Editors' pick

Doggie Happy Hour

Happy hour, Happy hour - dog-friendly

Editorial Review

Best for: Dogs that love being around lots of other dogs (and humans)

The area's longest-running dog happy hour got a spiffy makeover when Old Town Alexandria's Holiday Inn became the boutiquey Hotel Monaco. The huge courtyard got new furniture to go with the microbrews and bourbon-based cocktails coming from Jackson 20, the hotel's restaurant and lounge.

But the twice-weekly happy hour is still a joyously chaotic scene, with dogs of all sizes playing, nuzzling and scarfing up the complimentary "gourmet" dog treats. "The best part is the interaction with other dogs," said Eileen Marousek. "And the treats," added Wendy Owens. The two women bring their vizslas, Anka and Rosie, regularly to socialize. "They actually get that it's about them," Marousek says. "They make new friends, we set up doggie playdates."

Among the corgis, terriers and Weimaraners, it was hard not to notice Blackjack, a gigantic, wrinkly black Sicilian mastiff whose tongue looked too large for his head. When he stood up to play among the smaller dogs, he looked like a dump truck parked in a Volkswagen lot. "Dogs are incredibly social animals," said trainer John Landry, who brought the good-natured Blackjack and Wilson, a German shepherd. "This is something all dogs should do. They love it."

Blackjack and Wilson belong to Diane Stanley of Gaithersburg, who also came to happy hour with her sons Logan, 11, and Cooper, 9. Blackjack's about 160 pounds and a year and a half old, and the family also has a French Mastiff. "We have 400 pounds of dog at home," Stanley laughed as yet another small dog and its owner came over to get a better look at Blackjack. The curiosity was mutual: Logan and Cooper were checking out the other dogs, too. The Stanleys stayed until the very end of happy hour, taking questions, until the hotel's staff began hosing down the floor.

-- Fritz Hahn (July 25, 2008)