Allowing Dogs at Dinner? Thanks, But No Thanks

The law allowing dogs to hang out at restaurants will not apply to me

I really should care. The passage of this law will not really impact me or any members of my immediate family (at least not insofar as they've seen fit to tell me), but I should take an interest in any legality that will affect the smooth running of our society.

No, I'm not talking about allowing gays to marry in our state, or grocery stores to sell wine—I already care about both of those, though I'd only need the former for a scam marriage to assure the voting support of the Gay and Lesbian alliance for the mayoral election in Llanview, like Dorian on One Life to Live (I am digressing, but I am not making that up). The wine sales law means nothing to me personally, either, as I am neither a liquor store owner, nor a grocer, nor a wine-by-the-bottle buyer, yet I follow the plucky small business vs. civil rights issue avidly.

But this statute making it okay for dogs to accompany their owners to dine on the patios of local restaurants? Bah. I profess indifference, though it's clearly aimed at dog owners like me. I dearly love my one giant (Monk), three hefty (Mike, Taffy, and Huggy), and one auxiliary dog (Pookah). And while they really yuck it up on their fenced half-acre, they do need more "people time," and a date to a local restaurant patio might be just the ticket.

But I don't want to eat out with them. Or eat with them at all. At our house, I take my Alpha Dog duties seriously. No treats from the table. No dogs in the kitchen except to clean up grated cheese spills or grease spatters. If the little dog jumps on a counter four times her height and downs six sausage balls in the time it takes me to cross the room, or the three retriever mixes have a bared-teeth, raised hair throwdown over a wrapper from a stick of butter, or the 96-pound Pyrenees mix slobbers so heavily on a sleeve of perfectly intact Saltines he somehow retrieved from a closed cabinet that no one wants them back, well, those are accidents. Unintentional. Not okay with Ms. Alpha.

Parking one of my dogs by my side for even the most casual meal? I don't see it. Or, rather, I don't like what I do see. Retriever mix Taffy would commandeer the wrapped silver, combining her absolute fetishes for shredding tissue paper and carrying anything in her mouth, for days, if it's the dimensions of a stick of dynamite.

Little dog would lure the server or fellow patron in with her sweet little Jack Russell/chihuahua face and its five o'clock shadow jowls, then, zoop, lick the nose. Dog slobber on the nostrils, now let's eat!

Monk would lovingly place his eight-pound head on my knee throughout the meal, for sure, and I'd be forced to ignore his hot breath and devoted gaze to gamely carry on with my usual witty repartee.

And Huggy, the stealth master, so quiet you forget he's there. He'd have the whole enchilada from the next table gulped, a hint of cilantro on his breath, and be back in place before I finished asking the server for an extra napkin.

Oh, I see travails for the restaurants, too. The hosting headaches. ("I, ah, have a table for four clear, but sadly the Doberman at the consecutive site is affronted by poodles...") Will they allow dogs to lick spoons that drop? Will they have to hire bouncers to stop them? Will there be an age limit for sneaking a sip of your owner's adult beverage? A plate fee if you're to share? Will crayons be reserved for human children?

In recent weeks, I've been seeing cute, well-behaved pups at their dining owners' feet. It's still up in the air in the city, but the County Commission, you may know, voted to allow dogs on restaurants' outdoor patios Sept. 28. But do I care? Not while individual restaurants can opt out, and, bless the system, so can individual dog owners.