The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Barking mad at dog poop

The London borough of Barking and Dagenham (yes, really) will fine you £80 if you don't clean up your dog's poop. How will they catch you? Doggy DNA:

In its pilot stage, only one or two local dog parks will be involved in the DNA testing, according to Eric Mayer, head of business development for Biopet Vet Lab. Anyone who wants to use those facilities will have to submit a canine swab, which cost about $45. (The fee will probably be split between the owner, the borough and the lab.) But by 2016, all 27 of the borough's parks and open spaces could be patrolled.

That seems a little invasive on the one hand, but on the other, it hurts dog owners everywhere when one or two lazy bastards fail to clean up after their pets. Still, who wants the job of matching samples to dogs?

Things on Chicago Streets

First, a not-so-smart car:

I'm not sure what amused me more, the disproportionate tow truck or that the Smart Car driver parked in a rush-hour tow zone long enough for Streets & Sanitation to remove him.

Then, for everyone who takes his dog to work, there's this food truck:

I didn't pick anything up for Parker yet. ($2.50 per biscuit? Did I read that right?) But if it comes back, maybe.

Cascading failures

Parker didn't get picked up this morning by 8:15 so I had to cart him off to day care. Apparently the guy showed up around 8:20. But no matter, because at that point I was nearly an hour past the time I usually leave and nearly 90 minutes past his usual Monday pick-up time.

So, survey: should I just trust that he'll get picked up and leave him home? Or should I continue to make sure he leaves the house before I do, just in case there's a problem and they can't pick him up?

Long walks and avoiding Opening Day

Parker and I walked about 10½ km yesterday, resulting in plenty of sleep and (probably) sore paws for both of us. We also got caught in a pneumonia front, in which late-afternoon cooling stops driving a land breeze and allows denser, cooler air from the lake to spread outward over the shore. Temperatures dropped from 18°C to 9°C in twenty minutes—unfortunately, the 20 minutes coinciding from our farthest distance from home. This bothered Parker a lot less than it bothered me, owing to his two fur coats, but fortunately I had an extra layer available. And I walk fast.

I also stayed away from Opening Night at Wrigley, the first regular game of the baseball season, in which the Cubs got their asses handed to them by the Cardinals 3-0. (They went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, too. Great work, guys.) The New York Times called the game "beginning their 107th year of waiting for a World Series title." Sounds about right.

Rhythms of the week

Apparently my last four weekends have been pretty busy. Once again I have almost no time to post anything, not least because it's sunny and 13°C, so Parker and I are getting ready to go hiking.

So here's a listicle. Generally I hate them, but this one from Inc. listing frequently-misused cliché phrases made me point to my screen and shout "yes, that!"

11. Baited breath
The term "bated" is an adjective meaning suspense. It originated from the verb "abate," meaning to stop or lessen. Therefore, "to wait with bated breath" essentially means to hold your breath with anticipation. The verb "bait," on the other hand, means to taunt, often to taunt a predator with its prey. A fisherman baits his line in hopes of a big catch. Considering the meaning of the two words, it's clear which is correct, but the word "bated" is mostly obsolete today, leading to the ever-increasing mistake in this expression.

I'm waiting with bated breath for the next bit of list bait to cross my Facebook feed...

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...