It was Carly Simon’s birthday yesterday, or maybe today, possibly tomorrow. We’re not sure, so we celebrate all three days with parties, parades and liver-flavored cakes. We also call her Carlton. She’s ten and we’ve had her for 8.25 of those years.
Here’s a brief timeline of her life.
She started out as a show dog.
After her career, she shied from the spotlight and spent a lot of time lounging, recharging her batteries.
She enjoys standing on a wall watching things.
She frequently hides behind things.
She’s into scenic walks as long as there are treats and drinks.
If you give her a toy, she destroys it.
She’ll allow some people to share space with her on a chair.
The driving lessons are coming a long just fine.
She enjoys festive headgear and doesn’t find it all humiliating.
At the end of a long day of lounging, she enjoys a hard-earned nap. And there you have it.
On a recent early winter’s day, I saw a dog running in the afternoon surf with a frisbee trophy clamped in its teeth. I took his picture a half dozen times playing with a half dozen other dogs, running and chasing, tails flashing, teeth grinning, tongues flopping.
I used to live here in parts of San Diego County forty some years ago. Now I just visit. It wasn’t a big deal. I worked, traveled, explored, loafed around. I was usually broke. Four decades later, I’m looking for faces that haven’t aged, and those faces aren’t there any more. If they are, they must be as unrecognizable as mine is to me in the mirror.
Dog Beach though, that’s the same, although this Dog Beach is twenty some miles up the coastline from the one I know. They’re all wonderfully the same. Dogs frolic in the surf with each other, chasing and playing. Even their humans interact, though likely they know nothing of each other’s belief systems. They know each other simply as dog people. Here is a dog person like me. They are all right.
The next day, I rode a rental bike to La Jolla looking for nostalgia and found umpteen pelicans on the rocks. It smelled of pelican droppings, wet feathers, and salt water spray. I recalled nothing remarkable of the past, just some moment like this one looking out over these same rocks at the progenitors of these birds.
Then, riding on, a little further south, I found an empty bench to eat a sandwich I’d packed. A seagull swooped in and tried to steal my lunch, tangling itself momentarily in my hair. Then I turned my attention to a religious group out exploring the tidepools. I watched them for awhile as they walked on the slippery rocks and huddled and talked and played. I would like to have known what they talked about. Little fishes swimming in tidepools? Spiritual things like the marvels of life and nature? Nonsensical things like whether that was Beyonce they saw? Where they might go for dinner?
It was a good day for the guy in the hoodie. He rode with Prince Antoine northbound in Riverside Park around 81st or 82nd Street hoping, just hoping, that they’d be seen and photographed and posted to this blog. It would make them famous. They passed a guy – who they didn’t notice – with a camera who’d gotten off his bike to try to get a good shot of a Red-tailed hawk. That was me. I couldn’t get a clear view of the hawk, but I did get the guy and the dog and the bike. Four years later, the time is right and Dogs and Bikes posts the iconic shot. Four years hoodie guy and Prince Antoine have waited. May all of their dreams come true.
A few years ago, I had been on a longish ride from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge, down to Battery Park and back to where I started. I had my camera with me but despite the perfect weather had not seen a single dog in a basket all day. I was somewhere in the 50s, block-wise, and passed this young woman and dog going the opposite direction. I did a u-turn, passed them and waited for them to ride by, which they did.
The car passing in the background ruins the shot, however, we live in a car world and if you think about it, cars ruin everything except road trips on winding country roads. And fooling around in the back seat.
Anyway, we moved from New York a few years ago and I don’t see dogs in baskets anymore. You need that critical mass of millions of people crammed onto an island to have a chance of catching dogs in baskets. Sure, you’ll see one now and again, but do you have your camera with you at that moment? In NYC, there’s a better than 50-50 chance of seeing a dog in a basket on a weekend ride or a walk along the loop in Central Park.
On our infrequent trips back to the city, I’m there, camera in hand, looking for that freewheeling pup. Meanwhile, I post stories on another blog and if you like stories, many set in New York, here’s the link.