Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Southern Dawgs! Charleston Playgroup vs. Nashville Playgroup

Upon moving to Charleston, SC, it did not take the hubby and I very long to start our daily walking routes with Rolle, our very spoiled basset hound. One afternoon, while walking down Broad Street we bumped into a lady with an English Springer Spaniel. We stopped and chatted for a few second so the dogs could say hi-–but she said she was in a hurry and had to go--she was on her way to the churchyard where all the Spaniels gathered for playtime, she uttered. I was thinking to myself—we would like to go, after all, were new here in town, we have a cute, well-behaved dog, and maybe she’ll invite us (me, hubby & Rolle), but no such luck—Spaniels only!

Shortly afterwards, on another scorching day, while at Starbucks drinking our late afternoon coffee, we bumped into another lady who looked like she had just gotten off work. She had her dog with her and she said she was heading down the street to the dog park. She very politely invited us and even told us how to get there. Hubby and I immediately grabbed our hot coffee and the dog and off we went to “Playgroup”. “Playgroup”, I should probably let you know, is our cutesy name for the dog park, where people take their dogs to run around and play with other dogs. Hubby and I just nicknamed it “Playgroup” since Rolle has always been the baby. My in-laws are not really thrilled with the term but Hubby and I like it. The Playgroup we would take him to in Charleston was where a lot of the downtowners—people who lived on the peninsula—took their dog, or dogs. Once at playgroup it did not take Rolle very long to introduce himself and start making new friends. He’s a natural when it comes to socializing. Playgroup, as it turned out, was also a nice time for Rolle’s mommy and daddy to socialize as well. The hubby and I got to meet interesting Charlestoneans, as well as a few out-of-towners, and most impotently get the daily gossip—which I loved! And of course Rolle got to meet several new friends. Let’s see, there was Harold & Maude the Scottish Terriers, Carolina the Boykin Spaniel, Nemo the French Poodle, Max the Poodle, Dutch the Labrador, Glory the Cocker Spaniel, Annabella the Doberman Pinscher, among others. Rolle, in fact, became one of the regulars, and trust me, they knew when a new K-9 was in town. Oh, the English Spaniels were eventually banned from the churchyard, and their private club had to be relocated to where Harold & Maude, Carolina, Nemo, Max, Dutch, Glory, Annabella and Rolle gathered everyday at 5:p.m...

Now, currently, while living here in Nashville, Hubby and I noticed that playgroup is a little different. We still live in an old, urban neighborhood, but Nashville is a much larger city then Charleston and now we have to drive to the playgroup at Centennial Park (although back then hubby would often drive and it was less than a mile). It’s actually a beautiful setup for the dogs—fully fenced with trees and hills—whereas in Charleston we shared a playground with various little league teams. Here in Nashville we seem to find a lot of Vanderbilt students, or we may meet a few ambitious country singers and songwriters wannabes with dogs named Waylon, Hank, Reba, or Merle.

All pictures from Living with Dogs Photographs by William Stites & text by Laurence Sheehan. Rolle & Ellie love this book!

Either way, you can rest assured that Rolle is a happy little hound as long as playgroup is somewhere in the South! For now he is teaching his new sister, Ellie, the ropes! Strangely enough, I have been lobbying for an English Spaniel named Henry for quite some time! More Nashville playgroup observations later.

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