Dan Rattiner's Stories

Hamptons Moments: Dogs in Cafés

A bill just passed in Albany that will allow dogs to be seated on the sidewalk next to you at outdoor cafes. It will also apply to onsite outdoor seating, if the restaurant has a separate entrance to the outdoor seating.

Once signed by Gov. Cuomo, the law will go into effect. Personally, I love dogs and I think this is great. The law prohibiting it had been in effect for 15 years. And I think it should never have been put into effect in the first place. How sad it was when they did that. In most countries you can sit with your dog in a restaurant. Dogs are wonderful people and add spice to our lives, and we are all grown up enough to deal with any situation that might come up by having a dog by your feet in an outdoor café. Also, doctors say children grow up healthier when they grow up around dogs. Such children have stronger immune systems.

Here’s a story from the first month I had my own home in East Hampton half a century ago. I’d moved out of my parents’ house in that town. I was 25, finished with college and grad school, now running this newspaper. I took with me my possessions, my car and my sheepdog.

First day in East Hampton, I walked my dog down Newtown Lane in East Hampton—there were few dogs on leashes then, most dogs ran free. One in town followed the mailman on his rounds on Main Street every day and had been doing that for years—and I turned around and my dog was gone. I was horrified. I ran up and down Newtown Lane shouting his name—Scampy, Scampy, Scampy—thinking what a stupid name this is (he had been named before I got him) and what must the town think. Then after 20 minutes of weeping and wailing, a butcher appeared from inside Waldbaum’s (A&P then) with my dog trotting happily alongside.

He gave the dog a pat, and another piece of raw meat. I asked the butcher how long he’d been in there and he said at least 15 minutes, the patrons loved him and he’d had a great time. So then I told Scampy not to do that, headed back with him to my car and headed home. Got to be more careful, I thought. And after that I was, though I never did need a leash in town.

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