Only once has Ace plunged into the surf with reckless abandon.
That was his first time. At a beach in Delaware, upon his first sighting of the Atlantic, he bolted out into the water, only to get hit face first with a giant wave that flipped him over. Ever since then, he has exercised caution, and only with encouragement from multiple people has it been possible to beckon him out any deeper than his knees.
Yesterday, though, as we continue to drag out our departure from Figure 8 Island in North Carolina, he ended up playing in the surf – and without seeming preoccupied about how big and scary the next wave might be. That was thanks to two dogs, a blue tennis ball and a girl named Georgia.
We’d stopped at the Winston house — the same family that provided a personalized watering station for Ace, complete with signage, over the weekend — to visit again with Mac, a golden retriever, and Jet, a black Lab.
Ace had seemed only mildly interested in the dogs on our earlier visit, partly because he was worn out, partly because that’s the way he is. While he immediately warms up to people, it takes him a while with dogs. (I’m the opposite). He’s nice enough upon meeting another dog, but it usually takes him 15 minutes or so of sniffing and acting aloof and reserved — especially with other big dogs — before he’ll even consider playing.
But getting together with Mac and Jet, and realizing there was no shade he could lay low in, he participated in some canine frolicking, all instigated by 8-year-old Georgia.
She’s a take charge sort, but not in a bossy way.
Georgia told me she plans to become an animal doctor. (That was her term, and a much more manageable one than “veterinarian.”) And she did seem to have a way with dogs — not just her own, Jet, but her aunt’s dog, Mac, and even Ace.
On the beach, she seemed a master choreographer, leading them in their antics, and she offered to throw the tennis ball I’d brought along, assuming Jet and Mac would chase it even though Ace wasn’t likely to.
At one point, I stood in the ocean with my camera and asked her to throw the ball over my head, so I could take pictures of Jet and Mac charging through the waves to get it. Surprisingly, a couple of times, Ace showed up in the frame, apparently not wanting to be left out of the fun.
Later, with the help of some peanut butter crackers, Georgia demonstrated Jet’s obedience skills, and soon had Mac and Ace under her spell as well.
One gets the sense, even at 8, and even if her plans to become an animal doctor change, Georgia is going to accomplish what she sets out to in life. When she heard I was writing a book, she asked to be in it. When told the book was based on my travels with Ace a year ago, she said she’d settle for being on ohmidog!
Told that would require permission from her parents, she left, returning a few minutes later with a note from her mother.
“I hereby allow ohmidog! to place any and all photos of my sweet Georgia “Peach” Winston,” it said. “Jet Winston, too!”
When I jokingly asked her if she wrote the note herself, Georgia said no, adding that she hasn’t mastered cursive yet.
I assured her that would be easy. It’s just like printing, only with waves.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animal doctors, animals, ball, beach, dogs, figure 8, figure 8 island, georgia, jet, mac, obedience, ocean, pets, photography, playing, surf, swimming, training, travels with ace, veterinarians, water, waves, winston
Once again, I’m watching too many of those HGTV and DIY network home improvement shows — mostly, of late, the ones in which a homeowner’s backyard is “crashed” and transformed from a barren expanse into a Spa-Like Retreat, or a Tropical Paradise, or Awesome Party Area so they can invite over the numerous photogenic friends they always have.
It’s one way I pass the time when it’s too hot to go outside. I stay inside and watch shows about people who are getting makeovers for their yards, which are probably also too hot to invite friends over, unless, of course, a swimming pool is being added.
Watching those programs inspired me enough to go outside and attempt my own poor man’s version of a makeover – of a neighbor’s backyard, or at least the grassy area behind her apartment that I’m not sure who actually owns, probably the homeowner’s association.
I’ve told you before about where Ace and I ended our travels and where I’m staying for now — renting the very unit my parents lived when I was born, at a former apartment complex called College Village, since turned condo. It’s a modest development of one and two-story brick buildings that serve as an oasis of affordability in a neighborhood that otherwise consists of fine and expensive homes, with big trees and country clubs in every direction. College Village is mostly, as the name might imply, college students, along with people just starting their careers, and people on fixed incomes, or, as in my case, broken incomes. (There should be a TV show where personable, good-looking and enthusiastic experts come to your house and fix your income.)
