P.J. the Yorkie Goes to a Doggie Spa in Central Park

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"We're taking P.J. to Central Park tomorrow," I explain to my stepfather, Nick, over the phone.

"What do you want, a medal for going above 14th St.?" Nick asks.

"What I want is to know if you want to go with us," I tell him.

Nick pauses, then asks, "What's this for again?"

I explain to him that it's some kind of dog spa or something at the Band Shell. That there will be plenty of dogs there, and they'll probably even have free samples of stuff.

"What kind of stuff?" Nick asks.

"Fuck you," I tell him, "what do you care? You LOVE the free stuff!"

"Well..." starts Nick.

"And they are gonna have doggie massages, doggie groomers and everything. Plus Lucy Liu is gonna be there," I say.

"Lucy Who?" he asks.

"Liu," I say.

"Who?" he asks.

"Liu," I yell.

"That's what I'm asking you!" Nick shouts.

Third base.

The next day, July 20, we make our way into Central Park and try to find the Band Shell. With us is P.J., my 8-pound Yorkshire terrier, Yeti, Nick's 11-pound Maltese, and Wendy, my 120-pound wife.

"You know where this thing is?" Nick asks as we wander around sort of aimlessly.

"Let's just follow P.J.," says Wendy, as she walks our son over sidewalks and through grass. P.J. is busy sniffing everything, and seems to be pulling us in a certain direction.

We all agree it's a good idea, and the next thing we know we are at the Band Shell, which is decorated with a huge Purina sign for their new food, "Beneful," which, as it turns out, this event is there to promote.

"This is awesome," I say to Nick, Wendy, P.J. and Yeti, as I look around us and see dogs of all types. Big ones. Small ones. Black ones. White ones. Yellow ones. Even handicapped ones with those little wheelbarrow things to support their hind legs. It's the Canine United Nations.

After we get our presskits and passes, we stroll around on the green astroturf covering most of the cement. As we do so, I watch P.J. sniff the stuff, and then look at me with a sense of puzzlement in his little brown eyes. I look back at him and shrug my shoulders. As I do so, he takes a piss on the stuff. Good boy.

Around us everywhere are little booths. Wendy and I take P.J. to a little one where a kind man, also named George, asks if our dog would like his nails done. I can't help thinking of that scene in The Sopranos where one of them mobsters is getting his nails done, so I agree.

George takes out some clippers and snips our little boy's nails. He does a great job considering P.J. hates anyone touching his feet.

After he finishes wrestling with P.J., we thank him and he tells us he works for a place called "Biscuits & Bath," a doggy spa up on 1st Ave. He explains that most of the people who were doing the spa stuff also worked there. And as I later found out, it was all very good.

Next, we took P.J. to check out the Beneful. There were bowls and bowls of it set out for all the dogs to sample. Funny thing was, none of the dogs were eating it, even though the nice girl in the Purina t-shirt told us, "Dogs just love it!" Must have been the heat.

When P.J. was done sniffing the food, and staring, rudely, at the wiener dog with a wheelbarrow for his hind legs, we continued on to the "Jog-A-Dog" machines. What they really were was mini-treadmills made for dogs. We got P.J. up on it, and got him jogging pretty quickly.

"Faster," I tell the guy, who slowly turns up the speed while warning me that "it's very hot out here for these little fellows."

"Faster," I say again. The hell if my dog is a pussy. I do the treadmill at least three times a week myself. So if I can, my son can.

As P.J. is running faster and faster, and I'm wondering how he can do so without having headphones on to listen to Slayer, I hear Wendy being told to move out of the way.

I look toward her and Nick, and all of a sudden I see a zillion news cameras taping my little boy for the news. At first I think it's great, but after I think about it a bit, I start to get upset. What if P.J. becomes famous? What if he gets his own television series? I know he'll hire a manager and fire his parents. Then he'll sue us and go out on his own. In a few years he'd be down and out, hanging at the ASPCA telling the other dogs how he used to be a "star" before he held up that pet store.

"He's done," I say to all the cameramen and news guys, as I pick him up and cuddle him in my arms.

Everyone looks at me funny. Like they didn't get the exact right shot or something. Fuck them.

Next, after all that exercise, it's bath and shower time. And, man, did P.J. need it. Stinky boy.

As we make our way over to the two tubs where naked dogs were getting hosed down by hot girls, I told Nick about this dog on our street that recently had surgery and lost its nose.

"How does he smell?" asks Nick.

"Awful," I tell him.

P.J. and Yeti both get baths and then it's on to the massage booth. We are told the massage therapist is on break and will be back in 15 minutes. We see a long line of dogs and decide we could massage our dogs ourselves. But no way was I gonna give P.J. a reacharound. He's a bad tipper.

On our way out of the park, Nick tried to have Yeti trained by a "pro," which, of course, was very funny, since Nick trained her to be untrainable. Also on the way out I nabbed a bag of "Beneful," the Purina dog food they were promoting. Wendy opened the bag and gave some to P.J.

"He's not gonna eat it," I said. "It's all healthy stuff like vegetables and beef and corn and peas. He likes McDonald's."

And just to prove me wrong, not only did he eat it, he went nuts for it. Kept whining the rest of the day for more and more. Even later that night he sniffed around the house, looking for tiny crumbs of the stuff. When he couldn't find any, he got all cranky.

So, congratulations, Purina. You've turned my dog into a Beneful junkie. You pussies.

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