Written by Marianna Fenton Hibbard
Let's talk about our dogs. I am a dog lover. Dogs are a woman's best friend. Dogs are loyal. Dogs are cute. I own the most adorable dog around. His name is Cooper and he is a Lhasa Apso / Shih Tzu mix rescue. He is a furry ball of cute and cuddly. Cooper is a substitute for my son who has left home, graduated from college and has a life of his own in another state. While my husband loves Cooper, to distraction, he reminds me OFTEN, that Cooper is ... well, a dog. And as annoying as that is, he is right.
Dogs bring us a lot of joy. (Some of you really dislike dogs, but you've stopped reading this article by now.)They are also a serious responsibility. The laws surrounding dog ownership have become more extensive and defined. When you own a dog, the law requires that you provide adequate food, water and shelter for the animal in both winter and summer. Failure to do so is a crime. If you leave your dog in the car, you can expect to receive a summons for animal cruelty. Additionally, if it's determined that your dogs' safety or wellbeing is at risk, a first responder (police officer, security guard, and fireman) may take all means to remove the dog from your vehicle, including breaking the window to get to the dog, and they are immune from any liability for doing so. State law requires that you license your dog on or before Jan. 1 of each year. In order to obtain your dog license you must provide proof that the dog has received a rabies vaccine. If your dog has not been neutered, or spayed, the license will cost you an additional $5. If you are late in obtaining your dog's license it will cost you an additional $25 in late fees. Finally, should you fail to get your dog licensed you will be subject to a $100 fine. Cha-ching.
If your dog injures someone when the animal is not on your property, you are legally responsible for the injury, even if the other person is not completely blameless. If your dog gets out and bites the neighbor, its chicken, child or cat, you are responsible for the injury. It can be extremely costly. If you are taking your dog on a walk and your dog gets spooked by a little kid and bites the child, you are responsible, even if the child startled the dog. Under certain circumstances you can also be found responsible for damage if your dog injures another person, even when the other person is on your property. For example, you decide to sell your old kitchen sink on Craig's List. A man, with a very deep voice, comes to look at the sink. Your dog gets spooked and lunges and bites the man thinking he is protecting you. Even though it was on your property you are responsible for the injury to the man. As someone who has represented folks with dog bite injures, I can assure you it will be costly. Make sure that you have alerted your homeowners or renters insurance company that you own a dog. You will need the coverage should your fury friend bite someone.
If your dog assaults someone it could be determined that the dog is a "dangerous dog" under Maine law. Just one bite is all it takes. Should your dog be determined to be dangerous, you could be ordered to muzzle the dog, confine the dog, or ultimately the dog could be seized and euthanized. Additionally you can be subject to substantial fines and penalties.
As a dog owner you have an obligation to pick up your dog waste. ... I'm talking POOP, folks. Your kids don't poop on my lawn, neither should your dog. Not only does it annoy the rest of us when you let your dog use our front lawn as its personal toilet, but it can be very costly to you if you get caught. In Portland, the fine is $250 for not picking up your dogs' waste. Not to mention the annoyance of your neighbors. They DO know it's your dog using the flower bed. And while on the subject, if you are out walking your dog you will want to review the rules regarding the local leash law. According to the City's website, most of the city requires you keep your dog on a leash when out for a walk. There are areas where you can walk you dog, off leash, under voice control. I never trust people who say their dog is completely under voice control. How does one know that? Have you had a conversation with your dog and the dog has promised you that under no circumstance it will get excited and run after someone or something?
Today the obligation of dog ownership extends well beyond the moral obligation of providing good care for your pet. The legal obligations are extensive and can be quite costly. Still, if I have not deterred you with all the pitfalls mentioned in this article, please consider adopting a dog. If you can afford to care for a dog, and have the capacity to love the animal, the local animal rescue organizations have plenty to go around and your heart will thank you for it.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 23:21
Written by Natalie Ladd
Last week a guy I'd never seen before came into the restaurant to pick up a take-out order that had been placed by someone other than himself. Upon leaving the restaurant with two bags of goods, I noticed he left a small card on the counter that said: "GPTO — Greater Portland Take Out Delivery" and a teaser of copy about the service. I took the bait and called the number to see what the card was all about.
