The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Urban Out Sitters van stolen with dogs

Last week, Parker's daycare and boarding facility had a serious scare when two men stole one of their vans:

The van was found abandoned near 21st and Wabash — dogs still inside — by a Good Samaritan who notified authorities. On Wednesday, two gunmen took the van, which was left running and unattended in the 800 block of West Superior, police said. Though the driver wasn’t in the van when it was taken, the robbers did point a gun at someone who tried to stop them, police said.

Joseph Giannini, owner of the dogsitting service that owned the van, Urban Out Sitters, said the incident was “probably the most devastating thing I’ve had to deal with” in 15 years of business.

He said a driver he employed was getting ready to take the dogs home when one of the armed men approached and told him to get out of the van — a story that doesn’t precisely match the version of the offense police gave later Thursday.

Late Friday night, Giannini sent out an email laying out in detail what happened:

In the video footage, the two assailants approached the vehicle. The vehicle was not running or left unattended. The driver had two keys one was in the van ashtray, the other with him on his key ring. He thought he locked the car, as we have a two key system in place. In the footage, you can see the van’s exhaust spurt out by the engine being turned over. The van was located directly near the front door of the facility (with the driver only steps away in front of the van) by the time he could get the vehicle, the two men already started the car, reversed the van, and sped away. At this point, the driver and a UOS dog walker immediately jumped into action, got in their car and bike to follow the carjacked vehicle. The driver (witness) and walker chased after the van and the driver confronted the two thieves at one of the intersecting streets near Milwaukee, Chicago and Ogden area. At this point the driver (witness) cornered them. At the vehicle one of the thieves in the van pointed a gun at the driver (witness) and told him to exit away from the vehicle. I was shocked and appreciative how he put his life in a dangerous situation by chasing and confronting the assailants. UOS is working diligently with investigators (which you can verify) to get camera footage from the blue light cameras showcasing the secondary confrontation Urban Out Sitters is also organizing a search for the two assailants by offering a reward to anyone who may know who they are.

Going forward, all of their vans and dogs will have GPS trackers on them. I'm not sure I'm thrilled with Parker having the tag on all the time when he's not at UOS, simply because I take him with me a lot. ("Ride in the CAR? Ride in the CAR? Who's a good dog?")

I'm glad the dogs got home safely, and that it wasn't as cold Wednesday night as it was other nights last week. I'm sticking with UOS as I have for 7 years so far.

First big winter storm so far

A slow-moving winter storm has moved into the Chicago area. Compared with the truly awful storms we've had over the years, it doesn't seem so bad, so far: only 150 mm so far with another 150 mm predicted through tomorrow morning. This comes, of course, with falling temperatures and increasing winds as the low passes to our south, but again, nothing we can't handle.

As usual, Parker enjoys it:

As usual, my car doesn't:

And new this year, but most likely a usual problem in the future, my Fitbit numbers have not looked great. My daily step average went from 11,700 in December to 10,300 in January—265 km vs. 233 km. One bright spot: I lost 2.3 kg from January 1st through today, so I'm doing something right. (Or I'm dehydrated.)

Parker got a 20-minute walk this morning which included some off-leash time at the park. He'll probably get another pair of walks in as we go over to J's Old Lincoln Park for the Superbowl. As mentioned, today is J's last day open, so there will probably be a good number of Euchre players there to wish the owner well. (Of course, we'll probably see him at the next meetup on Wednesday.)

Stuff I put off reading because of the holidays

I was a bit overloaded yesterday, so I didn't have time to absorb these articles thoroughly:

Even though I thought the 10 km walk Parker and I took two weeks ago was going to be our last really long one of the year, I didn't predict today's 9°C temperature forecast, so off we go on another one.

Last big walk of the year, probably

Knowing that winter is coming later today motivated me to take Parker on his biggest walk since we went hiking in mid-September: an hour and three quarters, 10 km, 11,000 FitBit steps (which translates to about 60,000 Parker steps).

The 11°C out my door can't last, though. Rockford is down to 1°C; Burlington, Wisc., about an hour northwest of O'Hare, is already below freezing.

With 13,000 steps already behind me today, and being only 7,000 steps away from a 1-day total over 20,000 and a 7-day total over 100,000, I see more walking before day's end...

Fall ends in reverse

It looks like the temperature will get up to 11°C this afternoon, and the sun is still visible. Meteorological autumn ends tomorrow, and apparently so does this weather. The forecast calls for an unseasonably warm evening followed by a cold-front passage tomorrow late morning and temperatures falling to 1°C by noon and -6°C overnight.

This is a long way of saying that Parker and I need to go for another walk pretty much ASAP. We walked about 5 km so far today. Let's see if we can squeeze in another 5 before sundown.

Catching up

Lots more travel this weekend, including Parker and me spending two days in a place without Internet. (My phone at least had a little from time to time.)

Now back home, I have to figure out the rest of my day before rehearsal. Parker, for his part, is sleeping on his own bed right now for the first time in more than a week.

FitBit challenge

Following a friend's example, I got a FitBit this week. The same friend has challenged me for the weekend, getting 15,300 steps to my 14,000 yesterday, and going hiking this afternoon. Ah, but I have a dog, you see. And the weather is perfect. So far today I've walked 15,400 steps (11.6 km), almost all of it with Parker, and we're about to go out for another walk.

Here's walk #1, this morning, in Lincoln Park:

And walk #2, at lunchtime, down the Lakefront Path:

I got my 15,000-step badge on Friday, my first full day with the thing. Today I'm aiming for 20,000. My friend is too. This will be close, I'm guessing...

Photos from this weekend

We had spectacular weather across the region Saturday and yesterday. For our hike Saturday we had partly-cloudy skies, low humidity, and 14°C—nearly perfect. Here's Parker at the top of the trail, refusing to look at the camera:

Then, yesterday, I had my final Apollo audition up at Millar Chapel in Evanston. Again, perfect weather:

It's a little cloudy today, but otherwise cool and October-like. As far as I'm concerned, it can stay October-like for the next six months. Walking is good for you.

Also, can I just point out that the 16-megapixel camera that's just an add-on to my phone takes better photos than any even serious Pro-Am cameras from five years ago? Yikes.