Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tommy Enjoys Brunch in Old Town

Last Saturday morning I walked Tommy along Colorado Boulevard in Old Town Pasadena so I could stop in at the newly opened Intelligentsia. As I walked up to the cafe, Tommy jerked to the right pulling me along with him. His target? A brown paper bag filled with crinkle cut French fries.

Gotcha! I caught him a second before he gobbled them up.

I consider it a success when I’m quick enough to prevent Tommy from sucking up food trash left by what seems to be the entire Pasadena population, considering how much of it is strewn about town.

I tied Tommy to the fire-hose contraption, jutting out of the adjacent building and just to the right of the Intelligentsia entrance, and went inside. Tommy registered his discontent by bucking up and barking and then staring into the cafe with his standard quizzical expression, “WTF?”

After I got my coffee I grabbed a table with a clear sight of Tommy, and then went out to give him a bully stick so I could enjoy my fix in peace. Tommy was thrilled, and I got a good laugh watching him. As he gnaws on one end of that thing, the other end sticks out of the side of his wide mouth, which makes him resemble Edward G. Robinson chewing on a cigar.

As I left the cafe, a couple of more dogs were outside. I approached with Tommy and struck up a conversation with the owners, who were sitting inside, holding the dogs’ leashes through the window. Tommy grabbed his opportunity and made a beeline for that paper bag. By the time I caught on, he had already feasted on a good chunk of those crinkle cut French fries.

Darn! You got me that time, Tommy.

Like most dogs, Tommy has a great nose. The problem with that is I never know whether he’s sniffing a patch of grass because he’s on the scent of another dog or if he’s honing in on something like a lollipop or a bone or some crushed Doritos.

During the first few months living in Pasadena, Tommy worked the street like a Hoover vacuum cleaner, sucking up every piece of chewed-up gum in the neighborhood, and there was a lot of it: electric blue, neon green, hot pink. Before long there wasn’t any more gum to be found. Either the gum chewer had moved away or had outgrown the habit. But Tommy’s work cleaning up continued.

After his French fries coup, we continued our walk, and within the course of an hour Tommy had tried, with varying degrees of success, to eat a pile of short ribs, squished cherries, and a flattened brownie.

You can’t stop a dog from sniffing. Dogs sniff. That’s what they do, and we humans have to let them do it. But with Tommy, I must keenly observe his sniffing in order to keep him from eating things that could make him sick. (Tommy may be a macho street dog, but he’s got a sensitive stomach.) It’s a balancing act.

Tommy went toward what looked like a piece of foam on the sidewalk. I thought he’d just sniff and keep walking—even Tommy possesses some discriminating judgment—but instead he ate it.


This is where the snoot loop can be both good and bad. I pulled the leash up so the loop tightened around his nose, forcing his mouth to shut and point toward the sky. This trick works sometimes. When he discovered a piece of hard, stale whole wheat toast in a neighbor’s bushes, I pulled on the leash so that the toast stuck straight up making it easy for me to wiggle it out of Tommy’s mouth (we repeated the performance with a fried chicken breast, Tommy’s pièce de résistance, on Lake Avenue). But if the food, or food-like substance, is entirely inside his mouth, pulling on the snoot loop to snap his mouth shut makes the offending matter that much more inaccessible.

The foam piece fit this latter category. I loosened the loop and stuck my finger in his mouth but he had already swallowed it.

Darn! I wondered what the foam would do to his sensitive belly. There wasn’t much to do about it at that point so I kept walking, only to get a glimpse of more “foam” up ahead. Turns out it was actually a yellow cupcake.

Having thoroughly enjoyed his dessert, Tommy pranced along the sidewalk sniffing for his next course.


  1. It's probably nice to know that Tommy wouldn't starve to death on the streets. I guess... :)

  2. I don't think I'd like to clean up after Tommy after Tommy had his big adventure.

    I do recall that when the farrier came down to the barn, dogs would gather to chow down on the hoof clippings. So this is a warning. Don't trim your nails around Tommy

  3. Well, it appears that Tommy and the Homeless may have to compete for all the discarded food on the streets! Oh my! But I can certainly relate to the careful watch on "sniffing." Walter once ate some human poop left on the ground by a sleeping homeless man before Brian could stop it! UGH! So, I guess I would settle for an occasional yellow cupcake or some crinkle fries in lieu of Walty's pick of sidewalk fare.

  4. Pibble, thanks so much for visiting. That's one way of looking at it - on the bright side for sure.

    PA, I had to look up "farrier" in the dictionary. Yuck! Warning heeded.

    Liz, another even bigger YUCK. Oh my. Makes Tommy's snacking around town look like kid's play.

  5. "...the other end sticks out of the side of his wide mouth, which makes him resemble Edward G. Robinson chewing on a cigar..." Hilarious! Miss Janey would love to see a pic!

  6. Miss Janey, I've been meaning to get a shot of that look. You've given me added incentive. I won't disappoint!

  7. After seven years of training, Boz has finally acquiesced to the command, "no licking." However, he's still sorely tempted by everything from french fries to horse poo, so we must be vigilant. If we don't give the command, he goes for it.

    Dogs are a constant source of entertainment.

  8. Boz is such a good boy. Tommy sometimes responds to "leave it," but if it's a very enticing target (like horse poo - yes, Tommy loves it too), he ignores me. I need to amp up the training.

    I agree - a hilarious source of entertainment.

  9. Yes, cigar smoking dogs are a natural photo op. Of course, most of their behaviors are photo ops--that's why they own us.

    Glad his appetite is . . . healthy? I was relieved to learn what the foamy thing was.

    Thanks for your visit to my place.

  10. Banjo, Tommy sure does own me.

    Healthy is one way of looking at his appetite.

    My pleasure. I was happy to visit your place.

  11. Haha! The nose always knows what's delicious. :)