My Massage Booth Adventure

Yes, I ran the Massage Booth. There was nudity, kissing, and other inappropriate behavior. I’m not sorry. It was all for a good cause.

Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California runs an event every year called the Spring Games. All proceeds benefit homeless hounds. There are several events, delicious hot dogs to buy, a fabulous raffle. You can get your hound’s ears measured. Make a plaster paw print. Competitions include the kissing contest (yes, owners smear peanut butter or tuna water on their cheeks. And you know they practice at home). There’s a contest for the lowest belly (that’s a tough one is this crowd). The Basset boxer relay: the boxers go on the Bassets, with the tails coming out the holes, then you run to the other side of the ring.

But something was missing. I have an excellent massage therapist, Shawn. After my massage, Shawn moves on to massage the dogs. So in 2001 we decided to run a massage booth at the Spring Games. After all, what could go wrong? Continue reading

Struttin’ Stella

When my Basset, Hennessy, died in 2009, I started searching the Internet for a young female Basset. None of them really caught my eye until I saw Rita. Then I realized she was with Dawn Smith at Daphneyland. I’ve known Dawn for a million years. I asked her if she thought Rita would be a good fit. She said, “Come and get her.” Rita had come into ASPCA Fresno a year before, starving, without any hair. They were going to put her down, but Dawn had room and took her in. She’s probably a Basset/Springer Spaniel, which is why she caught my eye (my first dog was a Springer). I took the big dog and drove up to meet her. Continue reading

Hot Diggity!

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. It started out simply. I was on my way down Sepulveda Boulevard near Palms, when I first saw Hot Diggity Dogs. Sure, they specialize in hot dogs, and very fine hot dogs they are. But there was more. Much more.

A while back they started serving barbecue. You may remember that I enjoy a little barbecue now and then. So I was anxious to investigate. Let me just say right now that the barbecue beef sandwich is tasty but a little sloppy. In fact, it’s almost impossible to eat while speeding down the freeway driving with one hand and hoping the Jaguar’s steering doesn’t fall out again. If you would rather not arrive at your destination covered with barbecue sauce, and most days I would not, pull over for this one. The beef ribs are good, too. However, the baby back ribs are a life-changing experience.
I started to drop by once a week. Okay, twice. It’s not really near anywhere I usually go, but it didn’t matter. I’d find a reason to be in that part of town. I always ordered the same thing–half slab of ribs, no fries, side of potato salad. (The fries are good, but they put them under the ribs and they get all soggy from the sauce. Never mind, the folks at Hot Diggity Dogs are culinary geniuses, not packaging specialists. Besides, the potato salad is worth a taste anyway.) Since I’m the only one that orders that way, they started to notice.

It started small, an extra friendly greeting and a smile (the folks at Hot Diggity Dogs are extremely professional and gracious by nature). A “hello, nice to see you again.” Then a few extra ribs. Not getting charged for the side. One day I pulled away to discover they had given me a double order without charging for it. Clearly, it was time for a thank you. So I found out the manager’s name (Mr. Cornelius Bailey) and wrote a letter thanking him and his staff for the excellent job they do.

Now things got serious. When I picked up my order, they’d tell me “Mr. Bailey says hello!” Sometimes the kitchen staff would write nice notes on my styrofoam container. One day I came by on my way home from a difficult trip, and I got a double order with “Special Customer” on the styrofoam. So I had to do something.

Miss Hennessy is known in Basset circles for her modeling abilities (Basset Rescue of Southern California has a complete line of her greeting cards for sale–buy a few and support a wonderful cause!). All it took was a paper hat, four plain hot dogs, and my digital camera. And, of course, a celebrity endorsement.

You can see this photo just inside the front door of Hot Diggity Dogs. I get greeted by name now as soon as I start ordering. I still get extra food and personal greetings on the styrofoam now and then. Then I sent them a card and a tin of popcorn for Christmas. The next time I was there, I noticed they forgot to give me a knife–very unusual lapse of detail for HDD. Then I found out it’s because they are now cutting my ribs for me. Either this is a whole new level of service for favored customers, or they are no longer willing to trust me with sharp implements. Too close to call. Run, don’t walk–Hot Diggity Dogs.

Hot Diggity Dogs
3470 Sepulveda Boulevard
West Los Angeles, California 90034
Call for hours. They’re closed Sunday. They deserve the day off.

Oh, no! R.I,P. Hot Diggity Dogs. One day I went by and…they were gone. It’s now a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Like Los Angeles needs another coffee place. We can only hope Mr. Bailey and his dedicated staff are well and planning to open another wonderful restaurant somewhere near us, very soon.

Copyright 2000-2002 by Janine Smith. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission

Gimme the Potatoes and No One Gets Hurt

I can quit any time I want to. Really.

Okay, I admit I made a little scene at the grocery store. It certainly wasn’t my first embarrassing moment at Gelson’s. It wasn’t even my first grocery-related trauma of the day.

Several months ago Ralph’s ran out of Frosty Paws. Frosty Paws is a non-dairy ice-cream-like frozen treat for dogs. It comes in the little white plastic cups with the cardboard top you pull off. It’s supposed to be like ice cream, but the dogs react more like it’s doggie heroin–one taste and they’re hooked. We had exhausted all the local Ralphs’ supplies, and they said they were going to reorder but they never did. By the way, my assistant, Paula, really enjoys having to ask the clerk if they have Frosty Paws, then spend ten minutes explaining…. We were down to the last two in the freezer. The weather was getting warmer. It was time to step up the search. Continue reading

In a Pig’s Ear (or Two)

Let me first make it clear that I do not, contrary to what you may have heard, spoil my dogs. Or, as you will see, my employees.

The people to blame for this one are Lili and Mary. They came over for dinner one night, years ago. As they walked in the front door, Mary pulled something from a paper bag. “Do your dogs like…” she started, as my wolf levitated across the room, grabbed it from her hand and ran out back with it. Thus were we introduced to pig ears.

Yup, real dried pig ears from real pigs. You may have seen them in the pet store, along with lamb lungs, cows’ ears, and other things I’d rather not inspect too closely. They are truly disgusting. You can see the little veins, and sometimes there are hairs. They might be notched. They smell pretty much like you would expect. One of my friends asked me if they kill the pigs first, leaving me with a lasting image of fields full of frolicking piggies with little Van Gogh bandages on their heads… No one in their right mind (sorry, Mary!) would ever purchase these. Except for one thing–dogs adore them. When two big hungry dogs are on a pig-ear jones, baby you’d better go shopping. Continue reading