Preston Fuqua and his drinking buddy Bruce spend a lot of time together — hanging out at Downtown Drafts, getting some slices at Atlas Pizza and hitting the shops on the downtown square.
And pretty much nobody minds that Bruce is a gigantic, fluffy white dog.
Preston and Bruce have been ambling around Gainesville together since the custom cabinet maker got his dog, a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees, a couple of years ago.
He wanted a big dog, and he got it — Bruce is about 130 pounds. Since then, he’s taken his dog all over Gainesville.
And if Preston can take his enormous, furry friend around town, so can you.
The gentle giant (Bruce, not Preston) is welcome in many of the businesses around downtown, especially those that have outdoor seating — as are Gainesville’s other well-behaved dogs.
“Everybody seems to know him,” Preston said on Tuesday. “People walk up to me if I don’t have him and say, ‘Aren’t you Bruce’s dad?’”
The Food and Drug Administration bars pets other than service animals from restaurants with commercial kitchens, but that often doesn’t include outdoor patios. The website BringFido compiles lists of dog-friendly restaurants and other businesses.
The FDA rule doesn’t include growlers places like Downtown Drafts, where dogs are welcome, said manager Lauren Williams — so welcome, in fact that the place has a water bowl ready by the bar and even sells ice cream for dogs.
Mom and pop shops are often a safe bet for the out-and-about dog owner, but a few larger chains let your four-legged friends through the front door.
“I shop at a lot of stores that allow (Bruce) in. I will drive all the way down to Bass Pro, but Academy Sports here lets him in,” Preston said. “Hobby Lobby lets him in. Five Below — pretty much all the stores in that new section of town over there.”
Home Depot is also a well-known dog friendly business.
Before heading out with your dog, it’s always best to know ahead of time whether the business or restaurant you want to visit welcomes dogs — especially if you’re driving out of town during the summer, when fido shouldn’t spend any time alone in the car.
It’s also good to have a sense of your dog’s strengths and weaknesses: Is he good with kids? Set off by other dogs or afraid of strange noises? It doesn’t mean you can’t take your dog with you, but knowing ahead of time what you're in for means you’re much more likely to have a good time.
It’s for those reasons that Preston did a lot of reading before he settled on Bruce.
“I was looking for a big dog — I always wanted a big dog — so I did a lot of research,” he said. “I have kids, and everything that I read about their temperament was just fantastic.” Bruce is great with children, he said.