Opinion Columns & Blogs

Doggie bags and life in the big city

Annabel the city dog.
Annabel the city dog.

My son and daughter-in-law were out visiting from New York recently, and Mick, the rock-androller and I, got a kick out of hearing about their new dog, Annabel.

She’s a rescue, of course, and I could tell from the conversation that she has two very devoted owners. Being the proud gramma of two dogs, I’m here to tell you that I hope to see the human variety appear on the scene one of these days, but I’d never say that to them. Not too often, anyway.

As the week progressed, it was obvious that the anxious parents were trying to be disciplined and not call the kennel every day to ask after Miss Annabel. But they had that yearning, I-miss-my-puppy look in their eyes, so I tried to steer the dog topics in a happier direction.

I asked about the doggie manners classes they attend. How do they get the dog to school? Turns out they ride the subway together. My daughter-in-law runs interference in front of the attendant, and my son, who has Annabel in a large canvas bag looped over his shoulder, rushes the turnstile as if in a hurry to get to work.

Did I mention that Annabel is no Shih Tzu? She’s a good-sized pooch, and from the photos I’ve seen, she’s about the size of a well-nourished goat — with really long legs. In a canvas bag. On the subway.

“How do you keep her calm?” I asked. “By shoving treats in her mouth!” my son answered. You see stranger things in New York. Trust me.

The conversation moved from doggy commutes to exercise. As it turns out, my “kids” have made a whole lot of new friends since Annabel came on the scene. Who knew? The off-leash parks in Brooklyn are de rigueur these days, and the local pet store — “Who’s Your Doggie?” —even had a dog happy hour a couple of weeks ago. The refreshments included dog beer, locally brewed and nonalcoholic, in a communal dish. Just the way I like my beer — except for the nonalcoholic part.

A whole pack of the dog park friends showed up, and they had quite a time sharing parenting stories. What to do, what to do? Jericho stops to lie down on his back while crossing the street, Ruby Tuesday ate a ball with feet and ended up in deep doo doo, Ryor had hip surgery and went to water therapy and Phoebe, that bad girl, chewed up a mouse pad. That’s the difference between city dogs and country dogs, I suppose. Our dogs chew up whole mice.

My daughter-in-law confessed that they were somewhat reluctant to share Annabel’s penchant for “rolling in nasty stuff.” But, they did enjoy the story of Portland, an Australian shepherd, who was taken to Long Island by his owners, where they paid a man with a flock of sheep to let Port spend an hour herding. “He totally rocked it,” according to informed sources. I forgot to ask if Portland rode the subway.

Annabel’s other friends are Lester, the Burmese mountain dog, Sasi (pronounced Sessi) of questionable parentage, Wally, the Shiba Inu, Anka (pronounced Onka) a German shepherd and Bodie, the golden doodle who’s afraid to go downstairs, so his human mama carries him.

The bottom line is I’m proud to hear that my granddog is being raised properly. An example: One day our Annabel was in possession of the “park ball” when a big, bully dog named Zhu Zhu came and snagged it. Annabel was way outsized and she knew it. She’s no fool.

But, employing the skills she had observed in the subway station, she created a diversion. With a coy toss of the head, she turned her back on the ball stealer, and with great enthusiasm, began to dig a hole. Zhu Zhu, the dupe in this scenario, quickly abandoned the ball to investigate the fun new activity. Aha! Very quickly, Annabel was once again in possession of the coveted toy. Did I mention that my grandpuppy is amember of MCD (Mensa-Canine Division)?

We hope to have our Annabel come to the West Coast and spend some time with her grandparents one of these days. She’d have a rollicking good time with her cousins, the mouse eaters, and she’ll get a taste of doggie happy hour, Arroyo Grande style. Lizard stalking, gopher patrol, and barking at anything that moves.

Meanwhile, we wish Annabel and all of her offleash friends, good times in Brooklyn — and best of luck in the tote bags.

Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs.