I'm back from a week in New York City where I saw all kinds and sizes of dogs, as well as attending a writers' conference, spending time with friends, seeing a Broadway show and eating great meals and doing a bit of sightseeing. And, without the corgis, I even got to sleep in a couple of mornings.
I think the most fun I had at the conference was telling people I was a dog writer. Immediately, out came the cellphones, as people exclaimed, "I have a papillon!" "I have a golden-doodle!" "Wait 'til you see my cattle dog!"
I love talking about dogs and I enjoy watching people light up as they talk about their own dogs. In some cases, I also enjoyed diverting the conversation to dogs. There were several tables at the conference where people were pushing products related to writing and publishing. It was fun to have someone stop in the middle of a sales pitch so they could show me a picture of their dog.
Susan Ewing and Gael
Each evening there was a cocktail hour, which offered a great chance to mingle and meet writers from across the country. One writer was C.T. Tomlin from Kentucky. We had a wonderful time talking about horses, and then he told me his own animal story.
One day, his wife called him, very upset, saying she thought she had just run over a kitten. He calmed her down, and later, they met at home and then went out for dinner, using his wife's car. Later in the evening, they heard a cat meowing and went outside to investigate. The sound seemed to be coming from around the car. When they looked, they discovered a small kitten, covered in grease, clinging to a wheel strut. It was the cat that his wife thought she had killed. C.T. estimates that the car was driven at least 100 miles before the kitten was discovered. They named the cat Axel, and he made his home with the Tomlins for many years.
Besides seeing dogs from a bus or taxi window, I watched some dogs at a doggy day care center one day. I wasn't having any luck getting a cab, so I started to walk in the direction of my friends' apartment. I was hoping I wouldn't have to walk the entire distance, but if I did, well, it was a lovely day and I had plenty of time. That's when I passed a store front and looked in on about 20 dogs, including a French bulldog, a Shetland sheepdog, a bichon frise and a dachshund, all having a great time. There was an attendant with them, to keep the play civil, and it made me smile to watch them. It wasn't as good as petting a dog, but it was the next best thing. I was happy I'd had to walk a few blocks, and even happier when I got a cab almost immediately after seeing the dogs.
Cats were also part of the fun during my NYC visit. An apartment neighbor has two wonderful sphynx cats - lovely, gray, hairless felines. And yes, sphynx with a "y" is the correct spelling, and no, they have no connection to Egypt. In fact, the sphynx ancestors are all from Canada and Minnesota. I generally like animals with fur, but these two cats, Finn and Fiona, had so much personality, I could easily overlook their lack of fur. Their big, dish-antenna ears tuned in to every sound and when their owner brought them over to my friends' apartment, the two cats, with tails straight up, quickly explored each room. I briefly held Fiona, and it was like holding a suede-covered hot water bottle, only Fiona is much cuter than a hot water bottle. While these New York cats were both gray, the sphynx can be any color, and some may even be covered with very fine hair, like an animated peach.
New York City has so much to offer that it's always hard to say what the very best part of a visit is. At the top of the list, naturally, is seeing my friends, and catching up on what they've been doing. I'm always happy to see a Broadway play, and the Metropolitan Museum is on my list of "things to do" every time. I love visiting good restaurants and I saw the High Line Park and visited Chelsea Market. And this year, Finn and Fiona join the list of great New York City memories.