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After Work: Dog Days At The Green Market

The absolute best way to visit the Green Market in West Palm Beach, Florida, is at one end of a leash, says Dona Gibbs.

"To say that the Market is dog friendly is an understatement. It’s dog welcoming. Two vendors sell fresh, home made dog treats and there are two handy doggy watering stations handy.''

To read more of Dona's supremely reader-friendly columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Early Saturday morning in West Palm Beach there’s one hip place to the seen -- the downtown Green Market.

From late October to mid-April that’s where you can buy fresh produce, plants, enough tropical plants to create your own patio jungle, freshly caught fish, freshly baked breads and jams, jellies and cheeses to slather on them.

Choose from a high-octane Cuban coffee, fresh fruit smoothie or a coconut with a straw to sip while you wander among sixty different vendors’ stalls. It’s easy to see why it’s crowded with both tourists and locals.

You can grab breakfast or lunch. And even sample some authentic topical cuisine. Conch salad, anyone?

The absolute best way to visit the Green Market, however, is at one end of a leash or another. To say that the Market is dog friendly is an understatement. It’s dog welcoming. Two vendors sell fresh, home made dog treats and there are two handy doggy watering stations handy.

The baked goodies at Oliver’s Brownies and Star Barks both looked people tempting.

“When I bring cookies over to my parents’ house, they always ask whether they’re for them or the dogs,” Jimmy Mitchell of Star Barks told a customer. The Mitchells moved to South Florida after a job layoff after 9/11. After corporate jobs, they decided to set up their own business. Their third partner is their dog Peppy, whom they call, The “Chief Tasting Officer.” They first set up shop in a West Palm Beach discount mall. Now their store is further up the cost in Jupiter, Florida.

“It’s close to the only beach park open to dogs,” explained Mitchell. “It’s three miles of sand.”

Profits from Oliver’s Brownies go to Oliver’s House, an organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs. Two shaggy dogs were assisting at the stand when I visited.

As sunny a scene as the Green Market presents, there is a dark side for some Florida dogs. South Florida is home to 16 dog racing tracks. One, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, is only a mile or two from this sparkling tail-wagging Saturday scene.

At the track greyhounds, which can reach speeds of 45 miles as hours, chase a mechanical lure for the entertainment of bettors. Statistics show that as many as 34,000 puppies are born for racing each year. Each year 24,000 dog are registered for racing.

A dog’s track career is brief, 18 to 24 months at most. Greyhounds live from 12 to 14 years. It’s a situation ripe for cruelty, abuse – and equally inexcusable – carelessness. Greyhounds have died of heat exhaustion and even been killed by the lure itself. David M. Halbinger reported May 23, 2002 in the New York Times that dogs whose racing careers were over were shipped off over the Florida state line to be slaughtered by the thousands. Three dogs were even buried right on the grounds of a dog track.

Once a month volunteers from Greyhounds Pets of America, a group advocating for this gentle breed, walk greyhounds through the crowds. These dogs are available for adoption. They’ve been spayed or neutered, been medically checked over and even have had their teeth cleaned and any necessary dental work done.

While males weigh up to 85 pounds and females, 65 pounds, they are quiet and gentle. With their racing days happily behind them, they’re called “45 mph. couch potatoes.” They do enjoy walks – several a day.

No, they do not make good guard dogs; they are much too affectionate. Nothing much escapes their notice. They are sight hounds and can see a half-mile away and have 270-degree peripheral vision. And no, greyhounds are not grey although they do come in 16 standard colors of bindle, black, white, red and combinations thereof. The color breeders call blue is about the closest to grey as these regal dogs get.

The Animal Rescue Force of South Florida had a booth too. Dogs wearing “Adopt Me” coats were basking in the attention. Cats were, well catnapping, in their cages.

Next week, if all goes according to plan, their new owners will be back at the market shopping for treats. And that would be cause for a lot of purrs, kisses and tail wagging.


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