Sunday, April 7, 2019

Libraries have gone to the dogs

I like dogs, but not in my salad. More and more you see dogs in restaurants these days and nobody says anything. In libraries. In coffee shops. It is as if the hippie era has come back, and traditional societal boundaries are being blatantly challenged, but only at shin height. 

In the library where I work, dog-bringers fall into two categories. They either try to pass their dog off as a service animal or they hide the dog somewhere. One lady almost got away with a covered baby stroller full of dogs, but made the fatal mistake of trying to check out books. Her baby's yapping sounded suspiciously canine. 

Another lady tried to hide a chihuahua in her cleavage. Yes, you read that right. The cleavage was ample, and the dog tiny, but still. Dogs, like people, are rarely quiet in a library. When discovered, she didn't even seem that embarrassed, as if bra dogs are just another 21st Century advance society can finally relish.

Often people will bring a dog into the library on a leash, with no trace of a service harness or vest. They use the same technique which we are taught will deter muggers—walking with confidence. Enter as if your dog is the head of the library board of trustees, come to oversee his dominion. 

Because of the Americans With Disabilities Act, service animals are allowed a lot of latitude. For example, legally I am only allowed to ask a lady with a dog in her bra two questions:

  1. Is this a service animal which is necessary because of a disability?
  2. What service was this animal specifically trained to help you with? 

I do not want Mrs. Bra Pup to answer that second one.

If the answer to #1 is yes, whether true or not, there is apparently no wrong answer for #2. I am not allowed to ask about the person's disability. So here are some possible answers to #2 which do not result in getting ejected from the library:

"Possum detection."

"His nose always points toward nonfiction."

"I can't pronounce it, but it is vital."

"She can carry two Nicholas Sparks or one Stephen King in her mouth without damaging them."

The law does not give a checklist of acceptable answers, so basically all answers are valid if you can deliver them with a straight face. I am not allowed to say "Ma'am, no disrespect, but that's not a service animal. That's a pet. An evidently incontinent one."

You can be fined $1000 if convicted of trying to pass off a pet as a service animal. You can spend six months in jail. 

"What are you in for?"

"Capital murder. You?"

"Trying to pass Fluffy off as one of my breasts."

I can't imagine a case ever being brought. Libraries and restaurants and coffee shops want to be welcoming, not alienating, to their customers. People know this, so a person who brings an animal in is basically daring you.

I generally ignore them. The ice caps are melting. Dogs in libraries are not really a big problem in comparison, more of a symbolic one. Another standard of society, lowered. 

People my age and older sometimes complain about the noise in libraries these days, and people snacking and drinking. One lady was loudly talking to another on the main floor the other day, and an old guy sitting at a table just held out his arm, silently pointing her out to me. 

I predict in 20 years the big problem will not be dogs, but people bringing in their robots. How are you supposed to shush something that can bore holes in you with its laser eyes? Thankfully, I will be retired.