I work in television and recently adopted a rescue with my husband. Baxter (the dog) had just finished crate and potty training and was doing so well I decided to take him to work with me one day. (The office is pet-friendly.)
Not five minutes after we arrived, he relieved himself all over the very expensive shoes of one of our cast. They were gracious and laughed about it, and he's never done anything like it since.
I guess he was just excited to meet his first celebrity.
– Jeremy McGovern, Los Angeles
After moving to a new home in Fullerton with my three poodles (Harry, Peanuts and Max), I was getting ready to go to work one morning when I discovered they were missing.
I was frantic they were lost in a new area. I went outside calling their names as I ran up and down my street.
As I was coming back to my house, I saw them staring back at me from my neighbor’s front-room windows. They looked at me, tails wagging, happy and barking.
I pointed my finger at my dogs looking at me from the windows, saying, ‘You get home.’ They got back to my house, and I repaired the fence. I figured out that they got into my neighbor’s house through the dog door.
My neighbors had two poodles of their own; another neighbor was feeding the dogs while they were out of town. When my neighbors returned from their vacation, they were very perplexed, noting that their dogs had had a field day pulling pillows off the sofa and unrolling all the toilet paper throughout their house.
They were going to look for a special trainer for their dogs.
I lived next door to them for 20 years and never admitted my dogs were the ones responsible.
– Toni Pusich, Palm Desert
My wife and I both love animals. We adopted a baby crow from an animal hospital and hand-fed it and raised it as its parents.
When Caw was mature enough to fly, we had a farewell ceremony in the backyard. Kissing Caw goodbye for the final time, we tossed him in the air. He joyfully circled the property, high in the Hollywood Hills, and came back to land on my shoulder. He wouldn't go. This is where he lived and belonged.
He spent his days flying free and sometimes would be gone for hours. But when darkness approached, Caw would return to our house to be put to bed.
Warren Zevon, the rock ’n’ roller, would often come over for lunch. He'd bring hamburgers and fries and always bring extra for Caw.
One day a neighbor was visiting and left her key ring on the table by an open window. Naturally, Caw took it and flew off. Never did find it.
Years later, Caw flew away and never returned. All animals are beautiful people.
– Patrick Kelley (former KMET-FM 94.7 radio personality) and Melody Rogers (the former host of “2 On The Town” on KCBS)
Several years ago when I lived in Hawaii, a neighbor's orange tomcat decided to “adopt” me and basically lived in the lanai room attached to the house. The room had an open end to the front yard, covered with a screen, and also a partial kitchen where you could cook, entertain, etc.
One day I had just finished cooking a whole broiler chicken, took it out of the oven and put it on a platter. Then I got a phone call in the other room, walked over and talked for maybe five minutes.
I came back to find an empty platter; no chicken nor trace of a chicken anywhere. I milled around the lanai room and then went out through the screen at the end of the room to the front yard, where I witnessed our dear orange tomcat dragging the chicken across the front lawn.
I took it away from him and took it back to the lanai room. He followed me, jumped up on the counter and insisted on dragging that chicken away once more, knocking it on the floor and showing quite an indignant attitude of, “It’s mine and you can’t have it.”
– Nancy Saul-Larson, Topanga
My mastiff, Frankie, is on a strict diet. When he eats other foods it gives him gas.
During a barbecue at my house, people couldn't resist giving Frankie their scraps. Shortly after we ate, he contentedly sprawled out on the floor in the middle of the crowd and went to sleep. Pretty soon it was hard to hear over his thundering snores.
Then came the horrible gassy stench. It got so bad that people started to move outside.
On the plus side, I know one fast way to end a party that goes on too late.
– Jill Sumiyasu, Altadena
Years ago, I missed the sign(s) that said ‘No Dogs Allowed’ on the Santa Barbara pier. My beautifully trained and slightly shy corgi mix and I walked halfway down the pier when an employee spotted my dog and screamed into an intercom, ‘No dogs on the pier!’
My dog, who had never so much as peed on someone's lawn, squatted down and pooped in the middle of the pier. The invisible announcer had literally scared the ... out of her.
– Mary Clark, Carlsbad
My mother and I were hosting a wedding shower for a dear friend. We ordered a beautiful — and expensive — cake for the party.
The morning of the shower, my mother asked me to pick up the cake as well as her laundry. I decided it would be a good idea to take our family dog, Louise, along for the ride. I also decided it would be a good idea to pick up the cake first.
I placed the cake in the front seat, ostensibly away from Louise, who was in the backseat. I then went to the dry cleaners and left Louise and the cake in the car.
