June 13, 2011: Princess and The Don

~ by Mary Galvano

During the week of Memorial Day, my husband Jonathan and I went on vacation as an anniversary gift to each other. On this trip our little dog, Princess, came along. She started running around in circles as we headed out the door, because instead of telling her “good-bye” we said, “let’s go!” She was a pooch on the move!

Jonathan and I planned a few stops along the way before our final destination to the Don Ce Sar Hotel in Pass-a-Grille, Florida. Our first stop was Winter Park, which is just North of Orlando. For those who haven’t been there, this is a great place to walk around with your dog and grab some lunch. It is a quaint, dog friendly town. We were all happy to get out of the car and walk around. We ended up eating at a Thai restaurant, right next door to “The Doggie Door”, where the waitress brought out a bowel of water especially for Princess.

The next stop was Fort Myers in SW Florida where I had lived for 17 years and where my family lives. Here Princess stayed with my mother, Grandma Betty, while Jonathan and I spent some time alone. Grandma Betty and Princess had a ball! She helped Mom pick my niece and nephew up at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School. Mom said as soon as her car turned the corner to the church Princess went crazy and that she was the center of attention when she walked in front of the school children. I had brought her to St. Francis Xavier many times before when I used to sing there.

After Fort Myers, we headed to the Don Ce Sar. This was the part of the trip we were especially looking forward to. The Don Ce Sar is situated on St. Petersburg beach in a little historic town. It has a rich Florida history behind it and a romantic ghost story, too. As we were watching a wedding on the beach from afar, a tour guide nearby spoke about the wounded WWII war heroes that used sit in wheel chairs on the beach looking out into the Gulf when it was used as a war hospital; and if we look closely we could still see them sitting there.

Also known as the Pink Palace, the Don Ce Sar is a dog and cat friendly hotel. There were dogs at The Don, both big and small, that greeted Princess when they saw her. Sometimes the attention Princess got from the guests and staff was overwhelming. From the moment we stepped out of our car in front of the lobby, Princess was given the “royal treatment.” The staff there was so welcoming. They made such an effort to make Princess feel at home. As we entered our room, I was handed a bag of goodies. It was filled with homemade dog treats, a place matt, two shiny dog bowels, doggie clean-up bags, and information to help make Princess’ stay more enjoyable.

We took some beautiful walks in the morning through the historic Pass-a-Grille town. It was great to see the care people took in the area to preserve the beauty of old Florida. I am originally from Bradenton, Fl, which is just up the road, and it really meant a lot to me to see the Florida I remember still welcoming me back. The beaches along this part of the Gulf of Mexico are the most beautiful in the world with their powdered-sugar sand. We ended each evening with Princess watching the magnificent sunsets. Each one had its own signature. It was a wonderful vacation!

We are glad to be back home in Jacksonville, Princess conked out on the sofa after the long car ride home, but we will keep in our memory the beautiful journey God has graced us with that week. Happy summer!

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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