Last week I took my children out for lunch to The Waterfront Grill and Pizzeria in Peachland. It was a hot, sunny day, so we decided to sit in a shady spot on the patio and enjoy the fresh air and sweet view.
As I was ordering, I noticed the server’s attention wasn’t focusing entirely on me, as she kept looking at the table behind us as we spoke. I wondered what was distracting her, but I didn’t turn around until I heard voices being raised.
By that time, she was at the table she had been looking at, and was politely trying to explain to an older couple that their dog was not permitted on the premises.
“I’m really sorry,” I heard her saying. “It’s not up to me, we’re just not allowed to have animals where people are eating.”
The couple couldn’t understand why their small dog wasn’t welcome to rest under the table as they ate lunch, and they were annoyed when the server wouldn’t bend the rules for them. When she suggested they set up their pup on the sidewalk, directly beside the table, they were infuriated since the spot wasn’t in the shade.
“We’re not eating here then,” the man exclaimed, and they left in anger. I watched them walk down the street, stopping other people with dogs, seemingly explaining their frustrations as they pointed aggressively towards the restaurant.
I felt bad for the server. She was just doing her job and may have gotten herself, or her employer, into trouble had she ignored the rules and allowed the dog to stay. She also seemed like the type of person who would have tried to figure out an alternative solution that might have made her customers happy. Maybe seating them at the other end of the patio where there was a shadier spot on the sidewalk could have worked. But the couple left in such haste there wasn’t much of a chance to figure out a solution to their dilemma.
“Who in the world brings their dog to a restaurant?” my friend asked as he passed by, walking his own pooch. “They should have ordered a pizza to go and eaten under that tree across the street.” I had to agree with him.
As much as I love dogs, and animals in general, I don’t think allowing them in the dining area of restaurants is a good idea. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if that pup had sat at his owner’s feet since he seemed well mannered, clean and quiet. If the restaurant allowed for him, though, they’d have to allow all dogs wouldn’t they? Even the dangerous, filthy and noisy ones.
This isn’t a decision the individual restaurants can make in B.C. anyway. Health bylaws state that, with the exception of guide animals, dogs are simply not allowed in a food-primary place, and those who don’t comply with those regulations could be heavily fined or even shut down.
People walking their dogs and wanting to enjoy a meal while they do have to be creative and plan ahead. As much as some of us love our pets and might want them around at all times like they’re our children, we don’t live in a society where we can do that.
Maybe the couple in question could take an umbrella with them the next time they’re out so they can easily create shade on the other side of whatever patio they wish to dine at. Or perhaps they can somehow convince the restaurant that their little Shih Tzu is a seeing-eye dog. You never know, stranger things have happened.
Lori Welbourne in a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at www.LoriWelbourne.com