Angelenos & Their Pets (And the Terrible Tale of the Ten-Dollar Dog)

So since this is a subject near and dear to many people’s hearts, I thought I’d put it out there on a mellow Saturday.wally%20and%20I%20april%202007.JPG

Do you look like your pet?

Seriously.

I was walking Wally, the Ten Dollar Dog (story behind the jump) at Warner Center Park, that most suburban of suburban parks. We were bookin’ it around the east end of the park when some condo denizen in her sweatpants and cat sweatshirt passed us, smiling perkily, and cried “You look like your dog!”

Um.

I’m not quite sure how to take that.

I mean, we do both have red hair, but really, I’m not sure how much I want to resemble a canine. (Unless she saw this picture from last Halloween somehow).

BUT I do know that people often come to resemble their pets somehow, if not in obvious ways like hair color, then in some sort of expression or emotional tone; both look perky, or both look hopeful, or both look downcast.

So, Angelenos, do you look like your pet? Links to photos encouraged.

The Terrible Tale of the Ten Dollar Dog

It was late 2001 or early 2002. I was DJ’ing at killradio.org, and had a latelatelate show on Wednesday nights that ran from 11pm to 1am–or whenever my drunk-ass friends and I decided we were done. Then, the station was in a cozy office in the Davidian building on the three-way corner of Hillhurst, Hollywood and Sunset, directly above the Good Luck Bar.

We’d put on extra long songs, run downstairs for shots of Chinese whiskey, gasp and wheeze as we knocked back the uber-strong drinks, pelt back up the stairs and get back into the station with fifty-two seconds still left on the track.

I had maybe thirteen or fifteen listeners each week and played everything from Eleventh Dream Day to Gwenmars to Zeni Geva, Athalia to Refused, Baseck to Whiskeytown. We had fun (sometimes too much fun–there were a few mornings when I’d crack an eye open from having crashed out on the studio couch, waking to the noise of traffic at the intersection there by the Vista theatre, grabbing my cd’s and shambling out to the car at 6am).

One night the radio fun had wrapped up around 2am, and my friend Dave and I were in desperate semi-sober need of burritos. We went to El Gran Burrito on Vermont and Santa Monica (lovely area at 2am, just lovely), a bitchen’ oversized taco stand with a giant canopy for diners and, if I recall correctly, a kickass “Puzzle Bobble” video game. We stood in the buffet-style line, obtained our gargantuan burritos, and sat down to eat.

In another corner of the patio, walking up out of the darkness in the parking lot, was some homeless dude. He weaved unsteadily as he stood, largely toothless and twitchy, and he approached each of the latenight diners in turn. We were all a rather motley lot at that hour, but he was creeping out even the creepiest of us. And in his hand, he held a rope.

On the other end of the rope was a puppy.

It was small, about the height of my forearm, and ginger-colored with a flare of white on its tiny little chest. Perky and seemingly utterly thrilled to be surrounded by people, it sat gamely and wagged its tail with glee, as the crackhead dude tried to sell it for twenty bucks.

Even though, as I said, all of us diners were up to no good at that hour (“Nothing good ever happens after midnight,” my mother always said, and I’m inclined to believe her, after years of testing her theory), a ripple of disapproval ran through the crowd–“That’s not cool, man,”–as the guy went to every diner in turn, asking for a twenty in exchange for the little perky puppy. Its pointed ears stood straight up, unafraid; its bright little eyes gazed at everyone with equal adoration.

Crackhead Dude came up to me. “Twenty bucks, miss,” he said, breathless. I looked at the puppy.

The puppy cocked its head to the side and looked at me. If a dog could beam, it would have beamed at me.

I can’t leave this little puppy with this guy.

“Ten dollars,” I said.

“Okay,” the dude acquiesced.

Driving my friend Dave home, with the puppy on his lap, I began to freak out. I have a dog. I have a dog. I don’t know what to do with a dog. Oh my god. It’s three am and I have a dog.

I dropped off Dave, the puppy now showing the first signs of trepidation; it cowered apprehensively in the passenger seat. I put a hand on it and tried to transmit restfulness, safety, calm through my fingers into its orange fur.

