Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kite Flyer

"You don't always get the dog you want,
you get the dog you need."
~Cesar Millan

Occasionally, I tell people she's half Pit Bull and half Carny. It's meant to be funny but it's also true. She's Latina too but I usually leave that part out in case someone were to ask to see her papers. We are in Nashville after all. It's hard to know which of those three groups is more discriminated against. As if just being a dog weren't enough.

This morning we made a trip over to our neighborhood big-box office supply store. Stella's been going there with me for nearly two years. I try to walk her a couple of miles before we go in. She loves it there because the floor is really cool and as soon as I find an aisle I like she can just lie down and soak it up. She doesn't move until I pick up her leash and say "okay". This morning we were approached by an exuberant young man who wondered if I needed any help. Holding up a box of jewel cases, I thanked him and told him I'd already found what I came for. Then he broke down and said what was really on his mind.

"Ummm, Ma'am, is that a service dog?"
He made little circles with his index finger, pointing at Stella.

"No," I said "but she's been in here many, many times."

"No one is allowed to bring dogs into the store unless they're service dogs" he said.

"I got permission from the manager" I said, "before I ever brought her in the first time. She comes in pretty often."

"Well they're clamping down on us now to keep dogs out" he said "and if that isn't a service dog, well'll have to go."

This is the point at which I resisted the urge to ask him if he had some desire to have a middle-aged woman up his ass at nine-thirty in the morning.

"Actually, she is a service dog", I said.

He looked baffled for just a second and then with nowhere to turn, he said "She is?"

"Uh-huh. But thanks for letting us know about the dog policy." I smiled my best smile at him and we walked away.

Now I know that civilized societies have rules and generally speaking, I wouldn't consider myself a rule breaker (you people in the peanut gallery - hush up) but I'm keen to tackle this one since it makes so little sense. Bad dogs rarely show up in public places. Bad dogs are at home, usually on a chain; alone and psychologically neglected (clue: that's why they're bad dogs). Nobody thinks of walking into a retail store with an angry, unpredictable dog and the fact that someone thinks I'd bring that sort of dog into a place of business, where there are strangers and possibly children, is not only an insult to me personally, but a testament to how fearful and litigious and ignorant we've become. [end of rant]

One might also ask (and reasonably so): What's the big deal about taking your dog into a store anyway? Why not just leave him/her at home?

Well, it's simple really.
It's fun having her along, I like her and I believe the people we run into on a daily basis do too. She breaks up their day. For a minute or two she feeds them her energy and they melt and run down into their shoes. They say things like:

"Wow, she's so soft I can hardly believe it." or "Thank God, there's Stella."

They go back to whatever they were doing, somehow refreshed. It's nothing earth shattering or terribly important but it feels good and it's legal. I'm beginning to think it should be mandatory. But, if the big office supply chain wants me to leave her at home well - that's okay. There are lots of places to buy office supplies. We'll just look around for one that embraces diversity and has sense enough to enjoy a good belly rub.

*Kite Flyer is the carnival ride pictured above.

Other Stuff

Nathan's Hot Dogs annual hot dog eating contest - Sunday July 4th - Coney Island.

I hate to say it but there are uglier dogs than this on my street.

Hope everyone has a great holiday. We're dog sitting (for Banjo and Ginger) so that could be a lot of fun.

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