Jun 12, 201309:25 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
Dogs in Bars and Other Normal New Orleans Things
Leila ponders life as a dog in New Orleans.
I've written about how dog-friendly New Orleans is before, but I guess I always thought of the idea as an outside thing. I've considered New Orleans dog-friendly because of the good dog parks and patios where dogs can join their human companions. But I thought it was mostly outside, not inside.
However, this past weekend I really got a sense of what it's like to drink a cold one next to a four-legged friend or two in a bar. And while this may have weirded me out in another part of the world, it seemed okay in New Orleans.
Some friends of ours invited Chris and me to the West Bank to go to the bar The Crown and Anchor English Pub in Algiers Point. We were excited about this because A) we like trying new places and B) because it was on the West Bank. The West Bank. What an adventure!
Anyways, my friend also told me that the bar is dog-friendly. This made Chris happy because he loves his dog, Leila, and loves to find things for her to do. I used to be annoyed by people who brought dogs to public places but ever since I started dating Chris I've been more open to dog-related events.
But being the newbies that we are, before Chris and I left for the West Bank, we decided not to bring Leila because we wanted to scope out the bar first. What if there weren't a lot of dogs there? We would look out of place. We didn't want to look... weird.
But when we got there, we quickly learned that bringing your dog was the norm. The place wasn't swarming with dogs, but there were at least four at one time. The bar was pretty small, so they took up a good amount of space.
And just like there are all different types of bar-goers, it was the same with dogs. There were the dogs who liked to follow each other around. There was the dog who saved a seat at the bar for his (human) friend. And then there was the mean dog – who happened to be the smallest dog – who had the reputation as “the bully.” He even started a fight, according to the people next to us.
“Yeah, that dog's trouble,” one of our friends said after the dog fight the little bully supposedly caused. “He's got a bad attitude.” Our friend was joking, but it wasn't too far off. These dogs were blending in like they were normal bar patrons. Dog watching was just like people watching. Something funny would happen, but then everyone would quickly move on and talk about something else.
Looking back on it, this was an interesting experience. Why did it not feel weird? I know New Orleans is a dog-friendly city, but you would think that having dogs fighting near your table in a place of business would be rather odd. It almost felt like we were sitting in someone's living room.
But for some reason the whole experience didn't bother me. Not at all. And this lack of reaction made me think: Am I becoming a New Orleanian? Am I becoming immune to weirdness? Before I moved here, I never would have thought to get a costume for Mardi Gras. I never would have asked for a go-cup. I never would have been so happy to catch a disposable flask at a parade.
But here, those things are part of what you do. You do things that might not be typical in other parts of America. In New Orleans, dogs turn up in bars sometimes. And is it weird? Yes. But is it okay? Yes. It's New Orleans. We don't do normal here.