turn off the light. 

Like all big cities, Seattle, during the suburbanization of America, faced seeing its core rot away — or, as Steinbeck described it: 

“… When a city begins to grow and expand outward, from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in, poorer people move in as the rents fall, and small fringe buinesses take the place of once flowering establishments…” 

The downtown Seattle I saw — unlike some — was still flowering, and thriving, as much as any place is thriving nowadays. 

It’s all subjective, though. Our impression of a new place is based on the tiny part of it we see, what transpires in that process, the mood we’re in while seeing it, and, often, who we see it with.

In my case, this time around I had two long-time residents serving as my hosts and tour guides. (More on them tomorrow.) 

Had I been on my own, I likely would have sought out and found the market, but I probably wouldn’t have found what’s called the first Starbucks.

I probably wouldn’t have seen the view of the skyline from Kerry Park; the street performer that plays and juggles guitars, all while hula-hooping; or the hotel that bears the same name as my dog. (More on that Monday.)

I’d been to Seattle before, but only in a rush-in, pester-people, get-the-story, rush-out newspaper reporter kind of way. 

That — a hit and run — is not the correct way to meet a city. 

What is? 

Here again, maybe we can learn something from dogs. For starters, take your time. Forget your schedule, and all those other uniquely human notions. Instead, let the city hold its hand out to you. Circle it a time or two, explore the periphery, then approach it slowly. Give it a sniff and, if you like what you smell, maybe a lick. After that, you can jump up on it, snuggle with it, play with it, fetch what it throws, savor the treats it offers, even choose to become loyal to it.

In other words, to paraphrase the author whose route we are following, and who some might suggest failed to follow his own advice when it came to Seattle: Don’t take the trip, let the trip take you.

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