Should Dogs Be Allowed In Your Doctor’s Office?

Please, please say the answer is no.

I don’t own a dog. But some people who do seem to like to take their dogs everywhere they go. They take them out to Sunday brunch at local sidewalk cafes, where I invariably get dog slobber on my flip-flopped feet. They bring them (unannounced) to pet-free houses for holiday get-togethers. (Totally rude!) And some of them bring their dogs to the doctor’s office.

Recently, I visited a doctor’s office at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, just minutes away from the Philadelphia border. While I was waiting for my appointment, an older man walked in pushing a black cart. And perched in the basket on top was a ratty little black dog.

Everyone seated in the waiting area looked puzzled—some a bit concerned—as the little rat dog looked around, anxiously surveying his surroundings. He gave a faint growl and let out a low “yip!” at a very large man who walked into the office. The large man shook his head.

I kept waiting for someone from the doctor’s office to intervene as the rat dog continued to make noise and generally cause a fuss, but they didn’t. Even the very serious office manager, who walked into the waiting area to ask the animal’s owner a few questions, didn’t go beyond a dirty look when the dog growled at her.

Later, as I sat in the exam room waiting for my doctor to poke and prod at me, the dog owner and his little furry friend were escorted to the exam room across the hall. Through my cracked-open door, I heard the dog snarl at the nurse, who said in an under-the-breath huff as she walked away, “Dogs do not belong in doctor’s offices.” You got that right, sister.

And it turns out that it’s not just patients bringing their pets into medical offices. The doctors are doing it, too.

A female friend tells me that she had a canine run-in of her own at her doctor’s office. “The doctor had the dog in the office during the consultation and held the dog for most of it,” she remembers. “Then the doc brought the dog into the exam room, which struck me as a little weird. The dog sat on a chair—it was a very docile little thing—during the exam. And then the doctor picked up the dog and left, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.”

My friend says that most of the people she’s told the story to have been absolutely horrified, but it didn’t bother her quite as much. “It seemed more quirky than dirty or unprofessional,” she observes today. “But it did seem a bit like a Seinfeld episode. After the doctor and the dog left the room, I sat on the examining table for a few minutes and thought, am I being punked?”

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Should Dogs Be Allowed In Your Doctor’s Office?

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