I think that I shall never see
a tree unscathed by doggie pee
– Not Joyce Kilmer
Maybe there are some out there — a tree or two that, in their lifetimes, have somehow avoided ever being annointed by dog.
But, sharing the country with 75 million dogs, as both trees and we do, that is unlikely — and even more so in paved-over urban areas, where dogs sometimes outnumber trees, the living things they seem to most like to pee on.
For centuries, there seems to have been an unwritten agreement — a pee-ful coexistence — between dogs and trees. But, at least for half a century or so, there have been worries expressed about the cumulative effect of the continual sprinkling that some trees undergo, especially those in densely populated urban areas.
Some were recently voiced by a Philadelphia woman with an interesting perspective. Carrie Maria owns Monster Minders, a Philadelphia dog-walking service, and she’s a graduate of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders program.
“Urine is highly acidic,” Maria wrote on the The Monster Minders blog. “Simply put, dogs’ urine ‘burns’ the tree’s trunk to the point that the tree becomes susceptible to diseases, pests, dehydration and nutrient loss.”
Maria’s report drew the attention of The Atlantic, which ran a lengthy piece on its blog, Atlantic Cities, complete with photos she had taken of disfigured trees in her neighborhood she says are likely victims of pee-blight.
We can’t confirm that the damaged trees she photographed (pictured here) are solely victims of dog pee — and neither could experts. But we give her credit for speaking up for the underdog, which in this particular case is trees.
“Your dog ‘marks’ the tree, then another dog walks by 10 minutes later, smells your dog’s scent and hits it again, 15 minutes later and another dog walks by, hits it again. This goes on day in and day out … One dog’s scent ends up on a tree and others just keep marking it, over and over until the tree is compromised.”
Where I live — not in a real big city, not downtown — the yard in front of my apartment has huge oak trees, planted probably a good half century ago, or more. Ace pees on his favorite one regularly, but it’s so well-established it doesn’t seem to mind, and show no signs of damage.
About this time of year, the oak trees start raining acorns, and every once in a while one drops and hits Ace in the head. He jumps up and looks around, unaware he has been the victim of poetic justice.
Impervious as the big oaks in my yard may be, saplings in cities — the ones growing in a few square feet of dirt, the ones that have become potty stops for dozens of dogs daily — are another story.
“Repeated hits with urine basically causes an ‘open wound’ right on the base on the tree. Since the bombardment from pee is semi-constant in an urban environment, the trees never have a chance to heal from past damage. These wounds open the trees up to a slew of diseases that they just can’t fight off.” Maria wrote.
Her solution: Curb your dog.
It’s an old phrase, and one that – outside of places like New York — lots of people don’t even understand. It means to pee where the street meets the curb. And while that may lead to gutters running yellow, and car tires taking on a pee-scent, thereby attracting more to dogs to take aim on them, Maria finds that preferable to the tree assault.
“It’s simple. Redirect your dog when he/she is headed for a tree,” Maria says. ”Teach your dog to ‘curb it.’”
How big a factor is dog pee, compared to all the other hazards urban trees face — like road salt, car doors, poor soil, limited room to grow and youths with pen knives? As the Atlantic Cities blog points out, experts aren’t sure:
“Whether pee hurts trees is a question that’s attracted virtually no research attention since its earliest mention in the academic literature …”
The post mentions one presentation, way back in 1959, in which a plant pathologist named Pascal Pirone warned of the dangers. In ‘Why shade trees die along city streets,’ a presentation given at the International Shade Tree Conference, he said ‘dog canker’ could kill trees up to 6 inches in diameter.”
But the Atlantic post also quoted a staff member at the Smithsonian Institution’s horticulture department as saying the trunk damage shown in Maria’s photos could have come from a number of causes, “including mechanical damage [i.e. mowers, car doors, pedestrians], southwest injury, disease [cankers], and insects [borers].”
