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Tag: dining

Woman gets very crabby about service dog in Delaware restaurant

A customer who went ballistic over the presence of a veteran’s service dog in a Delaware seafood restaurant has defended her tirade, saying she was the victim of racial slurs.

Ciara Miller, the woman seen yelling in the now viral video, says that before the camera was turned on during the confrontation at Kathy’s Crab House in Delaware City, racial epithets were directed at her by “six or seven people.”

And she told FOX 29 that she stands firm in her belief that her dining experience should not have been spoiled by a dog.

“No, actually I don’t regret how vocal I was. I reacted based on the way they reacted to me,” Miller said.

The dog in question is JP, a Great Dane belonging to retired US Air National Guard Force Master Sgt. Bill Austin who suffers from PTSD. JP was wearing a vest indicating he was a service dog.

Miller objected that her family was seated in close proximity to the dog.

“The dog’s body was about the same height as the table. Basically, the butt was sitting in front of me at the table,” she can be heard to say in the video.

When someone tried to explain to her that JP was a service dog, belonging to a veteran who fought for the country, she responded, “Congratulations, congratulations. My husband’s dad did too … My husband’s dad fought for the fucking country …I don’t care, I don’t care … There should be a separate section for a f—ing animal.”

Bill+Austin+and+JP+Service+DogAustin, meanwhile, said no one said anything racial to Miller, that she started the argument, and that his dog behaved appropriately.

“I really am hoping something positive comes out of this,” Austin said. “This is about bad behavior.”

Since the video went viral, Miller says she has been harassed online.

“I am frightened to send my daughter to school with the level of verbal content is being said to and about me, my family and I based on these fake articles,” Miller said in an email to the Wilmington News Journal.

Kathy’s Crab House issued a statement apologizing for the “embarassing turn of events … It is unfortunate that some of the public are not familiar with federal regulations regarding service animals, which, in fact, do permit service animals into establishments such as grocery stores, public buildings and restaurants …”

The restaurant announced it will be sponsoring a fundraising effort for veterans and service animals.

(Photo: Bill Austin, with his wife and, in the foreground, JP, photo provided by Austin)

Going out to eat with your dog is close to becoming legal in New York

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Dogs in the state of New York could soon be joining their humans for dinner at restaurants — without it being against the law.

A bill passed by the New York Senate Wednesday — by a 60-0 vote — would change state health law to give restaurants the option of allowing pet owners to bring dogs into outdoor dining areas, the New York Times reported.

The State Assembly is now reviewing its version of the same bill.

Dogs, under the revised law, would have to be accompanied by a diner, and restaurants that decide to allow dog would have to provide an alternate entrance to their patios, so dogs don’t walk through indoor dining areas.

Dogs will have to be on leashes, and would not be allowed into outdoor areas where food is being prepared.

The bills specifically forbid communal water bowls, requiring dogs be served water in disposable containers.

And, in what is sure to be the toughest of the new law’s requirements, restaurant servers would be prohibited from playing with dogs.

The bill is similar to one passed in California last year. As with that one, restaurants remain free to ban dogs from their outside areas if they so choose.

“With a large percentage of New Yorkers being dog owners, many restaurants would like to accommodate their guests and permit canine companions to join them,” said Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau County), a sponsor of the Senate measure.

In the Assembly, Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is the sponsor of the similar bill.

“People consider dogs and other animals to be just another member of the family,” said Rosenthal. “When you sit down to dinner, it’s your husband, your partner, your wife, your kids and your dog.”

“An overwhelming number of New Yorkers who have dogs take them everywhere they go,” she added. “So this is just another option for them to take their animals with them when they dine out.”

(Photo: New York Daily News)

Does Fido want fries with that?

Revelation Research Dog at Drive Thru

One out of every six fast food customers pick up a little something for the dog at the drive-thru window, according to a study by a marketing research company.

“These visits translate to a staggering number of trips (over 1,000,000,000 annually) where the dog is the one ‘lovin’ it,'” concludes a recent study on dog ownership and fast food habits conducted by Relevation Research.

The study found just over one third of canine owners have visited fast food drive-thrus with their dog — and, of those, four-fifths claim to have ordered menu items specifically for their dogs.

