With nearly a year having passed since Ace and I rolled to a stop, after 27,000 miles and one year spent rambling, he seemed more than ready for a quick road trip.
When the time did come to leave, he jumped in the back before I could set up his ramp.
Two and a half hours later, we were in Spindale, N.C., where both spring and pollen were in the air, and where I gave a talk about my book, with Ace laying down at my side, doing absolutely nothing, but upstaging me all the same.
Our friend Kim had helped set up our appearance at Isothermal Community College, and when the talk was over, after everyone came up and petted Ace, I followed her to her house.
There, Ace again didn’t want to wait for the ramp. He jumped out and, sensing a cat, ran into her open garage.
I turned to look and got a fleeting glance of a white cat who seemed to jump six feet, straight up, into the air, landing on a heating duct. That was the first, and last, Ace would see of Lily, though he never gave up hope.
Even after Kim got Ace out and closed the garage door, he spent about 15 minutes sitting in front of the the cat door, and, for the next two days — despite having 10 acres at his disposal — he chose to mostly sit in front of one cat door or the other, in hopes Lily would appear. She never did.
Ace, who turned seven in March, had a pretty busy schedule.
And that’s not even counting all the time he put in searching for the cat and monitoring any activity in Kim’s kitchen.
After the appearance at the college, we met with a book club at Fireside Books and Gifts in Forest City.
Again he behaved well, though he did stare down one of the club members until she forfeited the last bite of her sandwich.
Maybe I should go to bookstores and stare at people until they buy my book.
On Friday we appeared in a huge auditorium at Rutherfordton-Spindale Central High School, speaking to about 350 students, most of whom came up to meet him at the end of my talk, which was halfway about Ace and our travels and halfway about DOG, INC.
Once again, it seemed I was doing all the work, and he, effortlessly, was getting all the attention.
He all but ignored a cute little pup in the store named Gretchen, and got growly with her when she tried to jump up on him.
Back at my friend Kim’s house, once all the pizza was gone, he conked out — too tired to even think about Lily.
Our apologies to Lily, for forcing her to lay low for two days.
Our thanks to Kim and family for putting us up, arranging all the appearances, and spoiling Ace rotten.
Between her, the students and me, he consumed three bags of treats over the two-day period.
He has three days to recover before our next trip, to Wilmington, N.C., for a Lunch with an Author event at Cape Fear Community College. It raises funds for creative writing scholarships. Attendees, for $40, get to have lunch with one of about a dozen authors, get a signed copy of that author’s book, and get to listen to that author talk about their book with their mouth full. I imagine it will be like a job interview lunch, where, for fear of getting caught with your mouth full, you don’t really eat.
It being a lunch, Ace won’t be attending that. That would probably be his idea of heaven — a dozen food-filled tables to mooch from — but it wouldn’t be a good idea at all. He will get to see his friends Steve, Louise and Earl again, and we’ll do our best to squeeze in some beach time.
Unless, of course, he sees a cat, in which case we’ll spend all our time waiting for that cat to reappear, even though it won’t.
His cat love has only intensified in recent months — ever since our neighbor got a kitty named Tom, and they began bonding daily through a window, as if on a prison visit.
He definitely seems to be ever-hopeful, and under the impression that good things come to those who wait — whether what he’s waiting for is the next road trip, a hunk of pizza crust flung in his direction, or, best of all, a cat.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, appearances, auditorium, book, books, cloning, dog books, dog cloning, dog inc., fireside books, fireside books and gifts, forest city, isothermal community college, john woestendiek, north carolina, r-s central high school, road trip, rutherfordton, spindale, stage, steinbeck, talks, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley
United, which recently joined forces with Continental Airlines, has opted to adopt the defunct airline’s backwards pet policy. The new policy is stated on this page of United’s website.
What it all means is that the “friendly skies” of United will no longer transport any of these breeds:
- Pit Bull Terriers
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Presa Canario
- Perro de Presa Canario
- Dogo Argentino
- Cane Corso
- Fila Brasileiro
- Tosa (or Tosa Ken)
- Ca de Bou
United will not accept members of those breeds, or mixes containing those breeds, once they have reached either 6 months of age or 20 pounds.
