Monday, August 31, 2009

A day with no dogs, in LA

As those of you who know me know, one of my reasons for choosing to go to California was the hope that I might get to meet the Dog Whisperer.  I had watched all his shows, over and over in repeats, while I was having chemo.  Plus I had discovered what he meant by "energy" when he talked about how dogs understand people.  I also felt this energy from people when they learned about my diagnosis and I could discern whether it was positive or negative.  I had written him at his 61st St. address but had received no response.  I also emailed him from his website and only got a standard response, very polite but "we don't do tours, sorry", sort of thing.  Undeterred, I had Peter put his address, which I obtained from Mr. Google, in the GPS and that was one of our destinations the next day after we got to Santa Monica.

But first, we had to do laundry.  We like to pack fairly light and this means that halfway through a two week vacation, we have to do laundry.  I brought my trusty unscented liquid Tide with me and we found the Bubbles Beach Fluff and Fold laundromat not far from the hotel and drove over there.  We were the first ones in and a very nice lady who worked there helped us get sorted out with the change and everything.  She also recommended a place for breakfast just up the street which we went to when the laundry was done.

DSC_3106  This was a very nice restaurant called Amelia’s (on Main Street) run by a Mexican husband and Italian wife team and the breakfast was good and they were friendly. After that, we dropped the clothes off at the motel and headed out to south east LA.  It's not advertised as a haven for tourists but we locked the car doors and went anyway. 

We found Cesar's place with no trouble and it looked all locked up tight.  I got out and buzzed on what appeared to be an intercom but no one answered.  Dogs barked right behind the sliding canvas barrier that you see on tv and they didn't sound very calm and submissive to me.  I decided to write a short note and stick the Canada-US flag pin on it for Cesar, when a car pulled up.  A woman was driving and she seemed to be on the cell phone in the car.  Finally, I got out and approached her and asked if I could leave something for Cesar in the mailbox.  She told me that Cesar had moved and I was dumbstruck.  And that's when I remembered that he had been going to buy a nicer place in the mountains.  And I remembered suddenly that everything we get up in Canada is last season, so even if the re-runs were the most recent, they were still old shows.

I was surprisingly calm and unperturbed.  She said she still forwarded all his mail and she took the note with the pin.  I got back in the car and Peter commiserated with me.  We reset the GPS to our next stop (which Peter had called "dog 2") and took off.  Our next stop was the fire station on Wilshire Blvd. called the 29s.  I had seen them in one of Cesar's episodes and they had a Dalmatian named Wilshire who they had got as a puppy and needed Cesar to help them.  As Cesar always says, he rehabilitates dogs and trains people.  The fire fighters seemed like nice guys in the show so I decided I would drop in on them, especially as I had been pretty sure I would not be able to see Cesar, even if he hadn't moved.  Our GPS took us there and it looked just like the street views on Google maps.  It was also locked up and no one was about.  I rang the doorbell anyway and someone showed up and let us in. 

I explained that I was on a pilgrimage (I don't know why but that word popped into my head right then) and I was hoping to say hello to Wilshire.  Just then, the Captain (who was the same fellow as in the show) walked by and said hello and I explained our little mission, that we'd come all the way from Canada just to see Wilshire.  I know that's not exactly true, but at that moment, it was.  He was just as nice as pie and he told us that unfortunately, Wilshire the dog was at the trainers that day.  But he wanted Wilshire's handler to meet us.  He called for Ryan to come over to meet us and he was also the same fellow as in the Cesar episode. They were just as nice as they could be.  I had brought a BBQ apron as a token gift and it had a maple leaf on the bib, so I gave it to them and they seemed inordinately pleased to get it.  They do do all their own cooking at the fire station so I guess it can come in handy.

It turned out that Ryan's mother (who I guess may be a little older than I am) also has breast cancer and so we had a great big hug and talked and talked until our parking meter ran out.  They invited us for a tour of the fire station but we said no, we were just happy to meet them.  For all that there was no dog there, and we forgot to take even a single photograph, that short visit was a real highlight of our trip.

If you go to the link for Wilshire, you can see all sorts of videos of him helping kids understand fire safety, like "stop, drop and roll".

Really.  Go now. I’ll wait.

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