Thursday, February 28, 2013

Break Dancing

 Elliott didn't take his eyes off his owner Ryan while the two of them walked back to us. The mutual love between the two of them was palpable as Elliott jumped around his owner like a gazelle. I had a very good feeling about this encounter.
"That was fast," I said as Ryan flipped his right hand taut and sent his arms gliding across his body like a rubber hose moving to the tip of his left hand. "What was that?"
 “I used to be a professional break dancer,” the young Ryan informed me. I couldn't break dance to save my life. I tried not to but I laughed out loud as he showed me some of his intricate, athletic moves. Times were different back then. There weren't reality shows or YouTube stars. In fact, there wasn't much opportunity for dancers that I knew about. I had only seen break dancing in person on the streets of New York City.
There was no music playing but as he danced, it was impossible for me to keep from tapping my foot to the beat of his movements. All eyes at the park were now on him as he slid, jumped, and landed on his toes in a dramatic choreographed sequence of intricate dance steps. His feet moved so quickly I could see why the greyhound was his first choice in dogs. He jumped and landed on his hands with his feet at a 90 degree angle, then froze for a moment before popping back up. The muscles in his buffed biceps were clearly getting a workout as he jumped from hand to hand effortlessly. Standing now, his shoulders moved one way while his hips moved the other and then he jumped again, balancing on one arm until he froze in mid-air. This boy had power and flexibility, that’s for sure. By the time he finished, everyone at the park clapped.
“That’s twice today they've clapped for you,” I pointed out.
“On the streets of D.C., they used to give me money,” he laughed as he brushed the grass from his hands. “I started by competing with other street performers until I was discovered. I performed with a troupe from the time I was 16.” 
I was impressed. I had no idea the strength that was necessary for break dancing. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Run like the wind

As I marveled at his majestic looking dog, I asked Ryan if Elliott had ever raced.
“Yea, and he won most of the time,” he proudly answered, showing me Elliott’s tattooed number inside his right ear. “This is his racing number. I looked up his statistics and he was fast. Over 40 miles an hour.”
“Wow. That's amazing. Can I see him run?” I asked and Ryan shook his head yes.
“Here, you hold him and I’ll go to the other end of the park,” he handed me Elliott's collar. 
It was hard to hold back 90 pounds of solid muscle. Right away, Elliott started to squirm and lunge toward Ryan pulling my arm practically out of its socket. So I put both my arms around his deep chest and felt his heart pounding as he tried to get away. I was surprised that his short coat was so soft and fine making it even more difficult to hold onto him.
He struggled in my arms, pulling me forward but I held on tight. When Ryan finally yelled to him from across the park, I let go and Elliott took off. I witnessed for the first time the greyhound’s double suspension gallop; all four of his feet were off the ground during each full stride. A hush came over the entire park as his powerful muscles strained against his skin. The small ears that stood straight up moments ago now folded over tight next to his head. Elliott’s complete attention was focused on his owner as he ran the entire distance of a football field in a matter of seconds.
To my surprise, Blondie took off after Elliott and actually managed to keep up with him for a few strides. Her legs were also in a perfect rhythm, reaching out as far as she could make them go. Her golden hair was blowing against her sleek body and her nose stuck out in front of her as far forwarded as she could make it go. But she was no match for the greyhound. When Elliott reached Ryan and skidded to a stop, the entire park broke out in applause.
Blondie only made it a fraction of the distance before she turned and came back to me. Her little game of chasing dogs and biting their tails didn't work with Elliott. He was far too fast for her antics. She stood by my side and watched the fastest dog we had ever seen run like the wind. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Elliott the greyhound

