Friday, April 13, 2007

A Little More About Dogs

Outside the health food store, two very small, fat-free, organic hairless dogs were tied to a post. They had gotten tangled in each others' leashes, and were trembling with cold. Flip and I stooped to pet them. They responded with affection that seemed way beyond friendliness. More like gratitude. The kind of gratitude that makes you suspect they don't get much coddling at home.

Their owner came out of the store. She was a pretty young blond who was clearly angry that we were petting her dogs. I never understand this reaction in dog owners. Are they afraid that their dogs will like somebody else better? Or maybe their dognapper paranoia has kicked in. She acted as if she had caught us lounging against her Mercedes, perhaps pissing on the tires.

I asked if the dogs were Whippet puppies. She preened a little and told me they were Italian Greyhounds. She added that this is a Rare Breed. Her attitude conveyed that we were contaminating them with our plebeian, probably dirty, hands.

I got the feeling that she regarded them as accessories, very expensive accessories that would proclaim to the world how incredibly special she was. And if they froze to death, which seemed likely from all the shivering going on, she would just replace them like dead flowers.

Dogs deserve better.

I ended up my travels at the beach, playing with dogs and children. I used up all my film, and headed for the parking lot.

That was when it happened. Right before I got to the car, I saw the most adorable small dog I have ever seen, smiling at me from her leash. She looked like a fox. (I mean like the animal, fox, not .. well, you know.)

I'm in love again. I can't believe it. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. I wasn't looking, and I didn't intend to change my life. But it hit me right between the eyes anyway. Damn that Cupid.

I am a big dog person. The bigger they are, the harder I fall. Big as horses, no problem. ( I also love horses, as it happens, but I never, ever get the two confused.) I just really love big dogs.

She hurled herself at me. She was both elegant and adorable. Her smile was enchanting. Her fur was plushy. If Audrey Hepburn had been a dog, she would have been this dog.

She was also immaculate. My wolf could play in the surf, roll in sand and shake herself clean in seconds. Dogs cannot do this. But there she was, clean as a shaft of sunlight playing on field stone.

And she loved me, too.

"I can't understand it," her owner said. "She's usually not that friendly."

I didn't rise to the bait. I was kneeling in the parking lot, getting doggie kisses all over my face. Grinning stupidly.

The lady tugged on her leash. Our little illicit tryst was about to end. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I asked the nice lady what breed she was as she dragged Audrey away. Over her shoulder, she called back, "Shina inu. It's Japanese."

I came home and Googled it. Here she is.

I really, really have to have a dog like this.


Stephen said...

That's a pretty doggie. The photo doesn't really give me an idea of her size, tho. You say this is a small (like 10-15 lbs) dog?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I assume you mean the Shina Inu. Females are about 14 inches high and weigh around 17 pounds, males are a little bigger.

To my way of thinking, this is a small dog, but I suppose she could be considered in the medium range.

Kate S said...

Aww... I can see why you liked her. The other dogs - so sad! Though the picture of the golden greyhound looks like a friend's dog. She was a rescued racing dog and is such a sweetie.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


The greyhounds were also very sweet dogs, but so fragile-looking that I was almost afraid to handle them.

Years ago, I was taken to the Flagler Dog Track in Miami. I expected it to be cruel and exploitative, but the dogs seemed to love racing, and jumped all over their handlers afterward for treats.

I realized that they were doing what they were born to do.

meno said...

There should be a test before people are allowed to have dogs.

Grrrrr. i wish you had pissed on her Merecedes.

That dog looks like a big dog. So cute!

furiousBall said...

Beautiful dog, I've never heard of that breed. I am a big dog fan too. We had a Great Pyrenees named Juliette in Georgia. She was big dumb and just loved us, that's all she knew how to do. Right now we've got a very big Golden Retriever (about 115 pounds) named Yogi. He's also big dumb and loves us. We adopted him from a Golden Retriever rescue group in Texas, his momma was taken into a foster home and gave birth to 15 puppies the next night. I'm gonna go give him a milkbone now.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's hard to do that if you're a girl. You know that. But I'm sure the thought counts for something.


Great Pyranees is one of my favorite breeds. I saw one yesterday. And Goldens are one of everyone's favorites. Please give Yogi a dog cookie for me, too.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Your description was spot on. I see it too. She is foxy and she is Audrey. Haven't heard of this breed before but she really is irresistable. What are you going to do?

seventh sister said...

She is precious. I agree, you have to have one.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm working on it.

I always enjoy meeting a new breed of dog. When I was a child, I was on a radio quiz show in NYC in which every child was an "expert" on something. One of my categories was dogs, the other was grand opera.

There are a lot more breeds now.


Well, it's settled, then.

urban-urchin said...