McDonald’s is visited most often by dog owners, followed by Burger King and Wendy’s.

With dog ownership, and dog pampering, expected to continue to grow — especially among baby boomers and millenials — QSRs (or quick service restaurants) would be well advised to put healthy dog treats on the menu, it suggests.

“Because of disposable incomes and empty nester status, Baby Boomer owners could be strong candidates for QSR,” said Nan Martin of Relevation Research. “But the Baby Boomer also has an evolving focus on health. That means menu items specifically targeted for dogs or dog-friendly in terms of ingredients will resonate best.

“QSR and dog food/treat manufacturers should team up to design dog-safe offerings. Companies catering to the dog will win with owners who want to, guilt-free, feel like they’re spoiling the dog.”

(Photo: Relevation Research)

Dog walks into a bar

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Our forefathers may have overlooked listing it in the Constitution, but I’d rank it up there with free speech, religious freedom and the right to bear arms… maybe even above the right to bear arms:

It’s the right to get a beer at a bar with your dog — one of life’s true pleasures, assuming you love beer and love dogs (and assuming it’s cool with the bar owner).

SONY DSCI’ve always felt, and often written, that allowing dogs into a drinking establishment — especially one that doesn’t serve food — is a decision that should be left up to individual tavern operators.

Local health departments, often, don’t see it that way, as was recently the case in New York City, where The Gate, a tavern in Park Slope, was told it can no longer allow patrons to come in with their dogs.

The city Department of Health based their order on a law prohibiting any live animal from being in a food service establishment.

The Gate is not a restaurant, but, under the law, beer, wine, booze and ice are considered foods.

Silly? Yes.

Unconstitutional? Should be, I say, tongue not entirely in cheek.

All 50 states allow residents to carry concealed guns outside their homes. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio have laws specifically allowing guns in bars. Bar patrons in South Carolina and North Carolina also aren’t required to disarm when entering a bar.

Twenty states, including New York and New Jersey, do not address the question of guns in bars at all.

It makes me uncomfortable, living in a world (and a state) where guns have more rights, privileges and protections than dogs.

And it gives me pause (not paws, for that would be a pun), that local health departments can get so worked up about a hound sleeping on a bar floor when Ebola is at our doorstep. Don’t they have more important things to do?

But back to The Gate.

After the health department laid down the law at the corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, management posted a sign on the door of the tavern, saying, “with apologies to our furry friends,” dogs could no longer be allowed.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn pet owners have started a petition on the website Park Slope for Pets (see the upper right corner of that page) asking the Health Department to “allow dogs at The Gate” and reclassify bars that don’t serve food. As of this morning, nearly 600 signatures had been collected.

“We support The Gate’s dog-friendly status in the neighborhood as well as all other non-food drinking establishments that welcome dogs,” the petition’s sponsors say. “We are not looking for an exception for The Gate but rather a revision to the statute with regard to all non-food drinking establishments.”

SONY DSCI hold an even more radical stance. I’m for letting well-behaved dogs into places that do serve food, and even inside, as opposed to the patio (given it’s OK with the owner).

I’m more concerned with what’s going on unseen in the kitchen than the possibility of evil germs hopping off a dog and onto my plate of mozzarella sticks.

If its OK for service dogs to go inside restaurants, it should be OK for all well-socialized dogs — because all dogs, in a way, are service dogs.

My dog Ace, a one-time therapy dog who now counsels only me (and at a very reasonable fee) grew up spending some time (but not an inordinate amount of time) at a neighborhood bar in Baltimore I patronized.

I like to think he added to the bar’s character, and warmth, and friendliness, and vice versa. Admittedly, he also served as a social crutch for me, making conversations easier to start, making me more comfortable, keeping me from getting too tongue tied.

Just as dogs need to be socialized, so do we. And dogs and bars — independently and especially in combination — can help those of us who have difficulty in that area achieve that.

Dogs in bars lead to more social dogs, and more social people. (With the exception of those humans who are aghast by the prospect of a dog in a bar or restaurant and feel the need to file an official complaint, as opposed to just avoiding the establishment.)

