Four Ways to Savor the End of Summer with your Dog

Lounging

Don’t throw in the towel on summer just yet: Tavish the Intrepid Pup has—count ’em—FOUR great ideas for eking out the last bits of summer fun.

Labor Day Weekend is upon us, officially signaling that summer is drawing to a close. But just because the sun is setting earlier and the number of BBQs is dwindling doesn’t mean there isn’t still fun to be had. To that end, Tavish the Intrepid Pup has picked four can’t-miss activities to help you and your dog savor these last days of summer and tide you over ’til next year.

Click to see what a 3 on the Wag-A-Meter meansEach of these tops out the Intrepid Pup’s wag-a-meter at a “3” not only for being canine-specific but also for being fun for dogs and people alike. While they all happen to take place within the greater metropolitan DC area, Team Tavish suspects that there are similar events elsewhere in the country…let us know in the comments section below!

 

Canine Cruise

Ahoy! Tavish spent the whole Canine Cruise facing into the breeze.

Canine Cruise with Potomac Riverboat Company, Alexandria, Virginia
38°48′18.40″N,  77°2′22.99″W

Only two more cruise dates remain in the 2012 season: Thursday 9/6/12 and Thursday 9/13/12 at 7PM and 8PM, weather permitting

Here’s your chance to get out on the water! The Potomac Riverboat Company offers a whole host of water taxi services and scenic tours along the Potomac, but this one is billed especially for dogs. Board the double-decked, open-air Admiral Tilp from the Alexandria Dock at the base of Cameron Street; look for the dog-friendly drinking fountain near the gangplank! Though you’ll have to purchase a ticket ($15/adult; $9/child, reservations are suggested), your dog rides for free and usually even receives a complimentary dog biscuit from the crew!

There were approximately six other dogs sharing the upper deck with us on the evening of our 40-minute excursion. It was typical, sultry end-of-summer weather, so the light breeze off the water was welcome. The captain pointed out the highlights and shared a few pieces of trivia, but otherwise this was not a highly narrated affair. You’ll head as far south as the impressive Woodrow Wilson Bridge and as far upriver as Bolling Air Force Base. Along the way there are lovely views of Old Town and National Airport on the Virginia shore and National Harbor and the Naval Research Laboratory on the Maryland side.

Dogs are required to be on 6-foot flat leashes.

Dog Swim

Tavish prefers wading and splashing to actual swimming but had an absolute blast at last year’s Dog Swim at NVRPA’s Great Waves Waterpark.

Dog Swim at NVRPA Waterparks
38°48′18.04″N,  77°6′1.56″W
Saturday 9/8/12 – Noon to 4PM

On the final day of the season before the pools get drained, all five of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s waterparks go to the dogs! Although the “rides” and slides are off limits, there’s plenty of action to be found in the wave pool, play areas, giant bubblers, and waterfalls. Come prepared to fill out a waiver/registration form and to pay the entry fee of $5 per dog. Once you pass through the security gates you can let your dog off leash, but be sure to keep your dog in view. Remember to bring a towel, doggie bags, fresh water for your dog to drink…and a camera! The sight of all those dogs racing around and grinning away (easily 50 at any given time) was priceless!

Though you may be tempted to join in the frolicking, only dogs are allowed in the water on the Dog Swim afternoon. And one final tip, shared from personal experience:  As your dog careens through the pools, be mindful of his toenails and paw pads, since the concrete decking can rapidly wear them to the quick or cause a tear. If your dog is due for a nail trim, don’t do it right before the Dog Swim.

NPS tour

Fala, you sly dog, you! Tavish poses with the bronze statue of Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famed Scottish terrier and confidante, at the FDR Memorial. It’s the only presidential memorial to include a pet.

Presidential Dogs and Four-Legged American Heroes Tour, beginning at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC
38°53′2.24″N,  77°2′38.89″W

Upcoming dates are Sunday 9/9/12, Sunday 9/16/12, and Saturday 9/29/12, beginning at 5PM…plus a couple dates in October TBA, beginning at 4PM.