That's funny that you mention the Shina Inu- one of my coworkers and I were walking through soho yesterday and asked a man about the dog he was walking because she was so cute and really unusual. My coworker is obsessed with this breed now.

Are you going to get one?

urban-urchin said...

sorry not yesterday it was pissing down rain- day before..

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I would really love to, but right now, we are not in a dog-friendly building.

I also want another Samoyed, a Siberian Husky, a Great Pyrenese, a Bernese Mountain Dog, another Bouvier, and I really believe in saving dogs who would be destroyed, so a lot of mutts, too.

Lions & tigers & dogs, oh, my.

Thailand Gal said...

Beautiful dogs! All of them....

(I like dogs, too. I used to have a tag line on my email that said, "When I grow up, I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am." That kind of says it all about dogs. They're intuitive, can read people very well ~ but manage to love us anyway.




heartinsanfrancisco said...


They have infallible radar for who loves them. Strange dogs smile and run up to me all the time. I don't even carry bacon in my pockets.

Pendullum said...

Your wee dog reminds me of HachikĊ.

Do you know this story of the faithful dog in Japan? He would go to the train station to meet his owner every day...
And continued to do so 11 years after his owners death.

Stephen said...

I, too, have always been recognized by dogs as a friend, although sometimes I've had to work for it. Years ago I was asked by friends to house/dog sit. I arrived at the house after my friends had left and Maggie (the dog), who had seemed ok with me before, was not thrilled to see me in her house unaccompanied. Soft words and even a biscuit didn't improve her opinion that I should not be in her house.

A quick trip to the grocery for a can of Mighty Dog, which I offered as a proper tribute to her, made her reconsider her feelings toward me. We've been best buds ever since.

QT said...

I am a big dog lover too - one of the trainers in my dog class has a Shiba Inu. They have a rep for being very, very intelligent and very independent.

With your background, you are made to own a dog like this! A lot of people would not be able to handle that and end up at the bottom of their own pack, if you know what I mean.

I told my BF I really want to get another dog soon (we have two right now) an he said maybe I should start looking for another place to live. :)

Joan said...

Although I'd never heard of the Shina Inu as a breed, the photo tells me why you would fall in love with her...her breed is beautiful.

As for the owner of the Italian Greyhounds, it just proves what I've been saying for years...along with dog licenses, there should be licensing of owners with proof of competency before a license is issued.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I've never heard that beautiful story. It almost made me cry all over my keyboard. Most of us never experience a love like that.


Flowers and chocolate and Mighty Dog... way to woo a fair maiden.

I'll bet Maggie felt so cheap afterward.


I agree. I should definitely have a dog like that.

When I first had a wolf, it occurred to me that I should be the dominant animal. I nibbled her snout, in the role of alpha wolf, and she automatically licked me under the chin, as subordinate wolves do.

I was a benevolent dictator, though. I took only enough power for myself to keep the pack safe.


We are in total agreement that people should have to prove their worthiness to own dogs. (And to have children.)

A lot of heartbreaking incidents could be avoided if that were so.

Ryane said...

What an adorable dog. Hearts, I am the same as you...hugehugehuge dog person. I stop to talk to them all, give kisses, play and adore, but I just never can understand why some people seem to take offense when their dogs and I make friends. It's nuts. As for the crazy girl w/the two little shivering dogs, well--you were nicer than me. I have been known to call the cops when I see dogs locked in cars. I HATE to see that.

EsLocura said...

there seem to be a whole lot of people who just feel entitled to things, even pets. I for one have always felt priviledged to have a pet, and have always treated them as family ... geez, even our chickens (free range of course)get great care.

Michael C said...

That is a beautiful dog and a beautiful post. Now I think i shall go take my golden retriever Mabel out for a walk ;-)

Hel said...

Wow she is beautiful!

Our wolves keep themselves very clean as well. They love water.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I have also called the police on dogs locked in airless cars in summer, but tying them up right outside a store was kind of borderline. I wouldn't do it myself, but she probably wasn't in there for long. I think she was in line a few people behind me.

As much as I sneer at dog clothing, I would put sweaters on hairless dogs in cold weather, though.


It IS a great privilege to have a pet. I wish more people realized it, and treated them better.


Goldens are so beautiful and sweet. The ladies in your household have wonderful names... Lucy, Ethel, Mabel. Is your wife named Irma or Mildred?


It's miraculous how clean wolves are. They don't have the dander that makes wet dogs smell so strong, but always smell like Steiff stuffed animals.

Laurie said...

I'm a dog person too. What I'm doing with 6 cats is beyond me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I like cats, too. My cat lived peaceably with a wolf, several dogs, three ponies and a house rabbit as well as things in tanks, but she hates other cats. So she is a feline only child.

