Dog-gone town can be unfriendly

Charleston is a place like no other. It’s a beautiful city, the folks are as polite as the media says, and the town is romantic enough to make Miles Davis cry.

So what’s not to love about the Lowcountry?

If you own a dog, there’s plenty. Of all the places I’ve lived – more than a few – Charleston has to be the most dog-unfriendly of ‘em all.

Do I have research to back this up? No. There’s a website that gives some of the lowdown on dogs in Charleston, but that’s more for the visitor, the person taking a vacation in Charleston and hopefully spending lots of money.

Sure, the area does make concessions to dog owners. Some. South of Calhoun Street near all the hospitals is a park, where an old library once stood. Nothing left there now except a few columns, a bunch of trees, and grass. I don’t even know if the park has a name, but it doesn’t matter. The locals call it Dog Park, and that’s where many take their pooches to run off a little energy. Leashes? We don’t use no stinkin’ leashes here.

Dog Park is especially popular with the younger set, in particular college-age girls with their dogs, so that’s another of the park’s charms. Hey, I may be getting older, but I ain’t dead.

Outside of that, life can be a little rough if you’re a dog owner. I can sure understand the need for a pet deposit when you move into a place, but in Charleston expect to pay in the neighborhood of $300 or $400 to keep your dog in an apartment or house.

I can understand some of this, maybe. When my dog was a puppy, she had her destructive side. Chomping through the power cord of my computer, while I was using it. Eating a pair of my boots. Nibbling on the Christmas tree lights. To be honest, back then she couldn’t have caused any more hell and destruction if she peed fire.

But then, human children can also have their destructive moments, as any battle-hardened parent will tell you. But I’ve never heard of a landlord imposing a child deposit. Are you kidding? There are civil liberty-type organizations who would gladly serve that landlord’s head on a platter if he ever even thought of such a notion.

I’ve had Hoodoo since she was six weeks old. She’s 13 now, and has the grey to prove it. Not near as hyper as she once was, and it’s been at least a decade since she’s destroyed anything. She’s mellowed with age. Her only real objectionable quality – besides being horrendously spoiled and jealous – is that she gets excited when I come home from work. My neighbors say they never hear her until that moment; that’s when all of Charleston County knows of my arrival.

A few days ago, I experienced another example of how dog-unfriendly Charleston County can be. I’m currently without an Internet connection, so I walk to the library to maintain this blog and keep up with the tons of email I seem to get. No problem there. And when I walk anywhere, Hoodoo goes with me. That’s a house rule that she set years ago. I’ll tie her out near the library entrance with a bowl of water while I do my business inside. She’ll usually curl up and go to sleep before long, and wait for me to finish – like a good dog.

Anyway, I was reading some newspapers and taking notes at the Cooper River Library, waiting for my turn at the computer, when the librarian wanted to know who owned that dog outside. That would be me, I said, and is there a problem?

Yes, problem. Unless she’s a service animal, she can’t be there. Well, the librarian already saw me read the paper, so I knew I wasn’t going to weasel out of this very easily. I offered to tie Hoodoo out around the side of the building where no one ever goes, and that wouldn’t work either. Can’t be on the premises.

With that, I put away the newspapers, gathered up my notes, collected Hoodoo, and left.

Besides the obvious – like what am I going to do for an “office,” this just plain ticks me off.

Charleston, I’m afraid, is trying to go big-city. Maybe not New York (there is a god) or Los Angeles (and a just god he is), but maybe another Atlanta. I see that in some of the growth and some of the new laws in town, and how it’s losing just a smidgen of the charm that makes it Charleston. Whatever it is, big cities and dogs just don’t see eye to eye.

Meanwhile, the search is on for a provisional office. Right now, the interim answer is an easy one – go find another library.

Author: Eric Pulsifer

Eric Pulsifer is a veteran wordsmith with experience as a journalist, editor, musician, and freelance writer.

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