Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Running Bases

She usually stays out of the infield but every once in a while, she loses control I guess, her brain goes haywire and she passes the frisbee on the ground and just heads for the bases. She got a Chuck-it ball launcher (well I guess we both got it) for Christmas. It's a huge hit.

She's also managed to overcome her fear of skateboards over the last month or so. I actually haven't tested her with other skateboards (maybe it's rogue teenage boys she's afraid of) but she's no longer afraid of the one we're currently using as a rickshaw. There's a video in the works, we'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Santa Paws

There was a time I would've rolled my eyes at the thought of someone spiffing up Fido and hauling him off to the pet supermarket to have his picture taken with Santa. I know now that it was stupid and short-sighted on my part. In my own defense - I never realized people did it for charity (not to mention fun) or I might have looked on the whole thing differently.

Fortunately, I remember exactly the moment when it all changed. It was a Sunday afternoon and I'd been hired by a local magazine to photograph a dog wedding. You read it right. A dog wedding. The wedding of a dog. To another dog. It was long before I had a dog myself. I had maintained the company of cats throughout my adulthood; in fact, there was no thought of ever having a dog and this particular assignment, I believed, would seal the deal from this point forward.

This is going to sound like I'm making it up but the bride, a Dachshund named Lucy, arrived in a horse drawn carriage. She was dressed as most brides are and her handsome beau Reno, also a Dachshund, stood with a small band of onlookers, sniffing the air as his dearly beloved arrived. Just beyond my own nose, the shutter methodically carved off frame after frame and I found myself not only looking for the perfect angle but cultivating the numerous ways by which I could effectively commit suicide.

After the ceremony, the guests enjoyed wedding cake, their canine companions - their little doggy party favors, the mother of the bride (and groom) approached me in the stable. She found me alone and chatting up her favorite horse. She thanked me for coming and asked if I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. I remember a loud humming noise in my head. I wished for some distraction, a stampede maybe, or a short-lived barn fire, but my wish wasn't granted and ever the diplomat, I drew in a deep breath and lied my ass off. The funny thing though was that when the words left my lips, it didn't feel like a lie at all.

"No, of course not," I said. "People love their animals like children. I totally understand.And, it's actually been fun."

I averted my head then and waited for the lightening bolt that would no doubt solve my suicide dilemma. I would miss my cat Louie, I thought. Louie had spent the last seven months on a death spiral of his own. Diagnosed with kidney disease, the vet had given me ample warning. She said I should enjoy my time with him and be prepared to say goodbye before the end of the year. I had said goodbye to him a number of times already, tearful and heartsick, wishing painfully for the miracle that would reverse his fortune, I told him everyday that if I could give him a kidney, I would. I meant it too. He was the animal love of my life and it was already October.

When the lightening came it wasn't exactly in the form I thought it would be. The mother of the bride spoke again. She said, "That dog [Reno] and that horse there behind you - have been with me through the darkest moments of my life. Nothing makes me happier than spending time with them. I'd do anything for them. Anything."

I got it. It all made sense. The spectacle, the funny costumes, toys, the best pet food, unbridled love and affection, even dogs themselves became symbolic of something bigger something more mature, that prior to this moment seemed quite the opposite. I was ashamed of myself but better for having realized it.

I wrote this nice woman a note after I got Stella. I thanked her and told her that she was part of the reason I decided to get a dog after all these many years. I asked if her dogs were still happily married. She assured me that they were and now each time I see her I'm reminded of that dark time in my own life, the loss of a magnificent cat on New Year's Eve, the marriage of two wiener dogs and the gift of a corn dog. My, how things have changed. Who could've predicted that just two and a half years later, I'd be shooting Santa pictures at PetSmart without thinking even once about driving off a bridge?

(Half of the proceeds went to the Nashville Cat Rescue, my own dog was terrified of Santa, we (the elves and I ) were nearly thrown out of Pet Smart for surrounding Santa with squeak beer bottles while he pretended to be passed out on the pedestal. I've saved that photo for your imagination... Happy New Year!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Yes, I am aware. Thanksgiving came and went. I've deprived you my friends, of countless wandering ethnographic tales (tails?) of clever canine adventure long enough. I won't bore you with the details of why we went on our hiatus (unless of course the effort proves fruitful in which case I probably won't shut up about it for months to come) however I do want to pick up where we left off with the general frolic that occurred on Thanksgiving Day and go from there.

