Library assistant Thinh Vu said he was preparing the building for closing, which was just a few minutes away, when he heard a commotion coming from the book store area. At first, he thought it might be a service dog, but he quickly saw that the six pound chihuahua was simply running loose.
“I thought, great, this is last thing I need during closing time,” Vu said. “I have a dog, I love dogs. It was cute, but it shouldn’t be in the library.”
Typically, dogs and other pets aren’t allowed at the library unless they are service animals or part of the “Paws-to-Read” program. When librarians tried to find the owner by making an announcement about the loose dog and nobody came forward, they realized this dog likely was not intentionally brought in. They noticed it didn’t have a collar and figured it was a stray that somehow found its way into the building.
That’s actually partially the case. The dog — named Bella — and her owners had been visiting Arlington resident Melanie Domres last weekend. While the humans were out for a bit, Bella used the dog door on Melanie’s home to get into the backyard, managed to squeeze under the fence of Melanie’s home near Quincy Park, and squeezed under a neighbor’s fence. Bella then apparently took off on a jaunt through the neighborhood, though it’s unclear exactly how she wound up in the middle of the library.
“Bella’s eight-year-old owner was in tears,” Domres said. “We were worried because she doesn’t live in an area with busy streets, so she may have panicked. The worst feeling, even worse than losing your own dog, is losing someone else’s dog.”
While Domres and her guests scoured the neighborhood, library staff tried picking up the pooch, but she was frightened and continued to run around the auditorium area. Bella then headed for the children’s section, where one of the librarians succeeding in picking her up and calming her down.
“Perhaps she was a dog whisperer, because the dog was very content in her arms,” Vu said.
The dog was then kept in the lobby area until an animal welfare worker arrived. Librarian Kate Oberg says Bella looked awfully lonely all by herself, so Oberg decided to read her some dog themed books like “Harry the Dirty Dog.”
“She looked like she needed entertainment so I went and grabbed a couple of books, but she wasn’t even paying attention,” Oberg said. “She didn’t bark, was very well behaved and very cute.”
An animal welfare worker arrived on the scene quickly to claim the dog. After searching for more than an hour, Domres and her guests called Arlington County Animal Control and they said they had Bella. The six-year-old pooch was soon reunited with her owners, safe and sound.
“Judging by the pictures, Bella did not seem to be distressed at all,” said Domres. “I think she actually had fun on her adventure. Her owners definitely got a kick out of her ending up in the library.”
Domres said Bella and her owners will definitely be back to the neighborhood for future visits. However, the yard has been better secured to accommodate such a small dog. Domres said her dogs are larger, and she didn’t anticipate Bella’s ability to shimmy through tight spaces.
“Now we examined her escape route,” she said. “A small animal like that is a whole different ball of wax.”
In a thank you note to library staff, Domres wrote: “Perhaps she [Bella] felt the reading choices in my home were not sufficient to her tastes, or perhaps she recognized a friendly and safe place when she saw one. So please accept her owners’ and my thanks for taking her in and making sure she found her way to animal control, where we picked her up after giving them a call.”
Library staff is just happy Bella was safely reunited with her family, without even causing any damage to the library.
“I’m just glad it had a happy ending,” said Vu. “Luckily, they were able to find the owner.”
Photos courtesy Arlington Public Library
Police say they received a call for a pedestrian struck on the 5100 block of Lee Highway at 9:12 last night (Tuesday). The victim suffered a head injury and was unconscious when medics arrived. He was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he remains in fair condition, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
An investigation determined that the man was intoxicated and was attempting to cross to the north side of Lee Highway mid-block when he was struck by a westbound vehicle in the right lane, according to Sternbeck. The adult female driver of the vehicle remained on scene and was “very cooperative with the accident investigation,” he said.
“The pedestrian was found at fault and no charges will be brought against either party,” said Sternbeck.
Cherrydale is about to become home to a unique business aimed entirely at relaxation and wellness. House of Steep (3800 Lee Highway), a new “tea house and foot sanctuary,” is scheduled to open its doors on Friday (September 21).
Owner Lyndsey DePalma had been looking to get out of the corporate world to open a tea house for years. She started the ball rolling about two years ago while in business school and went on to receive her reflexology certification. She wants her business to be a haven for busy individuals looking to escape from daily stress.
“We can actually take 15 minutes, 30 minutes and just relax,” DePalma said. “It’s not just a tea house, it’s an experience, it’s a place to relax.”
Customers who want to continue relaxing after leaving House of Steep will be able to purchase some of the two dozen varieties of loose tea. Although there will be some traditional favorites such as Earl Grey and Jasmine Green, House of Steep will also feature around 10 specialty teas blended in house. The selection will rotate, and each month one employee will concoct a new blend.
