Not at All Cute

As an apartment dweller, there is nothing that bothers me so much as little yapper dogs who bark incessantly. Their owners arrive at a strange kind of belief that the cuteness of their pets despite all other indications pointing at the fact that excitable small furballs are creatures from hell and their constant barking is nothing more than a canine form of mental breakdown.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC):

Some barking is normal, but when barking becomes excessive not only is it frustrating for owners, but it’s also a sign your dog may be stressed, or their needs aren’t being met. Dogs use their barking as a means of communicating with us when they need things: to go outside, to play, because they are hungry, or because they are concerned about things. There is always a reason for the barking, and it’s our job to figure out what our dogs need.

All well and good, but apartment dwellers do not seem to get the message. When I first moved into this building in 1985, having pets was forbidden. But now it seems that many prospective renters are unable to get by without a small, noisy, outraged ball of fluff.

The barking gets particularly bad when the owners are away, and the dog is left alone to howl in the empty apartment for food, walkies, love, or whatever.

When I go to the supermarket, I am met by a sign that says Service Dogs Only, but inside there are numerous people, mostly elderly women, with their “furbabies” in tow as “mental health service dogs.” It seems that people are ever more dependent on small dogs with objectionable behaviors.

I know the dog owners are really to blame, as the AKC maintains, but why is it that I have never seen a well-adjusted small dog?

1322-D 12th Street

The old building in the center is where I lived from 1968 to 1971. The address was 1322-D 12th Street in Santa Monica. You can see two windows on the second floor: The one on the right in mine. When one walked in to the apartment, there were four rooms in the sequence living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

It was fun living there until February 9, 1971. At 6 o’clock in the morning, I heard all the dogs in the area howling. It was followed within seconds by the Sylmar Earthquake, which registered 6.5 on the Richter scale. I was literally shaken to the floor and scared out of my mind. When the noise and shaking subsided, my kitchen was in shambles. I had to throw out several large garbage bagfulls of food.

Within days, I bid the kindly owners, A. J. and Birdie Olliff, farewell and found an apartment on Barrington Avenue in West Los Angeles. I was afraid that, in a hypothetically more severe earthquake, I would not be able to make it to the exit. Looking back, I don’t think that would in fact have been much of a problem. I was afraid and not thinking right at the time. Of course, in an earthquake, the worst thing you can do is run out of the building and be clobbered by falling debris.

The building is still there: The Google Maps picture was taken in August 2007. I am sure that the Olliffs have passed on in the intervening years. Old A. J. was something of a visionary. He talked of seeing items made of “chiROME steel” in his visions. I guess he could not pronounce the word “chrome.”

Crickets in the Kitchen

As I sit here to write this blog entry, I am on the receiving end of a concert by the crickets who inhabit my kitchen. For many years, I thought the sound was coming from my Amana refrigerator—until I actually started seeing the crickets, usually as I smashed them with a fly swatter thinking they were one of the mega cockroaches, which, alas, also inhabit this apartment.

The apartment building in which I live is almost as old as I am, having been built around 1946. As I have been told, my building as well as several others in the immediate vicinity, were meant to house the Cleveland Rams, which were soon to be called the Los Angeles Rams. The apartment in which I live could once have been the home of William “Bud” Cooper, Harry “The Horse” Mattos, or Stan Pincura.

I moved in here in 1985. My landlady was the kindly Anna Ficele, who was the original building owner and a terrific cook. After she died in 2001, her slightly retarded son took over, until he passed on a few years later from a life of dissipation. The next owner lasted only a few years. His widow, as I understand it, now owns the papers. Fortunately, we only have to deal with the management company.

We have no intention of complaining about the crickets. I rather enjoy their music.