Man’s best friend

Picture this idyllic setting: you sit in an ornate bistro, snacking on crumpets and jam while your waiter brings iced Evian to your table.

Picture this idyllic setting: you sit in an ornate bistro, snacking on crumpets and jam while your waiter brings iced Evian to your table. But when she arrives, she pours the delightful liquid not into your etched glass but into a jewel-encrusted bowl beneath the table. And who waits patiently to drink, but your trusted, tail-wagging companion, Duke Pawsalot.

This world is not as far off as it seems. The Oregon Legislature has reintroduced a bill to allow dogs into diners and delicatessens across our fair state. On behalf of his pet Ooji, Rep. Brian Clem has valiantly brought this vital moral necessity back to the table, or feeding mat, as the case may be. And, from the journalistic sidelines, we applaud.

We have spent hours striving to find a law that would aid the Beaver State more. This exhaustive research yielded nothing. While other important issues can be put on the back burner, canine dining liberation is long past due.

Those readers who have not yet turned 21 may recall the feeling of abandonment as their older friends stride gleefully into a bar. Imagine this feeling multiplied 20-fold, as our four-legged friends stay leashed up to bike racks and stop signs outside endless cushy eateries.

In a state as wet as Oregon, how can we allow our dachshunds and Dalmatians to become waterlogged night after night? To those who say, “Just leave the little bastards home,” you people are bigots. How would you like to be left pining at the door as your masters or mistresses (and we know you all have mistresses) waltz away?

We fancy ourselves a bastion of civil liberty. We preach our wonderful equal rights record. Yet somehow we’ve allowed the absolute abandonment of all creatures with more than two legs–with the notable exception of Mr. Ron Jeremy whenever he passes through. The time has come to end the surreptitious segregation of man from Manchester terrier.

After all, as one of our (recently revealed) lesbian ex-girlfriends used to say, “They’re all just non-human animals.”

Seeing as how many non-human animals are already in our restaurants-on a platter, with a horseradish garnish, generally–how can we possibly turn dogs away? Apparently, to be accepted into any public eatery, an animal must be filleted, deep-fried, grilled, broiled, fricasseed or charred.

We do not suggest bringing a cow or bison into a restaurant, as they may raise an objection to your dining on their daughter. However, an infrequently eaten animal should cause no catastrophe. An exception may be made for Southeast Asian cuisine, considering the periodic inclusion of Pekingese Pad Thai on their menus.

Oregon would not venture into this furry frontier alone. Both Washingtons have breached the issue. Florida, despite Jeb Bush’s fundamentalist dogma, knows that, fundamentally, dogs matter. The French have long seen the light. While nibbling snails and smoking five cigarettes at once, their unbathed, beret-wearing poodles sip caf퀌� au lait and lust after French female armpits, endlessly mistaking them for Shar-Peis. If anyone raises questions of hygiene, it is well established that the French disregard for soap only makes them sexier.

Were this bill passed, some problems would inevitably arise.

Doctors and doubters have raised the point that dogs could bring with them endless health hazards. To this, we direct them to Southeast Portland. If one has seen the riff-raff living in our neighborhood, we contend that the average dog is cleaner than the average hippie. When dissected, the inside of a dreadlock typically contains seven pounds of grease, three pounds of sweat, 11 sprigs of patchouli, three breeds of insect, a fork, a blade of grass, two twigs, Grateful Dead liner notes and a Band-Aid. Many dogs may have fleas, but to be fair, so do most hippies.

Further issues of discrimination would be raised. Undoubtedly, the ACLU would bring forward the pro-bono case of Whiskers v. Oregon, raised after the enraged feline was turned away from Joe’s Seafood Shack and subsequently clawed the walls of the state House in search of justice.

However, these minor quibbles are dwarfed by the overwhelming moral case for canine equality.

Ultimately, all friendly animals should be allowed to dine as they choose. Some may throw off this right and form the Black Lab Power front, demanding a return to the hills of Chihuahua where dogs can roam without the subjugation of whiny humans. But those dogs faithful to Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King will certainly stay and join hand in paw with us as we come together over our respective bowls of Pho and kibble. May we henceforth dine in harmony.