“One of my favorite parts about going to The Gate was that I could enjoy a quiet night out without the lingering guilt of knowing my dog was waiting for me at home,” one dog owner told Park Slope Stoop. “… It’s disappointing that they are losing part of their character because of the DOH’s overreach in enforcing the Health Law.”

thegateWhile the city health department is barking out orders, the proprietor of The Gate, we’re pleased to read, isn’t just going to roll over.

The Gate’s owner, Bobby Gagnon, reportedly plans to fight the health department edict when he appears before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings on Nov. 18 — not so much to be granted an exception as to clarify the law.

Dog owners need to push back from time to time, as opposed to just letting themselves be pushed around. I think that happens because dog owners are generally calm, easy-going, reasonable, level-headed people (thanks, at least in part, to their dogs), and because they realize having a dog — whether it’s a right or not — is truly a privilege.

Maybe if dog owners got political, played dirty, sported bumper stickers and insisted on exercising the right to have a Bud with their bud, we could resolve the problem, short of a Constitutional amendment.

Maybe if dog owners could be as strident and overbearing as gun lobbyists, they could enjoy more freedoms with their dogs.

Maybe, when authorities come to take our dogs out of a bar in which he or she is otherwise welcome, we should say, “Sure, you can take my dog out of this establishment … when you pry the leash out of my cold dead fingers.”

Maybe someday the Supreme Court will address the burning questions: Is ice food? And even if so, do we have a right to walk into a bar with our dog?

I’m sure critics will say it’s frivolous of me to compare taking your terrier to a tavern with our right to tote firearms, or our Constitutionally granted freedoms of religion and speech.

But are they really that different?

My dog protects me, like a gun. My dog nourishes and consoles me, like a religion. And he frees up my speech better than the First Amendment ever did.

(Photos: Ace and his friend Stringer at a Recreation Billiards, a dog friendly bar in Winston-Salem, Ace at The Dog Bar in Charlotte, and a Great Dane at The Dog Bar, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; sign outside The Gate in New York, from Park Slope Stoop)

Dining with dog? Maryland makes it legal

Maryland restaurants may allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas as of July 1 under a bill approved by the Senate yesterday and headed for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk for final approval.

O’Malley, whose family has two dogs, is expected to sign the bill, the Baltimore Sun reports on its Maryland Politics blog.

The bill permits restaurants with outdoor patios and tables to welcome dogs, if they want to.

Del. Dan Morhaim sponsored the legislation, and said it will provide a financial boost for restaurants and bars heading into the outdoor dining season.

The Dining Out Growth Act of 2011 permits restaurants statewide to have outdoor space for humans and dogs to eat together — as is already the case in Frederick County, for which similar legislation was passed last year.

Opponents of the bill said it could lead to more dog bites and other health hazards.

Woof on the wharf: A doggie menu

Ace and I were strolling down Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey — a place where one can make a meal out of the free samples of clam chowder offered by hawkers trying to lure you into their establishments.

Rather than mooch samples all afternoon, though, and in need of more copious amounts of chowder, I started eyeing the restaurants, looking for an affordable one with outdoor seating — one that might permit Ace to sit with me and watch me while I ate.

That’s when the hostess at Cafe Fina called out. Well, she didn’t really call out — the city has cracked down on that practice. Instead she quietly and casually mentioned:

“We have a doggie menu.”

When I approached, she went on to explain that Cafe Fina had some pretty good human food, too, and how the restaurant grew many of its own vegetables and how they were organic.

But she had us at doggie menu.

It offered “Chicken a la pooch,” “Hungry pup’s half pounder,” “Hound dog heaven,” and a 14-ounce steak that went for $15.95

We were offered our choice of patio seats and got situated, and I ordered the half-pound burger for Ace, clam chowder in a bread bowl for myself.

The hostess came out with a treat, which of course made Ace get unsituated, so that he might paw her arm in a gesture of affection, which really translated into “I’ll have that dog treat. NOW.”

With some work, I got him back down, but he was nearly trembling with excitement — if not in anticipation of the burger, at least by the noises and scents that emanated from the kitchen, which was on the other side of an open window just a few feet away.

