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Woof on the wharf: A doggie menu

Ace and I were strolling down Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey – a place where one can make a meal out of the free samples of clam chowder offered by hawkers trying to lure you into their establishments.

Rather than mooch samples all afternoon, though, and in need of more copious amounts of chowder, I started eyeing the restaurants, looking for an affordable one with outdoor seating — one that might permit Ace to sit with me and watch me while I ate.

That’s when the hostess at Cafe Fina called out. Well, she didn’t really call out — the city has cracked down on that practice. Instead she quietly and casually mentioned:

“We have a doggie menu.”

When I approached, she went on to explain that Cafe Fina had some pretty good human food, too, and how the restaurant grew many of its own vegetables and how they were organic.

But she had us at doggie menu.

It offered “Chicken a la pooch,” “Hungry pup’s half pounder,” “Hound dog heaven,” and a 14-ounce steak that went for $15.95

We were offered our choice of patio seats and got situated, and I ordered the half-pound burger for Ace, clam chowder in a bread bowl for myself.

The hostess came out with a treat, which of course made Ace get unsituated, so that he might paw her arm in a gesture of affection, which really translated into “I’ll have that dog treat. NOW.”

With some work, I got him back down, but he was nearly trembling with excitement — if not in anticipation of the burger, at least by the noises and scents that emanated from the kitchen, which was on the other side of an open window just a few feet away.

It was chilly, with intermittent rain showers, but the canopy protected us and it was a perfect spot for people watching.

Ace had other ideas.

He took a seat right in front of the window, watching intently as the chef ladled my clam chowder into the bread bowl, its severed lid covered with melted cheese and garlic.

Yes, we were luxuriating a bit — forgetting for the moment about our budgetary limits, and straying from our near steady diet of fast food “Value Meals.”

I saw no reason we couldn’t live it up — at least for one meal.

I think maybe we were both drooling a bit when it finally arrived.

His burger, cut into bite-sized chunks, was steaming, so I kept it on the tabletop for a minute. He waited impatiently — somehow seemingly knowing it was for him. Rather than just sit still and hope I’d toss him a piece, he was up and down, up and down, wriggling this way and that.

Finally, I set it down before him, and it was gone in less than five seconds — inhaled almost as opposed to chewed.

The check came to $17 — more than we’ve been spending on dinner, much less lunch.

How much was it worth?

Every penny of it.

Comments

Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time November 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Ahh. Ace is playing the game of My Paw On You. I’ve learned that the correct response is to put my paw on top of the dog’s paw. The dog responds by moving his paw to the top, and so it goes in a kind of human/canine version of choosing up sides. I know he enjoyed his burger, but I’m betting the best part for both of you was being able to enjoy a comfortable sit-down (and lie down) meal in each other’s company. Hope you made it to your appointment!

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