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My name is Marta, and I have a little issue.

Background:

I have a young son, and that son wanted — needed — a dog. He is an only child, and I also wanted him to want a dog. He was born in Santa Cruz, CA, which is several hours up the coast from L.A., on the way to SF. I grew up in L.A. (West Hollywood, specifically), but I’ve spent almost my entire adult life in the Cruz.

… The gist is that I became a dog-sitter. A full-time dog-sitter. I have a master’s degree, I am a primary healthcare provider, and I was a newspaper editor for many years, but never you mind. For all intents and purposes, I became a full-time dog-sitter.

Which brings me to my point: If you are a renter in Santa Cruz, don’t even think about ever getting a dog until you finally decide to take a chance on that fixer-upper with the $2 million you’ve had lying around in your moldy rental. Of course, there will always be exceptions. I know a few of them but, in general, you really want to abandon all hope of getting a furry companion until you leave town or take a chance with that $2M.

And so the three of us did leave town: my husband (Mike), my son (Sasha) and I. But we didn’t come straight to L.A. We took a slight detour. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just fast-forward to mid-2017, which was when we got here.

There are many more details from which you will be spared, but the gist is that I became a dog-sitter. A full-time dog-sitter. I have a master’s degree, I am a primary healthcare provider, and I was a newspaper editor for many years, but never you mind. For all intents and purposes, I became a full-time dog-sitter. I’ve always walked down the path that makes for the better story, so why the hell not? Besides, how else am I supposed to figure out what kind of dog to get for my boy?

I was surprisingly successful at dog-sitting — surprisingly, because I’d never owned a dog and didn’t necessarily consider myself a “dog person” (though I’m pretty fond of the little guys), but I suppose by now you’ve figured out that I have wide a variety of pursuits, so I guess it makes sense? (I like opera, classical, punk and hip-hop if you want to send me some tunes.)

So after about five busy months, I set on the task of finding a dog for Sash. I really thought about different doggie temperaments and which ones my son has enjoyed the most. One thing that stood, though, was not a specific breed but more where that particular dog came from.

A lot of the really well-behaved dogs I watched came from a nearby rescue called Bark n’ Bitches. We had a smallish “starter dog” in mind, so I went on their website to check out the rescue dogs they had for adoption.

That’s when I saw my prince. His bio really made him seem like the perfect canine, he had amazing eyes (one blue and one brown), and even the trainer said he would take him home if he had room for one more.

Azzy’s Adopt Me photo, courtesy of Bark n’ Bitches (2017).

I am an impulsive creature. I didn’t really understand what an 80-pound dog would look like (not a “dog person,” and I only watched small- and medium-sized dogs). However, they had him listed as a husky mix — which was great, because all three of us like huskies (the one exception to my weight limit was a fabulous Alaskan husky who I watched on a regular basis, but he wasn’t even 80 pounds). And he really doesn’t look that big in this picture, right?

So after I got Sasha’s seal of approval, we headed over there. The really cool thing about Bn’B was that all the dogs run unimpeded around the shop (they sell food, bowls, toys, leashes, etc.). They have a very secure entrance, but beyond that, the dogs get to roam free. I noticed that they had many small dogs, and then out lumbers this ponderous beast: It was like gnats on a hippo. “Is that him?” I gulped. The guy just nodded and continued talking to us about our application.

At that point, there was really nothing left to do. I was already in love with him and so was my son. (Remember what I said about ending up with a good story? I was up for it!) The main thing was that I saw how he interacted with all the small dogs, and he was great.

We named him Azriel. The rescue had named him Marcel, which we didn’t really care for, but I wanted to name him something that at least rhymes with Marcel, and we all liked Azriel. It turns out he never responded to “Marcel,” anyway, so we got to call him “Azzy.” The paperwork we took home from the rescue said that he was actually a border collie, so I immediately updated my dog-sitting profile with his picture, weight and breed so that the small-dog owners who were contacting me would be aware of what they were getting into.

I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Azzy loves all dogs, kids and cats — the smaller, the better. Every time we took him somewhere, he would prance along proudly at our side and had admirers wherever he went. He even had a little baby in diapers bopping him on the head, and he loved it!

Azzy never messes with our cat, Sabo.
Our front door after Azzy tried to ‘find’ us.

Then there came a day when I didn’t have any dogs to watch, so the three of us (sans Azzy) decided to go to the Grove and see “The Last Jedi.” When we got home, there was a bunch of white debris on the floor. I mean, everywhere. I walked in, turned around, and looked at our front door. The casing around the door was stripped bare until all you saw was a bunch of brown bits. Meanwhile, Azzy was very happy to see us. Up until that point, we had spent every minute with him (Mike works from home), and when we left him home by himself (apparently, the cat doesn’t count), he decided that he needed to go find us. By any means necessary. It’s nothing short of a miracle that the inside of the house was intact, but he really worked hard on that front door.

Separation Anxiety. I didn’t even know that was a thing until Azriel came along. Maybe some of the dogs I watched had it, but I wouldn’t know, because I never left them — unless there was a specific occasion that required me to leave and I had the owner’s permission. Fortunately, between Mike and me, one of us was always home, so we were fortunate to be able to spend every minute with Azriel, if only for the sake of our dwelling!

First, we tried crating him. I was optimistic about that, because he stayed calm throughout the process (while we were home), and I was certain it wouldn’t be a problem anymore. But when we came home after leaving him for a short while to see what would happen, we saw, to our dismay, that he pried the bars open using his massive mandible and was trying to squeeze his enormous noggin through the hole he created. We repaired the opening with some wires and material from bungee cords, but he would just move to an unfortified spot. When he succeeded at making the hole large enough, he would once again try to squeeze his head through the hole and ended up cutting his beautiful face, chin and neck.

I then started thinking about drugs (for the dog, for the dog). There were a bunch of over-the-counter calming agents, but their effects were laughable on our huge cow. Seriously, none of them even made a dent. Then I read about a prescription psychiatric med called Clomicalm, which sounded promising, but the catch is that he has to take it every day, and it takes about 30 days for it to have an effect. Plus, it’s not cheap. Plus, Mike doesn’t want to put him on prescription meds. I continue to push for that option, so we’ll see what happens … .

I’m not about to surrender Azzy back to the rescue — I mean, he is an absolute delight in every (other) way, and what if someone else adopts him only to have him euthanized because they couldn’t handle their house being destroyed and simply weren’t able to be with him all day? For all I know, his separation anxiety is why he ended up at the rescue in the first place.

No, that just wasn’t an option, plus my boy had developed some sort of attachment to the mutt.

Oh, speaking of mutt, I almost forgot … Azzy really doesn’t look like a border collie except for his coloring, so obviously we had to order a DNA test in order to determine his breed — because everybody wanted to know, not just us! We went with Wisdom Panel; they really analyze every nook and cranny of that inner-cheek swab!

Here are Azzy’s main breeds:

  • Siberian Husky – 25%
  • German Shepherd – 25%
  • American Staffordshire Terrier (home of the huge invincible head) – 25%
  • Weimaraner – 12.5%
  • Miscellaneous – 12.5%
Our first family photo.

The Weimaraner bit threw me off, but then again, many Weims are known to have separation anxiety, so there’s that … . I always think of Beatrice from the movie “Best in Show” — she definitely had issues!

The remaining “miscellaneous” is just a big, fat bowl of doggie breeds with a side of kibble — really too numerous to even think about.

