Dog Humorist Extraordinaire


It was one of those rare winter Saturdays when the eye of the storm passes overhead and lets a beautiful day’s worth of bright warm light into our soggy little lives.

Glorious. Here in the East Bay, it seemed that half of us were suddenly awakened from the spell of our computers and propelled out our doors to nibble a Oaxacan taco or lap a latte over on Fourth St. Mi esposa and I were after breakfast in the afternoon at Betty’s Ocean View Diner. I had salmon hash with poached eggs. No doggie bag required.

I’m pleased to say that the dog watching was exceptional that afternoon. A little Chihuahua/Dachsund mix skipping along here, a pert Scottie sporting a jaunty little red waistcoat there. He was too busy sniffing up that coy Toy Poodle over at the tea shop to mind that his mum dressed him funny.

We basked in the good fortune of that sudden spring-like day in early March, loitering on the corner while the Peet’s Sumatra Blue Batak wafted over us. A vintage blues combo called This Old Band punched up a sulky groove around the lead singer/guitarist as he growled out some of the great ones from a weathered wheel chair. 

They performed fine renditions of R&B classics like The Righteous Brothers’ “Oo Papa Doo.” I was delighted, of course, when they broke into “Walkin’ the Dog.” I’d been wondering how I was going to start this month’s column. You know I left a generous tip in their collective pork pie hat.

At the end of the number, the lady singer they called Misty stood up, cocked her crimson felt hat over one eye, and cajoled all the women in the audience into howling like a bunch of crazed she-dogs. Lots of girlfriends, including some four-legged “sistahs with whiskahs,” joined the chorus. 

Wish I had remembered “Walkin’ the Dog” last Saturday when the jazz trio at the Beast of the Bay Awards party was trying to think up doggie tunes they could riff on. They did do a jumpin’ swing version of “Hound Dog” that got the maestro of the group walkin’ the bass with the authoritative strut of a champion Wolfhound in an AKC ring. 

Though it was raining cats and dogs, there weren’t as many said creatures in the courtyard of El Rio as you might expect. Something about a wet dog that can throw a wet blanket on a party, I guess. And the big black-and-white cat lounging around like a regular while we were setting up cleared out as soon as the first guests arrived. Still, it was a lively, well-attended gathering celebrating our beautifully diverse dog-loving community.

The theme was kinda-sorta Cajun, and the tasty red beans and rice, hot links on the grill, and Mardi Gras beads handed ‘round captured the New Ahhh-lins vibe. Maybe I’m reaching here, but the Australian Shepherd from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue who sported a fluorescent jacket reading “Adopt me” conjured up Blanche Du Bois, famed Tennessee Williams chanteuse has-been renowned for relying on “the kindness of strangers.” The band played a mean version of “When the Saints Come Marching In,” so I guess all we really needed was a French Bulldog named “Cherie” to make it official.

Lots of lottery prizes and winners’ certificates were given out. Without a doubt, the most important honor was bestowed upon me. A full-color, no-expense-spared, laminated sheet of copy paper that proclaimed I’d been voted “Best Doggie Humor Columnist” by none other than the boss herself — M. Rocket. Thanks, Rocket. Now if anyone asks, I’m an award-winning journalist. 

Herb Canine is one of writer/musician Tad Toomay’s many alter egos. Get acquainted with the others at


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