Friday, July 26, 2013

Little Yigo in the Big Apple

By Jeff

My dog Yigo has made quite a journey. He was scavenging the jungles of Guam at this time five years ago. Who would have thought that today he'd be in front of a national television audience on "The View"?

That's right, my little Long-Haired Guamanian Jungle Shepherd joined nine other dogs as part of "The View's 5th Annual Mutt Show". Part of the prize was we got to spend a night in New York City. 

Now, Yigo is a very skittish dog. He is frightened when you open the freezer door (For some reason he has no issue with the refrigerator door, even though they are a part of the same machine.), and gets startled by any loud noise. With this in mind, we were thinking the sights and sounds of New York City would send the little dude into sensory overload.

Not so.

The little guy was a champ navigating his way through the crazy and crowded streets of Times Square. The only hiccups were the vents on the sidewalks. Yigo refused to walk on them, which led to a few traffic jams on the sidewalks.

Yigo loved Times Square and all the people.
I think Yigo enjoyed Times Square because he loves people, and there were a ton of people! The tourists and people of New York City loved Yigo. Countless people stopped to say how cute he was and ask how old the "puppy" was. When my wife and I informed others that Yigo is actually about 6 years old the results were looks of shock and disbelief that became a common theme of the trip.

Of course, there was no way Yigo was going to NYC and not hitting up Central Park. He tried to jump into one of the many softball games going on, but we thought it might not go over so well. We settled on taking him over the bridges and through the tunnels of the park and he seemed content with that.

What was surprising is I think he actually enjoyed Times Square more than Central Park. You see, Yigo is not a big fan of dogs he doesn't live with. The old jungle/street dog mentality kicks in and he wants others to know he is baddest mofo on the block. This tough guy mentality would come into play the next day on "The View"...

Yigo couldn't care less about the camera,
because he's ready to pounce on a pair Yorkies.
After getting back from Central Park, Yigo was pretty much beat. The little guy had a long day being cooped up in the car for almost three hours and then walking to Central Park and back. Too bad we had some more walking to do. The hotel we were staying at didn't have any greenery around it. The woman at the front desk said that Bryant Park was our best bet to find a place he could do his business.

The only problem with that is Bryant Park does not allow dogs. Fortunately, Yigo can't read and did his business right in the middle of the park while he enjoyed the view of the NYC Public Library.

Yigo is pretty proud of himself for peeing in
Bryant Park and not getting kicked out.
Thursday was the big day. The taping of Mutt Show and Yigo's shining moment. He met his competition early that morning in the lobby. They were all cute dogs, but none of them were on the same level as Yigo (I know, I'm bias). Of the other pups, Yigo really didn't like Copper, a 2-year-old collie mix. Any time Copper came close, which was very often because his owner had very little control over him, Yigo would tense up and get ready to throw down.

If you see this dog, beware. Copper will distract you with
cuteness and then eat yours and your dog's food.
The whole experience with "The View" was fun and interesting. Unless you're in the industry, you don't understand or appreciate all the work that goes into a television taping. Every little detail is scrutinized and debated. One minute you think you're doing one thing, the next it's being completely changed and an intern is being yelled at by a jerk of a director. Well, he was a jerk unless you were an attractive woman...

As soon as we got there we went through rehearsals. We all had to pack into this small waiting room in the order we would be called out. Well, Yigo is tight places with strange dogs is a bit problematic. Especially when Yigo and I had to pass the other dogs in a space no wider than a doorway. Needless to say, there was growling and some lunges. I wish I could say it was mutual, but really it was all Yigo. The other dogs were just being friendly and Yigo was telling them he had enough friends.

Can you blame him? This was a competition. Yigo had come all the way from Guam and wasn't going to let pleasantries get in the way. Would you like it if the Steelers and Ravens were hanging out before a game and playing video games together? Hell no! I figured he was also having flashbacks of living in the jungle when other packs of dogs tried to take his food or water and he wasn't going to have any of that!

Don't let those adorable eyes fool you,
Yigo will pounce if a dog gets in his grill.
Surprisingly, the best part of the day was not the taping itself. The studio only has one elevator taking audience members to the taping. This leads to a huge line of excited women waiting in the lobby that we had to pass by in order to take Yigo out for a last-second potty break. While the other owners and their dogs just passed by, Yigo stopped and let dozens of these women pet him and tell him how cute he was. Several thought he was an adoptable dog and offered to rescue him. It was incredible. Several women even undid the partition so they could get closer to Yigo, and he loved every second of it.

At this point, we had been in the studio from about 7 a.m. to noon. You'd think that the talent or the special guest judge and highly promoted dog lover Harrison Forbes would stop by the staging room at least once to say hello to the pups and meet them. Nope. Forbes may have said a dozen words to the five contestants and their dogs when the camera wasn't rolling. I've got to imagine Cesar Millan is much cooler.

Things got really interesting when it was time to take our places backstage and prepare for the actual taping. That room that was really cramped when it was just the five dogs, their owners and a producer was now filled with multiple show employees, including Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Cho. Needless to say, the room was more cramped than ever and Yigo was a whole lot closer to a bunch of dogs he didn't like. Copper got a little too close again and Yigo was ready to throw down. The problem this time was Goldberg was right there and bolted out of the room, terrified that she would become collateral damage.

Not the best start for Yigo if he wanted to win and become a national celebrity!

Now, not everyone who reads this blog has seen the episode yet, so I won't spoil who was selected as the mutt of the year. What I can tell you is that when Yigo came out, those women who saw him in the lobby remembered him and gave him the biggest ovation any of the other dogs received. It was incredible. And the best part was the little guy didn't back down. The bright lights and loud noises had no effect on him. He jumped right on the podium and made no attempts to bolt for the nearest door.

With the show taping completed, we headed for the elevator. It was at that moment that the doors opened up and Goldberg asked Yigo, Julianna and I to join her. She understood that Yigo was a sweetie and just needed to be away from the other dogs to be his pleasant self. While it was a great experience, I would die a happy man if I never heard Whoopi Goldberg say the word "stank" again.

In case you couldn't tell, Yigo hates to he held.
All in all, it was an amazing journey for Yigo. We can now add New York City to Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as places Yigo, the world traveling dog, has visited in his life.


  1. I love love love love this post! Yigo was a champ!

  2. Awesome read! Looks like you guys had a great time.