But I digress. What I was saying was that we can’t just give him up, but, at the same time, I’m averse to spending the rest of his life on my couch or at doggie parks.

Azzy and his BFF, Knox.

Much to my delight, L.A. is teeming with dog-friendly places — usually they are the ones with a patio, but we’ve even found some exceptions! I am unwilling to spend a lot of time away from my prince even if I could, and it’s really just a matter of researching spots and making a few phone calls to confirm the approval of his presence.

Now that you’ve sat through the introductory part and understand why I’ve undertaken this mission, we can get to the fun part and show you all the wondrous places this magnificent city has to offer you and your furry friend in tow.

I will probably never mention Azzy’s needy proclivities here in the future, but I’m sure I am not alone. We all adore our canines, and for many of us (if not all), they are familia. What better way to enjoy the sunset than with a nice glass of Riesling with your pooch at your feet, waiting for that prosciutto to fall out of your panini?

Let’s unleash the hounds!*

*Only in designated areas.

Figaro Bistrot: C’est magnifique

The way I found our anniversary bistro-that-I’m-not-going-to-review-because-Azz-wasn’t-there was by googling “French restaurants near me.”

This was also how I happened to find out about Figaro Bistrot, which does allow dogs, so guess who’s going to Les Feliz for Father’s Day?!?!?

But first I have to tell you something funny.

This is just a gratuitous photo of Azzy!

Last week, Mike was walking to the park with Azzy. A car drove by, honked, and somebody yelled out, “Best in show! Wooooooooh!”

So they get to the park, and somebody who was there yells, “You did it!”

Mike: “Huh?”

Somebody: “You guys finally got a night off!

The only reason I started blogging is because I like to write. It makes me feel good, and I wanted to generate some writing samples.

This is cool, too, though.

Back to Figaro.

Here is a sampling of some of Figaro Bistrot’s baked goods.

We decided to check it out not only because we needed a place to go on Father’s Day, but because 1) we want to dig deep and check out a place we’ve never visited before, 2) it’s French, 3) did I mention it was Father’s Day?

We had to go somewhere, so in keeping with my preoccupation du jour — French food — this was totally the obvious choice.

I see a lot of Figaro Bistrot in my future. I have a feeling they make a mean cup of coffee, too.

I looked at the menu online to make sure they had enough boring stuff that Sasha would eat, and I was delighted to see that it is also a bakery, so Sasha could have pain du chocolat to his heart’s content. 

The place was packed on Father’s Day.

I have to admit, though, I am a little flummoxed by “bistrot.” I was going to come up with something clever to write, like “What they lack in linguistics, they make up for with their linguine,” except I didn’t know if their linguine was any good, and, also, they don’t serve linguine :(. 

I know, I know: You would think they didn’t serve linguine because it’s a French restaurant, but you would be mistaken. They have fettuccine and two kinds of gnocchi. Who knew?

I decided to google “bistrot,” just to be sure I wasn’t being all judge-y — maybe “bistrot” means “bistro” in French, for all I know.

Google came up mostly empty-handed, except to say that “bistrot” is an alternative spelling to “bistro.”

It’s a bit of a shame, really (perhaps a relief to some!), because I had conjured up an amusing metaphor for google having come up completely empty-handed, but I’ll have to save it for a different occasion. I’ll leave it in my notes.

So onto the other part of the name: Figaro? That’s the guy from Seville, right? That barber? Oh, well, I’m sure they have a good explanation … .

So I made our reservation online, but I had a weird feeling about the interface, so I called them the next day to confirm. They didn’t have the reservation, so the friendly person on the line took my reservation over the phone. 

Maybe they just hadn’t checked their inbox yet, but if I were you, I would go ahead and hit “call” instead of reserving online, just to be safe. They open at 8:30am every day, so you have no excuse, and it’s actually a lot less work than typing in your info, etc.

I was officially excited!

French+Food+Fathers+Family = SUNDAY FUNDAY! I worked long hours on Sundays for many years, so I never let a Sunday adventure pass me by anymore.

Please overlook the poor quality of this photo. We didn’t have iPhones back then — at least I didn’t!

Now, a word about Mike: He deserves to be spoiled every day. 

Mike is the best dad in the world. The man has changed many more diapers than I have, and I’m totally serious.

Added bonus: Our son looks exactly like Mike, so that saves us a trip to Maury. Does it get any better than that?

Mike is the nurturer in our family, and my job is to help everybody with their math, make medical decisions, generally order everybody around, and deal with bullies (my least favorite, but don’t mess with my cub). Thankfully, the bullying only happened in TK, and it was in a different town, so we are past it now.

It’s definitely a role-reversal if you look at it in the traditional sense, but it works for us. 

But let’s get back to the star of this outfit (no, not Mike).

Azzy hasn’t been to Los Feliz yet. This delights me, because I know he won’t try to squeeze into the front seat and drool on my Sunday best if he doesn’t know where we’re going.

It ended up being very close to us, and we found a spot even closer, parked the car and made our way over to Figaro with Azzy bouncing along happily in front of us. I really should have named him Trotsky. Can dogs have middle names? Azriel Trotsky. That has a stately, dignified ring to it.

The dog-friendly area here is made up of a long row of little tables clustered on the sidewalk where you can people-watch as you nibble on your croissant. So French <3! I liked it right away! 

Despite a rocky start, we enjoyed our outdoor brunch in lively Los Feliz.

We had a bit of a rocky start, though. The restaurant reserved a table for us at the end of the row, which would have been perfect for our beast — except a couple of rude people ignored the “Reserved” sign and helped themselves to our table. 

I just can’t with some people.

The staff tried to get them to move, but, in the wise words of Ron White: You can’t fix stupid.

I toyed with the idea of plopping myself down at the table with Azzy and telling them calmly and matter-of-factly that I reserved that table, and I was going to sit at that table (yes, I do have that kind of nerve when somebody is straight-up wrong).

Instead, I decided to keep it classy, restrained my inner b***h and walked off to the side to calm myself. Not today, Satan. Not today.

We eventually got to occupy two tables.

The tables were tiny, and they had put two of them together for us before we got there. Now that we had to sit elsewhere, there was only one free table, and it was right in the middle of everything and everybody. 

We squeezed in and contorted ourselves like a couple of yogis doing a half spinal twist, with me trying not to sit on some lady’s lap. Azzy’s wagging tail kept getting really close to people’s food, so I held it down and took the opportunity to point out the usurpers splayed out comfortably at the end and to explain that they stole our table — the one that would have kept my dog’s tail out of their food. I hope everybody got a good look.

Luckily, the people next to us were leaving, and they happened to be sitting at another end, so it worked out, and we got to put Azzy at the end of the row of tables so people could eat their food unmolested.

I was going to get a mimosa, but it seemed apropos to have a screwdriver after that debacle. It was delicious. It really makes a huge difference when one uses fresh-squeezed OJ.

They offer the standard brunch fare, plus a few extra gems like a banana crepe with Nutella, for instance. I didn’t feel like having anything fancy, so I just got deux oeufs (two eggs). 

Le brunch items are served with potatoes and greens (there was bread already on the table). Any place that serves greens with breakfast is going to get a big thumbs-up in my book. The greens were very simply dressed, just how I like them.

My eggs paired perfectly with a yummy screwdriver. You can see a bit of Sasha’s Sprite carafe at left.