It was chilly, with intermittent rain showers, but the canopy protected us and it was a perfect spot for people watching.

Ace had other ideas.

He took a seat right in front of the window, watching intently as the chef ladled my clam chowder into the bread bowl, its severed lid covered with melted cheese and garlic.

Yes, we were luxuriating a bit — forgetting for the moment about our budgetary limits, and straying from our near steady diet of fast food “Value Meals.”

I saw no reason we couldn’t live it up — at least for one meal.

I think maybe we were both drooling a bit when it finally arrived.

His burger, cut into bite-sized chunks, was steaming, so I kept it on the tabletop for a minute. He waited impatiently — somehow seemingly knowing it was for him. Rather than just sit still and hope I’d toss him a piece, he was up and down, up and down, wriggling this way and that.

Finally, I set it down before him, and it was gone in less than five seconds — inhaled almost as opposed to chewed.

The check came to $17 — more than we’ve been spending on dinner, much less lunch.

How much was it worth?

Every penny of it.

Compromising principles in Coeur d’Alene

If I’m a senior citizen — and I do not consider myself such — then so is Denny’s, which makes me wonder why they are trying to kill me.

While Denny’s has more than 1,500 outlets across the country, we haven’t stopped at them on our trip across America, vaguely recollecting some of the chain’s restaurants were accused of discriminating against black customers at some point in its 57-year history.

It’s the same reason — 21 years after the oil spill in Alaska — I still don’t gas up at Exxon stations (unless it’s the only choice at the exit, or their prices are the lowest). It’s my way-outdated and somewhat variable sense of social justice — old grudges still held against corporations, often long after I’ve forgotten why I’m holding them, and easily overlooked if the price is right.

I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if you let a couple of decades pass, and tempt me with a “Value Meal.” It helps, too, if you’ve cleaned up your act in the interim.

So, passing through Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, I pulled in under the bright yellow sign, told Ace I’d only be a minute, and went inside for a quick bite — fully intending, of course, as we did with the Waffle House, to share the experience with you, the reader.

By way of history, Denny’s, like the Waffle House, started off as one restaurant — actually a donut shop, named Danny’s Donuts, in Lakewood, California. It had 20 locations by 1959, when the name was changed to Denny’s to avoid confusion with another chain called “Doughnut Dan’s.” In 1977, it would introduce its “Grand Slam Breakfasts,” reportedly in honor of Hank Aaron.

In the 1990s, Denny’s was named in a class action suit filed by African-American customers who claimed they’d been refused service and forced to wait longer or pay more than white customers. The case resulted in a $54.4 million settlement in 1994.

After that, Denny’s created a racial sensitivity training program for its employees, and began running advertisements featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford, from the television show, “The Jeffersons.” In 2001, Fortune magazine named Denny’s the “Best Company for Minorities.”

This year, though, Denny’s came under ethnic fire again, for a commercial that used the 150th anniversary of the Irish potato famine, which left more than a million dead, to promote an all-you-can-eat french fries and pancakes offer. It later apologized and pulled the ad.

My visit to Denny’s was the first in a year or so, so I took some time familiarizing myself with the multi-page menu. There was a page of special entrees for people 55 and over (quite an arbitrary cut off point, in my view), and another page of “Value Menu” items (not restricted to old farts) — low-priced entrees that the restaurant seems to make up for with higher prices for everything else (including $2 sodas).

Among the Value Menu offerings, at $4, was the “Fried Cheese Melt.”

It’s a grilled cheese sandwich, with mozarella sticks embedded in the American cheese — that’s right, four breaded and deep fried sticks of cheese, on a bed of cheese, between two pieces of sourdough bread, buttered and fried.

Fortunately, the Fried Cheese Melt is not on the senior menu, because it would probably kill us after just a few bites — and by us, I mean both actual seniors and those of us still enjoying that frolicsome, vital and exploratory stage of life known as our fifties.

At 57 — the same age as me — Denny’s should be smart enough, sympatico enough not to thrust us 50-somethings into the category of seniors. Or at least, if they insist on doing so, offer us some sweeter deals.

That, of course, would make everything — even the Fried Cheese Melt — OK.