All Dogs Go to Heaven. The Boneyard Is a Close Second.
Photos by Angelica Leicht
"Man, just let him...his humping isn't hurting anybody."
Some pretty epic humping is going on while we sip an Abita Grapefruit IPA. What started off as a twosome now involves four or five participants rolling around the dirt in a dog pile. Literally.
Those risque entanglements are not unusual here, though. The Boneyard Drinkery is Houston's only dog-park bar meant to house such promiscuous activity. (Among the dogs, anyway.) Scattered around picnic benches in the backyard area, the owners are much better behaved.
Evenly split between men and women, we're all dressed as if we were taking our pets out for a day at the park rather than a night on the town. The Boneyard is all about the dogs; the beer and socialization is just an added bonus for their human companions.
When we first approached the establishment, its differences from the bass-pumping clubs lining this part of the street were already obvious. From the metal industrial building that houses the bar area to the double-fenced dog park out back, the Boneyard is downright casual for a Washington Corridor bar. But a dressed-down attitude is essential when the majority of your patrons wear fur coats 24-7 and regularly sniff out poles to mark.
Right now almost as many dogs as people are in the wide expanse out back, but somehow everything is running smoothly. Even as some dogs stake their territory, others are jumping on tables, rollicking in the grass, and covertly attempting to sneak out of the gates every time a new person enters. It feels a little like what we imagine the set of 101 Dalmations would, down to how each owner resembles his or dog just a bit.
There are no waitresses or valets at at the Boneyard. In a sea of bars with VIP areas and cover charges, the only bottle service you'll find here comes in the form of a Shiner. In order to even acquire one, you must be adept enough to make your way out of the dual gates and into the sparse digs of the metal building, where you'll find the beer options written on the wall in chalk.
We've struggled with that task a number of times, as the gates meant to outsmart the Boneyard's canine patrons are also outsmarting us. Once we found ourselves stuck, accidentally letting a sea of dogs into the area between the first and second gates. Luckily, the other human patrons are accustomed to their dogs' ninja-like antics, so we were the only ones panicking.
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But now we relax a bit upon realizing that a number of the dogs we thought were attempting to escape are simply trying to sniff out the tiny Chihuahua sporting a pink coat who has just appeared. She seems like the type who enjoys making an entrance, as does her owner, who delicately juggles a tower of beers while coaxing her miniscule dog into the park.
Negotiating that double gate is no easy task, but luckily the dog owners can enjoy the beer reward at the end. We have managed to make it back with our fresh beers mostly full, minus the few spills made while dodging packs of four-legged beasts. But it seems they've taken over our table, and are working together to try to steal our beer.
One large white dog with impressive dexterity has his nose so far into the plastic cup full of water meant for Mack, the canine we borrowed to investigate the Boneyard, that he is temporarily muzzled by it. We are both amused by his antics and impressed by his prowess, so we remove the faux-muzzle and offer him a full cup instead. The dogs here are much too cute to be obnoxious.
Heather, the woman next to us, is studying the pet owners intently, using this doggy-adult playtime as an opportunity to collect some social observations for her Human Psychology class. We're learning this just as our borrowed dog assaults hers. It seems they've become more than friends, and we are mortified at Mack's come-ons.
She, on the other hand, is not, and waves us away from them. We're a bit surprised at her nonchalant response to Mack's affections.
"They're fine. Really, they're fine," Heather assures us. "She's obviously an active participant, and they're both fixed, so there's no chance for accidents."
We nod in response. "No chance for accidents" -- that's certainly not a line you often hear at a bar. Then again, there aren't many bars where water bowls outnumber beer cans.
It seems the Boneyard has gone to the dogs, just the way it's supposed to be.
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