My over-easy eggs were cooked perfectly. I’m really picky about the runniness of my yolks, and Mike tried for years to perfect his over-easy eggs for my benefit. He never quite got it right, and one yolk always broke, so I finally told him that poaching my eggs would also be satisfactory.

Mike got the croissant sandwich. He is a connoisseur of such things, and “there was an over-abundance of cheese, which is always good,” and it contained pieces of Canadian bacon, which Mike said were perfectly spaced throughout, so he got exactly the same amount in every bite.

Sasha had his pick of many delectable pastries, and what did he choose? A chocolate chip cookie!

Sasha wanted the pain au chocolat, but they were out, so our charming server took him to the pastry display to pick something else out.

Since we were now out of earshot, my wicked boy seized his chance and selected a chocolate chip cookie. I started to protest, but it was Father’s Day so I let it go. 

He quietly wolfed that thing down before I even had a chance to take a photo. It looked tasty, and I guess he liked it. I think he also wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to change my mind about letting him eat a chocolate chip cookie for brunch. He also got a Sprite, which was served in a carafe.

Besides making friends, Azzy just likes to squeeze himself under the table and sit by our feet.

The whole time we were there, Azzy’s head stuck out from under the table enough to attract a bunch of admirers. A couple of people came over to pet him as they were leaving, and a lady passing by on the street came over to give him some love, too. Then a lady sat next to us with her little dog, and Azzy made friends with her and her dog, too.

They have a happy hour here, and it would be fantastic to sit and people-watch with a glass of wine and a snack. The HH food menu looks pretty awesome, and they even have one of Mike’s favorite IPAs. 

I can’t wait.

Look! No dog! Our canine-free cocktail crawl

Mike and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last weekend. Twelve years of (usually) wedded bliss!

We wed on the beach in Kona in 2007.
Mike and I had an intimate beach wedding in Kona in 2007

We got married in Hawaii — Kona, specifically — in order to avoid all the usual wedding-day malarkey. I really don’t like the idea of making a huge fuss about something that’s going to be parsed, processed and imprinted onto my mind as a vague blur.

And figuring out where to seat everybody? PLEASE.

I remember reading that weddings were more stressful than divorces or funerals, and I’m just not going out like that.

Here we are cutting the cake. No stuffy white dress here!

Also, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of dough on a stuffy white dress that I’m just going to ditch after the first date and will eventually turn yellow and brown in my closet. No, that’s just not for me. 

I decided I would have a very practical wedding and exchange my vows in a white bikini. Mike was onboard. He’s so agreeable!

I did that for my prom, too (just kidding).

The best part about celebrating anything is receiving flowers!

We told our family and some friends what we were doing, and if they wanted to join us, cool.

We ended up with about 20 people, and a good time was had by all. I actually got to cavort with my peeps, eat, drink and snorkel for days instead of hastily thanking them as I moved onto the next guest in my quivery white shoes.

So now, here we are, 12 years later. We got a sitter for Sasha and everything.

Unfortunately, Azzy’s fabulous sitter was going to be out of town that weekend, God bless her. I really didn’t want to deal with finding another sitter (good help is so hard to find these days), so now Mike and I had our opportunity to put the Benadryl we had bought to the test.

We knew the day would come when we would have to go somewhere without Azzy — not that we had to go out somewhere without him, but I kind of wanted to spend an evening with just human adults for a change. (Remember, we’re in Hollywood, so I say that loosely, but you know what I mean.)

Our vet said it was OK to try Benadryl, so I guess our anniversary was as good a time as any.

There was an unassuming French bistro pretty close to us that was getting rave reviews. I figured it was a safe bet to go there because we would be close to home to go check on the status of our front door if we got cold feet.

For the Benadryl, I’ve read that it should only contain diphenhydramine, as some other ingredients could be harmful for dogs. I’ve only thought about using Benadryl for Azzy’s SA, but it can be used for other things like:

•           Itchy skin
•           Irritated skin
•           Nausea
•           Car sickness
•           Insomnia
•           Insect or flea bites
•           Bee stings
•           Reaction to vaccines
•           Hay fever, sneezing, or coughing
•           Stuffy or runny nose
•           Asthma
•           Allergies

Also, stick to the pill form rather than getting the liquid version. Apparently, the liquid form has high levels of alcohol, and we need to keep Azzy sober in case we had to call him for a ride (we were out on foot).

The pills come in 25mg each. You’re supposed to give them 1mg per pound, so it’s three pills for a dog like Azzy.

Thank God for Kongs.

Azzy inhaled his pills with a can of wet food. Not to be outdone, we also put some peanut butter in his Kong.

We waited about 45 minutes, I did one last check of my mascara, and we planned our escape.

Our surly cat, Sabo, had our back. As we looked over at Azzy, he was facing the opposite window and lovingly embracing his Kong, and Sabo was seated squarely in front of him like he was trying to obstruct Azzy’s view of us. I really regret not taking a picture of this scene before me, but Mike and I were so ecstatic that Azzy wasn’t even paying the slightest bit of attention to us that we nearly tripped over ourselves trying to get out of there!

So, we get to this bistro.
Funny thing about bistros:

The word “bistro” is Russian for “quickIy.” When Russian soldiers were stationed in France after the Napoleonic Wars, they would go to get some food and tell the person to hurry up.

Some French people will dispute this, and they’re allowed to do that. I can’t verify the absolute authenticity of this hypothesis, but it makes for an interesting story, which is really why we’re all here, right?

And bistro (быстро) really does mean “quickly” in Russian. Can you tell me what it means in French? I didn’t think so.

This is one of the best almond gazpachos I’ve ever tried — OK, so it’s the only one I’ve ever tried, but it was pretty memorable.

So we are at this bistro, and I found myself nervous. I probably would have benefited from a bit of Benadryl myself, or even a toke, but no point in dwelling on it now. I buried my head in my almond gazpacho and hoped for the best.

The food was fantastic. I won’t be reviewing the place, however, since we were there without Azzy. I’m just letting you know in case you were wondering. I’ll throw in a picture of my soup. I also had the steak, and Mike had an excellent risotto.

Homecoming!

So I think we were both nervous because our to-go boxes were sizable, especially considering it was fabulous (and also French), and since we were so close to home, we could drop our food off AND check on Azzy.

Mike recently read an article about how dogs use scent to tell time — meaning, they can tell how long you’ve been gone based on the strength of your scent. Basically, when you return and leave again, it deletes how long you were away the first time. It’s kind of like a reboot, if that makes sense.

So we open the front door, and Azzy is standing right there. So much excitement, it’s like we were gone for a week!

The good news is, Azzy didn’t destroy anything, but he was still a little bit too crazy. I wanted him to be C-A-L-M and not worried about whether or not we would be coming home. Meanwhile, our cat’s just lounging on the couch like whatevs.

This is how Azzy looked after we got home — content that mostly everyone is here.

Mike went into the kitchen, put more peanut butter into the Kong, and added a couple drops of CBD oil for good measure (also OK’d by our vet).

And then we were off again. This time, I was more relaxed and felt pretty confident that we would come home to an intact door.

We went to a couple of neighborhood bars and had some fancy drinks (well, I did — Mike sticks to beer). Unfortunately, we ended up having to skip a couple of rooftop bars that were on my list. Yes, I made a list that maximized our target area without us having to backtrack or zigzag around unnecessarily.

I got a kick out of this at one of our final destinations.

