Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dog Watching

My Grandmother is an avid people watcher. In fact, I think the real reason that she gets to the airport three hours before her plane takes off is not because she’s afraid there will be a line at security, but because she wants to make sure she has plenty of people watching time before she has to board the plane. But I say forget people watching. I am into dog watching.

If you are anything like me, or most other people I know, the site of a slobbering tail wager makes you smile. Forget the basic pleasantries polite people make with each other as they pass one another on the road (smiles, nods, mumbled hellos, etc.). Call me rude, but there are actually times when I don’t even look at the person walking their best friend. Instead I say hi to the dog. He might stop to collect a pat or take a sniff, or he might not. Either way, the point is this: when I am out in public, I enjoy dog watching, not people watching.

The good news is this: I have found my version of the waiting area at the airport. I have found the best place in Northern California to dog watch.

My friend Marissa and I spent last Saturday wine tasting in the Healdsburg town square, and we had lunch at the The Healdsburg Bar and Grill. Out of sheer luck, the hostess sat us at the best table in the house. We were sat in the corner of their outside area; it felt like we ate our lunch at a picnic table in the square. While we ate, we had the pleasure of watching the most beautiful dogs walk by. I saw my first puggle, an adorable combination of a pug and a beagle. We also saw two champagne colored standard poodles with moustache hair cuts. They were very sophisticated and fit right in with their cultured, upper class surroundings. We saw a very friendly looking well groomed mutt, and a dog, whose breed I couldn’t place, who had a spot that spread over his left eye and left ear. My favorite, however, was a Weimaraner with a coat that was a delicious shade of tan and grey.

I think the reason that this particular spot was such a dog watching find had to do with the culture and economics of the area. Healdsburg is a rather well off area, and Wine Country has a certain air of unique-ness about it. Wine Country culture is a unique, granted. Where else in the world can you go to a wedding that has waiters walking around offering two types of wines before the ceremony even starts? But in my experience, people in Wine Country are aware of their uniqueness. Other cultures take pride in their culture as well, just try calling a Welsh person English if you don't believe me, and I'm not saying it's a bad quality. But when people become aware of a quality in their culture that they are proud of, they can exaggerate it. Perhaps the reason the best spot for dog watching in Northern California is a corner of Wine Country because the people in the area are aware of their unique culture and are flaunting their uniqueness with their choice in dog breeds.

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