Intrigued, I had questions: Who's paying for this? How much are they paying? What restaurants are involved and how does it benefit them?
Calling at 8 a.m. (believe it or not, I'm an early bird — riser not diner) and was expecting an answering machine. Instead, Keith Killinger, GPTO manager of operations, answered the phone and patiently shared his story.
Eight years ago, Killinger grew frustrated with his job as a delivery driver for a local Chinese restaurant. His boss, he said, was an "abusive dictator" and his personal life wasn't going smoothly. At 39 years old he knew it was time for major changes. The changes included the implementation of a "great business idea."
"The whole thing grew out of a desire to create a job for myself. I knew all the fundamentals of delivering and what needs to happen to make it work so I decided to start my own delivery service," Killinger explained. "I took all the negative energy from what was happening in my life and turned it around. I made a simple flyer telling people I'd deliver to them from any restaurant for a flat fee and handed it out to all the customers who ordered from the Chinese restaurant. I started this business off my old job at that restaurant. By the time word got back to my boss, I had both customers and restaurants calling me."
Killinger "winged it" for six years and as business picked up, he became "overwhelmed and burnt-out" from being a one-man show.
"I was tired and knew I needed help," he said. "So I turned to my friend Jake Simcock. Jake is a super smart marketing and business person and he began working with me. One day he said, 'This thing could be a lot bigger.' So he's taken us to a legit business level following and enforcing all the legal rules and regulations."
Simcock, 30, is a "techie" who manages all administrative efforts. Running Facebook and other deal specials digitally, as well as in flyer form, GPTO acts as a free PR agency, keeping those who participate highly visible. Staying front of customers' minds is increasingly important in our competitive restaurant climate and not everyone is a marketing guru or offers delivery. GPTO addresses those areas of opportunity.
GPTO offers its services at no cost to the restaurant. Yep ... nil, nada, zip, zero dollars.
Instead of charging the restaurant, the customer pays $5 per delivery regardless of what restaurant it is coming from but a nominal fee is added to deliveries outside the Greater Portland area. Large orders more than $100 are assessed a flat fee of $15. Once again, there is no charge to the restaurant or caterer.
Acting as the middleman between the customer and the business, GPTO will deliver from any place willing to pack the stuff up. Operationally, the process happens one of two ways:
1) The customer goes online to GPTO's website. There, they'll see which restaurants are officially participating by clicking on a drop down tab that shows the various establishments and their menus. The customer then calls the restaurant and places the order, giving GPTO as the name of the person picking it up. They also give the restaurant their address and delivery information. If paying by credit card, the customer pays over the phone. If paying by cash, GPTO pays upfront and gets reimbursed. The participating restaurant then calls GPTO and tells them who ordered what, along with the delivery information. Direct communication between the customer and the restaurant helps prevent ordering miscommunication and mistakes.
2) Because GPTO also will deliver from restaurants not participating in their official program customers may call them directly (after placing the order with any restaurant of choice) and request the delivery service. The payment process remains the same.
Granted, the first GPTO option is more labor intensive for the restaurant but the benefits of officially participating far outweighs the inconvenience. It's no fun to manually enter a credit card, collect the delivery data and take the time to call GPTO to come and get it. However, in return for the hassle and the cost of "to-go" paper goods, the restaurant is rewarded by the publicity and exposure. It's a win-win as customers can dine at home or work from places that otherwise don't deliver. The restaurants gain an outlet to attract new business and increase sales.
Staffing the delivery service is largely seasonal and Killinger and Simcock employee up to three part-time drivers who make $5 per hour plus tips.
"During summer, business slows down except for catering. We have ideas to grow the business and roll out some new things in the fall," he said. "Things like doing the credit card processing for our participating restaurants. Also, we already deliver a few orders from small grocery stores but this is a place for us to look. Oh yeah, and the hotels, too. That's my role in all of this when I'm not delivering. I'm a people person and I get out there and talk to the owners."
When asked if the job is dangerous and after some digging for interesting stories of customers misbehaving (we all know I love that stuff), Killinger said he cautions female drivers to remain outside when making deliveries. "This isn't New York and overall people are really wonderful. I'm from South Portland and Jake is from Downeast someplace but we love Portland. It's just a great place."
