Squirrels Will be Squirrels
You think you’re big and tough and bold
You chased me up a power pole
But can you run this fast, in fact?
Let’s see your high wire act
You can’t climb or leap from trees
Or use a branch as your trapeze
Up on rooftops you can’t dance
Your grounded life has no romance
You’re slow and fat, a big old lug
Be you retriever, Chow or pug
Down there you pant and drool and pace
Too dumb to know you’ve lost the race
Nuts to you, and all your ilk
I’m fast as lightning, smooth as silk
All you can do is sit there crying
While I’m up here — electrifying
(Sometimes, the poet within wins. To read all his verse, click on the logo to the left.)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chase, dogs, futility, lines, pets, photography, poetry, poles, power, sanctimonious, squirrels, tease, telephone, utility
We told you so, way back in November, when we carried a report about a dog crawling out alive from the ashes of a house fire in Tennessee.
‘Tis the season for doggie Christmas miracles.
You don’t have to look very far, this time of year, to find one.
The first of two we bring you today comes from North Carolina, where a Jack Russell terrier named Rowdy mysteriously disappeared while chasing squirrels on the Davidson College campus.
Mary Kay Taylor, his owner, often takes him there, and lets him frolic off leash for a few minutes.
“I walk him usually well into campus and let him off the leash for maybe a five-minute run around. Looking for squirrels is his favorite thing in the whole wide world to do,” she told WCNC in Charlotte.
On the Sunday before Christmas, he ran out of her sight. She heard a yelp.
For the next two hours she searched, calling the 8-year-old dog’s name. After that, she posted fliers on campus light posts.
The next two days were lonely ones, she said: “When you come home and he’s not there to greet you and all that kind of stuff, it’s sad.”
Early Christmas morning, her phone rang.
Rowdy had been found in a 12-foot pit in the well of a window outside the campus library.
A man walking his dog heard Rowdy crying and called the campus police. With help from the fire department, Rowdy was hoisted out and, within hours, was back home snuggling by the fireplace with his owner.
“It’s a miracle,” said Taylor. “It’s a Christmas miracle and I feel so grateful.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campus, charlotte, christmas, christmas miracles, davidson college, disappears, dog, dogs, jack russell, mary kay taylor, miracles, owdy, pets, returns, squirrels, terrier
The quietude of our sleepy little neighborhood has been shattered.
We are under attack.
I mean hundreds every hour, and that’s just counting the ones that pelt my roof. It started about a week ago, and has been gaining intensity ever since, as if working up to some nutty grand finale.
Ace, who doesn’t like loud noises — and believe me, it’s very loud — is starting to get used it. Only during the worst, like when 50 or so bombard us over the course of, say, 10 seconds, does he look up, wondering what’s going on.
But it’s a daily and day-long event — thousands of acorns, both green and brown, falling from the sky, pelting the top of my car, rattling the roof of my house, pinging off my grill and air conditioner and slamming onto the sidewalk.
In almost every case, they lose their cute little hats in the process.
I’ve lived among oak trees before, but I don’t remember ever seeing an acorn fall, and definitely not anything like the barrage underway on my street.
Huge oak trees line the whole block, and their limbs hang over the housing units. But none of them seem to be raining acorns like the ones hanging over my place.
When I was planting my pansies Saturday, at least five acorns –and usually you can hear them coming, ripping through the leaves on the way down — smashed to the ground at my feet.
I’m hoping it won’t still be raining acorns on Halloween — because given the distance they are falling from, and their hardness, they could do some damage to young heads. Or old heads for that matter.
I haven’t been hit by one directly yet. I’ve had a few bounce off my grill and hit me, and many land at my feet. Ace has also escaped thus far, even though he spends a lot of time laying under the trees in the front yard.
The acorns pose a double threat. In addition to the possibility of getting beaned by one on the way down, there’s the hazard of sliding on those that have already fallen, especially when they’re hidden under leaves.
Most often they just crunch underfoot, but every once in a while there’s a group that are particularly hard and stubborn, and it’s like trying to walk on marbles.
There are those who believe that an abundance of acorns is a sign that the coming winter will be severe — that somehow nature is able to figure out how many acorns squirrels will need to get through the season and, accordingly, instructs the trees on how many they should grow and drop, so that there’s always enough for everyone.
