During the hottest days of summer (when every day is not just Halloween but a dog day as well), The Bitch tries to move only from the Barkalounger to the tile to cool off, but sometimes the sun-sensitive sighthound dashes over to Nordstrom at the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables.
The Bitch notes the presence of many four-footed shoppers at the upscale department store, and it's no mistake to think canines minor and major are treated like stars at the Seattle-based emporium.
"We don't have a lot of policies in general, and so we don't really have a pet policy. We do allow dogs in our stores, and we find it's more frequent in our stores at outdoor malls or a lifestyle center. For the most part we want shopping to be as enjoyable as possible, but also safe. We ask our customers and employees to use good judgment, and we do ask customers to keep pets clear of our café," says Deniz Anders, national spokeswoman for Nordstrom.
But the rules of Havanese hospitality are not so clearly defined elsewhere. Cindy Ross, a hairstylist at Echelon in Miami Beach, recently acquired a second full-time job as the human assistant to Cella, a Maltese whom Ross insists on following everywhere. What Ross has noticed is there seems to be no consistency regarding rules about dogs in places of business, from retail stores to restaurants. Some places she and Cella are welcome, others she's told "the law" forbids dogs on the premises. Ross sought advice from The Bitch about whether there was some sort of Magna Carta governing spaniels in society. Are there county health department regulations about dachshunds and dining establishments? Terriers in toy stores? Lhasa apsos in libraries? Are there city laws here and there that allow or disallow dingoes in certain kinds of places? With so many pugs in public, especially on South Beach but elsewhere as well, many dogs are wondering what their rights are.
The Bitch began her investigation on Lincoln Road, the local epicenter of canine and human pedestrian activity. Mirian Watson at Soprano Café says, "Everybody in South Beach that doesn't have a kid has a dog. We don't let them in, but they can sit outside."
Diana Curbo of American Apparel could not contain her excitement at the opportunity to help The Bitch go from Gothic greyhound to a more South Beach Samoyed look. "We love dogs here! Come on, we have pictures." Curbo proffered a rack of cotton canine shirts, accompanied by a display of Polaroid photos featuring various small dogs wearing them. Curbo points out one of a preppy Chihuahua: "This is Picasso. He's our mascot. He belongs to a girl who works here, and whenever she works, she brings him into the store. Employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work if they're not too big."
Kendall Spiegal at Brownes & Co. Apothecary says, "In South Beach every other person has a little dog. State law says they are not allowed in the spa upstairs, but they can come into the store." The store offers dog shampoo, Harry Barker squeeze bones, and a vast selection of scented sprays for pooches who want to "musk up" à la Will Ferrell in Anchorman.
At Dog Bar, a number of French-pedicured women are deployed to circulate the store carrying large square bags, each bearing its own furry inhabitant. Lucy Lu, a Pomeranian peering from a leopard-print tote, shops with her servant Trixia Angel. Lucy's fur is carefully styled with small pink barrettes. Angel: "I've had Lucy one year. I take her everywhere. The only place she doesn't go is the gym. We're having a dog party at the park in Coconut Grove by Monty's this weekend. It's a birthday party for her and my sister's dog and another little dog. I'm here to buy a present for my sister's dog."
As for having trouble taking Lucy around, Angel adds, "Everywhere around here is okay with it as long as you are sitting outside. Except for the Cheesecake Factory. It's mean! They don't even allow them outside." In a small pink tulle dress and a tutu, Lucy Lu upstaged The Bitch. "Look at you, Lucy!" Angel coos. "This is going to be your party dress this weekend!"
Another Dog Bar patron, Marta Coton, cruises the store with her Yorkie, B.G. (short for Baby Girl), sticking out of an enormous banana-yellow tote. "Whenever I cross the bridge, I bring her with me," says Coton. "Here it's very nice; in the city I have more problems. There's not as much outdoor seating in the city, and they don't allow pets inside. If she's sticking out of her bag, they'll ask you to leave."
Dog Bar owner Steven Cohen advises, "If you smuggle your dog in correctly in a great Dog Bar bag, no one will know."
