Here’s a mother — or at least an expectant one — who made sure she’d have plenty of flowers on Mother’s Day, building her nest of pine needles under this budding bush.
I came across her Sunday while visiting my own mom, who has a view of the nesting duck from her living room window and reports that’s she’s been dutifully sitting atop her eggs — about ten of them — for weeks now.
It’s baby duck season at Arbor Acres, the retirement community in which my mother lives, where residents eagerly await the appearance of the year’s first ducklings.
Nobody’s sure who the father is, but many suspect it’s the fellow to the left — he of the poofy hairdo – who is well-known for his amorous behavior and apparently considers himself quite the ladies man.
Then again, if I had hair like that, maybe I would, too.
He is believed to have fathered many of the baby ducks that were born last year, and indications are he’s at it again.
Yesterday, as the nesting mother sat atop her eggs, amid the blooming flowers, it appeared to me — though I’m better at interpreting dog behavior than duck behavior — that poofy head had moved on to new interests.
My dog Ace is always pretty cooperative — you might even say a ham — when it comes to having his picture taken.
But last week he went so far as to provide not just the photo op, but the frame.
We were wandering around historic Reynolda Village in Winston-Salem, where he generally checks each shop’s doorstep for water bowls or treats, then peers inside to see if anything of interest — i.e., food related — is going on.
When we came to Village Smith Galleries, an art and framing shop, it was closed, but Ace hopped up on a bench at the entrance. Both sides of the front step were surrounded by lattice, allowing opportunities for him to present his good sides (and there are many) in a pre-framed manner.
In case you can’t read it, that bandana he’s wearing — he got it as a going-away gift — says “I’m smarter than your honor student.”
Sometimes I wonder how true that might be.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, art, dog, dog photography, dogs, frame, framed, frames, framing, north carolina, ohmidog!, pets, photo, photography, photos, reynolda, reynolda village, travels with ace, village smith galleries, winston-salem
The movie based on the story of a dog whose mistreatment led to changes in North Carolina’s animal cruelty laws had its world premiere in Winston-Salem over the weekend.
“Susie’s Hope” kicked off the RiverRun International Film Festival Saturday, and if you missed that showing there are two more — Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre, and Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Main Theatre at UNC School of the Arts.
Susie, a pit bull mix, became a poster puppy for fighting animal abuse when she was found burned, beaten and close to death in Greensboro’s Greenfield Park in 2009.
The woman who adopted her, Donna Lawrence, was once a pit bull victim.
Lawrence began feeding a dog near her home in High Point whose owners had moved away. After several days, the dog attacked her, latching on to her left leg and going for her throat before she was able to push it away and seek help. The wound left her bone exposed, and she’d receive 45 stitches.
She didn’t blame the animal: “I blame the owners who turned their dog into what it was,” she writes on the movie’s website. “Their neglect and abuse made their dog fearful and territorial.”
The attack left Lawrence, a long-time dog lover, with a fear of dogs and nightmares, even after her physical recovery.
“Then one day I met Susie, and she changed my life forever,” Lawrence writes. “So now you can see Susie and I shared something in common: she was a pit bull mix that had been had been tortured by a human and I was viciously attacked by a pit bull just a few months before we met. Our similar experiences allowed us to go from being victims to living victorious lives. I forgave the dog for my wrongful attack, and Susie forgave the human for hers.”
She was found with second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of her body, a broken jaw, her teeth knocked out and her ears all but burned away. Her wounds were infested with maggots and she’d been surviving by eating sticks and drinking from mud puddles.
Lawrence and Susie would go on to foster awareness of animal abuse and push for increased penalties for the crime. Susie would become a therapy dog and a Canine Good Citizen.
In 2010, the state legislature passed Susie’s Law, which increased the penalty for anyone who “maliciously” kills an animal by “intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance, and raised the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. Susie’s abuser received a sentence of 4-6 months in jail for burning personal property and a 4-5 month suspended sentence for animal cruelty.
Susie — though a puppy portrays her in her younger years — plays herself in the movie.
Filmed locally, the movie has some actors you might recognize – Emmanuelle Vaugier, best known as Charlie’s ex-fiance Mia on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” plays Lawrence; Burgess Jenkins (“Remember the Titans”) plays Roy Lawrence; and, in our favorite bit of casting, Jon Provost (Timmy from the TV show “Lassie”) plays state Sen. Don Vaughan, who sponsored the bill that became Susie’s Law.