Seemingly out of nowhere, a young man appeared, running towards me after his beautiful fawn colored greyhound. My heart stopped. He looked more like a Roman God than a human being with his perfectly chiseled nose, his short slicked back hair and muscular build. He wore converse tennis shoes and Calvin Klein Jeans with a simple white cotton shirt that made a striking contrast against his tanned olive skin. Did Goddess Diana send him to me?
Ryan had big brown doe eyes filled with wonder, wide shoulders like an Olympic swimmer and a smile that could melt anyone’s heart. He was only 19-years-old, significantly younger than me, and had recently moved to Los Angeles from Washington DC to start his acting career. He rescued his dog, Elliott, as soon as he had a home that allowed dogs because he had always wanted to save one of these canine athletes. That sentiment alone carried a huge amount of weight with me since so many people I knew in LA were only interested in owning pure breeds as a status symbol. Elliott the dog made his owner look good in my eyes with his slender head, wet brown nose and dark eyes that revealed a gentle, intelligent soul. 
The race track is home for these magnificent creatures since birth and they live a very regimented and sheltered existence while they are racing. Most retire after about two-years without any experience in the real world. So, although they are on the large side, Greyhounds make excellent apartment pets. They enjoy being with people and other pets and are a low maintenance dog by nature. They are not in constant motion, as one would think. They've paid their dues on the race track and are perfectly content to sleep the day away, as long as they get their daily walks. I had been an advocate for this breed, even though I had never owned one myself. Elliott looked like he had a smile on his face, just like his owner Ryan. It was impossible not to smile too.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I ran into an older couple delighted with their two West Highland Terrier puppies. The man's white hair matched his pack. He looked like a Westie, with dark brown, almost black, eyes. The couple seemed a little overwhelmed by their energetic, independent and self-confident dogs. 
“I love those puppies,” I said as both dogs wiggled their entire bodies and tried to climb my legs. When researching dogs before rescuing Blondie, I read that the Westie are very social and friendly but they need exercise. The Scottish breed dates back to James I of England who ordered a dozen white terriers as a gift to the Kingdom of France.
“Westies are great companions,” the man said. “They’re a bit feisty but in a very playful way,” the woman added. "This is their first time at the park," she added. "They just finished getting their shots."
I didn't stop for long, although I did take a moment to inhale their sweet puppy breath! I wasn't even half way around the park yet. There were about a dozen or so people and dogs left to meet and more were arriving every minute. I needed to keep going, stay with the plan to meet my man.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


As I strolled the park with Blondie by my side, I noticed a group of six jocks playing Frisbee with their dogs. Maybe they were single. They looked about my age, clean cut and tanned. Their dogs, a regal looking German Shepherd, a Lassie looking Collie-mix, a giant Boxer, a feisty Jack Russell, and a handsome Golden Retriever were fighting over the Frisbee each time it was launched. The Jack mutt kept catching it, much to the displeasure of the rest of the pack. Once he got a hold of the Frisbee, he ran as fast as he could, playing keep away from the other canines and their humans.  
The men were obviously a clique, in their Adidas warm-up outfits so popular back then. As I moved closer to them, the Frisbee came soaring right to me. Was this a form of park flirting? I could play that game. So I caught the Frisbee and tried to impress them by throwing it back. I had not yet learned the gentle art of the Frisbee and hit one of the guys in the head. Needless to say, I kept going.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where is HE?

I drove down that windy road with a new found determination in my heart. As I parked my car, I was overcome by a feeling of knowing HE was there, our paths would cross that very day. Just as I was putting Blondie’s leash on, a car pulled up beside me and a handsome man stepped out. Was this him? I smiled as he came around to the passenger side to get his dog out.
“Is that a doggie seat belt?” I asked the preppy looking 30 something.
“Yea, my wife found it and since Spot is our child, we have to keep him safe.” 
Well, I guess he’s not the one, he’s already married. I should have noticed the ring. Too bad because he was tall and lanky, just my type, wearing Levis  tennis shoes and a green and white striped Ralph Lauren polo shirt with the collar pulled up around his neck that matched his striking emerald eyes. He unbuckled his energetic lab from its seat belt and put its leash on. Immediately, the dog jumped out of the car and started pulling him towards the park entrance.
 “I didn't know they made doggie seat belts,” I said. “I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for the tip.” 
I walked on deciding the best course of action would be to make a circle around the perimeter of the park for a complete view of who was there. I immediately came upon three young starlettes with small toy dogs; a fluffy Pekingese, a Maltese with its hair up in a pink bow and a Chihuahua-mix wearing a pink sweater. The girls were wearing ripped tee shirts with their Valley Girl pink headbands and matching leg warmers. They were getting lots of attending from the boys at the park. But, I didn't let that defeat my purpose!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Goddess Diana

