Can We Talk About Dogs?: An Innkeeper’s Journal

JUNE 2015: As we fold never-ending freshly laundered sheets we begin a Pink Panther dialogue. Rich starts.

Do you have a rrroom?
I don’t know what a rrrrrrroom is.
A rrrrooom.
A rrrrroom?
That is what I have been saying, you idiot.
Do you have a reservation?
I am Inspector Clouseau. I don’t need no stinking reservation.

Does your dog bite?
No, my dog does not bite.
Your dog just bit me.
That is not my dog.

I pull together a picnic basket with tablecloth, silverware, and plastic wine glasses Rich bought at Stop & Shop last night. More like large goblets, they are not what I would have bought but a lot of things are going that way these days. I don’t get exactly what I want because I can’t get it myself and I am weary of relying on Rich all the time. Luckily, I don’t need to make the picnic food. I suggest the Saturday Farmer’s Market down the street and the couple love the idea.

At two o’clock Rich runs out to the hardware store to get a shower head for the room that has the problem with shooting water. Ten minutes later a family with bikes on the roof of their jeep pull in. A father, mother, and college age daughter. They arrive fifty minutes before check-in, have the look of old money, and wear expensive but well worn clothing. Soft sweaters, slightly rumpled soft cotton shirts, nice shoes. The mother is soft-spoken and moves slowly, with an ease that lets you think she is comfortable in her own skin. She never stops smiling her closed mouth smile which makes her tranquility appear practiced. I assume she has lived a certain kind of life, never worrying about the bills that need to be paid, spending her days decorating her home, arranging flowers, and meeting friends for lunch. She would know how to write thank you notes, plan dinner parties, garden, and take care of dogs.

Her large poodle walks close beside her but when he spots me trying to navigate the large step from the dining room to the living room, the step with the metal runner where a pocket door slides across the floor, this obstacle that I need to avoid stepping on or a sharp pain will pierce the sole of my left foot with the torn metatarsal, the poodle runs toward me. I reach for the wall, setting off the chimes hanging from the clock, and shout, “I have two broken feet.”

Another woman called two nights ago to book a room. She asked if she could bring her dog. I said I wasn’t sure and I would get back to her. I called the former managers but they weren’t around so I checked the website and saw the No Dog policy. When I called the woman back she took the news well enough. She had a friend in town who could watch the dog, although she mentioned she didn’t sleep well without her dog by her side.

I now find myself in hot water, clinging to the chimes for dear life and wondering what to do about this dog who is apparently visiting my Inn and staying for the night.

I did not book the lady with the perpetual smile. When the former innkeeper called me back later that evening she said despite the No Dog policy she often allowed dogs. I have a full house tonight and a guest who is allergic to feathers. He could also be allergic to dogs but didn’t mention that because he must have seen the No Dog policy on the website. My husband is also allergic to dogs.

How do I de-dog a room after the pet owner leaves? Should they pay extra for the additional cleaning? Is there a set of standards the hotel industry has for cleaning rooms pets have visited? Do those apply to a nine room bed and breakfast?

Friends would bring their dogs to our house in New Hampshire without even asking. The dogs would scare the hell out of my cat, Jenny, who would run in the barn and hide, sleeping out there all night. This was my house and Jenny’s house too. It seems a lot of people work on the premise of bringing the dog along with the intention of asking for forgiveness after the fact instead of asking for permission and having to deal with the possibility of no.

I gave my character Sam, in Life Is All This, this character trait, or if you’re a dog lover you might see it as a flaw. He’s a guy who doesn’t understand the deep need to own a dog and the expectation that everyone else is going to love your dog. I worry sometimes that readers will judge Sam because of his opinion on dogs. There are certain readers who don’t like characters with opinions. That’s their problem, not mine.

But now I am worried about this situation I inadvertently find myself dealing with. The lady who was told by me she couldn’t bring her dog is most likely going to run into Our Lady of the Perpetual Smile’s dog and I will be in deep shit.

Over the course of the weekend, we discover the family with the dog is visiting their youngest daughter who is in a rehab house nearby. What type of rehabilitation she is receiving is never mentioned but this news makes me rethink the forced smile.

We also find out the woman who couldn’t sleep without her dog spent the night at her friend’s house. Her husband, who slept alone in the room at the Inn with the king size bed and fireplace jokingly told Rich she is “nuts about that dog”.

The man who has a feather allergy is also allergic to dogs. He and his wife thanked us for a lovely anniversary weekend and I am assuming they never ran into our four legged guest.

By the end of the weekend I do not know if the two dog ladies ever met. The poodle came to breakfast, but not at the same time as the woman whose dog was exiled to a friend’s house.

After the poodle’s family loaded their bikes back onto their SUV, Rich explained that although the former innkeeper allowed them to bring their dog, the Inn does have a No Dog policy and we are the new sheriffs in town so we will be honoring the policy going forward. Well, he actually didn’t call us the new sheriffs but you get the drift.

The husband replied, “Well then, we won’t be coming back.” A few minutes later, leaving through the front door, he shouted again, “We won’t be coming back.”

I remind myself you can’t please all the people all the time, and if you are, you’re doing something wrong but you may never know what is right.


Zen cat

Our resident backyard cat admiring the garden.