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Another place that’s hard to leave

I’m not sure if it was an overdose of dog friendliness, or the camping experience, but Provincetown wore Ace out.

After a full day of doggie activities Saturday — part of Pet Appreciation Week in the Cape Cod community — we returned to our campsite and turned in early, as in 8 p.m.

Ace, though he was spooked by everything — a car door closing, headlights casting shadows on the tent walls — eventually fell asleep, at least I think he did, because I conked right out and slept through the night.

We were up bright an early Sunday, and the first thing we did, after coffee, of course, was head down to town, score a parking space and hit one of the town beaches — all of which permit dogs and, from 6 to 9 a.m., allow them to be off leash.

Ace sniffed around for a while, then broke into full frolic mode, kicking up sand as he ran in circles, stopping every now and then to crouch into a play stance and bite into the sand. He tested the water briefly, then decided running around in the sand was more fun — especially if I was chasing him.

We play this little game — perhaps it horrifies onlookers — where I double up the leash, making sure the clip part is in my hand, and act like I’m going to give him a whipping. I even say “You’re gonna get a whippin’  … You better watch out … ” When I do that he runs toward me, veering to the side at the last possible moment and I gently swat his hiney with the leash when he goes by. Then he circles and comes back again.

After an hour of that, we got some water and walked into town, stopping at the Governor Bradford, which, like most restaurants with patios in Provincetown — proclaimed America’s dog friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine –  allows dogs.

Breakfast finished, we headed to the pier, where Ace seemed most fascinated with the old working fishing boats — to the extent that there were one or two he wanted to hop aboard. He was intrigued, too, by the plastic lobsters on the bench/display above. It will be interesting, once we hit Maine, to see how he reacts to a real one.

He did get to sniff a starfish that a charter boat employee was showing some children, and fortunately didn’t gobble it up.

With a dog parade scheduled to take place at 2, sponsored by the Carrie A. Seamen Animal Shelter, we had an hour to kill. Ace was dragging a bit. Possibly I was too. So we walked back to the car. I opened the tailgate and Ace jumped right in and settled down. I joined him, sitting at the end of the tailgate. He shifted around so he could lay his head on my leg and, within seconds, was sleeping. The parking space was $2.50 an hour — so it was a pricey nap — but too nice a moment to interrupt. I think I fell asleep, too.

We awoke in plenty of time to get a good seat for the parade, which only lasted a couple of minutes, but we sat there for another hour with people coming up to meet Ace, compliment him on his handsomeness, and ask what kind of dog he was.

While that happens everywhere, Provincetown really does seem a place where dogs are appreciated more than most — and not just during Pet Appreciation Week.

Worn out by running on the beach and being sociable, we went back to the campsite for what would turn out to be a soggy night.

Mainly to get out of the rain, we jumped into the car about 6 a.m. Monday morning. I stopped for coffee and we drove out to Race Point — part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, 40 miles of pristine shoreline, marshes, dunes, cranberry bogs and ponds.

“A man may stand there and put all America behind him,” Henry David Thoreau once said of the spot we stood in. The rain turned to a gentle, but just as soaking, mist, and Ace went into frolic mode again. I wasn’t in the mood for the whipping game, though. Instead, I stared out into the water, only to see something staring back.

To me, that sealed the deal: I love this place.

Ace’s coat was drenched, and so was my sweatshirt. There was a soggy tent to drain, pack up and hoist atop my car — and I was already cold and tired to the bone. The skies showed no hint of any sunshine ahead. Nevertheless, it was time to get rolling — for while when I looked at the ocean the whole country may have been at my back, when I turned around the other way, the whole country was ahead.

Comments

Comment from Dawn the dog trainer
Time September 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I had to comment again…love the pic of Ace next to the buoys. I have lived in Mass my whole life and only been to P-town (aka Provincetown) once. I didn’t realize the dogs can go on the beaches free in the AM. I’ve been to beaches in Dennis where they have a blast but they are “supposed” to be leashed. I plan to bring my two pups sometime to run along the beaches. They will love it! Thank you for your insights.

Comment from jwoestendiek
Time September 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Thanks for your comments, Dawn, and for checking out the website. Glad to know my little car sign works — or worked at least once, anyway.
John/ohmidog!

Comment from KateH
Time September 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Wow – that must have been so awesome to see a seal watching you and Ace. I enjoy reading about your travels.

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