The weekly match at the Sarasota Polo Club was packed this Sunday. We have been attending for years and normally get there about an hour early to get a front row seat. But this week , due to the crowds, we were relegated to a seat a bit further back. It was an exciting game, going into overtime to pick the winner. As it was difficult for me to take pictures without people in front of me, I passed the time beforehand and in between chukkers drawing the myriad of pooches who came to watch polo.
Dogs (leashed) alcohol, families and outside food are welcome at the games. Perhaps a reason the popularity has grown so much over the years. One of our favorite things to do in Sarasota, I have many a sketch, and a bunch of painting ideas from my photos for enough paintings to last a lifetime.
However, I often wonder about the dogs. The little French Bulldog in front of us began snorting and breathing heavy soon into the day. His owners had thoughtfully brought him a blanket, had lots of water, kept him in the shade and were very attentive, changing his leash to a more comfortable one when they went for a walk. I know these breeds are prone to this sort of thing due to the short snouts, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he was happy, as he figdgeted, and generally fussed. Getting comfortable, only to be distracted, when another panting dog went by, or approached.
With one flipped down ear, the Yorkie mix was enjoying him/herself. Hardly panting, but again, constantly up, down, laying down, sitting up, the owners picking this cutie up on several occasions as if he/she was interested in the action.
And the big brown Lab laid half in the sun, half in the shade, looking resigned as his owner ate some ice cream.
Most of the dogs were panting terribly, despite all having water and owners who provided shade.
Sarasota culture is very tolerant of dogs….not just service animals. They are in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants, the banks, Lowes, in strollers in Home Goods, in the pharmacy. St. Armand’s Circle merchants generously leave bowls of water outside their stores. Our last visit to a wine store next to a Petsmart made me wonder if we had gone into the wrong store. They are at every festival we attend. Little dogs (being carried or in strollers to avoid being crushed), big dogs (their noses near parallel with food vendor trucks), mutts and fancies all together.
I love animals, and this is the first time in a long time there hasn’t been a four legged critter in our home. Maybe that’s why I find this all so interesting. As you can imagine, all these dogs are not well behaved or socialized. The encounter with the German Shepard and the Golden Retriever at Lowes near put two owners on the floor and me running for a weapon. All the owners are not always responsible, allowing leashes to get tangled, dogs to jump on people (my instinct brings my knee into their chest) or other dogs. Forgetting to bring water for this pet that is so beloved they can’t leave their home without them, but insisting a restaurant or facility provide the water for them. Using the word rescue to explain away bad behavior.
And the dogs themselves? Frankly, I have yet to see a happy dog at a festival. Their body language is usually tense. There is confusion as to where to walk, lots of panting, and at food festivals, the noses going a mile a minute. Or they’re straining at their leashes trying to get to the other dogs they don’t know, impeding and confusing foot traffic.
Understanding the love for your pet. Knowing the unconditional love they give back. Wondering if they are loving these outings?
“Did You Art Today?”