Georgetown, my home, is a very special neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Georgetown is only a square mile in size, but because I’m only 10 inches tall and weigh 3 pounds, it seems huge to me.
History isn’t my favorite subject, but I’ve walked almost every block in historic Georgetown, and I can tell you quite a bit about it.
But first I’ll introduce my family. Except for our mom (she isn’t our birth mom; we’re adopted) we’re all toy poodles. Although I’m small, I’m a very handsome miniature hunk, and I’ve just celebrated my first birthday. My aunt Biscotti is 3, and Granddad Cappuccino is 10. Our mom, Karen Feld (she won’t tell us her age), is Washington editor of The Shuttle Sheet.
Established in 1751, “George Town” was named after King George II of England. I don’t know if he owned a dog. Over its 250 years, Georgetown has been a home to many famous residents. Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” once lived on what is now M Street, Georgetown’s main thoroughfare. The neighborhood is also a popular locale for filming motion pictures: The Exorcist was filmed in Georgetown, and this summer, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg made Minority Report here. I saw Tom Cruise in person and can happily report that he, too, is short.
My mom tells me that Georgetown was designated a historic distict by an Act of Congress-in 1950. At first a residential area with both luxury and working-class homes, Georgetown’s waterfront location has gradually become more exclusive and more commercial. It is now one of the “in” places for Washington’s “in” people. (And, of course, their “in” dogs). Hotels, condominiums, restaurants, art galleries, and hip and elegant shops attract area residents, tourists and students from nearby schools, such as Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic university in the country. Their mascot is a very ferocious bulldog.
The 3,500 Georgetown dwellers — and an estimated 2,000 canines — work hard to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood. We walk on worn red brick sidewalks and look up at large mansions and old row houses, where I often see lots of other dogs and those silly cats peeking out between the curtains.
I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite places. Some are famous, others are little-known.
I’m proud to say I come from a long line of water dogs so naturally I enjoy swimming and boating, especially a scenic ride on the mule-drawn C&O Canal barge. One mule, Frances, who has worked on the canal for years, told me that people living and working on the barges used to train their dogs to swim the tow line to shore to hook up the mules. That seems like an awful lot of responsibility to me. I prefer to ride with the costumed guides who take visitors on the one-mile, one-hour trip up the canal several times a day. Back in the early 19th century, the canal was an economic necessity; now it’s mostly used by the joggers and bikers who travel the tow path daily, trying not to run over little dogs like me.
Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Gardens, operated by Harvard University, is a museum housing pre-Columbian artifacts. The treaty establishing the United Nations was signed here, and today the grounds are a combination of formal gardens modeled after Versailles and informal wild gardens. Though I am not officially permitted here, I think these gardens are a tranquil oasis. When I’m feeling hyper, which is most of the time, I prefer to run around and picnic in Montrose Park right next door.
One of my favorite events is The Georgetown Flea Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We never arrive early like the true collectors and dealers who eye the merchandise as it’s unloaded from vans, because I need my beauty rest. But there’s plenty to see and buy later in the day. It’s a community ritual, now in its 29th year. Antique dealers and vendors offer a variety of fascinating (and some not-so-fascinating) collectibles. The market is sophisticated. Buyers are educated. It’s a flea market in name only and serves this hip community very well. We heard about a $13,000 cash sale for a set of English flatware. That’s a lot of bone money for silverware; you humans have got it all wrong.
Kay Graham drives 2 1/2 hours every Sunday from her Pennsylvania farm to set up shop. “It’s my urban experience. I like the mix of people, and I’ve made good friends here,” explains Graham, who sells sunflowers, antiques and organic produce.
I always greet the “Biscuit Lady” with an open mouth and wagging tail. She’s furniture dealer Sheila Gazewitz of Gaithersburg, Maryland, who has a booming voice and red hair, and carries a bowl filled with small treats. “Hundreds of dog people socialize their dogs here,” she explains.
