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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wiener Dogs on Wheels Fund-Raise in Hayes Valley

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 6:30 AM

Open your hearts, open your wallets... - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Open your hearts, open your wallets...
As we've written before, San Francisco is a city where a man outfitted in a floral-print dress and pushing a conga drum down the street while sporting a John Muir beard will garner hardly a glance.

But a pair of weiner dogs in a Radio Flyer wagon? Whaaaaaat?

And that's what Jody Berke is counting on. He's not a fan of the hard sell. But with Guido and Vinnie making doe eyes at passers-by from the back of that wagon, who needs a hard sell?

The Hayes Valley resident and his wheeled canine entourage have become ubiquitous fixtures at local events, where Berke passes the doggie bag, as it were, for the local organization Pets are Wonderful Support. It's a good bet that the elongated pooches have raised thousands for PAWS. With a little help from Berke, of course.

click to enlarge Jody Berke wheels his moneymakers into a local store -- where they did a little fund-raising of their own - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Jody Berke wheels his moneymakers into a local store -- where they did a little fund-raising of their own
In addition to the whimsy of giving a pair of wiener dogs tough-guy names like Guido and Vinnie, Berke said he figured his dogs ought to be Italian as he is (he laughs and notes that he picked up the name "Berke" through marriage -- "not my own!").

When he's not toting the dogs in his wagon, Berke has a bike basket for them or tosses them into his '61 Cadillac. Apart from drawing a crowd "like a magnet," Guido and Vinnie are rather unobtrusive -- which is good, because Berke is entitled to take them pretty much anywhere as they're both service dogs. "I like to say that one was in the army and the other was in the navy," notes Berke.

While they look like littermates, Guido and Vinnie are not kin and Berke obtained them years apart. Both are rescue dogs. And, fortunately for Berke's purposes, both enjoy the spotlight. "These boys know how to work a room," he said with a nod.

It was a statement that needn't have been made. Though Berke didn't notice it at the time, Guido and Vinnie had spotted a doting mark in the counterman of the convenience store their wagon was parked in. Furtively the man handed them a few handfuls of meat or dog treats -- whatever it was, the little guys were going for it -- until he had no more.

Guido and Vinnie may have raised thousands for a good cause -- but, hey, a wiener dog's gotta eat.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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