Cafe’s doggy do’s and don’ts after customer backlash
Dogs running amok in cafes is as appetising as children doing the same.
If you can't keep them under control, leave them at home.
Just because you love your fur baby, doesn't mean others will.
Many people don't appreciate being licked on the leg by a stranger's animal, or trying to have a conversation amid a barking war.
They don't want your slobbering pooch's face in their handbag or having to watch your dog defecate while they're eating.
And they don't like you putting your pet on the table, no matter how small or cute you think it is.
We are not living in France, people.
Let me make this clear, I love dogs.
They run rings around humans in so many ways, and our little 10-year-old is the light of our lives.
But would I take her to a cafe?
No way. She can be skittish, doesn't mix well with unfamiliar dogs, and believes she is a fearless warrior.
And, as the adage goes, she's probably too old to learn new tricks ... aka manners when in public.
Amanda Scott, a stalwart of the Brisbane hospitality scene, doesn't take her german shepherd to her cafe either. He's large and she says some people might find him scary, so it's not appropriate.
But plenty of customers bring their pets - it's a key reason they frequent her Farm House, in Kedron on the northside.
However, a complaint from a disgruntled diner has forced Mrs Scott to reach out to her clientele for input and devise a set of crystal-clear guidelines.
What at a great idea that is too, although it wouldn't be necessary if people showed common sense and respect for others.
The "dog etiquette" rules, displayed on a big double-sided sign at the popular venue, include keeping dogs on leashes and in the outdoor dining area - "they cannot come inside to the counter with you".
They must be "cafe-friendly" - "will sit peacefully beside you".
And if they shed, "be mindful of excessive petting where fur may be left behind or caught in the wind and gracefully waft to other tables' plates".
Equally, Farm House has issued guidelines for people without pooches.
These include asking the dog owner for permission before saying hello, and ensuring children are not disturbing any peaceful dogs.
Mrs Scott, who previously owned Milk in Ashgrove and Windsor, and New Farm's The Continental, says she and her staff don't want to act like police officers, which is fair enough.
"During COVID we had to be the police over social distancing and other safety rules," she explains.
"But we don't want to be the police with people's dogs. It's our job to be always friendly and admit the customer is right; it's not part of our DNA to tell them if they have a badly behaving dog, so now we can point to the clear guidelines."
She says most dog owners are terrific, and they've only had three complaints in their three and a half years of operation.
But when she took to the cafe's Facebook page to ask for help after receiving a letter saying dogs visiting Farm House "diminish the experience", boy, did she get a shock.
"The fervour people put into this, it fascinated me," she says. "No food, no other issues get the traction, but dogs? People are just so passionate when it comes to their fur babies."
True, but you can't keep everyone happy.
Although the guidelines have been widely endorsed, some patrons complained that if they didn't have a dog they should still be able to sit outside, in a dog-free zone, so this too has been created.
Kind of makes me exhausted just thinking about it. As if people in hospitality haven't had enough on their plate this year.
As Mrs Scott says: "We have been 'pivoting' all year, but on this one, we simply ran out of mental fuel so needed patrons' input on how to manage 'the dog challenge'."
That it became a challenge in the first place speaks volumes about the way some people think they - and their babies, furry or otherwise - are entitled to behave.
Kylie Lang is associate editor of The Courier-Mail
Originally published as Cafe's doggy do's and don'ts after customer backlash