That’s a little too neat and tidy, trickle-down and happily ever after for me to believe.
We can’t and shouldn’t try to dictate and control it. We shouldn’t ask it to change the song. And when we do cut in, we should do it gently and with respect. After all, we we’re lucky just to be invited.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abundance, ace, acorns, america, animals, autumn, bombarded, control, danger, dogs, fall, falling, hazard, nature, noisy, north carolina, nuts, oak, pets, road trip, squirrels, travel with ace, trees, winston-salem, winter
More than 100 baby squirrels from North Carolina’s coastal regions will be growing up in North Carolina’s mountains after being rescued during Hurricane Irene.
I’ll have to admit that, in my worries about humans and dogs during natural disasters, I’ve never once found myself thinking, “What about the squirrels?”
But some people do, among them Herta Henderson, a certified wildlife rehabilitator for the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter, and Nina Fischesser, director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College.
Fischesser coordinated the pickup of the coastal Carolina squirrels, and Henderson did the driving, toting the babies across the state.
Henderson arrived in Winston-Salem last week at 3 a.m., with about 130 babies in her van — an occurence duly noted in the Winston-Salem Journal.
(And just in case you didn’t believe me when I told you yesterday, in our discussion on the six degrees of separation, how small-worldy Winston-Salem is, consider this. When Ace and I went out for a beer last night, after starting our post on the squirrel-savers, we ran into the reporter who wrote the Journal’s story, who we’d never met before.)
The squirrel babies were found in Hubert and Newport and are now staying with squirrel foster parents, recuperating before they are released in Avery, Transylvania, Henderson and Swain counties in western North Carolina.
Transylvania County includes the town of Brevard, whose unusual white squirrels we told you about not long ago.
Henderson said the baby squirrels started being spotted during the Irene clean-up, after their nests were blown down.
The rehabilitation and relocation of the gray squirrels will take several months, said Fischesser, who took nearly 50 baby squirrels back to the college, where they will be kept in a lab while they recuperate.
“We will look at their overall health and determine what their immediate medical needs are and put them on a diet of formula. Once they’re weaned, we can introduce them to solid foods and they will go outside,” Fischesser said.
She acknowledged that some people might question saving squirrels traumatized by natural disasters — but that’s only natural.
“Why save a squirrel?… It’s a common animal, it’s not endangered … The reason is that in part we are here to take care of other animals and that’s our motivation, but we’re also a public service. People find an animal and they don’t have a place to take it.”
One couple came from Asheville to pick up about 80 of the squirrels to distribute to other certified rehabilitators across the Piedmont and mountain regions of the state.
“It’s amazing what you do for your critters,” said Janice Burleson, who had converted her living room into an animal triage unit.
“They’re aspirated, water-logged and cold,” Burleson said of her new wards. “They’re going to need heat and antibiotics, and we’ll need to get them hydrated with some formula a little at a time. But, after that, it just takes a little TLC.”
(Video: Jacob Carah / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beach, blue ridge wildlife institute, disasters, Herta Henderson, hurricane, hurricane irene, lees-macrae college, mountains, natural, nature, nina fischesser, north carolina, outer banks wildlife shelter, relocation, rescuing, saving, squirrels, wildlife
“Make Your Human Stay Home Day” (and I do expect to receive any and all profits associated with the concept both now and in the future) is not meant to replace Take Your Dog To Work Day.
Rather, it would be an additional day (a weekday, of course) on which all employees with pets are encouraged to stay home (with pay, of course) and spend some quality time with their dogs.
Employees without pets would be similarly excused from work if they promised to spend the day visiting their local shelter, considering, at least, adopting a pet.
That means the only people at the office would be those who don’t like dogs, or don’t have room in their life for a dog, or think dogs are disruptive — the sort of people who oppose Take Your Dog to Work Day. Coincidentally or not, these are usually the cranky and mean-spirited ones. So, in addition to getting a day at home with your dog, you would get a day away from them.
Unlike on the weekend, which most humans fill up with activities, some involving the dog and some not, this day would be all about your dog — not about showing him off, or thrusting him into a strange environment, but about you spending some quiet time in his world.
On this day, you would be encouraged to lay in the grass, take extended naps, bark at the postal carrier, chase a squirrel or two, sniff everything in existence and, if you are in really good physical condition, lick your own loins.
