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Tag: snow

Dog poop: Do I need to draw you a picture?

All Over Albany” has noticed that dog poop is, well, all over Albany — and they’ve fashioned a helpful flow chart to help address the (fecal) matter.

(Click on the illegible version above to be taken to the full size chart. Then come back, for this isn’t just an upstate New York issue, but a national, nay, global one.)

At my park in Baltimore, and probably your’s, it seems that, when the snow and cold arrive, the manners of some otherwise responsible dog owners depart.

Whether it’s because people don’t want to traipse throught the snow to scoop it up, or because it’s just so darned cold, there are a lot more lingering dog droppings to be seen, and stepped in.

In a perfect world, those not scooping would be the ones stepping in it — but it never seems to work out that way.

And while, granted, solidly frozen poopage won’t despoil your footwear, neglected droppings, amid continued freeze and thaw, can come back to haunt us.

“We’ve thought a lot about this issue,” Alloveralbany.com reported in a piece last month. “And we finally came to the conclusion that winter somehow impairs the ability of some people to make good decisions about whether they should pick up their dog’s poop.

“So, we’re here to help. We’ve constructed a flow chart to assist citizens of the Capital Region in their decision-making process on the all important question: ‘It’s winter. My dog has pooped. What now?’”

Back in Baltimore, looking for a home

 

The past week has been a hectic one, mostly spent avoiding snowstorms, seeking out landlines for radio interviews and, just when we thought our traveling was done, traveling some more.

No sooner were Ace and I back in Baltimore than we left again — this time back to North Carolina for my mother’s 85th birthday celebration.

Now we’re back again, just in time for a snowstorm – that’s the ohmidogmobile at the bottom right of the picture — seeking a place to squat for a month or so while we ponder our long terms plans.

Step one is to visit my storage unit to try and find some winter clothes.

We packed for a three-month summer trip. It turned into a seven-month one that didn’t wind up — and in a way still hasn’t — until January was upon us.

Living out of one’s car — convenient as it is in some ways — is a pain in the butt in others. I can easily locate most things I need in the course of a day, but when it comes to things that I only sometimes need, and are thus buried deeper, it’s nearly hopeless, requiring a good bit of unpacking and repacking.

It will be nice to have that chaos straightened out. And Ace, though he has said he enjoys the constant traveling — 22,000 miles of which we’ve done since May – is, in my interpretation, ready for a return to something resembling a routine.

Back from North Carolina, we lodged one night at the home of his godmother, and we’re freeloading for two nights at the home of my teacher friends.

Our goal is to find someplace dirt cheap to stay for a month or two before we wear out our welcomes. I have not been focusing on it as I should, and I think, deep down, it might be because I don’t want to return to the routine.

I want a bed, and a refrigerator, and a TV and heat. I want a big table on which to spread things out. But part of me hesitates to get back into that situation of paying all those bills every month — rent, utilities, Internet, cable, telephone, and all those other things I’ve come to see as sucking away not just my money, but my freedom.

Then, too, promoting my new book “Dog, Inc.: The Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” — is also taking up a lot of time, most of it spent searching for landlines to borrow for radio interviews.

Speaking of the book, which has been out about 10 days now, it has been having some pretty nice things happen to it.

It got nice mentions in Mother Jones and Real Simple magazines, and was chosen by Parade magazine as a “Parade Pick.” This week, it was named one of January’s ”Mover and Shakers” by Goodreads.com, where it has also gotten some good reviews from the public.

Thanks, public.

Badlands? Or cream puffs?

The Badlands? They weren’t so bad. In fact, thanks to a premature winter blast that left them lightly dusted with snow, they looked more like cream puffs when Ace and I passed through Thursday, making it as far as Beach, North Dakota.

Finally freed from Fargo, we whizzed from one end of the state to the other, eventually passing through the terrain that the Lakota tribe named ”Mako Sica,” which means “land bad.”

Forbidding as it sounds, the pockmarked terrain looked more like a bakery shop, as if powdered sugar had been sifted from above, turning buttes into bundt cakes and craggy pinnacles into cream puffs.

We whizzed from on end of the state to the other, sticking to I-94 and stopping only for coffee, gas, bodily functions and to take a picture of Salem Sue, the world’s largest cow.

On a mountain top in New Salem, whose high school sports teams are named the Holsteins, Sue, who  was erected in 1974 to honor the area’s dairymen, overlooks the interstate and is visible from miles away.

Tourists can drive up the mountain’s gravel road and, should they so choose, drop a donation into a milk can. They help pay for her maintenance — and a 38-foot-high, 50-foot-long, six ton fiberglass cow does need maintenance now and then.