By the end of my last cocktail, I was ready to come home to our mutt, content that we had triumphed, and looking forward to occasional future private outings with Mike that will never reach the annals of this blog.

And what a homecoming it was!

Burgers, beers and bliss at Stout Hollywood

Damn! We missed National Burger Day by less than a week!

Save the date for next year!

Poor planning notwithstanding, Stout Burgers & Beers is one neighborhood joint that we have to include on our list for a visit any day of the week (even on a Taco Tuesday), but since we were oh-so-close to this holiest of holidays, I switched my list up a bit.

Full disclosure: I am on Stout’s mailing list, and they are the ones who notified me about National Burger Day on May 28 — right as I was readying last week’s Memorial Day blog. I have an ordered list of dog-friendly places I want to write about, and Stout has always been on that list, but this notification from them just moved Stout to the top of my list. Well played, Stout. Well played … .
Stout actually has six locations — one as far away as Louisville, Ky. Most of them are in L.A., though, and if you’re a burgers-and-beers guy like Mike is, you just can’t pass it up. I also want to point out that the Hollywood Stout (our flagship) is the only one open until 4am. The other ones close between 10pm and 2am, depending on the day.
I haven’t seen the setup at the other locations, whether there’s an outdoor patio and whether or not they’re dog-friendly, so I’ll just stick to the Hollywood locale.

This particular Stout is located in one of my favorite parts of Hollywood. There are a couple of other restaurants right next to it, but you can’t take dogs there, so it’s a no-can-do for people of my ilk.
Parking can be a little dicey if you don’t want to do valet, but we’ve always managed to find a spot at one of the meters nearby.

I don’t know what your spiritual proclivities are, but there’s an urban goddess named Squat who we like to make an appeal to in such situations. Squat has a propensity for dirty limericks, so I memorized the one about Nantucket just for her — but the first thing you have to do is say, “Squat, Squat, find me a spot!” And say it like you mean it!
So, once again, we find a spot, and I let Azzy pull me to our destination — about a block away and around the corner. Dogs have an uncanny sense of recall. Every time we get close to a place we’ve taken him before, Azzy goes nuts and tries to get in the front seat between me and Mike. This canine sense of recognition represents a level of non-visual refinement that we just don’t have. We are reduced to using aids as rudimentary as vision to help us figure out where we are going. It never ceases to amaze me that all these pooches need is their superior sense of smell — although I do know a bunch of dogs who don’t like it when people wear hats, which has also been mind-boggling to me.

Dogs are welcome on the patio. We got a table before it got busy — happy hour is a good time to visit if you’re a bourgeois layabout like I am.

Anyway, back to Stout Hollywood.
They always play my favorite tunes. I’m a ’90s girl (is that classic rock now?), and it’s comforting to know that the whippersnappers aren’t above listening to the music I like. I can feel the final moments of my youth slipping away, but here at Stout I still feel cool.
Stout’s rotating beer list is really impressive. I’ve mentioned previously that I don’t drink and blog, but what’s one tiny little beer? The beers I like tend to be on the stronger side (I favor Russian Imperial Stouts), so it really is a tiny little beer.
But I like describing the nuances of a good beer, tiny or otherwise, so maybe I’ll have two. It’s educational, right? That has to mean something. And it’s really just two thimblesful. I think they legally have to execute skimpy pours of stronger beers, but I honestly do love the flavor of the Russian Imperials so much that I can overlook this necessary transgression. Maybe it’s the Russian blood coursing through my veins … .
OK, I’m sold. I’ve convinced myself that sampling two beers is OK for a noble pursuit such as mine, so let us begin.
First, we must secure the hound. This Stout has some outdoor-ish, patio-y areas where Azzy can lie in wait for the occasional piece of hamburger that is sure to escape from betwixt our brioche. Before he settles down, though, Azzy must receive the customary petting session from the patrons who are sitting next to us.

We give him a few minutes, and then Azz is ready to retire under our table. We didn’t see any other dogs this time, but there is usually one other dog looking up expectantly and waiting patiently for a stray morsel to drop.
Azzy has a knack for minimizing his presence in restaurants and making himself as unobtrusive as possible, so once he was comfortably ensconced in Mike’s feet, I was free to focus on sweet, sweet beer.
My eye immediately goes to the Dark/Strong Ales section of the menu. There’s a number called Bakery: Banana Bread that beckons seductively. I’m gonna go for it. They bring me my thimbleful. I take a sip, and it’s like a bakery in my mouth. It’s got those chocolatey undertones that I live for, even though the description didn’t mention chocolate at all. Rather, this brew is described as being aged in bourbon barrels (a huge boon for my list of requirements), with “Walnut, Banana, & Natural Flavor” — not my Oxford comma, I don’t like that comma next to an ampersand, nor do I know what “natural flavor” even means. I’ve seen this “ingredient” before, but I wasn’t really motivated to dig deeper (or at all), but now I have a sense of responsibility, since I’m writing about something that includes this mysterious element (I warned you about my blog being rife with intrigue).

Behold my first thimbleful, packed with natural flavors! There’s Mike’s IPA standing tall and proud in the background.

To that end, I googled “natural flavor.” According to the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations, “natural flavors are created from substances extracted from these plant or animal sources … .” Then it lists a bunch of things like spices, fruit, yeast, herbs, dairy products, meat or eggs, and then it says, “These flavors can be obtained by heating or roasting the animal or plant material.”

I’m assuming the “natural ingredients” in this particular brew are of the plant variety, but what do I know? At least it doesn’t say “toxic chemicals,” right?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the burger part.

Behold my protein-style Shu burger flanked by the bell spread and chipotle mayo! There’s Mike’s Stout Burger and IPA in the background, and, of course, you can’t miss Sasha’s fries!

Today, I got the Shu. It comes with pepper jack cheese, bell spread and chipotle mayo. I’m not a big carbs person, so I get my burger “Stout Protein Style.” The way they execute their protein-style burger is to present the patty atop a mound of arugula (my favorite). I don’t like heavy dressings that overpower the taste of my greens, and these greens are laced with the perfect splash of lemon juice and olive oil. It really complements the arugula, and, in turn, this zesty combo is the perfect accompaniment to the patty on top. Just yum. They recommend pairing the Shu with a golden ale or a lager, and I’m sure they are absolutely right, but let me assure you that it tastes fabulous with a dark, heavy imperial stout as well.
My offspring is majorly addicted to carbs, as most kids are, so he mainly just wants the fries. They have “loaded” fries, too, but my vanilla-boy doesn’t like any of that extra stuff getting between him and his carbs. Except ketchup. He used to be such a dipper when he was a toddler, but now he’s just not having it. We used to call him Lil’ Dippa.
Mike is a buns guy, and he’s also a creature of habit (I can live with it now). He always gets the Stout Burger (blue cheese, Emmi Gruyere, rosemary bacon, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes and horseradish cream). One of the biggest breakthroughs in our marriage is that I’ve engendered a love of blue-cheese-burgers in Mike, who previously wouldn’t venture beyond cheddar: the vanilla of cheese.

He’s also a chronic IPA guy, so he got the Loud IPA. It has been well-documented that IPAs and blue cheese are a match made in heaven, so I will probably end up keeping him. Stout also rightfully recommends pairing an IPA with this particular burger.
My next one was not a Russian Imperial Stout, but I also like Porters, so I went for the Salted Caramel Porter. You could definitely taste the salted caramel in the afternote, and it was delicious, but I preferred the Banana Bread, which was a lot more robust than the porter.
Stout offers a happy hour from 4-6pm Monday through Friday. The beers still cost the same, but all the food is half off — which means I can have two patties on delicious arugula if I wanted to. As always, the staff is great here every time. Our server even packed up extra bell pepper spread and chipotle mayo with my to-go box. And she didn’t even know I was there to review the joint.

