Dogs in public places may not be quite as controversial as, say, unruly kids, but many people have strong opinions nonetheless. I like dogs, so I‚Äôm happy to encounter them. But pets in grocery stores? Even I think that‚Äôs pushing it.
I heard various opinions from readers after I wrote about this a few weeks ago. A reader named Caroline said she recently came across a large dog ‚Äúsniffing at apples in my local Harris Teeter, with its owner seemingly oblivious.‚ÄĚ There was also a pooch in CVS ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúsells food, too,‚ÄĚ she noted (of the drugstore, not the dog) ‚ÄĒ and countless dogs dining alfresco with their owners in Old Town Alexandria.
(Well-behaved dog at an outdoor table? I gotta say, that‚Äôs fine with me.)
Last year, Caroline treated herself to a business-class flight only to find herself seated across the aisle from a flatulent dog. (‚ÄúBarking would have been kinder to the nose,‚ÄĚ she wrote.)
Caroline wrote to the airline, which sent back what she called ‚Äúa ridiculously insensitive letter citing legislation about support dogs.‚ÄĚ
Dog owners, she wrote me, ‚Äúdo not own airplanes, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies any more than the rest of us.‚ÄĚ
Jody Carlson of Fairfax, Va., is a big dog lover but doesn‚Äôt think they belong in grocery stores.
‚ÄúLegitimate service dogs should, of course, be permitted, but not a dog that‚Äôs a pet,‚ÄĚ Jody wrote. ‚ÄúService dogs are well-trained and well-behaved and (in my opinion) cause no disruptions or health issues. I think the problem is that too many people either slap a homemade ‚Äėservice animal‚Äô vest on their pet or else just claim the animal is a service animal and get highly offended when they‚Äôre challenged.‚ÄĚ
But some readers were adamant that therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes, providing comfort for all sorts of problems. Some of those problems are easy to spot and some aren‚Äôt. They said that to question a dog in a store is to question a person‚Äôs disability.
A reader named Dan said that since he‚Äôs retired and his kids are away in college, he takes his black Lab, Lucy, practically everywhere. ‚ÄúShe prefers to be with me in the car than to stay home alone,‚ÄĚ Dan wrote. ‚ÄúWhile out running errands, I often stop at Giant on the way home to get provisions for dinner. What to do?‚ÄĚ
On cool days, Dan rolls down the windows and runs into the store. ‚ÄúBut when the temp rises above 75, the car is no place to leave a dog,‚ÄĚ he wrote. ‚ÄúI worry about what would happen to her if I keeled over in the store. .‚ÄČ.‚ÄČ. Of course, I would like to be able to take her inside, but I realize that not all dogs are as nice and well-mannered as Lucy.‚ÄĚ
Dan said he once asked the cart guy to hold Lucy‚Äôs leash while he went inside. He thinks that‚Äôs a service that grocery stores should consider, a sort of dog valet. That seems like a lot to ask of a cart guy in a busy parking lot.
So we‚Äôre back where we started. Some people wish they could take their dogs everywhere. Service dogs are allowed everywhere. Not all dogs are service dogs.
We‚Äôre in the position of having to trust humans to do the right thing. And you know what that means.
If you use a therapy dog and have been confronted about it in a public place, let me know. I‚Äôd also love to hear from people who cart their pets around everywhere even though they know they probably shouldn‚Äôt.
Start your diet now! These area schools are planning reunions in the coming months:
Anacostia High Class of 1978 ‚ÄĒ Sept. 22. Email Justine Briscoe Middleton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Falls Church High Class of 1968 ‚ÄĒ Weekend of Sept. 1. Email email@example.com.
Gaithersburg High Class of 1978 ‚ÄĒ Sept. 7 and 8. Email Greg Mills at GHS78Trojans@gmail.com.
Sherwood High Class of 1968 ‚ÄĒ Sept. 29. Email Larry Lauer at Larry.Lauer@comcast.net.
Woodrow Wilson High Class of 1968 ‚ÄĒ Oct. 5-7. Email John Burwell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
W.T. Woodson High Class of 1968 ‚ÄĒ Oct. 5-7. Email email@example.com.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.