We made a return visit to the cemetery with Christine and Professor K.'s dog pack. We parked a short distance away and when we walked through the gate Stella snapped to attention as her nose and eyes went into overdrive. She scanned the area, presumably hoping for movement, a sound, a tail flashing in the distance or a familiar bark. A few minutes later she got her wish and as the six of them (four dogs, two humans) filed through the gate she bucked like a little pony a couple of times before I could get her leash unclipped. There was no foolishness, no vandalism, all good, clean fun (and wild abandon) for the dogs, the humans and some of Nashville's oldest residents. We were thankful and remain so.

Some of you may remember that last time I neglected to include a photo of Linus. Some years back I got a call from Christine when a stray pit mix showed up in their neighborhood. She asked me to stop by and take a photo of him for Petfinders. They had no intention of keeping the dog. When I arrived she had already begun calling him Linus...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The double-dog dare

There's a three-toed cat next door who answers to the name of Millie. She came with the new neighbors who moved in not too long ago. Her siblings include two look-a-like cats, one junkyard dog on a chain (a pit boxer mix I think), a little boy - barely walking and a baby on the way. Prior to their moving in next door to us, the cats lived in an apartment and now they live outside 24 hours a day. Their owners leave food out for them, as far as I can tell but they've quickly learned (Millie in particular) to get their loving from other sources. She and the other two cats have developed a thing for Stella. Whenever we go outside, they parade over to our yard and start rubbing up against her until she begins to vibrate. Occasionally, she's overwhelmed by it but mostly she just enjoys the attention and goes about her business with them in tow. Here's a sneak peek.

A couple of nights ago, I headed out the door with Stella and as we exited the house, Millie ran in the door. She wasn't around when we returned and I actually forgot she was in the house for awhile. Later on, when I went looking for her, I found her, sound asleep - in Stella's bed. Stella walked into the room, sat down in front of the bed and put on her dejected face. I half-heartedly told her get in bed with the cat. She wasn't enthusiastic about such a request despite my double-dog dare and a short lecture about the potential of added warmth and companionship. She finally did get in it but chose to sit instead of lie down. I could see the whites of her eyes the entire time so it wasn't very long before I let her off the hook. She sprang out of the bed like one of those Calaveras County frogs and barked at the three-toed cat.

Thoughts on the origin of the "double-dog dare" from Michael Quinion.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Raising awareness

Last Saturday was National Pit Bull Awareness Day and as I mentioned earlier in the week, Stella and I followed our noses across town to the festivities. I admit that I kind of dropped the ball on some of it photographically, but we were busy celebrating & making new friends. We missed some good shots, I'm sure of it.

We started the morning off with a long walk and a trip to the dog park. I've mentioned before that Pit bulls (or any dogs that resemble a Pit bulls) are banned from the city's dog parks in Nashville. There's a sign on the gate with the rules of the dog park and that's the very first rule. People from other, more civilized cities are pretty much horrified by it but we've always been surrounded by xenophobes in this part of the world so it comes as no real surprise that one (non-fatal) incident would set the stage for everyone else. It'll take a younger, smarter generation of council members to kill it though, so we wait. The up side however, is that the people who passed the ordinance generally aren't the same people that go to the dog park so for the most part, people overlook it. Yes, we've made a couple of people nervous but more often (in my limited experience anyway) they're charmed by the Pit bulls who do show up. Sometimes, as in our case, they aren't even sure they're Pit bulls until someone asks. Bunch of outlaws.

