Dogs and brunch

This is a tribute to amazing dog shelters around Victoria…to name a few:

…and about brunch.

Today is Sunday, the last day of the Grand Final long weekend and I put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) with the slight chance that a literary outlet lifts my spirits…

The long weekend started on Friday. Fran and I woke up early to visit The Lost Dogs’ Home in North Melbourne in hopes that we would find a furry friend to call our beloved. We had been dying to get a dog for the longest time. Fran finally blurted out on Wednesday that she was a hair away from getting a dog, and I immediately jumped on that bandwagon, ready for a new chapter in my life and for someone to shower with love. We arrived mid morning, with Fran eager eyed and me clutching my intertwined fingers and palms against my chest to contain my swelling affection and excitement. The staff there were gentle and knowledgeable and clearly took good care of the dogs, which made it bearable to see the canines enclosed in their cages. There were alot of ‘awwww’s and ‘what a cutie!!!’ but to our dismay most of the dogs were active dogs thus unsuitable for apartment living and those that were smaller or less active had anxiety issues. 

Afterwards, we found ourselves at Fandango, one of my brunch favourites. Mat ordered my Fandango favourite, the Curried Eggs which are fried eggs, Indian spiced chickpeas, brinjal pickle, minty yogurt labne and warm roti .The curried eggs were as good as I remember, the ultimate comfort brunch dish. Fran convinced me to order one of the specials, the Raspberry and Ricotta Croissant French Toast with ice cream. The dish was delicious with interesting textures and wasn’t overwhelmingly rich either. Re-engerised by the food fuel, we discussed next steps. We would visit Lort Smith as well as RSPCA the next day. 

On Grand Final day (Saturday) we drove past Tigerland (go Tigers!) and stopped in Malvern for a quick bite at St James Cafe (a place on Fran’s must-try list). It was pretty sleepy, I imagine because most were planted eagerly in front of their telly. Although the cafe seemed worlds apart from the roars of the Tiger fans, if you listened closely you could hear the cafe patrons talking about the match that was set to start in a few hours, and the cafe even had a Grand Final dish, the tiger pancakes which were stripped peanut butter and chocolate pancakes! Fran ordered the Soba Noodle Salad with asian slaw and a spicy hoisin sauce. The noodles were a little over cooked, but the sauce accompanied the poached chicken and vegetables well – a refreshing and filling dish. I couldn’t resist ordering the Chilli Scrambled Eggs which were served with house cured ocean trout, sambal, crispy shallots, fresh coriander and lime. The scrambled eggs were perfectly creamy and runny, the cured ocean trout was silky soft. The sambal was the alpha dog of the dish – it was freshly pounded, knock-your-socks off spicy Sambal oelek (rather than Sambal Balachan). I desperately squeezed the fresh lime over the dish to neutralise the burn between mouthfuls (yes, my fork kept going back for more!)

A skip and a hop and a Chai Latte later, we arrived at RSPCA. What an institution! The building was so modern we felt like we were walking into a science centre. The pooches there also looked well looked after. The heelers, staffies and grey hounds were as gorgeous as the last. Two dogs, Tui, an 11 year old small Keplie cross, and a large, gentle eyed border collie called Magpie caught our eye. But Tui, despite her age, was still energetic with the Kelpie blood coursing through her veins, and Magpie required a backyard to stretch her majestic long legs. 

Lort Smith, a much smaller shelter, only had three dogs up for adoption, none of which would be suited for apartment living. In a quiet voice, I asked Fran whether we should go back to A Dogs’ Home to have another look. She agreed since we could make it there before they closed for the day. To our amazement and delight, most of the dogs (about three quarters) had been adopted!! Definitely a proud, proud Melbourne moment (dog lovers unite!). The two dogs we were interested in the day before however, were still in their cages, with longing and hopeful eyes. Piggle, a mini fox terrier cross, as excitable and cute as he was, would be a little too energetic for us to handle. I returned to Ziggy, the labrador cross that took my heart the moment I read about him right at the start of our search, was sitting quietly on his bed. He came to us when Fran called out his name, wagging his tail, and melted our heart with his beautiful soul and brown eyes. We stroked and patted his silky shiny blank coat, played paw and rubbed his belly. In that half an hour the world fell away and even the metal grill couldn’t stand in our way. We looked into each others eyes and I felt like Ziggy knew how much I already loved him. We discussed his anxiety issues again with the staff there, who worried he would not deal with an apartment building of dogs and encountering dogs at the park and on the street in our neighbourhood. Torn between selfishness (wanting to love Ziggy) and wanting to provide the best for Ziggy, we decided to sleep on the decision. 

Day light savings hit us the next day, and at noon, we awoke, realising it might be too late to visit Ziggy. The only thing that held me back from grabbing the car keys and rushing down to see Ziggy was Fran’s plea to give Ziggy a chance to find another family that might be a better fit for him. She insisted we persevere and visit the dog shelter in Glen Iris rather than pining after Ziggy. I reluctantly agreed. We headed to Glover’s Station for sustenance with Mat (the voice of reason) in tow. Mat concluded that Ziggy could be difficult and was a risk, but I exclaimed that there could be a big reward if Ziggy really takes to us – Against everything I learned from Caesar Millian (who consistently preaches that a strong, calm pack leader is required to calm an anxious dog), the romantic in me hoped that our love would be enough to moderate Ziggy’s anxiety and that my lack of pack leader characteristics would not cause Ziggy to regress.

As if the Gods felt our tortured hearts, we were seated next to the most well manner maltese ever. We stroke and patted the little bundle of fur, our love for dogs welling over and our motivation to find a four legged friend of our own refreshed slightly. Mat ordered The Benedict, a dish consisting of ham hock, poached eggs, pork scratching tomato and chorizo fondue and smoked paprika. In Mat’s words, one of the best eggs benedicts ever and it only cost 18 dollars. It was inhaled within a couple of minutes. Fran ordered the Poached Ocean Trout, picked fennel, avocado puree and poached egg. It was quite a deja vu moment as both Mat and Fran had ordered exactly the same dish the last time we were at Glovers Station (although it took Fran scrolling through her instagram photos to admit to this). I on the other hand ordered the French toast instead of the house baked beans (fyi it was above average, but the corn bread was definitely off). The French Toast was made with sourdough fruit bread, a unique choice of bread indeed instead of the usual french brioche, served with berry compote and vanilla yogurt. Unfortunately I am not a fan of sourdough fruit bread, but Mat and Fran happily polished off the rest of the dish while I eyed some of the lusciously bearded waiters. 

Mat split to go to work while we headed to Save the Dog. Save the Dog is located right next to the City of Stonnington’s waste transfer station (I had been to the waste station once before to help a particuar vegan and environmentalist friend recycle some of her items). Save the Dog felt alot more like a pound, but again, we were relieved to see the staff were loving and kind just like the staff at the other shelters we had visited that weekend. There were so many dogs that were looking for a home,and our hearts went out to them. We saw a couple of staffies, which we were told were high energy (no surprise). And a couple of other smaller dogs, but again we were told none suitable for apartment living. 

I sit here emotionally drained, yes. But we are not giving up. We are continuing our search online and with Ziggy still in our hearts. 


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