While the extent of the harm caused by dog urine remains untallied, most experts agree it can’t be helping trees.
“We deal with it in the sense that I imagine trees get added stress or maybe anxiety” from dogs, says John Thomas, associate director at Washington, D.C.’s Urban Forestry Administration. “I don’t know how much dog urine you need to kill a tree. But there’s definitely something there…. Somebody could definitely get a masters or Ph.D. out of studying it.”
(Photos: Top photo by John Woestendiek; tree photos by Carrie Maria / Monster Minders)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acid, animals, atlantic cities, blogs, carrie maria, curb, curb your dog, damage, dog, dogs, downtown, health, horticulture, marking, monster minders, pee, pets, philadelphia, saplings, scent, trees, urban, urination, urine
Officials in Jiangmen, China, are banning residents from keeping dogs in the city and are telling owners to begin taking their dogs to drop-off centers, where they will either be adopted by rural residents or euthanized.
The ban will be in effect in the most densely populated sections of Jiangmen, a city with a population of 3.8 million.
China Daily reports that dogs will be prohibited in urban public places and illegally raised dogs will be confiscated or hunted in Jiangmen city starting August 26, according to the city government of South China’s Guangdong province.
“We hope that all citizens will cooperate with us in creating a civilized Jiangmen and send their dogs to outskirts or rural areas,” said an official from the municipal committee of political science and law.
The notice has raised great concerns among citizens. “It’s unfair to kill all dogs without allowing people to get their dog a license. Their doing this shows no respect of life,” a citizen said. Others are calling for a more reasonable regulation on dog-raising.
The Daily Mail, in London, reports that up to 30,000 dogs could be put down in connection with the ban, which was prompted by an outbreak of rabies. Forty-two residents have reportedly died of rabies in the last three years.
Officials issued a declaration, called The Notice on Strengthening the Management of Dogs, which stated that residents must re-home their dogs between August 10 and 25. After the 25th, authorities will start confiscating dogs found in the area included in the ban.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, ban, china, city, culling, dog, dogs, euthanized, fear, government, guangdong province, jiangmen, killing, outbreak, pets, rabies, urban
I have heard the term “brick shithouse,” but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one — until Saturday, when I encountered something close: a toilet made of brick in a restroom made of cinderblock at a park well outside Harrisburg.
It — the term — is, at least when I’ve heard it, generally used to describe someone of sturdy frame, as in: “He (she) is built like a brick shithouse.”
Urban Dictionary offers these definitions: “…very muscled and tough; impervious, unassailable … a stand alone toilet, constructed from brick.” (Is there a rural dictionary? There should be.)
I’m not sure of the phrase’s origin, but I’d guess, when outhouses were common, most were made of flimsy wood — until someone constructed a brick one, and word spread about how sturdy it was. I’m guessing people flocked to see it, making comments like, “Now, that’s a shithouse.” Somehow, from that point, the phrase began being used to describe large and sturdy people.
Ace and I were on our way to visit some puppies for sale by an Amish breeder (story to come) when we stopped at a municipal park to stretch our legs (to use a more polite euphemism). I stepped into the bathroom to see a toilet seat perched atop what appeared to be a chimney.
I’d imagine sitting on it — a purpose I did not require — would make one feel a little like Santa Claus.
Anyway, having seen a brick shithouse, or at least something close to it, we can cross it off our list and continue our travels, staying on the lookout for hell in a handbasket, a two-dollar whore, raining cats and dogs, and lipstick on a pig.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bathroom, brick shithouse, built like a brick shithouse, dog's country, dogs, house, pennsylvania, pets, phrase, public, restroom, road trip, rural, shit, shit house, shithouse, slang, toilet, travel, travels, travels with ace, urban
On the streets of Moscow, the evolution of dog is playing out in reverse.
So contends Andrei Poyarkov, a biologist and wolf specialist who has dedicated himself to studying the city’s vast population of strays — the 30,000-plus dogs that, while learning such new urban skills as using the subways, are in reality moving back to something closer to a wolf-like state.
