The Dogs' Day

photo: cobia is not the dog of the week

Cobia is not the 'Dog of the Week.'

Looming Perpetual Summer?

Paris:- Thursday, 23. August 2001:- While shops begin filling their selves for the back-to-school onslaughts and as summer withers away to the somber fall period of the year, the weather continues to confound all and wide by perpetuating its summer attitude, with little sign of stopping.

This is not normal. Despite the unreality of it all, the TV-weather news has ceased to describe it as 'abnormal for this time of year,' and simply says tomorrow will be nice and clear and hot. Plus the day after and the day after that.

Parisians not only seem to be taking all of this with cool aplomb by wearing as few clothes as possible - but the ones who have returned brown from sun-filled France even appear as if they consider it a continuation of their holidays.

Car drivers are, of course, irritated. Not only are pedestrians wandering around as if they are on the streets of Saint-Tropez - if it has streets - but the automobilistas are also getting a foretaste of the city's plan to make bus lanes so wide thatphoto: scrumpy is not the dog of the week driving in Saint-Tropez might actually be easier - if it has any streets.

But enough of this. It is club day, or as it is usually known, Thursday - and I have a hot ride down to Châtelet in a hot métro wagon, that lets me out to a hot Rue de Rivoli where the buses are trying out their very own new autobahns.

Scrumpy is not the 'Dog of the Week' either.

I pick up the first of today's members when I catch up with Jan Shaw who is ambling along the Quai du Louvre towards the club's café, La Corona. Once inside, we join Dana Shaw who is ready and waiting for the club meeting to begin.

Jan's first story is about the wonderful and free bus ride she caught at Austerlitz, to cruise west along the left bank beside the Seine. This bus is a replacement for the RER line 'C' which is still having its summer vacation in central Paris.

Within a few minutes the meeting's first new member arrives along with two friends. These are a Dalmatian named Cobai and a Jack-Russel Terrier named Scrumpy, who is formally called 'Louis XIV.' The new member's name is Dinny Moyer, and she has moved to Paris from Arlington, Virginia.

Cobai's name is Cobai because, Dinny says, "We didn't want to name him Spot."

The two dogs arrange themselves politely, without lying on anybody's feet. Neither of them is the 'Dog of the Week' because there are two of them.

They could be 'Dogs of the Week' and it would be a 'first,' but since it is impossible to tell whether one or the other is 'first,' it seems likely that they tie for the honor of 'First Couple of Dogs of the Week,' which is in fact, a genuine 'first.' It won't be today's only one.

It is over 30 outside in the shade and inside La Corona it may be somewhat more, so Jan orders a whoppingphoto: double coca of the week great drink she tells me is a 'double-coca light,' surely another 'first.' "It is also," she says, "Full of ice and three lemon slices."

Right she is! Usually double-coca-lights only have two lemon slices,and come in somewhat smaller glasses.

Dinny grew up in Boulogne-Billancourt and moved to the US in 1968 where she lived until last year. Now, she says, she lives near La Motte-Piquet-Grenelle, on the 15th arrondissement side. "Did you know," she asks, "That 'Grenelle' means rabbit-warren?"

Of course there is a fair amount of talk about Cobai and Scrumpy. Do they find Paris odors fascinating? But it turns out only Cobai is from Arlington - and yes, being a canine visitor to Paris has its interests.

Dana, who lived in Paris in the mid-50s for a school term, wants to know if the club's two new honorary members like horsemeat - which was a lot more common then than it is now.

Before there's an answer, the server-lady, Linda Thalman sails in. "Ohh! The 'Dogs of the Week,'" she says. Quite naturally the club's secretary - who is me - frowns at this breach of club etiquette.

Before action can be taken, Linda has to tell us she's arrived by way of one of the tandem bicycle taxis, which have a cab stand around the corner in front of the Saint-Germain L'Auxerrois church.

Her ride was 2.5 kilometres. "I had to pedal!" she says, "And I drove in from the Cadillac Ranch in only 35 minutes!"

This is a 'first' indeed. Linda says, "Word of the Week is - traffic is fluide!"

Everybody, not just the secretary, disagrees. Dana says he saw buses 'jammed up like sardine cans.'

While I explain about the Hôtel de Ville's plan for autobahns for buses, Linda decides to quit drinking tonic with lemon slices and orders a beer. "Frais!" she shouts at the receding back of the 'Waiter of the Week,' whose name I haven't managed to get.

Dinny shows us all the 'Sani-Canins,' which look like very small black plastic bags. She says, "There are better bags, with handles, in Biarritz."

She also says she finds the pollution to be a lot less than in 'the good old days,' when Paris was - well - stinkier.


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