Wednesday, August 31, 2011
At home in Belgium
The opportunity to work in Antwerp Belgium for 10 days sounded too good to be true and excitement overcame me as I thought about visiting such a beautiful historic city but first I had to ensure there would be no issues with Erin accompanying me. If she was not allowed to tag along then I would remain in Germany but after placing a call to the hotel all of my fears were erased as they informed me of their dog friendly policies. On a Friday morning with my furry co-pilot in the backseat we headed west towards our destination of Antwerp and with relative ease the hotel was located; we arrived several hours ahead of schedule but that would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Check-in was accomplished, belongings were tossed into the room then we milled about the lobby in anticipation of the arrival of my co-workers over the course of the afternoon and into the evening. We had made it to Belgium safely and though it was the heart of winter there was no doubt this would be a memorable time for Erin and myself.
Many employees of the hotel took a keen interest in Erin after spotting her in the lobby area; from management to a janitor they warmly greeted the newest four-legged guest and lavished attention upon her. A pair of bartenders were arguably her biggest admirers as they repeatedly made trips to socialize then returned to the adjacent bar from where they came. The hotel staff was completely smitten by her charm, ability to follow commands and within the span of a few hours they urged me to allow Erin off-leash to explore the property. I reluctantly agreed thus she was free to roam the vicinity where everyone could keep tabs on her; she kept the servers company as they prepared the tables for dinner service, lounged on the floor behind the check-in counter, and wandered into the manager's office where a garbage can was too tempting to not topple over in search of goodies.Of course she wandered into the bar area where shrieks of "Erin Erin" were hollered in her direction and excitedly she ran towards the voices with a huge grin and wagging tail. As she bonded with the staff and visited anyone who displayed the slightest of interest in her, I played the role of overprotective parent to ensure her safety while making sure she wasn't being a nuisance.
We ventured outside in hopes of finding something to keep Erin occupied and that would be discovered behind a dormant covered swimming pool and maintenance sheds. The rear of the hotel property consisted of a wide plot of land surrounded on three sides by dense trees and as we strolled along the forest perimeter I eyed movement ahead in the distance. Continuing to move forward my eyes were focused on the vague outlines while Erin was inhaling the rich scents found on the ground; finally I recognized the shapes as a group of hares minding their own business. Kneeling down I quietly called Erin to my side and she promptly sat beside me as I whispered "Rabbit" into her floppy ear. Her head jerked upwards while the hazel eyes intently peered into the distance and I knew she had spotted them when she started to shake in anticipation of the chase but I told her to wait until we were closer. Oblivious to our presence the hares continued to forage as we moved nearer and nearer until finally Erin heard the magic phrase "go get em"; she chased her prey in every direction and repeatedly pursued them into the woods until daylight faded away. It became obvious that play time was over as we stood all alone in the bitter cold with no prey in sight but there would many more days of outdoor fun.
Before retiring for the evening I asked the desk clerk to inform the housemaids that a dog would be in my room during the days; it would be unfortunate if the employees were startled upon opening the door or worse yet somehow allow Erin to escape the room. To my amazement it was suggested that the hotel staff pet-sit her during the days I'm working and I was hesitant to accept such an offer for several reasons but finally agreed after they ensured her safety and reiterated she would have plenty of companionship. Erin certainly enjoyed the company of the staff and likewise they liked having her around but I would be overly worrisome just the same. As I returned to the hotel in the evenings Erin would run to greet me with a rapidly wagging tail and her trademark leaning against the legs where I can conveniently stoop down to dispense kisses and hugs. A manager or desk clerk would give me summary of the day's activities which usually consisted of napping in the manager's office or loitering behind the check-in counter where she acted as the hotel mascot greeting newly arrived guests.