Azzy patiently waits for the first Shu to drop.

Well played, Stout. Well played.

Best in Show(!)

Mike, Sasha, Azzy and I went to a barbecue in our neighborhood on Memorial Day. Like, an official barbecue. We had to order tickets online and everything. Even the fire department would be there!

When I was at the newspaper, I worked every holiday there is. I haven’t had to do that in a while, but I’d been so traumatized over the years that I will do backflips to have a holiday off, even now!

Since we moved to Hollywood almost a year ago, Mike and I haven’t really knocked ourselves out to be super neighborly or anything, but as soon as I saw there would also be a pet parade, I immediately ordered tickets. Then I asked if we could bring Azzy’s friend Izzy. She loves to parade around, and Azzy always likes to spend quality time her. 

I immediately saw a blog opportunity opening itself up before me. Sometimes this thing writes itself! I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I’ve turned into one of those uber-nerds who sees content everywhere. Not that I wasn’t a nerd before. And not that the “content” wasn’t there all along. I guess we as a society are just embracing it more now. Everything’s recorded, through one medium or another. I’ve never worked with video, but it’s piquing my interest now … .

So back to this neighborhood-barbecue plan.  

Izzy never disappoints. She was rocking her studded pink leather harness, and she looks like she’s ready to party! Azzy just has a collar, and, frankly, I don’t know if they even make harnesses that accommodates his girth. All the “large” collars that I liked didn’t fit him, so we had to go for one that was so adjustable you could wind it around the Capitol Records building. At some point, I want to get him a doggie shirt with skulls on it so that he’ll have a special outfit to wear to parties.

My offspring was really sad to see Izzy go!

So … we’re getting ready, and our friend decided that she wants to spend the day with Izzy after all, so Izzy doesn’t get to strut her stuff in the parade! 😦

Azzy has to go sans GF now, but at least he’s not going to get upstaged by that fabulous pink harness! He did want to wear his Fire Chief hat, and I thought that would be an appropriate way for him to meet the LAFD. Meanwhile, Sasha’s chomping at the bit over rumors of a bounce house, and he keeps asking if it’s time to go yet. And Azzy is running around all excited and doing his Chewbacca howl like he does when he sees us getting ready.

Me and The Azz.

And we’re off! I love walking through my neighborhood, and our destination was only a few minutes away. The last time we walked Azzy this way, he was sporting a huge dorsal fin because he was pretending to be an orca (although it ended up looking more like a witch hat, which still works, because it was Halloween).

The bounce house was the first thing to materialize on the horizon, and it was all I could do to hold Sasha back from it until we could register and get our wristbands. He’s a madman!

Everywhere we went, people loved on The Azz! They had a sign-up sheet for the pet parade, and they had a space where you could write in a fun fact about the contestant, so I wrote that Azzy’s the star of his own blog. (These are Hollywood folk, so this kind of stuff seemed like a significant tidbit to mention.)

Then Sasha made a beeline for the bounce house, and Mike went in search of finger-licking barbecue food. It took him forever with everyone stopping to ask about Azzy — it’s a good thing Mike knew exactly what kind of dog he was, because everybody else wanted to know. And hats off to whomever came up with the idea of having a bounce house — you are a genius! The kids would go and entertain themselves, and you never had to worry about keeping them occupied. Mike and I were now free to do grown-up stuff like letting our dog sniff other people’s dogs.

The LAFD gave Azzy a shiny new hat! I forgot to ask this agreeable gentleman for permission to use his likeness on my blog, so I had to chop his head off. My apologies!

The Hollywood Dell Tones were crushing it in the background. They all live in the neighborhood and formed specifically to play at neighborhood parties like this one. We have a house band! Who knew? I sure didn’t!

Then I saw the fire truck parked at the entrance to the event, and I dutifully walked Azzy over and told the firefighter that my dog wants to take a picture with him. Not only did he oblige, but he gave Azzy a brand-new fire hat that says “Hollywood” on it! Azzy wouldn’t look straight at me for the photo — the pet parade hadn’t even started, and he’s already being a diva — but Mike was there to encourage him a bit.

Speaking of the pet parade, the powers that be waited until everyone was satiated, and when it was finally showtime, the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
The competition was fierce: There was a Dachshund, a Shih-Tzu, a couple of pugs, some poodles, a few mystery breeds, a Husky, a Doberman who kept squealing at Azzy, a couple of slackers who didn’t sign their dogs up lurking sheepishly about, and the list goes on. The stage moms were pacing nervously … . The dogs were all huddled in an excited mass waiting for their turn in the limelight … . The anticipation was maddening!

Here is Azzy eyeing some of his competition.

Azzy didn’t care — he was wearing his goofy grin the entire time.

The emcee was great (too bad I didn’t get his name). He was totally on point and didn’t miss a beat. My kind of guy! When it was Azzy’s turn to strut, the emcee mentioned that, “in true Hollywood style, Azzy is the star of his own blog,” and then he called him an influencer!!! (You know you’ve made it in this world when your dog is referred to as an influencer in Hollywood.)

Then it was time for the judges to deliberate. After a couple of tense moments, it was time to announce the winners: The Shih-Tzu won for Best Hair, a dog wearing pajamas got Best Dressed, a sweet little dog with a cleft palate won for Best Smile, there were a couple dogs who won a ribbon for doing cute tricks and, wait for it … my Azriel won the blue ribbon for Best in Show! 

There can only be one blue ribbon, but every dog is a winner, and they all got goodie bags. Azzy got a bandanna, some poop bags, a whistle keychain and some treats!

I don’t remember if any pugs won any ribbons, but there were many of them snorting their way through the crowd. Izzy really missed out on mingling with her kin, but maybe she’ll tag along for the next gathering — I’m sure she’ll want to be seen with a winner!

This is our new buddy, Big Rig. He’s a rescue from Road Dogs & Rescue, which focuses on special-needs pups. This magnificent life form won the Best Smile ribbon. Mom gets extra points for being a LotD reader.

A couple minutes after the accolades were dispensed, Mike was decompressing offstage with some of the other winners, and one of them says, “What’s your wife’s name?” I came up and told her my name, and it turns out she reads the blog! She thought she recognized Azzy, but she wasn’t sure until I told her my name. Her dog, Big Rig, was the Best Smile dog with the cleft palate! He’s an adorable Pocket Pitbull (mini-pit!) who was rescued from a place called Road Dogs & Rescue, an organization in SoCal that focuses on bulldogs and special-needs pups! Big Rig truly has the best smile ever — and I said so before I even realized that he was the Best Smile dog!

Here’s one last pic of Azzy enjoying the spoils of war. He wouldn’t look directly into the camera and only wanted to show his good side!

And then we met some other people who also recognized Azz. The emcee was right: Azzy truly is an influencer! He’s going to start charging us rent soon. I guess I should hook him up with his own IG account. Good thing there’s not a lot of typing!

