The only thing this city loves more than a holiday is a dog. They are everywhere – big ones, little ones, longhaired, shorthaired, fat ones, thin ones, stray ones, and pampered ones. They’re in parks and on buses, they have day camps, and hotels, and in some coffee shops, I’ve seen dogs receive better customer service than people with actual money.
Growing up my brother and I walked, fed, brushed, ran with, groomed and, if we could get away with it, slept with a host of canine buddies. First there was Tracy (named after Dick Tracy even though she was a girl) – the hands down, without a doubt, best dog ever. A combination of Snoopy, Lassie, Old Yeller, and Benji, with a hint of Cujo mixed in, Tracy, who we got one Christmas, followed us to school, chased mailmen and somehow just always knew when to lick our faces or just lay next to us quietly as we watched the “Brady Bunch” or “Julia”. Then there were Seamus (yes, named after the detective Burt Reynolds played in the seventies movie of the same name – what can I say, my brother had a thing for cop shows and comics), Princess (my pick), Fuzz, Cinnamon, and Ebony – all a little quirky and greatly loved.
So, don’t get me wrong, I am a dog person, and, if I lived in a larger apartment that allowed pets, I’d probably have a cocker spaniel or cute little westie, but, really, how much is too much when it comes to our four- legged friends?
The other day I was heading to the bus stop at Douglass and 24th Streets and in the park on the corner were a bunch of dogs and their people. The dogs roamed the grassy area unchained and free, not a pooper-scooper in sight – and their people mingled on the old tennis court sipping from paper cups, munching on crackers and other snacks as if it were parent night at their kids’ school. Today, a German Shepherd with his elderly man boarded the 48 bus and the Shepherd took up more room than some toddlers. Granted he was calm and cool but it was rush hour and had someone stepped on his tail or paw I shudder to think how he might have reacted.
It is easier to find day care for your dog in this town than your kid and dog walkers can make a mint. A local sports apparel store was woofed about all over town for its Doggie Socials, and, as my niece exclaims in text messages – it was a “shaking my head” moment (smhm) when I discovered that there are at least two doogie dance studios in the area that offer classes for the four-legged friend with a need to shake their “boom-boom, all around the room-room.” Stores in just about every neighborhood put out water dishes so Snowball doesn’t get too parched (but don’t let some people in to use the facilities) and if Rover is all tuckered out from running around all day, he can grab a massage at one of the doggie massage parlors around town. The SF Giants even host a Dog Days of Summer where Fido can trot out his owner and watch some humans pluck a few fly balls from the air.
Yes, we all need a little unconditional love sometimes and perhaps the best way to get that is from a warm body that can’t talk back or just walk out when you’re tap dancing on their last nerve, but come on San Francisco, sometimes we need to just let our dogs be dogs and leave them at home with a bone.