Drink Up: Yappy Hour with the Dogist | Bite Club

Drink Up: Yappy Hour with the Dogist

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Layla and the Dogist - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Layla and the Dogist
I put on my party shirt Monday evening, grabbed a matching leash and hitched Layla to the end of the blue rope. We had a date downtown for Yappy Hour, a canine-forward gathering at Hotel Vermont.

Taking a dog to a bar is kind of like dragging a toddler there. They'd have more fun in the park. It's not ideal for you, either.  You have to pay attention to something other than the beer in your glass and the person next to you. That's especially true if a crowd of dogs and people convene — and there was a crowd Monday on the Juniper patio.

The draw was an appearance by the Dogist, a New York City-based photographer with an Instagram following of 3.6 million people.  Elias Friedman, the dog-less creator of the Dogist, said he's photographed about 35,000 dogs since he started his IG feed in 2013. Two Burlington dogs, Ollie and Chief, topped the feed Tuesday afternoon. (Chief, a 3-month-old mix, was at 138,001 likes Tuesday at 5.)



“I grew up with Labs,” Friedman, 31, told me. “I missed having a dog and [used] any excuse to go and meet other’s people dogs. The camera gave me a sense of purpose.”

There were plenty of dogs to photograph at Yappy Hour, maybe too many in a swanky-even-for-people kind of place. Some dogs took shelter under chairs, others preferred the comfort of their owner’s lap. A 9-month-old golden retriever barked at the bottom of the stairs before assenting to climb to the party.

But a dog named Finn, a master of off-leash schmoozing, worked the crowd with confidence and ease. A “super mutt” found in a bush in Puerto Rico, Finn belongs to Henry Friedman, Elias’ brother. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

“I rescued Finn and he rescued me,” said Henry, 29. “He came into my life and his Instagram blew up.”

Although not as popular as his Dogist uncle, Finn’s doing pretty well for a young stud. His IG, keepingfinn, has 160,000 followers. Finn and Henry live in a van, currently parked in Montana. They’re supported by brand backing of Finn’s online platform.

“It doesn’t cost a lot of money to live in a van,” Henry said. “And the outdoors are free.”
Henry Friedman and Finn - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Henry Friedman and Finn
In a personal highlight of Yappy Hour, our dog Layla was photographed by the Dogist.  But cocktail parties aren’t Layla’s thing and, although Friedman dropped to his knees to get the shot (“Layla, you got me on my knees, Layla,”), her big-time spirit doesn’t quite shine through.

“is layla gonna b on the gram?” my niece texted from Philly.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her (and my newfound Dogist groupie self) that the odds were slim.

Friedman told me he’s “looking for something that stands out, seems a little bit special,” when he chooses his subjects. “Everybody walks by dogs and wonders who they are,” he said. The Dogist tells their stories.

I wanted to know the story behind the Dogist name and asked Friedman about it. He told me it was inspired by the fashion blog  The Sartorialist, and added that Dogist means "one who dogs."  (What a great word!)

In our family, we double dog. I had left Johnny at home alone when Layla and I went to Yappy Hour. I couldn’t stop thinking of his big brown eyes looking at us as we walked out the door without him.

It was a tough call — who to take to Juniper — and now I’m thinking I picked the wrong dog. Johnny, in fact, is more photogenic than Layla.  Maybe he would’ve made the gram.

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