Whenever I walk Heidi near on Tujunga Boulevard, I wonder whether every hound in the neighborhood has already sniffed out the real truth behind the 10-year-old murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley, but they just don’t know how to tell us.
(For those who have spent the last decade on another planet: Bakley’s husband, actor Robert Blake, was eventually found not guilty of fatally shooting Bakley in the head around the corner from said Italian eatery in 2001).
If the Bakley killing had happened, say, 50 years earlier, the story would have been perfect fodder for Hollywood’s “film noir” era, roughly 1930s-1950s -- a term applied to those classic black-and-white crime flicks usually involving murder, femme fatales, smoking guns and really great clothes.
And why does this Valley Noir story come to mind, you may ask? In case you don’t ask, I’ll tell you anyway: It’s because Heidi and I recently had a very stylish, dramatic evening with that film noir period feel at Wanna Buy A Watch, a West Hollywood establishment owned by our Valley Village neighbors, Ken Jacobs and Sharon Schwartz.
As part of nationwide Fashion Night (Sept. 8), the Wanna Buy A Watch crew threw a dog-friendly bash at the store, located on the fashionable end of Melrose Avenue. It can boast an admirable collection of vintage watches and antique diamond jewelry (they also have contemporary stuff). Martinis for the adults, gift bags for the dogs, lots of fun. Once Heidi got her bag, there was no getting the girl to focus on anything else.
Joining Ken (in dapper top hat and tails) and Sharon (a slinky femme fatale in black jeweled gown and red heels) as host was the store’s mascot, a replica of Nipper the RCA dog, who could be found sitting in the back seat of a vintage Rolls Royce just outside the store. Nipper agreed to get out of the classic auto to be photographed with Ken, Sharon and Heidi, and I couldn’t resist photo-shopping the color shot into film noir black and white (let us know whether you prefer B&W or color).
Once transformed, this photo seems like it should have a great mystery story to go with it. What, really, is going on here? Sadly, it sorta doesn’t – unless you want to make up your own caption, like you can do in those New Yorker cartoon contests.
But I can at least offer a baffling little tale that involves Ken and Sharon’s real dog Ruby, our Heidi, and the glamorous, mysterious Sonya Fitzpatrick, the former “pet psychic” on the Animal Planet network (she prefers the term "animal communicator").
As detailed in , Sonya Fitzpatrick is the one who rescued Heidi from a storm drain near Houston. And about a month after we adopted Heidi, Sonya was in L.A. on business, so my husband Alan took Heidi to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel to surprise Sonya.
When Sonya saw Heidi in the lobby, she burst into tears. Heidi, who had left Texas as a skinny mutt with saggy boobs from nursing her puppies, was now healthy, sleek and had perfect abs like everyone else in L.A. Sonya burst into tears and proceeded to sit down next to Heidi on the floor to give her a big hug.
Then (as recounted by Alan), Sonya looked up and asked: “Who’s the red dog?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Alan said.
“Who’s the red dog?” Sonya repeated.
Alan remained mystified.
“Heidi has just met a red dog and she loved playing with her and wants to know when she will see her again,” Sonya said firmly.
Alan suddenly realized that just a few days before, he had taken Heidi to visit Ken, Sharon and family, and Heidi had instantly bonded with their dog Ruby, a reddish golden retriever just about Heidi's age. Ruby was, in fact, Heidi’s first dog-friend since moving to Studio City from Texas. They played and played.
Is Ruby the red dog? She even has a “red” name. We have told this story to Ken and Sharon, and they always give us strange looks. As I recall, Ken pointed out that dogs are color blind, so how would Heidi know that Ruby is a “red dog?” But they still allow our dog to play with their dog, so perhaps they don’t think we’ve completely lost it.
All I can say is, no matter what you might believe about human/animal communication, the red dog story is true. And might be even better in black and white.