One summer afternoon when I was sixteen, I took my usual walk from my house on North Rodeo Drive and made a left angle across the park onto North Beverly to go shopping. Back then Rodeo Drive was nothing but a typical small town street. There was a hardware store, bicycle shop, stationery store, market, toy store and several restaurants. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana and all the other high end shops were to come much later. It certainly was not the shopping mecca that it is today.
Just as I was about to enter the crosswalk, an adorable little puppy began to follow me. I turned around and walked back the other way, hoping the little dog would get his bearings and go home. After trying two or three times, I decided to continue in the direction I had been walking. After all, at sixteen, what could be more important than shopping?
Toting several hours worth of shopping bags and about to cross the intersection of Beverly Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard on my way home, I looked down to see that same little puppy gazing up at me. Had he been waiting where I’d left him all this time? I didn’t want him to get any more lost than he already was, but maybe if I let him, he would lead me to his owner.
Well, that didn’t work. When we got to my house, I was so excited at the prospect of having a new little companion of my own that I asked my father if I could keep him. Unsympathetic as usual, he told me to go up and down my street to see if he belonged to one of our neighbors. And after doing that, I was to report a lost dog to the Beverly Hills Police Department. If no one claimed him, we could discuss it.
The little dog sat on the floor by my side through dinner. I had only given a vague description to the man on the phone, and I couldn’t name the breed, so I was hoping with all my heart that no one would recognize him. But as soon as we finished dinner, there was a call from someone asking if my puppy was a Miniature Schnauzer. When I said I didn’t know, he asked if he could come over to take a look.
Not even ten minutes later, the doorbell rang. My mother and I went to the door. While I opened it to greet a very handsome gentleman with two beautiful little blonde daughters, my mother stood behind me and said, “Well, won’t you come in, Mr. Newman!” Yes, it was Paul Newman! Paul Newman’s little Miniature Schnauzer had followed me home! He was renting a house around the corner on Beverly Drive for the summer while he made a local film.
The three of them stayed and talked for over an hour, and he left with a promise that he would call the next day with his breeder’s name and phone number from Westport, Connecticut, where he lived with his wife, Joanne Woodward. That Sunday, there was an article in the home section of the Los Angeles Times with photos of the whole family and my darling little puppy. He was so handsome! I mean my puppy. I wish I could remember his name.