Saturday, May 31, 2008

Take Your Dog to Work Day

June 20 is National Take Your Dog to Work Day. No problem for me. My dogs have been my co-workers for the past 8 years--ever since I became a freelance writer in a home office. But I'd be curious about which local companies might participate.

Take Your Dog To Work Day was created in 1999 to celebrate "the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs. This annual event encourages employers to experience the value of pets in their workplace for this one special day to promote pet adoptions."

This event is sponsored by Pet Sitters International, who is asking every business to participate and help promote pet adoptions. The PSI site explains how to participate, register a business, and spread the word.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pub Dog: Outdoor Seating, Beers & Pizza

Riley and Cody tossed back a few brewskies at the Pub Dog last night. Well, OK. We did. They're under age. But a nice waitress made them happy by bringing out a big dish of ice water and a bowl of treats.

The Pub Dog has a large outdoor patio with about a dozen tall table-and-bench sets attached to the side of the building. The pub is not presently offering outdoor table service, so you need to place your order inside and bring it out--which is no big deal.

The Pub Dog offers a nice selection of their own microbrews--2 mugs for $4. Everything is dog-themed. The menu consists of salads and about 15 varieties of pizza. Richard had the salad which was meal-sized and I had the Fox & Hound pizza which I thought was very good. The portion size was just right.

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I liked my mug of Amber Ale. There are also peach, raspberry and blueberry beers plus a number of other beer and ale offerings ranging from light to stout.
The Pub Dog is located on Dobbin Road (sort of; the official address is 8865 Stanford Blvd., Suite 100) near the Noodles Corner and Riverside Coffee shop. It's open from 11 am - 2 am daily.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Would You Clone Your Dog?

This week, I read about a company that is cloning dogs. In a project called Best Friends Again, BioArts International will clone five dogs to the highest bidders in a day of online auctions next month. "Bidding will start at $100,000 for those who want their beloved animals to live on after death or are seeking a physically identical younger 'twin' for their favourite pet," says the article.

Aside from all the various ethical and biological issues of cloning, I had to ask myself: Would I want to clone Riley and Cody?

After some thought, my answer is: "I don't think so." I adore both, but I love the quirks and nuances of their personalities that make them unique and different from each other. If I had a Riley clone made to order, for example, I might never have chosen to adopt and get to know the whacky Cody.
Plus, there is no guarantee that one would end up with exactly the same animal. I listened to a program on NPR (This American Life, maybe?) not too long ago where someone had a pet bull (yes, that's bull, as in cattle, i.e., male version of cow) named Chance. This was an animal the size of my VW who roamed through the house at will. A gentle giant. They loved him so much that they had him cloned, and named the resulting animal "Second Chance." I recall that while Second Chance had all the physical and initially some of the behavioral characteristics of Chance, he did not in fact retain Chance's docile personality. This resulted in the owner ending up in the hospital near death numerous times--but still determined to give Second Chance . . . another chance.
So, I think I'll give cloning a pass, save $100,000+, and continue to enjoy the products of gene pooling gone wild! Viva la difference!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dogtopia Marks One-Year Anniversary

Dogtopia in Clarksville is hosting a first-year anniversary celebration on Saturday, May 31 at 12:00 pm. Activities include a pool party and ice cream social! The event is open to everyone and there is no cost. All donations will go to the Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue.

The Dogtopia facility offers dog daycare, overnights, grooming, self-serve dog wash, training classes, a retail boutique, 3 indoor playrooms, and a fenced outdoor area. Dogtopia also just launched a Meetup site and will be setting up dates to host groups.

Dogtopia is located at 12212 Clarksville Pike Clarksville , MD 21029. Call 410-531-9247 for more info.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lyme Disease on the Rise in Howard County

Last week, the Baltimore Sun and other media reported on the "dramatic" rise of Lyme disease in this area. From 2006-2007, reported cases of Lyme disease in Maryland doubled (from 1248 to 2576) and more than tripled in Howard County (from 113 to 358).

According to the CDC, most cases of illness occur in the late spring and summer (i.e., now) when "the tiny nymphs are most active and human outdoor activity is greatest." The CDC has a good explanation of Lyme disease transmission.

I contracted Lyme disease in 2002 and have sustained a chronic arthritis in my right knee that slows down my walking and moving to this day. Many of my neighbors (and some of their dogs) have had Lyme disease as well, including my next door neighbor who had it 3 times (!). Most were able to recognize it and get it treated early enough before complications set in. And this is key. Unfortunately, I did not have the classic bull's eye rash (which appears in about 80% of infections), so mine was not detected and treated until well after the knee problem occurred.