(Photo: Courtesy of Susieshope.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abused, animal cruelty, animal shelter, animals, attack, burned, dog, dogs, donna lawrence, Emmanuelle Vaugier, felony, film festival, fire, found, greensboro, guilford county, jon provost, lassie, law, movie, neglected, north carolina, park, pets, pit bull, pitbull, premiere, river run, riverrun, set on fire, susie, susie's law, susies hope, timmy, victim, winston-salem
Our book is done, so Ace and I — Lord willing and the creek don’t rise — are starting a new chapter.
For two years — yes, two — I’ve been assembling the book version of “Travels with Ace,” which documents the year my dog and I wandered the country, tracing the path John Steinbeck took with his poodle Charley and venturing down some of our own.
Unlike “Travels with Charley” (the literary classic), ”Travels with Ace” (the book in search of a publisher) is a more lighthearted account of road tripping with a dog across America. It’s more laden with dogs, dog lore and dog facts, and delves more deeply into just what it is that makes you, me and America so bonkers over dogs.
Written by a former newspaper journalist (that would be me) whose massive mystery mutt altered the course of his life, the book looks at how we and our country have changed in the 50 years since Steinbeck and Charley circumnavigated America in a camper named Rocinante.
One recurring theme — as you might expect from a newspaper guy who watched his industry shrink and crumble, and who’s approaching old manhood — is my grumbling and anxiety over technology, and where, besides unemployment, it might take us.
That theme showed up in my first book, too – about cloning dogs, a technology that, at least when it comes to pet owners, would be better off never having been invented, in my opinion.
It was, in large part, that first book that led to the second one. Seeing the lengths to which dog owners go upon losing, or learning they’re about to lose, their dog — cloning being probably the most extreme of them — I decided that the best time to celebrate one’s dog (and one’s people) is while they’re still alive.
So I showed my dog America, and came to the conclusion, among others, that while full speed ahead is sometimes fine, slowing down (which dogs can help with) and stepping backwards can be good, too.
Ace and I ended up in North Carolina — moving, backwards, into the same apartment unit my parents lived in when I was born. We stayed there until last week when — because the landlord sold it to a new owner — we were required to vacate the premises.
It was by accident, or maybe fate, that we ended up in Bethania, the oldest planned Moravian settlement in North Carolina, established in 1759.
Looking at boring apartment developments, Ace and I made a wrong turn, or two, or three, and found ourselves going down its bucolic Main Street, which is lined with historic homes. Bethania, while surrounded by Winston-Salem, is an independent jurisdiction, with a population of about 350. It feels like another world, and a very peaceful one at that.
Bethania is not to be confused – but often is — with Bethabara, which was the first Moravian settlement in North Carolina, established by 15 church members who walked here from Pennsylvania. Fleeing religious persecution, the German-speaking Protestants first came to the U.S. when it was still a group of British colonies. Once Bethabara became a thriving village, and became overcrowded with refugees, a second Moravian settlement was laid out — Bethania
After that, a third settlement was founded – Salem, which would become the congregation’s headquarters and the biggest and best known of the villages of what was called Wachovia. Today, Bethabara is an historic park, Bethania is a little town, and Old Salem is a tourist attraction, where one can learn about the old ways
The Moravians were known for doing missionary work with local Indian tribes, and avoiding, on principal, violent conflict. Their cemeteries, such as God’s Acre in Old Salem, are highly regimented affairs where the grave markers, in addition to being in neat rows and grouped according to the Moravian choir system, are all of the same size — a reminder that, as much as we might like or think we deserve a big ostentatious tombstone, we’re all equal. I like that.
Bethania seems to reflect an attention to detail as well. Church members built their houses in the middle of town, and the orchards and farms they worked were on its periphery. I’m pretty sure my house was once orchard area.
It’s quiet, and it feels like I’m out in the country, even though it’s only 7 miles from downtown.
I knew I made the right decision on our new location when, at the town’s visitor center, I inquired whether it would be okay to take my dog, on a leash, down the hiking trails behind it.
“You don’t need a leash,” came the reply.
Almost every home in Bethania has a front porch with two rocking chairs — and, while I’m pretty sure it’s not required by local ordinance, I plan to follow suit
My little white house with a green tin roof has a fireplace in the living room, a grapevine in the backyard, room to plant lots of vegetables and a shed in which I plan to tinker with things. I’m not sure what things, but I definitely want to tinker.
I have a neighbor to one side, an empty lot on the other, and judging from the vines in the trees, I think I’ll have some kudzu to look at, which some of you might remember I have a thing for.
In addition to the visitor center, and the trails, there’s a public golf course, Long Creek Club, just down the road (owned by my landlord); and the old mill in the center of town has been refurbished and sports several shops, studios, and the Muddy Creek Café, a dog friendly spot with live music on weekends.
