Dogs are rarely allowed in restaurants except for guide dogs. Of course we get the occasional situation where we’re turned away which is against the law, but most times we are allowed in.
For my part, I expect to have equal access to restaurants as a guide dog owner, but I am a firm believer that I too have a responsibility to keep my dog quiet and tucked away as far as possible so that she doesn’t get in the way of staff or other diners. So often I will get up to leave a restaurant, the dog will come out from under the table and people will exclaim that they had no idea she had been there. That’s the way I like it.
Last night I visited a restaurant with my partner and two other couples. Unfortunately because of the structure of the table I was unable to put the dog under it so she lay beside my chair. It wasn’t long before a woman came over and started to try to get the dog’s attention. I asked her to leave the dog alone please and she asked why? Because I asked you to could have been a reasonable response, but I explained that dogs aren’t normally allowed in restaurants and mine was a guide dog and I expected her not to get excited. “Oh its all right,” she said and carried on trying to distract the dog. At which point I was much firmer and said, “I’ve asked you not to do that.” She mimicked my voice then went off muttering about me and how I was cruel.
We thought that was the end of it until her and her party got up to leave. At which point we were called spackers and she told her friends not to pass us because we smelt. She also said to one of us, although we weren’t sure who, “fat cow you ought to go on a diet”.
Pretty childish insults but I actually felt very angry about them. For a start, none of our group smelt or ever does smell. Did we really deserve such an outburst because I asked her to leave my dog alone?
My dog is not public property. In a restaurant she is still in a working situation. Must I really have to explain, time and again that she must be left alone? Do I really invite so little respect that people feel that they can just ride rough-shod over my wishes? The answer to both those questions is yes and it saddens me.