Brushing up on your lesbian dog etiquette.

Brushing up on your lesbian dog etiquette.

As a general rule I like dogs a whole lot more than I like most people. I’m kind of awkward at parties, and completely avoid gatherings in bars whenever I can. My idea of an ideal Friday night is being home with my partner and our menagerie of cat and dogs. While I can’t be a hermit all the time, one thing that makes social gatherings more enjoyable for me is when animals are involved.

I’m definitely the dyke who comes to your housewarming and spends the evening hanging out with your cat, or dog or turtle.

I’m buried in snow here in NYC but am dreaming of summer picnics in the park, and so it was perfect timing that a reader suggested that I write my take on the etiquette for bringing your dogs to lesbian gatherings for this month’s column!

Although I’m a dog nut, I know that not everyone is. There are lots of places where bringing your dog can add to the fun, and lots of other lesbian parties and events where it’s not appropriate, or fun for your dog to be included. The key to happy dogs—and happy friends—is knowing when to bring your canine sidekick and when you need to fly solo.

Before bringing your dog along, make sure you have a good understanding of what kind of event it is. Is it an outside gathering? In a noisy event space? Someone’s house?

Settings that I think are always okay to bring along your dog are picnics or BBQ’s happening in public parks and beaches, which automatically makes them my favorite type of social gathering for hanging out with other people. Increasingly, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating areas are becoming dog friendly.

If you’re meeting up with friends for food or drinks and want to bring your dogs along, be sure to call the establishment ahead of time to make sure they allow dogs. Dogs are a great way to break the ice and kick off a conversation with the ladies, but it’s a total mood killer if you and your dog get a new lesbian café and realize your dog can’t join you!

It’s my opinion that if a party or gathering is happening in someone’s house or apartment you should always seek their consent before bringing your dog along. There are lots of reasons why someone might not want your dog tagging along.

Some people don’t like dogs (shocking!), or have allergies, and others still have their own animal companions in the home who might not like other animals. My partner and I are big dog lovers, but we don’t ever permit other dogs to visit our house because we have three cats, two of whom are elderly, and one of our dogs is not comfortable with other dogs.

Before bringing your dog along be sure you have their consent as well. Dogs are unique individuals and each have their own boundaries too, make sure to know what your dogs are and don’t put them in situations that make them uncomfortable.

My little dog Mercury is comfortable in any situation; loud noises and large crowds don’t bother him, which makes him an ideal candidate for accompanying me out to any community event. My younger dog Charlotte is a special needs rescue and our family has to put a lot of work into making sure she has enough personal space to make public events fun and successful for her.

Know your dog’s limits and respect them, even if that means leaving them in your bedroom while you have guests over if they are prone to getting over-stimulated.

Beyond seeking consent, my number one rule for bringing dogs along to queer cultural events is safety first. Every summer I cringe as I watch as dogs get brought to inappropriate events like firework shows, where inevitably by the time the fireworks start going off, the dogs are panicked and straining at their leashes.

Similarly, Pride parades: while wonderful, festive gatherings for us very few dogs actually enjoy themselves when tagging along. I try really hard not to give unsolicited pet advice while out in the community, but it’s really hard when I see people dragging their dogs around a crowded Pride festival in 100+ degree weather.

If you’re bringing your dog along to Pride or another festival be sure to always have water available for your dog, and be prepared to leave the event if your dog becomes overwhelmed or overly tired.

I’m so ready for all this snow to melt and to start spending time with my dogs again. Having your dog come along to public events can be a lot of fun when you’ve done the preparations to make the outing enjoyable for the dogs and people. What are your favorite queer community events, or outings to share with your canine companions?