A major perk of being a dog in Europe is the ability to enter dining establishments alongside humans and fortunately for Erin this luxury was discovered not long after arriving in Germany. We began to explore our surroundings in our adopted hometown of Mannheim and while wandering the snow covered streets, back alleys, parks, and riverbanks I peered inside a window of a local restaurant where to my surprise, there was a dog camped out next to a table. I tied my expat dog to a chair, proceeded to inquire as to whether I could enter with Erin and before I could utter "danke" we were both upstairs near a fireplace getting warm, dining on German cuisine, and enjoying our new life together. It was a major coup for us as rarely would I dine in Europe without her thus she would not be subjected to spending additional time alone.
The restaurant became a frequent haunt for me and Erin thus the staff learned her name very quickly as well as my dining preferences. We were usually shown a table upstairs where we shared meals with other canines quite often and never was there any disturbance or unruly behavior amongst the dogs; many folks didn't show there was a furry beast lying at my feet until we got up to leave the restaurant. The dogs that were allowed inside were always well behaved with advanced obedience skills so it seemed as if this was an elitist social club for the crème de la crème of the canine world. Erin concentrated upon me following the fork as it went from the plate to my mouth, patiently she waited until I sneaked her chunk of steak or some home fries which she devoured in a heartbeat. On occasion's when traffic was light and no other dogs were in the vicinity, the waitress would bring her a few biscuits in addition to the human goodies she received.
Another favorite place to dine with Erin was a Mandarin Chinese restaurant in our subdivision; we were welcomed with open arms, spent many evenings enjoying the owner's company while sharing the delicious food. The owner spoke of his journey from Asia to Germany decades ago, his family and the restaurant while inquiring about life in America, my job in Europe, and the dog. The staff knew little English and since my German was iffy, I usually resorted to pointing at whatever items were desired. While communication was a challenge, one thing we had in common was Erin whom the wait staff doted upon on a regular basis, they ensured she receive a decent amount of attention every visit. Dozens of visits and another dog inside can't be recalled, they were seen outside under the umbrellas with their human companions but it was peculiar that no other made their way inside, wonder if an exception was made for us. When the owner was informed of our move to Kosovo, he showed lots of emotion while exhibiting more love for Erin than ever before, it was very heartbreaking to say goodbye and witness his final moments with my girl.
I did my best to locate a dining facility that welcomed dogs regardless of the location and success was achieved in many Western Europe countries. Some were less than desirable, barely suitable for a dog while others were fit for a queen or a doggie queen in this case. Decadent meals of excess were savored in the heart of The Swiss Alps, Belgrade, and France; these feasts were amazing in every way and Erin was the lucky recipient of table scraps that most folks would die for. Perfectly situated in the position to receive maximum food with little effort, she remained motionless until my attention was directed her way and huge slabs of beef, pork, veal etc. was gobbled down with bliss, and she certainly ate well across a dozen countries. On reflection those heavenly meals shared with Erin have topped most in terms of quality since returning to America and I feel so privileged to have spread the wealth with my best friend.
A dog-friendly establishment in Innsbruck provided a very memorable meal as I wandered in with Erin where she promptly laid down under the table. Tugging and pulling on the leash soon began and she wouldn't stop despite my pleas, turns out the majority of tables had a dog underneath and a massive white creature was trying to say "hello." Released from my grip she strolled over to greet the Austrian beast, the folks sitting at the table before visiting a few more tables and then finding her way back to me. Always the social butterfly she was in her element and this was before the assorted meats, cheeses, and pancake soup arrived, then the good times really started. Nothing like strips of pancake soaked in broth to get a dog's attention; she scarfed down the semi-cooled treats as if it was her final meal and resumed socializing with dogs and customers alike.
From Amsterdam to Northern Greece, we had so many memorable experiences as hundreds of meals were consumed in the company of each other and I can't ask for anything more. They provided opportunities for us to strengthen our bond and love while spending additional time with each other, not to mention the shared fabulous food. She was the perfect travel companion as well as my best friend!! RIP Erin!!