No Dogs Allowed

Yesterday I was perusing this discussion over at DamnPortlanders and thinking to myself that I had seen a number of dogs on the MAX in blatant disregard of the official rules when last night for the first time ever, I saw a guy bring his dog on with an actual carrier. Imagine that, somebody actually abiding by the letter of the law.

What I’m wondering is how people feel about this rule and where it falls in the “how far can it be bent” spectrum. Over on the DamnPortlanders thread, it seems to be leaning toward “breaking the rule is okay”, though there are some vociferous folks who think it’s wrong, wrong, WRONG to bring un-carriered non-service-animal dogs on the MAX. And as someone who has been excoriated to some extent for bending a rule/law for my own purposes, I really wonder where this ranks to people– for me, it’s worse than riding a bike on a sidewalk and, say, smoking a joint in your bedroom, not that I really think there’s anything wrong with either, since as long as you know what you’re doing in either case, the only harm is most likely to yourself. And I understand that there’s a distinction between a law and a corporate rule, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say they’re equal.

As a dog owner, I’m somewhat sympathetic in my more selfish moments to those who want to bring their dogs along for a ride, though my beast is way too big to ever take on the MAX. I do wish TriMet was more consistent with their posted rules; I’ve also never, ever seen anyone with a stroller actually take their kid out of it and break it down, and that seems to me to take up more room than most dogs would, but you know no fare-checker would ever dress down a family with a stroller the way they sometimes do if there are too many bikes on the traincar or if they decide to enforce the no-dogs rule.

But I’ll also say that it’s a rule that I don’t mind, it really just needs to be much better enforced. As many of the commenters posted, there’s a theme of “no one bothered us, so it must be okay.” It’s pretty standard operating procedure for most people that dogs don’t belong on buses, so why should the MAX be any different? One of the commenters on the other site posted as part of their comment, “if you’re going to break a stated rule, do so considerately at least,” which is all well and good, but is kind of like the definition of pornography– what you may think is considerate could be another person’s personal hell. And what about the people who are then going to break the rule even more inconsiderately? Or if I want to bend another rule, does that mean that I can smoke on the train as long as I’m not blowing it in your face?

Just because there’s not a driver that you have to pass on your way onto the MAX doesn’t somehow give people free rein to break the rules. And I’ve seen how scared of dogs people can be when I’m just walking down the street and so think it’s pretty selfish for people to bring their dogs onboard just because they want what they want. If everybody did that, there would be rampant safety issues for people and animals alike: cramped quarters+dogs on leashes does not equal safety, no matter how well behaved you think your pet is.

9 Comments so far

  1. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 10:04 am

    I’m calling it-this won’t be an issue until one of these dogs is stuck on the train but really needs to be walked and has an accident. AFAIK it hasn’t happened yet but when it does it will be a HUGE deal.

    Why just MAX? What is it about Portland that people take their dogs EVERYWHERE???? I’m not anti-dog, but they’re like kids, you always prefer your own to everybody else’s.

  2. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 10:34 am

    “but they’re like kids, you always prefer your own to everybody else’s.”

    Well DUH! That’s because my did, and dogs, are much better than anyone else’s. Apparently you just have a poor attitude, Ms. Fishbones. Hmph.

  3. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 10:39 am

    And in a less sarcastic comment, my thoughts are that while it would be neat for common sense to prevail, there is a noticeable lack of common sense at times… hence the need for rules. And if you’re going to have rules, they need to be enforced. Equally. Without bending:

  4. PAgent (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 10:40 am

    And what’s with folks bringing their little toy dogs into the food court at Pioneer Place? I guess I missed the memo about little yappy dogs being a stylish fashion accessory. But regardless, food is being served there, people. If it isn’t a service dog, don’t bring it in.

  5. dieselboi (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 10:46 am

    As a small dog owner, I don’t bring my dog to where I eat. Even if he/she were in a carrier of some sort.
    Regarding MAX, I agree that the rules should be enforced better. Every owner believes they “know” their dog and that “their” dog would never act up or bite or whatever. Yet, there have been more than a few times when I have seen the opposite in certain situations. Dogs are dogs and they have a pack mentality. They will react to things you can never prepare for. Bringing them in a crowded area will just exacerbate the issue in my humble opinion.
    I’m not worried about the first time a dog pees or poops on max. I’m worried about the first time a dog lunges at a kid or worse.

  6. Melissa (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

    I completely agree about the dog issue. I have two and though they are very well behaved I would never consider bringing them on a train!

    I do want to address the stroller issue though. If you’ve ever traveled with a baby or small child by yourself you would understand. Imagine carrying your child, a diaper bag, and whatever else you may have. Now throw in having to entertain your child, possibly feed them if they are hungry (or I guess you could let them scream – that would win you some friends on the train), AND collapse a stroller. How are you going to get off the train with your child and belongings and then manage to get the stroller reopened with one hand and get your child in it?

    I think a bicycle takes up more room than a stroller but those are welcome on the train (thank goodness!). I’ve also seen folks headed to the airport with several pieces of large luggage. So I tend to be sympathetic to the parents out there and even try to lend a hand when I can. I encourage all you out there to do the same!

  7. jonashpdx (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

    i wasn’t actually arguing FOR collapsing a stroller, i’m just saying that that’s what the official rule on the max train is, and that those rules are somewhat arbitrary, though sometimes (as in the case of dogs) necessary, but are often ignored.

    and there’s no rule that i can find about the number of bikes allowed on a train, though i’ve seen fare-checkers kick bikes off if there were more than the two that could hang off the bike hangers, and i’m CERTAIN i’d never see a parent kicked off with a kid in a stoller.

  8. Jennifer (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

    I’ve never taken my dogs on MAX, and doubt I ever will. But for people who use that as their main mode of transportation I think there should be some rule in place to allow dogs to legally ride out of a carrier. Carriers are great for small dogs, but my labradors are 80lbs each. Perhaps muzzles and traffic leashes? (which is either a leash handle with a clip or a less than 2 ft leash)
    p.s. I rarely fold the stroller, juggling that and all the gear that goes in it plus a toddler who will take any opportunity to escape is more dangerous than breaking the rule.

  9. Pete (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    One of the things I most liked about visiting France were all the dogs everywhere, even in restaurants. They pull it off with complete respect (for all species) and aplomb. And I did not see one dog who was ever a problem, in 16 days. In fact, if I was a dog I think I would probably love it–it’s better than being cooped up at home all day long. It’s a trend I hope catches on in Portland–even if there are few accidents on the MAX. There are far worse things in this world than a little dog pee.

    Petulant Pete, Pretentious Portland

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