A ‘SIDEWAYS’ VALENTINE (aka Tanner’s Birthday Blues)

We were desperate for a Valentines getaway but February 14 is  also Tanner’s birthday, and we didn’t want to leave him behind.  Nobody actually knows when he was born, a fact that drives my astrology-minded wife crazy, so we decided to celebrate our Pit Bull baby on Valentines Day, the same as his pop.  We discussed Palm Springs and San Diego but finally opted for Santa Barbara.   Finding a place that accepts dogs isn’t easy.  Most hotels and motels don’t and many of the ones that do charge a hefty fee.  Why?  For the same reason Tanner chews his tail, because they can.

If you’re new to our saga, Tanner’s not fond of the car.  Seriously.  He used to barf every time he rode in it, even if we were only going down the block. We’ve made real progress since but long trips are still iffy.  We stopped along the way so I could join him in the back seat for ‘encouragement’ but we made it to Santa Barbara without incident.  After a taco run to La Super Rica, we dumped our bags at the State Street Motel 6, and took off for Solvang,  and the wine country made famous (infamous if you ask the locals) by Alexander Payne’s movie, “Sideways”.   
It’s not the Amalfi Drive (forget Tanner, even Eugenie can’t ride there) but the San Marcos Pass (Rte 154) is a scenic, winding road that passes by picturesque Lake Cachuma.  Tanner wasn’t happy but he closed his eyes and hung tough. 

Solvang’s a quaint (cheesy?) Danish village that’s also super dog friendly.  Once a year, in late February, they host a Greyhound Fest in which town opens its doors to a swarm of sweet, speedy rescue dogs.  We spent the afternoon shopping (the pet store and the Sock Guy got the bulk of our coin), then we took the birthday boy out to diner at Root 246, one of our favorites.  The three of us ate outdoors, on the patio by the fire pit.  Then we made the harrowing drive back. 

By the time we reached our room, Tanner was toast.  He ignored his food and water and hunkered down in his bed while we watched the Westminster Dog Show

a tradition from our New York City period when we owned a wonderful Irish Setter and the Dalmation from Hell.  Ironically, both breeds were represented in this year’s Best In Show round.  Tanner’s an American Staffordshire Terrier so we were  hoping the AmStaff might win the Terrier Group but no dice.  Maybe next year.  Tanner was torn.  The finalists included a German Shepherd, like Tanner’s girlfriend Lola, and a sexy Doberman named Fifi.  Eugenie and weren’t; we were rooting for the Irish Setter ‘momma’ that had recently given birth to 15 puppies.  

The following day, we hung around SB until after lunch.  Then we chauffeured Tanner home to Malibu.    The poor dog was fried and didn’t budge until his nighttime walk.  He’s grown very attached to us and wants to be with us everywhere we go.  If only we never left home, life would be perfect for him. 
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