A dog gone good story

By RICK RYCKELEY

With Little One here and her sister Little Bit due any day, it’s rare The Wife and I get any time to ourselves. It’s rarer still we have time for a quick vacation.

But with the Mean Lady, Little One, and The Boy out of town for a few days, we suddenly found ourselves with, well, just ourselves.

So last week did we jet off to the beach for some sun and fun? Nope. Did we drive to the mountains for some solitude and fresh air? Nope again.

With tax refund in hand, what creative, relaxing destination did we decided upon?

We flew to our nation’s capital to visit family for five days. If you guessed the visit went to the dogs you’d be right, but for all the wrong reasons. I’ll explain.

Now I’ve lived in the great state of Georgia near about all my life. Some say it’s been a sheltered life. So me in a big city, well, ain’t a good match at all.

Let’s face it, the folks in and around our Nation’s capital do things differently than us down here in the South. Why, for breakfast, they don’t even have grits or sweet tea! How they even consider themselves civilized, I don’t have a clue. But they do have one thing I think is rather intelligent – pet friendly hotels.

The folks who stayed at our hotel actually vacationed with their children and pets. To some of them, they were the one and the same – quite entertaining, to say the least.

Yep, The Wife and me, we stayed at a pet friendly hotel in Alexandria, Va. Whether your pet is a dog, cat, hamster, or Gila monster, all are welcomed at the posh hotel in Old Town.

I know, you may be thinking such a fancy place wasn’t my cup of tea – and you’d be right. Pets or no pets, who would drink tea without sugar in it?

The massive glass doors with brass trim at the front of our hotel opened by way of gloved bellhops. They even rolled out a red and black embroidered welcome mat — not just for us two-legged guests, but for also the four.

Flanking the doors on either side were ample water bowls for those early morning joggers, towels for slobbers, and not one but three fire hydrants.

With so many fire hydrants outside, I thought surely they’d give a discount to a retired firefighter on the inside. I’ll give them points for being friendly. At least they laughed when I asked, but no discount. Instead, they asked if I wanted a free treat for my Dalmatian. We don’t have a Dalmatian. Even so, the treat was mighty tasty.

At all hours for five days, dogs of every shape and size were paraded through the lobby. Tall, short, old, young, skinny and not so skinny owners were followed by some of the best-behaved animals I’d ever seen.

All welcomed each other with a tail wag and a sniff — the dogs not the owners.

Even though they were completely different, they really got along, with not a growl or snarl to be heard. I think some of those folks across the river in Washington could take a few lessons from them.

After just a few days of sightseeing at the Smithsonian museums, fighting through throngs of spring-breakers, and bus loads after bus loads of folks from I really don’t know where, I have to admit, — getting back to our pet friendly hotel was a welcome treat.

Stop laughing. I only ate one. Yum ... tasted like chicken.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]