Social Fauxpaws

Picture it. The rolling lawns of a Beverly Hills estate in California decked with tables for a posh afternoon English tea party. Chilled champagne with a plump strawberry is the drink du jour and the sounds of social chitchat and laughter are off set by a string quartet providing background mood music.


Suddenly, a red convertible zooms up the driveway and out jumps a boisterous Golden Retriever barking madly. He rushes to the nearest white Iceberg rose bush and lifts his leg, narrowly missing the cellist.

His pet parent, after handing his car keys to the valet, ambles over, pats his pup on the head and tells him to “go play” before heading off to greet his hostess and mingle with the other guests.

What the uninvited canine did next even managed to lift Botoxed brows. He nipped around to investigate the tables laden with food and “taste-tested” the quiches and assorted sandwiches, leaving guests to pick their way through what remained.

The hostess, furious at the pet-owner’s unconcern over his pet’s social ‘fauxpaw’ had to send an urgent SOS to her caterer and vowed to remove the guilty interloper’s parent from her guest list forever.

While these days few dogs are stay-at-home creatures and many establishments have pet-friendly policies, there are still places and events where it’s deemed inappropriate to bring along small children never mind the fur kid.

In fact, a recent survey conducted on-line by MSNBC revealed that 68 per cent of readers felt it out of place to take dogs to smart restaurants and similar places, but nevertheless there are really no social barriers and uninvited pets are showing up at funerals, symphony concerts, art exhibitions and even to weekend house parties and functions.

When it comes to restaurants, states like Florida and cities like Chicago are by passing laws to accommodate controlled pet dining. But in other parts of the country pet owners don’t seem to care, blatantly bringing their four-footed companions along. And, if questioned, the excuse is that Fido, wearing the latest outfit from Little Lilly and being toted in a plush Puchi bag is “an emotional service dog” which supposedly justifies the canine support needed to pick through a few lettuce leaves and sip Perrier!

According to New York psychologist Dr. Joel Gavriele-Gold author of the best-selling book When Pets Come Between Partners , real emotional support is when an animal offers a person a way of dealing with situations which they are unable to negotiate alone.

“However, this is not to be confused with ‘ yuppie’ emotional support in which the underlying motivation, conscious or otherwise, is entitlement and repressed arrogance,” explains Gavriele-Gold.

“There’s a built-in sense of entitlement in bringing either dogs or kids to functions when their names don’t appear on the invitation. It’s clearly a control issue; wanting to be in control or just being out of control.”

Very often, it’s the very same people who used to drag their kids to social engagements when they were young that are now toting a dog as a way of dealing with empty nest syndrome.

When a Boston couple received an invitation to attend a bar mitzvah in Chicago, their hostess was appalled when they showed up adding the daughter’s boyfriend and the family Chihuahua to the guest list. To top it, they had been invited to stay for the weekend at the host’s home and the incumbent dog was also not amused.

“The host pet felt threatened and wouldn’t stop barking,” said another houseguest. “Thankfully, they took their dog and moved into a nearby hotel, claiming the home was too-overcrowded and there weren’t enough bathrooms…”

According to animal communicator Dr. Monica Diedrich, of Anaheim, California, author of the book Pets Have Feelings Too! many of her doggy clients have confided that they love being considered family members and would love to be included wherever their pet parents go.

“That’s their pack mentality,” explains Diedrich. “But some people have no boundaries and don’t understand that bringing your precious pet uninvited is a violation of someone else’s comfort zone. It’s only polite to ask. After all, lots of people are allergic to dogs and there are others who are afraid of them too. Good manners for people translate into good petiquette for pets.”

“I was under the impression our dogs Hal and Blue Roses, both large mutts, went everywhere with us,” says Patti Neff, of Seattle, Washington. “But after a few incidents, I realized that ‘everywhere’ was defined as parks, beaches and mountains. They rarely, went to other people’s homes and had no social graces.

“When we received a dog-friendly invitation to the annual company picnic, of course they went along. It was held at a company executive’s house and you can imagine my embarrassment when Hal rushed inside and put his muddy paws on the newly renovated kitchen granite top checking for snacks! While this was going on, Blue Roses was terrorizing the cat. Fur and comments flew and needless to say we’ve never seen the hosting couple again socially and this year’s picnic invitation says ‘no dogs allowed’.”

Justin Rudd of Belmont Shore, California and his English Bulldog Rosie are inseparable. They dine out together every evening at one of the numerous dog-friendly restaurants on Second Street in Belmont Shore. While everyone knows Rosie and she has a very full social calendar, Rudd says there are certain times when he leaves her at home to watch TV.

“She’s often gets invited to cocktail parties. But I always decline because she’s a little loud and would possibly over eat,” he confides.

Rosie has even been invited to a wedding. But Rudd, in his wisdom sent his regrets saying his canine partner with her lolling tongue and breathy Marilyn Monroe wheeze would have been a huge distraction during the “I do’s”, possibly even upstaging the bride.

Audrey, a ten-pound Italian Greyhound has also received a personal wedding invitation. Her “mom” Allison McCabe of New York City, didn’t accept because she felt it wasn’t a suitable canine occasion.

“However, she goes just about everywhere with me including book signings, work conferences and dinner parties,” says McCabe. “Despite the fact that she’s very well trained, I never take her anywhere uninvited. As a pet owner, you develop a sense for which stores do and don’t love dogs and I shop accordingly and I have a list of dog friendly restaurants. In fact, very often people complain when I don’t take her places. I get a lot of ‘where’s Audrey?’”

So the doggy camps remain divided and many dog owners admit that often they take chances, relying on their pets to co-operate.

Deann Zampelli of Los Angeles, California, designer of the now famous Puchi bag that helped promote the trend of taking pups places with the advent of Bruiser in the Legally Blond movies, has the last word.

“ We sneak our Pomeranian Zulu in to lots of no dog-zones like the movies,” she confides. “He knows when to hold it in and not pee. He even makes it through long films. I know it’s taking a risk. Most of the time we get away with it because people think he’s cute. The only place I definitely wouldn’t chance it is to a cat convention.”


This article is from Modern Dog Magazine

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