I’m just a newcomer, but I suspect the biggest social hub is the Moravian Church, just a few hundred yards from my home. (In a bit of a coincidence, it’s interim minister once graced the pages of ohmidog!)
I am not now a Moravian and have never been one, but I do have a family connection. She was considered my great aunt, though she wasn’t a blood relative.
Kathleen Hall was born to another family, but grew up as a sister to my grandmother. We called her “Tan,” believed to be derived from a mispronunciation of “aunt.”
Every Easter, my mother instructs me to put a flower on Tan’s grave at God’s Acre in Old Salem — preferably purple, Tan’s favorite color. I did that on Easter, and noticed, as in previous years, another flower, a white lily, was already there. Who leaves it every year is a mystery to us.
There’s also a memory of her in my living room — her stitchwork covers a footstool my mother passed along to me years ago.
Given that connection, and the fact that the Moravian church is just a few hundred yards away from my new home, I may check it out — at least once I get my boxes unpacked and my Internet set up.
They do have that here — even though several internet/cable companies told me my address in Bethania doesn’t exist.
One who uses Bethania as their mailing address can’t get mail delivered. I could use Winston-Salem or Pfafftown as my mailing address, but I’ve opted to go with Bethania and avoid getting a mailbox. Instead, I’ll walk three houses down to the little post office when I want my mail, which, given it’s mostly bills, I usually don’t.
Other than that, Bethania isn’t one of those places stuck in the past, just a place that honors it. It’s not like an Amish community. I’m pretty sure people aren’t churning butter and blacksmithing. But there does seem to be a respect for times gone by, and the older I get, the more frustrated I get with my computer, and apps, and talking to robots on the phone, the more important that has become to me.
Despite my growing techno-anxiety, I will admit — after moving 20 or so boxes of books — that the Kindle might not be an entirely bad idea.
After the Saturday move, I woke up pretty sore on Easter Sunday.
I’d fully intended to take Ace to the Moravian sunrise service here in Bethania.
But the sound of rain on my new tin roof lulled me back to sleep.
Once I did wake up, Ace and I had Easter lunch with my mother, then dropped by God’s Acre in Old Salem to pay respects to Tan and drop off a purple hyacinth. Then we headed back home.
So that’s the tale of our new place, and a long way of saying our new address is:
PO Box 169
Bethania, NC, 27010
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bethabara, bethania, church, dog inc., dogs, hiking, history, home, house, john steinbeck, mill, moravians, move, moving, muddy creek cafe, north carolina, ohmidog!, old salem, pets, religion, salem, settlement, simpler, technology, trails, travels with ace, travels with charley, walking, way of life, winston-salem
That advice may not be applicable to every situation, but it’s what Ace and I did over the weekend when we departed from what turned out to be the final stop on our year-long trip around the country — the apartment of my birth.
In September of 2010, 50 years to the day after John Steinbeck and his poodle started the journey that would become “Travels with Charley,” Ace and I left the author’s former driveway in Sag Harbor to duplicate, more or less, his route.
We circled the country, stopping at places of dog significance, Steinbeck significance, or no significance at all, traveling more than 20,000 miles before we returned to Baltimore.
There, having moved out of our home before the trip, we squatted and mooched off friends for a little while, and then rode a little more.
We backtracked to North Carolina, where, planning to linger a few months, we lived in the basement of a mansion in Winston-Salem. After little more than a month, Ace developed back issues and, on our vet’s advice, we started seeking a place to stay that didn’t have stairs.
I was on an outing with my mother when I asked her to show me my birthplace — the tiny apartment she, my father, and sister shared in what’s known as College Village.
Just about the time I was wrapping that up — except for the pesky getting-it-published part — the landlord who owned my unit told me he was selling it, and that I was required to leave my birthplace.
It was a little sad — in part because of the sentimental value of the place; in part because of leaving the friends, dog and human (and one cat) we’d made; in part because it would mean lifting numerous heavy objects.
With little spring in our steps, Ace and I went looking at apartment complexes, only to be turned off by their cookie-cutter sameness, and their silly pet rules — from arbitrary weight limits and breed restrictions to ridiculously high, non-refundable pet fees.
Even when they had swimming pools, we couldn’t manage to get very excited about any of them.
It had a green tin roof, a working fireplace, a shed out back and a front porch that seemed to be crying out for two rocking chairs.
It’s outside of town, but also inside of town, which we’ll explain tomorrow. In any event, we moved in over the weekend.
