It has been a year now since Ace and I moved into a little house in Bethania, North Carolina, and we’ve made a home improvement or two – even though we just rent.
One issue I hadn’t figured out though was what to do with the big tree stump in the front yard – which many might view as an eyesore.
Two years ago the whole property was an eyesore. The house was heavily damaged by a fire – a fire that, I’m told, killed two or three of the dogs that lived with the person who rented it then.
The little white house on Main Street sat vacant – amid a neighborhood of historic, pre-Revolutionary, mostly meticulously kept homes in Bethania, a community settled by Moravians in 1759.
It was purchased and renovated by the man who’s now my landlord, and since I moved in – and without spending too much of my own money – I’ve tried to make some little improvements here and there to the grounds.
As for the tree stump, I contemplated hollowing out the center and turning it into a decorative planter, but that would be a lot of work.
I thought about putting a plaque across it, the sort that a lot of the truly historic homes in town have. Mine’s just 1940s vintage, though.
I considered carving a Moravian star – sort of the town symbol – on the top of the stump. But that would be a lot of work, too.
For a good long while, I was stumped. Then it came to me. Rather than cover it up, I should use the big ol’ stump as a focal point – as the foundation, or pedestal, if you will, for some artwork.
And that’s how my dog became a decorative lawn ornament.
You know those big mansions you sometimes see – the ones with big cement lions on either side of the driveway? I’m not sure what message those big cement lions are supposed to send – other than “Yes, I’m rich enough to afford big cement lions.” Or maybe, “Enter at your own risk; this area patrolled by big cement lions.”
Having no big cement lions myself, and having a pedestal on only one side of my driveway, I decided upon a variation of that theme, and called upon my big ol’ dog.
It took only a day to teach him, with help from treats, to “Get on the stump,” and then sit still, and then stay there when I walk away.
(Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks, and even learn some your old self.)
Now, I can sit up on the front porch and command him to get on the stump, and then watch as people in cars whizzing past my otherwise nondescript house do double takes and point.
(Just as a reminder the speed limit is 35 in front of my house.)
Being a living lawn ornament, and given he has come to expect some treatage for getting on the stump, he’s not entirely motionless. If you watch carefully you can see the flow of drool that often cascades from his mouth while he’s up there, knowing that, in exchange for his toil, there’s a treat in his near future.
He’ll sit there for 10 minutes or more, though I usually don’t make him stay that long.
Of all the yard improvements I’ve made – flower boxes and flower beds and distributing pine needles to cover up the weeds on the front bank that’s too steep for me to mow – I think the Ace lawn ornament is by far my biggest achievement.
He is after all, the finest work of art I own, and I like to think – whether he’s up on his tree stump pedestal or just hanging out in the yard – he makes the bucolic little town of Bethania even more beautiful.
(Photo and video by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, behavior, bethania, dog, dogs, gardening, historic, historical, home improvement, landscaping, main street, moravian, new tricks, north carolina, old dogs, pets, settlement, stump, teaching, training, treats, tree, tree stump, tricks, yard
The sprucing up of Petite Acres — the trailer park in Arizona where I’ve temporarily hung my hat — continues.
In addition to paving the dirt road that leads into the trailer park, to keep the dust down, the owner hired one of my neighbors, Ramiro, to come over and remove a tree stump from my yard.
As Ramiro brought over his tools — an axe, a pick and multiple shovels — Ace followed him back and forth to his trailer, and, as he has before, got a hand out.
“I was feeding him some tamale and he ate the whole husk,” Ramiro said. “I hope it doesn’t make him sick.”
Clearly, Ace didn’t understand the intricacies of Mexican cuisine; then again, his policy when it comes to any food is generally to eat it first and ask questions later.
Six hours later, about the time the tree finally came down, the tamale came up. Ace walked to the trailer door and started hacking, and got down the stairs just in time to cough up a corn husk.
I’m not sure why the stump had to be removed. It takes up much more of my dirt yard now that it’s horizontal instead of vertical, but I’m sure someone will be chopping it up and hauling it away, and filling the giant hole in the ground.
But, being a temporary resident, my vote didn’t count.
Ramiro probably didn’t care either way about the stump in my yard, but once he tackled the task, it became a battle he had to win — and all done without the aid of heavy equipment. It was man versus stump.
Ramiro proudly took a picture of the tree he’d singlehandedly brought down. I took a picture of what Ace coughed up. Then, at Ramiro’s request, I took some pictures with his cell phone camera of him standing atop the fallen tree truck, raising his arms in victory.
All in all, as they go, it was a pretty exciting day at Petite Acres.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, arizona, ate, cave creek, corn husk, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eating, neighbor, petite acres, pets, ramiro, road trip, stump, tamales, trailer park, travel, travels with ace, tree, vomit
John Steinbeck’s French-born poodle, Charley, had little reaction to the giant redwood trees of southern Oregon and northern California – much to the chagrin of the author whose path we have been following for the past three months.
Based on what he wrote in “Travels with Charley,” seeing his dog make “his devoirs” — “devoirs” being French for “paying respect,” and paying respect being Steinbeck’s euphemism for peeing — was clearly important to him.