As far as people misbehaving, Killinger told the following story: "I had this huge order for like 900 bucks that went to the top floor at a medical center. I had to make a bunch of trips in an extra wide wheelchair. When they paid, they left me the change which was 43 cents. I just put it on the counter and said, 'You need this more than I do.'"
Having come far and thinking big, Killinger said franchising isn't out of the realm of possibility. "Things are so much better. I have a great girlfriend and like I said, Jake and I have ideas." In the meantime, everyone in Greater Portland can have their favorite restaurant food, no matter if they provide the service or not, professionally delivered.
Once again Killinger said, "This is a wonderful town."
Restaurants interested in GPTO (as well as stay-home diners with the munchies) should should visit www.greaterportlandtakeout.com, check out the Facebook page or call Keith Killinger at 450-1485.
The Down Low: The streets will be filled with tourists before we know it. While we all have a degree of love/hate going with their presence, please be polite and friendly. Friends of mine from Massachusetts (of all places) said they were mocked and called "Massholes" loud enough for their young kids to hear.
Rest assured it wasn't me who said it because I mumble under my breath when insulting people. Regardless, I'm going to be extra appreciative and gracious this upcoming season and encourage everyone to exercise patience.
Let's remember who spreads the butter on our hard earned bread.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 23:22
Written by Robert Libby
When George Mitchell wrote "World On Fire," he described an environmental crisis that threatened the existence of all the species living on earth.
The book describes his efforts as Majority Leader of the United States Senate to pass a meaningful Clean Air Act that would control and reverse the continued destruction of the world's atmosphere by the emissions of "greenhouse gases" that intensified heat at the earth's surface and sent millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere and the oceans of the world. He described a mid twenty-first century struggling to provide food and water for ten billion people, a world with oceans turned acidic from absorption of carbon dioxide.
He describes a Gulf of Maine unable to produce the great harvest of protein that has sustained our economy for 500 years. The saddest fact is that this book was written in 1991.
As majority leader of the Senate, Mitchell describes the impossibility of passing a meaningful Clean Air Act in that Congress and strongly indicts the corporate interests that used their influence to get Republican members of the Senate to block any attempt to pass legislation that would regulate emissions. Mitchell describes the coal, petrochemical, auto, agricultural, electric power generating industries and many others as dedicated to defeating clean air legislation. He calls Ronald Reagan the most anti-environmental protection president of all history. While publicly speaking in favor of the need for pollution controls of carbon dioxide, President George H.W. Bush angled to delay and weaken the Clean Air Act that George Mitchell's Senate committee crafted.
Sadly we are approaching the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (this year marks 44 years) and the efforts and warnings of environmentalists have not been effective enough to protect the environment. Profit motivated industries continue to claim the proposed solutions are too expensive regardless of the soaring profits in global industries. The costs of environmental damage dwarf the costs of fixing the problem.
The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes the current effects of changes and predicts a threat to the very foundation of global civilization in the near future if serious reductions in fossil fuel emissions worldwide are not enacted in the next decade. The scientific evidence is all around us. Mitchell's book clearly places the blame for most of the damage on human industrial pollution. Yet 25 years later many so called leaders continue to deny that fact.
This past weekend, I saw an advertisement showing a beautiful new sports car racing through the streets at least several miles to replace a dead goldfish in a bowl. I started to wonder how that ad would be received in Bangladesh where rising tides threaten the traditional lives of millions of people. In India, the second most populous country in the world, totally dependent on the sustained fresh water of Himalayan ice fields, Coca Cola Corporation has invested billions in turning billions of gallons of that precious drinking water into soft drinks to sell for profit. As that fresh water becomes more scarce how will this play out?
In the upcoming election I call on all voters to question candidates for public office for a clear statement of where they stand on the issue of climate change. Expanding oil and natural gas exploration and increased burning of fossil fuels is unsustainable and threatens the future of civilization.
Do not be put off by evasions and the vague threat of injury to the economy.
Do not accept weak assertions that it is a normal cycle and businesses have a right to run their businesses any way they see fit.
