In my next life, I want to be a dog living near the beach in Santa Monica. Quite the sweet deal they have going there.
Their ubiquity, their visibility (and the assumption that they belong!) at restaurants and bars, their generally cushy lifestyle, and the sheer number of them, first made an impression on me back in 2011, when Robby was attending some sort of campus meet-and-greet prior to his freshman year at USC, and Carol and I were staying at a beach hotel in Santa Monica. I wrote about the
laidback canine existence in a post — Milo, Haley, and the dogs of Santa Monica:
I saw dogs being walked and dogs being run and dogs being biked and dogs being roller-bladed. I saw dogs tethered to volleyball nets and dogs lazing on brightly striped towels and dogs drinking from upside-down panama hats and dogs catching rays on padded benches outside chi-chi cafes . . .
Earlier this month we were back in Santa Monica for a celebration of sorts — having received our second vaccination and being able to travel again. And if the presence of dogs on the scene was significant 10 years ago, this time it was off the charts. There was hardly a moment we didn’t spend in the company of dogs.
Friday night was dinner with Robby’s USC roommate (for all four years!),
John, and his wife, Liz. They’d recently adopted Finn, a ridiculously adorable and hyperactive sleek black puppy, and paired him with their existing six-year-old terrier, Gigi. I spent most of my visit on the floor, making friends with both of them. Around their apartment complex in Venice Beach, Liz is known simply as “Finn and Gigi’s mom.”
Saturday we rented beach cruisers for a ride from Santa Monica down to Marina del Rey. My bike was kind of junky — foot brakes only (well, it had one handbrake — which didn’t work), a bell that remained silent, a rear rat-trap that was stuck in the down position, and no basket — but we were moving at a pretty decent clip just the same. And still — on Admiralty Way, on the north side of the Marina del Rey harbor — we were easily passed by a young dude on a black hybrid bike
and his leashed brown-black-and-white Australian cattle dog running alongside! At a red light, the biker told us that the dog, Rev, runs with him at that same speed three miles every day.
Later that afternoon we watched Baylor destroy Houston in an NCAA Final Four game from our seats at the Nickel Mine, a sports bar on Santa Monica Boulevard. And sitting at the table next to us? Brandy, a small, tan-and-white chihuahua-terrier mix, who, from the looks of it, had a taste for the 310 CA Blonde Ale.
Sunday was road trip day: north past Santa Barbara, then up 154, with its
heart stopping hairpin turns, to visit our former Westport friends at their Buckeye Ranch in the impossibly gorgeous wine country of Santa Ynez. They have a stable full of horses (see My Breed Made Me Do It for my 2017 adventure on Tut, who was more or less the elderly equine equivalent to a beach cruiser), but more captivating to our crowd was the threesome of sweet Bernice (six-year-old Golden), put-upon Brighton (three-and-a-half-year-old bearded collie), and Eddie, the designated nuisance (three-month-old bearded collie). Eddie, as you may have guessed, couldn’t seem to leave Brighton alone. But none of the dogs was complaining. They have 20 acres for their romping pleasure, 360-degree knockout views, and over 280 sunny days a year.
Nice work if you can get it.