Mutt Mixer

My girlfriend told a coworker who was going out of town for two weeks that she’d watch her dog for her. As we were walking the woman’s yellow Lab through downtown streets, we noticed a dog party at a park. We walked toward the gathering with the Lab and my Maltese in tow. I figure, studies always say people start to look like their pets. Maybe my dog should start crashing parties.

There were various signs on trees. One read, “Lacey — Happy Birthday,” another, “Water,” and the last, “Puppy Poo.” I thought that was odd and wondered if they had some wishful thinking as to where our dogs would decide to go. It wasn’t until later that I saw the sign was wrapped around the tree in such a way that I hadn’t noticed the letter L, helping to spell “Puppy Pool.” I didn’t notice the kiddie pool, either. A few dogs splashed around in it.

There were all kinds of dogs here: French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Labs, Yorkies, a pug, a Pomeranian–shih tzu mix, and a few other mutts I wasn’t sure about.

There was a dog missing a leg that was walking around as if nothing was wrong. I asked Rick, the owner, about it. He said, “It was a cancerous tumor on his joint. It was spreading.” Rick went into details about how the tumor was drawing calcium out of the bone and how after two days in the hospital, it took the dog two weeks to learn how to walk. When I asked how much it all cost, he paused before saying, “When it was all said and done, about $9000.”

The dog didn’t seem too slow when Sherry brought out cake and ice cream. She had made the ice cream with yogurt, carrots, and organic meat. The cake had Milk Bones on top. One dog stole those and ate them at the other end of the park. The dogs chomped on the cake — which had bacon bits around the sides — as though they hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Yoshi the pug never made it to the cake, as he didn’t want to leave his ice cream, which was quickly melting on the hot sidewalk.

A few of the dogs were wearing party hats Sherry had made. One dog pawed at his hat, trying to get the thing off his head. Another dog kept trying to hump Lacey. Sherry said, “Well…maybe that’s her birthday present from him.”

She handed out really neat goody bags that had dog toys, lots of treats, and a magnetic, wooden picture frame she made that was shaped like a bone. I said, “The only thing this party doesn’t have is a piñata. You could’ve gotten one that was a big cat and just let the dogs go at it.”

Later that afternoon we went to a party in Serra Mesa. We were told the dog was welcome there, too, because Hester and her roommates have three dogs.

The occasion for the party was a tenth-anniversary celebration for a photo club called “Social Junky.” Hester explained, “It was one of the very first grassroots, local networking type of sites. They have a lot of good, solid people that belong to it and share photos.”

One guy at the party had a huge camera and was taking pictures. I asked how he got roped into taking photos of this event, and he said, “Well…they let me stay at their place in Prague. I told them I’d definitely do this.”

I’d been to parties at the same house before, years ago, when a bunch of SDSU students were renting it. The house is on a hill, overlooking a canyon, with a big backyard and pool.

This ’70s-style home was decorated well: lots of musical artifacts in the living room, including a Beatles photo and framed Jimi Hendrix poster surrounded by a fireplace and graffiti-style art and poems. There was a huge blue stand-up bass next to an old Lowrey organ and an old-fashioned radio. They were ready for a jam session at any time.

My dog quickly ran around to check out the new digs and play with a huge dog and friendly pug named Biff that never stopped sniffing his backside.

One room was set up for a band that would be playing later in the evening. The room was decorated with life-sized cutouts of Humphrey Bogart, Chewbacca, and a model I couldn’t identify.

Hester talked about a musical she wrote that sounded interesting. She told me that the title, The Gardener, was already a movie, so she renamed it The Atrium but feared not enough people would know what that was. I told her that so many movie titles have been reused, she shouldn’t worry about her original title.

The play’s plot had to do with a widower and his son, who yearned for his father to find love and a mother figure for himself.

Hester talked about how she was going to have to cast the right dog for a certain part, and I thought about turning into one of those stage moms for my pooch. I was about to say, “Look at how cute my dog is. He’s great at memorizing lines, too.” But just as I was about to pitch my dog for the lead role, Hester headed to the door to greet some guests.

The big dog at the party had the funniest tail; when he walked over to visit my dog, it was wagging in circles like a helicopter blade.

We were going to Street Scene that night and had to split before the DJ or the band showed up. The band was called Spaceman Spill, after something in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Someone said, “You have to stay for them. They have Ivan, who’s the bassist for the Devastators.”

I said I’d catch them another time.

I still have the address of this house. I’m thinking about dropping off my dog’s résumé and head shots on the porch.

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Get it right, rickey. It was "spliff"...as in, a joint.

You're the one that wrote "Spaceman Spill". I assumed you couldn't read your own notes and took your f's for l's later. I don't know the band but I DO know Calvin and Hobbes.

Oops! My bad. I got all confused.

I didn't realize you were talking about something in the story. I thought you were making a ref. to the poster "SpliffAdamz" or whatever his name was.

Anyway...regarding this party...these studies always come out that say people start to look like their pets. So, I thought if my dog started crashing parties with me...

If you ever wanna cruise with me to a party, you're more than welcome.

Just leave me your contact info on my voice mail line, and what part of town you live in. When I hit a party in that neck of the woods, I'll bring ya along.

I would LOVE to go.......I will be on my BEST behaviour too!

Josh! Cotton would make the PERFECT little dog for the movie! there’s just one thing... he's a little too clean to be a street doggie... would you object to having his hair matted and dyed gray & brown…? we’ll do our best to minimize his exposure to the toxic chemicals… oh and can he loose a little weight too? We really need to see ribs for the close ups…

Just kidding…. See why we need a TJ dog?

I’ll write in a special part for Cotton… maybe he can be Eve’s precious little angle dog…?

Thanks for coming to the party!


Hey...Cotton wouldn't mind losing the weight. He'd be putting his paw in his mouth after all his Kibbles & Bits. As long as he doesn't have to go on the doggie casting couch.

Thanks for having me at the party. Sorry I didn't stay longer, but Street Scene was a'callin'.

The band is called Spaceman Spiff - just like the Calvin and Hobbes character. Amazing jazz/funk band. You should check them out!

Yeah, someone corrected the band name earlier in these replies. Thanks for the clarification. I'm not so into jazz/funk, but I'll try to catch them sometime.

Sweet doggie! Very photogenic. This piece got me thinking about the concept for a story about a house and the things that have gone on in it over the course of a decade with a different batch of humans and animals in it every year or so. I bet the walls of that house have seen enough to make a sailor blush.

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