We entered my apartment, and the puppy walked over to my pile of dirty clothes on the floor (right next to my pile of clean clothes on the floor), turned in a tight little circle three times, and flopped into an exhausted little ball. It began to snore.

Three-thirty am found me at Rock’n’Roll Ralphs buying everything puppy-related: Puppy chow, puppy chews, puppy toys, puppy vitamins, a leash, puppy treats. Fuck. Fuck. I have a dog. I can’t have a dog in my apartment. Fuck. It’s three am and I have a dog and dogs are not allowed. I shelled out over $100 for puppy accoutrements and returned to the apartment, where the little fella was still snoozing loudly among my cigarette-reeking jeans and socks (I don’t smoke but everyone I know does), and I myself flopped into bed and fell asleep, exhausted.

At five in the morning I woke up with a start, and looked at the little ball of fur across the room. The name “Wallace” popped out of nowhere, as though someone had spoken it in my head. “Wallace,” I said out loud. The dog stirred, yawned, dropped its head again. I fell back asleep.

The next day was a cavalcade of cute as my roommate and I played with the puppy, who was so energetic he’d run in circles around the room, acheiving such speed he began to literally climb the walls, centrifugal force spinning him out up against the top of the sofa, bounding to the floor to the beanbag chair to the wall.

I knew I couldn’t keep him. Dogs aren’t allowed in the building. So I decided I’d give him to my parents. They already had a dog–Gunther the morose black lab, whose personality was akin to Eyeore–but Gunther could benefit by some stimulation and companionship. I called my mom. “Hey, mom, I gotta talk to you. Can I meet you after work?”

“Sure, honey. Is everything ok?”

“Yeah, yeah–I just need to talk to you.” I knew she’d say no right away if I told her over the phone, but once she saw his widdle iddle face, she’d soften up.

I met her at her work. I left Wallace in the car; she walked out with me. “So, um, I have a surprise for you,” I stammered.

“Honey–” she paused, nervous. She put a hesitant, supportive hand on my shoulder. “Are you…are you pregant?”

“No,” I said. “But I have a dog.” I opened the car door. Wally sat there, wagging his tail, looking at her with that same beaming expression.

“Oh God,” she said. “Honey–we can’t have another dog. We have Gunther.”

I panicked. No way was I going to let little Wallace go. I decided to get a little sneaky.

“Ooooookay,” I said. “But I’ll have to find an adoption agency for him. Will you guys just watch him while I find someone to take him?”

“Well…ok.”

Home free.

Once they’d lived with the puppy for a week, I went over to see how they were. I hadn’t actually researched any adoption agencies. I knew we were golden. My mom sat on the couch with Wally at her feet. He rolled on his back and wagged his little tail; she beamed down at him with a mother’s love. Gunther even was showing signs of snapping out of his doggy depression. Wally was a great addition to the family.

Now that I’ve moved out of the apartment to the Valley and have a yard, Wally lives with me.

Still haven’t checked out any adoption agencies.

And that is the story of El Gran Burrito and the Ten Dollar Dog.

6 Replies to “Angelenos & Their Pets (And the Terrible Tale of the Ten-Dollar Dog)”

  1. Great story, Lucinda. I have a friend with a similar adoption tale, having rescued her dog Izzie (as a puppy) from her negligent crackhead neighbor. Moron was feeding the pup beer & cat food (not to mention leaving him alone for hours on end–the little guy would just cry and cry).

    Re: your pic, the only resemblance I see is that you are both beautiful! (o.k., a maybe similar hair/fur color).

  2. Hot damn, Brenda! You both look so…sneeeeeeky! Look at those eyes! She doesn’t look too thrilled to be dressed up as a dragon, though. I must say Wally didn’t quite know what to make of my Halloween costume (link embedded in post, above).

  3. What a wonderful tale beautifully written Michele.

    And while I do see a resemblance between you and Wally, you are most decidedly not a dog so I’m going to say that Wally looks like you.

    Personally I look nothing like any of our two dogs and four cats, but can’t say definitively there isn’t something of a match between me and my Russian tortoise.

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