By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
In other words, the dog's worth it. And that's a lot to put up with, for the dog still to be worth it. I have one last question.
"Why did you name him Big Guy?"
"We figured we'd name him what we were going to call him anyhow."
Um, gotta go.
The thing about the money is interesting. If you paid a dog walker $15 per walk to walk your dog twice a day while you were at work, for five work days, that's $600 a month. That's devotion.
Weeks pass. I continue to accost people with dogs. Nobody has Maced me yet. In my business, that's the same thing as being extremely popular. One afternoon I'm driving home on Canton at Exposition a mile and a half from downtown, and I see this young guy bounding through traffic with two enormous dogs on leashes. I know we're not in the 75201 ZIP code, but if this guy lives anywhere near here, he has the same basic lifestyle as the loft dwellers inside the downtown loop.
His name is Phil Bailis, and he sells commercial ovens. He travels all the time. Four months ago he moved into a 1,300-square-foot loft in the Murray Building, also known as the Dallas Tent and Awning Building, at 3401 Commerce St., south of Baylor University Medical Center, where Second Avenue splits off from Commerce to go to Fair Park.
The dogs are huge. One is a Great Dane. The other one...I really don't know. It looks like a bear.
"What's your dog's name?" I ask.
The Dane's name, he tells me, is Frazer, "like Frazer, Pennsylvania."
Bailis and his dogs have lived in apartments all over the country. They moved to this area from Philadelphia not long ago.
"I actually first lived in Colleyville," Bailis says, "but I recently got separated. I got the dogs, and my wife got the cats."
Bear, a golden retriever and collie mix, has been with Bailis since college and has lived in 11 different homes with him. "We lived in several different houses in Arizona, where I went to college, a small apartment in upstate New York, an apartment in Atlanta, Georgia. And then I lived with him in Philadelphia in two different apartments."
Bailis spends 20 bucks for a dog walker to take his dogs out on a 20-minute jaunt when he can't do it. When he's out of town, he spends $65 a night for someone from the dog-walking service to stay at his house overnight, taking the dogs out in the evening and morning and giving them a walk during the day. He calculates that he's spending something in the neighborhood of $1,000 a month on dog care.
"We've managed to have a circle of four people who like our dog so much that their doors are open to her."
I ask him about my theory that you can tell what kind of parents people will be by how they take care of their dogs. He's not really buying it.
"I can't stand people who call their dogs their children," he says. "Children are children. Dogs are animals. You can love your dog to the end of the world and love it and love it and love it, but it's still a dog.
"People who say their dogs are children are high."
Well, that could be. And the point?
Contego Solutions is a small high-tech start-up occupying the old Keeney Office Supply Building at 2211 Commerce at Central, originally Munger Cadillac, the city's first Cadillac dealership. Joel Mills, 28, one of the founders of Contego, brings Gus, his 5-year-old wire fox terrier, to work with him almost every day from their home in Lake Highlands. In good weather Mills rides his Triumph motorcycle and carries Gus with him in a backpack. Gus has his own eye protection for the motorcycle.
"Dog goggles!" I say.
"They're actually called doggles," Mills corrects me. "There's a Web site for them--doggles.com."
Contego Solutions monitors Web sites for companies and sends warnings if the Web sites stop functioning properly. The Contego offices are in a loft space furnished in a look I would have to call nerd cool--sophisticated modern furniture, a foosball table, a beer keg and a Nerf basketball goal. If you asked 200 MIT upperclassmen to describe heaven, it would look a lot like the offices of Contego Solutions.
Gus the dog is polite but cool with a visitor, barely giving the cuff of the pant a sniff, then retiring to his own space with a bit of a yawn. He is one of several dogs that visit the Contego offices during a typical day.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city