Being a responsible dog owner, at least in my mind, means that you have to know your dog and what it can handle. If a dog can't handle a situation, you shouldn't put your dog in that situation.
My fellow ChicagoNow blogger Howard Moore, author of I've Got the Hippy Shakes, recently lamented what he sees as an increase in dogs in places where perhaps they shouldn't be. He talks about encountering dogs in a Walgreens and suggests that instead of bringing them into the store, the owners should leave them tied to a pole outside or just at home. He also mentions encountering dogs in his local grocery stores and in a Chinese restaurant.
Now, Howard is a friend, as well as one of the finest bloggers I know. And he's a damn good guy who I respect immensely. I respect him enough, in fact, to disagree with him on this issue. Or at least on part of this issue. I'll explain.
Howard is correct in that dogs have no business in restaurants, unless they're in an outdoor area of the restaurant specifically designated as dog-friendly and that is accessible without bringing the dog through the indoor portion of the restaurant. That's in section 4-8-031 of the municipal code of Chicago.
Basically, the code says that dogs (except for service dogs) are not allowed anywhere in which food is prepared onsite, except in certain areas. So when he saw the dog in the Chinese restaurant, that was illegal according to the laws of the city.
But I take issue with his suggestion that dogs shouldn't be in places like Walgreens. I have been on walks with Chester and realized I needed something at a Walgreens or CVS. So I went in with him and bought it, rather than taking him home and going back for the item. No harm, no foul.
And no, I won't tie him to a pole outside. No good dog owner ties their dog to a pole and leaves it unattended, even for five minutes. Ever. Ever ever ever.
As far as the dogs in the grocery stores, well, the information he gives is incomplete. The dogs could have been service dogs or emotional support dogs and thus allowed to come with their owners into grocery stores. But he didn't know. Now, if I'm reading the city ordinance correctly, normal dogs would likely not be allowed in most grocery stores, as many of them do prepare food onsite, though not all.
Like it or not, people want to be able to bring their dogs more places. And businesses are recognizing that they can make more money if they cater to that desire. I know I'm more likely to patronize a place if it's dog-friendly. As long as the owners are good and know when it's time to get their dog out of a situation to minimize any disruption and discomfort to the people without dogs, it's all good.
It comes down to being a good owner. You need to know your dog and in what situations the dog will be able to handle itself and behave well. I know that I can bring Chester into a bar (that doesn't serve food) for a couple hours and he will generally be fine and go mostly unnoticed. And I also know how to determine when it's time to leave those situations.
Honestly, it's just like going places with kids. Good parents know what their kids can and can't handle and how to know when a situation is becoming too much. When I was little, my parents would take me to restaurants. But if I lost my shit and started to make life crappy for other people, they got me the hell out. It's not difficult to do the same with dogs.
Chicago, like so many big cities, is becoming increasingly dog-friendly. That means people, including my buddy Howard, are going to be seeing dogs in places where they might not expect to see them.
And there's no reason to complain about that fact, so long as dogs and owners are behaving well.