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Welcome Waggin'

March 1, 2009

Nap callously interrupted by arrival of burly man who interrogates Mistress and inspects every corner of the house. Man appears undaunted despite my warnings. Mistress scoops me up in her arms, narrowly saving man’s life. Opinion of him improves when he compliments me on departing.

"This pretty girl going with you to Naples?" he asks.

"Of course," Mistress replies. "I wouldn’t go anywhere without my Diva."

"Well don’t worry, we’ll make sure everything makes the move in one piece."

March 10

7 a.m. Burly man returns with other burly men to steal all furniture and boxes.

6 p.m. Nothing left in house. Mistress especially giddy and cuddly. I fear it is merely a ruse so I will let guard down.

March 11

Mistress calls me to the car, and I run right out the door before remembering that the entire contents of the house went out the door and were never seen again.

I leap into my spot, and then realize: I’m trapped! But, wait, she’s saying the usual car ride things, happy voice. She’s not telling me where we’re going, but who cares? It’s a CAR RIDE!

March 12-14

Longest car ride of my life, but Mistress seems happy. Sings out odd things once in a while: New York! Virginia! North Carolina! South Carolina! Georgia! FLORIDA! But she puts the window down, and it’s WARM! Florida = Warm. Got it! Humans have the oddest vocabulary.

March 19

9:15 a.m. Mistress acting strange. Changes clothes numerous times.

10 a.m. Could it be? Yes! CAR RIDE! We drive to a place with a lot of people and a lot of cars.

A stranger approaches.

He says: "Welcome to Waterside Shops."

Warning sign: Overly friendly. Strenuously warn Mistress that he is too close. She seems oddly pleased, and when we get out of the car, she lets him take it away.


I stare after it in disbelief, but then there are all these marvelous smells, and a lady approaches, hugs Mistress and bends down to me.

"Ooooooh, you sweet little thing, you. What’s your name? Are you Diva? Is that you? Look at those ears! Oh, that collar is precious."

She’s a fawner. Excellent! Everyone should fawn over me; I’m adorable. And apparently Mistress and Fawn are friends, so off we go, with Fawn and Mistress chattering. Nice to see Mistress happy.

10:15 a.m. Mistress excited.

"You have an Anthropologie! I love their Getaway Collection."

"Well, let’s go in," Fawn says.

"Oh, no, we can’t; what would I do with Diva?"

My ears perk up (they’re perky to begin with, but I love listening to humans talk about me).

"Don’t worry, they love dogs at Waterside. Let’s go."

I look at Mistress, Mistress looks at me, and I can tell we’re thinking the same thing for the first time in months: UNPRECEDENTED!

And so we go … INTO THE STORE, and the strangest thing happens: Everyone comes over and says hi! I consider the possibility that I look like a local celebrity.

When Mistress and Fawn go into little rooms with clothes on their arms, I get to stay with Natalie. She works here, and I love her. She tickles my ears and says nice things, and introduces me to my very first friend in Florida.

Charlie is handsome. (Don’t tell him I said so; his head’s swelled enough.) He’s a Pomeranian/Maltese mix, and his human is Kathy From Chicago. She and Mistress and Fawn get along famously. They let me and Charlie and Natalie run around having fun while they talk and talk. How do humans find so much to talk about when there are so many interesting places to smell?

Natalie loads Mistress up with bags and off we go, leaving Charlie and Kathy From Chicago behind.

"Come on, Diva, you can see Charlie next time."

Next time? We can come here again?

11:15 a.m. Juicy Couture is my kind of place. They even give me treats (Organic Liv "R" Crunch, thank you very much), and Mistress gets me a new travel carrier and tries to plop me in it, but I’m way too excited, and I want to run free.

Mistress and Fawn are laughing, and the sun is shining, and this is a glorious place!

11:45 a.m. There’s a whole window of plaid. We haven’t seen plaid since we left the cold place.

"Do you want to go into Burberry, Diva?" Mistress asks.

I do! Burberry has a bowl of fresh water next to the door (even the bowl is plaid). I’m not used to this warm weather and all the walking, and I slurp, spilling a bit. Before I can feel too bad, the nice Burberry man rubs my head, and Mistress and Fawn start shopping, and all is marvelous again.

12:15 p.m. So tired. Mistress and Fawn flagging. They did not drink from the Burberry bowl. Concerned they might be dehydrated. I’m keeping such a close eye on them that I barely notice the shiny things in Cartier, even though the staff was delighted to see me.

12:30 p.m. They’ve come to their senses.

"Are you ready for lunch?" Fawn asks.

"I’m starving. And Diva needs a rest, but I hate to leave now."

"Why on earth would we leave? Diva, would you like to go to Silver Spoon?"

I don’t know what Silver Spoon is, but if lunch is involved, I’m there. We sit outside, and Fawn and Mistress get food and drinks, and I get my own bowl of water. I curl up under the chair and have a nap.