Because Make Your Human Stay Home Day could have an adverse impact on professional dog walkers, whose services would not be required on this day, we suggest you go ahead and pay them anyway because they probably deserve it.
If the concept proves as beneficial as I anticipate, we could extend it, and start having “Make Your Parents Stay Home Day.”
That, as well, could result in happier, closer families and, more importantly, another paid day off.
We expect some opposition to our idea from corporate America and from executives who, though they stay home whenever they please, don’t look kindly on their workforces being diminished, unless they are the ones ordering the diminishing.
Until we get this concept up and running, we continue to throw our full support behind Take Your Dog to Work Day, which you can read a good account about in today’s Baltimore Sun — where I used to work, and which didn’t take part in Take Your Dog to Work Day, which may be what inspired my genius idea for Make Your Human Stay Home Day.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: absence, adopt, animals, barking, children, day off, dog, dog walkers, dogs, dogwalkers, employees, excused, holidays, home, humans, idea, licking, make your human stay home day, naps, office, paid holiday, parents, pet sitters, pets, petsitters, proposal, shelter, squirrels, stay home, take your dog to work day, with pay, work, workplace
Observing my dog Ace over the past year – at the beach, in the mountains, in deserts, forests, city streets, suburban lawns and campgrounds all across the USA – I’ve noticed that he is much more interested in some forms of wildlife than he is in others.
Between our travels and the five years we shared before that, I’ve been able to chart the degree of fascination he seems to hold for different species of animals — from those that seem to enthrall him to those whose appearances produce a reaction more like ho-hum, been there, done that.
When I say “chart,” I am not using the term loosely:
Using a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being barely piquing his curiousity, 10 being the utmost peak of piqued — I have ranked Ace’s seeming degree of interest in cats, crabs, cows and other creatures. Keep in mind, every dog — based on his genes and environment — probably has a different scale of interest in other species. So your actual dog may vary.
I have no idea how much of Ace’s reaction is sight-based, as opposed to scent-based, but it seems he’s most excited about species he has never seen (or smelled) before, or only rarely sees (or smells), whereas those that are a part of every day, squirrels for instance — abbreviated as SQ in the chart above – are worth little more than a yawn.
If, however, there are two squirrels, and they are chasing each other around a tree, or along a telephone line, making squirrel noises, then Ace’s interest rises to an 8.
He was slightly more interested in the white squirrels of Brevard, but that may be because I didn’t let him out of the car, or because he detected I was more interested in them.
Where we are staying now, in a residential neighborhood in Winston-Salem, N.C., there are tons of chipmunks — OK, not tons, but a whole lot — and I’m pretty sure Ace had never seen a chipmunk before. On Ace’s scale, chipmunks rate a 7. He doesn’t that get excited when he sees one, but when they suddenly disappear from view, going down a hole in the ground, his ears prick up, his head rises, he scouts around with a look of concern in his eyes. Then a minute later he seems to have forgotten about them.
Ducks rate a 2, probably because he sees them often — basically everytime he goes to visit my mother (mom rated a 2 with him, but since she’s gotten into the routine of giving him treats, she’s now a full 10).
Don’t get me wrong. He likes the ducks at Arbor Acres, but they don’t seem to stimulate him as much as they did the first time he saw them.
Baby ducks are another story.
He was fascinated — a 9 on the scale — by those my mother was harboring in her room a couple of years back, perhaps because they were babies, perhaps because they were in her room, or, again, maybe because we were so interested in them.
He seems to be very interested in all forms of babies, with the possible exception of human ones, who rate a quick sniff and only a 2 on the Scale of Interest.
Cats rate the maximum 10. While he has seen a lot, and co-resided temporarily with a couple — Miley, for one – his fascination with cats has never diminished.
No other animal species makes Ace perk up as much as a cat. They tend to avoid him (except for staring contests from afar). In our travels, we stayed with at least three. He befriended those who let him. Those who avoided him only made him more intrigued. The only thing more interesting than a cat in full view, it seems, is an almost hidden one whose, say, tail, is poking out from under a chair.
But I’d probably be wrong.
Rabbits rate an 8 with Ace.
He saw several while we were staying in our trailer in the Arizona desert, and lots more — though they seem a shorter and stubbier, slightly more fluffy variety – here in North Carolina.
I don’t know how skunks rate with Ace, and hope I never find out. I don’t know how bears rate, and would just as soon avoid learning that as well.
