I like getting out of the house more than ever since the rude incursion of a new roommate, FiFi the Prozac-popping pug. Her demonic, toothless attacks have left me weary. My only respite is the outside world.
BEST PLACE FOR A TASTY LICK
Java and Cream
I identify with owner Dennis Cavanaugh. The Philly native is a bit gruff on the exterior, but on the inside he´s a super juicy very rare Delmonico. Another coffee shop opened up on the island, but I´m a loyal beast. It would be like cat spit in the eye of life to forget the nurturing Cavanaugh has given me. When you hang with your hominid, you get a little doggy cup of vanilla bean ice cream for free. This is one sweet treat served up outside near a trellis of plants and iron bars to keep the greedy, nosey kids out of your business. Sure, this would give the vet a heart attack, but I´m living for the sweet smack of now. Dennis, you are a dog´s best friend.
Java and Cream, 225 E. Davis Blvd., Davis Islands, 813-254-8162.
BEST PLACE FOR A DOG-DAY AFTERNOON
Outside bars, a bait shop, fishing and friendly Homo sapiens make The Pier in St. Pete a Disney for dogs. And the best part is the Surrey Bikes. They rent for $10 for half an hour, and they look like a Model T you could actually chase and catch. I let the naked apes do the pedaling while I pose up front in the basket and slay the ladies with my pugnacious adorability whilst perusing the weird fashions of the hairless wonders. I thought pants looked painful until I saw a 70-year-old gent with metal lug nuts through his nipples. It´s a new trick that old dog should probably not have learned.
Whimsical Wheels, St. Petersburg Pier, 800 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-896-3640, www.whimsicalwheels.com.
BEST PLACE FOR HOUND-DOGGING
Like many of my biped counterparts, I have a thing for young, willowy blondes. The one I met at Fun-Lan was only five, a lovely greyhound rescue case with come-hither eyes. Her name was Bumper. Just Bumper. Bumper. Bumper. The back of her Suburban Forrester was laid down like a magic carpet of love. I´m twice her age, so I figured I could teach her a thing or two about the art of love. And I did, starting with a certain ear-licking trick I do. But alas, sweet consummation was not to be. Maybe it was the thought of poor, crazy FiFi alone at home. Or the presence of humans in the front seat, watching us because the movie was dull and we were interesting. Who could perform with such a leering audience? Until someone comes up with a canine Viagra, I shall have to content myself with watching the beauties at Fun-Lan from afar while I dream of fair Bumper and lick my, uh, wounds.
Fun-Lan Drive-In, 2303 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, 813-234-2311, www.fun-lan.com/home.html.
BEST PLACE TO DOGGY PADDLE
David Paul Davis had a dream in the 1920s that turned a tiny, mosquito-infested grassy key into a Mediterranean-inspired playground for the wealthy called Davis Islands. He began cutting canals for gondolas, but the land boom went bust before he could finish, leaving him broke and deep in debt. Shortly thereafter, he disappeared under suspicious circumstances from an ocean liner bound for Europe. His dreams of Venetian water taxis were not to be, but I take up his mantle by riding a kayak around the island every chance I get. (There´s really just one island, even though its official name is Davis Islands. Don´t ask me; I´m just a dog.) My girl and I like to launch from the Northwest corner of the island, just before the airport. She paddles while I strike a pose and enjoy the tranquil water and majestic view of how very well the fat cats live. Their backyards are littered with toys the likes of which I´ve never seen. I have to say the high point is when some high-priced little yapper comes rushing out on his dock just in time to see me in Buddha-like repose, gliding by, free in the open air.
BEST PLACE TO SCORE TABLE SCRAPS
Tate Brothers Pizza
One of the brothers, he´s always busting my chops. ¨What are you doing with your bare ass sitting on my picnic bench?¨ he´ll snarl like I haven´t been a regular for five years and heard the question hundreds of times. My hindquarters are cleaner than Greco´s mayoral record, OK? But what doesn´t kill you makes you stronger. I´m one loyal mooch. The Tates run a good joint. They even put a water bucket outside for dogs, though smokers often mistake it for an ashtray. The smoking ban has pitted dog against smoker, but it´s opened up an opportunity for love. Like how I love the brothers´ special blend Predator Pizza. Super meaty goodness with intestine-blocking cheese. It´s got bark and real bite.
Tate Brothers Pizza, 233 E. Davis Blvd., #A, David Islands, 813-251-2767.