How better to explore man’s best friends’ contributions to our nation than via DC’s national memorials? Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome on this innovative (and free!) walking tour led by a National Park Service ranger. This particular tour is a relatively new offering—the first one was a month ago— and is rapidly growing in popularity. The tour convenes at the bookstore at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and, fortunately, finding late-afternoon weekend parking nearby on Ohio Drive isn’t impossible. In about 90 minutes’ time, you’ll cover approximately 1.5 miles at a leisurely pace, with built-in stops for water breaks and dog treats. Ranger Eddy Kahle readily held the attention of our multi-generational group consisting of 10 people and 5 dogs. Brimming with anecdotes and a dog-owner himself, Kahle is clearly passionate about the important role pets play in our lives. You’ll learn which president had the most pets in the White House (hint: one was a pygmy hippo!), who had a pair of beagles named “Him” and “Her”, and what dog joined the president on his morning jogs. As the tour moves away from the Tidal Basin and toward the war memorials, the focus shifts to the role of dogs in wartime and their value to returning veterans.

For your dog, bring along doggie bags, fresh water and a 6-foot leash. For you? Don’t forget a camera. After all, how else are you going to get that requisite photo of your dog alongside a super-sized Fala immortalized in bronze?

Yappy Hour

Tavish discovered that the Hotel Monaco’s open-air courtyard is a pretty happenin’ place.

Doggie Yappy Hour at the Hotel Monaco, Alexandria, Virginia
38°53′2.24″N,  77°2′38.89″W

5PM on Tuesday and Thursday evenings through October, weather permitting

One of the very first dog owners we met the winter we moved to northern Virginia told us point blank, “Come April, you must go to the Hotel Monaco.” That’s when the boutique hotel opens its brick courtyard for the much-anticipated Doggie Yappy Hours that take place every Tuesday and Thursday evenings all the way through October.

The ground rules are simple: no more than 2 dogs per handler, no paws on the tables, and dogs must be on 6-foot leashes and have current rabies tags. There’s a good vibe, and the people/canine-watching is pretty sublime. It’s not uncommon for the café tables and cushioned wicker sofas to be filled to capacity, with close to 25 dogs of all breed and sizes (plus a few adoptable dogs from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria) lounging alongside. Hotel Monaco staffers are quick to accommodate with water bowls and complimentary dog treats. There’s no cover charge, but don’t think you won’t need a wallet. There’s an eclectic mix of non-draft craft beers available from the outdoor bartender. Wait staff will help you choose from a tasty selection of small plate “new American tavern” dishes from the hotel’s Jackson 20 menu. (Think fried green tomatoes, BBQ sliders, shrimp fritters, waffle fries with pulled pork and smoked gouda…yum!)

If you time it right on a Thursday, you can have drinks and appetizers at the Yappy Hour and then walk the three blocks down to the waterfront to catch the Canine Cruise described above.

“In Valor There Is Hope”

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

At the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Tavish meets the steady gaze of one of four adult lions, sculpted in bronze by Raymond Kaskey (b. 1943). Beneath is chiseled Proverbs 28:1, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” In the background is the former U.S. Pension Office which is now home to the National Building Museum.

An 80-foot-long reflecting pool. Low, gently curving marble walls. Four statuary groupings of stoic lions protectively watching over cubs. And names: thousands upon thousands of names. This is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Appropriately sited in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square—a symbolic center of the U.S. criminal justice system—the Memorial has been a place for remembrance and introspection since 1991. Unlike some memorials which remain static after their initial dedications, this one is annually updated for the simple yet tragic reason that law enforcement officers continue to be killed in the line of duty. This year a total of 362 names joined the approximately 19,000 others already appearing on the marble panels. These entries represent the 163 officers killed in 2011, plus 199 officers who died in previous years and were recently discovered in historical records.

Though we had the grounds to ourselves when we visited on a weekend afternoon a couple months back, this is hardly a forgotten memorial. Two commemorative wreaths, a tiny American flag here, and a single fresh long-stem rose there gave evidence that others had come by recently to pay their respects. This scene is very different come May, when the Memorial figures prominently in the official events of National Police Week (always the calendar week surrounding May 15), first proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Commemorative activities annually draw anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 attendees. There’s a candelight vigil at the Memorial—at that point completely lined with personal mementos, handwritten notes, and other tributes to fallen officers—and an official wreath-laying ceremony on the heels of the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

But there were no crowds or candles or bagpipes that afternoon, and we were left alone to wander. A brochure supplied onsite provides a self-guided walking tour of some of the Memorial’s points of interest, and you can even use your cell phone to access a free, guided narration. The Memorial encompasses local, state, and federal peace officers, so you’ll see names ranging among the ranks of municipal police, park service rangers, correctional officers, and members of the U.S. Secret Service. Along the way you’ll learn that…

  • the first known U.S. officer killed in the line of duty was Sheriff Cornelius Hogeboom of Hudson, New York, in 1791.
  • more than 245 female officers’ names appear on the memorial.
  • the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72 officers died responding to the terrorist attacks.
  • the average age of officers on the Memorial is just 39.