The problem with making such rules is that the dogs they're trying to keep out, the aggressive, unruly, apt to eat a Pomeranian-type dogs aren't on their way to the dog park any time soon. The dogs they're trying to keep out are unfortunately chained to a tree somewhere. They're sitting on a wet cardboard box wishing they were at the dog park or anywhere else for that matter. They're busy shredding a plastic two-liter bottle their owner just lobbed in their direction for six seconds of personal entertainment; right before they go back in the house for that next PS2 round of Grand Theft Auto. Don't get me wrong, there are some drawbacks to the dog park culture and occasionally, those dogs do show up, they generally don't last very long - but just like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. But I digress.

The event on Saturday was fun despite the fact that we missed the parade. Again, I got distracted for six seconds and everyone left without us which was too bad since that's the photo I was really hoping for. There was some great art to look at and a ton of wonderful dogs (only one clueless owner it seemed, in the whole bunch). We'll probably go back next year. Maybe they'll have it right outside the dog park :)

This beautiful creature (below) was in fact, spotted at the dog park. He's a Basset Hound-Dalmatian mix. There was also a Pit bull - Dalmatian, a great match for Stella, but I didn't get a good shot of him.

And here are a few from the Pit bull Awareness Day celebration.

Finally, here's a video (it wasn't from the Nashville event although there were some folks with video cameras there - I'll keep looking)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Almost Scary

Just wanted to let everyone know that all of the kittens have been adopted! Roy and Buck were adopted together and now there is only Minnie Pearl (the mama cat) left at PetSmart. I still have my fingers crossed for her. A couple of people have asked why anyone is adopting out black cats this time of year and the only answer I can come up with is that the fee for adoption is a hundred dollars. I'm thinking few people would be foolish enough to pay that kind of money and then mistreat the animal.

Here's a photo of my leaf carpet. Looking at it from this angle it's easy to understand why my neighbors might be a little intimidated. A good wind could really stir things up :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lazy Day

The leaves are raining from the trees here though still no real rain to speak of - in the last three months. It's hard to believe anything is still green. Stella and I have been dodging what seems like a constant hailstorm of acorns and black walnuts on our walks. The squirrels are out in force (always a good time) and people are just beginning to decorate their yards for Halloween. I'm thinking that got put off until now because just a week ago it was still ninety-seven degrees.

In just a few days my entire front yard became blanketed with yellow maple leaves which is always gorgeous until I have to rake them; thirty four-bags if I remember correctly. My dream is that sixteen boy scouts will show up and it'll all be done in about two hours. The chances of that happening are remote. I'd leave it but they blow into all the surrounding yards and the neighbors begin having less than happy thoughts when they see me.

This Saturday Stella and I are going to celebrate Pitbull Awareness Day over on the east side of town. We haven't gone before so I'm looking forward to it and you know how Stella loves a parade.

Whoever is responsible for this yard art (below) unfortunately missed the initial response of the young impressionable canine pictured above. Again - it was a video moment - lost.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Visiting With Edgar

Poe's house and his grave are about half a mile apart. He's buried in an ancient church yard. It's not just any old church yard either. It's Westminster Burial Ground and Poe isn't the only notable resident. There are others.
The last unfinished manuscript of Edgar Allan Poe was ironically (in our case) about a lighthouse keeper. I'm still not sure how you can call four pages a manuscript but then I'm not a literary scholar.

Here's something fun and strangely appropriate (I thought) - John Cusack to play Poe

The history of Poe's grave

I'm not sure dogs are actually allowed in here. We didn't ask permission but Stella was on her best behavior.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Exception

The rule in our house is dogs don't sleep in the bed. It works out great because Stella knows that occasionally I'll invite her to lie on my bed during the day or under certain circumstances but when night falls, her bed is hers.

When we went to Baltimore and Atlantic City last month I didn't even take her bed along with us so all bets were off and we shared the bed. One day we hiked (not very far, I think it was a mile and a half) up to the home of Edgar Allen Poe. It was hot as Hell and included buses, construction, big noise and hordes of people going to and from work, not to mention at some point, all the accoutrements of ghetto sidewalks (broken glass, syringes, beer cans, used condoms and the like). I doubt Stella even noticed any of this but without so much as a band-aid on me, I certainly did. It was a tough three miles brightened only by the fact that we made it back without injury or dognapping. I don't know how many of you (goofy-ass white women) have strolled through the ghetto lately with your pit bull but the locals, though extremely friendly, had a look of disbelief on their faces usually reserved for things like mirages - or ghosts. Had it not been for the dog, I would've spent a lot more time up there and made pictures of them all but it was clear early on that we were in dog fighting country. I felt at the time, it was best to keep moving so we pressed on. Unfortunately, the Poe House was closed when we finally got there but I did take a photo of it. I'll put it in the next post.

