My sister flew in from Northern California. I picked her up at the airport and we hit Tio Leo’s in Bay Park.

It’s the first time in December they haven’t had the fountain in the lobby covered by a Christmas tree. I blame the atheists.

After some delicious Mexican food, I took her to the antique and craft shops in Solana Beach on Cedros Avenue.

I figured it would be something a bit different, and we could get some last minute holiday shopping in.

I have some friends in town that take relatives to the usual places – the Zoo, Sea World, and Balboa Park. But my sister grew up here. And my mom has taken her to those places on previous visits.

I know she enjoys the less touristy things. And sometimes they appeal more to her interests -- the book stores and shops in Hillcrest; the restaurants in Little Italy, and this time, antiquing in Solana Beach (to answer my older brothers: No, I’m not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I had my little dog with me (see parentheses above), because I’ve seen these various shop owners with their small dogs inside.

I carry my dog around inside, because I never know if he’ll decide to pee on something. And I don’t need him knocking over an expensive antique or barking at an old lady.

As I walked in, I heard the woman at the cash register say something to me. I’m not sure what so I merely smiled.

My sister came up behind me and said “Did you hear that?”

Apparently, the woman said to me in a sarcastic tone, “Yes, you can bring your dog in here.”

It’s probably best I didn’t hear, because I would’ve said something rude back to her.

After about three shops, and realizing how painful it can be shopping with a woman, I took a seat on one of the benches outside.

The last place we went into was Antique Warehouse. A lot of their stuff is overpriced, but it’s still fun to look at.

There’s a Life Magazine with the Beatles on the cover, selling for $55. There’s a few sections with records, mostly priced at $10 each (albums aren’t really worth a lot, and you can find the same albums for $3 at used record stores like Record City in Hillcrest or Lou’s Records in Encinitas).

I thought about buying this set of old skeleton keys for a locksmith friend of mine. They were $45, and framed nicely. But we don’t exchange gifts, and I didn’t want to throw him off by showing up next time we met with a present (trust me…women don’t mind this, but guys do).

I was still carrying my dog when I walked by a couple that had a huge yellow lab. It didn’t have a vest that said “service dog” so I was surprised they were comfortable walking around with the big thing.

I left, and trekked back over to get my car and bring it around. My sister had just purchased her first house, and she was finding lots of things to fill the walls (so much for holiday shopping for others!). I figured it would be easier for her if the car wasn’t a mile away.

She came to my car laughing, and told the weirdest story.

A really loud alarm had gone off, and the dog couple said “Oh, our dog walked into that area.”

She looked over and saw there was an area that said an alarm would go off if you went near it.

As the couple was scolding the dog, the woman said “I better just take the dog outside so he doesn’t do anything else.” The man went on and on, saying things like “You were a bad dog! A very bad dog!” My sister found it a bit odd, but continued looking at some paintings.

As the lady walked out with her dog, an old woman working there stood in the doorway. She said, “That skirt fits you nicely.”

They stood and stared at each other, and my sister was confused. She walked around a corner to take a second look at something, and when she decided to leave, the woman was taking the skirt off and handing it back to the cashier. She had sweat pants on underneath, and that’s when my sister realized she had tried to put it on and leave without paying for it.

What I found odd is that the store made no effort to call the police. The couple just sauntered on out.

Who knows what other businesses they’ll try to pull a scam on, with their dog as a distraction; or an accessory to a crime.


thestoryteller Dec. 27, 2009 @ 8:49 p.m.

In France, dogs are allowed in restaurants. But they have well-behaved dogs. Americans are too unbalanced to ever have dogs that could be in restaurants. Can you imagine? Getting up on tables and eating off people's plates. Tripping the waiter who is carrying a huge tray. Lifting a leg on the podium...


redsoxfan Dec. 28, 2009 @ 12:45 a.m.

I think its more a European thing with dogs. No one thinks twice about them here in Belgium, and can definitely attest to that same concept in Germany, a dog loving culture.

As far as the girl trying to steal the skirt and the employee not calling the police, I mean, what was she supposed to report? Technically its not shoplifting until the person leaves through the door with the item....


rickeysays Dec. 28, 2009 @ 12:59 a.m.

I'm curious, in Europe are they really good about picking up after their dogs, or is there dog crap everywhere?


redsoxfan Dec. 28, 2009 @ 5:35 a.m.

Rickeysays, here in Belgium, its split like the rest of the country. The French speakers, do not clean up the poop in parks, streets, etc. If its in a resaurant, café, etc., then they have no choice. But the Flemish speakers, ALWAYS clean up the poop... As far as other countries go - France, Germany, and Spain were pretty clean of it. Italy? Not so much! :-)


PistolPete Dec. 28, 2009 @ 8:57 a.m.

One of the things I hate about this city are the natives who parade around with their toy poodles as if to say" I'm important! Look at me!". Dogs DO NOT belong where food is served. Period. End of discussion. Dogs are filthy animals. They eat their own s*. They lick their own aholes and genitals.

I'm not anti-dog. I'm anti-stupid human. For some reason, Sandy Eggans think the law doesn't apply to them.


Josh Board Dec. 28, 2009 @ 9:18 a.m.

I wonder why the French don't clean up the poop....hehehehehe. Seems so easy to make a body odor joke at this point.

Yeah, I guess it's not technically shoplifting, if you make them take the skirt off.

I think a better thing would've been to charge them for the skirt. Say "You could wear that out of here. But it's $39." (or whatever the price was).

When the person then takes it off, you can call the cops. To me, let the police DECIDE if it warrants pressing charges. You never know if they have a record or are on probation, and some stunt like this gets more charges filed at them. Or, at the very least, they have to deal with the public humiliation.


Russ Lewis Dec. 28, 2009 @ 10:04 a.m.

(#5) Wrong, Pete. Service dogs have the legal right to sit with their owners in any restaurant. They just have to observe certain restrictions.


MilesTougeaux Dec. 28, 2009 @ 1:37 p.m.

And yet Pete, we are a thousand times more likely to contract a bacterial or viral illness from one of the other humans in the restaurant than the filthiest of dogs sitting on the floor licking his own a**hole.


thestoryteller Dec. 28, 2009 @ 4:43 p.m.

My brother-in-law is French and owns a restaurant. I'll ask him about this issue when I see him next.


PistolPete Dec. 28, 2009 @ 9:38 p.m.

Russl-I'm all for service animals being permitted. Why? It's the law. Reading Josh's blogs sometimes makes me wonder if he should be an exception but I digress... ;-D

Miles-Again, it comes down to the law. I myself, wish certain humans weren't allowed to ride the bus withy me but until that's possible, I have to bite my tongue and deal with it.


bluenwhitegokart Jan. 3, 2010 @ 7:31 a.m.

Quoting Josh: "...the book stores and shops in Hillcrest; the restaurants in Little Italy, and this time, antiquing in Solana Beach...."

Dang, now I gotta tell my wife I'm gay.

Consignment shops are always a good bet for some of your better quality used furniture (and clothing). There are a number of them in the North County area. We bought some stuff in Encinitas, on South El Camino Real. Quality, real wood. We got one wardrobe thingie that I dubbed "the bedroom apartment complex," as it took four guys to manhandle the damn thing into our house. My wife had a momentary weakness and allowed it to stay when we sold the place.


Josh Board Jan. 3, 2010 @ 2:21 p.m.

That last line, blue...reminded me of the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. In the beginning, he has problems trying to put the crib together for their new baby. He utters something along the lines of "We are never going to move, because I'm not going to ever try and put this thing together again."


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