Advice

The Pleasures and Pains of Having a Dog in San Francisco

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Dog in San Francisco

Roux the French bulldog. (Courtesy Aaron Rodriguez)

This originally appeared in my Broke-Ass City column in the San Francisco Examiner 

I’ve got a pretty fantastic living situation. Solid rent control, great roommates, centrally located. Sure we don’t have a living room, but we do have a washer and dryer, and yes, it’s as amazing as you’d think.

But you know what one of the best parts about my living situation is? I live with a blonde French bulldog named Roux!

Roux isn’t my dog. He belongs to my roommate Nancy, so I’ve got the best of both worlds. I get all the snuggles and park play and putting him in funny situations just so I can take photos, but without all the responsibility of being a fulltime doggy dad. Of course I help out — I work from home so I look after him a lot (in fact he’s sitting on my lap as I type this). But I rarely have to deal with the not fun part of having a dog. I get to be the awesome dog uncle.

Spending as much time as I do with Roux I’ve learned how difficult it can be owning a dog in San Francisco. There are tons of things to think about that wouldn’t cross your mind if you lived in other places. For example, since we live in SoMa I have to pay extra attention to what Roux gets into when we go for walks. Not only do I have to worry about him eating something he shouldn’t, I also have to make sure he doesn’t step on shattered bits of windshield or hypodermic needles. I also make sure to wipe down his torso, legs, and paws when we come inside because the thought of him tracking whatever grossness exists on SoMa streets into my bed is horrifying.

There are other worries as well. Roux is an incredibly adorable blonde French Bulldog. Some people literally squeal when they see him. Because of this I can’t take him with me on any errands where I might have to tie him up outside. People steal dogs, and Roux is the exact kind of adorable little monster that would fetch a good price.

Adorable little monster is actually a great way to describe him, because holy crap, Roux really shouldn’t exist. Have you ever spent any time with a French Bulldog? Nature did not make this creature. His regular breathing sounds like a cat purring, and when he sleeps it sounds like a drunk old man snoring. Frenchies are so over-bred that they can’t even give birth naturally, it has to be done by C-Section. The idea that he is descended from wolves is laughable.

That said, he is truly the sweetest and most well behaved dog I’ve ever met. Just having him around enriches the life of anyone who meets him, which is actually a lot of people.

Nancy owns a bar in the Mission called The Wooden Nickel, and Roux can often be found canoodling with regulars. He just lights up a room. Hell, he even has his own Instagram account called @ChroniclesOfRoux

One of the many weird things about San Francisco is that even though it’s not a particularly dog friendly city there are still more dogs here than children. That’s right, the rumor is true. Earlier this year KQED reported that there are about 115,000 children under 18 living in San Francisco and about 120,000 to 150,000 dogs here. So it’s obvious how important our dogs are to us, as they should be.

That’s because we see the best parts of humanity in dogs. Unless they’ve been through serious trauma, dogs are loyal, loving, and kind. And it shows with Roux. One of my favorite things about walking him is seeing really hard looking dudes break into enormous grins when they see him.

What can I say? I’ve got a great life. I live in a city that I love (most of the time) and that loves me back (most of the time). I’ve got a great apartment, awesome roommates, brilliant friends, a loving family, and an incredible girlfriend. Plus I’ve got Roux.

The world might be in a terrible place but it’s important to remember the things that make your life beautiful. Especially when one of them is tiny, blonde, and breathes funny.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".