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Tag: washington

Pawlitico? Website starts DC dogs series

The website Politico — apparently having finally realized how boring politicians are — has launched a series of videos profiling the pets of Washington’s movers and shakers.

The series of tributes kicked off yesterday with a look at Cali, a grey dachshund who is a fixture in the office of California Rep. Ken Calvert. Her owner is Rebecca Rudman, the congressman’s communications director.

The 3-year-old dachshund can often be seen running the marble halls of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Politico reports that “Rudman threw a tennis ball along the corridor outside Calvert’s office, as Cali ran for it wildly and dutifully brought it back.”

OK, so it’s not exactly hard-hitting reporting. Still, it’s nice to see some inside-the-beltway dogs other than Bo getting some attention.

This ain’t no Motel 6 …

 

Ace and I woke up yesterday morning in a Motel 6 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was the cheaper of the two in town, at $29, probably because it lacked a certain amenity — that being hot water. At least my room did.

We woke up today at the Hotel Monaco in Washington — after an evening that included a long hot bath, washing my hair with complimentary Aveda products, drying off with big fluffy towels, then cloaking myself in the complimentary leopard print robe.

Ace, because I wondered what he’d look like as a leopard, tried one too.

After seven months of living on a shoestring, and staying in dozens of Motel 6′s during our 22,000 mile journey, checking into the Hotel Monaco was culture shock. I like culture shock.

Upon arrival, Ace immediately ate an entire bowl of dog treats left by the front desk, then asked for more. One of the desk clerks proposed to him, and he received a gift bag to take the room. Hotel Monaco is very dog friendly, charges no fees, and has no size, weight or breed restrictions, which is as it should be.

The hotel’s awesomeness goes beyond that, though. It’s in what was once Washington D.C.’s General Post Office, built in 1839 by Robert Mills, the architect who designed the Washington Monument. We were able to enjoy  our nicest lodgings yet courtesy of my publisher. At least it better be courtesy of my publisher. Otherwise, I am officially over my credit limit.

We’re here for an appearance on the Diane Rehm Show this morning to talk about my new book, “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning  Man’s Best Friend.” Ace will luxuriate in the hotel room while I do that, and tape another radio show in the afternoon.

Then we’ll head back home to Baltimore for a book signing party tonight, and another tomorrow.

The one tonight — and everyone is invited to both — will be from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Idle Hour, 201 E. Fort Avenue.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we’ll be signing books (and of course selling them, too, with help from The Book Escape) at Captain Larry’s, 601 E. Fort Avenue, also from 7 to 10 p.m.

Ace and the American sunset

Since Ace was the first dog in America to see the sun rise (above) — back on Oct. 3, when we were on the other side of the country – I thought it would be fitting for him to be the last dog to see it set as we make our way down the west coast.

On the road, I called my son on my cell phone and asked him to look it up on the Internet. Thirty minutes later, he called back with the answer, or at least one of them — Cape Blanco, Oregon.

That was back when I was still in the state of Washington, and I’d filed it away in the back of my mind (translation: I’d all but forgotten about it) until, while driving south down Highway 101 in Oregon, I saw a sign for Cape Blanco State Park.

Where have I heard of that before, I wondered. You know how you can set your computer to delete your Internet history when you log off? That’s kind of how my brain works sometimes.

Five more minutes down the road, it registered, and I decided to seek out a motel in Port Orford, and drive back up to the park around sunset time.

Suitable lodgings eluded us though (more on that bizarre episode tomorrow), so Ace and I killed some time sniffing around Port Orford before heading to the park, hoping the clouds and drizzle might clear up enough to see some sign of a sun setting.

We turned off 101 and followed the road, past the park and towards the Cape Blanco lighthouse until the road — and seemingly the continent — came to an end.

And as — we can only guess — the sun went down, here is what we saw:

I got only close enough to the edge to see that it dropped off pretty severely, but I could see nothing more than the vague outline of a huge rock in the ocean, or at least what I thought was the ocean.

As for Ace — our visit to Niagara Falls still in the front of my  mind – I kept him on a very short leash and right at my side, fearing he might venture into oblivion, or pull me into it. In the thick fog, it was a scary place — and maybe it is in the light of day too, like something you’d see in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Two people would get into an argument at the edge, and pretty soon you’d only see one.

Here’s what the cape looks like in the cloud- and fog-free light of day:

The top of the lighthouse is, some say, the last place to see the sun go down in the 48 contiguous states.