I’ve also told you before about my neighbor dachschunds, short and chunky Frank and long and slim Bogey. Most days, Ace and I walk around the block with them. (Frank’s trying to shed a few pounds.)
Several times on those walks, their owner, Faren, has mentioned how she’d like to get a kiddie pool for the dogs to cool off in during the summer. It was taking her far too long to get this accomplished, though.
So I decided to “crash” her yard and transform that simple patch of grass from drab to fab, from bland to grand, from blah to something that rhymes with blah — oh yeah, “ahhhhh” — to, as they say in the parlance of these shows, “trick it out.”
While Faren was at work Friday, I made my move. I had but a few hours to complete the surprise transformation (all these shows have a beat-the-clock element to make them more exciting).
I decided to set a budget of $50. (That — staying within budget — is another dramatic element designed to make these shows more suspenseful than hammering and painting would otherwise be.)
First, I headed to K Mart, where I purchased a blue kiddie pool for $15. On an aisle nearby, I picked up some accessories — vital in any makeover. I couldn’t find any pink flamingos, but I bought two tiki torches for $5, and a bottle of bug repelling oil to fuel them, for $8.
Then I bought myself some sandals, because there was a half price sale on them, for $12.
That brought me in, even counting the sandals, at $10 under budget.
I gave myself a high five and, back home, assembled the team members — me and Ace. I found a flat place for the pool, borrowed a neighbor’s hose and filled it up. I stuck the two torches into the ground, but just barely because the ground was really hard and dry.
I proclaimed Ace lifeguard and myself facilities manager, as well as a charter member of the country club’s membership selection committee. I am also thinking about being editor of the country club newsletter.
Then I put on my new sandals and waited for the reveal, which I figured would take place when Faren got home. In the interim, I watched more home improvement shows and lots of advertisements for Glidden paint.
Faren and her boyfriend, Richard, pulled up without me seeing. So I can only imagine that, before I got there, they both said “ohmigod!” and “this is AWEsome!” numerous times.
When I saw they were home, I went over and walked Faren through the tropical paradise I had created, pointing out its many features, including her white plastic chair, which I had moved closer to the pool area. It took about four seconds.
Ace traipsed through the pool a few times, deciding, while it was perfect for getting a drink, it wasn’t big enough for him to lie down in.
Nevertheless, I foresee countless hours of enjoyment ahead as Faren, Frank and Bogey, and probably lots of mosquitos, make the most of their brand new, totally tricked out, awesome tropical paradise.
As for the lifeguard and facilities manager, they’ll probably be staying in the air conditioning.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, back yard, bogey, college village, crashers, dachshund, diy, dogs, frank, heat, hgtv, home improvement, kiddie pool, make over, neighbors, north carolina, pets, pool, summer, swimming, transformation, winston-salem, yard crashers
In another month, he’ll be trying to bring home some gold, but it was back in November that Michael Phelps went to New York for a “Today Show” appearance and came back to Baltimore with a dog.
The olympic swimmer was there to talk about his training regimen — and it was the same day the show was presenting another segment in its Bow To Wow series, in which shelter dogs get makeovers.
Now renamed Stella, the dog is doing fine, Debbie Phelps, Michael’s mother, reports, and she’s getting along well with Michael’s other dog, a bulldog named Herman.
Michael’s mom told MSNBC that Michael plans to teach Stella to swim soon — maybe once the Olympics are out of the way.
(Photos: Top, MSNBC; close-up by by Lisa Dixon)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, adopts, animals, appearance, baltimore, bow to wow, bulldog, catahoula, dog, dogs, from bow to wow, gold, herman, london, makeovers, medals, michael phelps, mix, nbc, new york, olympics, penelope, pets, shelter, stella, swimmer, swimming, today show
In a tragic story out of Florida, a recovered dog is providing a lone note of solace to a grieving family.
Barney, a Vizsla, was jogging with his owner, Donna Chen, a mother of three, when she was killed by a drunk driver.
Somehow, Barney ended up in the Gulf of Mexico after the accident, where he was found by a kayaker, about a half mile offshore from Sarasota.
“I thought maybe he had fallen off a boat or something” Rory O’Connor told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News. “I knew it was probably trouble, because you know, he was coming straight toward me and he had a look of terror in his eyes.”