What can I say, our ‘hood is awesome! This kind of neighborhood gathering is what I’ve been missing out on my whole life (Mike, too)! It’s like spicy ramen for my cold, barren soul. Mike and I never thought we would end up back in L.A., but circumstances shift, and I’m so glad I got a good feeling about this area (and the feels I get from being so close to my alma mater didn’t hurt, either).

We are all so happy to have met so many great people. (Sorry, I’m a lot more boring in person until I get to know you. I might not say much, but I’m always listening, observing, and silently judging you. Azzy, on the other hand, is a big goofball of pure love!). Until next time, neighborinos. More tales of drama and intrigue coming soon.

Coffee with canines (indoors!) at Jane Q

Our neighborhood spot, Jane Q, has a lot going for it.

First of all, it’s only a few blocks away — a six-minute walk from our doorstep to theirs. The second thing is — get this — dogs are allowed inside.

There are a lot of good reasons to go to Jane Q, and I’ve only named a couple of them, so let me name some more.

Mike and Azzy by the gorgeous window at JaneQ. I took this pic when we were here for the first time. They have since rearranged some of the furniture and the pool table, but this is probably my favorite setup here.

They open at 6am. Not that I’ve ever personally been there at 6am, or even plan on it, but it’s still good to know. Also, every single person I have ever interacted with on the staff is fabulous. Even the valet walked up to my door like a friend. It’s like they check everybody’s DNA before they end up with these awesome people.

Let’s get back to the dog part, because that part is major for somebody in my situation. As soon as I found out that not only are dogs allowed but that they are allowed inside, I knew I had to check it out.

The pool table at its current location. Sometimes it’s by the east-facing window.

Then, a little bit of time passed, and we kind of forgot about it. Then one day I got some bad news, and I really wanted a stiff one. Mike took pity on me and said he was going to take me somewhere we’ve never been before. We weren’t coming from home, so he absentmindedly drove over there (men!) and parked in the valet lot (Jane Q is part of the Everly Hotel in Hollywood, a stone’s throw from Hollywood and Vine). We were parked before we fully realized how close it really was. 

So through the door we went. The part on the ground floor is what I would say is the main part of the restaurant. That’s where the open kitchen is — so no dogs are allowed down there. We were told by a super-friendly employee that we were welcome to hang out with Azzy upstairs, and to just order from downstairs and someone would bring it up to us.

It happened to be happy hour — their happy hour is seven days a week and runs from 3 to 6pm. The upstairs is pretty laid-back. There are couches, some cozy armchairs and a few tables where people with furrowed brows sat on their laptops. There was a gorgeous double-height window that took up the entire west-facing wall where you could look out over the random happenings in Hollywood while you play a game of pool. There is a large, south-facing window as well. All in all, it was a really relaxed, bright, welcoming environment. There was a kind of serene, peaceful vibe to it, everybody we encountered there was great, and I really liked it right away. 

The bar starts mixing it up at 4:30pm.

The happy hour menu features a few really tasty gin concoctions (and I don’t even like gin), a couple of wines, and a couple of appy-type snacks. We sat on a couple of couches next to the bar, which opens at 4:30pm, and Azzy got lots of love and attention — I think he even got some leftovers.

So that was our first happy hour experience there. We’ve gone a few more times, and I keep meaning to go for brunch. Jane Q’s “brunch” is from 6am to 3pm, so it’s not like I have any excuse. Next time … .

This last week when we went, Mike and I (and Azzy, of course) decided to walk over for some coffee. Like I said, it’s a very short walk, and it’s just a matter of passing the food truck, going under the freeway and out the other side. And then we cross at the freeway onramp, and we’re there.

This time, we saw a bunch of city vehicles parked in front of the homeless encampment. It looked like they were there to do their regular sweep of the tents in the neighborhood. I am not sure where these people go after the area gets swept, but they come back after a week or two, and the whole thing starts all over again. I’m not telling city leaders how to do their jobs, but this operation seems like a Sisyphean task to me.  It just doesn’t look like any kind of solution when you live here and see the same pattern playing out over and over.

I’ve also wondered what happens if the owners of the tents aren’t around during the sweep. Does all of it get confiscated? Do they lose everything? This time, the encampment had been minimal, and all the items that had been lifted out of the dirt were neatly folded and stacked on the sidewalk. When we were walking back a few hours later, the items were still there, along with some abandoned suitcases on the side of the onramp. Someone was sweeping the now-bare mound of dirt behind a chain-link fence that once propped a community, soon to return from who knows where.

I’ve read that the city opened a new shelter last month, not too far from here. I hope that’s helping. I don’t think it’s enough to accommodate the demand, but it’s a step in the right direction. And I heard residents get to keep their dogs with them there! I think people are slowly changing their assumptions about dogs and recognizing how important they are to us. Azzy even stopped to relieve himself right next to one of the workers by the onramp, and he just smiled.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about as we made our way past the city workers to get to Jane Q, and also how “the job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” One of my mentors repeated that quote when I worked at a newspaper, and it has always stayed with me. I don’t literally think about newspapers now — newspapers have become a shell of their former selves — but I think about journalism and social media in general, and I will always be a journalist at heart looking for a story. (The quote is too long to explain here, but the beauty of the internet is that it’s super-easy to find out where it comes from!)

OK, so we get to Jane Q, and Azzy immediately lets out his trademark Chewbacca growl to let everyone know he’s here. I don’t know what else to call it but to say that he sounds exactly like Chewbacca and makes that sound as a form of greeting around people he likes. We are heading straight upstairs and won’t even linger in this area, but I guess he just can’t help himself and has to let it all out as he trots up the stairs.

My favorite spot by the huge window is occupied, so we take a seat near the pool table. Azzy takes up his usual spot that he likes to claim whenever we go out with him — under the table. But the excitement of being in a spot with new people is just too much for him: He stretches out as far out as his body will allow him and hangs his tongue out, his tail wagging steadily from side to side like a metronome.

Mike goes downstairs to get me a cappuccino, and I settle into my cozy chair and tell Azzy what a good boy he is. Then I see a woman coming up the stairs, and Azzy starts walking in her direction as far as his leash will let him go (we give him a lot of leash slack when we have to tie him to a table here because there is so much open, expansive floor space between tables). She asks me if she can give him a treat, and I see that she’s holding a bowl full of treats. No wonder my boy was so enamored of her! I look over and see her gorgeous Australian shepherd sitting in the window. Every time we’re here, I only see one or two other dogs — if that. It’s never swarming with them or anything.

‘I can haz cookeez?’

I think a lot of the people who are with here with dogs — and generally those casually dressed individuals who are lurking around here at this hour in general — are guests at the Everly. I have never stayed here, nor have I even seen any of the rooms aside from what’s on their website, but I am recommending it just based on proximity alone (unless I’m trying to avoid you). And the views from most of the rooms (that I’ve seen from the photos) are absolutely stunning. And for people who have never been to Hollywood and really want to do some sightseeing, it really can’t be beat.

I’m super Olde School, and I seriously wouldn’t be caught dead in this neighborhood when I was growing up. I merely passed it from the safety of my vehicle on my way to school and would occasionally stop at the gas station that I can now see from my living room window. But it’s definitely changed now. There are cranes as far as the eye can see, much to my son’s delight. All of a sudden, Sasha’s become interested in architecture and big buildings — definitely a step up from the swamp we emerged from.

