For a while now, things have gone to the dogs.
Philadelphia boasts about a dozen pet-friendly hotels, more than 100 restaurants with outdoor seating where dogs can hang, and a bunch of sightseeing tours where four-legged family members are welcome. Looking to find a house in a trendy neighborhood? They say you should follow the dog parks.
But has society reached saturation? Can there be too many yappy hours or pet boutiques? Is all the dog love leading to a bit of a backlash?
From begging to excessive barking to just being in the way, bad dog behavior — often the result of society’s modern itch to treat dogs like they’re one of us — has started to raise the hackles of residents across the Philadelphia area.
Take those outdoor cafes. The visual delight of canine cuteness on a sunny day can look great on Instagram. For some diners, though, the experience is less so.
Michael Callahan, 54, recalled one day eating an appetizing brunch when the dog at the next table engaged in some less appetizing manners.
“They were feeding the dog off their plate, then finally took the plate and put it on the ground,” said Callahan, of Spring Garden. “The dog is now slurping up this expensive brunch meal on the ground, finishes and then strains on the leash, coming to our table and starts begging for food” — which the dog’s owner thought was funny.
Callahan did not. Nothing against dogs, he said, but because others couldn’t control theirs, “I shouldn’t be forced inside,” he said.
And maybe it’s not something to lose sleep over — but many do. That’s what happened when Cynthia Alvarez of Queen Village, who’s owned dogs most of her life, booked a vacation with her sisters last summer in Puerto Rico.
The women stayed at Condado Vanderbilt, a luxury (but pet-friendly) hotel in San Juan, and talked to the manager ahead of time so their room wouldn’t be near any pets and would be free of pet dander — their sister, celebrating her 60th birthday, had allergies.
Happily, their ocean-view room was clean. But in an alcove of four rooms, the other three all were occupied by dogs — that barked all night long.
Of course, allowing dogs in hotels isn’t rare. In fact, catering to their needs has become expected.
In Philadelphia, Kimpton’s two hotels, Palomar and Monaco, allow any pet “that can fit through the door,” said Jessica Bishop, Northeast spokeswoman for Kimpton Hotels. That has included dogs, cats, and birds (and she heard that there was once a llama and penguin, though she can’t prove it). “We make them feel as welcome as possible, usually with a welcome board with their name, dog bowls and beds on demand, and treats. They are guests in our hotels, too, and we love to have them stay with us.”
It’s a philosophy Visit Philadelphia endorses: “If we consider ourselves a welcoming city, we have to welcome people and their animals,” said Donna Schorr, spokeswoman for Visit Philadelphia. “If you want to stay in the game in hospitality, you certainly have to be accommodating to that.”
Yet, Schorr acknowledged that not all pets are alike. And owners who have aggressive or barking dogs should leave them at home.
At Kimpton, there are no additional charges for pets or rules regarding the amount of time a pet can be left in the room alone. But the hotel does offer a dog-walking service, and rooms are deep-cleaned to remove pet smells and dander. The hotel even has a director of pet relations — a dog named Tank.
“There are pets walking through the lobby, but if someone doesn’t want to stay next to a pet, they can absolutely request to stay on a floor where there are no animals,” Bishop said.
Such welcoming strategies can backfire, as they did for Scott Weiner when he and his girlfriend of Reisterstown, Md., stayed at the pet-friendly Society Hill Sheraton on New Year’s Eve. The couple had decided an afternoon nap was in order when the dog in the room next door had something to say.
When Weiner, a self-described dog-lover, realized they wouldn’t be able to sleep because of the barking, he called the front desk and was assured they would take care of it — pets were not allowed to be left unattended, Weiner was told.
Next: a door slamming. Then, 45 minutes later, the barking started again, Weiner said.
“It would have been fine if I wasn’t trying to sleep and it’s fine to leave if your dog isn’t going to bark. But the hotel can’t control whether the person leaves their dog unattended.”
If not inside hotels or outside restaurants, there are some places pets aren’t allowed: The Philadelphia Food Code states that animals can’t enter the premises of a food facility, with a few exceptions — most notably edible or decorative fish in aquariums and patrol and service animals.
Pets are allowed in outdoor seating areas of restaurants, said Ringo Roseman, owner of the Bagel Place in Queen Village, but the establishments can’t allow them inside, often to customers’ disappointment. Having seen someone try to sneak a dog inside a music venue once — the dog was stepped on and it snapped — Roseman knows it’s best just to offer dog bowls and treats outside.
In the end, though, people complain, some owners just don’t care.
For Brian Fox, 57, of Voorhees, his pet peeve is when someone throws a poop bag into his garbage can — immediately after the trash has been picked up.
“I shouldn’t have to deal with that smelling up my trash can until the next week,” he said. “It’s rude.”