His efforts were recounted in an enlightening piece in yesterdays Financial Times.
Poyarkov began studying the strays in 1979, starting with those living near his apartment and the ones he encountered on his way to work. He made recordings of the sounds that the strays made, and began to study their social organization. He photographed them and mapped where each dog lived.
Poyarkov, who works at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, says Moscow’s strays are somewhere between house pets and wolves, in the early stages of the shift from the domesticated back towards the wild. It’s a process that he believes can’t be reversed, at least not in individual dogs. The strays are resistant to domestication, and many can’t stand being confined indoors.
Most of Moscow’s strays rarely wag their tails, are wary of humans and show no signs of affection towards them. A few remain comfortable with people, but more have moved on to a second stage, where they will approach people only to get food.
A third group interact mainly with other strays and get their food from garbage bins.
The last of Poyarkov’s groups are the wild dogs. “There are dogs living in the city that are not socialized to people. They know people, but view them as dangerous. Their range is extremely broad, and they are predators. They catch mice, rats and the occasional cat. They live in the city, but as a rule near industrial complexes, or in wooded parks. They are nocturnal and walk about when there are fewer people on the streets.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: andrei poyarkov, animals, behavior, city, dog, dogs, domestication, evolution, feral, moscow, pets, research, reverse, russia, stray, strays, street, study, subway, urban, wild, wolf, wolves
New York dog writer Nadia Zonis recently appeared on New York’s WNYC to tout the newest in a series of guides for walking your dog in the city.
Zonis, the New York editor for Urbanhound.com, is the author of “City Walks With Dogs, New York,” which includes 50 flash cards, each depicting a different route, and the pet-friendly attractions you’ll encounter along the way.
Some of the walks included are SoHo and the West Village, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Roosevelt Island and Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue. You can order it from Amazon here.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: brooklyn bridge, central park, city, dog, dog walking, dogs, maps, nadia zonis, new york, new york city, routes, soho, urban, walking, walks with dogs, west village
Michael Vick, in the first of what he hopes will be dozens of appearances around the country to urge low-income youths to avoid dogfighting, spoke to a small gathering in Atlanta yesterday — but most press was banned from the event.
Vick’s visit to a suburban Atlanta community center was largely off limits — both to the news media and most members of the neighborhood it was supposed to be helping. Only 55 people and a crew from “60 Minutes” were allowed to attend, the Associated Press reported.
An Associated Press reporter, videographer and photographer were among the media banished from the property by police. Most people who live in the largely black neighborhood southeast of Atlanta were unaware of Vick’s appearance.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said the group wants to be open and reach as many people as possible with its anti-dogfighting message, but Vick’s handlers insisted on tight controls on the meeting.
“We don’t want this to be a flash in the pan,” Pacelle said. “We are committed to transparency over the long run and having Michael involved in many community-based events to speak about the issue. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but he wants the opportunity in a controlled setting to make his first statement on the issue. But I’m sure he’s going to be speaking out more based on what he had to say today.”
“We’re giving him an opportunity to plug into our community-based forums,” Pacelle said. “But he obviously has his own set of individuals who are working with him and want to present things in the way they want.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 60 minutes, anti-dogfighting, appearance, atlanta, campaign, community, dogfighting, first, hsus, humane society, meeting, michael vick, private, public, talk, urban, wayne pacelle, youth
The Austonian, a luxury high rise condominium that will also be the tallest building in Austin once it’s completed in 2010, is taking aim at the doggie crowd.
The 56-story building will feature a 10th-floor pet park, a pet grooming area and a team of personal assistants available around the clock to better serve you and your pet’s needs.
“Knowing that leaving the building is not always the most convenient alternative, a dog park offers a secured outside area on the 10th floor of the building. The surface of the park includes a Synlawn synthetic grass surface with a sanitary drainage system,” a press release about the project says.
