Raja spent last weekend in Montreal, Canada- a crystal of a city sitting on the St. Lawrence Seaway, right over the US border state of Vermont. Is Montréal, dog friendly? Not so much. Can a small dog tourist find happiness and fun in Montreal? Mais oui, bien sur!
First, Raja and I want to say that Montréal is a very old point of civilization. The Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois tribal groups variously occupied the area beginning over 8000 BP. Around 1650, French settlers founded the mission / fur trading town of Ville Marie. Friction between settlers and indigenous people subsided (along with the indigenous people) largely around 1700. Thereafter, in spite of British domination after the mid 1700’s, Montréal remained largely allied with French culture. Today French and English are spoken in Montréal, although French is somewhat preferred and Québec-ian separatism means that tourists ought to ask “Is this made in Montreal?” rather than “Is this made in Canada?”
What did Raja do on his weekend? He walked all the way down La rue Saint-Denis (located centrally in Plateau Mont Royal and positively littered with scenic architecture, cafes and boutiques) to the St. Lawrence River and then paraded along the seaway on the Promenade du Vieux-Port. He visited the Museum of Archaeology and History and saw a very fun, interactive exhibit called Pirates, Corsairs and Freebooters which runs until January 3, 2010. And he prowled the underbelly of the seaport in the museum’s underground archaeological excavation exhibits (really great!).
He was invited into a pub-restaurant, Montréal Poutine on Rue Saint-Paul (right near the Museum) serving the delicious, but hardly healthy, poutines- a Montréal dish of French Fries served with various high-cholesterol toppings. Delicious! The restaurant has a beer garden and also serves Quebec’s artisanal beers, Dieu du Ciel and Éphémère- about which we can’t say enough nice things.
While Raja stayed in a friend’s apartment, Montréal has a Marriott Residence Inn located in the glittering downtown on Peel Street that accepts pets. It would be much nicer to stay in the old part of the city near the port in one of Montréal’s many boutique hotels, and it is possible a pet could be negotiated in, especially in the month of November, the slowest tourist month of the year for this festive town.
If any readers have gone or go to Montréal, Raja and I invite you to write back in via the comments to give us some tips from your experiences in Québec.
My gift from the Pirates Exhibit- a plush ship's rat!
Curk up with a good book!
Sheryl Jean loaded her two pups, Veronica and Picadilly, into her car and took a super ambitious road trip all the way from Saskatchewan, Canada, eastward through Manitoba, and then southward through the American heartland into the Florida panhandle to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Then she drove north out of Florida and turned west, crossing the south and southwest to Los Angeles. After splashing in the Pacific Ocean, she and the pups finally turned north to drive through the Rocky Mountain corridor, recrossing the Canadian border into Alberta and returning to her home in Prince Albert. It was the Great Kahuna of doggy car travel odysseys! OK, that’s pretty fabulous as it is. What she did while traveling was visit 24 friends she had met online through the online social networking community Dogster.com. Everyone she visited had dogs, and the account of their travels heartwarmingly shows that people do represent themselves honestly through social networking sites and friendships made online are real, not virtual. Furthermore, it documents the breadth and effectiveness of Dogster.com to bring people from diverse areas together through their love of dogs. When she got home, Sheryl wrote up the story of their adventures as a children’s story cum travel tips narrative, complete with maps and real and graphed photos. She acknowledges and highlights the personalities of all the dogs Veronica and Piccadilly met, offers some tips about canine travel do’s and don’ts, comments on building dog relationships and graciously thanks all her wonderful hosts. According to Sheryl, Veronica and Piccadilly returned to Canada wiser and more sociable than they had left- highlighting the fact that dogs thrive when taken on trips with their owners, rather than worry and wait when left at home. What must they think about when they muse on their great adventure!? You can get yourself a copy of the adorably illustrated Our Road Trip Tips: Dog Travel Tips and Behaviours and link up with Sheryl and her photographs of North America with Veronica and Piccadilly by going to http://www.sheryljean.ca and following the links. Let’s all support Sheryl Jean and her nascent traveling and publishing empire with the nomadic and adaptable Veronica and Piccadilly! A word from Raja and me: we should have been in Valle De Bravo, Mexico right now seeing the Monarchs, but we got a link up to a map of Mexican drug cartel activity. Disappointing discovery: Lots of fighting and retaliating on the very road we would have to traverse. Raja and I are all for adventure travel, but our idea of an adventure doesn’t include being near the mean and the crazy. So we’re off to Montreal instead. We’re a lot less alarmed by Quebec’s separatists.
A book review of Alexandra Horowitz’s Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. (Scribner, 2009, US $27.00)
Alexandra Horowitz teaches psychology at Barnard College. Her specialization is cognitive science, the science that studies thought, and she has spent lots of time comparing human thought to that of rhinoceroses, bonobos (you know those really hip monkeys), and dogs- the hippest of all the three species.
While Horowitz has nothing but respect for dogs, she hopes to persuade us to understand that dogs do not see things as human beings do. Canine thought is different from human thought no matter how much each enjoys the other’s company. For example, dogs do not want to earn money so they can buy premium dog food. They just want to eat- anything at all and the more fetid the better. (Well, not Raja who prefers to avoid food, but he’s different.) While dogs may seem a bit indiscriminate in some areas- to us- Horowitz points out that dogs notice things we choose not to notice. And we are not referencing sensitivity to smell, sound and twilight lighting that are hallmarks of dog perception; Horowitz means that dogs notice irregularities.
“Dogs don’t stop looking- at the gimpy walk, at a rush of leaves…, at our faces. The urban dog may be bereft of natural sights, but he is rich in the odd: the drunken man swerving through a crowd, the shouting sidewalk preacher, the lame and destitute. All get long stares from dogs who pass them. What makes dogs good anthropologists is that they are so attuned to humans: they notice what is typical, and what is different. And… they don’t become inured to us, as we do- nor do they grow up to be us.” (163)
Thus, dogs come to know us and they anticipate us- giving us that eerie and wonderful feeling that our dogs see more layers of the world than we do. (Yes, Raja, I know it’s true, you do. You so do.)
My favorite parts of the book begin on page 241, “What It Is Like” to be a dog. I enjoy the way Horowitz reminds us that dogs do not see at our level and that they do not see or interact with what does not relate to them- which explains how much dogs enjoy the smelly, swirly, tactile world they know intimately near the ground- a world we keep our noses out of.
What I would like to see Horowitz address in her next books would be the companion socialization of small dogs specifically. While I have been schooled not to say “Raja loves to go on the airplane,” nothing he does suggests he’s not wildly happy to go on a plane ride. Yes, I know that’s the genetic encoding for ultimate companion dog taking over in all unusual and un-canine activities- but I’d like to hear what a psychologist might say about how companion dog wiring and general dog wiring interact.
And I’d like to read a little more science. Horowitz’s “Notes and Sources” yield lots of primary materials I want to read, but unpacking more science in her works for non-academic readers would help her, even more, to reveal the intriguing, logical and emotional, cognition of dogs. Raja and I recommend you read this thoughtful, respectful, dog-loving book.