Tag Archives: bichon frise

Seven Year Itch

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul realizes Frida has reached middle age, and that Chef may have got bitten by the seven-year itch.

Our little one soon after her birth

Our little goose turns 7 today, which effectively means that our incurably cute Bichon Frise Frida has reached middle age.  Chef and I have begun noticing the telltale signs of aging (early dementia?) that runs in our family—restless sleeping, irritability around children.  Then there are the mysterious new habits like randomly removing kibble from the bowl and leaving uneaten bits on carpets and stairways throughout the house.

It’s funny to think back now that exactly this time 7 years ago I had forged Chef’s name on the breeder’s adoption application and was plying him with wine to lessen the impact of the news that we were starting a family (Alphabet City’s Episode 15 And Baby Makes Three).  At the time, Chef claimed he wasn’t a dog person thanks a particularly unfortunate childhood experience with the family Weimaraner.

Chef and Frida on the ferry to Fire Island

Soon enough though Frida Carlota Xochtil Amarilla Buchmeyer-Chavez (her full Mexican birthright name) had charmed the pants off Chef, and those two have been in love ever since.

Sure, I’m still Alpha Dad—the one she relies on for food and walks and treats.  But Frida has a special bond with her Papa Chef.  His legs are the ones she curls up inside at night.  I’m the one she forces out of bed in the morning so she can snuggle next to him.  She’ll sit with him and watch World Cup matches no matter the time of day, no complaints.  Both of them share a love of True Blood, Smallville and Dexter.  They’re easy companions, through and through—like Father and Daughter.

The family in Provincetown

Meanwhile, I have classic Working Mother Syndrome.  I arrange the childcare, and interview the au pairs/dog walkers (all of ours have a painting background which we’re sure is a good influence on Frida).  I take her to the allergy specialist and dole out the meds.  I feel guilty when traveling, and get punished and ignored for a day upon my return.

In the early years, Frida traveled with me.  She was a regular on the West Coast prancing through the lobby of the L’Ermitage Beverly Hills and exploring the grounds of Montage Laguna Beach.  She took in the Cherry Blossoms in the nation’s capital and ran the corridors of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco.  She lounged poolside in Puerto Vallarta.  She even went to New Orleans for Susan’s birthday and enjoyed beignets at Café du Monde.

At Montage Laguna Beach

Cherry blossoms in DC

Lounging in Puerto Vallarta

Beignets in New Orleans

The mad pumpkin

But middle age has brought on a bout of persnicketiness.  The girl likes a set schedule.  Up at 6am to look out the front window.  6:30am return to bed to push Papa (me) out of the way.  7am visit Papa downstairs and lay on couch.  7:30am back patio to chase stray cats.  8am check on Papa at his computer.  8:30am stretch and whine for walk.  8:45am walk.  9:00am Papa departs.  Any switch in schedule is cause for much concern, pitiful looks, cries and opportunities for lap sitting.  Except Friday, that day, she somehow knows is Papa-Often-Works-From-Home-Day when anything goes.

This week is National Take Your Dog to Work Week.  And so, Frida is right here in my lap, looking at me with her big saucer eyes—sensing that I am writing something about her, no doubt.

Lately, Chef has mentioned the possibility of getting Frida a sister.  He must have the seven-year itch.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ve got my hands full with this one—especially as she moves into her twilight years.  I start to get nervous remembering the searing pain when my last little goose Winnie passed away.  And I hug Frida a little too close.

Then she winks, doles out a round of wet kisses, and I smile, knowing Chef and I have raised quite the little charmer.  Happy Birthday, goose.

Two proud papas

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Careful What You Search For

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul is flummoxed by some odd Google search results pointing towards the blog.

Allow me add a new dimension to the recent hysteria over Internet privacy—bloggers like me are watching your Google habits.  There’s a nifty little feature that allows me to see what words surfers are searching and click through to my blog. It’s sort of like reverse engineering Googling your own name—the results are revealing, and sometimes not pretty.  The search string someone used recently and found Alphabet City is “ugly gay guy with bichon frise.”  Ouch!

