Some plans from one of your favorite BestSelling authors

By AJ Llewellyn

I don’t think 2020 went the way anyone expected!

And after a strange start to mine, I should have seen it as the harbinger of doom that it was.

almost rang in the New Year quite frankly, dear reader, with the gift of a night at Shutters on the Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, CA. I don’t normally get such swell gifts and actually, the gift belonged to a friend who worked on a TV series with a major actress (who will remain unnamed) who gave the entire crew two-night stays at Shutters. You can Google the cost and once you push your eyeballs back into your head, realize that she did this for over a hundred people.

Generous? Yes! My friend didn’t want to snag both nights and took New Year’s Eve, offering me the second, which was the night of New Year’s Day.  I was thrilled to be able to take my dog, Athena, who though she exceeded the 25-pound weight limit, was allowed to stay for an extra fee. Traveling with a dog is like traveling with kids. You have to pack a ton of stuff and you usually leave something behind.

I was warned by the hotel staff that Athena was not to be left alone in the room at any time (she wasn’t) and also that she could walk on the promenade but wasn’t allowed on the beach. I already knew this. Besides, it was cold. A day on an LA beach in winter makes you appreciate, finally, the warmer temperatures of the San Fernando Valley.

Our day started out great – well, no it didn’t, because I soon remembered why I never travel with my dog. She hates being in the car even though only very occasionally does the ride end at the vet’s office. We live 17 miles from the beach, and it was hard to ignore her trembling, forlorn figure from my rearview mirror. Things improved with a walk on the promenade once we arrived. She was a happy girl until I kept pulling her away from the sand. We returned to the room and bully sticks, cuddles, and fresh water in her dish only went a short distance to improving her mood.

I set up her bed, some blankies, and was emotionally exhausted by this stage. I should have let her stay home with the dog sitter who was curled up on my sofa with the cats watching Netflix on my TV, according to his text messages.

Athena moaned and groaned as I tried to write in my journal. She kept getting up and moving around. She came and lay on the bed with me and all of a sudden stood up and pawed in a frantic way at the bedding as though digging her way to the middle Earth. I Googled it because she’s never done anything like this and discovered it’s a sign of deep stress!

Really, dog? People pay a fortune for these rooms and you have me all to yourself!

She didn’t care. For some strange reason she kept going to the door. I knew she wanted to go home.

So, we did.

The dog sitter was a little surprised when I called him to say we were heading back, but he said he was more surprised that I took her in the first place.

“She’s the most neurotic dog I know,” he said.


What I learned at the turn of the New Year is home is where the dog is, and home was where my whole new year was! It could have been worse, and I am grateful it wasn’t. As another New Year approaches, my dog is asleep in one of the many pet beds I have around the house, sharing it with two cats. I can’t tell if this is true love or a deep, deep competitive display from all three of them. My other cat is asleep on my bed curled up with one of the dog’s toys. And we are all safe and healthy.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, healthy, productive, and prosperous New Year. Chase your rainbows!

A.J. Llewellyn

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