It was as if Goddess Diana, the one from Roman Mythology (who my best friend Berry Perkins reminded me of), shot a magic arrow down from the heavens at me that day as I drove to the dog park in Laurel Canyon. Diana, the goddess of single women, protector of all that is wild and free, the maiden huntress, she and her greyhounds would help me finally attract an appropriate man.
The greyhound is a creature of rare beauty with slender legs for speed and agility, and well-developed muscles for endurance, such a powerful yet elegant creature, sleek and gentle. In fact, Greyhounds are the fastest running of all dogs, with their long legs and lanky frames. Only the cheetah tops the Greyhound for speed in the animal world. I needed the speed, strength and endurance of these regal canines to help me in my quest to end my single status.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Later that night I thought about Gary, his messy apartment and his choice to rob people. I didn't know what I would have done losing my parents at the tender age of 13. But, he kept stealing well into his 20s until he finally got caught. What drove him to live like that, I wondered?  
I realized that it wasn't for the money. It wasn’t about the jewels at all. It was about the rush, about beating the system. Gary was just a guy who needed to live life on the edge. I wanted to be with someone who was exciting, that was true, but I realized integrity was an important quality I needed in a man.There was no question; I had made the right decision in leaving his apartment.
I still wanted to find someone to spend my life with, though. So, the very next day, I headed back to the Laurel Canon Dog Park. I knew there were lots of single men at the park. Dog loving men. I needed to meet as many as possible. I figured being single was a numbers game. The more I met, the better my chances of making that special connection.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A message from Blondie

As Gary was talking, I took a moment to look around his apartment and see what was beyond the filth. I noticed that his walls were decorated with photos of him in his tux being interviewed on various talk shows. Sheba was always at his side looking right at the camera. He saw me looking at the collection of memories,  hung way too high on the wall and crooked.
“Oh those are of me on the talk show circuit,” He proudly announced. “Once I got on one, they all wanted me,” he smiled then bent over to kiss me. I was totally taken off-guard, backing away from him as he moved closer to me.His actions startled Blondie who actually growled and showed her teeth. I took the opportunity to slide down under his arm until I was completely off the couch. Sitting on the floor, I saw a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. That did it. That was totally gross.