I do, however, remember having a high fever and flu-like symptoms for a few days. So I would encourage anyone who experiences this--when it's not flu season--to check with a doctor and consider Lyme disease. And, an otherwise unexplained joint problem could also be due to Lyme disease. Arthritis in one knee is the most common complication. But, other complications can occur--like arthritis in several joints and neurological and cardiovascular problems.

I would also urge everyone to be mindful about ticks, and keep checking themselves and their dogs for the teeny tiny things. The deer ticks are really, really small--pinhead size. And you don't have to be a camper or hiker to get them in this area. Many of the people I know who got Lyme disease are not particularly outdoorsy types--except for gardening around their house.

Also, it's important to keep dogs up-to-date with tick prevention treatments, especially now. Dogs can get Lyme disease too, but fortunately, there is a vaccine for them. I make sure mine have it yearly. However, even though dogs are treated, ticks can still get on them, go for a ride, and them jump on you. So, nothing beats frequent checking and vigilance.

And that's today's "Scary Thought of the Day"!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome, Rita's Ice - Kings Contrivance

Here's a great new dog-friendly stop for something cool and sweet this summer. Rita's Ice opened on May 21 in Kings Contrivance--the same day as the Harris Teeter. Suddenly, our village center has come to life! Just in time for summer.

Our Dogs-on-the-Go group stopped by to check out Rita's today after our Sunday morning walk. With its walk-up windows, it's a perfect place to go with a pooch, and the owner seemed delighted to have the pack descend upon the shop.

I had a frozen strawberry custard, which was nice and creamy as well as tasty. Other offerings include Italian ice, cream ice, and other specialty combinations.

Another plus is the Kings Contrivance courtyard, which offers a convenient place to relax and enjoy your treats. There are plenty of tables with umbrellas set up and additional seating around the nicely landscaped perimeter. It was recently renovated and has a pretty fountain, and a location that's set off from the parking lots, i.e., safe from traffic.

We live less than a mile from here, so I'm sure this will be a favorite summertime destination for a walk. Dare I say . . . daily?

Canines & Cocktails for a Cause

This is in Annapolis, but it sounds like fun so I think we just might pack up the pooches, drive the 30 miles (with barking all the way), and check it out.

The Paws Pet Boutique is teaming up with dog-friendly Loews Annapolis Hotel for a series of special Friday evenings throughout the summer. They will meet on the outside patio of the Weather Rail at Loews Hotel from 5 to 8 pm on May 30, June 27, July 25, August 22 and September 26. A portion of the drink sales from each evening will be donated to the non-profit cause featured that night. It's free and the fun includes raffles for prizes.

The May 30 event supports the Humane Society of Prince George’s County and celebrates “Black Dog Night”! Pam Townsend, the author of the book “Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs”, will be available to sign books, along with her black dog cover model, Samba.

"Pam published the book to tout the beauties and desirable traits of black dogs, which tend to be the least likely to be adopted." A story about Pam, a College Park resident, and her book appeared in the Prince George's Gazette on March 27.

All the profits from the book sales are donated to the PG Humane Society, and dogs of all colors are welcome!

Parking is available for $2 (self-parking) at Loews during the event. Metered parking and several garages on West Street are also options.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dog Walking, Hiking and Play Groups

If you're looking for fun things to do with your dog in the Columbia and Howard County areas--and you enjoy meeting other dog lovers and their dogs, there are a number of groups to check out.

Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go
This Meetup group (organized by this blogger) schedules walks, hikes and other activities in and near the Columbia and Howard County areas.

K9 Trailblazers
A dog hiking club located in the Baltimore/DC area that holds monthly, leashed hikes on dog-friendly trails in the area.

The Annapolis Active Dogs Meetup Group
Schedules activities in the Annapolis area, with lots of regular visits to the Quiet Waters dog beach.

The Baltimore Off-Road Dogs Meetup Group
Features dog hikes in the Baltimore area, and also plans visits to fenced off-leash parks, and maybe even a "canoe ride and camping trip every now and then..."

The Bethesda Active Dogs Happy Hour Fun & Play Meetup Group
Features dog hikes and indoor dog play times in the Bethesda area.

The DC Doggie Happy Hour Group
This group has a large membership and features happy hours at dog-friendly establishments in the D.C. area. (I haven't been to any yet, and am curious as to how it works out with 40-60 people and dogs attending.)

The NOVA Trail Dogs Meetup
Features day hikes in the D.C., Viriginia and Maryalnd, "but we'll have some overnighters thrown in there too." also lists many other dog groups not too far from Columbia and Howard County. Some are for specific breeds and activities. Certainly worth checking out!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pets on Wheels. Do it!

