Ugly Broad, Cleveland, 9:24 a.m.
Bars that allow dogs hold a special place in the pantheon of drinking establishments. Bars that have their own dog mascot sit forever atop those rankings. So it is at the Ugly Broad, just around the bend on Denison, north of Fulton.
Read any online review of the place, and you'll learn about Shiloh, a young Rottweiler who makes her home at the bar. Shiloh, it is claimed, complements her friendly demeanor with delightful parlor tricks. Stick a dollar bill in your back pocket with a bit hanging out, and Shiloh will pick your pocket, then sprint in circles around the pool table until you catch her.
Shiloh is there this morning, curled up behind a row of barstools that hold a handful of regulars. When she's awake, they promise, she will in fact rob you.
Reviews tend to mention two other things: first, that the Ugly Broad is one of the last great Cleveland bars not yet ruined by hipsters, and second, that there is a lot — a lot — of John Wayne memorabilia here.
Indeed, the Duke stares out from every angle: in framed movie posters, candid shots, cardboard cutouts, and autographed pictures covering the walls above, beside, and behind the long, worn wooden bar. This certainly looks like a place hipsters would enjoy, if hipsters ever ventured down Denison Avenue. Alas, they do not.
It's warm over by the window, and the atmosphere feels decidedly upbeat — more let's-get-a-beer excursion than I-need-one lifestyle, perhaps because we've progressed into normal waking hours now.
And then it happens. On the way to the bathroom, a reporter's foot finds a dog's paw. The din of conversation is silenced by a loud yelp. Heads turn and a chorus of regulars exclaims, "Oh no! What happened, Shiloh?"
A quick path is beaten to the bathroom, and options are pondered. The locals are clearly concerned. Would they be waiting outside, broken beer bottles in hand? Would they utter a secret word that would send Shiloh into a retaliatory rage? Would bans be issued?
Tepid steps are taken back to the bar. No waiting mob. No angry dog. Shiloh is back to napping in the corner.
"Thanks for stopping in, guys," Dave the bartender says with a wave. "Come back again."
The lesson: Don't step on a bar's dog. It's bad form and karma, even if they forgive you.