My heart runneth over... said...

So so so cute...

Animals are so special but there is something about connecting with one.. it's that look in the eye and you are hooked!

I love them too!


heartinsanfrancisco said...


The tail wagging madly doesn't hurt either. But there are few things as soulful as the eyes of a dog.

Every time I go out, I fall in love 7 or 8 times, with different dogs. I am so fickle. I rarely notice the owners, though.

MsLittlePea said...

Poor pups!

Dogs are awesome. I want a basket full of them. I wish I lived in the country so I could have 20. I'd even have a kitty or 3.

I love big, unruly dogs. Well, the little ones are pretty cool too.

Pickled Olives said...

She's pretty. That's how I felt about my shar pei. I fell in love with someone else's and eventually got one of my own. She is the sweetest thing ever. Enough about her, that Shina Inu is adorable.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

I usually prefer big dogs, too, but this one just charmed me. She had a very big spirit in a small body.


Shar Pei are darling. And if you ever get wrinkles, you won't notice them or care. :)

thethinker said...

Now I want a Shina Inu too. Unfortunately, my mom is refusing my requests for another dog because as soon as I leave home, she'll have to do all the feeding, cleaning up after, etc. etc. Maybe some other time...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Isn't that a beautiful dog?

When my younger daughter left for college, I inherited three ponies. The rest of the menagerie was mine already.

I can't believe your mom wants to do something else with her time. :)

Michelle O'Neil said...

She looks so sweet!

CS said...

Those Iggies tremble all the time, cold or not. They are tightly wired little creatures. But the owner is a goob, and shouldn't be allowed to have dogs. I have (had?) a retired racing greyhound. He's a fanastic dog. The regular greyhounds are generally incredibly laid-back (except when they break into a full-out run) and sweet-natured.

[My word verification word is ceeeeh - I had to count the e's twice to get it right.]

heartinsanfrancisco said...


She really was. With an amazingly presence. as if she knew she was an animal god.


I'm so glad to know that. It was a chilly day, and they are basically hairless, so I made an assumption. They were also excited to get attention, so that could have accounted for some of the trembling.

I've always heard that greyhounds are lovely, but have never known one.

I'm puzzled about the word verification as I thought I had disabled it. I'll check, as I've found it unneccessary and annoying.

The Law Fairy said...

Oh my gosh heart. I found some pictures of these dogs online, SO CUTE. My friends and I have a term for cute doggie pictures like those and like the ones you posted: puppy porn.

I will never, ever understand people who treat dogs like less than the amazing wonderful creatures that they are. They treat us so much better.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Puppy porn!! It's perfect.

Yes, dogs do treat us so much better. That was the subject of my last rant about dogs on 3/21 (Canus Interruptus.)

Do you sense a theme here?

Anonymous said...

Dang, that looks like a big dog to me. But then I am a measly, measly man.

You seem to run into the craziest people, in your daily trips. And I love this passion and compassion of yours and just adore, "I was kneeling in the parking lot, getting doggie kisses all over my face. Grinning stupidly." Beautiful, just beautiful.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Well, she does look like a little wolf, sort of. More like a fox. Foxes are small.

I do not think of you as a measly man at all. You have a very big spirit.

And I have always considered myself a tall person traveling incognito.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, yes, "a tall man traveling incognito." Oh I do love that. May I steal that?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


We'll be incognito together.

It has never seemed fair that I am height-challenged when I have never smoked.

Short parents. They get you every time.

Anonymous said...

I have never smoked and my parents aren't short, so I guess I just drew the short straw.

Icognito together, two very, very tall men.

Lex said...

Aren't they great dogs!! I've known two. You know I totally understand the need to have her.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You think I'm a MAN? Houston, we have a problem.

Danger, Will Robinson. Danger, danger.


Well, there you go. Your next dog. You and I are both dogprived. Doggone doglorn.

Anonymous said...

Okay, let me try this again: Icognito together, two very, very tall people.

Open Grove Claudia said...

Teenager sex, italian greyhounds, fancy japanese dogs, illicit love? It sounds like a Nora Roberts book.

We have a vizsla called Rose who was wiggly and would run up to anyone until someone hurt her. Now she wiggles but won't let anyone (besides us) pet her. It's an interesting world.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Better. Much better.


I paint what I see, like Grandma Moses.

Vizsla is a beautiful breed. I hope you hurt them back.

Deb said...

Will you name her Audrey?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I hadn't thought of it, but why not? She was a beautiful and charming woman, and names influence who we turn out to be.

I once named a cat Anathema. Needless to say, it didn't go well.

I love your new picture, by the way. It's great that you incorporated your old one into it.