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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Harms

When Did Pets Become People?

Ok. Before anyone gets bent out of shape, let me preface this by saying that I have no issues with pets. I love my dog dearly and he is absolutely a part of the family. He plays with the kids, eats around the same time we do, hell he even gets presents on his birthday and Christmas.

But there are some things he doesn't get to do. He does not sit at the kitchen table at dinner and ask anyone to pass the salt. He doesn't sleep in a bed with anyone nor stand up and use the toilet instead of a tree. There are no trips to the restaurant, supermarket, or coffee shop.

When I was growing up, "no dogs allowed" signs were as commonplace as "no shoes, no shirt, no service" signs. But in this great new world we live in, somehow we still care if a person is wearing shoes when entering a store yet disregard the seventy pound canine at the side of the person who is wearing shoes. Is there something less sanitary about bare feet than a slobbering, shedding, barking companion?

I was in a Starbucks this morning and there were more dogs than people (not really an exaggeration). If you are wondering how many of them were "service" dogs I would hazard to say none. There were no special vests or tags, no blind people with walking sticks. I will even go out on a ledge and guess they were not emotional support dogs. Most were accompanying couples, so either both parties needed emotional support or one did and their significant other could not provide the same comfort as the dog - not sure which one is worse.

In a civilized society, what makes a person feel their pets should be able to go anywhere they go? How many people are deathly afraid of dogs? How many of those same people may be going to the same Starbucks? So now one person's emotional support animal has caused the emotional breakdown of someone else.

I almost forgot the whole thing even happened until I went back about my day in lower Manhattan. As it stands now, I have seen almost as many dogs being pushed in baby carriages than there have been children in them. More dogs in gym bags than boutique fitness clubs south of Union Square. One woman had the dog in the stroller and her kid on a leash (well to be fair one of those tethered backpacks, but you get my point).

Thankfully I am not afraid of dogs or wearing shoes when out in public, but I am half tempted to bring my dog to Starbucks - I will be barefoot but will make sure he is wearing shoes. Wonder if that will offset my transgression. Guess there is only one way to find out...

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