I-94 also sports what are touted as the world’s largest metal sculptures, created by artist Gary Greff. Greff, a former school teacher, started fashioning as a way to bring people into the small community of Regent, home base of The Enchanted Highway.

The Enchanted Highway is about 20 miles east of Dickinson, North Dakota, and runs along I-94 for for 32 miles, with the sculptures, including “Geese in Flight,” spread out along the way.

Of course, North Dakota’s landscape is art in itself — both before and after harvest. In late summer, there are fields of sunflowers blooming for miles. By then end of October, only their dark brown stalks remain, curled up and shriveled.

Hay bales dot the roadsides, boxy ones and coiled ones, stacked sometimes higher than houses. On this day, they too were sugar frosted — looking like they belonged in a really big cereal bowl. Just add a little of Sue’s milk, and breakfast could be served.

We didn’t pass through any heavy accumulations of snow — mostly, despite predictions of a blizzard, just a light dusting, but it was enough to draw Ace’s attention. Usually, he only bothers to look out the window when he feels the car slow down. On this 300-plus mile leg of the trip, he spent a long time looking at the scenery, and when we made a pit stop, he was eager to traipse through the snow that was left.

We didn’t stop and camp in the Badlands, as John Steinbeck wrote that he did in “Travels with Charley.” In the book, Steinbeck described how the “unearthly” landscape lost its “burned and dreadful look” as the sun went down, and took on a glow; and of how, in the night,  “far from being frightful, (it) was lovely beyond thought …

“In the night the Bad Lands had become Good Lands. I can’t explain it. that’s how it was.”

I too didn’t think the Badlands lived up to their ominous name, probably because of the light snow-coating. Instead they left me with the song “Candy Man,” stuck in my head, and with a strong urge for some bundt cake.

Flinging French fries in Fargo

There are things to do in Fargo, North Dakota.

There’s the Celebrity Walk of Fame at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, where Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond, Debbie Reynolds, Jesse Ventura and others have left their signatures, handprints and footprints in cement.

There’s the Plains Art Museum, the Fargo Air Museum, the Red River Zoo, and just across the way from my motel, a big mall.

Yes — despite the stereotype of it as a place where boredom reigns, where temperatures lean toward the bitter extremes (and we won’t even go into woodchippers) — there are things to do in Fargo.

We’re just not doing any of them. Instead, we’re holed up in a Motel 6, where I’m flinging french fries into Ace’s mouth.

Why? Because it’s so damn cold.

Just as John Steinbeck, on his trip west with Charley, worried about getting across the northern states before winter set in, we’re beginning to fret as well; only we have ample reason — predictions of a October blizzard.

All night long, the wind rattled the windows of my motel room. The three-to-five inches of snow the local weatherman predicted hasn’t fallen — at least not here, not yet — but the warnings were enough to get me to book another night.

Just walking to the Burger King next door yesterday was bone chilling. Ace thought so, too. As eager as he was to get outside, he was even more eager — once experiencing it — to get back in.

Back in the room, for entertainment, I set aside half of my French fries and, in what’s become a habit during our travels when I get fast food, tossed portions to Ace. He gets the discolored ones, and the pointy ended ones. For some reason, I don’t like my fries to have pointy  ends. Though he was on the bed, four feet away, he missed but one fry, snagging each of the rest with a snort.

So far I haven’t seen much of Fargo, and that which I have has been through fast-flapping windshield wipers. The night I arrived, after checking in, I went off in search of downtown Fargo. On my only other trip here, three years ago, I didn’t explore at all. I did, during a stop for lunch, ask a waiter where downtown was, and he informed me there was no downtown. Maybe he was new here, or it was his way of saying Fargo’s downtown didn’t meet with his standards. Maybe he was having fun with tourists.

But I can report there is a downtown, and that the road to it, at least from my motel, is lined with pawn shops. Once there, I couldn’t see much, because it was so dark and rainy, but I sensed tall buildings.

It has remained grey since then. That alone normally wouldn’t keep me inside, but the wind is downright cruel, and the rain is a stinging one and the one time I did go out in the car — to buy dog food — my car door, powered by the wind, attacked me both when I got out and when I got back in.

Even the wildlife thinks it’s too cold. Tonight, when I went downstairs for ice, I saw a rabbit huddled between a trash can and the wall by the motel’s side door, seeking shelter from the wind and rain.

I was going to offer to share my room with him — invite him up for a discolored French fry, maybe suggest he consider relocating to warmer climes – but he ran off when I approached the door.