Picking up the laundry took maybe three minutes. As I walked out the door with the laundry and peered into my car, Louise lifted her white-frosting-covered face. She looked like Santa Claus. I will never forgot the moment we locked eyes. Me, panic-stricken, and Louise, oh-so-satisfied.
My next stop was the grocery store to buy a ready-made, not so good and not so pretty cake for the party. My mother was not happy, but Louise certainly was.
– Shelly Griswold, San Diego
Decades ago, I was living in a townhouse in Chatsworth. I lived alone with an African gray parrot and two cockatoos. It was 11 in the evening and I was upstairs reading in bed.
Suddenly, a light on the first floor came on. Since I was alone in the house, except for the birds, I immediately thought someone had broken into the house. I got up, retrieved a loaded pistol and walked to the foot of the stairs.
Suddenly, the light was extinguished. At this point, I assumed that whoever was on the first floor recognized I was there. I then quietly walked down the stairs.
About halfway down, the light went on again. I could not see who was at the switch at the other end to the room, so I rushed to the bottom of the stairs. However, before I reached the bottom, the light went off again. Since I lived near the hills with no homes, there was little light from outside, and I could not see who was at the switch.
Suddenly, the light starting going on and off. Finally, I could see that the African gray was on the edge of the fireplace mantel with the switch in its beak. In order to get to the switch, the bird had to remove the locking mechanism, which I thought kept the bird from escaping, push up on a rod, and push the door out. All of this was done in total darkness.
The parrot died about four years ago after I had her for 38 years. During this time, she demonstrated her intelligence may more times.
– Michael Costantini, Northridge
It was the night before Thanksgiving, and we were making last-minute preparations and entertaining a houseful of guests. It wasn't until the next day we noticed that Finley, our beloved orange tabby, was missing. Most upset was our then-6-year-old, Emery. They are true soul mates: He slept with her, bathed with her and gave her hugs when she was sad.
We hung signs, posted to our neighborhood Facebook page and local lost pet sites, scoured our neighborhood and hoped for the best. But a week later we got the call we'd been dreading: An orange tabby had been found, hit by a car. No collar but then again he had been missing a week.
When I was called by my husband for identification purposes, I found myself suddenly confused and not altogether certain it was Finley. But I was pretty sure.
We broke the news to our girls, had a graveside ceremony in our backyard and began the public mourning of our little friend. It was much harder than I expected.
We donated his belongings to a local cat shelter and told stories about the time he crawled through the screen, how much he liked to be vacuumed and how he could deliver chipmunks (as gifts) upon request.
A week later, my husband was out of town, the girls were watching TV, and I was cleaning up after dinner when my phone rang from a number I didn't recognize. It was a neighbor, and she said she had my cat. I immediately felt sad and frustrated and assumed it was another orange tabby. So I called her back. “You must be mistaken,” I said. “We found Finley last week and he died.”
I gasped when she said, “Oh, I'm sorry. I just called the number on his collar.”
In between sobs and hysterical laughter I ran like a lunatic to tell my daughter, “Finley is not dead!” We raced short two blocks and there he was, a good three pounds lighter but certainly our boy. We hugged and pinched ourselves and declared it the miracle of Christmas.
We then promptly remembered we had no cat stuff anymore. We took him home, gave him a bowl of dog treats and ran (all still in pajamas) up to Target to re-provision. When we got home, he was in the tub, so we knew for sure it was him.
To this day we don't know whose cat is buried in our backyard.
–Erica Campion, Raleigh, N.C.
We live in a two-story house. It isn't uncommon for our two labs, Cinco and Fletcha, to want a drink of water while they’re upstairs.
They stand at the master bathroom tub waiting for me or my husband to turn on the tap. They have been doing this for years. We also have a double bed where the four of us, if situated just right, can be snug but cozy.
One lazy morning while still in bed with my husband and the dogs, Cinco just couldn't find enough space. He roamed around and tried to cuddle but couldn't get comfortable. That's when it happened: He jumped down and went into the master bath and stood at the tub.
I was the closest, so I got up and turned on the water for him. As soon as I did, he hightailed it back to the bed and dropped down in my spot. When I returned, he would not budge. When I tried to scooch him out of the way he was dead weight.
We were laughing hysterically. I had just been had. I know everyone thinks that their dogs are the cutest and the smartest, but you have to admit that he was brilliant.
– Janet Ortega, Alta Loma
I was working as a brand-new firefighter at Station 7 in West Hollywood. A late-night call came in: “Structure fire in an apartment building.”
I was excited and nervous as I jumped onto the fire truck. Competing with the fading Sunset Strip’s flashing neon lights, we raced through the dark night with lights and siren blaring.
