Satch has a good life. We live in Wild Bill's House, aka the Grateful Dead Bed & Breakfast on Grove Street in San Francisco where we're just a block away from Golden Gate Park. For short dump trips, Satch goes to the end of the block where there is a lot in front of the Seth apartments. He fondly calls it Grove Street Park. The older he get, the longer and more frequent his duker dances get.
Satch always goes to the drug rehab next door to our house and sits on the porch begging or getting rubbed on. He pushes the front door open with his nose sometimes when they're in there eating, and drools on the front door step. He never goes inside unless they ask him in.
This guy named Mark stayed there a month or two or three ago. He was short and stocky with blond hair. Wore camouflage pants. He said he was from Idaho. Said he used to raise hounds back there, back home. Said the first drug he ever did was a joint laced with cocaine.
The day before he graduated to another house, he told me that every time he'd walked out on that porch after a group meeting or a jones or a phone call from his probation officer and he'd thought to run out of there, every time, Satchmo would be sitting there just hanging out and he'd always sit down and rub the dog and remember why he was there.
When the winter comes, Satch's arthritis flares up and he slows down a little. When he goes down the hills by our house, his tail twirls like a propeller to maintain his balance on the steep slope. He likes warm weather and suffers through our cold rainy San Francisco winters only because he knows how beautiful the San Francisco spring and summer are. He recently joined the AARP and enjoys discounts on his kongs and other squeaky toys at Animal Crackers on Stanyan. When football season starts, we take him down to the Kezar Club across from Golden Gate Park and he hangs with the other sports hounds. Bridgette the bartender gives his bones and water. In the summer, he and I go to Golden Gate Park and hang at the statue of Garfield, checking out women, reading, writing and playing ball. As he ages, he and I can finally play hide and seek, as he sometimes gets caught up in important sniffing and loses track of where I'm at. He's become a bit stubborn and slow. Sometimes he squeals when I try to move him out of the path of an oncoming car or out of a driveway, but all in all, he's kept his youthful exuberance and mental clarity.
Gone are the days of following the Grateful Dead on West Coast tour and picking fights with the other young studs. Over are the days of partying it up all night long. His advancing age has mellowed him considerably and he'd rather be a lover than a fighter. He still goes on camping trips and the occasional outdoor campshow like Laguna Seca where he can scam hippie dogs. A couple years ago he met Steamboat at Laguna Seca. Babe. She was of course, fixed and interested only in finding scraps at the camps, but Satch and she had a fine time.
Satch recently started taking Rimadyl which has improved his arthritis dramatically. Where he once whined to get up on the bed, he now jumps up. At the beach the other day, the boy was climbing cliffs. He trucks on down to Cindy's Market and the Panhandle. He's also on Soloxin which helps his thyroid. He acts like a puppy again and his roomates recently bought him a Pet Park Dog Bed in which he spends his evenings with us in the living room here at Grove Street.
This fine dog has had a life we can all appreciate. He's travelled the country, been to hundreds of shows, camped, had litters, hung with friends and family, and had a great time. He's been a trend setter, a veritable icon of his generation. He's been everywhere where was. He's made the scene and defined charisma. This dog rocks. I have had the great fortune to have been his comrade for all these years. What the future holds, no one knows, but this young Satchman has proven time and time again that his scrappiness and lust for life will take him through anything that lies ahead with intelligence, compassion and creativity.