Saturday, December 29, 2007

Snowy Sidewalks

During my holiday travels, I was talking to my brother, who grew up in Iowa, about what it's like trying to get anywhere in Waterbury during the winter. I was telling him that, while there's snow on the ground, you pretty much have to drive a car if you don't want to struggle with snow and ice. At best, only half the sidewalks are shoveled, which means that pedestrians have to choose between possibly spraining an ankle or slipping and falling on ice, or risk getting hit by a car while walking in the side of the road. I can't even imagine what it must be like for someone pushing a baby stroller. Anyone in a wheelchair is either stuck at home or stuck in the roadway.

My brother was shocked by this situation. He had trouble comprehending that there could be unshoveled sidewalks. It turns out that Iowa not only requires property owners to shovel their sidewalks, they also have a state law (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12 [2c]) which allows/requires each city to shovel any sidewalk that isn't cleared soon enough. The city then bills the property owner for the job.

This sounds absolutely wonderful to me. I'd love to see it happen here. There's something about having clear walkways that's so civilized.

Of course, since Waterbury has difficulty just getting the streets properly cleared, expecting the city to also take care of sidewalks, even if they do get reimbursed for it, is probably asking too much.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Week

That's how long the Waterbury pound keeps dogs before putting them down. They take the dog in, have it inspected by a vet, and if it's disease-free, they place an ad in the paper (not under "Pets" however...) and a week later, if the dog hasn't been claimed or adopted, they kill it (humanely, of course, but it amounts to the same thing).

One week does not seem like anywhere near enough time. One month would be better. I don't know how many dogs the pound can hold, but they are currently advertising five dogs (including the poor puppy I found last week--I'm working hard at finding somewhere for him to go) for adoption/claim. Five dogs that are going to be put to sleep at Christmas if nobody rescues them.

The Republican-American runs a pet photo section once a week, printing photos that people send in of their cats and dogs. Wouldn't it be a better use of that section to run photos of the dogs on death row at the pound?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mildly Disturbing

As I was walking along East Main Street this morning, carefully watching my footing, since half the sidewalks are still covered in snow and ice, I noticed a half-eaten chicken wing on the ground, being picked over by a pigeon. This seems not right somehow. Naturally, there are birds that eat other birds (hawks, for example), and all birds (I assume) eat bugs, but for some reason I just don't expect city pigeons to eat chicken.

The strangest pigeon story I've ever heard is from New York City, where there are (supposedly) pigeons that live, permanently, deep in the subway system and are evolving into blind albinos.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snowy Day Adventure

Right after the snow started this morning, I noticed dog poop on my front porch. I was, naturally, annoyed that someone's dog would come up on my porch and do that. Several hours later, as I stepped outside to start shoveling snow, I noticed that the dog had peed as well. Very annoying. As I shoveled the poop off the porch, I suddenly noticed, out of the corner of my eye, something dark in the corner behind the recycling bin. I moved closer and discovered the most emaciated dog I've ever seen huddled up in a little ball. He didn't move anything other than his eye as I got closer. My first thought was that he had already frozen to death, but that little bit of eye movement let me know he was still alive. My second thought was to ask one of the kids playing in the snow if they knew whose dog he was, but then I saw his ribs and spine sticking out, and realized that if he belonged to someone, they weren't ever getting him back.

I rushed inside and grabbed a thick towel to keep him warm, and he was SO grateful for it, but still didn't get up. Then I rushed inside and filled a bowl up with cat food, which the dog quickly inhaled. I got more cat food, and this time he was able to stand up to eat.

Photo is blurry, but you can see how starved he is.

By this point, I was trying to figure out what to do with him. He wasn't displaying any aggression, and seemed disease-free. Not to mention that he kept giving me that heart-melting look of adoration.... The sensible thing, I knew, was to call the dog warden, but this sweet dog has already had a rough time. I called a friend who assured me that calling the dog warden was a good thing to do, so I made the call. No one answered, so I left a message.

(Side note: In the phone book, under Dog Warden in the blue pages, there's a second number to call if no one answers the first number. Well, it turns out the second number is for emergencies requiring the police! Oops! I felt very bad for bothering them, but the man who answered was very nice about it.)

I had been planning on doing some snow shoveling and then maybe going for a walk. But before I called the dog warden, I decided to let the dog come inside. He wanted to come in, and I figured I could toss him right back outside if he misbehaved. (Letting him inside was very nerve-wracking for me, because one of my cats was killed by a dog a few years ago.) When I opened the door and let him in, he made a beeline for the cat food in the kitchen, and completely ignored the cats as they bolted for safe hiding spots. The dog also ignored my gray cat Max, who hovered nearby, growling and mewing.

A less-than-happy cat...

I was going to set up a bed for the dog down in the basement, but he refused to go down the steps. He also refused to go back outside. He wants to stay close to me, so he's currently sleeping on the towel next to the couch. Max is fascinated by him. The other cats probably won't come out of hiding for days. I have no idea when the dog warden will call me back, and, considering that we're well into getting the 6-10 inches of snow predicted for today, I have no idea how long it will be before they can come for the dog. I'm hoping to get the dog to go outside after his nap; he's not exactly house-broken (he's already pooped in the living room). If I have to keep him overnight, he'll have to go in the basement, even if I have to carry him there (which won't be fun, considering that how filthy he is).

A very unhappy cat, trying to figure out where the dog is hiding.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Other Buses

After Waterbury was hit by the sudden snowfall at rush hour last Friday, the big news in the paper was the stranding of small children on school buses. I don't know what would have been a better way to handle the problem (shouldn't the bus drivers be trained and equipped with supplies for emergencies strandings?), although I have to agree that it was much better to have the buses pull over than crash.

What I haven't seen covered much in the news is the story of the public trans buses. I heard one person say he waited two hours in the cold for a bus after work before finally giving up and walking a mile or two to get home. Granted, that doesn't make for as wrenching a story as crying toddlers, but I think it bothers me more. The kids on the buses were, presumably, kept warm. The people using CT Transit were stuck out in the cold, and those riders typically include the elderly and small children. At least some of the downtown bus stops have a sort of shelter, but there are few things quite as miserable as standing out in the cold waiting for a bus.

I suppose there's a certain amount of effort to find someone to blame for the transportation mess during the storm, but even after the storm started, most of the weathermen were still saying that it would be an insignificant dusting at worst. For tomorrow's storm, they're going the opposite direction, predicting roughly half a foot of snow. I don't think anyone will be too surprised if all we get is an insignificant dusting.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Missing the Bachata

At 6 this evening, I was outside shoveling snow from my sidewalk and driveway. During the summer and fall, if I were outside my house at 6 on a Friday, I'd be enjoying the great bachata music being blasted at the corner bodega. Tonight, in the cold and snow, there were hardly any sounds at all. It was so silent, I could hear the crunching footsteps of a man walking up the middle of the street. I do really enjoy the quiet of new snow, but I definitely miss the music. I wonder how much the city's Dominican population has grown in recent years. It seemed like I was hearing Zacarias Ferreira's songs everywhere in Waterbury. It was great.

I stepped back outside a little after 8 tonight. The snow stopped falling before 6pm, and amounted to about an inch of lightweight powder, but the streets are like ice from snow getting packed down tight by cars. A neighbor driving slowly down the street said there was at least one really bad accident on Oak Street. There's no sign of city plows putting down sand--but, of course, even after the snow had started, the weather reports were still claiming that it probably wouldn't do anything.