When we returned to the hotel I left Stella for a bit to go and get something to eat. I made a point of getting back as soon as possible thinking she'd be pacing the floor and feeling abandoned in this new strange place.

Uh - negative. When I returned this (above) is how I found her. She didn't even notice I was gone.

On the morning of our departure we took a vote and decided that the beds in Heaven couldn't possibly be any better than the ones at Hotel Monaco.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Two spays, two neuters, four combo tests,
Seven FVRCP shots, hook worms, eight doses of dewormer,
One dose of antibiotic, three vacuum cleaner bags,
Fifty-four POUNDS of cat litter.
Carried to a trashcan - in one pound bags.

Five trips to the vet.
Eleven pounds of cat food. One very nice cat-sitter.
Fifty-thousand fleas. Sure, I'll repeat it:
Fifty. Thousand. Fleas.
That's an estimate; I stopped counting and started
going off my nut at twenty thousand.
Four doses of flea medication. Five, if you count my own cat;
who by the way, didn't have a flea all summer long.

I officially hate my neighbor now, but I'm trying to work through it.

Praise Jesus and knock on wood, as of tomorrow, Roy, Buck, and Lulu
are about be out of my basement; for a little while anyway.
Mama isn't far behind.
Run, don't walk over to PetSmart at Hundred Oaks and get yourself one.
They couldn't be any healthier than they are right this minute.
They're really sweet too.
And well-behaved.
They haven't turned over or climbed a single thing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Close encounters

These were leftover from last weeks Pooch Plunge. Aren't the two of them wonderful? With all due respect, I think they should enter a dog/owner look a like contest. The best part is they didn't do it for my benefit. I took that first shot before anyone knew I was there. Apparently that's a pretty nice dog too.

Last night I found out that some friends of mine have a dog that does Fly Ball competitively. It even has a pretty high ranking and they're going to Indiana next week to compete. They were supposed to go to the event last week too so of course, I confessed again about that rogue dog that crashed their demonstration :)

Okay, moving on. Stella and I were charged the other day by a dog we'd never seen before. This time it wasn't a purse dog though. It was a Pit Bull that first barked at us from behind a fence. It sounded pretty vicious but I didn't give it much thought since Stella sounds exactly the same way on occasion. I have to say though that it was early in the morning and when that dog came charging (across a busy street) at us I was more than a little freaked out. In the background I head a little boy scream "Spiiiike!!!" I stepped in front of Stella and did my best halt command; big man voice added to the traffic cop hand, and the dog (I'm happy to report) stopped in its tracks.

The dog's owner laughed at me and announced: "Don't worry he's friendly."

All I could think of to say "I guess you're lucky mine is too."

It definitely sounded a little bitchy but I couldn't help myself. There's nothing like having all the plaque in your arteries loosened at seven-thirty in the morning.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pooch Plunge 2

Since we're on the subject of water (and way behind), this last Sunday we went to the Pooch Plunge at Nashville Shores. It was a benefit for Nashville Public Television (NpT). Some of you may remember we tried to go last year and the weather didn't cooperate for them and it was eventually canceled. This year though, was another story altogether. There were tons of dogs. Stella had a lot of fun although for the first hour it was like chasing a delinquent kid around.

As usual, before we went I took her for a long walk to (presumably) expend some of her energy but this time, under such stimulating conditions, the long walk just didn't take. Once we got into the gate and I let her off the leash, she went tearing off around the outer perimeter of the event like a freight train. It was basically harmless but managed to score her lots of attention. By far, it exceeded the efforts of any and all herding type dogs in attendance. When she finally burned off the top layer (believe me there were six or seven left to go) she discovered that the sponsor tables had treats on them and that if she ran up to the table and gave them the look, they would give her a treat. Now, you might ask yourself what happened when they finally cut her off? Well, she either stood up on the table and demanded one or waited until they looked away and rammed her whole head off into the bucket and helped herself (ahem!) Very unladylike. Very unStella. Bad. Dog.