Friends in College Village held a goodbye party before we left — not a surprise party, but pretty surprising. That four women in their 20s would hold a get-together for a man all-too-rapidly approaching 60 says a lot about them, and possibly even more, I think, about that man’s dog.
Ace got a giant bone, an azalea bush that, once planted, he will be allowed to pee on, and a bandana that says “I’m smarter than your honor student.” Everyone at the party agreed that, in addition to being funny, it is probably also true.
Even before I started packing, Ace realized something was up and got stressed. Ace loves to hit the road, but he also loves having a familiar routine. He became extra needy, extra clingy and followed me around the house, except when I was making too much noise. Then he’d seek refuge in the bed, or ask to go outside.
There, he seemed even more eager to see the friends he was always excited to see, run to and lean on.
Perhaps, too, he was sensing the nostalgia swelling up in me. Even though I’d only lived in the apartment for my first year of life, and had no clear memories of it, it was where I was conceived, where my parents lived when I was born and the subject of much of my mother’s reminiscing.
The only thing that came close to seeming familiar to me was the door ringer — a hand cranked brass bell that, whenever it rang, gave Ace a thrill (because it meant company) and me a vague sense of déjà vu. Either I remembered it from infancy or it reminded me of a school bell.
When I left, I asked the new owner if I could take it, and he said okay, so I unscrewed it from the door and threw it in a box.
In a way, we’re not closing any doors, just opening — and perhaps modifying – some new ones.
I’d like to install the old bell on my new front door. It would be a way of bringing some of the sentimental value of the old place into the new one. It would make my mother’s eyes light up when she saw it.
And every time it rang, it would startle Ace, make him bark once, and lead him to stand at the door, tail wagging in anticipation over who — old friend or new one — might be on the other side.
(Tomorrow: The new place, disclosing our undisclosed location)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, blog, book, college village, dogs, door, door bell, friends, john steinbeck, moving, north carolina, ohmidog!, packing, pets, ringer, stress, travel, travels with ace, travels with charley, website, winston-salem
Wake Forest University has been fined $35,000 for shortcomings found during a government inspection of its animal research laboratories, including failing to properly secure a macaque who escaped last summer.
The 8-pound female macaque — used to breed other monkeys for research purposes — got out of her cage at the Wake Forest Primate Center on June 29 and roamed the woods for 11 days before she was captured.
In response to a formal complaint by PETA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted an initial inspection and cited Wake Forest University for failing to safely and securely house the monkey — a violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Subsequent investigation led to the fines — posted this week on the USDA website — for that and five other violations.
The other violations include failing to ensure that personnel involved in experimental use of animals were qualified to perform their duties, insufficiently monitoring rabbits in which diabetes had been induced, and improper euthanization of rabbits.
The $2 million primate center, based on a 200-acre farm in southern Forsyth County, is the subject of a court battle between Wake Forest University and the University of California at Los Angeles, which hold a joint agreement to operate it.
Wake Forest has sued UCLA to terminate the agreement and recoup half of the 2012 operating expenses during the 2012 fiscal year, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
UCLA has filed a countersuit accusing Wake Forest of financially mismanaging the research center and using vervet monkeys there for unauthorized research.
(Photo: By Lauren Carroll / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, citations, escape, fines, forsyth county, inspection, macaque, north carolina, peta, pets, primate center, research, usda, violations, wake forest, wake forest university, winston-salem
Ace and the cat next door have become steadfast friends, hanging out together most days in the backyard. But their relationship has clearly evolved, as I guess most do.
Ace still seems thrilled every time he sees Tom. They still play chase. They still engage in their form of wrestling — Ace poking Tom with his nose, Tom swatting Ace in the head with his paws.
But Ace no longer is totally obsessed with the cat, no longer smothering him with attention, no longer constantly in Tom’s face. Ace used to follow Tom wherever he went. But as Tom has become less elusive, Ace has become less fascinated. As the months have gone by, it’s Tom who’s now more likely to follow Ace, and instigate the play. Tom still seems to send a message that says “chase me,” but Ace doesn’t always play along, sometimes preferring to just watch, or scratch himself, or look for something he might deem edible.
On Sunday Ace was minding own business in the shared yard behind my apartment, chewing on a bully stick. Thomas slowly approached and circled him, nuzzled him a few times and swung his tail into his face.
Ace looked up, but kept chewing. Seeming to sense Ace’s disinterest, Tom went his own way, disappearing for a time.