The only way we can avoid disaster is to send a clear message from the electorate that environmental protection is the top priority of the people. Find out the facts; question the candidates; then vote.
(One Man’s Island columnist Robert Libby of Chebeague Island is a teacher, writer, organic gardener, executive director of the Maine Center for Civic Education.)
Last Updated on Monday, 21 April 2014 23:05
Written by Heidi Wendel
Here's this week's episode of Season 3 of The Port City Chronicle, the continuing story of Gretchen, a 46-year-old criminal defense attorney, and her friends and family, seeking love and happiness in Portland the hard way:
Make Two Bunny Ears and Tie Them Together
"If I'm going to have a root canal I'm going to listen to my own music while I do it," Tim said. "Trout Mask Replica, the greatest piece of music ever written. It's 80 minutes so I hope the root canal takes at least that long."
Despite throbbing pain, he'd refused to see a dentist for weeks, hoping it would go away on its own if he finally started brushing in a downward direction away from the gums.
"You think it doesn't matter until this happens," he said, holding his cheek as we headed to the dentist's office.
I tried to explain that modern medicine has debunked the idea that tooth decay is punishment for laziness or any of the other deadly sins. "A lot of it's genetic," I said, trying to make him feel better.
In fact I blamed Trout Mask Replica for most of it since nobody could listen to that music all the time and still bother about brushing their teeth in a downward direction. Aside from dental hygiene, wearing a hollowed-out fish head on your face is not conducive to regular habits of any kind.
"Plus I realized I've been brushing with sunscreen all this time instead of toothpaste. The tubes are the same size and I never noticed the difference."
It explained why he hadn't become a gourmet cook or a truffle hound. Not that he'd really become anything else either, at least in his mind.
"30 spf," he added.
Finally he found a cheap dentist who was willing to process him if he didn't expect any extras like having his x-rays read.
"Assuming the guy really is a dentist, at least my old fillings should be gone," he said, after the first visit. "He certainly was plugging away at it."
He refused to shell out for anybody better even after Ethan told him he'd be making more money at work shortly. "The copy editor says you'll be getting more responsibility," Ethan said.
Tim nodded. "I know, he mentioned that."
"What will you be doing?" I asked.
"I don't know, just responsibility."
With that level of investment, it seemed unlikely the responsibility would be very extensive.
"At least he isn't mad at me anymore though. He even ate some of my lunch yesterday. And not spitefully either."
It was the kind of thing Tim focused on instead of the big picture same as squirrels run around frantically hiding nuts even though they'll never be able to find them again later. And it was no different with his part time job as a freelance reporter.
"No one would talk to me at the hearing," he said after returning from a public meeting he was covering. "This is why the press is going under."
The politicians weren't returning his calls either. "And I'm going to fight them," he said. "I'm going to fight them until I die."
"And just think, you're fighting them with both hands tied behind your back," Ethan said.
It wasn't nice but in a lot of ways he was right. Apparently Tim never called anybody more than once to avoid being a nuisance.
"How can you expect them to know they were supposed to call you back if you only called once?" Ethan said. "Phone etiquette is to call at least twice if you actually want to talk to someone."
But Tim wasn't convinced that was the problem. "Why does everyone talk to you so much more than me? Why do they like you better?"
"You don't like them," Ethan said.
Tim thought a moment. "But they don't know that."
And he denied being too nice for his own good, which I saw as part of the problem.
"I seem like a nice guy on the surface but I'm actually really hostile deep down," he said.
On top of these anxieties, he was also having issues with the video camera he was assigned. "You can't get a new one until the old one is dead," he said after losing most of his recording of the hearing.
"Why don't you just tell them it's not working?" I asked.
"They check it and say it's not dead yet, one arm is still moving."
I tried to change the topic to music, the one thing I figured could break through the pain. "I see Nine Inch Nails has a new album. Weren't you just talking about them?"
"No, I despise them," he said. "And I rarely think about them."
But in fact he admitted music was all he'd been thinking about for weeks. "There are no stop signs in my head," he said as we waited at an intersection. "All the lights are green and all the cars are on the road."
Apparently the noise level was so high he couldn't notice anything else.
"Look at the daffodils," I said, pointing to flowers bobbing in the breeze along the side of the road. "Isn't it strange how they always grow in bouquets as though they knew that's how people like to see them?"