Additionally, United reserves the right to refuse any animal that displays aggression or viciousness.
The restrictions have nothing to do with the airline’s separate policy on short-snouted breeds for whom air travel, specifically in a cargo hold, can cause breathing problems. This is separate category for “dangerous” breeds.
“These kinds of breed discriminatory policies fuel the misconceptions about dogs like pit bulls that lead to breed bans and the deaths of thousands of innocent dogs,” reads a petition at Change.org, urging United to reconsider the policy.
The petition was started by Jessie Huart after she learned of the ban while trying to book a ticket to travel with her 10-year-old pit bull, Slaw.
“These types of policies are opposed by every major dog-related organization. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Animal Control Association argue that physical appearance isn’t an effective way to predict or address aggression,” the petition site says:
“United Airlines adopted the discriminatory policy … when it merged with Continental Airlines, making it the world’s largest air carrier and the only US-based airline that labels some dog breeds as “dangerous.”
“But while United is still adjusting to its merger with Continental, the company is listening closely to customer feedback. If thousands of dog-loving United customers sign Jessie’s petition, the airline will have to listen …”
(Photo: Slaw, a pit bull who won’t be flying United; courtesy of Change.org)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airlines, american staffordshire terriers, animals, ban, banned, ca de bou, cane corso, change, continental, dangerous, dog, dogo argentino, dogs, fila brasileiro, jesse huart, merger, new, perro de presa canario, petition, pets, pit bull, pitbulls, policy, presa canario, reconsider, slaw, tosa, tosa ken, travel, united
Whether you’re looking for a homey environment in which to board your dog, or want to make some money by hosting one in your home, a new company called DogVacay.com is offering to help hook you up.
The site launched March 1 in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and will soon be adding other cities to its listings, through which dog owners and dog sitters can connect.
“Right now there are kennels and there are private pet sitters,” said Aaron Hirschhorn, who founded DogVacay.com with his wife, Karine Nissim Hirschhorn. “And we realized there was a need for a marketplace to bring together responsible dog lovers with causal and professional dog sitters who can provide a more affordable and better experience for dogs.”
Hirschhorn said that rates offered by hosts on DogVacay.com can be as little as half of those of boarding kennels.
On the site, each dog sitter sets his or her own prices with assistance from DogVacay.com. Listings are free. The site takes a 3 percent to 10 percent transaction fee from dog sitters, according to MSNBC.
For customers, fees include insurance coverage for veterinary emergencies. Pet sitters are vetted via reviews, social network connections and direct interviews by DogVacay.com staff.
Pet owners who take their dogs along on trips may also use the service to find sitters or host homes in cities they visit. “We think this will help free people up to travel because some people don’t want to kennel their dogs while they’re away and don’t want to bother their friends,” said Hirschhorn. “This way, more dogs can go along.”
Like Airbnb.com, the site allows customers to rate the hosts, and hosts are encouraged to go online after the stay and rate the behavior of their guest.
The Hirschhorns say the idea for the company came from experiences with their dogs.
“Vacations were always overshadowed with the guilt of leaving our dogs, Rocky and Rambo, in a caged kennel where they may not get the attention they need,” said Karine Nissim Hirschhorn. “We believed there was a better way of caring for dogs, so we tested out the concept for Dog Vacay in our own home, and before we knew it, we had more clients than we could handle and decided to launch the Dog Vacay platform.”
(Photo from MSNBC.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aaron hirschhorn, animals, boarding, care, community, connecting, dog sitting, Dog Vacay, dogs, dogvacay, homes, hosts, karine nissim hirschhorn, kennels, los angeles, marketplace, pet sitting, pets, private, providers, san francisco, sitting, travel, vacation
Pet Airways — viewed as salvation for those who hoped to avoid their dogs traveling, luggage-like, in cargo holds — has hit some turbulence.
Created in 2009 by a California real estate developer, the airline in recent months has canceled flights, leaving dogs and cats stranded and their owners inconvenienced and angry, the New York Times reported Saturday.
“Dog and cat owners are angry about canceled flights. Travel sites are abuzz with complaints, including customers who claim they have not received refunds for paid-for flights. And the company is burning through cash at a rapid rate.”
