Hugo's Beat

Hugo’s Tribute to the Canine Culture in AOTB - April 2016

The PIER’s former canine columnist departed this life at age 12. Among his effects, interpreters found the following message (in Bulldogue Barque) addressed to brothers and sisters in the surviving community. Arundel-on-the-Bay is always a delightful combination of dogs, lesser animals, traffic, vegetation, and humans.

Dogs - As everybody knows, run the neighborhood; they guide human leash-holders on research trips over open streets, deposit scents for each other in bushes and banks, and permit their uninformed humans to mail fragrant messages into dog-pot post offices.

Lesser Animals - Include birds who fly out of range and peep (yeah, even ospreys) like puppies; swans and geese barking in envy of us dogs; squirrels who slip into hidden doorways on the far side of tree trunks; and cautious cats who invariably glide away (with one aggressive exception on Rockway Avenue).

Traffic - is composed of baby strollers leashed to humans, bicycles and skateboards that bob and weave unpredictably, terroristic lawn mowers dragging people over alien ground, and speedy motorized four-wheel vehicles that sometimes do us the courtesy of signaling left and right turns.

Vegetation - Abounds at every season, not merely on weekends or summers when the local population doubles. The best is edible – salad bars along wood-chipped pathways, bushes housing protein-rich insects – or oily, especially if you reside with humans allergic to poison ivy. Still, Springtime is miraculously lovely as twigs become magnolia blossoms, dogs go mulch-raking, and skin gets petted by sunshine.

Humans - Come in diverse shapes and sizes, all securely classified in our confidential canine data-bases. They include obedient leash-holders, cyclists and stroller slumberers, prisoners lashed inside cars and trucks, children in playgrounds sounding like birds, and free-range pilgrims who plod along without needing a dog’s guidance. AOTB’s most ubiquitous pilgrim always shows his knees and carries a mysterious bag. Residents come and (alas) go, the climate changes, but with canine cooperation, life in Arundel-on-the-Bay moves jubilantly on!

Guide Book to AoTB for Canine Tourists

hugopaw printsSpring always brews a dizzy smell in the air, a chattering canopy of birds overhead, and a new carpet of green to cover those soggy brown leaves and (when was that?) white snow.

Spring also brings vanloads of canine visitors eager to sniff the neighborhood delights. Here they will always find the natives friendly, greeting and getting acquainted along the walkways. They are eager to expand their data-base, so just post your ID on the turf. There are no sidewalks to bump people on, but streets are paved so you never need a pedicure. And you can amble rustic east-west pathways once the authorities have remembered to refresh the wood-chip surfaces.

Why AotB? The Waters, of course! Ocean City isn’t good for dogs; they have a big supply but it’s not fit to drink. Our Bay tastes lots better. Actually, the best bars range along Newport; and you can change currency in the ditches. Cohasset has excellent salad bars but for best dining, follow the squirrels. If they’re too frisky, wait until somebody collects the Monday/Thursday trash, and snack on the street.

There are Sports here, both spectator and adventure types. Frisbee reserves are private, but the kids let balls roll into the street. Mulch-raking and leaf-kicking don’t get you into much trouble. In marking contests, everybody comes out on top. For hunters, the wild squirrels are limited only by the length of your leash (sorry, the big cats don’t cooperate). For spectators, there is lawn-mowing, and the Monday/Thursday games feature barrel-heaving into backs of big trucks.

Arts and Spiritual Life? We’ve got it! Narragansett is filled with bird twitter and dog barque. Canines can access Bay-tunes without a password, and we also have Snoutbook and Chewtube. Gallery woodlots are filled with fine bark sculptures (aka trees) and there are stone monuments everywhere. For the more contemplative, a half-dozen poop boxes contain libraries of information free for the sniffing.

Amenities? Well, there are plenty of places to sit and breathe. And the restrooms are free, but you need to carry a bag. And it’s not true that the Board has mounted hidden cameras to detect (and fine) dogs who deposit without cleaning-up.

Crime? Are you kidding? Oh, some car drivers try to intimidate you by dissing stop-signs or turning at you without a signal, so stay alert. Barque softly and carry a big person on your leash.

So dog-buddies, come enjoy AotB, and DON’T WORK TOO HARD (that’s a people thing).

Your bullfriend, Hugo

Along Chesapeake Walk

paw prints[Hugo is a four year-old (going on five, he claims), 20-pound French bulldog, black with two white paws -- his homage to diversity. He patrols AotB avenues with a keen nose for street life, especially sniffables. An ambitious writer, he digs his namesake Victor, and occasionally offers his sniffings to readers of The PIER. The translation from his native barque is strictly the fault of the Editor.]

This is a magical spot in our community. Other places can have their "Chesapeake Avenues;" WE have a WALK -- even though it used to bear a railway line (don't ask me how I know that).

Formally designated as "undeveloped green space," it's turned white today (March 3), but that's okay, for it remains a wonderful strip to stroll, open exclusively to AotB pets -- and their appropriate property owners.

-So as I walked the Walk (and barked the Bark) today, just picking up fresh scents for this column, I had to cope with six inches of new snow -- tough for an animal with four-inch legs. But it was lovely and I was glad to see all that marker fluid still rolling and sloshing in the Bay.

My leash-holder doesn't let me paw through the community Directory, so I can't fit names to properties. Still I can tick off the highlights, from north to south. Note, please, that even a well-bred, property-owning dog can't reach the Walk from Cedar Avenue, because of something called erosion; somebody ought to do something about that [Editor: somebody is; read elsewhere]. So you come up from the south at Linden Avenue, turn around halfway between Walnut and Cedar and head back south again.

At the northern end you pass a few respectable houses that look over your head at the Bay; some of them could use a quiet dog or two, to give the place some style. Then there is that one Egyptian queen who proves she owns the yard inside her fence; she can be scary at times, but means no harm. Anyhow, I'm used to exciting plenty of other sisters and brothers who bark from the safety of their enclosures even along the normal (paved) streets. The Walk's no different -- and you can't stop canine charisma.

Across Walnut, there's the delightful place that's AotB's version of Disney World, with spinners and flyer things, crab lures, and lots of other amusements. I enjoy playing among them, and I leave my calling card.

Then there are some imposing structures south of Disney World, one with a spectacular garden (though all white today), another that even has a discreet sign welcoming us to the Walk, another festooned by busy family life. It all ends at Linden Avenue, after three and one-half blocks. What's not to love?

For some reason, my leash-holder likes to scan the horizon from the Walk, making sure that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is still there, as well as the Big Bridge, Highland Beach (with its Douglass House), and Venice (where I'm told dogs get seasick in the gondolas). Me, I just read the scents, Nature's own living museum.

When the Green Space is truly green, those nice adjoining residents mow the Walk. That makes it easier to stroll, albeit less to smell and fewer edibles under blankets of leaves. Nothing is perfect, and there are plenty of other oases in Arundel-on-the-Bay