Of course it wasn't as strange as Trout Mask Replica.
"They don't impress me," he said.
I pointed out a particularly lovely spot we'd just passed.
"Don't look back," he said. "Remember Lot's wife."
I didn't remember her that well, but I was pretty sure we had nothing in common. Among other things, I was a real person living a contemporary life in Portland, Maine. Unlike Tim, who seemed to live entirely in his head amidst blaring atonal music and imagery so harsh he didn't even realize the pain he felt was actually physical until it went off like an alarm clock.
"It's different for you," he said, but he wasn't talking about Lot's wife. "People probably always return your calls."
I shook my head. "I don't know about calls, but there's people who don't say hi back in the elevator at work. You can't let it get to you."
Tim shrugged. "That's not the same because look, they could be deaf."
He was pretty much deaf himself to anything I tried to say about his anxieties.
"The other day I had to write a blurb about a new store that opened at the mall. I called to ask what their hours were and the clerk says, 'Why do you want to know?' So I tried to explain and she finally said '9 to 5 but you need to call back when the manager's here.' The manager never returned my call until after the blurb ran. Then he called back and told the editor I got the hours wrong, it was 11 to 7. Now we have to run a correction."
It bothered him a lot more than the toothache and unfortunately not even a root canal could get it out for him. He was just going to have wait for that particular nerve to die and stop throbbing in the side of his brain. I could begin to see the attraction of Trout Mask Replica as a kind of mental novacaine that gave him at least temporary relief from his constant anxieties.
Or was it part of the problem? If he could just focus, at least some part of the day, on brushing his teeth in a downward direction away from the gums and other mundane practical matters, his nerves might not get quite as raw. He might even be able to notice the daffodils, though they might always be too melodious for him.
A couple minutes from the dentist's office, my phone started ringing. I didn't pick up and hoped Tim wouldn't notice, even though it kept ringing over and over. Finally when he'd checked in with reception I picked up. It was Grace.
"Is she okay?" Tim asked.
I nodded. "She always does that. She calls over and over until you have to pick up."
"Hm," he said looking down thoughtfully. I figured maybe he was rethinking his sensitivity about calling people more than once when they don't call him back.
But it wasn't that. He'd just noticed his shoelace was untied.
"You tie your shoelaces weird," I said, watching him.
He stood back up.
"Why? I make two bunny ears and tie them together. Isn't that how you're supposed to do it?"
Based on that comment it didn't seem likely he would ever get over being sensitive about people ignoring his calls, or anything else they did to him. Then he went in for 80 minutes of root canal and Trout Mask Replica.
Last Updated on Monday, 21 April 2014 17:11
Written by Natalie Ladd
When kids leave home for college, boot up for the military or take off for some other semblance of real life, everyone including the dog feels a little askew. For empty-nested single parents, such as myself, the dog becomes even more important than before. All kinds of age-old stuff unconsciously projected on the children shifts, changes a bit and becomes projected on the unsuspecting dog.
"Did you get enough to eat?" I ask Bad Dog (a.k.a. Lilly Belle), my 7-year-old yellow Lab. The dog looks at me as if to say, "I'm a big yellow Lab. Of course I didn't get enough to eat. Hey, why can't I lick the gooey brownie bowl like Number One used to do?"
"Are you warm enough? Do you need a bigger blanket?" I ask my canine kiddo. That time she looked at me like I'm crazy and I imagine her responding in the same rolling-of-the-eyes, impatient tone of voice often employed by my younger daughter. "Of course I'm warm enough. Isn't the fact I'm shedding a second carpet all over the house proof positive? And that nasty blanket you put on the bed for me to lie on? It's on the floor."
That sort of thing has been going on since the girls left home last fall but not just inside the house. Like lots of dog owners, I take the dog everywhere. I do it to "get her some fresh air," but also because I like it when someone willingly sings harmony in the car with me. The girls always put their ear buds in when I started crooning, so that has been a welcome addition while enjoying the new Springsteen CD. I've also adjusted my work schedule so I can be home to walk her most nights (not unlike putting a child to bed) and absolutely will not date anyone she won't give the sniff-over to at least twice.