As for bugs, it depends on what they’re doing and where they are. A cricket in the house can rise to an 8 on his scale. An ant on the sidewalk rates a 1 or less. A bee or fly hovering around his face gets his attention, but is more an annoyance to be snapped at than a species to be studied.
Cows rate about a 4, while horses come in at an average of 6. Horses in a distant pasture aren’t too exciting to him, but one that’s up close merits his scrutiny. He was all but smitten with, and only slightly wary of, a horse named Goblin that we met in Maine.
Turtles rate a 9, in large part — and again I’m using my human brain to guess — because of their novelty and the way they move, taking a few steps, disappearing into their shells, sticking their heads out and taking a few steps more.
Crabs are a curiosity as well, rating a 5 when they are alive and moving, only a 2 when they’ve gone to the great beyond, leaving their earthly shells behind. Then they are but flotsam, part of the potpourri of beach muck that, while definitely worth a good long sniff, is otherwise like a bad summertime novel. After a chapter or less you move on.
That leaves humans, who in some ways are difficult to rank on the scale.
A baby human, to Ace, is like a crab — about a 5, worth sniffing but not lingering with. A baby’s cry must be checked out, but once it is, Ace no longer appreciates it. A human with a bag — no matter what’s in it — is a full 10.
Humans aged 5 to 12 rate a 7. Adult males rate an 8. Adult females rate a 9. Humans with treats rate a 15.
Homeless people rate an 11. I don’t know if it’s because of more interesting scents, or because they usually have bags. Maybe, too, it’s because they often sit on the sidewalk and dogs seem to appreciate it when humans are at their level.
In every town in our travels that we encountered homeless folk — and that was pretty much every town in our travels — Ace seemed to feel the need to at least say hi, if not take a seat or lay down next to them.
I hesitate to add to all my previous anthropomorphizations — assuming that’s a word, and I spelled it right — but permit me one more unscientific human interpretation of my dog’s behavior.
Most dogs experts will tell you compassion is not in a dog’s emotional repertoire. But this is what I like, and tend, to believe:
I think he can sense when somebody needs a friend.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, adults, america, animals, anthropomorphism, behavior, cats, chart, children, chipmunks, cows, crabs, creatures, curiosity, dog, dogs, ducks, fascination, females, forms, geese, graph, homeless people, horses, interaction, interest, males, observations, pets, rabbits, rate, rating, road trip, seagulls, social, society, species, squirrels, study, travels with ace, turtles, wildlife
As safaris go, ours in the mountains of North Carolina was a pretty laid back one — but then we were a pretty low-key foursome: my current roommate, Ace, and two former ones from my college days, Dr. George Fish and Dr. John Stringfield.
To understand how we came to be in the wilds of the Brevard College campus, searching out our rare and elusive prey, you have to go back to the day before, when we arrived at our campground in Pisgah National Forest.
I’d never heard of white squirrels — or that Brevard, N.C. was renowned for being home to them — and, to make matters more confusing, for a fleeting moment I thought the woman at the campground gate had said “white girls.”
She went on to explain that the peculiar species could be found in town, mostly in residential areas, and that it was just a matter of driving around until you saw one.
“The White Girls of Brevard” became our running joke — and every good outing with friends, like every good sitcom, needs a recurring joke. So as we sat around the campfire drinking beer — debating what we might do the next day, other than sit around the campfire and drink beer — the phrase would inevitably come up.
Rock-climbing? A five mile hike? Whitewater rafting? Or go in search of the White Girls of Brevard?
There was a day, and it was back in the 1970s, when the possibility of encountering a female, of any color, would probably have been our top priority. And there were probably many nights that we set off, safari-like, with that goal, if not stated, at least in the back of our heads. But, for us, in college, it was more a dream than a mission. At that time, all three of us put together probably had the self-confidence, when it came to females, of one normal man.
John and George are married now – both for 29 years, though not to each other — so, even if they captured, humanely of course, one of the White Girls of Brevard, they couldn’t bring her home.
