Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Were They Thinking? The Blurring Line Between Pets and Humans

I really love my dog but she belongs at home or where it is truly appropriate to take her -- like a dog park.

Walking around La Cumbre Plaza last night I was amazed at the amount of dogs allowed into stores. I saw one inside a store barking at a plush toy labrador as if it was real. The noise was deafening.

I'm even more surprised that people walk into restaurants like Plaza Deli or Pizza Mizza, for instance, and are shocked and appalled that their "baby" has to stay leashed outside the restaurant due to health rules. Would they try that at the new Ruth's Chris? Last night I heard someone mumble something about their dog's mouth being cleaner than any of ours -- as they were walking away I saw Fifi lift her leg at a bench in disgust. Fifi's "companion" (remember -- we do not own our pets!) looked the other way.

I had to laugh when a reader passed on this New York Times piece called Who Invited the Dog? which is a funny account of people who bring their dogs uninvited to family functions. Here's one of the more salient points:

Difficult guests are no longer limited to humans. The boundaries between humans and animals have been so eaten away by pet therapists, pet designer outfits and pet bar mitzvahs, that it has reached a point where devoted owners, who treat their animals as privileged children, lose all perspective on the pet’s role in their social lives.

Any of you have stories like these? What were they thinking?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post .
My experience has been that you would have less trouble with having people clean up after their kids but when it comes to pets and dogs in particular good luck . In stores as you show is one area but unfortunately it doesn't stop there .
I walk through Ellwood bluffs and have many instances of the nice open spaces being abused for the benefit of the easy "dumping" grounds .
One recent experience was strangely typical . I was walking on the trails and noticed in front of me a large dog darting in and out of the grasses with a tennis ball in its mouth . The "owner" well up in front of where the dog was walking with his back to the dog . As I continue to walk , the dog stops in the grass takes a dump and continues on towards the owner who is clueless as to what his pet has just done . However when the dog is seen by the owner to be missing the tennis ball he stops and demands that the dog go find the ball . This guy has his priorities skewd I'm thinking to myself as I go in an opposite direction but from experience pointing this out to him may provide an unpleasant consequence on such a nice day .
And we think graffiti looks bad . Out of sight out of mind hmm......

12/16/2007 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

Any body remember the absurd community debate on dogs in the "Wilderness" up above Hendry's Beach. The Dogs won.

What a community! Do dogs have cellphones now?

Wonder why the creeks and beaches are still polluted despite Measure B?

What does this mean? Will property values go up or down? That's all that seems to matter.

On this issue, call me a NIMBY.

12/16/2007 10:30 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Contrary to what some believe, the puppy breeding industry has actually gotten even more corrupt in recent years," Pacelle told NEWSWEEK."

Think of this when you see the folks with their minature whatever's in their handbags...

the Owner of Pets of Bel Air:
"we would never knowingly buy a dog from a puppy mill; and we are appalled by the possibility that this may have happened."

(As in, "We're shocked! We're shocked there's Perverse Puppy Peddling going on in our establishment")

Now, being a lover of man and beast, I must say that I like seeing fur faced friends around. They can, after all, be so much more interesting than their owners.

Not to mention they are excellent pick up tools...

12/16/2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Never mind the dog haters said...

Sara, I was disappointed to see this post, because even though your words were rational and well-meaning, I knew it would bring out the anti-dog contigent among us.

Perhaps you need to add a link to the creeks report which clearly found that HUMAN FECES are the greatest pollutant in the creeks. Personally, I'm sick of driving or walking over LARGE PILES OF HORSE S#@! on the trails and streets. Or the neighbors cats that prefer my flower beds as toilets. But hey, that's life in the "not really a city" of SB.

The vast majority of dog owners, just like the vast majority of parents, drivers and neighbors, WANT to do good and usually do. Are there moments of neglect? Of course. But just like children, horses, cats and people, the overall benefit that our canine friends contribute far outweighs the negative. Live and let live.

Get the derelicts, sexual harrasers, drunks, broken glass and human waste off of our beaches, parks and trails. THen talk to me about dogs.

