What a nasty surprise lay in wait for me and Our Dog at the end of a hard stomp from Zatiší the other day. The pub was shut! I mean, not any old pub but THE pub. Myslivna. The pub where the intrepid, yet wet and muddy traveller may rest his weary bones, let his wet and muddy dog lie next to the fireplace and have a couple of well-earned beers before heading back to the rat-race.
Myslivna’s position at the edge of the woods made it the ideal watering hole for dog owners and I met quite a few good people there. Not exactly friends but good people nonetheless, with one or two characters thrown in for good measure. Dog-owners will know the kind of place I mean and commiserate with me on the loss of such a rare and valued establishment. A place where the paying customers have to wait for their beer while the barman fetches water for the dog. A place where humans can buy typical Czech bar-food like soup, potato pancakes or a selection of interesting cheeses whilst biscuits, rawhide chewy things and revolting pig’s ears are lavished on the dogs for free. Our Dog, who is utterly spoilt, got used to having her own seat and was mortified if for some reason she couldn’t have one, like for example if they were filled with the bums of paying customers. Her preferred technique was to wait until some poor, unsuspecting member of our group leaned forward in their chair, then hop up behind them, gradually expanding so as to claim her territory. On quiet afternoons I was even allowed to drag a couple of benches together and chuck a waterproof sheet over the seats so that she could lie down without have to go near the floor and the normal dogs playing there. Once, when a new barman exclaimed to the manager that there was a dog sitting at one of the tables the manager looked up and said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about her, she’s actually a person!’
During the summer it was the ideal place to stop and get a fire going in one of the fire-pits and cook up some sausages or steaks. It got so popular that it was near on impossible to gather so much as a twig within 500 metres of the place. Parents could ‘relax’ while their kids ran around like loonies, eventually wearing themselves out and allowing their parents to ‘relax’ some more. During the winter it was absolutely freezing unless you were sitting within a couple of metres of the fire and that might have had something to do with its closure. On the other hand, it could be connected to the rumour I heard that one of the manager’s friends had punched the head barman in the mouth and the head barman had responded buy walking off with the night’s takings.
So there it was, dark, cold and unwelcoming. Black windows, a smokeless chimney, locked doors and, in a nod to the multinational nature of its ex-clientele, ‘Closed 4ever’ chalked hauntingly on the menu board. There was nothing for it but to trudge off into the darkness; wet, cold and trailing something doing a very good impression of the World’s Most Abused Dog.