Howard County turns out to be a dog's best friend


July 27, 2008|By JANET GILBERT

Forbes magazine recently listed Howard County as the 17th best place to raise a family in America. But what Howard countians really want to know is: When does the "Janet's World List of Best Places to Raise a Dog in America" come out?

Well, as it happens, just today I have ranked Howard the 15th best place to raise a dog in America.

I proudly announce this designation after lengthy interviews with the judges, comprising of our dog, Moose, as well as his friends Luna, Scooter, Noelle and Angus - none of whose names have been spelled backward because they don't actually read the paper, they just fetch it from the driveway.

About three weeks ago, I went on a hike with Moose and a friend in Patapsco Park. This is just one reason our county is dog heaven; you can step out of a suburb and into the set for Bridge to Terabithia in a matter of moments.

Before I got a dog, I wasn't the type of gal who would suggest a hike. I was the type of gal who would suggest a four-star restaurant. Admittedly, the first time I took Moose into the park, I was motivated by the fact that I thought a gambol in the woods would tire him out.

I was in for a surprise. Moose appeared to have found the dog equivalent of Chuck E. Cheese's. Logs, streams, smells galore. If only I could accurately describe the joy in seeing a dog experiencing so much joy! It was joyful.

Now I take him once a week. I pick a day when I know I have time to give him a vigorous washing, for he always finds a fragrant mud puddle to wallow in as his cool-down.

So there we were in Patapsco Park; me and Moose and my friend Nasus Ffud, whose name has been spelled backward for privacy. We recall Moose made a strange sort of yelp at the beginning of the hike, but he bounded back to us a few minutes later, seemingly unharmed.

We hiked on. We took the road less traveled, because Nasus knows how to read trail markers, whereas I depend on the International Folkloric Society Gretel Method. About 40 minutes later, Nasus noticed blood on the path.

"Do you think it could be Moose?" she said.

I didn't think so, because what dog in his right mind would be gallivanting while bleeding profusely?

Moose would, apparently.

Nasus saw signs of a neighborhood up around the bend, and suggested we stop there to get our bearings. We exited the park, hoping to recognize precisely where in the 17th best county in America we had landed. After a few moments of shrugging at each other, I spotted a nicely dressed woman about to get into her car and I shouted, "Excuse me, can you tell us where we are?"

She took one look at Moose's blood-soaked paw and brought out an heirloom afghan to wrap his foot. We declined, asking for something more appropriate, such as the newspaper. Which just goes to show that newspapers are still very, very important. Anyway, this complete stranger drove us to my car, back at the park entrance about three or four miles away. I tried to keep the blood off her pristine floor mats but it was tough going.

Moose had surgery that day for a deep puncture wound, most likely from trash in the park, which I would like to point out costs nothing to pack out, but costs people like me upward of $500 in veterinary bills.

But when Moose came out of anesthesia, he muttered something to me about Howard County being in the Top 20 places to raise a dog. He further mentioned it was because of angels like Neeruam Naeb who appeared out of nowhere to help us home.

And he told me her name had been spelled backward to protect her privacy.

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