Dog friendliest city in the US?

That’s what the Asheville, NC tourist board would have you think. We found that almost all the shops welcomed dogs, there was outdoor seating at many restaurants, and lots of the street art involved, or revolved around, dogs.

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Pretty sure that Chico jerked the leash as I snapped this shot but I didn’t realize it until later. I guess that’s what happens when you travel with a dog.

We started out in the River Arts District. There are dozens and dozens of working studios with small sales galleries.

We started at Broken Road Gallery.

We started at Broken Road Gallery.

They advised us to visit Circle Studio. To get there, one has to cross working railroad tracks. As there is a roundhouse nearby and trains are being made up all the time, it’s a busy crossing.

We watched tank car after tank car of corn syrup roll by.

We watched tank car after tank car of corn syrup roll by while we waited to get across the tracks.

The owner at Circle suggested we eat at Twelve Bones Barbeque right across the street because it’s really good and “That’s where President Obama eats when he’s in town.” The line was long and there was no way for me to order without leaving Chico tied up outside while I stood in the line, so we went down the road to another gallery complex where, the guy at Circle had said, there was a ring with some agility equipment and a dog training school.

There was a nice man working his standard poodle in the ring, and when I told him our story, he said the equipment belongs to a club, he’s a member of that club, and he thought it’d be OK if we played for a few minutes.

I was so excited, I forgot to take any pictures. But there, in cinder ring, about 100 feet across, we jumped some jumps, did a couple of tunnels, some weaves, and the dog walk. Oh, and of course, Chico’s favorite, the teeter.

By then it was almost 2 PM and I wanted lunch, so we went downtown to find “the place that serves Indian street food.”

The staff t-shirts say "Namaste Y'all."

The staff t-shirts say “Namaste Y’all.”

My lunch was a salad of mixed baby greens topped with grilled paneer – not something I would eat on the street in India, if it were even available, but exactly what I wanted on this day. One problem that Asheville can’t really solve is the no-dogs-in-restaurants health-law problem. That’s a larger cultural issue. So, while Chico could sit with me on the chilly patio while I ate, no one from the restaurant would come out to take my order and I had to tie my dog up and go in to order. When I was a kid, we’d leave the dog tied up outside a store, but I am intensely uncomfortable doing it today, especially in a town I don’t know.

Fortified, we looked at a number of stores, including a great place called Battery Park. They say they are a “book exchange – champagne bar – espresso dog bar” and that’s just about as right as a business card description can get. Lots of cozy clusters of chairs and couches, used and (behind glass) rare books, and dogs are welcomed. This was a place where I could sit for a snack and a drink with my guy at my side. We stayed from about 5:30 to about 7.

I had some dry rose...

I had some dry rose

and Chico, he took a nap.

At this point he'd had a long day of greeting strangers and meeting other dogs

At this point he’d had a long day of greeting strangers and meeting other dogs. At both of which he did a very, very good job.

And Chico’s fatigue, of course, made me realize that I too had experienced a long day of talking to strangers, so we wrapped it up.

Asheville is a city with a big health food supermarket, Earth Fare, so I went there and got some prepared food and ate it back at my home away from home. I packed up so we could leave first thing in the morning for Memphis.  Or as I was thinking of it “Asheville to Nashville.”

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