This summer I again planned a trip to Pacific Grove, California, on the Monterey Peninsula — the closest place I’ve discovered to paradise. Temps started out most days in the mid-50s, reaching a high of about 65.
I’ve thought many times about the weather’s air of mystery — would it remain overcast all day or would the sun surprise us with an appearance, magically turning the Pacific Ocean from murky, misty gray to sapphires dancing on a bed of emerald?
Yet even while enjoying these crisp, sometimes sunny summer days, I found the most meaningful experiences were those I had with others.
This summer, one of my most memorable interactions was with Louie, a melt-your-heart-in-a-minute bichon frise, that I met quite serendipitously. One day I was strolling through the Plaza, an upscale hotel at 400 Cannery Row in downtown Monterey, which neighbors Pacific Grove (aka “PG).
Glancing around, I happened upon European Jeweler and Goldsmith, which occupies space on the first floor of the hotel. I could not resist a pair of dark chocolate brown eyes in the store peering up at me through what appeared to be a pile of freshly fallen snow.
The piece de resistance? The fluffy caboose of that pile of snow was wagging “Bonjour” (what else would one expect with this canine’s ancestry as the darling of French nobility?) in the warmest, most welcoming way.
From the moment store owner Art Granat let me pet Louie, we became friends. Art’s inventory is too rich for my blood, yet he generously allowed me to come by whenever I wanted a Louie fix, usually once or twice a week.
During one of these visits, I really had to laugh, as Louie made clear to me the order of his affections. After spending about 20 minutes on my lap, returning my belly rubs with kisses, he suddenly jumped off the couch.
Imitating the gesture of a toddler, who raises his arms to Mom or Dad begging to be picked up, Louie ran to Art and did exactly the same thing with his front paws, as if to say, “Barbara, I think you’re nice, but Art is still number one.”
But as the shop owner later told me, he actually has to play second fiddle once the two return home after work. Totally ignoring Art, Louie runs to the window, waiting patiently for Art’s wife, Adriana, to come home. When Louie spots Adriana, there’s no question that she’s now top of the line in the eyes of this princely pooch.
Could the fact that Adriana is going to the kitchen to cook dinner and will no doubt slip Louie a few choice morsels have something to do with it?
I wondered how Louie became Art’s unofficial business partner.
“Louie really belongs to my daughter,” Art said. “She wanted a dog; Louie was the best choice we could have made.”
The Granats own two jewelry stores — the one on Cannery Row and the other in Carmel.
“My wife started bringing Louie to work in Carmel because he would cry like a baby when we left him at home alone,” Art said. “There was too much hustle and bustle at the shopping center in Carmel to add Louie to the mix, so I took him with me to Cannery Row.”
Adorable Louie has brought in much more business than any neon sign ever did. During my stay on the peninsula, Louie provided me with many hours of unconditional love, with no concerns of whether it was worth his while to spend time with someone who would soon be going home. He was simply enjoying the moment with me. I wish all humans felt the same way.
As my trip to the peninsula drew to a close, I expressed a heartfelt merci beaucoup to Louie for adding so much to my trip. A la prochaine mon ami (See you next time, my friend).