Residents and tourists are giving mixed reviews of a new policy to allow dogs at outdoor dining tables on the Calle Guanajuato pedestrian walkway behind downtown Plaza restaurants.
Continuing a pattern of loosening restrictions on dogs on park property, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission voted last month to allow dogs at outdoor tables on the parks department-controlled Calle.
Warm weather this week brought diners out in force on the walkway, where a half-dozen restaurants rent space for outdoor tables and chairs. Restaurants can decide for themselves whether they will allow dogs in their designated spaces.
Sesame Asian Kitchen is among the restaurants with Calle space that is allowing dogs.
Greensprings area resident Gayle Wolfe was sitting with two friends outside Sesame Asian Kitchen this week. All three are dog owners.
"We often go places where we can take our dogs," Wolfe said.
As long as dogs are well-behaved and people clean up after their pets, the three said allowing dogs on the Calle is a wonderful idea.
Wolfe's friend, Sandy Scott, said Ashlanders need to be aware that they'll be responsible for their dogs' bad behavior.
"You wouldn't let your baby do that or your husband," she said.
Visiting Ashland on a school field trip, Jacob Pelroy of Paisley said he didn't view outdoor dining with dogs as a problem in most cases.
"But if the dog likes to jump up or anything, it might not be favored by other people," said Pelroy.
Louie's Restaurant & Bar has embraced dogs on its section of the Calle.
In a letter sent to parks staff before the parks commission's vote to allow dogs, owner Melissa Jensen wrote, "In these last few years, I have noticed such a marked increase of locals and tourists alike wanting to dine with their dogs on the Calle. Coupled with Ashland's new and improved reputation for being 'Dog Friendly' and blessings from the Jackson County Health Department, I do hope you and the Parks Commission will agree the time is ripe for 'fur babies' to join their families dining on the Calle!"
In previous years, dogs had been banned from most Ashland parks — earning Ashland a label as one of the most dog-unfriendly cities on the West Coast by a popular website for people who travel with pets. Parks commissioners have gradually lifted the ban for most parks.
Jackson County eased regulations on outdoor dining with dogs in 2012.
Restaurants and patrons must still follow public health laws.
Employees must not pet dogs while serving food or drinks. Restaurants must have dog waste kits and dog waste must be cleaned up immediately.
Dogs cannot come into contact with serving dishes, utensils or tableware and they are not allowed on chairs, tables or other furnishings.
Patrons must keep their dogs leashed, and dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs are not allowed. Except for service dogs, dogs cannot travel through indoor or non-designated areas of the restaurant.
Restaurants are allowed to exclude non-service dogs.
Greenleaf Restaurant has decided not to allow dogs on its section of the Calle.
Server Meadow Lasley said she loves her own dog and takes her places, but thinks dogs would be too disruptive among the tightly packed tables and chairs on the Calle.
Dogs can jump or lunge, causing dishes and glasses to topple and break. Additionally, dogs may not behave predictably around each other, Lasley said.