Charley urinating on a giant redwood, Steinbeck said, might “set him apart from other dogs — might even be like that Galahad who saw the Grail. The concept is staggering. After this experience he might be translated mystically to another plane of existence, to another dimension, just as the redwoods seem to be out of time and out of our ordinary thinking.”
He made a point of keeping Charley shielded from the trees, in the back of his camper Rocinante, until pulling over at the biggest redwood he could find.
“This was the time I had waited for. I opened the back door and let Charley out and stood silently watching, for this could be dog’s dream of heaven in the highest.” But Charley ignored the tree, Steinbeck wrote. “Look, Charley. It’s the tree of all trees. It’s the end of the quest.”
Then, he wrote, “I dragged him to the trunk and rubbed his nose against it. He looked coldly at me and forgave me and sauntered away to a hazelnut bush.” Not until Steinbeck broke off a willow branch, whittled one end to a point and inserted into the bark of the giant redwood did Charley do what seemed so important to Steinbeck. Devoirs accomplished.
It’s not exactly one of the warmest dog-human moments in the book — and Charley’s aloofness was pretty much the opposite of Ace’s reaction to the magnificent giants.
Ace rose up as we entered our first redwood forest and pressed his nose against the closed window. As always, I motored his window halfway down so he could sniff as well as see as we rode down a winding stretch of two-lane highway, rolling from dark shadows into blinding sunlight.
When we finally pulled over alongside a grove of redwoods, Ace was eager to get out, and tugged me into the forest.
He sniffed it, peed on it, and jumped up on it to sniff some more.
I won’t even try to describe the awe the redwoods inspire. Photos can’t do them justice. Word can’t do them justice, though Steinbeck came as close as anyone to getting across the “remote and cloistered feeling” one has when among them.
“One holds back speech for fear of disturbing something … for these are the last remaining members of a race that flourished over four continents as far back in geologic time as the upper Jurassic period.”
As the author noted, they have a way of making us realize how insignificant we are: “Can it be that we do not love to be reminded that we are very young and callow in a world that was old when we came into it?”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, book, california, charley, dogs, forest, giants, grove, john steinbeck, oregon, peeing on redwoods, pets, redwood, redwoods, road trip, steinbeck, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley, tree, trees
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, conifer, diversi-tree, diversity, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, driving, evergreens, golden, haiku, highway, highway haiku, pets, poetry, road, road trip, tamarack, travel, travels with ace, tree, trees
Animal control officers in Connecticut are asking for the public’s help in solving the mystery of a dead pit bull found in a trash bag hanging from a tree near a highway.
Authorities say bloody clothing, needles and syringes were also in the bag, found near a highway in the town of Orange on Saturday. It’s not clear how the dog, a 1- to 2-year-old female, died, according to the Register Citizen in Litchfield County.
The pit bull had puncture wounds on its shoulder and officials are looking into whether it was used in dogfighting rings. A necropsy is being conducted at the University of Connecticut.
The resident who found the bag called police about 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Officers took pictures of the bag in the tree and left it with the resident, who buried the dog with the bag and its other contents in his yard, Assistant Animal Control Officer Linda Schaff said.
After being called about the incident, Schaff went to pick up the dog Sunday, which is when the resident disinterred the animal and turned it over to her.
Anyone with information on the dog is asked to call the shelter at 203-389-5991.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, bag, bloody clothing, connecticut, dead, dogfighting, hanging, hung, linda schaff, necropsy, needles, news, ohmidog!, orange, pit bull, pitbull, puncture wounds, syringes, trash bag, tree
In a weekend battle between dog and oak tree (instigated by a squirrel), the mighty oak won the early rounds, keeping a Lab-pit bull named Rocky pinned for more than an hour, only to be felled at the end when, with a little help from his friends, Rocky emerged victorious.
Volunteer firefighters spent more than an hour Saturday rescuing Rocky from the bottom of a hollowed-out oak tree in eastern North Carolina.
Michael Adams Sr., the dog’s owner, said his fiancée let the family’s two dogs out of the house about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, but only one came back.
“That’s unusual because they’re always together,” he said.
He said the family was looking for the 6-month-old pup when a neighbor walking his own dog heard whining from the woods and found the dog.
“I think he was chasing a squirrel,” Adams said of Rocky. “But he ran right in there so fast that he got pinned. We tried to dig him out but we couldn’t pull him out.”
When Jeremy Brown, chief of the Harlowe Volunteer Fire Department, arrived, he sized up the situation and called for his equipment truck, according to ENC Today.
“We’ve never been taught anything about extricating a dog from a tree,” Brown said.
Winging it, Brown’s crew fired up the chain saw and cut the tree down about three feet above where the dog was stuck. With the top of the tree gone, they could see that the dog was pinned by one of its roots. Crews then began sawing through the sides of the tree, splitting it open with the Jaws of Life.
The dog was freed amid cheers from the crowd that had gathered.
Brown said the dog emerged unscathed. “The dog’s fine, no injuries, no nothing,” he said.
For the oak tree, however, it was a career-ending defeat.
(Photos: Harlowe Volunteer Fire Department)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 23rd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: chain saws, dog, dogs, fire department, head, hole, nature, north carolina, oak tree, pets, rescued, squirrel, stuck, tree, volunteer