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Dog owners need to be kept on a short leash

Regarding Jonah Goldberg's praise of dogs who make their owners feel less lonely (“Dogs have their day in our politicized society,” Jan. 4): I like dogs fine. It's the occasional dog owner who needs training — in etiquette.

Many owners have blinders on when it comes to their dogs' impact on the human beings they encounter. When it jumps up on someone, what do they virtually all say? "It's all right, he's just being friendly!" Inexplicably, a good many dog owners pick up after them, but leave the plastic bag on the sidewalk, or in someone else's trash can. Thank you! And you wrapped it yourself.

Then there are the grifters who have discovered a no-cost alternative to paying a kennel fee when going on a long trip. They register their dog as an "emotional support animal," whether that is true or not. In December, I spent several hours flying on a totally booked plane next to a young woman and her dog. She was flying to spend the holidays with her parents in Delaware and was planning another flight, a side-trip to Atlanta to see her boyfriend. "So you're taking Fido to Atlanta?" "Oh no, he'll stay with my parents." I'm sure she had a letter from a mental health professional. With the savings from the kennel fee, she could afford it. But the man behind us may well have been allergic, because he started sneezing soon after boarding, and didn't stop for the entire flight.

Authentic service animals are well-trained and their devotion to their owners is uplifting to witness. I'm happy to share the airplane cabin with these amazing creatures. But Jonah, your praise of dog ownership is all wet. I'm just glad you're a human, because if you were a dog, you'd probably wag your tail, come right up to me, and shake.

Robert Cole, Catonsville

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