After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar remembers the day the little bundles of doody brightened his life

Hoodie (center front) and Miss Caswell (r) enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a hammock along with Tavish (l) and Campbell (center back). The fifth dog, McCoy, was far too busy chasing a squirrel to be photographed.
Hoodie (center front) and Miss Caswell (r) enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a hammock along with Tavish (l) and Campbell (center back). The fifth dog, McCoy, was far too busy chasing a squirrel to be photographed. (Photo by Seabrook Jones/www.juicythis.com)

ANTHROPOMORPHIZATION Except for their dependence on litter boxes, I always preferred the haughty independence of cats. Perhaps if I were more fastidious and attended to the box several times a day it might work, but frankly, I just don't want to be that in touch with any animal's waste matter. There are businesses that will clean your yard after your dog, but is there one that empties the litter box? Still, 11 years ago this month, a litter of Chihuahuas was born and put up for sale by the side of Highland Mall, the scenario my sister Margaret and I came across. We whipped the car around and squealed to a stop: puppies! Six, seven, eight puppies, all tiny wiggly things that weighed a few ounces and literally fit in the palms of our hands. The seller swore they were six weeks old, but I was convinced they were only four. After a quick once-over, I picked up the runt (of course) and never put him down again. He had a stumpy, twisted little tail; disproportionately small back legs; and the largest, saddest eyes I'd ever seen. Simultaneously, Margaret picked up a tiny tan female as the puppy put out a grateful tongue and licked her. "She licked me!" Margaret exclaimed, and their fate was sealed. We took our little prince and princess back to our home and named them Addison DeWitt (later nicknamed Hoodie) and Miss Caswell after the George Sanders and Marilyn Monroe characters in All About Eve. As they grew, we carried them in our coat pockets to places where dogs were not allowed – movies, clubs, restaurants, hotels, media events. They led very glamorous lives and sported glittering rhinestone collars, basking in the attention of all who saw them. I'd race into the house to tell my sister, "Hoodie just took the biggest dump!" and we'd praise him together in choruses of, "Good Hoodie! Good doody!" When my mom moved down here a few years ago, she immediately co-opted the dogs' attentions by virtue of being home all the time. (How come we never hear about alienation of affection lawsuits anymore?) Now we've become the kind of people I can't bear, fawning over them like each was the Christ child as every sneeze and bark became a cause for paroxysms of concern or delight. They make us laugh a dozen times a day, bringing profound joy to our lives as we, in turn, worship them. Happy 11th birthday, Hoodie and Miss Caswell – our lives have never been the same!

DRIVE-BY THOUGHTS I played one of my all-time favorite songs, "Cry to Me," several times last Sunday night in tribute to the passing of R&B star Solomon Burke. R.I.P., Solomon, and thank you for the music... AIDS Services of Austin's annual AIDS Walk is coming up Sunday, Oct. 17, at Austin City Hall. Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron, an AIDS education activist, will be speaking. Info can be found at www.asaustin.org... I'm appalled by the number of teenagers who use the phrase, "Back in the day." Back in what day? 2009?... The Austin Museum of Art's fabulous and fashionable La Dolce Vita is coming up this Thursday, Oct. 14. Info is at www.amoa.org. Be there or be Cher.

CARRYING ON "Luggage is not essential," says Ben Baldanza, CEO of Spirit Airlines. Huh? Well, I suppose if I were an airline CEO, luggage wouldn't be essential for me, either – I could just buy everything new when I arrived and then throw it all away when I departed. Spirit Airlines now charges passengers $45 for a carry-on bag, though if it fits under the seat in front of you (a purse, briefcase, or small child), it's free. It also charges for seat selection, soft drinks, and use of pillows and blankets. But that's nothing compared to Ireland's Ryanair, which charges you to use the bathroom (all together now: "Here I sit, brokenhearted ..."). Here's a tip to help you avoid Spirit's stinginess: Don't bring luggage with you; use layering. Simply wear all clothing and accessories that you need at once. But be careful; if you don a down jacket under a T-shirt, you'll just look fat and be charged more. And if you are fat, prepare to shell out the bucks ... and don't be surprised if the company starts weighing passengers at the gate. Think you'll need a blanket and pillow? Then wear them on as a shawl and a hat. Where's the spirit, Spirit? Or does your name refer to the spirit of penuriousness?

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin style, Chihuahuas, Hoodie, Addison, Miss Caswell, Highland Mall, dump, litter box, Spirit Airlines, baggage, Solomon Burke, alienation of affection

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