“HEY, WHERE IS THE DUSTY DOG CAFE?”

That question comes up a lot. Well, to to be cryptic, it’s everywhere and nowhere.

The Dusty Dog Cafe is an imaginary construct existing only on the web. However, the idea is based on hundreds of small town coffee shops around the rural American West.

They’re not hard to find.

Simply follow the main drag through the farming/ranching town and look for the restaurant where the locals gather. You’ll know it by the dusty pickups parked nearby, usually with a dusty stock dog in the back.

Step across the sidewalk and around the wooden benches. No one worries about sitting outside when the weather is nice because there’s not enough traffic to be bothersome. Then peer through the gingham-draped windows at the large mounted buck, elk, antelope or bison.

Inside, the booths are usually made of wood and circle the walls. In the center of the room is a long table where the locals-small town business people and officials, crusty retirees without much to do or ranch wives and their husbands who are running for parts or making a day of it in town-gather over an endless cup of coffee to cuss and discuss the events of the day.

It is here, in this tiny coffee shop, a person hears the stories of the rural American West. This is the place where yours truly has spent more than his fair share of time, ears flapping and coffee cup in hand, while listening to the stories of the people who have been shaped by this land.

These are the stories from the Dusty Dog Cafe. Take a sip of coffee and enjoy yourself.

I know I did.

D. “Bing” Bingham writer, photographer, radio producer and head dishwasher

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