 “I think she’s sending us a message here,” I said, standing up in front of him as he collapsed face first into the cushions.
“I like you, I really like you, Gary,” I said.
“But…” he added.
“But, I don’t know, I’m just not ready to get into a relationship. You’re absolutely adorable. So kind to my little dog. And so interesting. I’ve never met anyone quite like you. But this just isn’t going to work out between us.” I grabbed my purse and headed toward the door.
“Wait, you didn’t even eat your steak.”
“That’s okay. I’m not hungry anymore. I’ll see you later,” Blondie and I made a quick exit, both throwing up once outside.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Blondie hopped up next to me on the couch, shaking me out of the confused daze that came over me in light of the mess inside Gary's apartment. Sheba stayed off the furniture, curling up on her doggie bed in front of a fake fire place. In no time, Sheba was snoring away, loudly.
“She’s tired. She plays hard with Blondie.” Gary said as he pet Blondie lovingly. This one simple act made me feel much more comfortable.
“You have such a kind and gentle nature. It’s hard to imagine you robbing people,” I said as I leaned back on the couch. I felt something hard underneath me. I reached under the cushions and found an old can of dog food that had gotten lodged in there. I discreetly pulled it out while Gary’s attention was focused on opening a bottle of wine. I hoped it was Sheba who hid it there, and not her master. I placed it carefully next to the couch, wiping my hand on the carpet.
“My Mom died when I was only thirteen and I never knew my dad. I had to do something to survive,” he explained as he joined us on the couch, kissing the top of my dog’s head while handing me a glass of red wine. “I learned to live on the streets quickly. As I got older, I fancied myself a modern day Robin Hood only I robbed from the rich and gave to myself, the poor,” he looked up as he poured the wine. “I found that the best time to rob people was when they were throwing a party.”
“You mean you crashed parties and then stole from the host?”
“That’s exactly what I did,” he said grinning. “The bigger the party the better cuz I could get lost in the crowd. They usually hid the goods in their bathroom. Bandaid cans seemed to be the most popular hiding spot.”
“You’re kidding,” I said and sat back, knocking some loose papers off the back of the couch. They went flying behind us. I felt mortified but he didn't even seem to notice.
“I dressed up in my tux and went to the party then ducked out to the master bedroom, took the loot and slipped through a window.”

Monday, February 11, 2013

The cat burglar's apartment

Gary's one bedroom apartment matched the outside of his drab and poorly looked after building. Located on the second floor, I followed him up the stairs as he got out his keys. He opened the door and stood back, motioning me to enter with a big smile on his face.
"After you," he said. I was shocked speechless at the total disaster; newspapers and magazines strewn all over the floor, an empty pizza box in the corner, dirty dishes and crusty old cans of dog food on the kitchen counter, several pairs tennis shoes in the living room. A dirty, fowl, musty smell lingered in the air that made me recoil.
Quickly, he pushed aside papers from his couch making room for us to sit. I imagined him spread out on that couch, watching tv or taking a nap using the garbage as his blanket. I thought it was so weird. I immediately plastered a counterfeit smile on my face, something I had learned to depend on to escaped the reality of certain situations. I thought about this cat burglar and how he had to be so well organized in order to burglarize million dollar homes in Beverly Hills and get away with the loot. Here he was living in complete filth. Why would he risk his life like that to live like this? 

Friday, February 8, 2013

At home with a cat burgular

When I finally reached Gary in the parking lot he said “let me make this up to you. I have some steaks defrosted at home and can put them on the BBQ  Besides, you've never seen my place. And we can bring the dogs inside with us.”
I may have been disappointed but I was still hungry. So I followed him this time to an ugly stucco beige colored two-story apartment building in the West Valley. It was the worst looking building on the busy street lined with tall palm trees. The building’s gardens were practically dead and the paint was peeling. I still had high hopes that his unit would be well-kept, clean and cozy. Maybe it would be filled with the jewels he stole as a cat burglar!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


After eating at just about every steak house in the San Fernando Valley, I finally convinced Gary to let me pick a restaurant for a change. I suggested sushi and he reluctantly agreed. As dusk was setting with a brilliant red, pink and blue sunset, we got in our cars and he followed me to a little hole in the wall on Ventura Boulevard that I knew served the freshest tuna in town.
It was a tiny place with a lively sushi bar that catered to a local crowd of loyal diners. Unlike Gary’s steakhouses, this restaurant was brightly lit with rock n’ roll music blaring in the background. Behind the chefs, the menu hung on the wall painted on wooden slates in black letters and corresponding red Japanese lettering. Fresh fish was kept in a glass display case on top of the wooden bar where Sushi Chefs worked their magic for the guests. There were a few individual tables but most patrons preferred to sit at the bar. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


