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Tag: winston

I can’t drive 2.5

It’s one of the things you do when you’re in Winston-Salem. You see the giant coffee pot. You eat some Krispy Kreme Donuts. You take a picture of the big downtown building that looks like a penis. And you stroll around Old Salem, or in our case – given a mom that doesn’t get around like she used to and a still gimpy dog – you drive.

Since we were at the Moravian Graveyard, or God’s Acre, anyway — to place some flowers on the grave of a great aunt — Ace, mom and I decided to cruise around Old Salem, a restored Moravian settlement that, like a smaller scale Williamsburg, features old-time craftsmen and shops staffed by people in period garb.

Before Winston and Salem became one (in 1913), there was Salem to the south and Winston to the north. After the merger Winston-Salem became, for a while, the most populous city in the state, and enjoyed a major boom powered by tobacco and textiles.

In some ways, it’s still bustling; in some ways it’s sleepy. Its tobacco-based economy has given way, ironically enough, to a health-care based one. Hospitals, it sometime seems, are taking over the town. There’s a thriving arts scene. Still, overall, the pace is slow.

Even though I knew that, even though Old Salem is a pedestrian experience — and I mean that in terms of people walking — I was surprised to see the speed limit that was posted in Old Salem: 2.5 miles per hour.

I’d never seen a speed limit that low, and when I tried to drive 2.5, it was nearly impossible. It’s just a smidge, or a skosh, above being motionless. But, laws being laws, I did my best, creeping along like a snail in my red jeep, traffic gathering behind me, mother beside me and Ace in the back seat wondering, I’d guess, “What is this? Are we stopping or not?”

As we crept along, my mother showed me the house my sister born in, and, nearby, the building at Salem College where she worked in the public relations department. As we left, I insisted on pulling over to take a picture of the speed limit sign, for by then – even though I’m all for playing it safe and slowing down in life — I’d concluded that the the 2.5 mile speed limit was one of the most ridiculous things ever.

It was only then, through the lens of my camera, that I realized the speed limit wasn’t 2.5; it was 25, the dot between the 2 and the 5 being the bolt that affixed the sign to its post.

By that time, I needed a strong cup of coffee, for driving 2.5 makes one sleepy at an amazing speed.

I settled for the coffee pot, just a couple of blocks away and one of  Winston-Salem’s best-known landmarks.

The coffee pot is 12 feet high, 16 feet in circumference and was made by tinsmith Julius Mickey in 1858. In the town then known as Salem, Mickey opened a grocery store and, in its loft, a tinsmith shop.

The tin shop turned out to fare far better than the grocery. It was the source of cups, plates, pots, pans, coffee and tea pots, buckets and lanterns and more — items in such demand that a second tinsmith opened just down the street.

To distinguish his shop from it, Mickey built, of tin, an enormous coffee pot, large enough, it is said, to hold 740 gallons of coffee. He placed it on a wooden post in front of his shop on the side of the street -– in a way that it actually extended into the street. Over time it became banged up by horse-drawn buggies that bumped it.

By the time Mickey sold his shop to another tinsmith, L. B. Brickenstein, the pot was considered both a town symbol and a nuisance.

In 1920, a horse and buggy driver struck the pot, knocking it off its wooden post. According to a 1966 article on the coffee pot’s history, published in the Winston-Salem Journal, the pot landed across the sidewalk, and just missed hitting a woman and child who were walking by.

The Winston-Salem board of alderman – the two towns having become one by then — ruled that the pot was a traffic hazard and a violation of a town ordinance regulating advertising signs. The board ordered it taken down. It was stored, but only briefly. After an outcry from those who saw it as an important landmark, it was put back up — just a little further away from the street.

In 1924, the Vogler family bought the old shop, and decided to leave the coffee pot standing, even if it didn’t exactly go with their expanding business – a funeral home.

In the 1950′s progress dictated — and progress does have a way of dictating —  that the pot must go. Interstate 40 was coming through town, and the route went right through where the coffee pot stood.  Suggestions that the highway be rerouted to skirt the pot were overruled.

Instead, the coffee pot was removed from its location at Belews and Main Street and, early in 1959, relocated to an expanse of grass at the point where the Old Salem bypass enters Main Street.

Coffee pot lore is abundant, some of it possibly even true. One legend has it that the pot served as a mail drop for spies during the Revolutionary War – a little hard to swallow considering it wasn’t built until 1858.

Still percolating as well are accounts that, during the Civil War, the coffee pot, which does have a trap door built into it, once hid a Yankee soldier (caffeinated version), or a Confederate soldier (decaffeinated version).

People do move slower in the south, and I think that’s a good thing.

In my travels with Ace, I’ve found that decreasing one’s pace, avoiding a schedule, allows one to see more, hear more, experience more, meet people more, and make fewer misteaks. (If you didn’t catch that, you’re reading too fast.)

Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I’m getting southern, but I think we’d all be well served by not trying to do everything so fast — even if it does cut into the profit margin. We’d be better off — and I’d bet the average tinsmith agrees –  to do our jobs more slowly and carefully, not to mention walk a little slower, talk a little slower, eat our Krispy Kreme donuts a little slower, even drive a little slower.

I’d highly recommend it — just not 2.5 mph.

Dog that ate police car bumper is freed

Winston, the dog that chewed the bumper off a police car in Chattanooga, got his day in court yesterday, and the judge ruled he could go home.

The boxer-pit bull mix had been confined for two weeks after attacking a parked and occupied police car.

He was reunited with his family, the Emerlings, at McKamey Animal Shelter yesterday.

The court stipulated that Winston will attend two different obedience courses, and won’t be allowed to run loose. While he now carries the classification of “potentially dangerous,” that could be dropped if there are no other problems for 6 months.

“I know this attack was not on a person,” city judge Shery Paty said, “but I don’t want … the remote possibility of that happening.”

The dog ate my squad car: Chapter Two

winstonSome new details have emerged, and some old ones have proven incorrect, in the case of the dog that tried to eat the police car in Chattanooga.

First off, the dog is a pit bull-boxer mix, not a bulldog, as he was described in most initial reports.

The three-year-old, 80-pound dog, named Winston, managed to break through a locked fence Sunday at Mann’s Welding, approached a parked police car in which an officer was on the lookout for speeders, and chewed off its front bumper. He also bit through two tires and left teeth marks in the side panel of the vehicle.

The officer got out of the car when he noticed it was shaking, and tried to subdue the dog, first with pepper spray, then with a stun gun. When a second officer arrived Winston chewed the tires of the other patrol car. Eventually the dog was captured by animal control officers, with the help of one of his owners, WDEF reported

“Obviously at some point yesterday he was not a nice dog,” said his owner, Michael Emerling, “but previous to that he was very sweet.” Emerling said Winston has never hurt anyone, though he does occasionally show aggression toward lawn equipment.

The dog is being held at the McKamey Animal Center, where Karen Walsh, executive director, noted: “Some dogs are very aggressive. Especially when they feel they are being protective. So I think the officer to the dog’s perception was in his territory and so the dog just attacked the car.” 

Still, after this incident Emerling, his owner, says he can’t risk what could happen if Winston attacks again. He’s considering having him put down. “We can’t take the chance that the next time something sets him off it won’t be a car … we just can’t take that risk.”

(Click here for an even more updated version of this story, and video of the attack.)

Pigeon tops broadband in data transfer

pigeonYet more proof that technology is for the birds: Carrier pigeons are being used to transfer data between offices because bosses believe it is quicker than broadband.

Computer experts at a South African firm said it took six hours to transfer four gigabytes of encrypted data to a call center 50 miles away.

Unlimited Group, a financial services company, yesterday attached a memory card to the leg of a pigeon called Winston who took just over an hour for the trip, according to the Daily Mail.

Even counting the time needed to upload the data once it arrives, the information shipped by pigeon took under three hours, less than half of what using the Internet — at least in Durban, South Africa — could accomplish.

“It might sound crazy in this day and age, but we’re always looking for new ways to move our business forward and we think this might just work,” said Kevin Rolfe, head of  Unlimited Group. ”For years we’ve struggled with the internet as a method of communication. It’s fine for emails and correspondence, but we need to transfer a lot of data from office to another and find it often lets us down.”

To send four gigabytes of encrypted information takes around six hours on a good day, he said, up to two days if the weather is bad and the service goes down.

“We started looking at other ways to solve the problem and discovered that carrier pigeons could do the job a lot more quickly.”

“If Winston can do the job as efficiently then we’d be silly not to think about using him instead — especially as he’ll only cost us a little of bird seed to run,” Rolfe added.

Speak now or forever hold your paws

Matzoball and Meatball attended the Malibu wedding of their owner, Adam Sandler. Gwen Stefani walked down the aisle with her sheepdog, Winston, when she married Gavin Rossdale in London. Gisele Bundchen’s three dogs looked on as she tied the knot with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. And Jennifer Hudson has announced her intentions to include her dogs in her upcoming ceremony.

But not just celebrities are making the dog a member of the wedding party these days. Take Andy MacDonald, regular guy. At his wedding in Seattle, his dog Inge, a collie-malamute mix, served as ring bearer — and handled the job nicely.

The concept of man’s best friend as best man, or at least an honored member of the wedding party, is catching on, and has even led to the creation of a niche industry — or a niche within a niche industry – that caters to Fido’s appearance on his owner’s big day, according to a Columbia News Service article that appeared in this week’s San Jose Mercury-News

“It’s a shift in the way people view pets,” says Brian Iannessa, a spokesman for Veterinary Pet Insurance, explaining the trend behind canine participants in weddings. “People are incorporating pets into their lives more than ever before, taking them on trips, celebrating their pets’ birthdays.”

Forty-two percent of the insurance company’s clients had or plan to have their pets participate in their wedding, according to a recent poll of 3,000 pet owners. Iannessa estimates that the vast majority of those surveyed were dog owners.

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