by Barbara L. Steinberg©
Through my travels I have probably photographed more dogs than people. Though I only have cats, I grew up with a dog and take great delight in interviewing them and their people. Whenever possible, I email photos to newly acquainted puppies (I call all dogs "puppies" no matter the age or size) or send links to stories that sometimes include puppy faces and tails ( and tales!). Here are a few special pups I encountered on a recent trip to the "American Riviera," Santa Barbara. A very dog-friendly destination; and clearly the pups couldn't be happier.
California Department of Fish & Game K-9 dogs, Ellen and Wrigley, are part of the departments poaching program trained in detecting quagga mussels, an invasive freshwater mussel that threatens California’s economy and environment. The dogs will also be able to detect ammunitions and associated odors, providing California with an additional level of homeland security. While some dogs will be detection only, others will also be trained to apprehend suspects as well. The two DFG canine officers were providing a demonstration of their skills for the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) conference at Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort & Hotel in Santa Barbara. Though both dogs pack a full-set of chompers, they are very user friendly.
The members of OWAC, myself included, were thrilled to see how these marvelous animals worked side-by-side with their human colleagues. Living in northern California, we appreciated their coming such a long way for our benefit. Of course, spending time in Santa Barbara...well, aren't they just the lucky dogs!
Heading out from the Fess Parker on a Sunday afternoon, I was immediately drawn to the arts and crafts display just across Cabrillo Avenue fronting on East Beach. Every Sunday, rain or shine, hundreds of Santa Barbara County artisans claim a designated spot to sell their wares at the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show. All items must be made and sold by the person representing them. Okay, so that's a whole other story. On this particular Sunday, I was fortunate enough to meet Wille who truly defines, "only a face a mother could love!" Four years old and weighing in at a svelte 50 pounds, this stunning English bull dog was enjoying just another perfect day in Santa Barbara. I was so enthralled by his charm and effervescence that I almost forgot to get Willie's mom's contact information. That's the problem when you're in the presence of true celebrity.
The next day, I met two very happy pomernians who have much for which to be thankful. First, and foremost, these two darlings are rescue dogs. Secondly, Sadie (left) and Gracie (right) were vacationing in Santa Barbara at Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort & Hotel, one of many dog-friendly hotels in the region. Just another rags to riches story.
Jack Russell Terriers, Fletch and Rooster, were relishing a ho-hum day at spectacular Butterfly Beach in Montecito. Chosen by Travel+Leisure Magazine as one of America's "Top 10" beaches, Butterfly Beach is hugely popular with dogs and their owners, and anyone else who appreciates a fabulous stretch of beach. I don't know about you, but a day at this beach and suddenly dog-day afternoon takes on a whole new meaning.
Leaving paradise is never easy and this was very much the case as I organized myself to depart Santa Barbara. My last day and night were spent at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara in exclusive Montecito; now who's the lucky dog? As I was readying myself for this most painful departure, one last puppified moment provided another smile. Two very happy puppies bounded their way to the hotel entrance...their mother in tow. I assume on their way to Butterfly Beach, Sam (front) and Mac ran straight for a portico column. One-time shelter dogs, this Australian Shepard- and Border Collie-mixed pup are Montecito locals and were just stopping by for a snack. Sam and Mac know that the very pet-friendly Four Season keeps dog bones for visiting dog-nitaries. They waited, intently, while the hotel staff-person taunted them (ever so slightly) with the dog bones. But in the end, two more very happy puppies! Yep, it's a dog's life.
P.S. For all you pooches on the prowl for more dog-friendly places to stay and play with your human companions, look no further. Pick-up a copy of The Dog Lover's Companion to California and start packing.
P.P.S. Also, look for this wonderful book about Butterfly Beach.