At Yappy Hour, it was Best in Show, Sarasota style

Southeastern Guide Dogs sponsors event in advance of its Walkathon


Harriet Cuthbert cropped
Harriet Cuthbert

As I was watching the magnificent dogs compete for Best in Show during the recent Westminster Dog Show, I could not help thinking that the dogs who participated in a special Yappy Hour at the newly opened Square 1 restaurant would have definitely given them a run for their money.

I was invited to attend the Sarasota event, which was sponsored by Southeastern Guide Dogs in preparation for the Sarasota Walkathon. As I entered the restaurant, I was warmly greeted by a girl with a huge smile who acted as if we were best friends, even though we had never met before. She is Jane, and in charge of the Walkathon, and all of us volunteers.

Even though the purpose of the Walkathon (Saturday, March 19) is to raise money to support the guide dogs, during Yappy Hour “regular” dogs and their owners were invited to join in the festivities. And what a perfect night it was. There was instant camaraderie among all the attendees, and I never saw a dog complain or look to jump on the table holding the treats.

While enjoying my glass of wine, I met a puppy raiser who cheerfully told me how much she loved her role in contributing to the success of the guide dogs program. And then a couple who foster dogs joined in the conversation, exhibiting the same positive attitude. They brought their beautiful and well-behaved Labs. These were dogs that were not accepted into the program for health issues, so they had been adopted out.

Incredible appetizers were served and everyone mingled, laughed and became one large family of canine-obsessed people. I counted at least 10 Labs of various colors; a magnificent black Great Dane who was so mellow he just wanted to be petted; two “fluff” dogs sitting at my table on their owners’ laps but looking like little children who just wanted to play; a wonderful dog who shook my hand and kissed me over and over again; and a stunning large pure-white poodle that was perfectly groomed for our gathering.

The best part for me was instead of not being allowed to pet the majestic and beautiful service dogs, because that would distract them from their job, on that night, I was free to go from dog to dog and get as many licks and kisses as I wanted. It was pure bliss.

With not an inch to spare between us as we navigated and mingled during Yappy Hour, these dogs were stuck with getting all my affection and attention.

Thank you, Southeastern Guide Dogs, for a most memorable event. And I will see you at the Walkathon.