Why one woman wrapped herself in tinfoil to walk her dog in Downtown LA


Carmel is that happy, joyful dog that reminds us, Life is Good! Fun lovin’, playful 2-year-old Carmel, is a “glass is half full” personality, eager to greet each day with excitement. She’s available for adoption at the Pasadena Humane Society.

Last week, I announced a new wellness craze that is about to sweep the nation: mindful dog walking. It combines a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment – while out walking your dog.

Over the course of the last week, I went on several walks to practice mindfulness with my dog Oliver. I even tried it once with my other dog, Madeline – who was surprisingly zen for a change.

I have to admit, it is not nearly as easy as it sounds. To simply observe the world around me without interpretation or judgement is tough for someone like me. I’ve built a career on my ability to rapid-fire editorialize on everything I see and hear. So to just observe and feel is a bit of a new sensation for me.

On Wednesday, I took Ollie out for a stroll. I did great for the first few minutes. I observed quite a few things in my neighborhood I never thought to really pay attention to before – like the house a few doors down that is completely surrounded by 10 foot high shrubs and large trees, masking it completely from view and making it impossible for any natural light to peak through the windows. My judgy brain wanted to question why anyone would want to completely hide their house like that, because hi: that’s sketchy – but instead, I just observed. No judgements.

By the way, I think I have vampires living on my street.

I’m not the only one who had trouble just observing and feeling without judgement. Elena from San Marino wrote in this week with her mindful dog walking experience from several years ago. Her response was so funny, I’m not even going to cliff note it for you:

“When you work as a professional dog walker in downtown Los Angeles for 6 years, you learn a thing or two about mindfulness. At any given time, I walked between 4 and 8 dogs all at once down crowded sidewalks downtown where fast-moving people scarcely look up from their phones to see what direction they’re going.

Several years ago, I would often see an elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair walking her poodle down Grand Ave near the Disney Concert Hall. Her wheelchair was completely wrapped in tinfoil and had little round mirrors, nickels and quarters, dangling from the sides. She was wearing a bright red lipstick (most of which seemed to be on her teeth) and a silver metallic sequin jacket to match the tinfoil. The ensemble was finished with a giant Dr. Suess hat on top of her head that had also been completely wrapped in tinfoil.

The first time I ever saw her, I was walking 5 dogs at one time ranging in size from a scrappy Pomeranian to a large German Shepherd. All 5 dogs got so freaked out by what looked like a giant disco ball heading toward us, they all started barking and running in the opposite direction, flipping me around and getting me tangled in all the leashes. I fell, scraped my knees and the palms of my hands. It was right in that moment I decided I didn’t like disco balls.

From then on, I walked the dogs on the opposite side of the street.

One night I was walking home from a party (a little bit tipsy), and I saw her rolling toward me. I get really chatty when I drink, so thanks to my Moscow Mule fueled courage, I asked her what was up with all the tin foil.

Fully expecting her to be way loony toons, she surprised me with her response. She explained she lived a few blocks from the Disney Concert Hall, and while it was being built in 2003, her poodle, Maisy, wouldn’t walk in that direction anymore because the giant metallic structure scared her. So to help her poodle get over her fear of large metallic objects, she started putting bits of tinfoil on her wheelchair every week to slowly get her used to the shiny light reflecting metal. Pretty soon, the whole wheel chair was covered with the stuff, and Maisy seemed a lot less bothered by shiny objects.

Walking down the street in a tinfoil wheelchair grabs a lot of attention, she learned. So she decided to lean in and become a rolling Disney Concert Hall with her giant tin hat and sequin jacket. People assumed she must be crazy and homeless and started to give her their loose change.

Little did these people know she was far from homeless. She lived in a posh highrise nearby and donated all the loose change she made rolling down the street to a local homeless shelter.”

Umm, Elena, my friend, I need to know more. I want to know everything about this adorably eccentric lady who loved her poodle so much, she was willing to wrap everything in tinfoil just to help her overcome a fear. It just goes to show that what looks like a big metallic ball of crazy on wheels is really just love.

Crazy, unconditional love for a pet.

Thank you for sharing that story, Elena!

Keep these stories coming guys, seriously! They’re amazing! Email me at jhagerman@pasadenahumane.org with your best stories about crazy pet love – the more colorful the better!