The Dogs

As I child I learned that All Dogs Go to Heaven, but I’m starting to believe the truth is All Dogs Go to Chautauqua.

Since arriving at the Chautauqua Institute 3 weeks ago I’ve seen every type of canine imaginable. And these are no ordinary dogs… It’s as if those who didn’t win at Westminster come here to recuperate from the stress of showmanship. 

I’ve met a lot of dogs lately. Big and small, fluffy and hairless, foreign and domestic; ALL dogs come to Chautauqua and joyfully parade around the grounds each day.

There’s the 4 month-old Goldendoodle I met by the fountain. When I asked what the pup’s name was his owner said “Deli”.

“Like the sandwich shop?” I asked.

“No, dear. Delhi. Like the Capital of India. My husband returned from a very profitable business trip there and we got the dog in celebration.”

Ah, of course. Silly me.

There’s 5 year-old Carter and his Great Dane, Prometheus. Prometheus seems to be the better trained of the two, and so in a comedic role reversal Prometheus walks to the end of his leash as Carter stops to pick up pebbles, or sticks, or trash… whatever suits his fancy. With an insane amount of patience Prometheus waits for some slack in the line and then they continue down the grass, dog leading young master in hilarious red-light-green-light fashion.

There’s 78 year-old Ginger with her hairless Chinese Crested named Mitzy. (Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.) Ginger is a gem - a long time dance instructor and vibrantly full of life, she coos “hello” to passers by while Mitzy cowers at the world around her. Scared of her own shadow - and of everything else it seems - Mitzy is most often seen in Ginger’s arms as they walk and waltz across the grounds. 

And then there’s George. George is a much older gentleman who walks his aging Dachshund past the house each morning. The two of them slowly shuffle along seemingly satisfied companions at ease in each other’s pace. One morning I came up the hill as George was coming down and I stopped to inquire about his companion.

“What’s your dog’s name?” I asked.

“Richard.” He said with a grin.

Thinking he may have thought I asked for his name I clarified with, “Yourdog’s name is Richard?”

“Yep.” George said, nodding his head and visibly holding back a chuckle.

That’s when it dawned on me.

“Ohhh, I get it. Richard. So, really, you have a Weinerdog named ‘Dick’.”

George let out a hoot, “HaHA! Sure do!! …You wanna pet him?”

“Oh. Jeez, uh, I - ha - ya know, I’m gonna pass on petting old dick.” I stuttered (Wow, Betsy.) “But, um, thank you. Very much. Have a good day!”

Next week the Chautauqua Institute closes for the season, so to honor it’s fabulous furry guests I implored the chimemaster to help me with a little tribute.

At 6 o’clock on Sunday evening I sat quietly on a bench to watch what happened as the bells counted down the hour then cheerfully chimed “Who Let The Dogs Out” [sound clip above]

A few dog walkers stopped to listen, a few laughed, and in the distance I saw Ginger pick up a trembling Mitzy and start to sashay up the red brick walk.

Enjoy the week ahead, and may you make a point to put some playful into your daily routine.