Tom has a thing for dog people, OK, crazy dog people, and it isn’t very positive

As opinionated as I am, I find that one of most surprising and refreshing occurrences in life is when somebody presents me with information that prompts me to change my mind about something (or, at the very least, to give a subject a lot more thought). This will not be one of those columns because the people about whom I will be writing are so close-minded, so tunnel-vision-ed, so absolutely certain that they are right, that they will probably argue with St. Peter when he opens up his ledger of Minor Transgressions at the Pearly Gates. But, just so someone will be on record on this matter, you people are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooo wrong. Plus, many of you smell bad.

I was in a grocery store the other day. I won't name the store, but it's the same stupid-ass store that invites intra-customer conflict with its express lanes that say "15 or so Items," as though the world isn't full of jackasses who get up every morning just looking for situations in which they can mess with decent people. (I know I said that I wouldn't shop at that store any more, but they had a sale on a certain type of cheese that I like. Plus, I boycotted them for, like, two full weeks one time. I'm fairly certain that it showed up on their year-end balance sheet.)

Anyway, I'm walking through the store and when I get to the cheese section, there's this young couple there with a shopping cart that's basically in my way. I'm very patient and polite in such situations and I wait my turn. However, I looked in their shopping cart and was taken aback. I said to them, "You have a dog in the shopping cart."

They looked at me with puzzled expressions, then she said, "So?"

"So it's a dog! In a grocery store! Where they sell food for human beings! It's a dog!" (There are some situations for which all those years of education—and communicating for a living—still leave you unprepared.)

"What do you expect me to do?" she snapped. "Leave (it) in the car?"

"No," I said, "that would be cruel."

I have to be real clear here. I hate it when I hear about cases of animal cruelty, of animals that are beaten or deprived of food or water. The people who do that should be punished severely (or, if their dad is a U.S. Senator, they should get a stern talking-to before the charges are dropped). I would never be cruel to an animal and I won't even travel to a country where culture includes dogs as part of the local cuisine, even if they're making that Italian dish, fettuccine al-Fido.

(All you PETA people can just go back to not bathing or shaving. I readily admit that I occasionally consume animal products. I think it's the fault of pigs and cows that they're just so delicious! People tell me that pigs are relatively intelligent. They've got to be aware of their own bacon-osity.)

I finished the thought, "You should leave it at home."

She looked over at her husband/boyfriend/whatever, apparently expecting him to be gallant and join in the fray. He had a look on his face like, "Please let me be anywhere else! Please let me be anywhere else!"

She had her dog in the shopping cart, but I know which items of that guy's she had in her purse.

When she realized that the guy wasn't going to be any help, she leaned on that urban myth as she said, "I don't know what your problem is. Everybody knows that dogs are cleaner than people."

I said, "Oh, you mean like your dog that just sh-t on the floor?" The dog hadn't, but I made her look. She said, "You act like you've never seen a dog in a grocery store before."

I said, "My friend and I went into this Vietnamese grocery store in central L.A. once ... but I don't want to talk about that. And no, I've never seen a live dog in a grocery store before."

The store manager turned out to be no help. He didn't know if it was against the law or even against store policy to bring a dog into a grocery store. He pretty much had the same constipated look as that guy had had, like he would rather do just about anything rather than having to make a decision.

Apparently, because non-crazy people are too timid to speak up, these dog people are becoming bolder. There's this woman at church who walks in with a big dog that has a service-dog vest on. I keep expecting the woman to develop a fake limp like those people who park in handicapped spaces for no good reason whatsoever. It's a proven fact that between 98 and 102 percent of all animals with service-dog vests on are owned by people who bought the vests online so that they could be jerks and take their dogs into places where dogs don't belong. The church lady might be legit, but the odds are strongly against it.

Let's be clear: Dogs don't belong in the store, in theaters or at church. If they're away from home, they should probably be on a leash, outdoors, preferably at Brandi Fenton Park.

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