OK, so I can guess what you might have to say on this topic. If you’re reading this on PetMD, you more than likely hold the POV that a dog should not be denied entrance to a restaurant based on the code of his or her DNA. After all, pets are people too.

Well, not really — a point which is actually in their favor when it comes to restaurants and their "health based," no dogs allowed restrictions. After all, dogs are NOT human, which means they’re less likely to transmit diseases than the sniffling kid that's aiming snot-bombs at the waitress, or the gentleman seated at your elbow who insists on sparing his dinner companions his cough … seeing as your shoulder seems so conveniently located.

What would a dog do? At worst, he’d slurp your hand, transmitting little more than some inert spit with a bevy of harmless germs. No salmonella, no campylobacter, and no ringworm. Alarmist FDA Food Codes notwithstanding, it’s my firm belief that live, non-human animals are disallowed on the basis of American culture rather than any science.

This subject got a lot of attention last week after my weekly USA Today column carried a little rant of mine. How the French can be so forward-thinking in this regard got me to thinking this problem comes down to our simple cultural differences. Here’s an excerpt:

Why, then, does America eschew the [dining with pets] practice when it comes to our own dogs? Except for limited outdoor seating during balmy months, relatively few establishments offer the open access the French do. Is it that our culture of canine companions is not yet as evolved as France's? Or perhaps it's that our dogs are infinitely less well behaved (a distinct possibility, I'll concede).

It seems more likely, however, that our culture of cleanliness is what does us in when it comes to welcoming dog patrons in our nation's eateries. In my estimation, that which keeps our subway air somewhat breathable relative to France's BO-infused railways also keeps us free of canine company in restaurants.

Here's the rationale: We Americans are super-sensitive in our hygienic ways. Perhaps it's the Puritan influence (cleanliness is next to godliness ), but personal health and hygiene products take up eight full aisles in my SuperTarget here (I checked recently).


It’s one theory, anyway. What’s yours?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Art of the day: "who's underneath the dining table?" by maveric2003