So this woman and her family come near where we were sitting in order to play a game of pool, and she starts chatting about how she’s from Hollywood but lives in San Diego now and occasionally comes back to visit. It’s a pretty good place for them to stay because it’s right in Hollywood and right near the freeway, and, of course, there’s the dogs-allowed part. Azzy, for his part, dutifully comes up to them and plops down on the floor and exposes his belly for rubs and scratches. So they start rubbing Azzy’s belly while he hams it up for the camera. That dog’s got a good life!

So Mike (my promoter!) starts telling her about my blog, and she proceeds to give me a bunch of intel about dog-friendly places and beaches in the greater San Diego area, and then she even told me about some places in L.A. that I wasn’t familiar with. Very productive outing!

So I drain my tasty cappuccino and feel like I don’t want to leave just yet. I was going to bring my laptop, but I just didn’t feel like schlepping it around, even for a short walk.

Then I remembered something: The last time I was here, they were pouring some sort of rosemary coffee. Mike saw it on a chalkboard and had mentioned it to me, since we both love rosemary. Problem is I just downed a cappuccino, but what the hey? The cappuccino wasn’t huge or anything, and there was still plenty of time before we needed to pick our kiddo up.

When I first met my husband many moons ago, he told me to put a sprig of rosemary in my coffee to help me remember my dreams, and I have been a fan ever since. What Jane Q was serving was actually rosemary with orange. Even better. I decided to have this one on ice.

Sooooo good!

Y’ALL. The iced orange-rosemary coffee is bomb. I usually add a dash of some sort of sweetener to my caffeine, but this has the perfect whisper of sweetness. It is blissfully subtle, and it imparts an undertone that my taste buds have never experienced before. Just a soft hint to take the edge off. Rosemary isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re into it, this potion is a must-have.

By now, my window spot had become vacant, so we moved over by the window and I spent the next hour in total euphoria while Azzy made friends with a delightful little German shepherd-chow mix. This dog was so into him that it even wore Azzy out. He retired under the table while this dog paced excitedly around him giving him her bedroom eyes.

When Azzy gets totally disinterested in everything around him, that is our cue to go. Plus, this is a family-friendly place, and I wasn’t totally sure what that other dog had in mind … .

I extracted every last drop of my drink and we headed out, passing the freeway underpass, sidestepping the mound of dirt that somehow escaped the city worker’s broom, walking by the neatly folded pile of possessions and on to our little concrete oasis in Hollywood.

Lair of the cat

This week, I am going to share something different.

I didn’t have a lot of time to scout places with Azzy the other week because I got a home gym. This bad boy arrived unassembled, and it took days for us (Mike) to put it together. (“The pulley network was very complicated,” he reported gravely.) It turned out to be way larger than I thought (are you sensing a pattern here?), and I was thanking my lucky stars that we have a loft with room for this monstrosity. Between Azzy and this home gym, I am going to run out of words to describe a large thing, but luckily this is only my third blog, so we shall press on … .

My home gym!

Up until now, we had this awesome loft that we just weren’t sure what to do with. It became a mishmash of sorts — we had a long desk up there, my filing cabinet, a bookcase with my TCM books, a shelf with a few massage-y supplies. All other odds and ends, like my massage table and some random gardening supplies, were stuffed into the closet.

There was only one other really important thing that was up there: The Pussy Palace.

The PP was a gift I bought for my cat a few Decembers ago as a reward for everything he was putting up with when I was a busy dog-sitter. That guy was so indignant over what I was doing to our home, I can’t even tell you. He deserved something nice.

Here’s the view looking up at Sabo’s palace. You can only see the top of it from our living room, but that ledge going all the way across is the ‘catwalk.’ This is where he likes to sit and look down at the commoners. (And that weird glassy round thing to the right of the palace is the underside of a lampshade.)

The palace is quite stately (there’s that theme again!), about 8 feet tall (the picture only gives you a small glimpse into its stature), and he gets to sit on different platforms and show his disgust from afar. He even takes his meals there.

Sabo’s palace takes on a whole other identity up in the loft. It’s right next to a little catwalk/ledge that he likes to use, and he gets to lounge up there and gaze down at the commoners.

So now my gym is up there, and we get to be roommates. As soon as I got up there and started to work out, I was hit with the familiar smell of a cleaning product that we’ve had to use for his little mishaps and proclamations of discontent. I’m not going to mention the name of the product here, and a lot of people happen to like it, but I don’t. It got to the point where the smell of the product reminded me of the smell it was trying to replace. Just no.

It all started last Thanksgiving. Mike decided to change Sabo’s brand of kitty litter for some reason. Sabo didn’t like it, and he refused to use it. So he would go up to his Happy Place and attempt to cope with his disgruntlement up there. We had an out-of-town guest coming for the weekend, so we went to town on that carpet. I didn’t want anything toxic, so a little vinegar and baking soda finally did the trick, but only after our guest had already returned home — she ended up sleeping in the living room (sorry, Jane!), and the lingering smell of the other product refused to go away.

The victory was short-lived. Every once in a while, when I went up the stairs, I would get a very faint whiff of something I really didn’t like. And now that I was to spend more time up there working out, something really had to change. A friend from Santa Cruz had told me about a product called Skout’s Honor, and I was intrigued by everything about it right away.

First of all, it was unscented, which is really, really appealing to me.

I like the scent of fresh flowers and good food, and I really, really didn’t want to cover one scent up with something synthetic. It’s why I have a hard time with the scent of lilac — I grew up occasionally using a bathroom that had an aerosol spray can of lilac air freshener for when you were done doing your business. To this day, the smell of lilac reminds me of that which it was supposed to subdue.

Anyway, the scent: Skout’s Honor had none. The label says it “destroys offensive odor molecules on contact: Skunk, feces, urine, sweat & more. Safe for pets, family & home.”

I followed my nose to a questionable corner in the loft, gave the bottle a few squirts, and it was gone. Immediately. The label says to spray the product “directly onto offensive surfaces,” and then you’re supposed to “breathe deeply without gagging.”

It’s true, it’s all true! I breathed deeply and smelled absolutely nothing. No gagging! And that’s another part of its appeal — the description is written exactly in the way I would have personally written about this product. It’s gotta be relatable, you know? You know you’ve had a productive day when you’re getting paid to use “gagging” (or lack thereof) to describe a product.

They also pledge to provide “a  day’s worth of food” to a shelter animal with every purchase. I don’t know exactly what constitutes “a day’s worth of food,” but I’m definitely not opposed to that.

Finally, I like to believe that I also have a little design acumen, and the overall packaging of this product was so clean: A nice, legible font, no distracting photos, lots of white space. I am very particular about what I like and what I don’t like, and I just knew this was a winner before I even took my first gag-free whiff.

So I drenched every inch of the carpet with this stuff. It also comes in larger sizes (32 ounces and 64 ounces), but I just got the spray-bottle size. Also, after I had already used the product, I visited their website and noticed they have a version specifically for cats — however, I still got results with the non-cat version. It might be because that particular area of the loft has a history of having been treated with vinegar and baking soda (which is a whole other epic story for another time). This particular affront wasn’t overpowering or anything. It was just like a lingering whisper that hadn’t met the right breath mint yet.

If possible, though, I would just go ahead and get the one that’s specifically targeted for cats, especially on a previously untreated area. That ammonia’s no joke!

  • How it works: It infiltrates the offending agent and breaks it down on a molecular level and zaps it into oblivion. That’s my understanding, anyway.

Their website actually sells a bunch of different products, like a Got Skunked Kit, a couple of different Grooming Essentials kits, a Laundry Kit, and a Toy & Bowl Cleaner, to name a few.