But not all agree with that — or even with the contention that Cape Blanco is the westernmost point in the contiguous 48. Some say Cape Alaya in Washington is westernmoster.

Apparently, the confusion is caused by land shifts and measurement anomalies and whether the measurements are taken at high tide or low tide.

One can tour the Cape Blanco lighthouse between April 1 and Oct. 31, and, for a fee, climb the three flights of stairs and one ladder to the tower.

This isolated lighthouse holds at least four Oregon records: it is the oldest continuously operating light, the most westerly, has the highest focal plane above the sea, and employed Oregon’s first female lighthouse keeper.

And it’s a great place to see sunsets.

Sometimes.

Portraits of Ace, in sculpture

Ace will clamber right up on a picnic table. He’ll settle on a park bench just like a human. And when it comes to public sculpture, he will –  with the slightest encouragement and if there is room — climb aboard as well.

So with no disrespect to the artists intended — actually quite the opposite — here are some photos of Ace, who is feeling much better, thank you, posing on and in public sculpture in Seattle.

Being, in my view, a work of art himself, Ace only adds to the artists’ works, breathes new life into them, and, hey, they are public. If they were fenced off, of course, we wouldn’t trespass upon them, I’m pretty sure.

Above and to the left is “Changing Form,” by Doris Chase, located in Kerry Park in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood .

I’d like to think that Doris, who died two years ago, would have no problem with Ace climbing into her 15 foot tall steel sculpture — that she and other creators of outdoor art would actually want people to touch and climb on and fully experience (except for peeing, which Ace didn’t) their works.

The sculpture consists of stacked geometric shapes with cutouts opening to views of downtown Seattle. (The view of the skyline from Kerry Park is a famous one, and also served as the view from Frazier’s condominium on the television show.)

Chase, a Seattle artist who later became known for her pioneering work in video art, finished the sculpture in 1971. The piece was commissioned by the daughters of A. Kerry, the benefactor who gave the city Kerry Park.

This donut-looking work is “Black Sun,” by Isamu Noguchi, a prominent Japanese-American artist who died in 1988.

It’s located in Seattle’s Volunteer Park, where tourists frequently photograph it with the Space Needle showing through the hole.

We managed to capture the Space Needle and Ace, who,  though he would have preferred a real giant donut, still eagerly approached and jumped up on the sculpture.

I suspect that doggy types will have no problem with Ace climbing up on treasured works of art, and that artsy types might view it as rude, and that doggy-artsy types will have mixed feelings.

But I would argue that art placed in a park — as opposed to behind a glass case in a museum — is meant to touch, and be touched by, the populace, and I consider dogs part of the populace.

There was one statue Ace didn’t have a chance to climb aboard. The artist beat me to the punch. It already sported a canine – a coyote, to be precise.

This statue of a coyote standing atop a cow used to be in Pioneer Square in Seattle. It now calls a sidewalk in Kirkland home.

It was the first statue cast by artist Brad Rude — a Montana born artist who grew up in Walla Walla and attended Maryland Institute College of Art.

He sculpted the life-sized cow and coyote in plaster while working at a foundry. When he asked the foundry owner for a raise, the owner volunteered to cast the cow and coyote in bronze.

Some people find the concept odd — a cow with a coyote standing on his back.

But it makes perfect sense to me.

Seattle: Where dogs are king

To my list of top five dog parks in America — which for all I know may number 16 by now — I must add one more: Marymoor Park in King County, Washington.

This is what a dog park should be — not some over-landscaped half acre, not fake hills covered with fake grass, not a field of gravel or a stretch of pavement.

Marymoor’s dog park is about as organic as dog parks get — this is Seattle after all — with the only obvious addition to its 40 acres of nature being the tons of mulch on the trails to keep things from getting too soggy.

“Doggy Disneyland,” as some call it, is huge — and hugely popular. When Ace and I visited this week, we saw two jam-packed parking lots, and well over 100 dogs romping about, some in the river, some in the open fields.

Located on what used to be a farm, the dog park features several hundred feet of river access and numerous walking paths. It’s less than two miles from the main Microsoft campus, which is something to behold as well.

The Seattle area, just as it draws high tech companies, seems to attract dog lovers — either that or it sprouts them from its well-watered soil. The abundance of dogs,  the esteem in which they are held, and lots of hard work have combined to make it a good place to be a dog.