Alysa Binder, the co-founder of Pet Airways, acknowledged in an e-mail to theTimes that the airline has had some problems procuring planes from contractors and needed to cancel “some flights during the holidays and into the new year.”
“We are a very new company that is pioneering, just as FedEx pioneered the overnight packaging business,” Binder told the Times. “We have ups and downs, but we are keeping our eyes on the long-term goal of providing a safe and comfortable transportation option for the pets.”
The company, which says it has flown more than 7,000 cats and dogs, is still taking reservations, according to its website.
Pet Airways offers service to nine cities. Flights run from about $100 to more than $1,000 each way, and roughly 40 pets can sit in crates in the main cabin (the airline carries pets only), monitored during the trip by a pet attendant.
The airline was a welcome alternative to the major airlines, some of which ban pets in the cabin entirely. Most typically store animals in the plane’s cargo hold, where temperatures can vary wildly and have contributed to deaths. According to the Department of Transportation, 122 dogs died in cargo holds on U.S. airlines between May 2005 and July 2010.
Records indicate Pet Airways had no flights between Dec. 16 and Jan. 16, and it is unclear if it has had any flights since then, according to the Times.
“We are working toward being in the air as soon as we can be assured that the planes are ready for our use,” Binder said.
In a recent regulatory report, the company said it did “not currently have sufficient cash on hand to meet our financing needs … Our auditors have raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, airlines, alysa binder, angry, animals, canceled, cargo holds, cats, complaints, customers, dog friendly, dogs, financial, flights, new york times, news, pet airways, pets, problems, reservations, stranded, travel, traveling with dogs, traveling with pets
And, given it’s “National Pet Travel Safety Day” — yes, really — what better time to share that news.
Phil Nichols, 79, was heading back to Arizona from Helena, Montana, on Nov. 28 when he discovered his 6-year-old Lab mix, Buddy, was missing.
Buddy rode in the camper in the bed of Nichols’ pickup — and we won’t debate the safety of that practice here. He was in the camper, Nichols said, when he stopped for gas in Dillon. But on his next stop, Idaho Falls, he checked and found Buddy was gone.
Nichols drove 150 miles back to Dillon and spent a day and a half searching before heading, doglessly, back to Arizona.
In Pocatello, Idaho, Nichols, cut off by another car, hit a guardrail and rolled his vehicle. He wasn’t seriously injured, but the camper was crushed. Nichols wonders if Buddy somehow had a “sixth sense” about the accident and got out of the camper — though he doesn’t know how — before it was too late.
“I think the dog has more brains than I do,” said Nichols, who adopted Buddy from an animal shelter.
One month after Buddy’s disappearance, back in Montana, animal control officers got a call Thursday about a wounded stray dog in the Buxton area, about 10 miles southwest of Butte, according to the Billings Gazette.
Animal control officer Charlie Dick responded, spending 45 minutes coaxing the limping dog toward him with treats, before snagging him.
The dog was emaciated, had scratches on his face, and a wounded rear foot. In addition to freezing temperatures, and having to survive in the wild, Buddy had been shot with BB’s, X-rays by a veterinarian revealed.
“What a little survivor,” Dick said. ” He was out there a long time.”
Animal control was able to locate and contact Buddy’s owner through a lost dog ad on Craigslist, which had been posted by Nichols’ daughter in Helena.
Nichols said he plans to reunite with Buddy once the vet pronounces the dog ready to leave, but that he may call his dog before then.
“I just want them to put the phone to his ear and let him hear my voice,” Nichols said. “I think that would make him feel better.”
(Photo: Buddy and Nichols before they got separated)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animal control, animals, arizona, buddy, butte, buxton, camper, crash, dillon, dog, dogs, emaciated, found, freezing, idaho springs, injured, lab, lost, mix, montana, month, national pet travel safety day, pets, phil nichols, reunion, reunite, shot, survival, survivor, travel, wilds
If you think animal welfare can get vicious — what with all the desperate-for-funds parties involved, all the politics, all the backstabbing — consider, if you will, the calendar industry.
Having recently stepped into the field myself — you may call me either an entrepreneur or impresario; I think I prefer the latter – I’m amazed at all the calendars vying for the public’s attention, and that’s just counting the ones for good animal causes.
