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.