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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.

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