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Economic recovery going to the dogs

March 07, 2011|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

It’s come to this. We have so utterly failed to turn the economy around that now were are turning to our dogs for help.

“Frankly, anything that develops economic activity right now is good,” Maryland Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Arf, told The (Baltimore) Sun.

I think we would all agree with that, so let’s move ahead to Morhaim’s solution: Allow dogs into restaurants with outdoor seating.

I don’t have any special problem with that — it’s just that I have two dogs, and you would not believe the amount of effort it takes to get them to pay for their own food, not to mention lodging, health care or entertainment.

They are two of the cheapest creatures I know. They still owe me for vaccinations back in 2008, so if they’re allowed in restaurants, they might hit on the staff for some free water and scarf up some fallen shrimp tails, but I don’t know that we can count on them to, by themselves, get the economy moving toward a sustained ...

Hold on a minute; it appears I might have missed the point.

Reading further into the story, which I admit maybe I should have done in the first place, it appears that Morhaim believes it is dog OWNERS who will be more likely to spend money at restaurants if they are allowed to bring their pets.

“Now, when people are outside and walking with their dogs, they’ll walk by a place where they’d like to stop and eat. But they won’t because they can’t,” he said.

To reinforce the point, The Sun quoted Graham Baker, the owner of La Paz, a Mexican restaurant in Frederick, Md., who recently had to be reminded that dogs were not allowed, even in open-air seating areas: “People feel very strongly about being able to have that ability to dine with their dog,” Baker said. “When the patio was open to dogs, we had people coming in regularly. But with the economy the way it’s been, if they had to leave their dog at home, they were staying home as well.”

We live out in the country, so I can’t really relate to walking my dogs past a restaurant. I’m not certain it would even be possible. Our dogs are nothing if not task-oriented, and if they were to walk past an establishment that smelled of pork chops and decided they wanted to dine there, I doubt there would be much that I, or the entire State of Maryland, could do to stop them.

Aside from that, I don’t have any problem with eating next to a dog. In Europe, they think we’re weird because we don’t bring our dogs along to the cafe.

I do understand that there is a segment of the population out there that will have a stroke at the thought of a filthy, contaminated, flea-bitten hound lying in an establishment where people are trying to eat. Of course, the dog owner’s answer to this is that he invariably would rather sit next to a dog in a restaurant than next to the type of person who would complain about sitting next to a dog. At least the dog is bound to be friendlier.

And then there is always the allergies argument. And I’m not totally insensitive to that point of view, but I’ve always felt that if people make your dog sneeze, you can always find a table off in the corner somewhere.

So in the end, I hope the bill passes. Just so long as it doesn’t give cats any bright ideas.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on www.antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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