I dream of squirrels.

1:45 p.m. Fawn nudges me with her toe, and Mistress scratches my ears as I wake. It wasn’t a dream. We’re still at Waterside.

I take one last slurp of water, allow Fawn to adore me for a few more minutes, and then we’re off to find a small patch of Green Space before we head back to the stores.

I meet Mara in White House/Black Market, and she’s just as nice as Natalie. It’s become clear that the interview process for Waterside stores is excellent. If they check "Yes" on the Do you like dogs? question, they’re hired.

"It’s wonderful that the stores allow Diva in," Mistress says as Fawn dances around in a new dress.

"We recognize that they’re an important part of our shoppers’ lives, and we’re happy to have them," Mara says. "Besides, who could leave this beautiful girl home?"

She bends down to coo at me, and I wriggle with pride and joy.

Several bags later, we hit more stores: J. Crew, Lacoste, Yamron Jewelers, Williams-Sonoma. I am admired repeatedly.

3:45 p.m. Mistress and I rest in the sunshine while Fawn traipses off, promising to return with a treat. I can hardly contain myself, but my anticipation melts into happy lethargy as the sun warms me up. I am lulled into another nap with the sound of running water in the background and the scent of flowering plants in the air.

3:55 p.m. Fawn has returned …with ICE CREAM! She calls it Häagen-Dazs Vanilla. Fancy name for ICE CREAM!

4:30 p.m. Oh dear. Mistress and Fawn arguing. I insert myself between them.


Mistress picks me up and plops me in my new carrier with a laugh.

"It’s OK, Diva. We’re just trying to decide where to get a glass of wine. Brio or BrickTop’s? Do you have a preference, darling?"

I don’t.

Fawn says, "Let’s start at BrickTop’s and then go to Brio, that way you can see them both."

"I love how you think, but are you sure they’ll both let me in with Diva?"

"Not a problem. We’ll just sit outside."

I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t sit outside in Florida.

At BrickTop’s they drink something that smells strongly of grapes, cherry and cocoa. It’s too much for me, and I bury my nose back in my new carrier, only popping out when the waiter returns with something for me to drink. Luckily it’s just water. Humans drink the strangest things.

5:15 p.m. At Brio a nice lady named Karla shows us to a table and even asks if I might like some hamburger. I wag my tail: Yes!

Fawn and Mistress drink something that smells like blackberries, violets and nutmeg. I consider hiding in my carrier again, but there’s another tantalizing scent, and when I pop my head out I discover the biggest dog I’ve ever seen.

I quickly hide again, but there is much laughter, so I slowly peer out.

"Come on, Diva," Mistress says. She pulls me out and sets me on the ground. What is she thinking? Giant Dog and I study each other for a moment.

Giant Dog’s human says: "This is Dulce, Diva. She’s a German Shepherd, and she’s nice as can be. Don’t be scared."

Scared? I’ve never been scared of a thing in my life.

I toss my head, stretch my nose out. The big head comes down and sniffs me back. I roll over on my back, which the humans seem to think is amusing, but is simply a matter of survival. Maybe I was a little nervous. Luckily Dulce is reasonable. She noses me up, and guess what? I have another friend.

Charlie would be jealous.

5:45 p.m. Sleepy. Back in carrier. I don’t even bother barking when the man who stole our car brings it back. That was nice of him.

Am sad to leave Waterside, but when Mistress hugs Fawn goodbye, she says, "Let’s make this a regular thing, OK?"

"Only if you bring Diva," Fawn replies.

She gets a lick on the nose for that.

On the way home, Mistress sounds tired but happier than I’ve heard her for a long time. She says: "Well, Diva, what do you think? Are we going to be OK in Naples?"

With Fawn for her, Charlie and Dulce for me, and all the friendly people we met today at Waterside, who welcomed us both with open arms (and treats), I think we’re going to be just fine.


Tips for Shopping With Your Dog
-Dogs get dehydrated much faster than humans. Some stores provide water, but most don’t, so do bring some along.

-Keep your dog on a leash or in a carrier. You might know he’s well-behaved, but not everyone else does, and some people are afraid of dogs, no matter how small. It’s also the law in both Collier and Lee counties.

-Accidents do happen, so take Fluffy out before you go shopping and stash some bags just in case. That little pile is your responsibility.

-Pay attention to what goes in your dog’s mouth. Many plants used for public landscaping are toxic to dogs (including oleander, caladium and schefflera), as are several foods.

-Sometimes it’s simply too hot to have your dog outside for long in Florida, and it’s kinder to leave him at home. Never leave your dog in the car, and pay close attention when it climbs above 90 degrees.

-Stores are only bound by law to allow certified service dogs in and are fully within their rights to institute and enforce a No Dogs policy for the comfort and safety of their patrons. Please ask rather than assume your dog is welcome.

-And finally, be courteous to store and restaurant staff. Your dog is your responsibility, not theirs.

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