I recently made the move to San Francisco. Yup. Just a short 30-hour drive from Minneapolis to the Bay. Previous to trip I had only been to California one other time and it was such a blur that I couldn’t tell you what happened.
This was definitely a new adventure but as you might guess this kind of drastic relocation also came with it’s risks. Needless to say — I was terrified.
Not only were we moving far from home but we had no living arrangements set up, a strict budget, the holidays were just around the corner and the hubs had to start his new job the day after we planned to arrive. Yeah, I was a little more than frazzled.
Luckily, we were able to stay with a friend that first night while we scrambled to find a hotel to stay at momentarily. With all the articles and hype about San Francisco being dog-friendly, we were under the assumption that hotel hunting would be cake!
Not so much…
Don’t get me wrong, overall the city *is* dog-friendly. Most hotels *do* allow dogs, but you have to hunt and the common choices were either out of our budget or had strict weight and breed restrictions. That weight typically maxed out at around 25 lbs — whereas Roxy is a whopping 35! Finally, at the eleventh hour, we managed to find a hotel — The Cartwright. It met our budget AND allowed dogs for no additional cost.
The hotel was located just outside of the Tenderloin — which is known as one of the “bad” areas of the city but at that point we couldn’t afford to be picky and for three days at least, we had a roof over our heads. That would give me some time to scour the web for apartments and Airbnb. With the hubs running off to his 9-5 job that he serendipitously landed, I was left to my own devices.
Which would be have been fine except that The Cartwright — while a life saver - resembled something straight out of The Shining and that scene with the bathtub haunts me to this day…so I was not thrilled with the idea of being alone there.
A lady who rode the elevator up to the fifth floor with me that first afternoon said it better than I could have — “It’s not amazing but hey, we’re in San Francisco; you’re not meant to sit in the hotel.” Now, maybe it was her thick Irish accent, the fact that this woman seemed to sense my unease or could somehow read my mind but it made me realize two things:
- Apparently I wasn’t alone in thinking this hotel was creepy as shit.
- I needed to get out there.
Once reaching the room I grabbed my laptop and with reinforced determination, plotted to hit the street but then there was Roxy and there was no way I was leaving her there, alone. So, she accompanied me. I spent those next three days walking the streets with Roxy, taking a seat at various restaurants and parks that allowed dogs until the hubs got off work. At first, I was nervous having her with me. Assuming that people would be irritated with her taking up more space on the already crowded sidewalks. That all changed within the first hour of walking, when people began stopping me left and right to talk about her, pet her, or just say a quick compliment.
After a particularly long conversation with a girl outside of a coffee shop it hit me — Roxy was my key to meeting new people. As long as I had her with me, the barrier was broken and people felt for some reason more comfortable striking up a conversation. I guarantee, if I had been alone, not one of those people would feel comfortable approaching me. It was clear that Roxy was now my secret weapon to getting to know this city.
One of my favorite places to frequent during these first three days was The Creamery. They weren’t just dog-friendly on the patio, but they also allowed her to go into the restaurant with me.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant at first not being used to dog-friendly restaurants but she’s a good dog. She sits when I ask her to sit. She stays when I ask her to stay. She doesn’t bite, bark, or whine, so after the initial shock, taking her inside wasn’t a huge concern. While we were sitting quietly sipping a latte and scrolling through twitter, a girl sitting next to us struck up a conversation about Roxy. Asking, what kind of dog she was, how old she was, the usual.
Eventually, the conversation shifted to what we both did and upon my mentioning the recent move and job hunting she offered me her card, saying to send her my résumé and if anything opened up, she would give me a call.
I left The Creamery that day and kissed my dog on the head. Roxy was absolutely my lucky charm. She opened up a door that without her probably would have been shut.
The next day, I took Roxy to Dolores Park. If you’re moving to the city, have a dog, and want to meet some of the nicest, most helpful and welcoming people you’ll ever meet - wake up early and take your dog to Dolores Park between 8 and 9 am on any weekday. There, I met a man who heard her story, looked at her and said to me something that I’ll never forget:
“She’s shy but you can tell that she finds her confidence in you.”
I looked at the man and without a second thought responded:
“We find our confidence in each other.”
The truth is, I need her as much as she needs me and even though I don’t have a job yet and we’re still searching for a place to call home in SF, I think Roxy is my favorite reason to stay. It is an amazing city — and not just for humans.