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A Puggy Holiday in Carmel

January 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Eating and Drinking

Americans love their pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, dogs can be found in nearly 57 million U.S. households, and nearly one in three dog owners brings Fido along when leaving home for two or more nights. In this selection, author Judith Pierce Rosenberg relates how one California town’s hospitality industry welcomes these four-legged travelers.

“We’re going to Carmel!” I told Louie, our then 3-year-old fawn pug dog. He wagged his tail excitedly in response.

My boyfriend Michael’s text arrived near the end of a very difficult season. I was both thrilled and touched by his generosity and thoughtfulness. I so needed a light at the end of the tunnel, something to look forward to.

Michael, Louie and I had first stopped in Carmel-by-the-Sea the previous year for lunch en route to Southern California and discovered just how dog-friendly Carmel is. As I stepped into a boutique, leaving Michael outside with the dog, the owner invited them
in, a gesture that was repeated nearly everywhere, even art galleries! For lunch, we were directed to The Forge in the Forest, one of a dozen or more restaurants that allow dogs to dine on the patio with their human companions. Not only was there a water bowl
for Louie, but also a doggie menu, with items ranging from kibble to steak. Louie smiled the entire time. We knew we’d be back.

While we have subsequently stayed at the Traveler’s Lodge on the edge of Monterey and then driven the few miles down Highway 1 to Carmel, this time we splurged and spent two nights  at the pet-friendly Hofsas House so that we could walk almost everywhere.

We wandered in and out of little shops along the town’s main drag, Ocean Avenue. Sometimes we brought the dog in, while other times one of us — usually Michael — waited outside with Louie while yours truly checked out the merchandise. At the Jane Austen store we took turns, each chatting with the owner about her wares, including the dozen or so life-size pug dog statues, each slightly different, which were hand-painted in Kansas.  We bought lattes at the Carmel Coffee House and sipped them outside in the sunshine. Soon, Louie was pulling us toward Diggidy-Dog, his favorite store — a treasure trove of canine clothes, toys and treats, with a few cat items thrown in for good measure. While resisting all our attempts to clothe him in cute sweaters, collars, hats, or googles, Louie prettily begged the employees for treats and sniffed the other dogs, then took a long drink from the water bowl outside.

Around 5:00 p.m., we parked Louie to rest in the cool of the evening. Dogless, Michael and I stopped in a little European-like bar at L’Auberge Carmel. I was thrilled to see that they carried a Spanish beer, Estrella Damm Inedit, created by Ferran Adria, famed chef of the now-closed El Bulli; we split a large bottle and a plate of salami, cheese and olives.

Louie re-joined us for dinner at the Spanish-California style Cypress Inn, owned by actress Doris Day. We sat in the bar area with other dogs and their companions, ordering from the same menu as the adjacent restaurant, Terry’s Lounge. Louie had a bowl of water, and we fed him treats while enjoying our own meal.

One of the very best things about Carmel is that dogs can run off the leash on the city’s wide, white-sand beach, which is where we spent much of the next day. While bigger dogs played in the water, our not-very-buoyant pug preferred the beach, intently investigating first one pile of seaweed and then running on to check out the next.  As we walked along the ocean, holding hands, I felt some of the weight of the past few months slip away. It’s hard to stay in the grasp of the past when the present is so lovely.

The next morning, we took a last stroll along Ocean Avenue and a final walk on the beach with Louie before heading home, knowing that we would return — and soon!
© Judith Pierce Rosenberg, 2013.  Used with permission. Judith is the author of A Swedish Kitchen: Recipes and Reminiscences winner of a Gourmand International Cookbook Award  (Hippocrene Books) and now available as an eBook ) from Amazon.

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