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I’m Ruby! I’m the star of this month’s Companionship story, Ruby, My Dear, along with my two humans, Lucian Truscott IV and Tracy Harris.
From My Dog House to Yours

This is HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR! Noah - Golden Retriever; Chloe and Bailey - West Highland White Terriers; Carter - Yorkshire Terrier; Lucas - Chihuahua (Brown); Sarah - Chihuahua (Blonde); Nano - Chihuahua (Black). Their humans are Carla and Christian.

All Photos: Ben Potter

Meet the Dogs of Los Angeles. An original photo essay by L.A. photographer and filmmaker, Ben Potter.

Besides a car, there are two required accessories for survival in L.A. (an acronym for both Los Angeles and Legendary Alienation)—a therapist and a dog. I've had two each in the years I've lived here, and I never questioned the efficacy of the latter.

L. A. itself has an off-leash energy. Ever since its founding, Angelenos have struggled to get it under control while quibbling over who's going to feed and clean up after it. The result: while the city has oodles of charm, it can feel all over the place. Thankfully, our canines help us navigate. Dogs are our mobile comfort zones and portable neighborhoods. Wherever our dogs go, we go with greater enthusiasm, purpose, and sense of adventure. And unlike our agents and editors, they almost always take our calls.

We love our dogs as much as we love ourselves. Whether it's a rescue Pit Bull or a purse- size Chihuahua (said to be the city's most popular breed), they are MVPs on our wellness teams and we reward them accordingly: Canine Reiki (Japanese energy healing to lower stress, ditch "emotional blockages" and "calm racing minds"), Intuitive Healing Therapy, and Sound Healing (to cleanse those stinky chakras). Welcome to Doggy Lotus Land. I won't tell you how many dog psychics and communicators I've met here, a popular second or third career for aspiring creatives, nor will I share, thanks to canine-client privilege, what we've discussed.

Personally, I would recommend sheep-herding for your working dog's racing mind. It's offered at multiple rural locations throughout the region, but we prefer the secluded ranch in Malibu.

Our dogs remind us of the need to get out of our cars and onto the sidewalks and trails, where the winds are famously warm and the characters can be cool, but almost everyone melts in the face of our four-pawed friends.

Thank Hollywood for the dogs of our dreams. The film and television industry gave us Rin Tin Tin, Toto, Lassie, Old Yeller, Frasier's Eddie, Marley, and beyond. Human stars have long fallen hard for their furry co-stars, with everyone from Judy Garland to Robert Downey, Jr. wanting to adopt their on-screen canine companions. Few handlers ever agree—even Toto's—no matter how big the star. Dogs have their careers to think of!

Angelenos love to name drop, and L.A. dogs provide enough celebrity six degrees to satisfy. My late Tibetan Terrier's groomer cared for Marlon Brando's pup, my HOA had to ask the adult child of a notable name to curb his problematic pooch, my mini-Aussie and I did therapy visits with a prominent elder activist, and when we marched with the Patriotic Pups in our local Fourth of July Parade, I admit that it was as much to see the famous faces sitting curbside as it was about canine pride.

In our suburban city, where it's easy to get used to being uncelebrated, it helps immeasurably if your dog greets you like a rock star just for coming back from a trip to the mailbox. Dog parks here are like AA meetings were in the 90s, a place to network and socialize, and all the country club dog lovers need.

The homeless here often have dogs as companions. Dogs can be their family, a vital form of emotional shelter, and something they have in common with the housed. It's a reason those of us with roofs over our heads can't look away. Dogs make all of us more visible and more human.

"Disappear Here," Brett Easton Ellis taunted with a billboard in his L.A.-based novel Less than Zero. Just try—even if we wanted to, our dogs won't let us.

Nancy Spiller
Nancy Spiller lives on the wild western edge of L.A. with her husband and mini-Aussie, Sadie. She is the author of the novel Entertaining Disasters and the memoir Compromise Cake: Lessons Learned From My Mother’s Recipe Box, (both from Counterpoint Press). She teaches creative writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.


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