O’Connor, of Bellingham, Wash., inadvertently recorded the rescue and put it on YouTube, before knowing anything about the rest of the story:
Through his microchip, Barney was reunited with the Chen family, members of which say his presence is helping them through the grief.
“This is our one piece, our one link to Donna,” said Chen’s sister-in-law, Colette MacPhail. “For Barney, he’s going to have his own adjustments. He’s just a piece that came back for us.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, barney, dog, dogs, donna chen, driver, drunk, fishing, florida, found, grief, gulf of mexico, kayak, kayaker, killed, lost, mourning, pets, recovered, rescue, rescued, rory o'connor, sarasota, saved, swimming, vizsla
As in, is it OK to walk my dog here?
We found this one – at a park in Saugerties, New York – particularly baffling.
It could, and probably does, mean swimming, dogs and littering are all prohitited. Then again, it could mean there is no swimming, and dogs are allowed.
Then again it could mean swimming dogs are not allowed. Or, one final interpretation, it could mean swimming dogs are allowed, but they shouldn’t litter while they are doing so.
We went with the first interpretation, and moved on.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, confusing, dog's country, dogs, dogs allowed, dogscountry, english, language, new york, no dogs allowed, no!, park, parks, pets, road trip, saugerties, sign, signage, signs, swimming, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Baltimore dogs and their humans took to the water today at Riverside Park’s doggie swim — held after the pool’s last day of the season.
For more photos, see my Facebook album.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baltimore, city, closing, dog, dogs, ohmidog!, park, parks, pets, photography, photos, pool, recreation, riverside park, summer, swim, swimming, swimming with dogs
Victor Garcia was walking with his 6-month old Labrador retriever, Ruger, Wednesday afternoon at the Perrine Wayside Dog Park in south Miami-Dade when he threw an object into the park’s man-made lake for the dog to fetch, CBS4 reported
After the dog jumped in, Garcia said, he began acting strangely.
“All of a sudden, as he got closer to the center of the fountain, he started screaming, yelping, bloody murder,” said Garcia.
Garcia said when he ran into the lake to rescue he too was zapped by what felt like electric shocks.
“I just couldn’t pass this wall of electricity and I had to watch my best friend drown right in front of my face, essentially, I mean that dog is my whole entire world to me, he’s the reason I wake up in the morning.”
Garcia didn’t require hospitalization, but his dog was killed.
Park officials say the fountain in the center of the lake was turned off, but apparently it was still sending an electric current into the water. Electricians have removed the fountain to inspect it.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: current, dade, death, died, dies, dog, dog park, dog parks, dogs, elecgtrocuted, electrical, electricity, fountain, labrador, lake, lakes, miami, perrine wayside, retriever, ruger, safety, shock, south, swimming, victor garcia, zapped
Thanks to an extended pool season, dogs will once again have a chance to take a swim at Baltimore’s Riverside Park.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 2nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, city, dog, doggie swim, dogs, donation, extended, parks, recreation, riverside park, season, swim, swimming, t. rowe price
On an island off the coast of Ireland, a Labrador retriever and a dolphin have become swimming buddies.
This footage, from a television program (or programme, in this case) called Countryfile, shows the dolphin, named Doogie, and the dog, named Ben, frolicking in the harbor (or harbour).
Tory Island, accessible only by boat, is off the coast of County Donegal. Ben, it’s reported, resides at a hotel on the island and trots down to the water regularly to meet up with Doogie, who, on the Internet at least, is sometimes referred to as Dougie.
Reporter Adam Henson managed to captured the moment of interspecies play.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, ben, countryfile, dog, dogs, doogie, dougie, harbor, harbour, hotel, interspecies play, ireland, lab, labrador, pets, retriever, swim, swimming, swimming with dolphins, tory island, yellow lab
Breed: German shepherd
Encountered: Poolside, kind of, at the Motel 6 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Backstory: Motel 6′s allow dogs — just not in the pool. So Baby’s owners, spending some time at the motel while between houses, hooked her leash to the gate so she could watch — longingly, it seemed — as her family cooled off in the water.
Baby probably would have been happier inside the fence, but she seemed content to be at least close to her family. She found a shady spot in the mulch, made herself comfortable and, in true German shepherd style, looked on.
(Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of Dog’s Country, the continuing story of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounters, greensboro, lodging, motel 6, motels, north carolina, ohmidog!, pool, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, swimming, travel, traveling with dogs