Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yappy Hour

I admit it -- I'm a dog lover. Ever since Emily, my Jack Russell Terrier, invaded my life, I've been hooked. But having a dog has thrown a wrench in my book writing plans. Emily's not allowed to come with me. I rented a shore house with a bunch of people, and while it's a nice place with central air, dogs are not allowed. Fortunately, I have a big family and two dogwalkers that are willing to lend a helping hand.

In general, the Jersey shore isn't the most dog-friendly places, which I wrote about in a recent issue of Fido Friendly magazine. Dogs aren't allowed on the boardwalks or on the beach in the summer, and most hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts are staunchly "no dogs allowed." There are a few exceptions, of course. And I think they'll do better business for it.

My favorite so far is the Billmae Cottage (1015 Washington Street, Cape May, 609-898-8558). It's run by Bob and Linda Steenrod, two of the nicest people I've encountered on my travels for this book, along with Mary Ann and Jay Gorrick, who run the nearby Inn at the Park (1002 Washington Street, Cape May 08204, 866-884-8406). Bob is the head of Cape May's chamber of commerce, and also a minister (the online kind). He performs wedding ceremonies around Cape May, which is the third largest destination wedding spot in the country.

He and his wife are, like me, dog lovers. That's why the Billmae Cottage doesn't just accept dogs, but embraces them. Their cottage isn't a B&B but a B&D -- bed & dog. Every night around 6pm, they host Yappy Hour on Billmae's wrap around, gated porch. Dogs and their owners are invited to come out to gab, nosh, drink and sniff -- well, the last one applies to dogs only, of course.

I was in Cape May last Thursday with my mom, celebrating my 27th birthday, and we decided to stop by the Billmae Cottage to see what Yappy Hour was all about before we headed off to dinner at the Blue Pig Tavern (251 Beach Avenue, Cape May, 888-944-1816). The first dogs to greet us were Jameson and Guinness, Bob and Linda's husky/lab puppies. Even if they're babies, they're already bigger than my little 12-pound dog. They were joined by Bandit, a daschund, and my personal favorite, Petey, a hyper Jack Russell Terrier who was so much like my Emily that I was tempted to call in and check on her. Petey and his owners weren't even staying at the Billmae -- Bob and Linda invite their like-minded friends (and their dogs) over to enjoy the scene.

A yappy hour isn't without its hazards. Jameson and Guinness are playful puppies, but don't recognize their own strength, and there's usually an accident or two on the porch, which is why Bob and Linda keep a very full watering can handy. But it's a friendly event, and I was sad to say goodbye to the people, and the dogs, even if I knew that an excellent dinner was waiting for me. Maybe me and Emily will come by in the fall after all this book research is done, and when you can get away with taking your dog on the beach. I bet she'd love sniffing along the shoreline.

What I'm writing to: Guster on Ice, Live from Portland by Guster.
What I'm reading:
Legends of the Chelsea Hotel by Ed Hamilton.

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