Seattle and its surrounding area started opening dog parks before a lot of cities even started thinking about them.

The Save Our Dog Area committee of Marymoor Park formed in 1987 when citizens learned the King County Parks Division planned to close the off-leash area.

It managed to convince the county that dogs and their owners were as deserving of some recreational space as soccer-playing kids, kite-flyers and picnickers.

In 1995, the King County Council voted to adopt the new Marymoor Master Plan which called for keeping the dog area open and operating. After that SODA, which initially stood for “Save Our Dog Areas,” became “Serve Our Dog Areas,” working to maintain the acreage devoted to dogs.

Within the city of Seattle, another group, COLA (Citizens for Off-Leash Areas) was formed in 1995, seeking permanent off-leash recreational access in some of Seattle’s nearly 400 parks.

After opening seven dog parks on a trial basis, the Seattle City Council in 1997 voted 9-0 to establish permanent off-leash dog areas, giving COLA the responsibility of stewarding the sites for the Department of Parks and Recreation. There are now 11 of them.

In our 17,000 miles of traveling so far we’ve seen a lot of dog-friendly towns, including the dog-friendliest, but the Seattle area, in our book, has got to be one of the dog friendliest big cities in the country … Rain or shine.

Sickly in Spokane, sleepy in Seattle

I extend my apologies to the two most recent Motel 6’s my dog Ace and I patronized — for, despite my best efforts to clean things up, I fear Ace left his mark, or at least a distinct scent.

Ace, just like John Steinbeck’s Charley — and almost as if on script – got sick in Spokane.

For Charley, the problem was being unable to pee, and it began, according to “Travels with Charley”  in Idaho, the night  Steinbeck counseled a father and son from who he rented a cabin for the night.

The teenager wanted to leave rural Idaho and move to New York to pursue a career in hairdressing … “Not barbering — hairdressing — for women,” Steinbeck quotes the father as saying. “Now maybe you see why I got worries.”

To his credit, Steinbeck, as he describes it, supported the son’s career choice:

“I tell you that a clever, thoughtful, ambitious hairdresser wields a power beyond the comprehension of most men,” he explained to the worried dad.

That night, Steinbeck’s poodle Charley woke his master with his whines. The dog’s abdomen was distended and his nose and ears were hot, Steinbeck noted. “I took him out and stayed with him, but he could not relieve the pressure.”

Steinbeck, playing vet, gave Charley some of his sleeping pills, Seconal, assuming it would relax the dog’s tensed up insides. According to the book, Charley fell alseep on the bed, fell off it, tried to get up, and stumbled. He managed to walk outside briefly before coming back inside and immediately falling asleep again.

The next morning, Steinbeck rushed him to a veterinarian in Spokane, who diagnosed Charley as an old dog. On Steinbeck’s insistence though, he eventually agreed to give the dog a pill to help flush out his kidneys. Once in Seattle — where Charley rested up for a few days in some undisclosed whereabouts — Steinbeck questioned whether the constant vibration of his camper, Rocinante, might be the cause of, or at least contributing to, his dog’s troubles.

I was asking myself some similar questions as Ace and I drove from Spokane toward Seattle. Is the trip taking a toll on him? Should we stop and visit a vet? His problem wasn’t the same as Charley’s. It was diarrhea. Other than that — the sudden need to poop and its runny consequences — he showed no signs of being sick. He still ran in circles and played at our rest stops. His nose was cold. His eyes were clear. He was, as always, ready to eat.

I’d cleaned up four runny piles of poop at the Motel 6 in Spokane — all of which were deposited as I slept — and was worried the next night might bring the same.

I went ahead and drove all the way to Seattle’s outskirts, wanting to clear Snoqualmie Pass before more snow came, but — not wanting to show up with a runny dog at the house of some old friends who’d agreed to put us up — I checked into a Motel 6 in Kirkland.

I realized the next morning it was a good choice — for me and my friends, if not for the Motel 6. Ace had left another deposit on the floor. Having used up all my paper towels the night before, I resorted to trying to clean it up with toilet paper and copious amounts of water. I scooped, and blotted, then scrubbed, which would leave little pills of toilet paper all over the spot, but eventually it turned the same color as the rest of the carpet. And opening the windows wide was helping air the place out.

Even as I worked to clean things up though, Ace would head to the door with a panicky look in his eyes. He left several more unscoopable deposits outside.