A unique aspect of the business that often confuses people upon first hearing about it is the concept of a “foot sanctuary” in the back of the store. Customers can receive a foot massage and rest their feet in an herbal foot bath, with or without an accompanying cup of tea. The foot soaks will be customized for each person’s needs, such as relaxation, stimulation or muscle aches. DePalma said the health benefits of the tea will complement the reflexology benefits of the foot soak.
“The reason it works together, in my mind, is just the whole ancient Eastern wisdom that there’s a lot of health and healing that happens in your feet,” she said.
The tea house will serve lighter, healthy fare such as wraps, salads and summer rolls. DePalma prides herself on locally sourcing ingredients for the dishes, and for selling baked goods from local bakeries LeoNora and Out of the Box.
“One of the themes of my business is to support local whenever I can,” said DePalma. “My mom and grandma were entrepreneurs and my mom’s business did suffer from big box stores. Local has always been part of my bloodline.”
The local push will continue throughout the establishment by featuring local artists’ works on the walls and using two local artisans’ relaxation products in the foot sanctuary.
Although DePalma had initially thought an area with higher foot traffic would be preferable to the current location, she realized being off the beaten path may allow customers to further enjoy the experience. Instead of rushing through for a quick cup of tea on the way to work or errands, they’re encouraged to slow down and enjoy the overall experience.
“It’s a little bit removed. It’s a little more of a destination; originally it was more of a convenience thing,” DePalma said. “I’m striving for something that’s memorable.”
DePalma reports the surrounding community has been supportive and excited about the store, despite a number of delays with opening. DePalma is still working out all the kinks, and hopes to win over even more people during House of Steep’s grand opening on October 19. Full plans are still in the works, but there will definitely be a ribbon cutting, massages and reflexology demonstrations.
“This is my first startup, so I’m learning a lot while I go. I’m creating this new kind of thing in the hopes it will actually stick and really take off in this area,” said DePalma. “I feel like this area really enjoys something to do, especially health focused.”
Light smoke and flames could be seen coming from the balcony of an apartment on the 16th floor, according to scanner traffic.
Firefighters eventually located the source of the flames — which turned out to be an outdoor potted plant that had somehow caught on fire — and used an extinguisher to put out the flames. Most of the fire equipment that responded to the call is now packing up and clearing the scene, though some road closures may remain for another few minutes.
A fire marshal is being requested to respond to investigate the incident.
The accident happened around 11:15 a.m. Traffic camera images show the motorcycle under the truck, but initial reports suggest the motocyclist was able to slide his bike before coming in contact with the truck.
The motorcyclist is being transported to the hospital with what are being described as minor injuries.
The westbound lanes of Columbia Pike and the northbound lanes of Glebe Road are currently blocked at the accident scene.
The hotel’s cleaning staff discovered the man unresponsive in a bathroom stall around 9:00 a.m. on Monday (Sept. 17). He was sitting on a toilet, slumped against the back wall. Paramedics were called but they were unable to revive the man, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man was a resident of Bowie, Md., according to police. It’s not clear whether he was a guest in the hotel.
Authorities believe the man had a heart attack while on the toilet. His death is not considered suspicious.
Update at 3:30 p.m. — Columbia Pike has reopened.
A water main break prompted authorities to shut down a large section of Columbia Pike for most of the morning.
Columbia Pike is currently closed to through traffic from George Mason Drive to Four Mile Run. One worker on the scene estimated that the closure would last until around noon.
A break in an 8-inch water main under Columbia Pike across from the Whitemore Apartments (4301 Columbia Pike) was reported around 4:00 a.m. The water was quickly shut off, but Arlington County crews have had to dig a six foot deep hole in the westbound lanes in order to reach the burst pipe.
No one has lost water as a result of the water main break, we’re told.
Park Contracts Approved — The Arlington County Board has voted unanimously to approve contracts for improvements to two county parks. The tiny 0.6 acre Nauck Park at 2600 19th Street S. will get a renovated restroom, new swings, a slide and a “spinner bowl.” Virginia Highlands Park, at 1600 S. Hayes Street, will get the county’s fourth “sprayground” park for children. [Arlington County]
Bus Stop Moved Away from Sex Offender — An Arlington mom has succeeded in getting Arlington Public Schools to move her middle-school-aged daughter’s bus stop further away from a convicted sex offender’s house. The stop was six homes away from the man’s house. APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos called WUSA 9′s story on the situation a “cheap shot.” [WUSA 9]
Board Approves ‘Citizens United’ Resolution — The County Board on Tuesday approved a resolution calling for a federal constitutional amendment to reverse the implications of the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. [Sun Gazette]