My whole family loves to eat well. Often, we pick up pâté and brie sandwiches on homemade bread at Patisserie Poupon. It’s very French, so I feel right at home. Or we go to Dean and Deluca and put together a gourmet picnic basket. Mom always carries baby carrots since that’s my favorite treat. We stop by the Georgetown Wine Cellar for a fine cabernet. I’m underage, but I sniff the bouquet. I have a very expert nose.
In at least one respect Georgetown is not as civilized as Paris. In Paris well-behaved dogs are welcome everywhere. Here, the Health Department doesn’t look kindly on pups in restaurants. I like my mom to buy Prada or Kate Spade knockoff purses from the street vendors in Georgetown; that way I can hide in them when we go into restaurants and other dog-free zones. My mom calls me a necessary accessory rather than a dog; I dress up any outfit.
But I’m welcome on the patio at Cafe Milano, a popular hangout with the trendy crowd. It’s always buzzing, especially in the late evening, and the bar is usually so packed that no one even notices when I sneak in. I’m the self-declared official taster for the pizza with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil.
My days in Georgetown are extremely demanding. All the romping, socializing, exploring and sometimes hiding can really wear a pup out. New shops and restaurants are always opening, and there are the mainstay places I frequent to remind me of the quality and uniqueness of this area. My adventures here have taught me that there are many things to do, see and discover in a single square mile.
Amaretto told his story to his mom, Karen Feld, The Shuttle Sheet’s Washington editor and a longtime Georgetown resident.
BARKS AND BITES
BIG PLANET COMICS, 3145 Dumbarton Street NW; 202-342-1961. Paw through old Archie and Jughead comics here, or browse the selection of European comics.
CAFE MILANO, 3251 Prospect Street NW; 202-333-6183
C&O CANAL, 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street NW; 202-653-5190
CYNTHIA P. REED, 1628 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-333-8737. This well-designed interior décor store offers high-end furniture and accessories.
DEAN AND DELUCA, 3276 M Street NW; 202-342-2500
DUMBARTON OAKS MUSEUM AND GARDENS, 3101 R Street N; 202-339-6401
MONTROSE PARK, R Street NW, between Oak Hill Cemetery and Dumbarton Oaks
ELITE OCCASIONS, 1633 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-342-2111; www.eliteoccasions.com. Come here for unusual and personally designed gift baskets.
THE GEORGETOWN FLEA MARKET, Sundays on Wisconsin Avenue NW between S & T streets
GEORGETOWN WINE CELLAR, 1635 Wisconsin Ave NW; 202-333-3308
GOVINDA GALLERY, 1227 34th Street NW; 202-333-1180; www.govindagallery.com. This innovative and contemporary gallery puts an emphasis on photography pop art — that’s pop, not pup. Check out the celeb and musician portraits by photographer Danny Clinch in the show Discovery Inn, 9/21 through 10/27.
LEONIDAS CHOCOLATES, 1531 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-944-1898. The perfect place to pick up a hostess gift: Georgetown buzzes with cocktail parties, usually in honor of a politician or to launch an author’s book.
MORGAN PHARMACY, 3001 P Street NW; 202-337-4100. This old-fashioned drugstore still provides personal attention and places special orders. It has a full homeopathic department and a pet food department.
PATISSERIE POUPON, 1645 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-342-3248
PROPER TOPPER, 3213 P Street NW; 202-333-6200; 888-842-3055. Try on unusually hip and unique hats for men and women, whether you want to protect your pate in winter or dress up for a special occasion.
P STREET PICTURES, 2621 P Street NW; 202-337-0066. This shop, owned by Judy Schlosser, is the place to go for framing the art you bought at a Georgetown gallery.
THOMAS SWEET, 3214 P Street NW; 202-337-0616. Homemade ice cream is the specialty here: Try rum raisin in a waffle cone.
Visit Amaretto and Karen’s other media hounds at Amaretto’s Page.