Once I was finally able to get her to understand that there were consequences to this sort of foolishness, she gave up on the food and crashed the Flyball demonstration. I looked away for two seconds and heard someone yell "Wait! Where did that dog come from?" When I followed their gaze she was chasing the Flyball dog and I had the urge to just say: Jeez, I don't know but somebody needs to get control of that thing. Again, harmless but totally disruptive. She did the same to some pups taking the Canine Good Citizen test. It was a good chance for her to experience the fact that not all dog interaction involves playing. Understand - her version of playing goes two ways-- Chase and Smackdown Wrestling. She's as happy to be chased as she is to be the chaser and she'll adjust her speed if it's a little dog that she could easily overcome; those are the ones I love to watch.

She got into the water a time or two and was very curious about the dogs that were busy retrieving things but never actually made an effort to swim (basically killing my theory that if she saw dogs swimming, she'd copy them.)

Then she found two playmates one after the other who thanks to their owners, gave her the work out she was really after. The first was a young Great Dane named Bella. She was pretty gentle but not intimidated (as some dogs are) by her rough and tumble approach. The second dog was Sampson and for the record, if Sampson was our neighbor I have no doubt he'd be Stella's new boyfriend. The two of them wore each other out. He was a young (competitive) dock-diving German Shepherd. After several rounds of full-throttle playing which I might add, scared the crap out of some patrons, and the life guards, he was the only dog there able to lure Stella into the water. She still didn't swim - but just like all the girls with a bad boy crush, she followed him right in there against her better judgment.

Needless to say, this all culminated in one big satisfied snooze complete with snoring all the way home. We had a great time (minus the initial craziness and if any of you Flyballers should happen by here - we apologize again) and hope the folks at NpT made a big wad of dog-friendly cash. Thanks for the swim.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stella with Old Barney

We caught up with a different incarnation of "Old Barney" in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Someone sent (our) Barney a postcard once with a picture of this lighthouse on it and since Stella and I were looking for a beach it seemed like the thing to do. Stella discovered horseshoe crabs on the beach there. She tried to get it to move and when nothing happened she uh.. relieved herself on it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Atlantic City: gamble vs. gambol

When all else fails, ask you waitress. There isn't a thing online about any dog beach in or near Atlantic City. Stella and I took our chances and looked for local dog lovers. It was tricky to find it but once we got there, I just wanted to pitch a tent. We went three times and three times Stella forgot all about her Bulldog side and tapped into the Terrier for a change. She'd eyeball the ground suspiciously and launch herself into the sand, digging as hard and as fast she could go. She would then freeze and snap her teeth a couple of times (possessed) and have another go at it. It was better than any casino.

Bear, the smaller of the two dogs above was a big dog trapped in the body of a small dog. He gave Stella the wrestle of her life and it was wonderful to watch. He had the best moves. His owner and I just stood there laughing the whole time. The other dog, Seamus had a pretty good time too. He was the only dog that manged to lure Stella into the water deeper than she would've normally gone. She still never got the hang of swimming out there but she was totally curious about the dogs that were able to.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canine tourism

I still have a few posts from Baltimore (and beyond). Locals won't be too impressed by the tourist type pictures but it was such a treat to be able to walk a few blocks to the harbor from where we stayed that I did it repeatedly. It was actually pretty sweet, as tourist districts go. They seemed to have all the right ingredients: music, food, water, boat rides, a fountain for the kids to play in, dragon boats to pedal (I wanted to take Stella out on one of them (what a photo op that would've been) but the line was too long and I doubt she would've been allowed anyway. It's funny but of everything in and around the harbor, those were what fascinated her most.

