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OPINION | COLUMNIST: Here girl! Here girl! Let’s go!

by Elaine Soloway The Chicago Tribune | May 5, 2022 at 2:54 a.m.

When I learned that our corner CVS and Ace Hardware didn't prohibit customers from bringing their dogs along while shopping, I switched to these stores. Now, instead of purchasing drugs and odds and ends from online sellers as I had previously done, I patronize my neighborhood establishments.

If other outlets, like supermarkets or department stores, were to turn a blind eye or post a welcome pooches sign, I'd do the same. And I believe other dog owners would follow my lead.

One charge against animals in the aisles is that they shouldn't be anywhere near fresh fruit and vegetable bins. Protesters claim sanitation or disruption.

Has anyone watched a child zoom through the aisles grabbing cereal or juice boxes? What about adult customers, pawing peaches, then rejecting and replacing them for the next person to peruse?

I contend that most dogs are better behaved than some children and adults. Dog owners who I know hold onto their dog with a fist curled and cemented to the leash. The pooch parents would never permit their pet to become unbound or be out of sight.

I point to the pandemic with pairing people with their pups. Remember that shelters across the country were wiped clean of animals. If the populace were ordered to stay home, it would be better tolerated with animal companions.

When the general public is queried on their position in the debate, the results are about half and half. It's not hard to figure out which part of the scale dog owners deepen.

Many folks, and perhaps even some dog owners, or my friends, would counter: What's the big deal with leaving Doris alone for an hour or two?

Evidently, these questioners have never seen my dog award me an actual smile when she accompanies me to friends' homes, the CVS, Ace Hardware or other places she feels welcome.

Certainly Doris can stay alone. Our apartment will be as I had left it. Nothing will be out of place. She will be pasted to a pillow until she hears the front door open and my size 5 feet cross the threshold.

Then it's a leap from her post and a rush to sniff and assure that I am the beloved person who has returned from who-knows-where and for who-knows-how-long. Contrast that with her relaxed glee when she's with me out and about.

If bricks-and-mortar stores were to welcome pets, it could be a challenge to online shopping. Corner stores, supermarkets and department chains have to think creatively to fight the advantages that shopping at home grants.

My 3-year-old rescue is not a service companion, but her presence reduces my anxiety.

If I wanted to, I could register Doris as an emotional support animal. But I abstain from this action because my anxiety does not rise to the level that could justify the designation. Deriving comfort from Doris doesn't entitle me to special treatment. Official ESAs are intended to aid those who suffer only from depression or anxiety's most debilitating manifestation.

Would dog owners and their pets overwhelm establishments that are more hospitable to this twosome? I doubt it. Not everyone is like me, or others, who consider their dogs palliative but not essential pets.

In the mid-'40s, I remember Marshall Field's announcing on the fourth floor of Chicago's State Street store, "Mothers can bring their children ... and let them romp in a large playroom while they shop."

Substitute "mothers" and "children" for customers and dogs, and watch revenues climb.

Print Headline: Here girl! Here girl! Let’s go!


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