Much to many pet owners' dismay, it is still illegal in most American restaurants to dine out with your dog. This is changing little by little. Dogs are allowed at outdoor restaurants in Florida and in North Carolina. In fact, dog lovers can check out websites like BringFido.com to find dog-friendly restaurants all over the country. Still, what's the big fuss over dogs in restaurants so long as they stay out of the kitchen? (A place we're all supposed to stay out of, by the way)
My dog-loving friends in Switzerland, where doggie dining is legal and common, think this American rule is barbaric and unfair. After all, parents get to bring in their toddlers any time they want. And who's cleaner, dogs or toddlers? Who wreaks more havoc? Who is more likely to listen when you yell "sit!"
Dog Hygiene Part I: Dogs owned by civilized people are housebroken and will alert owners when they need to be removed from the premises to take care of their business. Health risk low, ick factor low.
Toddler Hygiene Part I: Most toddlers are incontinent and will just poo their diapers right there next to you while you're eating your pad Thai. Health risk low, ick factor high.
Dog Hygiene Part II: Okay, that idea that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's is just a myth. Still, a dog's tongue carries mostly species-specific bacteria that does not harm humans.
Toddler Hygiene Part II: Toddlers are walking petri dishes.
Dog Safety Part I: Dogs need to be remain docile and under the table to avoid tripping restaurant servers. They do sometimes startle easily. Safety risk medium.
Toddler Safety Part I: Toddlers can't sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time. Response to words like "no," "come back here," "stop that" is about 50 percent depending on child. Can be strapped down to chair, however. Safety risk medium depending on durability of high chairs.
Dog Safety Part II: Dogs are occasionally given to fighting with other dogs.
Toddler Safety Part II: Toddlers are frequently given to fighting with siblings.
I asked my son, a recovering toddler and now well-trained six-year-old diner, what he thought. Without hesitation he said "It's probably way safer to eat out with a dog than with a toddler."
There you go, from the mouths of babes.
Image via BringFido.com.