COUNTER INTELL: Coffee and canines and the inner Chihuahua

  At The District in Green Valley, the Saturday morning coffee drinkers bring their dogs to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. They grab tables outside, sip big hot drinks and chat with people with whom they have at least two things in common: caffeine and canines.

  I have heard that dogs, ones the size of a small pork loin, at least, are a status symbol and something a woman now can add to her matching shoes and handbag. There might have been some of that going on Saturday morning. Buts the prevailing vibe was more “I’m OK, You’re OK” than a meeting of the Paris Hilton Fan Club.

  I will never understand why some grownups think it’s cute to talk baby talk to their animals. What invariably happens next is they wind up talking baby talk to the humans they’re sitting with. The conversation focuses on Mr. Cutesywootseybabybinkins wearing the little pink collar and tonguing its privates with jackhammer intensity. Then, of course, there’s a kiss for mama and a visit with strangers, and the process is repeated for hours.

  The caffeine and canine crowd truly enjoys their animals, and it’s true to a certain extent that the dogs and humans seem to reflect each other’s personalities. But an objective analysis of this phenomenon reveals some missing persons.

  The District’s dog set is mostly small animals. Men, the straight ones, at least, don’t appear comfortable walking their small dogs in public. I wonder why that is. On this day, the only large dogs on the scene were leashed by men. It appears to be OK for married men with children to walk itsy bitsy and let it wrap its leash around his leg like an animated ball-and-chain. But it’s not something the single male seems willing to brave.

  Older couples can get away with anything. Ditto for gay men.

  But straight guys, that’s another matter. I suspect they’re a little too caught up in their sexual self image to risk revealing their inner Chihuahua right on the street at The District, where, you know, there’s an outside chance they might find a sexual partner at the Coffee Bean.

  If a straight man is walking a smaller dog, it’s certain the animal is part pit bull or bulldog or rabid or wearing a wife beater and smoking a Lucky Strike and coming from an all-night poker game.

  As a married guy with a child and, all right I’ll admit it, two annoying terriers, I’m not exactly pegging the self-confidence macho meter. I’m thinking of renting a Morgan horse and walking it on a leash next week at the Coffee Bean. You know, just so no one gets the wrong idea.

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  The District, by the way, sponsors Mutts on Main Street, an adoption program for local dogs.

  On Saturday, a dad chased his twin sons, who looked to be about 2, up and down the street. It was toddler rodeo and quite entertaining. It made me miss those days when my daughter couldn’t wait for a chance to explore and listen to her voice echo down the wind.

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 Why include the Coffee Bean in Counter Intelligence? It’s not a café, but you can’t beat its prices these days. A small cup of good coffee is 99 cents – about half the price of a cup of mediocre coffee a Denny’s. A bagel is 99 cents.  You can get your morning started for about $2.

  And you don’t have to walk a dog unless you want to.