On the far side, just below Federal Hill there was a carousel with dogs and other animals on it as well. I took a photo of it and realized that for the first time in nineteen years, the fair was setting up back home in Nashville and I wasn't there. Good thing we were in Baltimore or I might have been missing it a lot more.

Federal Hill overlooks the harbor and it's a great view too. We hung out up there while we waited for the tour boat to arrive. Again, Watermark Cruises was the only tour I could find that would let Stella ride along. It was a forty-five minute cruise for fifteen bucks. For a dog that can be kind of skiddish on a slick surface, she did an amazing job of climbing the steps between decks. I wasn't the only one stunned by her willingness to descend the nearly vertical steps. We never made it to Little Italy and I'm really sorry about that. Well okay, we did do a drive-by - but it'll have to wait until the next visit if there ever is one.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Anniversary Party

Wednesday was mine and Stella's 2 year anniversary. I wouldn't change anything really except maybe those two knee surgeries which you'll see in a minute, seem to have worked. We haven't been to the fair this year at all. The rides aren't even on the midway - they're up on the hill which to me, is interesting but sad. After more than a century, there won't be a state fair next year so we made an executive decision to boycott. Almost all of our old time friends are gone anyway. Don't worry, we're still keeping our eyes open for carny dogs, human and canine.

Meanwhile - I made this goofy video of Stella playing fetch; or at least her version of it. You'll have to forgive me as I'm working with a twenty-five dollar camera and my assistants rarely cooperate; not to mention the fact that it's my first ever attempt at video editing. At one point I sped the whole thing up by accident and Stella looked like the Roadrunner. I'm embarrassed to say how long it took me to undo it.

P.S. I know some of you out there have been looking for a way to artfully disguise your vicious baby-snatching dogs. Well, thanks to SkateTruck, we've found the solution.

The Ace of Crab Cakes

It was just over a week ago that Stella and I had the good fortune to meet up with Ohmidog's John Woestendiek and his handsome and lovable dog Ace. Having read John's blog for the last couple of years, I knew he and Ace had gone on a pilgrimage of their own but I decided to send him an e-mail anyway and ask if he knew where I could go to find reasonably priced crab cakes. That e-mail alone might have been the best decision I made all week. As it happened, he was not in Alabama or Santa Fe but right there in Baltimore, taking a little break.

John suggested we meet at Riverside Park. Stella and I walked the nearly two miles from the hotel through Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood (a visual treat) and I called him when we got within shouting distance. I hadn't actually seen John before in person, but I'd seen Ace plenty of times on the blog. They came over the hill like a couple of old friends and it didn't take long to realize that the two of them were as much a part of the neighborhood as the park itself. Everyone from homeless guys to moms pulling wagon-loads of kids knew them well enough to stop and talk, and they did. Humans called out to Ace from a distance. Stella wasn't exactly thrilled that nearly all the dogs were off leash except her but she seemed to enjoy being part of a scene where there were almost as many dogs as humans. Thankfully, she appeared to take her cues in the park from Ace who was obviously one of the more well-adjusted dogs we've encountered.

We moved on to a nearby bar, Idle Hour for some human refreshment, where Ace and Stella were welcome to cool off and have a snooze, inside the bar. Stella had ants in her pants most of the time but everyone there was pretty relaxed about the whole thing and (attention bar owners:) having the dogs along made the beer taste better.

After the brew, we ditched the mutts at the home of a rather large feline named Mister and moved on to Captain Larry's for the crab cakes and fish tacos. If it had ended right there it would've been worth driving all 1930 miles for but it didn't. There were leftover birthday brownies and mint chocolate chip ice cream to be had at the home of a real live Vanderbilt graduate and her carny-loving husband. It is a true friend who will let a man show up with a complete stranger, at nine-thirty at night for dessert. Seriously, it made me want to move.

That said, our timing was excellent as man and dog have now headed to Philadelphia with plans to begin again in Maine, and spend the next three months tracing the path of John Steinbeck and his dog Charley across the northern portion of the U.S. They're in the market for a loaner R.V. by the way, and if the folks at Coachmen ever find out about the two of them, I've not doubt they'll get one. I can't imagine an RV manufacturer finding a better entré to a world filled with dog loving travelers than John and Ace.

