Bestselling author Belinda Jones talks to us about life on the road in the US with her rescue American Chow-mix Bodie and how the two formerly lost souls helped bring happiness back into each other’s life.
What are you working on at the moment?
My dog-themed road trip book Bodie On The Road – The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness has just come out so I’m busily scribing the sequel. The story begins in California and then moves onto Oregon. Highlights include visiting a town near San Francisco where a dog was elected mayor, getting anointed with Kennel no.5 dog perfume in Carmel and then having Yappy Hour cocktails at Doris Day’s hotel. Plus attending a Guide Dogs for the Blind graduation ceremony – not a dry eye in the house.
What breed is your dog and why did you choose him?
Bodie is either a Chow Chow or Shar Pei mix on account of the purple stripes under his tongue. (People also see Akita, Dingo, Shepherd and Pit Bull in him!) I was actually going for something enormous and fluffy, basically Chewbacca on all-fours, but I stopped at a Pryor’s Planet street adoption in Los Angeles (run by Jennifer Lee, the widow of actor and comedian Richard Pryor) and Bodie sat his furry bottom down on my bare flip-flopped foot and I was sold!
How do your friends get on with him?
They all find Bodie hilarious because he’s such an attention-seeking ham. My friend Amy loves him the most – she calls him Handsome Man over and over. We were sharing a room when we took Bodie to see the meteor showers near Joshua Tree and he climbed off my bed and went and snuggled up with her. (We stayed in dog-friendly Pioneertown – an Old West movie set in the middle of the desert!)
How long have you had him?
I adopted Bodie on St Patrick’s Day five years ago. He was picked up as a stray in South Central Los Angeles and was fully-grown at the time so he’s probably around 7-8 now. I would loved to have seen him as a puppy, I bet his ears were enormous.
Does he come with you to work?
Yes! I mostly work from home but if I’m working in a café he’ll come too and splay out in the sun by my feet. (Perk of living in California – lots of patios.)
What difference does he make to your life?
Where to begin! I was not remotely outdoorsy before I had Bodie, now I absolutely relish being out in the woods or coast or even in the rain with him! I actually only had one pair of jeans prior, now I have a whole section in the wardrobe for ‘dog-walking outfits’! He really is my constant companion. I got him at a real low point in my life when I didn’t know how to make myself happy but it was just so easy to bring on his big grin and the Lipizzaner horse prance he does when he’s really excited. I love that he’s game for absolutely anything* and he’s become my #1 road trip side-kick! (*With a taste for the high life – this pic is of Bodie getting a pet massage at the San Ysidro Ranch where the Kennedys’ honeymooned!)
Do you take him on holiday with you and if so where?
Yes! We’ve actually visited 30 US states together, everywhere from Colorado to New York, Texas to Maine. We had so much fun I’ve actually created a website around his travels with guides to our most stylish stops.
Does Bodie have any funny ways?
I love the quizzical Scooby Doo noises he makes instead of barking and the way his top lip gets caught up on one side and makes him look like a cartoon dog. But the thing that amuses people most about him is his underbite, with a tooth missing, just to add to absurdity. I’m thinking of getting him a gold tooth to fill the gap!
Do you take Bodie with you to restaurants and do they have any favourites?
Never mind my favourites, Bodie actively pulls me towards the ones he favours. Tartine is his top spot on Coronado on account of the large homemade dog biscuits. I love taking him to Patio on Goldfinch in trendy Mission Hills – their patio is enclosed and has a wall of ferns on one side and a rustic fireplace on the other so it’s very relaxing and he’ll typically doze off once the table scraps stop coming. But I think our joint favourite is Cheeky’s in Palm Springs on account of their Bacon Flight! (5 different flavours including apple cinnamon and sesame seed.)
Where is your favourite park?
Bodie and I currently live on the Californian island of Coronado (just across the bay from San Diego) so we have Tidelands Park just a few minutes’ walk. But if we head towards Ferry Landing there are a couple of little scallops of beach where Bodie likes to have a swim and then roll in the sand, compacting every inch of fur with grit. For a full-tilt run (him not me) we go to Coronado’s gorgeous dog beach which is set within view of the Hotel Del Coronado (where Some Like It Hot was filmed) and has the added attraction of shirtless Navy SEALS jogging by…
BODIE ON THE ROAD: The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness (kindle edition) is now for sale