It’s a poignant reminder that in no small measure we owe our public safety to the “thin blue line” of protection by the nation’s law enforcement officers.

Dogging the Details

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter means38°53′49.39″N,  77°1′2.32″W
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington, DC

If traveling by Metro, the Memorial’s three-acre plaza actually covers the underground Judiciary Square station stop on the Red Line. If arriving by car, metered parking spaces are usually available on weekends on the streets surrounding Judiciary Square.

Tavish at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

This section of the memorial bears a quotation from the early Roman senator and historian Tacitus: “In valor there is hope.”

The memorial grounds are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, making them very accessible to visit and scoring a “1” on the Intrepid Pup Wag-a-meter. Springtime is especially pretty with all the flowering trees and some 14,000 daffodils. Should you wish to locate and make an etching of a name, you can search the finding aid directories and obtain pencils and paper from any of the four information stations at the Memorial.

Construction has begun on the south side of the Memorial for a National Law Enforcement Museum slated to open in 2015. To extend the Memorial experience in the meantime, there is a small Memorial Visitors Center and Store located just a few blocks to the southwest, at 400 7th Street, NW. There you’ll find assorted law enforcement themed merchandise, a timeline of U.S. law enforcement history, plus interactive kiosks with more information about those honored at the Memorial.

 

A Titanic Fascination

Titanic Memorial

99 years and 364 days ago, the approximately 2200 people aboard the RMS Titanic were four days into their trans-Atlantic voyage from Southampton to New York City and having a grand old time. That all changed the night of April 14, 1912, when an iceberg tore open her starboard side, and the unthinkable happened. Within just two and a half hours, in the early morning hours of April 15, the “unsinkable” ship had cataclysmically broken apart and plummeted to a watery grave 12,540 feet below. And the rest, as they say, is history.

*  *  *

Fast forward to a few weeks ago on the Washington, DC waterfront. An early twenty-somethings couple was sitting on the wall of the Titanic Memorial when we approached. Intrigued by the fact that Tavish the Intrepid Pup was being photographed, the young woman in the duo struck up a conversation and inquired about Tavish. Upon explaining to her that this was the latest monument in a growing list of ones he’s visited, she seemed thoughtful. “Hmm,” she said, “the Titanic. Yeah. I saw the movie.”  And then, a few moments later:  “So, what’s up with this memorial, anyway? Did the Titanic sink here?”

Aside from the egregious incongruity of her remark, she had actually made a good point:  why is there a Titanic Memorial in Washington, DC?  The Titanic most assuredly did not strike an iceberg in the nation’s capital, and DC’s Southwest Waterfront couldn’t look any less like the cold expanse of the North Atlantic. Indeed, there are other places with far more direct connections to the Titanic, like Belfast, where the ocean liner was built, or Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, where 121 of the victims are interred.

The reason, quite simply, is that a group of wealthy women, the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association, raised the funds in response to congressional authorization of a national monument. The winning design selected by the Fine Arts Commission consisted of a robed male figure designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942, of Whitney Museum of Art fame) standing amidst a granite exedra designed by architect Henry Bacon (1866-1924, of Lincoln Memorial fame). The memorial was completed in 1918, but it wasn’t until 1931 that it was installed and dedicated at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue, NW and Rock Creek Parkway, on the riverbank. The base of the sculpture bears the inscription:

TO THE BRAVE MEN
WHO PERISHED
IN THE WRECK
OF THE TITANIC
APRIL15, 1912
THEY GAVE THEIR
LIVES THAT WOMEN
AND CHILDREN
MIGHT BE SAVED