One evening after a romp at the park with the girls, Gary asked me to dinner. I did not yet know that he was strictly a meat and potatoes man. I quickly learned that Gary frequented those steak houses that were so popular in the 1980s. 
I had not entered a dimly lit steak house for years, opting instead for restaurants that served more healthy choices. Gary's idea of a good food centered around a raw steak with salad dripping in fattening blue cheese dressing and huge baked potatoes heaped in real butter. These establishments were always filled with neighborhood drunks that made me feel extremely uncomfortable by standing too close, breathing their awful smelling breath in my face. Gary was in his element. I thought what the heck, opposites attract, right?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dangerous park games

Blondie was so cleaver that she actually created some of her own games at the dog park. Her new friendship with Sheba seemed to be giving her more confidence. One thing the girls liked to do was chase dogs that were chasing balls. The bigger and meaner the dog the better. And if Blondie could sneak up on a big nasty canine just as they snatched the ball and get some of their tail fur in her mouth, score! Sheba egged her new friend on, encouraging her to find the baddest dog in the park to hustle. I didn’t like it at all. Gary thought it was amusing.
223777_336 x 280 Branded LogoAnother game she seemed to love was to sauntered up to other dogs, big dogs, and growled at them then ran as fast as she could behind Sheba when they turned around. This one made me especially nervous because it could get end up with serious consequences. Maybe her new friendship wasn't that good for her after-all. Sheba seemed to bring out the "bad-ass" in my Blondie. I had never seen this side of her before. So I concentrated on keeping Blondie moving and away from Sheba to make sure my dog wouldn’t end up as supper for some big pit bull. What I didn't realize was the wisdom of Blondie's actions. I didn't think back then that Sheba's owner, Gary, might  bring out the "bad-ass" in me!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dogs will be dogs

My Blondie and Gary's Sheba became fast friends. Blondie, my pound mutt, had long blonde hair that would blow in the breeze as she trotted by my side. In the winter, I dressed her in a pink turtleneck sweater that she loved. Sheba was a beautiful example of a pure bred Dobie with her muscular frame and powerful, toned body ripped with muscles that actually bulged when she moved, showing every detail of her thighs, chest and shoulders. Her pointed cropped ears stood straight up and her subbed tail wagged only when Gary spoke. Carrying herself with complete self assurance, she acted as if she owned the park and everything in it.
Sheba looked at once menacing and loving at the same time. Gary rarely had to correct her or put forward any commands. They seemed to have a relationship that went beyond words; it was as if Sheba could heard her owner's very thoughts and act accordingly. I never saw her growl or snarl but I could imagine how scary she could be if someone happened to run into her on a dark street. There was no messing with Sheba. 
Blondie and Sheba were quite a pair. They didn’t play with the other dogs at the park. Oh sure they would greet other canines but neither was into playing with a ball or catching a Frisbee. They stood on the sidelines, watching the other dogs run and jump. It was as if playing was somehow beneath the two of them. Instead, they stood together, side by side, looking as though they were laughing at the other canines behaving like mere dogs.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The lookout dog

Selecting a Doberman Pinscher as his lookout was the best choice Gary could have made. Originally used as guard dogs, watch dogs or police dogs, Dobermans are among the most common pets, well known as an intelligent, alert, and loyal companion dog. Gary proudly shared everything he knew about them.
“Dobermans were created by a German tax collector named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann,” he enthusiastically explained. “This guy Dobermann had to travel to many dangerous places in his job, high crime areas, so he bred a dog for protection.”
I was completely fascinated by Gary. He was handsome, intelligent and loved his dog. It didn’t take long for me to realize that he was a hustler at heart. Growing up in an upper middle class neighborhood did not put me in contact with many Cat Burglars. I knew that he was not someone I could introduce to my parents. I was not ready to give up my dream of marrying someone my parents would accept. I was also too afraid of being hurt again like I had been with Bobby so I didn’t want to begin a serious relationship of any kind, keeping my distance emotionally. Our dates were never planned or organized; we would just get together if we ran into each other at the dog park.