Of course, it would be foolish of me to mention any of them by name, as that might cut into sales of my “Travels with Ace: One Dog’s Year on the Road” calendar, 50 percent of the profits from which go to Rolling Dog Farm, a sanctuary for blind, deaf and disabled animals in New Hampshire.
The ”Travels with Ace” calendar — and here is a page where you may learn more about it (and buy it repeatedly) — documents the year Ace and I spent traveling across America, emulating John Steinbeck and his poodle Charley.
As Steinbeck did in his classic work “Travels with Charley” I hope to turn my travels with Ace into a book — though one far different from his, one more whimsical, one that takes itself far less seriously, one that’s more like the dog, which is really what my trip, unlike his, was about. It’s different, too, in this way: While Steinbeck was attempting to take the pulse of mainstream Americans, I, by nature, gravitate to offbeat types.
Ace, too; maybe that’s why we’re a team. It’s also why you’ll find us, as you flip through the months, hanging with hobos in Tucson, climbing brightly painted Salvation Mountain in California, and rubbing elbows (and nothing more) with the staff at a strip club in Dallas.
But that was the fun part, and a diversion from what we’re here to talk about today — the business of wall calendars.
The business world can get pretty cut-throat, which is why I’ve always detoured around it whenever possible. It’s also why we won’t be mentioning any competitors, like BARCS Orioles calendar, and why we will snub as well the Maryland SPCA calendar, not to mention the ASPCA calendar.
We realize you have many calender buying options. We realize, too, that you can usually get them for free, if you’re willing to look at advertisements for insurance companies, funeral homes, hardware stores, banks or real estate agents.
But we have the one thing (in addition to being good for 18, count ‘em, 18 months; in addition to featuring our old dog friends back in Baltimore; in addition to showing you the dogs and people we met in our travels) that no other calendar has:
He, despite his starring role in the calendar, has been of absolutely no help when it comes to the handling, the packing, the shipping, the signing (yes I sign each one) and the never-ending trips and long waits in line at the post office.
I am doing all the heavy lifting, all the monotonous work, and more of it than I expected — and I’m loving it.
Why? I think it has something to do with Christmas, and with the giving (though I am far from giving them away), and, maybe most of all, with keeping me occupied over the holidays.
Living alone, not counting Ace, and having gotten away in recent years from any sort of decorating, baking, caroling, playing Santa in dog photo with Santa fundraisers, or other festive acts, I tend to get a little Scroogy around the holidays.
With the demands of the calendar, though, my apartment — though it is elf-free — is feeling a little like Santa’s workshop.
I bustle about with scissors and markers and tape and lists, attempting to make sure, with all due precision, that orders get filled and delivered — unscathed, we hope — to all those who ordered them. (I think, at one point, I was even humming a happy tune.)
While nobody’s getting rich, except maybe for the company that printed them, the calendar is doing well. Our first printing sold out, and they’re all in the hands of the post office now. Our second shipment should arrive here this week.
The bulk of our orders are coming through PayPal, but if you want to order by mail, send a check for $28 and your address to ohmidog!, 804-D Avalon Road, Winston-Salem, NC, 27104.
If you live in Canada, or Europe, or someplace like that, precisely throw in a little more for shipping.
And to all those who ordered one, to all those who didn’t, and even to all those other dog calendar-selling organizatons, Happy Holidays!
Posted by jwoestendiek December 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2012, 2013, ace, america, animal welfare, animals, business, calendar, christmas, competitition, dogs, gift, good causes, holidays, john steinbeck, ohmidog!, pets, photography, road trip, rolling dog farm, salvation mountain, santa, strip club, travel, travels with ace, travels with ace calendar, travels with charley
Ace slept through the whole thing, but I, at least, was honored to be a guest on Animal Cafe this week to discuss my year-long, penny-pinching, Steinbeck-inspired, dog-motivated journey across America.
You can listen to the podcast here.
We talked about “Travels with Ace” with Edie Jarolim, pet travel correspondent for Animal Cafe.
As Ace snoozed on the futon, I recounted, by phone, how — having finished my book, and languishing in a state of unemployment — we came to move out of our home in Baltimore and not come to a stop until 25,000 miles later.