My publicist training tells me that all traffic is good traffic, but honestly “ugly gay guy” left me a little wounded.  Is someone out there critiquing my photos on the cover of Alphabet City?  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and Google those search words myself—to see exactly how this blog matches some of the more amusing terms I’ve been seeing.

Turns out, I’ve randomly used all of those words—ugly, gay, Bichon—in various postings on the blog.  So, it wasn’t necessarily a slam at me.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  From the search results it was more likely the person was looking for a YouTube video where a Bichon does something cute until an “ugly gay guy” appears.  Still, pretty mean if you’re that unknown guy in the video.

Some of the other search results were more obvious to me.  Lots of people find me because I’ve mentioned the gay hook-up iPhone app Grindr a couple of times—now there will be more.  “Gay sex and massage baybylon in bankok” (sic) drives traffic from across the globe to read an excerpt from the book about my exploits in Thailand—nice to see interest sex palace is still going strong, especially in the Middle East.

Some search returns left me mystified.  “Book about the letter o being removed fr” completely flummoxed me.  “Hanging pictures over couch” returned hundreds of pages of DIY advice websites.  Why that person chose to click through to ABCityblog as a resource I’m still not sure.  Maybe something to do with my mention of my Dad’s LeRoy Neiman monstrosities in our living room?

Some search results delighted me.  How sexy to be singled out for “police tattoos,” and what a queen I am to practically pee my pants as the second result of “erica’s modeling mentor on amc.”  Erica Kane and All My Children just keep delivering.

Finally, some search results will just continue to embarrass Chef.  In between links to LA Dragnet and Showtime’s Hung, an episode of Alphabet City is getting traction from “episode” “well endowed.”  Which brings me to the final search observation—this blog is the top result for “you’re my foil.”

And so, once again, it’s true—Chef ends a post as my foil.

PS: I’m not the only one watching.  Check out this USAToday story about my friend Stephen Marsh’s software that helps companies keep track of employee surfing habits.

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Snow Angel

Today on Alphabet City: Record snowfall seriously affects Frida’s morning routine.

Two things make me feel better about shoveling record amounts of snow first thing in the morning: 1) The upper body and lower back workout means I don’t have to go to the gym. 2) Frida the Bichon frolicking in the aftermath makes me laugh.

Enjoy Frida’s morning “commute” brought to you by FridaCam iPhone app.

FridaCam: no going out the front!

FridaCam: no going out the back until Papa shovels

FridaCam: now we're talking!

FridaCam: next stop, Whistler!

FridaCam: Where in the World is Frida?

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Raising Canine

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul lands an appointment with a much sought after NYC doggie dermatologist.  REMINDER: Take my survey

“New York, where everything is harder than it should be.  And more expensive,” said my dear friend Martin (in a made-up Brooklyn accent) many years ago when he helped me move to the Big Apple.  And boy if the past decade (and a half) hasn’t proved him right.

Take child rearing, for example.  People always talk about the challenges of raising a child in Manhattan.  Now a co-parent of my second Bichon Frise pup, I whole-heartedly agree.

Chef and I have been lucky with our Au Pairs.  In Alphabet City, we had Kasia from Poland who would take Winnie, and later Frida, out for hours and hours at a time.  Since Kasia was a visual artist, I assumed my little ones were assisting in her workshop and learning a third language, since they were already bi-lingual in English and Spanish.  When our family moved to Washington Heights, Kasia moved to Maine, but not before Frida was the guest of honor at Kasia’s gallery opening in Alphabet City.  Frida chose two provocative oil paintings now hanging over the couch in her study.

Frida handing over a check to her artist-Au Pair Kasia at her gallery opening

But as anyone will tell you, it’s health care that’s a killer.  Despite the fact that it takes over an hour by subway to visit trumpet playing Argentine Doc Moscovich in the East Village, I’m loyal to our puppy-pediatrician.  But now he’s referring us to an Allergy-Dermatology Specialist for Frida’s ongoing hot-spots problem.

Just the words “referral” and “specialist” make my heart beat faster.  Not because I worry about the outcome.  But because I know that as a New Yorker those are fighting words.  It means doing battle to score an appointment.

“Let’s see.  The first thing I have is a little over a month away.  How would January 7 work?” said the extremely nice nurse at Animal Allergy and Dermatology.