The pet store where I got my bottle only carried a couple of basic ones — one with a baby-blue spot of color and the other with a lime-green spot of color. I could not for the life of me figure out the difference between the two. They both seemed to say the same thing in a different order, so I went with the baby-blue one. The cat version (not in my store) is in pink — and the ingredients listed for the kitty version are a little more complicated-sounding. When I was little, other kids and I thought all cats were girls and all dogs were boys, so maybe they decided to go with that theme. (They also make a litter box deodorizer that’s accented in purple.)

This is also marketed for human interference as well (kiddie mishaps, sweat, etc.), and you can add it to your laundry.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that. All you really have to know is that this product works immediately, and that it’s safe and pretty.

We will resume our regularly scheduled programming next week, and I’m looking forward to more quality time spent with the new roommie!

UPDATE: I contacted Skout’s Honor to ask about the difference between the baby-blue bottle and the lime-green one. They said the lime-green one is a cleaner that removes stains and odors, while the baby-blue one is a deodorizer that just removes odors.

I got the right one!

Lair of the Fat Dog

When we adopted Azzy, we went to Fat Dog on Fairfax Avenue to celebrate, because it was just down the street from Bark n’ Bitches. Fat Dog has a dog-friendly patio, and with a name like Fat Dog, it just seemed like the right place to go. We had no idea this place would become such a major part of our lives. It didn’t hurt that we were living two blocks east of Fairfax at the time, and so we could just leash all the guests up and walk here.

But the first time we took Azz here, it was just the four of us who went. Fresh from the rescue, we were still in the meet-and-greet phase of our relationship. And I wanted him to have the spotlight all to himself.

From the very beginning, he was a head-turner. Azzy’s stunning appearance and largesse paired quite agreeably with his gentle demeanor. The fawning patrons on the patio started asking us about him immediately. There wasn’t really a lot that we could tell them. I told one man that we just adopted him from the rescue up the street.

Fawning Patio Man: “How long have you had him?”

Me: “Forty-five minutes.”

And that’s how our adventures at Fat Dog began.

Azzy really looks forward to coming here so he can plop down under our table.

Most eateries in Los Angeles will accommodate a dog on their patio, but Fat Dog really wants your dog to come for a visit. Even their wallpaper is dog-themed. I personally think they should have a blank wall where they feature paw prints or Polaroids from dogs who were regulars — cheesy, maybe, but I’ve found that a shared love of dogs really brings the denizens of this town together. I’ve mingled with people that I would never have interacted with otherwise. People tend to really lower their guard when you ask them about Chopper.

I never liked to leave my canine clients at home unattended, so after Azzy’s first solo Fat Dog  jaunt, we would walk the entire pack over quite often just to get out of the house for a while. When you’re booked, dog-sitting is a 24/7 kind of job, so it meant a lot that I could bring all of them to Fat Dog.

Like I stated before, L.A. is generally accommodating to dogs on the patio, but if you showed up with, say, more than three dogs, people start giving you the side-eye — not so much the staff, but other patrons. Not at Fat Dog, though. Everybody was happy to see you with your dogs, and Azzy made many, many new friends. People with small dogs would occasionally clutch their pearls upon seeing him, but Azzy quickly set everybody at ease — they soon realized that Azzy was harmless and genuinely wanted to be friends with their Yorkie.

Fat Dog’s drink menu is even doggie-themed. I don’t drink and blog, so I won’t be trying all of them, but I was quite fond of the Seeing Rye Dog (Bulleit rye, ginger liqueur, blackberries, basil, lemon juice and raw sugar). Other concoctions have names like Off the Leash, Doggie Style, Tailwagger, Dogbite, and more … . The Daily Fat Drink was always fun to get, too, because it was always something different, and sometimes they would let you select the liquor.

We came here so often that we even made friends with some of the staff. They are all fabulous, but our favorite is Jess. This mirthful lass works on Whiskey Wednesdays and weekends.  (Remember the three W’s!) The fun part about Whiskey Wednesdays is that Jess gets to assemble a whiskey drink (the “Daily Fat Drink”) and give it a canine-themed name.

And then there are the whiskey flights. You get to sample four fine whiskeys that each come with a description, and I believe you get a discount if you decide to order a drink using one of the whiskeys that you’ve sampled.

Sasha always has a blast here. Can’t you tell?

The menu changes a bit for weekend brunch. They keep some of the staples, like the burger and the chopped salad, but they also add some brunchy stuff like steak and eggs and a breakfast pizza that comes with your choice of house-cured salmon or prosciutto. My favorite item right now is the chicken fried chicken (I think that’s Jess’ favorite, too, because she always voices her approval whenever somebody orders it). That one also stays on the menu on non-brunch days.

Fat Dog NoHo (on Magnolia Boulevard) has a slightly broader selection of food items (I’m told NoHo has a bigger kitchen). We lived in Burbank for 5 minutes, so we used to go to the NoHo location when we lived nearby. It’s every bit as accommodating and dog-friendly as Fat Dog WeHo. Also, I am a raw-oyster addict, and they offer oysters on the half-shell during brunch. The WeHo location used to be right next to Cape Cod Seafood, which was a dream come true for me because I could get a bunch of oysters and eat them at Fat Dog with my Fat Dog food, and Fat Dog was always really cool about that. Unfortunately, Cape Cod isn’t there anymore, so if anybody knows of any dog-friendly places that serve raw oysters, please drop me a line, I’m dying!

Anyway, back to brunch.

Start with the $6 brunch libations. I am all about the Champear, but if you’re unsure, you can get a mimosa flight that includes OJ, grapefruit, apple and peach juices. I was really skeptical of grapefruit or apple juice being mixed with champagne, but it works! They also offer a Fat Mary, which is loaded with salty goodness and served in a pint glass. The Coffee Karlsson also hits the spot if you’re in the mood for a post-brunch digestif of sorts. They don’t have these on the lunch/dinner menu, but they can probably make you one!

(Pro-tip: If you get the fried egg sandwich, be sure to get the egg well-fried, unless you want a laser-like stream of hot, runny egg yolk squirting across the table and onto your companion. This has been known to happen.)

The last time we were here for brunch, there was a ginormous gray Great Dane. I forgot his name, but we’ve seen him here before, and Azzy has already sniffed his butt — but, man, did this dog fill out! One of his cheeks was bigger than Azzy’s entire head. I can’t even imagine how many poop bags these people have to use and how much dog food they go through every week. They probably have to have a sponsor.

This sweet behemoth brought out Azzy’s inner chihuahua for sure! Azzy never, ever growls or barks at other dogs except pit bulls (for some mysterious reason) and now this dog. Azzy is a quarter pit bull himself — maybe he’s a self-loather with grandma issues or something — but the only times he’s ever growled was at pit bulls and Goliath over here. So there’s Azzy, lurking under the table with his low, guttural growl, and this dog just really can’t be bothered. I mean, he is TOTALLY unfazed. Sasha even came up to him and started playing with him, and this dog was a total gentleman.

And that’s another really cool thing about Fat Dog. They anticipate that there might be some flared hackles and fur flying, and it just comes with the territory (not that I’ve ever seen an actual dog fight there, but sometimes they just get super excited).

Skinny Dogs.

Feel free to bring all the dogs you’ve got if you go and check this place out. And be sure to get the chicken fried chicken!