When yellow Labs hit the slopes

Sure we had way too much snow this winter — though these two probably wouldn’t think so.

Here’s how yellow Labs keep their coats clean and have big fun at the same time.

Miley trucking her way to a new home

My temporary cat Miley has found a new home. She’s on her way to Oklahoma, once her new trucker owner drops off a load in Bedford, Pa.

She’ll make the journey with her new human — a woman who calls herself “Gipsy Kitten,” and who regularly drives her routes with her other cat, a Persian named “Chuzzle.”

Kitty, for short, emailed me a couple of weeks ago. She’d scene the original video I did about Miley, back when I took her — though I thought she was a he — in off the streets.

Miley was living under the stairway of an empty south Baltimore rowhouse, and reportedly getting mistreated. I didn’t want a cat, but between that and the big snow that was on the way, we decided she’d come home with me until suitable accomodations could be found.

Three months later, Ace and I had bonded with her, but some upcoming life changes (I’ll fill you in on later) required a new home be found, which was the original goal anyway.

Out of the blue, Kitty wrote, and after exchanging emails for a week, we made a plan. She’d sign up for a load in the area. I’d meet her with Miley.

This morning, Ace, Miley and I drove to Frederick and gave Miley to her new human, who also had her two dogs — Havoc and Bonkers — aboard the truck.

Kitty — obviously an animal lover herself — said she was moved by Miley’s story and wanted the cat to keep her husband company. He was disabled in a farming accident and spends most of his time at home in Waynoka, Okla.

This morning’s exchange went smoothly. Miley, who is known to hiss and moan at strange dogs and anything else she doesn’t like, didn’t hiss a bit.

Kitty says, if everybody gets along, Miley will have the run of the truck cab on the ride home.

For Miley, it should be an excellent adventure. For me, it’s a little sad but we shan’t dwell on that. My video tribute (above) will suffice.

Ace, I think, senses the loss as well. The two were cohabitating nicely, though they weren’t exactly snugglebuddies. I think he’ll be glad that the bed will go back to holding just two species at night.

Kitty said she’d keep us posted as she makes her way back home, and I’ll be passing on what she has to report. Safe travels Kitty, and Miley, and Chuzzle, and Bonkers, and Havoc.

Urine big trouble now: The yellow snow debate

In light of the utterly ridiculous, yet strangely fascinating debate over yellow snow here in Baltimore, we thought it was time for Frank Zappa to weigh in on the subject.

Also, it gives me the opportunity to showcase my art along with the Baltimore-born legend. Call it a joint exhibit. As you listen (above)  to Frank, you can view (below) my work, “Yellow Snow,” which, after being showcased here last week, met with rave review. I briefly considered turning it into a streaming video, but good taste (which Frank never let bother him) overruled:

yellowsnow.
What brought yellow snow to the forefront in Baltimore — in addition to three feet of snow and dogs having to relieve themselves — was an item in Jill Rosen’s Baltimore Sun blog, “Unleashed.”

It focused on the the complaint of one woman whose sensibilities were offended by the sight, and who suggested dog owners make some attempt to remove the yellow snow their dogs created.

More than 75 “Unleashed” readers have commented — some agreeing with her:

“The person who wrote this letter is absolutely right. The replys and comments also shows the stoopidity, selfishness and lazyness of the ignoramous dog owners in Baltimore. I cannot wait to move from my home town. This snowstorm has shown the worst in most of you.”

The majority considered it a fact of winter life, and pointed out the pee is always there; the snow just makes it visible. Others offered suggestions ranging from spray painting the yellow spots white, to requiring dog owners to cover up the yellow snow with clean white snow (something nature may be giving us a hand with by tomorrow.)

That’s right, more snow, which will lead to more yellow snow and, if it’s a large snowfall, more city residents setting out furniture (chairs, usually) to save the parking spaces they shoveled out.

The mayor has asked residents to stop doing that, but she hasn’t taken a stand on the issue of yellow snow yet (and I’m not saying she should). In a way, those who save their spaces with chairs are already paying a price, I’ve noticed. Dogs — though not mine, of course — tend to christen new vertical objects that appear on the street, and a lot of the parking place staker-outers will be lugging those objects back inside.

Among the many things worse than yellow snow, I’d think — and I’m sure Frank Zappa would agree — is yellow furniture.

The art of peeing in the snow

yellowsnow

 
There’s a heated debate going on about yellow snow over at “Unleashed,” the Baltimore Sun pets blog.