The Bitch figured Epicure, the intimidating fooderie at Alton near Lincoln, would be the Dunkirk of dog egress, but she managed to snag a cannoli from the bakery with little difficulty, even though Epicure's management wouldn't offer official comment on its dog-access policy.
According to city spokeswoman Nanette Rodriguez, Miami Beach's rules regarding dogs are pretty basic: "They need to be leashed, and if they poop, you must scoop. As far as the rules of individual private businesses, the city does not regulate. It's the same as dress code. Some places you have to wear a shirt or a coat and tie, some places you don't. I know that certain hotels and restaurants are fine with dogs."
Rodriguez adds, "As a city government, we're pretty pet-friendly. We have two dog parks."
Miami-Dade County ordinances prohibit dogs in city parks and on beaches unless specifically authorized, but aside from leash laws and pit bull regulations, the county allows individual establishments to regulate the presence of pets with the notable exceptions of Seeing Eye dogs, which must be allowed in all places.
As an avid Metrobus and Metrorail rider, The Bitch was dismayed to learn the county doesn't allow animals on mass transit unless they are "boxed or caged for transport."
Frank Calderon, spokesman for the county, says if there are laws designating where dogs can and cannot go outside of these regulations, they would probably be found at the Florida Department of Health.
Turns out, according to the Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency, "live animals may not be allowed on the premises of a food establishment." The exception is not lobsters but "service animals" who are allowed in the dining area but not the kitchen.
The Bitch also ran across some down-and-out dalmatians aiding and abetting some human scofflaws. Seems the latest trend for hookers on Biscayne Boulevard is to pretend they are out being walked by exercise-conscious canines instead of simply straight-up streetwalking, so as to confuse the cops. The furry beards don't seem to curb the Johns, and it's hard not to wonder what sort of sexual trauma these bitches (the dogs, not the hoes) are being exposed to. (Please note the VIP room at Goldrush did not make the list of canine-friendly places.)
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This past Saturday Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, city manager Joe Arriola, and various other city functionaries led a town hall meeting regarding Miami 21, the massive growth plan for Miami scheduled for completion about the same time as the growth itself. Expanding and improving Miami's bus service, providing affordable housing through innovative methods, and retaining aesthetic standards were among the topics discussed at the roughly eight-hour forum.
The Bitch, sitting in on a public-transportation Q&A session, nearly missed the most (and maybe the only) exciting part of the day when Arriola, known around city hall for his temper tantrums, blew up at a citizen. It didn't take canine auditory abilities to hear the yelling that erupted next door at the session on economic development attended by Arriola, Diaz, and others. In fact the word asshole reverberated through the wall. Always on the lookout for temper tantrum tips, The Bitch took off running, just in time to see Diaz, dapper economic development advisor Otto Boudet-Murias, and a couple of shaken planning department flunkies walking Arriola out of the room like the Indiana Pacers walking Ron Artest out of the arena after he attacked fans during a basketball melee at Detroit's Palace arena. Arriola had the same look of dazed fury on his face.
No witnesses wanted their names in the paper, being either scared bystanders or activists who have to deal with the city, but The Bitch pieces it together like this: Folks were milling around talking after the Q&A when an older gentleman said something nasty about Arriola, who happened to be standing a few feet away. Never one to back down from a chance to berate, Arriola let the poor guy have it, jabbing a finger in his face and screaming until the city manager's pals whisked Arriola away. The Bitch tried to get more out of city spokeswoman Kelly Penton, but she wasn't talking. "Well, I know you weren't in the room when it happened," Penton said. "And I'm so sorry you missed it."
The Bitch heard another account of the fracas involving Arriola, in which the recipient of his ire was Ricardo Gonzalez, director of the city's Neighborhood Enhancement Teams. Still another observer reported new urbanist Andres Duany was a peripheral participant. Arriola explains the situation thusly: "A guy I don't know started telling everyone that Miami 21 was a bunch of bullshit, that it was for the rich. Then he points at me and says, 'See that rich guy, he's the one that's helping out all the other rich guys in Miami.' I said, 'Wait a minute!' I mean, he's entitled to his opinion and to say it whenever he wants, but when he accuses me of being a rich guy stealing from the poor ... I mean, I do this job for free. So I said öfuck you' and I called him an asshole."