Giant rubber duck thrills Sydney Harbor
Sydney Festival’s giant Rubber Duck installation, Darling Harbour, Australia on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2013. This is the latest incarnation of artist Florentijn Hofman’s famous oversized toy which measures 15m high and 18m wide and has been commissioned especially for this year’s Sydney Festival. Picture: Damian Shaw / EPA
Yet another Michael Clarke century (December 27, 2012). Getty Images
The Best. Simple.
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.
Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
____________ _________ _________ _________
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t
matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —-“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”
He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.
And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.
____________ _________ _________ _______
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver
Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.
The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered.
His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again.
“Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.”
Yep, I went to America again.
Main purpose - to catch up with bestie Teg in NYC, but to also see some more of the 50 states.
Travelled in style and Megabussed it up to Washington overnight where I was going to be spending the next two days. Of course it was muggy and hot and not Ali weather at all. On my arrival I checked into the hostel and set off to go to the National Zoo. Spent a lovely afternoon with all the animals - highlights of the day were see 3 month old cheetah cubs and a panda having a party with bamboo. Also walked around the downtown and found the Verizon Center - home of the Caps and Wizards. Was going to have an early night as I didn’t sleep on the bus but decided I was in Washington so should do something, tried to go on the ‘Washington by Moonlight’ tour but apparently I missed it and was too late, even though it was still light outside. So instead, walked along the National Mall and discovered it was under construction. Awesome! Day 2 I set off to explore the Smithsonian. Hired myself a bicycle and had a grand old time biking around looking for the check in stations. After a quick stop at Obama’s House I went to visit the Lincoln Memorial - which is hugeee and awesome! Unfortunately the Reflecting Pool didn’t even have any water in it as it’s all under construction. Gahh. And the Washington Monument was closed due to an earthquake last year. Still quite a sight to see though.
OK, let’s try this again. I finished this last night then my computer had a hissy fit and closed the wrong tab and lost majority of it. Ahh technology.
Quick stop in at the Smithsonian Castle then it was time for my first museum - the National Air and Space Museum. Wow. Although it’s not huge, there are so many planes hanging from the roof and so much information in there. Went to IMAX 3D to see Sky Racers - crazy crazy people and spent around two and a half hours in there but could’ve stayed for a day. Between museum visits I decided to go on a little bicycle adventure to the Capitol Building - unfortunately got directed off the road thanks to a detour and ended up somewhere east of downtown that wasn’t on my map and I had no idea where I was. So my planned 10 minute casual bike ride turned into a half hour crazy peddle work out session looking for a check in station so I didn’t have to pay more (trips that were longer than 30 minutes you had to pay for). Ended up somehow at the Post Museum so knew where I was ad then magically ended up biking right along in front of the Capitol Building. There are some awesome buildings in this city. Next stop was museum number two - Natural History Museum. Even more wow. It was huge! The Mammal Family Reunion Hall is amazing, so many animals in there from all over the world. It’s funny listening to non Aussies comment on kangaroos. Went to see ‘To The Arctic 3D’ at the IMAX which was an incredible film but made me very angry at the human race as we are killing the polar bears. After watching it I heard a guy comment that ‘it would be cool if they still existed’ - referring to an extinct monster shark creature thing. And it really sucks that one day we may have to say this about polar bears. One of my favourite things was the ‘Fish Inside Out’ exhibit - was a collection of x ray photos of all different sea creatures that showed their bone structures. They also had the Nature Photography Award finalists in there and there were some amazing pictures. Animals have the coolest pictures. There were also dinosaurs, bones, gems and crystals, titanoboa giant snake, ocean and so much more in there. Was there for over 3 hours and didn’t see it all. You could really spend a week in the Smithsonian alone. So much information and goodness in there. Anddd I resisted and did not buy ANYTHING in the shop. After filling my head with many interesting facts that would soon be forgotten it was time to head back to the bus station and head to Boston.
