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Tag: snow

One last snowfall for Spunky

Spunky always loved the snow.

But when the German shepherd-husky-chow mix and his owner moved from Wisconsin to Texas in 2008 that — with flakes being rare in Austin — became a thing of the past.

Ashley Niels, who works as a behavior and enrichment specialist at the Austin Animal Center, says she promised Spunky, who she’d adopted in Wisconsin, that he’d see snow again someday.

When she learned earlier this month that the 12-year-old dog was dying, and made the appointment for him to be put down, she regretted that promise would go unfulfilled.

ashleyandspunkyWhen she shared that regret with friends at the animal center, they got together to make it happen.

They rented a snow machine and brought to her home.

Last week, Spunky got his snow.

Niels sat in her front yard with Spunky and experienced one last snow storm — albeit an artificial one. He didn’t frolic in it, like he used to, but Niels thinks he enjoyed it.

“To be honest, he was like ‘I’m not really sure what this is.’ It wasn’t cold snow. I think he could see how excited I was, so he thought it was pretty cool,” Niels told Inside Edition Tuesday night.

“I think he felt all the love we were trying to show him.”

Spunky’s appointment with the vet the next day was canceled, and Niels hasn’t rescheduled it yet.

“As long as he’s happy, I don’t really want to take that from him,” she said. “It makes me happy to be able to spend more time with him.”

She adopted him from a local shelter in Wisconsin when he was a puppy. They lived there for four years before moving to Austin.

austinanimalcenterAfter creating the snowstorm for Spunky, animal center staff brought the snow machine back to the shelter to let a few more dogs experience a snowfall.

As of late last week Spunky was still hanging in there, according to Ashley’s Facebook page, and she was doing her best to not think about his death and savor the time together they had left.

“I try not to think about it because he’s my boy,” she said. “I get to spend this extra-special time with him.”

(Photos: Courtesy of Ashley Niels and Austin Animal Center)

Dog and cheetah enjoy their first snowstorm

In case you’re needing to see some sort of silver lining behind those snow clouds that socked the eastern seaboard and paralyzed the northeast this weekend, we offer this.

Kago and Kumbali — a dog and cheetah who have become best friends at the Metro Richmond Zoo — got to play in the snow for the first time during winter storm Jonas.

The zoo was closed Saturday, but a zookeeper let the popular duo run and play in the 7-inch deep snow in a large fenced field.

kumbaliKumbali was two weeks old when caretakers at the zoo noticed he was losing weight. The runt of a litter born to zoo cheetahs Khari (the mom) and Hatari (the dad), Kumbali was bottle fed and grew healthier, but having been removed from his litter he needed some companionship.

So the zoo got him a dog.

Kago, a 10-week old Lab mix, had been pulled from a high kill shelter in Alabama by The Art of Paws, an animal rescue group in Florida.

Zoo officials report the two have become inseparable.

Kumbali and Kago can be seen at the zoo Monday to Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 12 to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. And you can find their full story here.

Here’s a look at their first meeting, and their younger (snowless) days:

(Photos and videos courtesy of the Metro Richmond Zoo)

Why you won’t be seeing the Kardashians on dog sleds this season

Kim-and-Khloe-Kardashian-5When a front woman for the Kardashians emailed the owner of a dog sled adventure company in Montana, asking him to arrange a half-day trip for Khloe, Kim and eight other cast members — all while being filmed by 20 or so crew members — he quoted a price.

It would be $390 per sledder, or $3,900 total, Jason Matthews, the owner of Bozeman-based Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures, told her in an email.

Ashley Warner, the production release coordinator for “Keeeping Up with the Kardashians,” emailed back, suggesting — rather than cash — “an exposure trade out.” The publicity Matthews’ company would receive being on the reality show was worth at least that much, she told him.

Matthews responded to her email saying, in effect, that kind of math didn’t fly in Montana, and requesting payment in advance.

The email exchange continued after that, with the Kardashian representative continuing to talk about a “trade” and explaining the value of “exposure” and Matthews — who has never seen the show — insisting on payment in the form of currency he was familiar with.

At one point, when his message seemed to not be getting through, he made a comment reflecting his own reality: “Look,” he wrote, ” my dogs don’t eat trade.”

The discussion continued until he was sent a confidentiality agreement. He declined to fill it out, saying “I’m not going to sign this until you agree to pay my rate.'”

Warner stopped emailing after that, and Matthews assumed the Kardashian sled ride was off.

On Sunday, Matthews heard the Kardashians had been in a car accident near Bozeman on Saturday. Their car slid off a road and into a ditch. No one was injured and no citations were issued. But it was still very dramatic, Khloe said the next day, when she was interviewed at the Oscars.

“We were in Montana, hit some black ice, car spun out of control, like a big rig got ice all over our car … It was really scary … but we’re all good, all safe, thank God.”

The Kardashians, while they didn’t get their dog sled adventure, did get some skiing in while visiting Montana.

Matthews, after learning of their misfortune — and that no one was injured —  got on Facebook and wrote a post titled “Montana Karmic Justice.” explaining his experience with the family’s representatives, LastBestNews.com reported.

In it, he said he didn’t feel the $3,900 fee he was going to charge was exorbitant, considering that — at least according to what he read on the Internet — the family is being paid $60 million this season. He said he was glad they never showed up.

His Facebook post was shared widely, bringing him and his company some major (you guessed it) exposure — all while steering clear of the Kardashians.

And you can’t put a price on that.

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.