Friday, December 28, 2007

Toy Dogs In Public Places

Christmas 2007 has come and gone, but it's not yet forgotten. My wife, 8-month-old daughter, and I were a part of that mess in Chicago the weekend before the holiest of nights that made the city feel more like a paparazzi-fest for the next Britney Spears fallout than a hub of major travel.

As a result we spent two nights in a hotel that wasn't comped by the airline because our delays were due to weather and, therefore, not the airline's responsibility; we lost two valuable shopping days that we were indeed going to use to purchase some gifts that we were unwilling to entrust to baggage handlers; we also lost two days that we were obviously going to spend with family and friends; we didn't get our luggage until December 25, which meant that we ended up making a quick stop at Wal-Mart (of all places) to purchase some fresh clothes (socks, underwear, shirts) to wear to my family's Christmas Eve gift exchange, for which we thankfully made some online purchases and had delivered to my parents for our recipients; and we spent ungodly amounts of money at Chicago O'Hare for food.

We weren't alone either - on December 22, roughly 300 flights were canceled as a result of the weather in Chicago, which included wind gusts that reached 80 mph.

Nonetheless, my little family of three stuck it out like trench soldiers. Through it all, what really grated my nerves - especially when viewed next to a soldier (and there were plenty at O'Hare) dressed in his or her desert BDUs (combat fatigues) on his way home for the holidays - were the number of little stellas with Paris Hilton-inspired toy dogs.

Before I continue, I should make it clear that I blame the celebrities who carry toy dogs for the rise in their popularity. Now, I can understand wanting to dress the same way as your favorite celebrity, I can even understand following their daily lives on various gossip sites, but why, unless you have a special kind of love for the smaller canine breeds, would you want to carry such a dog as a Maltese? And if you're a straight man who carries a toy dog, you are either the most emasculated man on the planet or the most whipped.

But, if you want to carry a "companion" dog and dress it up in Prada sweaters or Harley leathers, that's your business. Where I draw the line is when you carry your little Shih Tzu into a public place. What ever happened to the laws or policies that state that you can't bring a dog into a mall, a school, and especially into an airport with the post-9/11 security measures in place unless it is an assistant dog for the blind? And, why can't I bring my 80-pound dogs with me into these very same places of public gathering? Are my dogs not my companions? Don't I have a dog for the right reasons? Or, do dogs have to be an accessory in order for me to bring them with me?

I feel for the members of our society who are allergic to dogs, cats, and dander in general and have to tolerate the leniency of the changing policies regarding bringing toy dogs into public places. And I would also complain and request the animal's removal if I were ever sitting within a 50-foot vicinity of someone holding a toy dog in an airport terminal; my rights, afterall, should supercede those of the animals'.

Oh, and dogs are meant to protect, train, teach, care for, and to befriend. They are not a hand bag or a doll meant for dressing up.

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