Part of that time was spent retracing the route John Steinbeck took with his poodle in “Travels with Charley.” But unlike Steinbeck, who spent three months on the road, we ended up taking a year before we semi-settled back down.
When Edie asked me if our traveling was over, I had one of those schizoid moments. Responsible John answered yes, they pretty much were. But Freewheeling John was there on the other shoulder, urging that we hit the road again.
I told him to shutup — at least for now.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animal cafe, animals, dog inc., dogs, edie jarolim, john steinbeck, john woestendiek, pets, podcast, road trip, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley
But according to Petfinder.com, Pet Airways is where your dog can expect the best service.
Petfinder released its annual review of pet-friendly airlines this week, outlining the best options for traveling in-cabin with animal companions. (Petfinder advises against shipping your pet in cargo holds.)
Here’s which airlines came out on top in the various categories.
Most Pet-Friendly Overall: Pet Airways. Dedicated to providing a superior travel experience for animal passengers, the first-ever pet-only airline tops the list for this category due to their outstanding policies and first-class treatment of pets.
Best Amenities for Pets (and Pet Parents): JetBlue. For the second year in a row, JetBlue’s superior JetPaws program landed the airline in top place for the pet-friendly amenities category. The airline provides travelers with a pet carrier baggage tag, a travel “petiquette” guide, 300 TrueBlue points each way, and a comprehensive e-booklet with pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and animal hospitals in some of JetBlue’s major cities.
Best for Transporting Pet Variety: Frontier Airlines. Frontier allows the most diverse variety of pets in cabin, including domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small household birds.
Best for Budget-Conscious Consumers: WestJet. Included in Petfinder.com’s review for the first time, WestJet tops this category allowing small dogs, cats, rabbits and birds to travel for $50 each way in-cabin. Coming in a close second, AirTran Airways allows domesticated dogs, cats and birds to fly in cabin for $69 each way.
Best for Flying Multiple Pets in Cabin: Frontier Airlines. Frontier allows up to 10 pet containers on each flight, though only one per human.
Best for Big Furry Friends: Pet Airways. Pet Airways can accommodate some of the biggest pups in town, with the maximum height allowance being 34 inches.
“As the proud parent of a huge pet family, I know how important it is to find a way for your pets to travel safely and comfortably with you, whether across the country or across the state,” said Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of Petfinder.com.
“All too often we hear stories of pets dying or getting injured while traveling in a plane’s cargo. We feel strongly at Petfinder.com that you should only travel with your pet in the cabin with you when flying, which is why we continue to review and promote the pet policies of airlines each year.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, air travel, airlines, animals, dog friendly, dogs, flying, pet airways, pet friendliest, pet friendly, pet friendly airlines, petfinder, pets, review, survey, transportation, travel, traveling with dogs, trransporting
Age: 3 years
Encountered: At a street concert in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C.
Backstory: We ran into about five other dogs when we went to Saturday night’s “Summer on Trade” concert, including Lily, who, unlike some of our other Roadside Encounters, was actually on the road.
Several blocks are closed off for the summer weekend concerts, and Lily seemed happy to be there, drawing lots of admirers. Her humans have another dog at home, a 12-year-old Newfoundland, but she doesn’t get out as much as she used to.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, breeds, dog photography, dogs, encounter, golden doodle, goldendoodle, lily, north carolina, pets, photography, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, travel, travels with ace, winston-salem
Age: 3 years
Encountered: In downtown Winston-Salem, N.C.
Backstory: The first time Muffy’s owner walked past Ace on the sidewalk, she picked her little poodle up, carrying her to a spot on the sidewalk where she and her friend set up their chairs to listen to a concert.
There, Muffy sat for the duration, on one lap or the other.
As they were leaving, they stopped and talked, and although she still held Muffy in her arms, she didn’t seem as fearful that my dog was going to gobble her’s up.
Muffy’s owner said she’d never had a dog before Muffy. Her mother never liked dogs. But after her mother passed away, she found Muffy at the local humane society and adopted her.
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” she said.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, breeds, dogs, encounter, muffy, north carolina, pets, photography, poodle, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, travel, travels with ace, winston-salem