Yes, he’s cute but he doesn’t belong at the grocery store
Welcome to a very special bonus round of Unsolicited Advice, the weekly column in which I dispense advice no one asked for to people who don’t even know who I am.
The response to this week’s column about the tough reality of not being able to take your unruly toddlers wherever you want has been overwhelming. Most responders seem to be grateful that someone is saying out loud what many of us are thinking when presented with excessively misbehaving children in public places. Some are offended that anyone would expect a parent to have some measure of control over the public behavior of a toddler. But the response that has caught my eye the most is, “Now do dogs”. So, you lucky VIP subscribers get some exclusive Unsolicited Advice on the proper place of pets in any community.
Full disclosure – I am a bonafide dog lover. Our family has been fostering for the local animal rescue for nearly two years. We’ve seen half a dozen dogs placed in loving forever homes once they’ve been rehabilitated from their trauma in our foster home.
Watching middle-aged adults who can’t cope with their empty nests or their latest divorce drag around a bedraggled tiny rat dog (or otherwise) as a certified “therapy” companion is becoming too much. It would be one thing if these people kept those animals to animal-friendly areas – the parks, the streets, or dog-friendly businesses- but a strange sense of entitlement has risen up around the designation of “therapy animals” and now, we are all subjected to dogs in places one should never expect to encounter them.
I love dogs but if my dog can’t be at the store, then neither can yours.
Your dog doesn’t belong on an airplane (unless it’s a certified guide animal). Airplanes are for people. I understand that it’s very difficult to transport an animal over long distances, but like I told parents earlier- sometimes they have to sit out on the public trips if their toddlers can’t behave; so must dog owners sometimes sacrifice being with their precious pups every minute of the day. If you can’t fly your dog somewhere then drive the dog somewhere and if you can’t drive the dog somewhere then leave it at home. If you can’t stand to be separated from your little baby then maybe you need to reevaluate. A dog is not a person. Don’t make it one. It literally makes them crazy.
Which brings me to the other point. Don’t tell me your little four-legged friend is “really a sweetie pie, don’t be scared! He just gets nervous around new people!”. You won’t find a person who loves dogs more than I do but I can tell you from my extensive experience as a foster that no dog is perfect and no dog is a person – they are animals and no matter how much training they have, at some point, they will act unpredictably. If I’m sitting next to your yappy dog on a flight, you are not reassuring me when you try to tell me they’re just fine, and sweet and would never hurt a fly. You’re making me nervous. I cannot trust your judgment. YOU BROUGHT YOUR YAPPY LITTLE DOG ON A FLIGHT. LIKE A MANIAC.
I don’t want to see your dog at the grocery store. If you can’t make it through the dairy aisle without a “therapy” animal, then you maybe shouldn’t be out in the first place.
I don’t want to see your dog indoors in a restaurant eating off a plate like a human. I can handle the patio but even then, watching a dog eat off a plate at the table is as disgusting as watching a dog lick its butt for five minutes…which your dog is likely to do once they’ve finished the steak you ordered him.
I don’t want to hear you calling your dog a “baby” or your “child”. This is the saddest nonsense of all. Again, as someone who fosters traumatized dogs, I can’t tell you how damaging this is to your animal. It sets the human/animal hierarchy on it’s head and that in turn makes your dog anxious. Do you have a dog on anti-depressants? I’d bet the dozens of dollars in my savings account that you also think of your dog as a child. The two are not unrelated.
To conclude, just because you love your dog doesn’t mean you are entitled to bring him/her wherever you want. Even if you claim to need that dog for “support” that still doesn’t entitle you to bring him/her wherever you want. I’ve scolded parents for bringing their unruly children to public places and I’ve told them that sometimes you just have to suck it up and take a knee for a while. It’s not fair but life is not fair.
I love dogs, but I don’t love your dog and not many others do. Act like a human and keep the animals in their designated spaces.