Next to that will be a pet grooming area with a raised bathing area where owners can groom their own pets or avail themselves of the services of a professional groomer
Residents will also have access to pet food delivery, personal shopping and pet sitting and taxi service to and from appointments outside the building — all provided by Lofty Dog, which is headquartered two blocks away.
A veterinarian, kennel and “bakery services” provided by Groovy Dog Bakery will also be at the beck and call of residents.
And if all that weren’t enough, the Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, which includes places for dogs to swim and play leash-free, is just two blocks away.
All that for the low low price of …
Well, they don’t appear to be saying yet on the Austonian website, but I’m guessing it’s more than the average mutt can afford.
The Austonian is the second North American luxury real estate project by Grupo Villar Mir (GVM), creators of the Mayakoba golf, hotel and residential resort located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: austin, austonian, catering, condo, development, dog, dog friendly, dogs, downtown, grupo villar mir, high rise, housing, lifestyle, luxury, news, ohmidog!, pampered, pet, pet park, pets, real estate, tallest, texas, urban
I don’t know if it was love at first sniff, but the two dogs in this video clearly took a liking to each other outside Kildare’s Irish pub in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia.
The video was shot by Don Groff, a former colleague of mine from Philadelphia, during the Manayunk Arts Festival last weekend.
“I shot it Saturday … while seated at a sidewalk table,” Groff says. “It’s short on plot and dialogue … but viewers might grin over how two urban dogs can turn a patch of Main Street into a gleeful romping field.”
Don also does a blog, which you can find here.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 30th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: arts festival, behavior, dogs, don groff, friends, kildare's irish pub, manayunk, philadelphia, play, street, urban, video
But between busy schedules, foul weather and the recent rise in leash law fears here in Baltimore, wearing your dog out with a good romp can be difficult.
My spring schedule involves farmers markets, trips to see family and friends, graduations, cook outs, baseball games, and weekend journeys – all of which starts to eat into my time to exercise my border collie.
It has been made much worse lately by the monsoon season we have been experiencing — great for the crops, terrible for dog owners.
The soon-to-be-corrected hike in leash law fines to $1,000 really cut into the number of people taking their dogs to Baltimore parks, too, with many who once let their dog play off leash, turning instead to settling for a quick on-leash walk.
It’s harder to raise a dog in the city, harder yet when the weather doesn’t cooperate. A dog owner in an urban area has no choice. Assuming you don’t have a pricey doggie treadmill, you, like the proverbial mailperson, have no choice but to be out there – rain, sleet or snow. And even if you do have a yard, you still have to deal with snow covered fur, wet dog smells, and muddy paws. This April, soggy as it was, reminded me how important it is to have a variety of ways to exercise your dog in your own home.
So, I thought I would share a few:
1) Spend a couple minutes a day training your dog. If you have taken an obedience class or even watched Victoria Stilwell, you have some basic idea of how to teach sit. Running through a couple minutes a day with your dog on behaviors they already know, or things you want them to learn, will keep them out of trouble.
2) Play ball in the house. This is only an option if you aren’t an antique collector, and it won’t work for large dogs unless you live in a warehouse. But roll a ball across the room to your dog. Let him/her bring it back. Repeat. Keep repeating until one of you grows bored.
3) Present new or new-again toys. If your dog has toys that have fallen out of rotation, or that are no longer fun, take them away. Wash them, and hide them in a closet. When you have a rainy boring day, or a 10th rainy boring day, you might be surprised how excited your dog becomes for any kind of distraction. Other ways to make toys fun, even if they weren’t before, include burying the toys in kibble for a day to get it smelling like food, and inserting replacement squeakers because, as we all know, it’s all about the squeak.
4) Take a class. This is great in the dead of winter and in the sweltering days of summer. Sign up for an obedience class. The spaces are climate controlled and you will be amazed how tired your dog is after an hour of using their brain. It also helps you have options for training sessions in the house.
