Café dogs are highly socialized, even the ones that make trouble: the yappers, howlers, sneaks and leapers. I was sitting outside my favorite café, about to plunge into a delicious Sunday breakfast, when a big Labrador head appeared from under the table and thrust itself into my lap.
I dropped my fork and the dog’s owner yanked on the leash. He was mortified. ‘I’m so terribly sorry. It only happened once – a café patron slipped her a piece of bacon and she’s never forgotten it.’
I laughed as the dog was still slyly eyeing off my mushroom and cheese omelette and subtly indicating that the absence of bacon had been noted – but a piece of toast would be acceptable. Labradors are slaves to their stomachs and this one had a truly wicked grin. I patted her and she was very friendly but her eyes kept drifting back to my plate.
Among my favorites are The Hounds of Hell. They make their appearance when the local newsagent first opens and they wake up the whole damned street. The first time I heard them I was stunned, it sounded like they were being brutalized. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
I rushed around the corner and there they were – two plump, long haired Cocker Spaniels: heads up, venting ear-splitting, blood curdling howls. When one dog ran out of steam, the other took over. Why? The newsagent told me that it’s a ritual. The owner ties his dogs’ leashes to the bicycle rack and the minute he steps into the newsagent, the dogs howl. And they keep it up until he reappears and ticks them off. Every single morning at precisely 7.05 am.
Then there’s the magnificently spoilt dogs. They only frequent the stylish cafés where water is supplied in posh chromed-up dog bowls. These dogs travel with their own small rugs – so they don’t have to park their arses on the cold pavement outside the cafés in winter. Hey, it’s not the dogs fault – if you were a shivering mongrel, would you turn down the offer of a snug pastel-blue bunny rug? Often they’re the same dogs that take their exercise wearing expensive subtly branded dog coats.
And then of course there’s those dogs that get to sit on top of their owners and share the Vegemite toast. It’s especially comedic when the dog is a fully grown beast, draped across the owner’s knees, with long long legs dangling and big head resting on the tabletop.
But my absolute favorite is the pug who sits opposite his owner on his own chair as the owner proffers tasty morsels from his own fork. Backwards and forwards goes the fork. And when the plate is empty, the owner leans across the table and plants a big kiss on the grunting pug’s head.
Photograph (above) of Max by Lesley Truffle.