Him Indoors recently read somewhere that dogs yawning at the same time as their owners is a sign of empathy and affection.
Keen to put this theory to the test, he has since spent many an evening sitting in front of Harry and repeatedly flexing his jaws like a Hungry Hippo. It was enough to bore us all senseless, so when Harry finally rewarded his efforts and gave a yawn back, there was much rejoicing from everyone in the household.
It was in this new cocoon of familial love that we set off on our first holiday together.
For Harry, a car journey is one of life’s great joys (so much so, in fact, that he regularly tries to jump in the back seat of any car that stops in the street) therefore it was only fitting that our first holiday would be a road trip. The chance to watch the world go by, wind whipping back his ears… it’s bliss for a mutt in the prime of his life. The two-hour drive down the coast to the Shoalhaven also provided ample opportunity for Him Indoors to remark upon the marvels of being loved by a dog…
Crooked River Wines, just off the Princes Highway in Gerringong, is one of the first Shoalhaven wineries you hit when travelling from Sydney, so it’s an ideal place to stretch your legs (and stock up the wine cellar).
The cellar door isn’t dog-friendly but the quiet outdoor patio makes an ideal dog stop. While we sampled some of the drops (the red wines here are some of my favourite in the world), Harry sat outside taking in the view of the rolling green hills and lapping up the attention from other wine-tasters.
Harry was oblivious to the historic charms of Berry but he was a big fan of Hedgehogs Coffee Shop, where staff brought out a bowl of water, provided food scraps and told him what beautiful eyes he has. Even amid such admiration, dogs are not allowed indoors. However, undercover outdoor seating means dogs and their owners are catered for in all weather.
Still attempting to help Harry appreciate some history, we took him to Coolangatta Estate. It’s the site of the first European settlement on the South Coast and you can even stay overnight in one of the convict-built cottages (your four-legged friend, however, may not). We were quite content to sample some of their wines sitting outside the cellar door in the pretty courtyard. We tried to interest Harry in the giant chess board, but he was more interested in chasing geckos than the king.
If you are looking for dog-friendly accommodation, Silos Estate permits pets by prior arrangement. Although this time we stayed with family, Him Indoors and I have stayed at Silos previously and can vouch for it as a beautiful place to stay. It’s quiet and peaceful, with stunning scenery.
Animal-lovers may also enjoy meeting the resident cat at Silos, not to mention the family of alpacas.
But enough of the wineries already. By far the most exciting place to Harry on our holiday was Seven Mile Beach. Just north of the surf club at Shoalhaven Heads is a stretch of off-leash sand where Harry proved there was plenty of life in the old dog yet, literally running laps around Him Indoors as they jogged up and down the beach.
There was much empathy in the household that night, as we all crashed out on the sofa and indulged in one big family yawn.