“Sure, but we’re leaving town for a couple of weeks for the holidays and was hoping for something sooner.”

“That’s understandable.  But unfortunately, January 7 is all I have.”

Seasoned New Yorkers know when faced with a velvet rope rejection that a little name dropping is in order.

“My dear friend’s Chris and Tom just rave about Dr. Peikes.  Say she’s just done wonders for Edie.”

“Oh, you know Edie?”

“Yes, she’s actually Frida’s cousin.  They sort of grew up together.”

“Well, in that case, why don’t I put you on a waiting list in case anything comes up I can call you?”

I’ve played the “waiting list” game before—it’s how I scored a coveted table at the French Laundry in Napa.  Put your name on the list, then call the host every day and flirt, and beg, and plead until something “magically opens” up.

Guess what?  Frida and I are off for our first round of allergy testing today.  But only after I fill out a 4-page Dermatology History Report that is more extensive than the paperwork at my own specialists.  I stopped myself on seemingly simple question like, “Pet’s Name.”  Do I own up to her full gay Dad from Mexico name—Frida Carlota Xochtil Amarilla Buchmeyer Chavez?

New York, where everything is harder than it should be.

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Dog of Carnage

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul deals with the aftermath of a dog fight that leaves little Frida wounded.  New excerpt available from Episode 14: And Baby Makes Three.

Last week, my foofy six year-old Bichon Frise dog-daughter Frida was roughed up and bitten by a bully named Flavia.  Since I wasn’t present at the incident which happened in the courtyard of my house, details are sketchy.  But from what I gather from our dog walker Andrea, in the blink of an eye, Flavia turned aggressive and sunk her teeth into Frida’s chest.

Angela, who was working from home, heard Frida’s dramatic screams and rushed outside to assist.  Here’s what she told me later, “The entire neighborhood took notice.  Frida’s wailing was like nothing I’ve heard from a dog before.  It was as if someone was being murdered!”

That’s my girl.  A complete Drama Queen.  I’m proud to think she learned it from the best—me.  Not to be all hot pants about it—Frida will be fine.  There was bleeding, a pretty big puncture wound, and late night panic that an infectious fever had set in—I taught myself to take her temperature rectally following Googled instructions.  The next day during a trip to East Village vet Doc Moscovich, Frida re-enacted the crime with her dramatic wailing before he even touched the gash.

Frida enjoying her spa-like warm compresses from Papa Chef

As if auditioning for a role on Law&Order: CVU (Canine Victim’s Unit), Frida trembles in panic every morning as we walk the streets near Flavia’s apartment.  Yesterday, we spotted the accused and her owner who quickly looked away and shuffled on.  I was astonished—if I had found out Frida had caused such an injury, I would be in touch with the parents immediately offering help for the vet bills, therapy, etc.  I thought about going over to him and inviting him and his co-dog parent over to our house to talk it out.  Suddenly, I realized I was recreating the plot of Broadway’s God of Carnage and casting myself in the role that won Marcia Gay Harden a Tony.  On second thought, I decided to leave it alone—I’d rather my house not end up in ruins like the set of that play.

Twice a day I force feed Frida a horse pill of an antibiotic and insist she wear an Elizabethan collar.  But it’s the prescribed hot towel warm compresses that get me—she won’t sit still for me to administer that old school remedy.  No, that’s a special bonding treat she saves for her Papa Chef.

Just like any child, Frida has her own special relationship with her parents.  In addition to my dramatic flare, Frida has learned the value of a rigorous schedule, and appreciates my love of travel—her first out-of-town trip was to the luxurious L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, of course.  From her Papa Chef, she’s inherited the world’s largest bladder and a sleep gene that’s earned her the title of “Laziest Dog in the World.”

From the very beginning, those two have always had a special bond.  Which is funny, really, because pre-Frida, Chef wasn’t really a dog person.  In fact, I basically hoodwinked him into adopting the little goose.  Here’s another excerpt from Alphabet City’s Episode 14: And Baby Makes Three—about how a puppy transformed two career-oriented NYC gay guys into doting parents.

CLICK HERE for the second excerpt from Episode 14: And Baby Makes Three.


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