PROVINCETOWN – On a recent summer day, Peg Movelle’s long-haired Chihuahuas Lizzie, 14, and Peppy, 8, were attracting a small but steady crowd of admirers on Commercial Street in Provincetown.
“It is the dog-friendliest town I’ve ever been in,” Movelle said. “It seems like everyone has one.” (Photo Gallery At Bottom)
But then Movelle, who owns a home in Provincetown as well as in Jamaica Plain, got to the heart of the matter.
“A male friend likes to borrow our dogs to walk down Commercial Street. It’s a great ice breaker. Maybe that’s why dogs are so popular here,” she said.
She may well have something there.
Try walking a block down Commercial Street on a summer day without seeing a pooch or two. There are sidewalk cafes that allow dogs, inns that encourage patrons to bring their dogs and water bowls outside many stores. There is also Pilgrim Bark Park, named one of the best dog parks in the country.
Provincetown’s rules about dogs on the beach are the most generous of any Cape town. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, dogs are allowed on the beaches unleashed from 6am to 9pm. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, unleashed dogs are allowed on beaches from 6-9am and from 6-9pm. In contrast, most Cape towns do not allow dogs on beaches at all in the summer and unleashed dogs are also prohibited.
But amenities and permissive rules are only a part of the shaggy dog tale.
Dogs have become a part of the social interaction of the town. More than a must-have accessory, our four-legged friends are more like a secret handshake or a password. In a place where no one is excluded, fido helps you feel like you’re from here.
Among those enjoying a stroll down Commercial Street last weekend were Don Collins with Leo, a 15-month old dachshund and wire-haired terrier mix. Collins owns the Provincetown guesthouse, John Randall House on Bradford Street. He confirms that dogs in Provincetown are de rigeur.
“You have to have a dog it seems in Provincetown. In many cases, it identifies you,” Collins said.
Richard VanOrnum, walking Cassie, his 7-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, in the west end of town, explained why he brings his dog with him for a visit. “She goes wherever we go,” he said with a shrug.
Chuck Messina of Boston said he brought his Italian greyhound 11-month-old Romeo because, simply, “I didn’t want to leave him.”
One of the more unusual dogs being escorted down Commercial Street last weekend was Hardy, a South Carolina dingo. To clarify the breed, the dog walker, who wanted to remain anonymous said, “As in, ‘A dingo ate my baby.”
Hardy, who is one year old, likes to go swimming in Provincetown harbor several times a day, the owner added.
Glenn Gerace said his one-year-old Pomeranian, Freddy, “loves the beach.”
“This is why I bought him down here. It’s pet-friendly and it’s always been pet-friendly,” Gerace said.
Oscar, a 7-year-old minature poodle, is a minor celebrity. He was chosen as pet of the week at the Provincetown Library recently according to his owner, Lucy Grindhammer. They travel twice a year to Provincetown from Hamburg, Germany.
“It’s so pet-friendly, it’s wonderful,” Grindhammer said.
And Havi, a 5-and-a-half-year-old Coton de Tulear, owned by Provincetown homeowners Brian Lawner and Edward Benedetti, agrees.
Lawner said, “She loves the beach and the people and the dogs. It’s her favorite vacation spot.”
–Laura M. Reckford
– Laura M. Reckford