For me, though – with no wife to say, “You’re not bringing that thing into the house” — it’s a different story. Perhaps, I thought — whimsically of course – I should scope out the White Girls of Brevard, select one and bring her home. She’d have freckles and look a lot like Sissy Spacek. She’d be small, yet of hearty mountain stock — a ”tiny little” thing. People would say of her, “She’s a tiny little thing, but she can lift a bale of hay twice her size.” She’d call her mother “momma,” and her father “papa” and have quaint names for all six of her dogs. She’d know how to work a plow, and cook real macaroni and cheese, and those green beans that are boiled for three months, and she’d hang on every word I say — no matter how few and far between they were. She’d be more than happy to care for me well into my golden years and dodderage, both of which she would find sexy.
A sharp crackle from our fire pit snapped me back to reality. The three of us weren’t here to hunt anything, or even fish, just to meet up again after a few decades, build a fire, drink some beer, reminisce and perhaps take a short hike or two.
The next day, after one of those short hikes, we deemed the white squirrels worth checking out and drove the few miles into town. Upon seeing a college campus, I turned in, figuring if I were a squirrel, that’s where I’d hang out.
My hunch paid off. We rounded a corner and saw one who was already being viewed by a couple with a camera. The squirrel was flattened out and clinging to the side of a tree — that being a defensive mechanism squirrels use. It works when they are grey, but, for some reason, the white ones do it, too, thinking no one can see them. Apparently, they don’t know they are white.
Ace stayed in the car looking out the open back window with interest as George and I took photos of that squirrel and several other white ones we came across on campus.
Back in the car, we spotted several more, and we pondered opening up a business in town, offering white squirrel safaris to tourists — perhaps a big open-air bus that would shuttle them to where the white squirrels hang out. There they could snap photos — the squirrels are far too cute to otherwise shoot — to their heart’s content. We would charge exorbitant fees for that, as well as all the white squirrel merchandise we would make available. Perhaps, upon conclusion of the tour, they could enjoy a home-cooked meal, prepared by my mountain wife Sissy — if she’s not too busy plowing – eaten at picnic tables with red checkered tableclothes.
On the tour, we would explain how the white squirrels came to be there. We’d opt for the the most oft-repeated and fanciful version — that being that they are descendants of some traveling circus squirrels who escaped when their circus truck overturned.
That supposedly happened in Florida.
In that account — and it’s the one that both whitesquirrels.com and the local tourism website go with, supported by local newspaper reports in the Transylvania Times (Brevard is in Transylvania County) — the squirrels escaped when the truck they were in overturned. Two of them set up camp in the yard of a man in Madison, Florida.
She kept them inside and hoped they would breed, but they didn’t — probably because everybody was watching.
In 1951, Barbara Mull got married, leaving the squirrels with her father. One of them escaped, and not long after that, Barbara’s father let the other one, who apparently was deemed heartsick, loose in the wild.
By 1986, the White Squirrels of Brevard had become so famous that, in addition to capitalizing their name, the Brevard City Council saw fit to unanimously pass an ordinance declaring the town a sanctuary for the white squirrels and — apparently not wanting to be seen as racist — the grey ones, too.
“The entire area embraced within the corporate limits of the city is hereby designated as a sanctuary for all species of squirrel (family Sciuriadae), and in particular the Brevard White Squirrel,” the ordinance reads. “It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt, kill, trap, or otherwise take any protected squirrels within the city by this section.”
As it turns out, other towns with white squirrel populations have adopted it as a mascot as well, including Olney, Illinois; Marionville, Missouri; Kenton, Tennessee; and Exeter, Canada.
Unlike some of those squirrels, Brevard’s are not albinos, but a variant of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. More than a fourth of the squirrels in Brevard are white — and the town knows because a squirrel census is regularly conducted.
Brevard is home to an annual White Squirrel Festival (it’s this coming weekend), and The Squirrel Box Derby downhill race, and it considers itself the “White Squirrel Capital of the World.”
In Marionville, which is where some believe that Olney’s squirrels originated from — victims of squirrelnappings — other theories on their origin range from the squirrels once belonging to a traveling circus to being the result of a mad scientist’s experiments.
As for the White Squirrels of Brevard, an article in NC Farm Bureau Magazine says they are not true white squirrels, but a color variation of the Eastern Gray Squirrel. Most have white bodies but pigmented patches, spots and stripes.
That doesn’t make them any less beloved. To make sure the population stays viable, the White Squirrel Research Institute, based there, conducts a white squirrel count every year.
On our short safari, we spotted at least five. And, in reality (a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there), they weren’t that elusive at all.