Ace, focused on his treat, seemed to forget about him — until, 10 minutes later, he spotted him in the distance, under my parked car. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek November 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, behavior, cat, cats, cats and dogs, college village, dogs, friends, north carolina, out of reach, pets, relationships, stale, taken for granted, thomas, tom, travels with ace, winston-salem
Reverend Richard Herrin — after a four-year stretch without one — now has a service dog to help him serve God.
Herrin, a Baptist minister who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, lost his most recent service dog in 2008.
After moving from Texas to North Carolina earlier this year, to be closer to family, he began looking for funding to help cover the $25,000 expense of getting a trained service dog and bringing it home.
His new community kicked in $6,000 of that — through a campaign drive headed by a Moravian church in Winston-Salem.
Herrin went to North Dakota in July to pick the dog up from the Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation Inc., the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
Now, Dakota, a 3-year-old black Lab, is at his side, helping him with everyday tasks and in his ministry.
Due to the costs, Herrin had gone four years without a service dog since his last one, a golden retriever, died when he was living in Texas.
Not long after moving to North Carolina, Herrin visited Trinity Moravian Church, several blocks from his house. The secretary there referred him to the Rev. Russell May, interim minister at Bethania Moravian. May coordinated the fundraising effort, and Trinity Moravian accepted the checks and sent them on to North Dakota.
The dog’s main job is to pick things up and give them to Herrin. She’s learning to help Herrin take off his shirt, and has mastered bringing items to him from the refrigerator. She has also chewed up the television remote, but that’s part of the learning curve, say Herrin and his wife, both of whom are professional dog trainers.
“The dog has to know who you are,” Herrin said. “Can they look into you? Can they trust you are going to be honest? Are you going to be who you are? Without building a relationship, you might as well hang it up.”
On top of the chores a service dog helps with, he says, ” the value is the relationship with it.”
Dakota has made several visits to Herrin’s church, Southside Baptist, but Moravian congregations and others are pulling for him as well.
“The support of the Winston-Salem community has enabled him to get a tool that will challenge him, and that empowers him,” May said. “This is not simple charity. They have given him a responsibility, too… He wants to do ministry. This dog will help him in that.”
(Photo: Andrew Dye / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baptist, bethania moravian church, black, cerebral palsy, church, dakota, disabilities, fundraising, funds, great plains assistance dogs foundation, lab, labrador, minister, money, moravian, north carolina, raised, retriever, reverend, richard herrin, service dog, southside baptist church, trinity moravian church, winston-salem
The Forsyth Humane Society is celebrating 71 years of service with ”Gala at Graylyn; A Fetchin’ Good Time!” — an evening of dining, dancing and more to benefit homeless and neglected animals.
The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Graylyn, the historic estate in Winston-Salem, N.C., that now serves as a conference center.
The black tie optional gala will raise funds to support the FHS “no kill” adoption center, educational outreach programs, and low-cost spay/neuter assistance program.
The event, presented by Dr. Michael Morykwas and Ms. Christine Thornton, will also feature a silent auction and open bar.
Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple. For information on tickets, sponsorships or other details, contact Darla Kirkeeng at 336-793-6480 or visit the Forsyth Humane Society website.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benefit, dogs, forsyth, forsyth humane, forsyth humane society, fundraiser, gala, graylyn, north carolina, party, pets, shelter, winston-salem
This week, I was accompanying a friend who was shopping for a car when I noticed this gentleman and his dog seeking handouts on an Interstate 40 exit ramp in Winston-Salem.
Given the alternative was dealing with a car salesman, I left Ace and my friend at the dealership, explained that I had to go take some photos and walked down the road to meet the man with a cardboard sign and his dog, tied to the guard rail.
When I asked if his dog was friendly, he said, “No, she can be a little temperamental,” which, he added, is how he wants her to be. He was fine with me taking some pictures, though.
He explained that he got Dog in Wytheville, Virginia, where he “camped” — his preferred term — before he and Dog hitchhiked down to Winston-Salem.
Dog was among several dogs that were being transported from a southern shelter to a northern one, where they had a better chance of being adopted.
She wasn’t part of the original shipment, but apparently was picked up as a stray along the way, he said.
He admired her for a while and felt a connection — “She was a stray and so was I,” he said — and he asked the driver if he could have her.
They’ve been together ever since, about a year and a half now.
She’s a barker, and helps protect his sleeping bag and other belongings, he said.
Dog barked nearly the whole time I was taking her picture, and when she wasn’t barking at me, she barked at trucks that passed by.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cardboard, dog, dogs, exit ramp, guard rail, guardrail, handouts, hitchhiker, hobo, homeless, money, north carolina, panhandling, pets, photography, photos, sign, winston-salem