by Zack Beauchamp
A reader writes:
Thom Lambert wrote: “And nothing is more likely to keep people coming back and to get them talking to each other than to allow them to bring their dogs.”
Only a dog owner could write this. I doubt it is true. Only 39% of American households own dogs. I would avoid establishments that allow dogs, and I assume a lot of the non-dog-owning majority would feel the same. I certainly would never allow a dog to enter my home, and I wouldn’t want them sniffing about, shedding, barking, or engaging in other typical canine behavior at a place where I’m eating or drinking and engaging in peaceful conversation. I think it’s fine if businesses are able to establish their own dog policies. The only regulation I would favor would be that the default be dogs not allowed unless the ownership posts a dogs allowed sign. Dog owners could then congregate at doggie diners as they do now at dog parks, and the rest of the public can dine without the bother and the threats to health and safety posed by many dogs.
Exactly so. Plenty of places, knowing people have preferences for non-dog or non-smoking, would be happy to take the reader's money. The market-based solution here would have the added benefit of not violating an owner's right to let dogs in if they choose – and, more importantly, my rights to drink with my pup. Conor Friedersdorf has similar thoughts. Another reader:
You'd LOVE Austin.
Thanks to our usually pleasant climate, there are lots of outdoor spaces where people can congregate to eat and drink with their dogs. If you visit Home Depot, prepare to see dogs. Same thing for just about any large space that doesn't serve food. The flagship Whole Foods downtown has a problem with people bringing in their dogs, since the health department has regulations against it, but the store can't legally ask people if their dog is an assistance dog. I've seen small dogs hiding in large handbags on many occasions.
Farmer's Markets have bowls of water out for dogs, dog adoption and rescue booths, and many, many dogs. Our own dog looks forward to the Farmers Market each week as a high point on her social calendar.
Haven't seen a dog in a funeral home or church yet (oh, wait, the blessing of the animals in honor of St. Christopher). The malls are also dog free, but I bet a dog shopping period each week would be a big hit.
Another reader wrote similar things about Key West. Sounds lovely. A third:
I'm sorry, but dog owners are the very worst at judging where they should and shouldn't take dogs, even when their dogs exhibit aggressive behavior. I have encountered aggressive dogs at coffee shops, at bars, even at rock shows (which are probably incredibly damaging to dogs' ears). Dog owners are so myopic about their own animals behavior and presence. "Oh, it's okay that she's jumping on you…she's a sweetheart, trust me." Should this be a government issue? I'm of two minds about it, but the "fuck you, I'll take my dog anywhere" attitude drives me absolutely insane. I was attacked by a dog when I was a kid, so I'm pretty afraid of the big ones. As a person from the South who lives in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, almost every elderly person on my street is deathly afraid of dogs, for pretty obvious cultural reasons. Heck, my fortyish neighbor is frightened of my Lhasa Poo!
You are bringing an animal into other peoples' personal spaces and asking them to deal with it. Have a little bit of respect. Not everyone thinks your dog is okay or cute or a real sweetheart.
(Photo via flickr user AdeLight.)