I was second in line and thanks to the bus being 45 minutes late got to sit on the concrete for over an hour with nothing to do. I did have a McFlurry thought which was delightful - and pointless to this story. I bussed with Megabus which use double deckers so I decided it would be cool to sit at the front at the top to seeeee. Good idea, until it got dark and I realised I couldn’t straighten my legs - which meant in the morning it took me a long time to get going thanks to my slightly annoying left knee. But I was in Boston and there was things to be seen! Started with a giant choc chip Frappe from Macky Dee’s and walked north along the harbour and headed to the Bunker Hill Monument. It was meant to open for climbing at 9 but the Ranger had trouble with her key so we had to wait for the big boss to turn up and open the door, sp got to listen to two crazy kids annoy the Ranger for nearly an hour. And watch all the doggies going on their morning walk in the park. 294 steps on a spiral staircase was a good way to wake me up but the view from the little windows at the top was worth it. Next stop was TD Garden - home of the Bruins and Celtics. Had a play in the shop and got me a yum yum Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich. Then it was off to Fenway Park - home of the Red Sox - on the interesting subway cars they have. I missed a tour by about 3 minutes and didn’t want to hang around for another hour so I walked all around it and had another play in the giant shop. And learned that it’s where the New England Patriots hail from! Yeah! Spend the next few hours just aimlessly wandering the streets of Boston and turning and going where ever I felt like going. Found Beacon St - where Pete and Berg’s pizza place was in Two Guys and a Girl (even thought filmed in LA, it was based here). Learnt a lot about Boston on my walking session then stumbled upon Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall where I had a wonderful few hours shopping. And discovered Boston is famous for lobster. By this stage I needed a rest as I had been walking constantly from 6:30am - 5:30pm except for my 10 minute subway ride. Went to Clarke’s Saloon for dinner and had a mighty feast of chicken tenders, wings, mozzarella sticks and nachos accompanied with some Heineken and Bud’s. All for $25 - love America. Still had a couple of hours before my bus to Phillie so went to see Brave 3D which made me miss the parentals quite a bit. But it’s a kids movie so of course I loved it.
Then it was Phillie time! I was naughty and cut the line - unintentionally - so got a good seat on the bus. I had the same bus driver from Toronto - Washington, Washington - Boston and Boston - Phillie and he was quite entertaining. Slept a few hours then arrived bright and early again in sunny Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. e extreme heat, constant walking and lack of sleeping was starting to get to me so I thought a perfect place to start was IHOP. Had a ginormous omelette / pancake feast for $11 then it was time for another walking day. Went to visit the Liberty Bell, Franklin Square and Elfreth’s Avenue - a little street where people have lived, and still live, since 1702 (I’m assuming they’re not the same people). Quick stop at Penn’s Landing and a lookie at Ben Franklin’s Bridge - they love him in America, wonder why? My legs were struggling and the heat was getting stronger so I decided to part with my money and bought an all day hop on / hop off bus ticket that stopped at all the attractions. First stop was the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was quite informative and creepy. Was home to Al Capone for a while. They had an audio tour similar to Alcatraz. Then it was time to go and visit Rocky! Stopped at the Museum of Art and although I wasn’t even enjoying walking I decided that I had to run up the steps. So I did, and jumped around like an idiot at the top by myself. Clearly I’m as cool as Rocky. It’s a pretty awesome view of the Phillie downtown from there and their wannabe Chrysler Building. Had a lookie at more of the cool buildings down town - City Hall was of course under construction. Found ‘Five Guys’ which is a burger joint I got told to go to when I was in Washington so it was burger time. I got a GIANT burger, heaps of spicy yum yum fries and a GIANT Vanilla Coke for $12. Was pretty damn good, and a hell of a lotta food. Then it was back to the bus station for the short 2 hour trip to NYC. Unfortunately because I left at 5:30pm it took half hour to get out of Phillie so I ended up being 45 minutes late to NYC.
Arrived in NYC and charged off to my hotel as I was meant to be meeting Teg in Times Square in about 20 minutes. Checked in, then got told to changed rooms and ended up with a room with 3 beds in it. Quick change then headed to Times Square - still so amazing second time around - and had to find Planet Hollywood as that’s where I was to meet her. Wasn’t where I remembered it to be, but thankfully saw a little Planet Hollywood poster informing me it was closed for renovations - of course - then realised I had to find a tiny little person amongst all the people in Times Square. Thankfully she saw me! So Teg, Rachel and me headed to Hard Rock Cafe for some ginormous fantastical cocktails. And the waitress jumped us up the line so we didn’t have to wait for a table. It’s a pretty awesome Hard Rock, and not too expensive considering its location. Had a great night catching up filled with constant laughter. Love that girl. After sleeping in an actual bed we set off in the morning to Westpoint Military Academy, about 60 miles north of NYC. The place was amazing, the Chapel and grounds were just insane. And the cemetery had some pretty impressive head stones. Lots of history in that place, and an awesome view of the Hudson River. Took us forever to get back into NYC as we arrived at peak hour and there was non stop buses everywhere. Was quite a sight. Had a quick bite for dinner then unfortunately it was time for me to bus back to Toronto and back to reality.
My little break was incredible - saw a LOT of amazing things, walked way too far, was way too hot and hardly slept, but it was well worth it. And I stayed within my money budget. I returned with $9. Yesss. Was late to work thanks to Megabus being late again and was very relieved to crash on Thursday evening.
Washington was very impressive, Boston was very interesting, Phillie as very laid back and NYC was insane.
America is wicked. Go there.
My computer closed the wrong tab and I lost my blog post I just finished about my USA trip. I am angry.
This is making me less angry.
Lawrie in a Leafs jersey.
Lupuls gets a goal.
This hurts me just watching.