GETTING DOWN AT THE DOGGY DISCO
By Andrew Biggs in Hollywood, California
It’s been a nightmarish two days for me here in the States as I have traipsed around the neighborhood trying to find a new beautician.
Not for me. For the dog!
What is it about there Americans? Their economy is up the shute and unemployment is rising fast. I see businesses close on a weekly basis in my neighborhood which, if you haven’t noticed my mentioning it 276 times already in this column, is Hollywood.
Toshi is a little shih tzu, the dog of my American mother. When I am not visiting, my mother pays a woman called Nancy $10 to walk him both morning and night.
Think about that, dear reader, as I did with horror. $20 a day times 30 days equals Nancy $600 a month richer from my mother alone. I’ve seen Nancy pull up with six or seven dogs yapping in her car, which by rights should be a Mercedes Benz judging by the cash in hand she takes home each month.
I put my foot down and told my mother while I was in town I’d be walking the dog for no fee whatsoever. Me and my high horse – the sooner it gets to the glue factory the better. The novelty of walking a dog every day wore off just around the time my jetlag did.
That’s because Toshi, like all dogs, poops at least twice per walk. By law that means I have to scoop up the poop using special gaily-colored plastic bags. Nobody told me about that part of the job before agreeing to do it.
Being a shih tzu and thus having more hair than intelligence, little Toshi regularly needs to go to what my mother calls “the beauty parlor” but sadly the one we normally take Toshi to has gone out of business. It was my job, then, to find a new “groomer” as they are called here.
Yes, that’s right, it’s a profession. God knows what university you go to to become a groomer, but if you can get a degree in hamburger making, which not doggie grooming? That’s how I found myself in my car trawling the streets of Hollywood for … dog groomers.
I almost crashed when I saw the sign on La Brea for the Doggy Disco. With the disco ball above the words, I thought: Surely it’s not a disco for dogs?
“It’s a disco for dogs,” the pleasant young woman behind the counter said. “You can bring your dog along and dance with him!”
Wouldn’t be the first time I danced with a dog.
The Doggy Disco is actually part of a spacious place called the Zoom Room which is, among other things, a “Canine Social Club”.
A social club? Aren’t those for ugly people who can’t get lucky on a Friday night? Dogs never have such problems but according to the Zoom Room literature thrust upon me, they do need help.
“Our special Doggy Disco nights feature laser light shows for your dog to chase!”
It turns out I can rent the disco for “dog birthday parties, adoption anniversaries, pet commitment ceremonies and Bark Mitzvahs.” Bark Mitzvahs!? Barking mad more like it! At $150 for one disco I think I’ll stick to the Viper Room on Santa Monica where drinks are only eight bucks a pop. I wonder if they’ll admit dogs.
The Zoom Room featured a supermarket for all my dog necessities, including a “Dog Casino” which was allegedly a “fun interactive game!” Dogs like to gamble? Then there were the “kosher treats for your pup” stuff in the fridge; I guess they’re to have at your “Bark Mitzvah.”
But no groomers. So I was soon back in my car and further up La Brea chanced upon a pet hospital! Maybe I was in luck!
Silly me for thinking a hospital would have a groomer. Well human hospitals do, don’t they? But I was greeting with an emphatic “no” when I entered the Hollywood Cat And Dog Hospital.
I was kind of attracted to the sign outside the front, which reminded me of something out of the Jetsons. But this was serious stuff; no trifling Doggy Discos around here.
Heading down Fairfax I chanced upon All Natural Pet Food Supplies and quickly pulled over. Inside was a store that ostensibly looked like any normal supermarket only it was all stuff for dogs.
What really took my breath away were the meat snacks with flavors that were sure to appeal to dogs such as “New Zealand Summer Sausages” and “French Country Café”, as if dogs enjoy such things. I started to feel as though I’d stepped into some canine Twilight Zone when the flavors included “Thanksgiving Day Sausages” – dogs are into giving thanks? – and “Grandma’s Pot Pie”.
Again, no groomers. That afternoon I was starting to grow weary of all things canine. Little did I know of the light on the horizon.
It was the next day and I was speeding back home along 3rd Street having had one too many margeritas at my favorite Tequila bar, when I spotted the oasis in the distance.
“The Doghouse!” the building shouted. It was white and covered in black dalmation spots, which looked very cute especially in my state. What got me the most was its phone number: Call 549-WOOF.
“Yes, we do grooming,” the lovely lady inside told me and I wanted to hug her. “Our groomers start work at 10 am.”
“Just a shave,” I said. “You know, get rid of the excess hair.”
“Bows or ribbons?”
“Hell no!” I roared just a little too loudly for her liking.
“Well we will need you to bring in his vaccination certificates, plus his certificate of neutering or spaying.”
In America you get a certificate for being gelded? What … you frame it and hang it on the wall? And is there circumcision for those Bark Mitzvah dogs too? This was getting beyond crazy.
“Is it just the hair styling? If so you probably don’t have to bring him along for a meet and greet,” she said, smiling.
That afternoon as I walked Toshi there were many thoughts rushing through my head.
How can a country in such a crippled economic state have such a thriving canine industry? And how is it in America dogs like to gamble, profess religion, and yearn for their grandmother’s pot pies?
They don’t in Thailand. I looked at Toshi and couldn’t help wonder what would happen had he possessed the unfortunate karma to be born in oh, Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast of Thailand, where thousands of Toshi’s brethren met a terrible fate recently.
But hey, in a week or so I’m back in Bangkok where soi dogs roam the streets frothing with rabies and the only dog I’ll hear in a disco is the Snoop Doggy variety.
I’ll still be smiling to be back. So will Nancy, all the way to the bank.