Tripping Over By-laws on Our Daily Walk

Neddy and I have a set routine for our midday dog walk: down a couple of long blocks and up Bayview Avenue to Starbucks, where I get a venti, non-fat, one-honey latte, and he gets to sit just outside the big picture window where I can keep my eye on him. Up until two weeks ago, I used to loop his leash around the handy dog hitching post by the patio railing. Then, two weeks ago, we arrived to find the hitching post was gone.

It turns out my home province of Ontario has a by-law that forbids tying up dogs outside of stores. Starbucks’s lawyers obviously felt the need to comply. There are also provincial by-laws preventing dogs from going in many stores and all restaurants, and by-laws against leaving dogs in one’s car during warm weather.

For the most part, I agree heartily with these by-laws. One shouldn’t leave a dog tied up outside – it’s the best way for him or her to be dog-napped. I usually only do it in a situation where I can see my dog from inside a store, but must admit there have been times when I’ve dashed into a shop without proper sightlines. When it comes to dogs in cars, I wouldn’t dream of leaving Ned shut in when the temperatures start to soar. I’m less willing to agree with dogs being kept out of restaurants and completely against banning them from drug stores or liquor stores or hardware stores (Home Depot, you listening? I don’t shop with you any more) where their presence wouldn’t be a real issue.

I think longingly of France, and England, and Italy – the whole of Europe, actually, where dogs can come and go pretty well everywhere. Shops, restaurants, pubs, public transportation – almost every place welcomes our four-legged family members, with the exception of art galleries and museums. And somehow, the continent has survived, even thrived.

Indeed, punch in “top dog-friendly countries in the world” on and this list pops up:

  • France

  • Switzerland

  • Italy

  • Canada

  • Great Britain

  • Germany

  • The Netherlands

  • Austria

You might be as surprised as I was to see that “Canada” sits sandwiched between otherwise all-Continental countries. Who made up this list? And have they ever tried to walk-and-shop with a dog in Toronto?

As for Neddy’s and my daily Starbucks visit, our routine is only marginally altered. I now loop Ned’s leash over the patio railing, situated just three inches away from where the dog hitching post used to be.


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