As we arrived at the scene, a panicked resident grabbed me and screamed that there was someone trapped inside. I quickly donned my breathing apparatus and grabbed a hose line. I rushed in and crawled on my hands and knees through the intense heat and thick black smoke.
Through the smoke, slightly illuminated by the glow of the fire, I could make out the motionless silhouette of a body lying in the corner of the living room. My muffled voice could be faintly heard through my mask when I radioed to my captain. “I found someone!” I yelled.
I scrambled over to the victim. My heart was beating so hard I could hear it in my ears. Through my thick gloves I grabbed at the body. But something didn't seem right.
I soon realized my victim was a 90-pound unconscious dog. Keeping low to avoid the heat, I dragged and half-carried the dog toward the exit. I was met by the incoming truck firefighters as I walked out the door with the dog draped over my arms.
“Is that your victim?” “Great save, kid,” they said, laughing as they brushed by me.
It actually was. Molly survived and spent many more years with her thankful owners.
– Dave Saltmarsh, L.A. County Fire Department (retired), Thousand Oaks
We were hiking and let our dog Gracie off the leash for the first time. She did great until we heard a commotion ahead of us where we could not see her.
Gracie had entered a small family’s picnic and helped herself to one of the sandwiches.
The family was very gracious about the whole ordeal, and now Gracie remains on her leash on our hikes.
– Lance McClelland, Damascus, Ore.
My cat Minnie loved to explore and frequently went on my roof. She was not model-thin, and one day she walked on a lattice over the patio that didn’t hold her weight. I heard a crash and she fell directly into a cactus plant below.
She did hurt her eye, which required a trip to the vet. She was also the laughingstock there. The staff had to remove the cactus needles from every part of her body. At least she didn’t have to be shaved.
The remaining needles worked themselves out in time, but the vet staff always knew her as ‘Cactus Kitty’ when she came back for her exams and had another good laugh.
– Lucy Hoffman, Van Nuys
We were living in a West Hollywood apartment. Our balcony shared a wall with a young Russian couple. My black, short-haired domestic cat was a friendly guy named Batman who figured out how easily the screen door opened with his paw. Jumping onto their balcony was zero challenge.
One day the neighbors broke it to us with hand gestures and broken English that Batman had been sliding open their screen door as well. He was actually climbing into bed with them. And sleeping. The male neighbor thought it was amusing. She, not so much.
Locking and securing our screen became our priority.
– Nancy Munoz, Los Angeles
While transporting our newly adopted and very vocal cat home from the pet adoption day at PetSmart, we were pulled over by the local police. The officers could hear him howling at the top of his lungs and thought we had kidnapped someone.
Over time, Max the Cat came to love car rides, especially in our motor home camping trips.
– Dan Stiel, Irvine
Charcoal loved to get into the hallway of our apartment building and explore. One day he wandered down the hallway and stopped at a door at the end of the hall. I stood watching him fondly, a proud pet parent.
To my horror, he pushed at the door and entered the apartment. I ran down the hall after him. Through my neighbor's half-ajar door I could see Charcoal exploring, scratching his claws on the rug, sniffing the furniture, chewing on the plants. I also heard the shower running. Panic.
Do I go in to try collect my cat, not an easy task with Charcoal when he wasn't in a mood to be collected? Visions whirling through my mind of facing some stark-naked guy, holding Charcoal in my arms, searching for an explanation. Nope, couldn't do it.
So I was kneeling in the doorway whispering, “Charcoal! Come on! Treats! I'll give you treats!” Mr. Whiskers finally deigned to walk back out the door. I scooped him up and ran.
I guess this is a could-have-been-embarrassing pet story. (P.S. Who leaves their apartment door open when they are in the shower?)
– Sonya Bahar, St. Louis
We lived in a small town in Maine and had recently finished renovating our home. The town's tax assessor came to take a look.
We had a very large black lab named Bufford. I assured the tax assessor that Bufford was very, very friendly; he would let robbers into our house if they were trying to break in.
The tax assessor entered unafraid, and good ol’ Bufford, at that very moment, decided to protect us. As the assessor stood frozen, Bufford pinned him to the wall by standing on his back legs and placing his front paws above the assessor's head.
And now you probably know the rest of the story. Our taxes went up substantially. And I have never seen someone run that fast, except maybe in the Olympics.
– Linda Layman, Bakersfield
It was the late 1960s and Union Street in San Francisco was the place to be. There were chic boutiques and upscale delis. A general air of fabulousness accompanied the people heading to restaurants and walking their groomed pets.
