"Fill the box," someone yelled as half the Trolley Pub Charlotte riders piled into the "waiting" area at Dog Bar in Noda. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. I mean, it's the textbook moment for, "That's what she said!" I turned to my friend and co-worker and said, "That should've been our team name."
If you're not familiar with Dog Bar, you're probably wondering what in the hell I'm talking about.
One of my NoDa-residing friends had been telling me that I needed to experience a work-night turn up at the Dog Bar. While I'm convinced he doesn't think I'm a "dog person," per se (and he'd be correct) he's always known that I love the idea of dogs and possibly owning a well-behaved, "man's best friend" of my own one day.
So a few weeks ago, I decided to abandon my usual routine of turning happy hour into an Uptown charade, and finally went to Dog Bar.
The bar is referred to as a "dog-friendly watering hole with a patio." I literally couldn't have said it better myself.
I'd parked in their parking lot many times and walked past as what felt like hundreds of dogs were gawking and barking at me as I made my way to The Blind Pig next door. And quite frankly, I'd never been even tempted to brave the wild pack and see what Dog Bar had to offer. But my friend's dog, Luna, is a beautiful, platinum blonde Husky mix with piercing ice blue eyes. How could I resist the invite?
Per usual, as I approached the gate in front of Dog Bar, I was greeted by the sounds of barks. I stepped into what I call the "waiting area" between two small fences — a safety measure to keep the dogs from sliding past a newcomer and running into the street.
I took a deep breath and prepared to be devoured. To my surprise, all the dogs greeted me with a "smile" as I made my way to the covered benches and my friend. I don't know if he knew how nervous I was — I'd never been around so many dogs off-leash, running around freely in one space at one time.
We made our way through the entryway to the bar inside. A couple of the chillest pups you'll ever see rested on doggy beds on the bar. Say what?! They didn't even stress a newcomer walking in, they just laid there and minded their business like they owned the place. But in reality, the dogs run Dog Bar, so technically, they do own the place.
My friend ordered a craft beer, I decided a domestic would feel better in the morning. We returned to the patio and I watched Luna, who'd been pouncing all over the place kicking all the water out of the "community water bucket" before returning to jetting from one side of the bar to the other.
That's when I discovered we'd be playing trivia — rather, my friend would be, as I reassured him that I would be of no assistance.
He asked what our team name should be and I racked my brain for a clever response.
We finally decided on "Beers Full of Tears," but we weren't satisfied. After the first round, the Trolley Pub pulled up and spilled out a full group of tipsy cyclers. And as you can imagine, the Dog Bar is a magnet for dog lovers and thirsty singles alike.
So naturally, the entire group, minus dogs of their own, attempted to make their way into the bar.
Concerned that one of the tipsy travelers would accidentally let a dog out, someone stepped up to the inner gate and instructed them that they would need to "fill the box" and close the outer gate before he would let them enter. And that's when I wished we'd waited for inspiration before coming up with a team name.
As soon as they poured into the bar, all you could hear was the sound of "baby talk." "Oh you're such a good girl. Oh my goodness aren't you the most beautifulest dog in the whole wide world?!"
I chuckled at the awkward encounters non-dog lovers would make fun of for days and thought, "This is why dogs and dog owners love this bar so much."
I'm embarrassed to say, I've silently judged dogs — and sometimes babies — and their owners at dog- and kid-friendly venues, but Dog Bar showed me how much fun it can be to kick it with your furry child.