12/16/2007 4:57 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

4:57 -- agree with you. Whether you are a dog or cat owner or even your own person -- we should respect and be courteous that other people may not need to see our dog or cat or horse because they are "part of the family".

Why some horse owners let their animals go all over is beyond me -- too hard to get off the horse I guess. Still, I'd say the same thing to them!

Point of my rant is -- I'm not sure people are more courteous than they were even a decade ago in general. I look at driving and parking huge monstrous cars and trucks, fighting over sale items at Target, etc.

12/16/2007 5:42 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. St. Francis of Assisi.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way that its animals are treated. Mahatma Ghandi.

Perhaps this community could learn a thing or two from these great minds.

12/16/2007 5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dog and I were at La Cumbre Plaza on Saturday night. I take her there periodically as part of her socialization training. We don't go into stores and restaurants, and though I always carry poop bags with me, we try to do our "business" before leaving home. If I want to shop, she waits in the car. And I have a special new harness specifically for walking in public that keeps her mostly at my side and minimizes tugging.

She's my "family," but I don't expect her to be anyone else's.

12/16/2007 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear ya Sara---- the rudeness factor seems to multiply exponentially every year here in SB---esp with drivers----HOLY MOLEY! The fights over parking spaces---I won't even go to the 5 points center anymore.......folks need to chill out...think of our neighbors move softly through this paradise

12/16/2007 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Observations from New York City, the fashion capital of the world:

The latest trend here is dog bags hanging from the arms of the rich. Inside you'll notice a small dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier (aka Yorkie).

The bag, which at first glance looks like a large designer handbag, has mesh material on both ends, allowing the dog to breathe. The owner sometimes unzips one end so the pup's head can pop out while shopping.

Store clerks reach to pet its head, but the dog, feeling defenseless with only its head exposed and its body trapped, snaps at the clerk's fingers to ward off the probe into its personal zone.

Zipping the bag closed, the pet owner goes about shopping, with the bag often tilting at a 45 to 70 degree angle, dangling behind the owner's back, with the dog crunched into the front of the bag face first as the oblivious owner peruses expensive clothing on racks. Wonder how the dog feels traveling on its head.

Who started that trend among the fabulously wealthy to carry around a small pooch as a status symbol, anyway? I'm surprised they don't wear their dogs as necklaces or draped over their shoulders as a live fur.

P.S. Often the dog's fur matches the color of the owner's boots or fur coat. That's the style, much to the dog's chagrin, I would imagine, if it wonders whether those boots or coat belonged to a distant relative.

So, Santa Barbara's wealthy are behind the trend in this new era of pooch fashion? New York's fashion leaders are simply appalled! Tsk tsk.

12/16/2007 6:20 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

6:06 pm -- clearly there are responsible dog owners and I appreciate your kind tone. Some clearly push the limit though...

12/16/2007 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at a store on Saturday and some guy's dog comes over and starts licking my leg...I told him to get the **** away from me..gee..are we so lonely we can't leave our pets at home? BTW, dogs are a major source of pollution at the beach, on hiking trails, city parks, etc..owners are just in denial...

12/16/2007 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The baggies the NewsPress comes in are perfect to carry and pick up your pet poop.

One more reason to keep up your subscription.

12/16/2007 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

Talk to me about the guy with two Dobermans on the beach who wants them to run free. Tell me again about what happens when they all meet the local St. Francis or even Don Jose de la Guerra.

12/16/2007 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Both sides of the issue said...

Pure Bred German Shepherd, well trained at our house.

HOWEVER, many other owners do not train and in my 'nice' neighborhood I cannot believe the owners walk their dogs and let them wee and poop on everyone's property. Oh yes, there is a bag in hand but if no one is watching, these people do not bother to use it.

One day, my mild-mannered husband caught one neighbor with huge lab doing business on our front lawn and starting to just walk on by leaving the deposit. He literally ran out the door yelling at the woman walking the Lab and you really don't need to hear the rest. No cursing. Just, why don't you have your dog do it's business in your own back yard as we do, etc?

The woman said, "You are not being very neighborly!"

Some day I plan to deposit a month's worth of my dog's business through my neighborhood. I'm just nuts enough to do it right now.