In case anyone missed it, here's a perfectly wonderful post from John, about our trip east.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Urban Solutions

Hey all, we made it back to Nashville safe and sound. Obviously I'm little behind posting but it came down to a couple of choices: walk on the beach or blog. Crab cakes or blog. Local flavor, homegrown beer, dog beach - or blog. I made an executive decision to live first and blog later so here we are.

In Baltimore, we stayed in a perfectly wonderful hotel (Hotel Monaco) on Charles St. It was smack in the middle of downtown and when morning came there, I got dressed as usual but instead of starting the coffee and casually walking out in the yard with Stella and the cat, we had to get on an elevator, ride ten floors down, speak to the bellmen, step out into the morning rush hour traffic and beat feet up to Liberty Dog Run, two and a half blocks away. I wasn't familiar with the whole idea of a dog run exactly. I was fascinated by the fact that there was a strip of fenced in grass carved into the middle of four busy streets in which neighborhood and visiting dogs could relieve themselves. Stella was pretty suspicious about the whole thing. She tiptoed around most of the time, overwhelmed by the smells and sounds inside and around the fence. We did meet some nice local people there though and each morning (with some encouragement) she did her thing at the dog run instead of on the sidewalk or at the carpeted entryway to the nearby Wyndham Baltimore Hotel. Actually that was a pretty close call a couple of times.

On the subject of coffee, I had hoped to find a coffee shop downtown where both humans and canines could hang out. We didn't find one (that doesn't mean there weren't any) but even if we had, there's the problem of going inside to order. Those traveling alone with a dog have the option of tying the dog to a lamp post or whatever (not an option in our case), or finding some dog loving soul to babysit for a few minutes. We did find one that would let you bring a dog inside to order but only if it was a dog you could carry. Naturally, I gave it some serious consideration but decided take Stella on back to the hotel instead.

View from the gate; loved the architecture in Baltimore.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Minding the Seagulls

We went down the to Inner Harbor (I'm assuming that's capitalized?) this morning and waited for the Watermark (water taxi) to arrive. They're kind enough to allow pets on board and they gave us a nice forty-five minute tour of the harbor which Stella seemed to enjoy, although it was 11am and unusually hot for Baltimore this time of year. I took this photo at the slip before the boat arrived, mostly because of the Seadog (yellow watercraft) behind her. It didn't take much sitting out there before the seagulls started buzzing us. Sorry I didn't have a video camera along when her head started following them in circles.

Now that I've almost managed to get my bearings - it's nearing time to leave but I feel very lucky to have run upon one of Baltimore's very own dog lovers. He's agreed to lead us on to affordable crab cakes and the real Baltimore, before the day is through. Then I'll tell you about my own little adventure yesterday. Stella and I are both still recovering from that one.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Charm City

Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore.... With all due respect to Tom Bodett and that Motel 6 we stayed at in Virginia, we got to Baltimore and it's like we won the lottery. Call me Eloise, I want to live here. Stella is obviously a big city girl in disguise too. She cuts a rug on city streets and elevators, in alleys and swanky hotels. She's already gotten to know the bellmen and exactly where that treat bowl is in the lobby. Check it out, it has her name on it. These people clearly have our number.

We got a spectacular deal online at the Hotel Monaco, in fact it was so good I decided to stay in Baltimore an extra day. So far (it's been a whopping 24 hrs.) it's been a fabulous experience. More later. But not before crab cakes and a water taxi ride around the inner harbor.

p.s. There's Barney in the chair. We went to the cemetery this morning, found his mother's grave, and scattered most of his ashes there. I'm in love with Baltimore already. Little Italy has our name all over it. Also, I recommend traveling on the Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend. It was truly the easiest drive ever. The only drawback was the Beltway which is absolutely LAWLESS. Those of you who live in the Baltimore/Washington area already know this but you people who live in oh... say Nashville, Tennessee - don't know the first thing about traffic problems. That last forty miles getting here was the only rough part of the trip. Stella rode it in the floorboard of the back seat.