I lived in a flat shared with two other women on Green Street. Homer was a small black mutt that one of the roomies had adopted. Homer took himself for long walks in the Marina area and was very savvy about avoiding cars and hopping off the curb to do his business. He was never on a leash.
One day I met Homer while on a walk and headed home with Homer at my heels. It was a sunny Saturday, and the see-and-be-seen crowds were on the sidewalks and cruising Union Street.
At an intersection crowded with cars, sidewalks jammed with people, Homer suddenly ran to the very center of the intersection, stopping traffic in all directions, and started to poop! People in cars were pointing and laughing. People on the sidewalks were also pointing and laughing, asking, “Who owns that dog?”
Homer continued to calmly finish his business and immediately returned to my side. Thanks a lot, buddy!
– Nicki Smith, Santa Barbara
While living in West L.A. we had a beautiful Great Dane, Caleb, who was 4 years old. He was 155 pounds with a fawn-color coat. He was well behaved and normally listened to commands.
Each day I would take him to Rancho Park for some exercise. On this particular day, I was asked by some guys to play in a touch football game. I accepted. I tied Caleb to a 100-pound trash can and gave him the command to sit and stay.
During the game, the football accidentally hit the can and spooked Caleb. He started to run, dragging the trash can behind him, which scared him even more.
Now there about 20 guys trying to stop him. Caleb ran through an area of trees and snapped the leash. Next he ran across Pico Boulevard and into 20th Century Fox studio.
The guard thought he saw a lion on the loose. He made an announcement and also made a call to the Los Angeles Police Department. You can almost imagine the panic.
Within minutes there were some 25 policeman with weapons looking for a lion. I was able to tell them it wasn't a lion but a dog. I told them how it all began.
An hour later I was sitting in a police car going down the Avenue of Stars when we spotted Caleb walking down the street. I was shocked: He was covered in blood.
I walked over to Caleb, who was very happy to see me. I was happily surprised that he wasn't wounded and the blood was from his paws from running on the concrete in the studio. I somehow picked him up and put him in the back of the police car. (Needless to say the police weren't happy about getting blood all over the back seat of the car.)
After taking Caleb to a vet to check him out and a few days of recovering, he returned to his fun-loving self. To this day I am always reminded of Caleb when I read the Marmaduke cartoon in the newspaper.
– Steve Mintz, Woodland Hills
Horus was a giant Airedale, one of the biggest and strongest of a powerful breed. He passed away this year, but he lives on with lots of crazy stories. He was gentle, smart, funny and sometimes a bit foolish.
We were at a formal dinner party at some friends’ house over in Fresno. A great big wonderful house, with a swimming pool and tables and umbrellas set up all around it. Everyone entered the yard through a big sliding-glass door on the back of the house. Over that glass door hung an 8-foot, rolled-up bamboo awning with a pull cord hanging to the ground next to it.
Just after the last guests sat down and dinner was being served, Horus came out of that door. Somehow he stepped perfectly into the unwitting trap at the end of that cord. As he continued walking toward toward the tables, the cord drew tight and wouldn't give. Horus was never one to be bothered by little things like that, and he kicked with those big strong legs to free himself up.
Nothing happened at first, so he just kept kicking until he pulled the whole contraption from the side of the house and crashing to the ground with much breakage. He stood there looking at everyone, almost proud.
I was so embarrassed I couldn't say anything. Instead everyone else erupted in laughter, and Horus became the star of the evening. He was a natural-born show dog, and we could never make this stuff up. Never a dull moment, and we miss him a lot.”
– John Henry Hunter, Santa Barbara
I am a retired Navy wife. In 1990, our family was living in Navy housing in Los Alamitos.
We were attending the most prestigious event of the Navy year: the Navy Ball in downtown Long Beach that would commemorate the birth of the U.S. Navy. All the big brass, admirals and city officials would be attending. I was dressed nicely in my navy blue dress and hose with matching heels.
Right before I had to leave, one of our dogs, a Tibetan terrier named Sebastopol, wanted to be walked. We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac next to the community baseball field. The most important feature of the area was the yellow fire hydrant at the end of our street, which all the dogs used.
We just had a few feet to make it to the hydrant when a neighbor drove up and stopped to ask where I was going all dressed up. To my horror, I suddenly felt a warm, wet feeling on my legs. Our dog had shown me not to keep him waiting.
I guess he wanted me to be as salty as the other sailors at the ball.
– Herlinda Urquidez, Glendale
When our golden retriever, Islay, was more spritely than she is today, we took her with us to the local outdoor cafe for lunch. We tied her leash to the metal patio table and began to enjoy our food.