Just give it up. Dog owners, anti-dog-lovers. Another demonstration of poor behavior by humans. Not the dog's fault. On my personal level, little 'rat' dogs make me insane. Sorry. My dog eats them for lunch.

12/16/2007 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the deal with people leaving their dogs lock in their cars??!!?? I see so much of that in Santa Barbara!!

12/17/2007 7:40 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

I am an absolute dog lover, but it's incredibly annoying to see that it's becoming "acceptable" (oh, really?) to bring them into almost any kind of establishment. A few specific items:

1. Anyone who lets his dog poop anywhere other his own backyard without picking it up is just plain ignorant and uncouth. As for neighbors like the one described by "both sides of the issue": what REAL recourse can you take when people are habitually like this, other than leaving a big steaming pile on the clueless lady's doorstep?

2. Dogs do not belong inside stores or eating establishments, period (but who cares if they're walked outdoors through LaCumbre or Paseo Nuevo -- as long as they don't tinkle inside the mall). I have not hesitated to rush straight to a store manager to say that I have severe allergies and any animal must be removed asap. This says so much more about people having a totally oblivious sense of entitlement and just wanting to do whatever, whenever, whereever they want than anything else. Is it even legal to have dogs inside stores?

3. Even on outdoor patios, dogs can be too much. I really don't want a big Husky wagging his furry tail inches from my bagel with cream cheese. I rarely enjoy a furball in my breakfast. And what's with people who actually put toy dogs up on tables at public cafes? Rare, but believe it or not, I've seen it.

As with any other "social infraction," I think the more that we all let people get away with this stuff instead of (politely) calling them on it, the longer they'll remain oblivious. I'm not optimistic that most people will start being less self-centered, but I'm not gonna give in and keep my mouth shut either. A few weeks ago a woman actually talked back to me rudely when I shushed her and her male companion who insisted on continuing a discussion through the first 15 minutes of a movie. That's another whole blog topic...

This topic is almost as bad as religion or politics. You get people like "never mind" above who take it way too personally and label anyone who has issues with this a "dog hater." Probably the same type of person who would toss out the catchall "Get over it!" if you complained that s/he brought a crying infant to a movie theatre, symphony performance, or fine dining establishment.

12/18/2007 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also caught people letting their dogs crap on my lawn, and when I run out and hand them a baggie to clean it up they act as if I am out of line, somehow, and interfering in their little outing.

But usually I just find the turds days later, and relocate them with a shovel to my neighbor's cactus-filled yard (he has a dog who routinely runs free and prefers to poop at my place than his).

Everyone is happier with a well-trained dog, incl. the dog. I adore dogs (except any dog with any amount of pit-bull in its genes) and can forgive them their trespasses. It's the owners, selfish and obnoxious and inconsiderate.

Poo on them!

12/18/2007 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Both sides of the issue again.. said...

Oh thank you so much for sharing personal dog poop adventures.

I can't stop laughing and now feel free to 'fess up' that when I took golf lessons to please my husband, I learned that the best way to practice was taking an old five-iron in hand and whacking our Shep's giant turds over the back yard fence to my neighbors yard. The key to my success was waiting for them to turn sufficiently dry and hard.

12/18/2007 7:46 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Can we all at least agree that the law office guy in the NYT story that says "Stinky Boom Boom" and wipes his cats butt gets B-Slapped everytime he does it? Can you just imagine what the cat's thinking?

This will, of course, take national coordination but I think we can pull it off.

12/18/2007 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I clean up after my dog and sometimes others' dogs as well, but one of the most disgusting experiences I had re: dog poop was inside a Santa Barbara pet store.

A dog had done its business right near the entrance -- I don't know if the owner noticed or not -- but instead of immediately picking it up, two employees stood far away and debated who would get stuck with the cleanup.

I got out of there, hoping no customers got stuck in the poop before the two nincompoops came to a decision.

12/19/2007 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then there was the night I walked across my front yard and felt that familiar squish below my feet. I wish dog owners would pick up after their dog has done what it naturally does.

12/20/2007 11:39 AM  

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