Bad Dog is a constant character in both of my columns and I only wish the expression "people and their dogs start to look alike" applied to us. She is after all, a beautiful strawberry blond with big brown eyes and super long eyelashes. She has a muscular (yet huggable) build and an attractive Lab gait as her tail sways from side-to-side when trotting down the sidewalk. Just like my other two daughters, she's stunningly beautiful without being stuck up. She's fun, sweet and everyone likes her. Technically she's a bitch but in reality, she isn't.
Having an actual birth date of 6-6-06, Number One likes to say the dog is poorly behaved for sure but is far too stupid to be the devil. My opinion about her level of intelligence is quite contrary as I believe she chooses her battles carefully. Like many animals, Bad Dog isn't bothered by the little things that are the fallout of thinking and behaving like a human. She doesn't overreact, read into situations or stir up drama. All of these factors and more contribute to why it was so shocking to find out how sick she really is.
For a few months, Bad Dog hasn't been herself. She's been lethargic and not overly eager to slip past me when the door is open. It seemed difficult for her to jump up onto the couch, which has always been such a guilty pleasure. Attributing it to the never-ending winter — when, selfishly, it was hard for get me to go outside and play — I thought she was just a bit bored like the rest of us. Then she started getting sick.
Without going into really gross graphic detail, I had the carpet cleaner guy here twice in three weeks and began wracking my brain trying to figure out which neighbor's thawing compost pile she'd been feasting on. Becoming sicker, she started acting more like a needy child than a frisky dog and stuck to me like Velcro. Like a small child, she couldn't talk and even though she never lost her appetite (as she pointed out, she is a Lab) I leaned on my mother's instincts and knew it wasn't good.
Picking that time as the right one to seek out a new vet, we met with Dr. Cady Lyons at Falmouth Veterinary Hospital. After three visits (equaling a full mortgage payment) we discovered through trial, error, testing and X-rays that Lilly has a "small liver." Although not born that way, Lyons explained the origin of that potentially life threatening problem isn't important since otherwise, she's in good form.
Between then and now, the dog had a rare side effect: an induced seizure (talk about scary) from not being able to process an injection. She has been put on prescription food and medicine and after searching pet pharmacies on the Internet, our best case scenario is around $300 a month. That doesn't include trips to the vet.
Likening my dog to a third child or not, the truth is I have two human daughters in college and simply cannot afford to feed and medicate her. I've written the companies that make the food and medicine requesting a scholarship of sorts and have explored recreating the food from scratch. While there are recipes out there, even the most holistic of vets agree the liver is nothing to mess with and the diet she's been prescribed is the best to ensure she gets all the nutrients, minerals and supplements she needs. I've started a "Bad Dog help! WOOF" GoFundMe account (www.gofundme.com/8es5ko) account, and I am looking for stuff to sell on eBay. The bottom line is I am floored at how much this dog has filled a whole hearted hole left vacant by the girls leaving home. Her sickness is devastating.
One of the biggest fears around being single and empty nested is the reality of suddenly being alone, not being needed and having no one to shower with love and affection (do not confuse that with a request for money disguised as a loving phone call). The fear of losing Bad Dog before her natural time compounds that sensation infinitely.
But guess what? There is a silver lining because friends and family have rallied around Bad Dog and me in droves so far. A colleague offered up her outstanding artwork to auction off for the cause. My California crazy ex immediately sent a chunk of cash, and my daughter's boyfriend (who ever said I didn't like the guy?) donated $20. People are crawling out of the woodwork and my embarrassment at having to reach out now feels like a brave, smart and healthy thing.
Bad Dog and I may be going it solo but we definitely aren't alone. I'll keep you posted on her progress. She's already feeling better because I just found her asleep on Number One's bed, which is even more off limits than the already hairy green couch.
NOTE: Last week's column was supposed to be the third part of "The Work," which was a series about prolonging the facial aging process via dermal fillers and Botox, and the mystique surrounding them. Four local women were going to share their experiences firsthand and opted out at the last minute for "personal reasons." Many thanks to Dr. Matthew Steuer (Facial Cosmetic and Oral Surgery Center) at Dental Specialists of Maine for his assistance with the series.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 01:25