Islay, meanwhile, decided she wanted to get to know the gorgeous Labrador passing by. She went bounding for the Lab, taking our table in tow. Food and plates flew everywhere. Being chased by the table increased the speed at which she ran from the cafe and down the sidewalk, making for a very entertaining meal.
– Kathy French, Santa Ana
In Santa Cruz in the early 1980s I had a beautifully silly 85-pound golden retriever named Timberwolf. Timber pretty much accompanied me wherever I went — school, bank, surfing beaches, restaurants. If it was a building, he would lie down outside, get attention from everyone, and patiently wait for me.
I was the first female state beach lifeguard in Santa Cruz, and I worked the Manresa State Beach area. Timber was used to daily ocean swims and surfing with me, so he didn't quite understand why he couldn't just run down to play with me when I was working.
During this adjustment period of trying to teach him to stay home, I was warned and then threatened with termination. One day I went to rescue a woman who was caught in a rip current. It was nothing dramatic, just a typical help-someone-to-shore type rescue. I called for backup, grabbed my rescue tube and hit the water.
As I approached the woman, talked to her and secured her in the rescue tube, I turned and saw my dog swimming up to us. Suddenly he tried to play with the rescue tube around her, thinking it was a game.
She started screaming bloody murder, and instead of a routine rescue, now the whole beach was focused on us as I was trying to get my dog away from her, pretending I didn’t know him.
I was absolutely mortified because she was panicked, which was not good. I was embarrassed because it was my dog, which was not good. The dog thought it was a game, which was not good. Then I saw the ranger standing on the beach, watching the spectacle, which was not good.
Thankfully Timber swam away from us, letting me do my job. But he did tag along, swimming stroke-for-stroke as we headed to shore.
Once I had her safely on the beach, made sure she was OK and educated her about rip currents, she commented about the dog who ‘tried to drown’ her. Then I saw my dog joyously running around the beach, seemingly very proud of himself for “helping” me.
Coward that I am, I tried to save face by chasing him off the beach, telling her I had no idea who he belonged to or what he was doing in the water, but I would make sure it didn't happen again. She seemed satisfied, but I couldn't hide the truth from the ranger because he knew my dog.
I kept my job and, true to my word, my dog never tried to “assist” in another rescue.
When he died, we buried him on the cliff overlooking the beach where he reigned.
– Lorraine Marie, Newport Beach
My patient had been coming to psychotherapy for over a year, and she loved my dog, a 20-pound Bichon-Poo named Toby. Toby loved her too, especially because she always brought him a little Greenie dog treat when she came in.
When her husband was diagnosed with a cancer that was sure to take his life in short order, she said he would like to come in to see me. I had met him a few times before, and I agreed to see him.
He and I built a lovely relationship about his past and his foreshortened future, and he also loved Toby and built a relationship with him. When he became too weak to come in to see me, I went to his home to see him and brought Toby with me. I did not realize then that the patient was only two weeks from dying.
Toby was very excited to see the patient and his wife and snuggled lovingly with the husband. But he got distracted when their cat sauntered into the room with us, and he jumped down and started trying to chase the cat.
The cat strolled into another room, and Toby, frustrated and overexcited, came back into the living room and pooped on the carpet.
My original patient, the wife, thought it was hilarious, and she laughed as she helped me clean it up. The husband smiled weakly and said it was the best laugh any of them had had for weeks.
The wife returned to treatment some months after her husband’s death, brought Toby a Greenie and remembered fondly how Toby was the best and last laugh her husband had.
– Andrea Rogers, Los Angeles
Somewhere out there is a park ranger who still remembers this. My wife and I were driving back to L.A. from San Francisco when we noticed a sign: ‘Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery Location.’ This looked interesting, and my dog Simon needed a break, so we pulled over to investigate.
No sooner had I let Simon out of the car to give him a potty break than he bolted from my grasp of his leash and ran down the trail to the sea lions. “OK,” I thought, “he can't get far. The guy just has to go, that's all.”
I chased him through the parking lot and down the trail to the beach. What I didn't know was that he ran past a park ranger who was giving a lecture on the sea lions that inhabit this part of the Central Coast. As I caught up with Simon and the impromptu classroom, the ranger asked, “Is this your dog?”
Simon was now trying to sniff the sea lions, so I wanted to deny anything. But I also wanted my big guy back.
Just as I was about to speak up, I noticed Simon, with his shaky little legs, assuming the position and doing the unthinkable.
Everybody observing the train wreck shook their heads in disbelief. On top of that, I had nothing to pick up has mess with because I chased after him unprepared. The sea lions were none too happy either, flopping all over the place.
Eventually, we were cleaned up and on our way. But I'm sure that there are some scarred memories of California's beautiful Central Coast. Sorry about that, guys.