Do you agree with dogs being allowed into pubs, restaurants and busy spaces? Our community reporter Lesley from Bury is unsure… are you the same? Or do you not mind?
I like dogs. When I was a child I would harass, stroke, call any dog that came my way. I once got snapped at by an unappreciative mutt on the Blackpool promenade.
According to my parents, I was a bit startled, but immediately resumed my efforts to befriend it. My parents and the dog owner sensibly kept us apart. I then set up a relentless campaign to get my own puppy, hounding my very reluctant parents constantly.
They finally gave in when I was 12, and Pen-y-Cwm, a Cardinganshire Welsh Corgi (think of an Alsatian with the legs cut off) joined our family and graced us with her presence for the next 16 years.
She went everywhere with me, except into shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Dogs, other than guide dogs/assistance dogs remained outside. And that’s the problem.
When did it become ok to take dogs into the above establishments? When did we throw the health and safety rules, in this particular instance, out the window, and throw the doors open to our canine best friends?
Now, still liking dogs, I have developed a strong aversion to them in these enclosed public spaces. And have come to the conclusion that it’s not dogs I blame, it’s their owners, and to a certain extent the owners of the establishments that permit them.
It appears that dog owners often don’t seem to have any idea that their beloved pooch might not be everyone’s favourite drinking companion – letting them roam around, sniffing for tidbits, looking soulfully at your sausage and mash.
They don’t seem to be aware that non-doggie people don’t consider it acceptable behaviour to let their pet lick their hands and their faces with the same tongue he’s just licked the less attractive parts of his own anatomy, whilst sat at a public table.
I can understand it to a certain extent in country pubs, where dogs like to go for walks, where there is often a predominance of dogs, even an expectation of them.
But… I have been in two such establishments and watched the staff pick up dog bowls from the floor and put them on the bar, and in one place a few minutes later another member of staff sorted cutlery into napkins.
I have been in a wine bar in the centre of Bristol, ordering, when immediately next to me two dogs started a furious fight, literally snapping at each other and at my heels. (The bartender was singularly unimpressed when I suggested that this quite wasn’t the calm relaxing atmosphere I was looking for).
I have been in a very popular eatery in the Northern Quarter where they use old type salt cellars, the ones where you have to pinch the salt out with your fingers. Fine, but the group on the next table had two dogs with them, one of whom the owner insisted on sitting on the bench next to her, slavering over the table, and the owner’s hands. My sweet potato fries weren’t nearly as good without salt.
Very recently, I was in a women’s clothes shop in a popular suburb of London, and two dogs were brought in separately. They instantly started doing what dogs are bound to do – sniffing each other’s rear ends, getting tangled in their leads, the merchandise and other customers.
Negotiating various dog bowls whilst trying to get to the loo, without getting your feet wet is a bit of a pain as well. And I have to say, that most of the dogs that I’ve mentioned above did not look particularly happy, growling at each other, cowering under tables, twitching at the loud music etc.
So… how did this happen? And why was it seemingly a very unilateral decision? That is… no one asked the non-dog owners/lovers what they thought about this.
My husband and sister-in-law have allergies to animal hair, and my sister-in-law in particular doesn’t like to be in the same room as a dog (or cat, hamster, toucan etc.) She does like a drink though. And I’m sure she’s not the only one in the country who enjoys a dog-free libation from time to time.
Dogs are seen as unclean by the Islamic faith and therefore are not welcomed at close quarters.
So, I’d just like to ask – what do you think? Have we gone a bit dog mad, and are the non-dog people being disenfranchised in this debate? Have the landlords and restauranters fully considered the impact this is having on some of their clientele? I now definitely avoid dog-friendly places where possible.
Would it be more acceptable if the owners took more control, for instance, don’t let them sit at tables, and take more notice of the other people around them, who may not be that keen on man’s best friend intruding on their tippling time?
Or, maybe just recognized that their dogs might actually prefer a quiet night in, dozing, chasing rabbits, rather than being hauled out to a crowded, noisy, unfamiliar, enclosed space, kept on the lead, penned in with other dogs they don’t know and who are often territorially hostile?
What do you think? And remember – I like dogs.
One last thought – I wondered what people would make of me bringing my pet tarantula out on the bevvy with me, or my husband’s crocodile, I mean, where’s the harm…?