Let the dogs rock on

Bill Reany is a Sacramentan whose first job was as a country paperboy; now, he has way too much time on his hands

I was truly stunned on a recent Friday night when I arrived at Cesar Chavez Plaza with my quite urbane 10-year-old standard poodle, only to find that entrances to the non-drinking lawn area were barred by affable but nonetheless officious gatekeepers informing us that, for some reason, dogs are no longer welcome at the Friday Night Concerts in the Park series.

This is a travesty. The headlining Beer Dawgs, after all, are one of Hana’s favorite local bands; her ears always perk up during their opening howl! And she badly needed a break from her strenuous week, spent sneakily patrolling the homestead while trying to pretend she wasn’t sleeping on the furniture.

Now, I can understand that dogs in the Pilsner Pen would be a questionable addition, though now that I think about it, I’ve never known dogs to have as high a population of mean drunks as that provided by a like number of human males. Whatever. But since when did a well-behaved dog on a leash present such a hazard to the assembled commonweal to justify their complete exclusion from a free event in a public park?

My own experience is that people do not bring contentious dogs to mass events. Dog owners know their own pets and can predict what a mess a dog fight, etc., in a crowd will cause for themselves—let alone everyone else—and they’ll leave the pit bulls and rotties at home. And, of course, leash laws give the security brigade a reasonable right to exclude any animal that is not leashed and under owner control.

Such events also include a police presence, and that tells the dog owner that if Fido gets rambunctious and embarks on a campaign to ventilate a few pairs of Calvin Kleins, McGruff the Crime Dog will be along shortly, and the dog may not be the only thing being sniffed.

This blanket exclusion of canines is not only wrong; it is also a silly policy. It smacks of even more gratuitous police-state hoo-hah than what we’ve already got. Things like this are rapidly depriving me of what little hope I have left that the republic can be saved. And that, at least, is said—well, almost!—seriously.