The Food Beat

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By Joe Stout Special to The Pineapple Today, we have the first in a series of “point” – “counterpoint” articles. The Food Beat will be providing the point, and we are seeking one of the Pineapple readers to provide the counterpoint. If you would like to submit your counterpoint to this article, log on to TheFoodBeat.com and send it via our contact section. The winning article will be printed in next month’s Pineapple and you could win a gift card to a fabulous Delray Beach restaurant. It’s a canine conundrum. I love my dogs. They are the two living, breathing creatures that love me no matter what and ignore my shortcomings with regularity. I feed them, walk them several times a day, groom, take them to the vets, make sure they get their heartworm medication, and pet them throughout the course of the day and night. Just like most responsible pet owners do. But it goes beyond that. The two rescues, Chuck and Henry, are treated to a dollop of whipped cream every morning when I make my wife’s latte, Chuck sleeps in our bed under the covers, Henry on a giant cushion, and I even taught Chuck how to do his business right in the Publix grocery bag. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for Chuck and Henry. Except take them to a restaurant. Now I know I’m walking on sensitive turf here, but honestly, what is the obsession with people taking dogs to dinner? Unless it’s a service dog, I can’t figure it out. My friend Lance claims it’s a sign of loneliness and the need for attention. I have heard other reasons. I had one person tell me that if kids were allowed in restaurants, why not dogs? Granted, we have all had the unpleasant experience of sitting next to some bratty kids, but the fact remains, kids are people. Restaurants are for people. They even have kid’s menus. And to date, I have not seen a restaurant with a pet menu. (although I was at a buffet in Pompano where the entire menu could be considered such) I have also heard people say, “They are like my children and I want to eat with them.” My response is the same as the one I give to people who don’t like to tip; stay home and eat. If people want to experience the joy that is your pooch, then it should be at your home or a dog park, or a place that does not unwillingly force them to endure their sounds, aromas, and allergens throughout the course of a meal. Dogs at restaurant fall into the same category of fellow patrons that are belching, breaking wind, or lighting up a foul smelling cigar as you try to enjoy your dinner. But there is something even more concerning when it comes to pet owners bringing their dogs to dinner. It’s discrimination. Yes. You heard it here first. What about all the other pet owners who seem to be denied when it comes to breaking bread with their animal of choice? It’s only a matter of time before the law suits start popping up. If we are really being fair to all pet owners who love their snakes, cats, gerbils, birds, horses, spiders, ferrets, and monkeys just as much as you love your dog, why are they not welcome? What is it about the dog that makes it OK to bring them out and about, especially when people are eating? I can see it now, the silhouette of large primate on a billboard with the wording, 1-800-CALL-APE. It’s for all the scorned primate owners out there. Or the message “Cat’s are people too…don’t be denied the pleasure of dining with yours!” Our team will keep digging until we settle your case.” Where do we draw the line? When is it no longer acceptable to bring a pet to the dinner table? As I said before, I love my dogs. I just don’t expect everyone else to, as well. Perhaps you feel the same way. Maybe you don’t. Let me know what you think about this canine conundrum by responding at TheFoodBeat.com.