I called my friends and warned them, suggested even that maybe they won’t want us as house guests. I was worried Ace might mess their home, or contaminate their two dogs. They told me to come on over.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at their home in Kirkland was the nice cream-colored carpeting in most rooms.

My friend Marilyn, a nurturing type, told me not to worry, and fed Ace some cottage cheese. Then she cooked up some rice, which he’d eat for dinner the next two nights.

I decided to wait another day before contacting a vet and went to sleep worried — and with one hand on Ace, who was sprawled out on the bed next to me, in hopes that if he stirred, it would wake me up.

It worked, and about an hour after I fell asleep, he got up, and so did I, immediately seeing that panicked look in his eyes. We rushed down the stairs and outside, then went back to bed — once again with my hand resting atop him. The rest of the night was, thankfully, poopless; but he got up early to rush outside again.

So far, the cream-colored carpets have remained cream colored. Marilyn, in saintly fashion, has continued to pamper him. There have been no accidents.  I’ve got my fingers crossed and — probably on account of worrying so much about his stomach — a sort of non-peaceful, queasy feeling in mine.

The Grapes of George (and other crops)

I’m not sure who’s behind it, but in the flatlands of eastern Washington — before the westbound traveler gets to the far more magnificent side of the state — someone has decided to label the crops.

“Crop names in fence lines next 14 miles,” reads a sign on Interstate 90, somewhere west of Moses Lake and east of a town named George.

I like this idea. For one thing, it turns a fairly boring drive into a learning experience. For another, possibly, it makes people a little more aware of/involved in the place they’re at — as opposed to the text they’re sending, the video game they’re playing, or the cell phone on which they’re blabbing.

It’s kind of like a picture book for kids: Here is the field corn, here is the alfalfa. You don’t even have to turn the page, just your head. On your left, potatoes; on your right, peppermint. Here is a field of … wheat. Here is a field of … grapes (wrathless variety, it appeared). Here is some Timothy. Timothy? (It’s a kind of hay.)

For 14 miles, on both sides of the highway, I got a lesson in agriculture — thanks to, I’d guess, the state or some agricultural commission. I wanted to learn more about crops, including why every state seems to package its hay differently. But the lesson came to an end; and as I progressed west, instead of crop signs, the only ones I saw in the fence lines — not counting those of politicians — said “For Sale.”

It struck me as a good idea, though, all this labeling and identifying — one that, if carried to extremes, could both create jobs and lead to a more informed public.

In addition to crop identifiers, why not farm animal identifiers: Sheep, goats, cows, llamas? Tree identifiers that would help us differentiate between our birch and our aspen? Factory identifiers that tell us what’s being made inside that big building? A much needed explanation of what silos (a) hold and (b) are for? The American public would get a better understanding of the importance of farming, and everything else we take for granted.

(Label this idea satire, but only kind of.)

Of course we don’t want drivers reading signs so much that they neglect their driving, but it’s nice to see signs that inform, instead of those that merely advertise, or give harsh orders — as if we were dogs or something: “No this … No that … Stay in lane … Right lane must exit … ”

I’m tired, too, of the signs that scare us: Dangerous Crosswinds Ahead, Watch for Ice, High Accident Area, Gas: $3.15.

We tend to readily identify dangers, we profusely post rules, we slap advertising everywhere — so why not label the run of the mill good stuff, like cows and creeks, steaming bowls of oatmeal and doers of good deeds?

My label-everything-on-earth plan could help the economy. Think of all the jobs. Think of the stimulus. We would need more signmakers, more sign putter-uppers, more sign repairers, more sign changers — for when the crops are rotated, or the landscape changes.

Maybe knowing what’s what would help us appreciate our Earth a little more, teach us to better “live in the moment.” Or maybe not. In any event, here’s the one I want to see:

A sign that the economy is improving.

BARCS to be part of pit bull project

Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) is one of five shelters that will take part in a pilot program aimed at reducing euthanasia of pit bulls, encouraging responsible ownership and improving the perception of the breed.

A $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities will fund the programs, coordinated by Best Friends Animal Society.

The grant was announced last week in Las Vegas at Best Friends’ annual  No More Homeless Pets Conference.

The “Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project” will create partnerships between Best Friends and shelters in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., Carlsbad, Calif. and Tampa, Fla.

All will be based on the partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services that began in July 2009. It resulted in a 10 percent drop in euthanasia of pit bull-type dogs in its first year, and led to twice as many being adopted as the previous year.

