I was thinking about the “Question of the Day” on MDOG’s Facebook page from the other day about where people bring their dogs. It was pretty interesting to find out that I am not the only crazy person who brings my dogs to places that are deemed “inappropriate” for dogs. So, I am going solely on common knowledge and completely of my own opinions and deductions today. In the words of the immortal Sarah Palin, “I’m going rogue.” Let it be known, I have done no (ok, maybe a little) research on this topic…
To me, my dogs are as close to having kids as I have right now. Like kids, I am happy at times that I can take them to the park for a couple hours and then put them in their crate while I go out. Actually, I probably have the advantage that way because I don’t think you can lock kids in a crate and get away with it long after they start learning how to speak. But there are many times, like normal human families, think to myself, “It’s too bad I couldn’t bring the dogs along. They would have loved doing this.”
Usually, the reason I can’t bring them isn’t because they couldn’t participate in the actual activity they would have loved but they couldn’t come on the errands afterward. If I go to the beach on a cooler day or on an outing then want to stop for lunch/dinner or do some shopping after, what would I do with them? I can’t leave them in the car unless it’s really cool outside (but then I would likely not be out gallivanting around anyway because I hate cold).
Truth is I’m not alone! In 2009, The Associated Press released a statistic that 50 percent of pet owners considered their pet as family members with equal status to that of human family members. In 2011, that number grew to 81 percent!!! PLUS, at least four people who follow the posts on the MDOG FB page. Because of this, there is a growing trend for pet friendly public places…or at least I am going to create one ;)
Locally, Evergreen Walk in South Windsor made a big deal a couple of years ago about becoming dog friendly. Now dog owners can clearly see which stores dogs are allowed into and what size dogs are allowed ( I would assume they would not want a bull in a china shop… literally). Landmark Café on Main Street in Manchester and Hartford Road Pizza (on Hartford Road, duh) allow outdoor dining with dogs too. Being a Townie, those are the only three locations that willingly allow your dogs. I snuck Gryphon into Walmarts for a couple of months when he was a puppy until I got caught one summer day by the manager. They allowed me to continue shopping that day because it was obviously too hot to leave a dog in the car and I SWORE I was just running a quick errand but I stopped the sneaking after that. I also recently brought him along to my appointment at my hairdresser. They fell in love with him and he is welcome back anytime.
So why don’t most places allow dogs inside? Well, for food places, I would guess it has to do with Health Code Regulations. Although, many places won’t even let you sit outside with your dog anymore. I cannot understand why this is because it’s not like the dogs are going to be in touch with any place the food is prepared and birds can poop on where it is served (which is 100 percent more unsanitary than dog spit). My brother lived in Germany for several years while he served in the Air Force. He said that people bring their dogs to a restaurant more often than they do their children. That could very well be because dogs mature at a faster rate than children and are, when trained properly, more well-behaved. While dogs do not always behave well, I have never seen one barking incessantly while jumping up and down on the chair of a bistro while the owner quietly and politely asked for 45 minutes that they not do that. I cannot say the same for children and parents. Maybe the Germans have it all right.
As for other stores, I’m guessing they are avoiding liability. Which is kind of ignorant, at least in CT, because rarely would someone win a lawsuit against a store for a dog that is with its owner causing an issue. Since dogs are property, they are treated as such in court. No one could sue Walmart if a little old lady started hitting people with her umbrella just because they let that umbrella through the door.
I will yield to the regulations against dogs in grocery stores or stores that carry groceries (Super Walmart, Target, etc.). My dogs can be sneaky and I would be devastated and completely embarrassed if they stole something. Although, if it were Zuzu, I would know right away because Gryphon would tell on her but I am not blind to his antics either and as innocent as he tends to be, he is not always. I’m done with sneaking my dogs in places they “don’t belong” - they’re too big for it anyway - but not with wishing I could.
I will also concede that people do not always make the best decisions when it comes to bringing their dogs out in public. I have seen some irresponsible things, not just at events, but in general when it comes to public behavior with dogs. As owners, we need to realize that not everyone thinks our dogs are sweet and cute and fuzzy and bad behaviors that we brush off as loving parents are not as endearing to strangers.
So today, I vow, I will talk to my State Representative (you know who you are or at least your wife will tell you) soon and see what he can do for us so the whole family can go on outings. I'm not implying at all that people should be forced to allow pet owners to bring their dogs along, simply that businesses that are doing so for precautionary reasons no longer need to be as concerned. I’m pretty sure it won’t be on the list of priorities but it could be one of those feel good things politicians do on occasion. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve sparked a little inspiration in my readers and you will do the same.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to make dog outings ok for everyone…
Tips for People Dining With Dogs
If your pooch is not ready for prime time, don’t put him on the stage. Train and socialize your dog to behave like it is going to be a service dog, which is generally overlooked by everyone.
Sit at a table where your dog can be out of the way, both of other customers and the waitstaff.
Be alert for the comings and goings of others so you can anticipate issues before they occur.
If your dog acts up, leave. No fuss, no muss. Apologize, if appropriate. Imagine yourself doing better the next time.
Patronize dog friendly restaurants, even if you don’t have the fur kids with you, and personally thank management for their policy.
And as a general tip for all pet owners, PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG. This is the one common gripe shared by everyone. The thoughtlessness of some pet owners is extended to anyone and everyone holding a leash.
Tips for People Dining Near Dogs
- Ignore the dog. If you see me enjoying a relaxing meal, my dog lying peacefully at my feet, please don’t approach us asking if you can pet the pooch. In exchange, I won’t come over to your table and scratch behind the ears of your kid and get her all worked up.
Ask for permission. If you simply can’t resist, please ask for permission to approach us before you stick your hand in my dog’s face. And don’t get hurt feelings if I say no.
Be open minded. If you don’t like seeing dogs at restaurants, figure out what really has you bothered and see if it has any basis in fact.
Until next time... See you at the dog park!