After John left, returning to his home and practice in Waynesville, N.C., George and I lingered another night and discussed the possibility of making the camping trip a tradition — either in Brevard or going each year to a different location, where we could seek out, if not white girls, other elusive species.
I’m thinking unicorns.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging, albinos, animals, barbara mull, brevard, brevard college, camping, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exeter, friends, george fish, john stringfield, john woestendiek, kenton, legend, marionville, mountains, north carolina, olney, pets, photography, pisgah national forest, prey, reunion, safari, sanctuary, species, squirrels, travels, travels with ace, trip, unicorns, white girls, white girls of brevard, white squirrels, white squirrels of brevard, wildlife
I think my paper towels — flowery as they are — say it best.
We’re moved — not settled, but moved – into the apartment in Winston-Salem, N.C., in which my parents lived when I was born.
After 40 different residences in 10 states over 57 years, and nearly a year on the road with Ace, circling the country twice, I’m back where I started.
Life, that is.
Here in the apartment in which I spent my first year — none of which I remember — we’ve still got a few weeks of unpacking/organizing/decorating ahead, but we’re getting comfortable (always dangerous). We’re back on the grid (always expensive). And we’ve got enough tiny bars of Motel 6 soap to last until 2015.
Returning to the ancestral homeplace was purely accidental. It was about the time Ace was diagnosed with a herniated disc. I started looking for a place that, unlike our mansion basement, didn’t require going up a lot of stairs. On an outing with my mother, who lives in Winston-Salem, I — seeking a better connection with my white boy roots — asked her to show me the apartment where she and my father lived when I was born.
When I saw a “for rent” sign in its window, it seemed to be fate – even though moving in, since it was unfurnished, would require reclaiming all the possessions I placed in storage 11 months ago, when Ace and I departed on our journey, and hauling them down south.
Moving day was also a homecoming for this desk (left), which my parents purchased on a trip to the mountains nearly 60 years ago, and which, when my mother moved into a retirement community, I took home to Baltimore.
It’s fragile, in need of repair, and I thought one more move would surely kill it, but it survived and now holds a prominent position in the living room in which it resided long ago.
That’s in College Village, an apartment complex when it was built in the late 1940s – in anticipation of Wake Forest University’s move to town.
It was built in a neighborhood – or what there was of one then – of far ritzier homes. And several longtime residents have told me there were objections to its construction at the time. All that affordable housing would lower property values, it was feared. My mother recalls a friend, back then, telling her, “You’re looking at the slums of tomorrow.”
It’s quiet, very quiet, and pleasant, most pleasant, with lots of grassy expanses. Birds are constantly chirping, and chipmunks are everywhere. There’s also an opossum who’s not shy at all.
The housing units themselves are small and unassuming, but sturdy — made when things were built solidly, with plaster walls. I haven’t heard the slightest peep from neighbors — a pleasant respite from my nights in Motels 6’s, where, more than once, groans and slamming headboards kept me awake.
Still watching the old budget, I’m trying to settle in without spending too much money — buying bookshelves from Wal Mart, my sheets from K-Mart, and hitting Target for my high end needs. It’s amazing how it’s impossible, even at so-called discount stores, to walk out having spent less than $100.
Unpacking, at first, was a little like Christmas, for I’d forgotten about many of my possessions during their time in storage. After a week, it has gotten old, and I’m down to mementoes and junk. and it’s all I can do to get through a box a day.
I wonder if, when I do get everything unpacked and put away in another week, that will be the time the urge to hit the road hits me again. If so, this time, I plan to ignore it — well, mostly.
Ace, who doesn’t like the noise involved with unpacking, likes to sit outside while I rip through boxes, amid the big oak trees, probably about my age, that line the street.
He seems to enjoy watching the squirrels feast on the dropped acorns, which pile up in mounds. He doesn’t chase the squirrels — unless they start to do that running around the tree trunk in circles making squeaky noises thing, in which case he’ll rush over like some overzealous lifeguard to get them to knock it off. He’s content, otherwise, to just watch them sit on their hind legs and nibble away. After a few days watching, he tried an acorn himself. It wasn’t to his liking.
Although there have been one or two more painful yelps since Ace finished up a second round of the medicine for his herniated disc, he seems this time to be getting better.