Erected by the Women of America

Kirk Savage’s compelling book Monument Wars (University of California Press, 2009) includes a 1936 photograph of the memorial at this location, partially and disturbingly submerged during Potomac River flooding. In 1968 the memorial was relocated to its present location on the southwest waterfront near Fort McNair, as it had been removed two years before to make way for construction of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In departing the Titanic Memorial and continuing our walk along the waterfront that afternoon, we encountered an older woman and her dog. We exchanged pleasantries and learned that she lived in the nearby Riverside Condominium complex. She’d observed that we’d come from the memorial and offhandedly remarked, “You know about the men in tuxedos, don’t you?” With a sly smile, she then launched into a seemingly apocryphal eyewitness account of a group of men who, since 1979, appear every year on April 15th at 12:30 a.m., dressed in formal wear, to place flowers at the memorial and offer up a champagne toast to the men who’d sacrificed their lives.  Haunting, but—as it turns out—absolutely true. The tuxedoed group is none other than the Men’s Titanic Society, which started out as a group of friends who wanted to honor the spirit and intent of what they saw as a forgotten memorial.

Though the DC memorial may have fallen off the public’s radar, the Titanic itself never did. In this 100th anniversary year, towns and museums far and wide are leveraging any Titanic connection they have, whether it’s a hometown family lost in the tragedy or a single artifact. And while this list is not exhaustive, there are currently substantive Titanic-related exhibits at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Mystic Aquarium, National Geographic Museum, Titanic Belfast, Widener University Art Gallery, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Ocean Science Exhibit Center. RMS Titanic, Inc., the company that controversially conducted salvage operations on the wreck site, has Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition on view at 8 distinct venues throughout the country, including a semi-permanent installation at the Luxor in Las Vegas. Separately, there are permanent Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Alas, you’re too late to join the “Titanic Memorial Cruise” of the MS Balmoral that’s already underway, but you can catch the re-release of James Cameron’s 1997 film “Titanic” in 3D. Or you can read National Geographic’s newly-published e-book single about the Titanic. Prefer television? You have your choice this week of a History Channel documentary, two National Geographic specials, or an ABC mini-series. It all adds up to a somewhat macabre fascination of, well, titanic proportions. Why does the Titanic story still resonate after 100 years? For one, the Titanic was a cruise ship, and we still have those. It’s not an abstraction in the way that, say, a sunken 17th-century galleon might be. Secondly, in the grand scheme of things, 100 years isn’t really that long ago. The last survivor from the Titanic only died in 2009. There are people alive today who can tell of grandparents and great-grandparents aboard the ill-fated ship. One can relate, and the stories are all the more palpable. Third, positively identifying the wreck site in 1985 reignited interest and gave tantalizing hope to those seeking answers to Titanic’s multitude of unanswered questions. Your author (and one half of Team Tavish) grew up in the community that’s home to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the entity that backed the fabled 1985 exploratory expedition of Bob Ballard and crew. The frisson of excitement that rippled ’round the world upon the discovery of the Titanic was amplified locally; not only was the news historic, but also chances were you that your neighbor, your dad, or your friend’s parent had somehow been involved with the effort. Finally, when the Titanic sank, it violently intruded upon a cold and inhospitable world, introducing humanity—people, lifetimes, names, memories—where none had previously existed. This alone will be what perpetuates the Titanic’s legacy another 100 years.

Dogging the Details 38°52′18.90″N,  77° 1′9.68″W


Titanic Memorial, Washington, DC

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter meansThe Titanic Memorial is located where P Street, SW dead-ends into the channel; once you’re in the vicinity, blue way-finding signs point you in the right direction. On a weekday, it’s pretty easy to find nearby parking either at meters by Arena Stage or in 2-hour spaces along 4th Street, SW. If traveling by Metrorail, the nearest stop is the Waterfront-SEU station at the intersection of M and 4th Streets, SW.

Visiting the memorial scores a “1” on the Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter for the easy, flat walk. The memorial is usually fairly deserted, although the  Titanic 100th anniversary fanfare is bound to raise its profile. The Southwest DC Heritage Project is holding an elaborate TITANIC 100 commemorative event at the memorial on April 14, 2012. The program will feature 50-foot archival images projected onto a nearby building, luminaries lit in memory of the 1,500 people who died, and a live performance of “Nearer My God to Thee,” the last song that the Titanic’s onboard musicians played before the ship sank.

One final note on the subject of the Titanic: research into nearly every conceivable angle of the voyage continues to turn up the occasional new tidbit. Among the latest is that there were apparently 12 dogs aboard the Titanic; only 3 survived.