Growing up in the United States, I was not accustomed to seeing dogs in restaurants. In Europe, as you probably know, dogs are family and allowed most places that people are. On my last trip to New York, it seemed to me that dogs there had achieved a similar status (or maybe they’ve always had it), entering restaurants, lingerie shops and bookstores. But according to the December 17th issue of the New Yorker, in the section “Briefly Noted,” and the new book What’s a Dog For? by John Homans (Penguin), dogs all over the U.S. are undergoing a humanizing process based on a shift in the “philosophical, scientific, and popular ideas about what a dog ‘is.'” Hmmm. (Shades of Bill Clinton, no? “That depends on what “is” “is” or whatever he said.) This sounds interesting.
Meanwhile, here, you can take your large or small Best Friend with you to your favorite haunts as long as he or she is behaved at least as well as you are. Yesterday, for example, at the lovely tea room, Ristorante Grand Café al Porto, in Lugano, Switzerland—tucked into our lovely nook with a hot chocolate dense enough to hold a footprint—we noticed the following printed announcement on our table:
“Our esteemed guests appreciate the elegant and refined ambience of the Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto. So that our four-footed friends may continue to frequent the “Lugano Tea Room” we invite them to observe the following rules of “Bon Ton” (Good Manners):
• I am kept on a leash
• I have class, I am well-behaved and discreet
• I am fed at home
• My place is under the table
• I make my master look good
Compliments on my impeccable behavior flatter me and I will continue to be welcome here in the future!”
And as we were leaving, we sensed a pair of well-behaved eyes following us out the door from under a table, as if to say, “You see! That is indeed the way things work here in the Tearoom!” A lovely 8 year-old Corgi who, her “padrone” informed me, was quite used to having her picture taken by strangers, although she refused to make eye-contact with my vulgar cell phone.