The Salt Lake program, which will serve as a model for the new pilot projects, offers community education and free or low-cost training and spaying and neutering — all aimed at keeping pets in the family and reduce the numbers being abandoned.

The program uses volunteers, called the “Pit Crew,” to showcases dogs for adoption through outreach events, photos and descriptions online and also fosters dogs whose time is up in the shelter. There also is emphasis on creating frequent media opportunities to portray pit bull-type dogs in a positive light–to counter the image of the breed often presented in the news.

Funds provided by PetSmart Charities and additional funds from Best Friends will be used to pay for a shelter coordinator in each city, support marketing and public relations in those markets, and pay for a Best Friends program manager to oversee implementation and reporting in the five shelters.

“As with any dog that is spayed or neutered, properly trained, socialized and treated with love and kindness, pit bull-type dogs can be well adjusted, happily balanced, and affectionate members of the family,” says Jamie Healy, Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls manager. “It’s the person on the other end of the leash who decides how their dog interacts with others and who sometimes put these dogs at the wrong side of the law.”

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bulls through its national campaign, Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, which helps dogs who are battling everything from a sensationalized reputation to legislation designed to bring about their extinction.

Washington politician describes bear attack

The city council member in Washington who was attacked by a bear while walking his dogs described his ordeal yesterday in a news conference at a Seattle hospital.

John Chelminiak, a member of the Bellevue City Council, was attacked outside his family’s cabin on Lake Wenatchee on Sept. 17 while taking the family dogs out for their evening walk.

Chelminiak, 57, his dogs Boji and Peekaboo on their leashes, had barely gotten out of the drieway and crossed the road when he heard a rustle in the bushes, the Seattle Times reported.

A 150-pound bear pounced on Chelminiak, causing deep lacerations to his scalp and face, and injuries to his left eye that were so severe doctors had to remove it.

During the attack, Chelminiak said, he managed to get away, at which point the  bear rounded a corner and pounced on the dogs. Chelminiak said he pulled on the dog leashes, which were still in his hand, and yanked them out from beneath the bear.

Family members say neither dog was seriously injured, though one limped slightly after the attack.

Rescue group calls shooting unwarranted

A D.C. police officer shot and killed what law enforcement authorities described as a pit bull during a festival in Adams Morgan on Sunday afternoon — an action the dog’s caretaker said was uncalled for.

Aaron Block, 25, of Dupont Circle, said he was walking 2-year-old “Parrot,” who he described as a Shar-Pei mix, up 18th Street when the dog suddenly turned around and bit a poodle that was passing by.

Block said he managed to separate the two dogs, and was subduing Parrot when police arrived. A police officer took over, putting his knee in the middle of Parrot’s back while the dog was on the ground.

According to Block, the officer then grabbed Parrot by his neck and threw him over a banister at the Brass Knob antique store. Block said the dog was getting up when the officer shot him.

“The officer drew his gun in an unnecessary act of cowboy gunslinging law enforcement and shot my dog amidst a crowd of thousands,” said Block, who was fostering Parrot while he was waiting to be adopted through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “The problems here are almost too numerous to count,” he told the Washington Post.

The Post, which ran this photograph of the incident, by Dylan Singleton, also published the full police report, which was obtained by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

The officer, 25-year-veteran Scott Fike, fired one shot, fatally wounding the dog.

Jacob Kishter, commander of the 3rd Police District, said that the dog was running at the officer, and called the shooting justified.

Tony De Pass, 67, a former D.C. police officer who lives in Northwest, said that the dog was charging directly at him when Fike drew his gun and fired and that “if the officer hadn’t shot the dog, the dog would have got one of us, either me or the officer…What he did, I would have done the same damn thing.”

Block said Parrot was a “very people-friendly dog, with absolutely no bite history.”

On it’s website, the rescue organization called Parrot’s death tragic and unwarranted: “We have received numerous questions about the incident, and, because news outlets have varied significantly in recounting what happened, we have spoken to as many eye witnesses as possible, and have requested and obtained the official police report.”

“According to multiple eye witnesses, Parrot had already been subdued and was being held securely by his foster, Aaron Block, when the police arrived on the scene.  Parrot was not ‘out of control.’

Lucky Dog also disputes that the dog was charging at the officer. “A witness who was standing on the Brass Doorknob’s porch saw what transpired in the stairwell.  He told us that Parrot was stunned from the fall and had only just gotten to his feet when the officer drew his gun and opened fire without provocation.”