I’m not sure if he’s up for any more long trips, and I guess, as I try to read his mind, that he’d prefer hanging around and meeting the dogs and humans in the neighborhood. He’s still up for short trips though, eager to get in the back of the Jeep, which he’s no longer permitted to do by jumping. The handicapped ramp is part of his new routine.
Conveniently, there’s a bar and restaurant half block away, where my mother says there used to be a grocery store. Next door to it, there’s a gym I have no intention of joining, and in the basement, according to a sign on the window, ballroom dancing is offered. ( I checked with Ace and he’s not interested.)
The restaurant’s a little pricey, so when I visited I just ordered an appetizer — one whose selection may reflect the fact that, though you can take the boy out of the south, and the boy out of Baltimore, you can’t entirely take the south, or the Baltimore, out of the boy:
I will tell you this much, hon. They was some goo-ood eatin’.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, ancestral, animals, birthplace, college village, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, furniture, herniated disc, home, home sweet home, homeplace, moving, north carolina, packing, pets, relocating, road trip, settling, squirrels, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, unpacking, wildlife, winston-salem
Here’s a nutty, and muddy, little story — one we’ll tell in pictures and words.
All the pictures were taken Sunday, at Riverside Park in Baltimore, where after three straight days of rain, sunny skies had finally prevailed, along with temperatures so toasty that the squirrels took a break from hoarding their nuts to eat some, and the homeless guys — usually up and gone by mid-morning — slept in.
It was really more like a spring day, except for the turning leaves, hitting their peak of redness on some trees, burning bright orange on others. Those already brown and fallen, after three days soggy, were starting to regain their crunch under the warming sun.
Football and softball games were getting underway on the sports fields — never mind the puddles. Parents and children filled the swings and slides in the fenced-in play area.
And dog walkers were out in abundance — some with their pets on leash, some of whom had let them off, which, in this particular park, as of now, is against the law.
Nevertheless, a lot of us do it — keeping an eye out for the white animal control van while we let our dogs enjoy a little freedom, exercise and squirrel chasing.
It was one of those free and easy, good to be alive, laid back Sunday mornings — quiet but for the happy squeals of children, the chirping of squirrels and that thwickety thwickety noise of dogs charging through piles of leaves — when what should appear but …
The white animal control van. Usually the animal control van keeps to the paved paths, stopping to warn those with their dogs off leash to hook them up, sometimes writing citations, which carry a $200 fine.
This animal control van was — for reasons unknown — driving through the grass, which, in addition to not being good for the grass, could prove problematic for homeless guys sleeping thereon, not to mention children playing, families picnicking, or squirrels a scurrying.
Anyway, the animal control officer pulled his van to a halt in the grass, apparently to confront some lawbreakers, and when the time came to leave, he couldn’t. The van’s back wheels became mired in the mud, sinking deeper the more they spun.
The officer called for a tow truck and, about an hour later, one arrived. Its operator attached a chain to the animal control van’s axle and hoisted it out of the muck.
While his van was being saved, the animal control officer found the time to take some photos of off-leash dogs running in the distance. That’s what his camera was pointed at, at least. Then again, maybe he was just shooting the foliage.
Once freed, the van departed the park, leaving some big muddy ruts behind.
It’s unknown if the animal control officer issued any citations Sunday morning — and if so, whether the revenue those bring in will be enough to cover the towing fee and other damages left in the wake of his morning patrol.
After freeing the bogged down animal control van, the tow truck operator acccidentally hit a bolted-to-the-ground trash can, which he then used his truck to bend back into an upright position before pulling off.
Maybe sending animal control officers to hunt for unleashed dogs walking in parks with their owners — as opposed to cracking down on abuse, neglect and dogfighting — is a legitimate use of their time. Maybe citing the owners of dogs who are bothering no one, and who no one has, specifically, complained about, makes the city a safer place. Maybe it’s not just a heavy-handed, wheel-spinning waste of tax dollars.
But the only visible marks left by yesterday’s patrol were these:
(Photos by John Woestendiek/ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, baltimore, chase, citations, city, dog, dog parks, dogs, exercise, fall, fines, government, grass, homeless, law enforcement, laws, leash law, leaves, legal, mud, off-leash, officer, parks, photos, recreation, riverside park, run, spinning, squirrels, stuck, tax dollars, tickets, tow truck, trash can, unleashed, van, wheels