It all got started when a reader — seeing no art whatsover in what happens when hot yellow dog urine splashes onto cold and pure white snow — expressed her displeasure with befouled snow, and went so far as to suggest dog owners chisel, collect and dispose of the icy yellow matter.

“I’m not a dog owner, but I can’t be the only person to be grossed out while trying to walk in Baltimore right now,” wrote Eeda Wallbank. “After the snow last week there are still many areas where the sidewalk or street is the only cleared space for folks to take their dogs out for their business. Most people are still being polite and at least picking the poo up, but the urine is just disgusting.

“The dog goes in the only cleared walk space and urinates, then it freezes. So everyone else has to walk through or attempt to go around these ‘puddles.’ Heaven forbid someone actually slip on ice or snow and fall into greater contact. I shudder everytime I see the yellow snow and thank god I don’t have kids to worry about (my cats are my babies, but they stay firmly inside) … Dog owners carry around bags for poo, what would be so wrong with attempting to remove this frozen urine? Or at least have a small shovel to clear the walk space a little?”

That led to a flood/flurry of comments. Among those that poured in were some siding with Ms. Wallbank, a few suggesting she “get a life,” and many asking if society doesn’t have bigger things to worry about than yellow snow.

Scooping poop is one thing. But I don’t think we need yellow snow laws — even if it does offend the sensibilities of  Ms. Wallbank and others. It’s a fact of life. It passes (twice, in fact). Until the snow melts, step around it, add it to the list of unavoidable wintertime inconveniences, or maybe even try and view it as modern art — a canine, working by instinct, on a vast blank canvas, provided by nature .

It’s a little like that, with one big difference. With yellow snow, everybody knows exactly what the artist was trying to express.

(Artwork: “Yellow Snow,” by John Woestendiek)

Doggedly surviving the winter of 2010

DSC08033

 
Here in the winter of our discontent in Baltimore — the snowiest city (believe it!) in the continental United States –  we are getting by, getting sore and getting a little tired of it.

Most dogs still seem to be loving it, but I think even among them, all the slip-sliding around might be starting to wear thin. Even these two American Eskimo dogs seemed to think it has all been a bit much.

As of  Monday, 79.9 inches had fallen so far this winter, and more is coming down as we speak. We’ve had more than Rochester, more than Syracuse, more than Binghamton, and more, I think we can all agree, than enough.DSC08084

The streets are lined with icebergs. Schools have been closed for a good week. Parking spaces are like gold. Getting anything accomplished takes four times as long as it normally does. Our back hurts, and we’re getting a little antsy, perhaps a little cranky.

Pets help us get through the cabin fever — as comforting as an old movie — countering the stress and loneliness and keeping us connected, however cut off from other humans we might feel.

I’m lucky enough to have three this week — my dog Ace, Darcy the Boston Terrier, who’s spending another week with me while her parents tie the knot in Hawaii, and my temporary cat Miley, still available for adoption, should you need a cat to help you through the winter.

All are co-existing nicely, if not as playfully as Ace and Darcy, who are more fun to watch than 90 percent of what’s on TV.

Sure, there is a downside. As we’re not getting to the park as much, my back yard is no longer the blank white canvas it was after the first snowfall, but a series of abstract yellow stains — like those inkblot tests — all punctuated with brown exclamation points.

I will get to it as I will get to most everything else this winter, including shoveling today’s snow:

Eventually!

Firefighters rescue yellow Lab from icy pond

rescue

Yesterday’s Washington Post had a great series of photos depicting the rescue of a yellow Lab who wandered into an icy pond in Potomac.

A neighbor spotted the dog — named Tully — out his kitchen window and called 911. Rescuers arrived within minutes, cut through a fence and plunged in after him as the dog’s family watched.

The four-year old dog was worn out by then and unable to hoist himself out, according to his owner, Bruce Stewart, whose 14-year-old son encouraged the dog from shore: “Hold on there, buddy! You’re a good boy!”

Rashad Surratt, a firefighter, entered the pond and Tully paddled toward him. The rescuer wrapped his arms and a harness around the dog, who seemed happy to get a hand. “He just gave up,” Surratt said Saturday. “He was really, really tired.”

Other firefighters were able to help pull Tully across the ice and get him to the shore. Tully was wrapped in coats and blankets, loaded onto a toboggan and pulled home by firefighters and residents. To see all the photos, visit the Post’s photo gallery.

Stewart, an executive at text-messaging company kgb, said Tully apparently walked right through his electronic fence, which had been disabled by the snow.

(Photo: Lea Thompson / Washington Post)

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