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Checking In

Welcome place for a man and his best friend

Email|Print| Text size + By Joe Yonan
Globe Staff / May 29, 2005

EAST SANDWICH -- As Sheila Weyers showed us around the Wingscorton Farm Inn, my dog, Gromit, was straining at his leash. Through the keeping room, the library, and up the stairs to our suite, he let out little whimpers and whines.

''Well, I just bet you want to run around and check everything out, don't you?" Weyers cooed as she built us a fire. Then she turned to me. ''You can let him off that leash. I don't mind."

That wasn't all. She suggested that if I left the room door open for awhile, letting Gromit run up and down the stairs and in and out, he could get all his sniffing done and start to feel at home. And indeed he did.

She knows what makes dogs happy, and so does the inn. This is not one of those places that advertises a canines-welcome policy and then is compelled to ask: How big? How active? How well behaved? At those places, the welcome mat seems to be out primarily for dogs that are little, still, mute, or preferably all three.

Not so at this beautiful bed-and-breakfast set on a working farm on the Upper Cape. For one thing, it's home to a family of four big goofy dogs -- a yellow lab, a golden retriever, and their two grown puppies -- and for most visiting pooches, that would be enough of an attraction in itself. Dogs want nothing more than other dogs, after all.

After our first night in the creaky-floored, wood-paneled room (circa 1758), I took Gromit downstairs to let him do his business. As soon as we stepped outside, the barking began, and Robin, Drew, Sherman, and Boomer ran over.

''The vicious marauders are attacking!" Weyers called out from the front door. Barks soon turned to sniffs and licks, and the playing ensued. Meanwhile, Weyers gave me directions to the private beach nearby, and said breakfast would be ready when I was.

A little stiff from a sagging mattress, I took Gromit around the immediate rolling grounds, part of 13 acres of lawn, gardens, and orchards. Sheep started to come to one fence when they saw me, but retreated when they saw the dog. Chickens squawked and flapped when Gromit put his nose up to the wire around their coop, but when we went up to a mule in another pen, he didn't even blink.

Back inside, Gromit sat at my feet or wandered around the little dining room, where, on the long and narrow table, Weyers had set out melon, little boxes of cereal, plus tea bread and a strawberry-rhubarb pie (usually my favorite, but this one was a gummy mess). Coffee was percolating nearby, and she asked if I wanted a hot breakfast instead: quiche, French toast, or eggs. On a farm? That's easy: Eggs, please. She brought nicely moist scrambled ones, topped with herbs and accompanied by crisp bacon and juicy tomatoes.

I was alone at the table, because the other guests in the three-suite main house (the inn also includes a carriage house) were all at the Nantucket Wine Festival for the day. All the better, as I didn't have to make conversation with anyone but Weyers, and didn't run the risk of the guests being less dog-friendly. She brought me the arts section of the Cape Cod Times, in case I wanted a bit of culture that night.

I had other things in mind, namely some shopping: East Sandwich, Sandwich, and Barnstable have plenty of gift stores and antiques shops, but I occupied myself with farm stands and garden centers, stocking up on herbs and jams galore at the nearby Green Briar Nature Center. That night, I scarfed down hefty portions of well-made Italian food at Amari Bar and Ristorante just down Route 6A. (As it was a cool night, I felt comfortable letting Gromit wait in the car while I ate, but Weyers told me later she would have been happy to dog-sit.)

Earlier, Gromit and I had walked to the nearby beach, whose entrance is down an all-but-hidden path and where the minimal parking is restricted to residents. A sign warns that dogs are prohibited between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but Weyers had assured me it wouldn't be a problem.

''If you see people, just go the other way," she said. ''It's a really long beach."

Indeed, on an hourlong walk, we saw only one other couple, about a quarter-mile away, and never crossed paths. In season, it might be a different story.

Back at the farm, though, he had plenty of room to roam. With 13 acres right outside our room, beach access seemed overrated.

Contact Joe Yonan at yonan@globe.com.

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