5) Mental Puzzles are another great option. You could buy a commercially available dog puzzle, such as the ones here. You could serve dinner in a food dispensing Kong. Even dumping kibble on the kitchen floor, putting it in a stuffed animal that has already been gutted, or turning dinner into a game of fetch will buy you some exercise credits.
6) Set up a play date. If you have friends with dogs that get along with your dog, set up a play date. Move the fragile stuff out of the room, and let them play. Better yet, find a friend with a garage and get a couple dogs together. Even an hour of romping and wrestling will wear your dog out. Some of the daycares and training spaces in Baltimore are available for rent in 15 minute increments during off times. We rent out our training space for play dates or practice sessions any day of the week.
The key to surviving rough weather with a pet that requires exercise is to find ways to entertain them. If none of the above seem to be enough, I can recommend a great place to buy rain boots.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ball, behave!, behavior, busy, challenges, city, class, day care, devices, dog, dogs, exercise, fetch, food, house, indoor, indoors, inside, kong, leash law, mental, new again, obedience, old toys, play date, puzzles, sit, squeakers, stay, time, tired, toys, training, training centers, treats, tricks, urban, weather
Days like yesterday (and let’s hope that kind of weather holds out for today’s March for the Animals) are meant to be enjoyed, so we got up early and headed to Baltimore’s Riverside Park with Ace and Eli (a visiting dog) to soak up some sun, take care of business, and pitch in with a park clean-up that was getting underway.
We filled a couple of trash bags with the shrapnel of urban life — discarded socks, potato chip wrappers, tiny zip lock drug baggies, condom wrappers, cigarette butts, beer cans, diapers and more.
Among the handfuls of debris I was picking up — some mysterious, some identifiable — was this, a fortune cookie fortune, which said:
How cool would it be, I thought to myself, to get two more dogs, and name them “Excitement” and “Intrigue?” Then they could follow me wherever I went. (I didn’t play the lucky numbers, but feel free to try them if you like.)
Returning to the task at hand — bending over, picking up, bagging — I noticed I was having a hard time keeping my pants up (a common ailment among men as they get older and fatter). So I took Ace’s leash, put it through my pants loops and used it for the belt I forgot to put on that morning (forgetting being another common ailment among old fat men). Cinching it tight, I continued with trash patrol.
Our bags nearly full, we stopped and visited with the bench-painting detail, where Ace supervised as a fresh coat of park green was applied.
After that, we made a loop around the park, stopping to talk to Athena, a mastiff friend. As we chatted, Ace, tired from all the work, decided to lay down. He was about ten inches from feet — and still unleashed — when what to my wondering eyes should appear but:
The officer rolled to a stop. “Better get that dog on a leash,” he said. “There’s a $1,000 fine.”
I immediately complied, figuring the penalty for losing my pants wouldn’t be nearly that much. And while I’m thankful for not getting a citation, I couldn’t help but wonder a bit about our city’s priorities. It’s not so much that I was fingered while exhibiting — like many other dog owners involved in the cleanup — some civic responsibility. It’s just that, based on what was in my bag, the park, like the city, has bigger problems than an unleashed dog laying 10 inches from his guardian’s feet.
In a park where drug dealers regularly conduct their business, and hookers turn tricks in the porta-pots, having police crack down on unleashed dogs seems almost comedic.
As we completed our loop around the park, I noticed the officer had made a loop as well, and — unless I was being paranoid — seemed to be keeping an eye on me.
I was being followed, alright. But it was by neither excitement nor intrigue. It was the Baltimore Police Department.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, city, city council, cleanup, condoms, crime, debris, dog, dogs, dogwalkers, drug baggies, drug dealers, fines, garbage, grime, hookers, leash law, life, one thousand dollar fines, parks, penalties, police, riverside, trash, unleashed, urban