Cody has been a Pets on Wheels volunteer for Howard County for some time, but admittedly not a very consistent one. Pets on Wheels Howard County is an association of volunteers who take their own pets to visit nursing and assisted living homes.

Cody enjoys it immensely since he loves nothing more than meeting and greeting people. The problem is that he is quite a handful in the car and it's been a little difficult to get him to and fro--especially if Riley is not with him. (And unfortunately, Riley, who has other fine qualities, is not a good POW candidate.) Plus, I've had a few sinus and eye infections this past winter that I didn't want to bring into the home.

But enough excuses! We are going to get back on track! This is such a great activity for anyone with a friendly dog. The people enjoy it so much. And the organization has been so great about showing its appreciation of volunteers.

Tricia Summers is the program's director. Her dog Harry, a Great Pyrenees, is a volunteer--a Gentle Giant who is a sight to behold.

For those who think their dogs may be a good candidate, Pets on Wheels Howard County has program introductions and dog evaluations on the first Wednesday of each month. Call 410-313-7461.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Canine Haute Couture - Japan Style

I haven't really been seeing as many dogs in Kyoto as I expected. Maybe it's because dogs seem to have so few places to shop here. I've been doing miles of shop-walking and so far only saw this one shop--which the dogs had to share with "baby kids."

The shop had a selection of bowls and leashes alongside baby toys and gear. Come to think of it, this was the only child store I saw also (so far).

I was beginning to wonder if it were possible that the Japanese were not as devoted to their pooches as we are, when I came upon a bookstore and a pretty wide selection of dog magazines. This one was all about "wear, accessory, and goods" and came with a large packet of patterns and instructions.

There is everything in here from beach wear to a "layered look tee" and a camisole(!), and things you can make out of your own clothing.
Corgis and dachsunds seem to be popular here, along with the shitzus and lhasas that I expected to see.

A Dog's Eye View of Japan

We're here in Kyoto now, so my next few entries may be from here. I thought perhaps that Columbia had a "sister city" here in Japan, so I could keep up the Columbia theme of this blog. This doesn't appear to be the case, so my temporary theme will be "Columbia Dog Lover Misses Dogs while in Japan."

I get such a kick out of the little characters on the graphics and signage here, like this one reminding you to scoop your poop. I asked for a literal translation and was told it means "You're forgeting someting here!"

I'm not seeing as many dogs as I expected, but I've seen a number of people walking threesomes of the same breed--3 corgis, 3 poodles, 3 lhasas.

Our guide, Sakae, has a corgi so we had fun sharing our pictures--like pulling out photos of the grandkids. Nothing like the universal language of "love my dog."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

30-Day Challenge

Here's an interesting idea I found on another blog called That Mutt. The blogger, Lindsay in North Dakota, decided to take her 2-year-old black lab, Ace, to 30 new places in 30 days, starting May 1. Her idea is to train him to "chill out" by exposing him to as many places as possible so he learns to behave in different environments. Some readers commented that they liked the idea but couldn't think of 30 different places to go where they lived.

Well, I had no problem here in Howard County, and pretty quickly came up with a list of almost 30 different walks in this area. I couldn't do them in 30 days, . . . but maybe sometime in 30 weeks!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hand-painted Pups!

OK. I wanted to wait at least until October to post this one. But, I couldn't. I just thought these were so darn pretty, I wanted to show them NOW!

On our Sunday stroll through Ellicott City's Main Street, we stopped in several shops with "pets welcome" signs. One was Wreath and Basket, where we found a treeful of these personalized hand-painted ornaments. Sherry Kendall, the shop owner, is also a professional illustrator and creates the ornaments from photos of your dog--supplied by you or taken by her.

We'll have to stop in again--but maybe without 5 tails wagging at once!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Indoor Swimming for Dogs!

I've heard of the Canine Fitness Center in Crownsville, but never got around to checking it out. Yesterday, the center was featured in The Washbiz Blog, a Washington Post blog by Dan Beyer (who also writes a local blog called Columbia Talk).

The story was written by business columnist Tom Heath. Tom has a 10-year-old golden, Babe, who is "a bit arthritic." To keep him active, Tom and his wife drive from their home in Chevy Chase every weekend to take Babe to the indoor heated dog pool at the Canine Fitness Center in Crownsville, an hour away. "We pay around $29 for a half-hour's swim," he says. "It's worth every penny. He builds muscle in his arthritic legs and exercises his heart and lungs."
I know Riley would absolutely love it. Cody? Not so much . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

News Video on Sweet Pea and "Vick Dogs"

Sweet Pea's foster mom, Stacy, sent us a link for a news video on Sweet Pea and the other Vick--now known as "Vicktory"--Dogs.

