To The Park!
We headed due west, all the way to Spruce street’s end where the sun rolls into the river as the road rolls downward to Spruce Street Harbor park. Dogs and their owners converged on the park from all directions. Two fenced off dog parks—big dogs on the left, small dogs on the left—stood in the distance. Princess Leia was alert, anticipatory.
She stood at the fence enclosing about fifteen dogs. The first dog to come by, a Shibu Inu, confirmed that PL would have to stay on the outside looking in, as she jumped and scratched at the fence while emitting a low grumble. She merely locked noses with a bigger dog for a bit before jumping excitedly when her new friend started to lose interest. A pair of tiny dachshunds elicited a mad scramble forward that sent the fence aflutter.
We went up a ramp and watched the dogs collide and scatter from above for a bit before heading to the boardwalk floating on the Schuylkill.
“Sorry, she’s teething,” to one of several girls from New York seated on a bench who I obliged under the weight of their incessant stares—directed at the puppy, of course.
“Just keep petting her and you’re fine,” and Princess Leia was The Pope in Santa Rosa for a few minutes.
“Steve’s Prince of Steaks, but definitely get some tacos on South 9th St,” I say before we headed back towards the park.
Get her tired, they said.
We watched the dogs bounce off each other for a bit before going back through the park where Princess Leia went 2/4 on perfectly interacting with other dogs—I had already developed a preternatural ability to pull her back at the last moment. The aerial shot of the dogs darting in and out so convivially would come back to me later as a metaphor for the day.
Besides the fact that I knew it was going to be a long day, I was especially motivated to stop by my local, Green Street Coffee, since dogs darting in to search the floor for crumbs or to suddenly pull you from your computer screen with upturned eyes can be a bit routine some days.
I quickly discovered there’s no better way to walk into a room.
Everyone alert and smiling, the entirety of Green Street—whose compact, L-shaped seating lends itself to interaction—was focused on Princess Leia for a few moments.
A girl in the corner let out an effusive, unguarded smile immediately upon seeing Princess Leia.
“Ahhhhhhhh, pupp-eeeeeeeeeee,” exclaimed one of the baristas.
Clearly, I was along for the ride. I was coasting. Princess Leia was the main draw here.
The whole, like having a baby thing really rang true as I did my best at drinking coffee with an excitable dog in my lap. Luckily, she was incredibly calm, content just to stare inside at all her new friends through the glass as we sat outside. If Princess Leia could suss out the fruit and honey notes of my Ethiopian Sidamo, she wasn’t letting on.
I did say that it was going to be a long day. So we made our way to one of Philly’s quintessential dive bars.
Now, I like drinking. I don’t mean that lightly. Nor should too much be read into that. It’s pretty much the same as saying, I like dogs. Just as there’s nothing better than pouring a bit of alcohol on that post-run/workout feeling, you may ask how can this get better. Well, with a dog, of course.
The sun pouring in from two yawning doors, Princess Leia and I took up a perch along the bench by the doorway after I ordered my beer and set her up with fresh water in a bowl I hurriedly cleaned in the bathroom.
Mirroring the frequent interactions with dogs and dog owners (in this bar that doesn’t serve food) is the ease with which you can strike up conversations with regulars or someone you’ve never seen before at the bar in question (with a currently overzealous health department, I don’t want to ruin a good thing, such as the person who ended a longstanding tradition of bringing dogs to Doobies, which does serves food). You can start singing to the jukebox with half the bar on a good night or start throwing darts with a group of people out on a bar crawl or just back from a Phillies game. All that’s to say that everyone’s generally friendly there—almost as if you had just walked in with a dog.
“What a cute puppy. Can I pet her?” a guy in a Jameson shirt (this being the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day) asked excitedly. Despite having the stature of a rugby player, it looked like it would crush him if he was denied a moment with PL.
Then there was the couple and their friends who sat down next to him.
When I told them PL’s backstory (I had removed her Adopt Me vest since she had a habit of trying to eat it), the woman sharply nudged her boyfriend’s knee, before letting out an exclamatory ahhhh that triggered a deep look of concern in her boyfriend’s face.
There were hands reaching out from booths as we made our way to and from the jukebox. Then Princess Leia was up on the wooden bench with me, greeting people as they came in from the sunshine. Other than getting overly excited over the fact that she couldn’t jump all over a dog that she been content to just sniff for several moments, she was calm and relaxed, just taking it in, the communion of people and dogs seemingly calming her.
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