There is also an excellent story, "Can the Vick Dogs be Saved?" on Dogtime, as mentioned by Karen in a comment added to the earlier post on Sweet Pea.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Be Kind to Animals Week: May 4-10

Of course, every week is Be Kind to Animals Week, but it doesn't hurt to remind us that bad things still happen to good animals. Fortunately, there are many people who work hard to raise awareness and help heal animals such as Sweet Pea, who I wrote about yesterday. Today, I finally got moving and made the donation I'd been thinking about to one of the rescue organizations.

The American Humane Association created Be Kind to Animals Week in 1915 to celebrate the "unique bond between humans and animals." The group also advocates for children.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Meeting Sweet Pea

Yesterday, our dog walk group had a terrific walk on the No. 9 Trolley Trail from Ellicott City to the Benjamin Banneker park in Oella. The weather was gorgeous and a great group of people and dogs showed up.

All of the dogs were memorable, but there was one little gal, Sweet Pea, that I found I kept thinking about later. Sweet Pea is a pit bull terrier who once belonged to Michael Vick, and is now in a loving foster care home. She was certainly deserving of her name and seemed to really enjoy the company of everyone. She continued with some of us on a stroll through Ellicott City’s Main Street and into some of the dog-friendly shops. As I watched her gingerly picking her way through a narrow aisle of glass ornaments with the other dogs, I couldn’t help but think of the contrast with the life she had a year ago, and the fate she might have met had she not been rescued. How wonderful that she now has an opportunity to enjoy the caring environment that every dog deserves.

Sweet Pea’s foster mom, Stacy, says that The Washington Post will be featuring her story at some point, so we’ll keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, here is an article I found on the “Best Friends Network” about Sweet Pea and some of the other rescued Vick dogs. At least one--I was interested to learn--has even become a therapy dog, making weekly trips to an area hospital.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

June 8 Dog Events

If June 8 rolls around and your dog complains that he has nothing to do, it's not for the lack of special events in this area.

So far, I know of 2 doggie events planned for Sunday, June 8:

Howard County Pet Expo. Runs from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Schooley Mill Park in Highland. All proceeds support animal rescue and there will be lots of adoptees on site. Plus raffles, demos, food, music and more. (410) 992-8410

A Dog's Day in Ellicott City. Starts at 2:00 pm and is sponsored by the Yuppy Puppy Pet Boutique on Ellicott City's Main Street. This sounds full of fun stuff--a pet parade, pet-owner dress alike contest, best dressed pet contest, side walk sale, prizes and more. You must arrive early to register for the contests. 410-750-WOOF (9663).

If you're really organized, you might even be able to make both!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

University of Maryland Pets & BP Study

Richard volunteered to be a subject for a study conducted by nurse researchers at the University of Maryland. The study is looking at people's blood pressure during normal activities when their pet is and is not with them.

Basically, he is wearing a portable BP monitor today for 24 hours and completing an "activity diary". He will do this again in one month and 3 months.

I think they may still need subjects if anyone is interested. You must be 50 or older and not taking any blood thinners. (Richard was recruited at the Dog Day Afternoon event. He had that "over 50" look.) Each time you return the monitor, you'll get a $50 gift card (which Richard says he will probably decline since he doesn't think he's a "good subject" because he doesn't have high BP. I think I will tell him otherwise. I like gift cards.) For more info, call Sue Hall at 410-206-8161.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Animal Advocates Yard Sale - May 17

Clean out your cupboards, drawers, closets and basements! Animal Advocates needs donations of gently used household items, knick-knacks, decorative items, kitchen ware, wall art, linens, books, kid’s stuff (like intact toys and complete games or puzzles), tools, furniture, jewelry, accessories.

Yard Sale
May 17 (rain date is May 18)
9am to 2 pm
Parking Lot of the Applications & Research Lab
10920 Route 108
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Call AA for donation drop-off locations in Ellicott City, Columbia, Clarksville, and Western Howard County. Or, you can price your own items and bring them early (between 7am-8am) the day of the sale.

AA also needs volunteers the day of the sale, help with pricing prior to the sale, and large SUVs or pick-up trucks to transport items the day of the sale.

Your donations are tax-deductible. All proceeds from the Yard Sale save the lives of local animals, reduce pet overpopulation, and prevent animal suffering.

Contact 410.880.2488 ext #3 or