‘To appreciate food and life is to appreciate animals, too’ doggie dining grows in America

America isn’t France, but increasingly dogs are allowed to join folks for a public meal.

Sharon Peters writes in today’s The USA Today that across America, an ever-growing number of eating establishments, many of them high-end, are opening their patios to diners who want to share their eating-out experience with their pets.

Art Smith, owner/chef of the chic Art and Soul restaurant on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, which draws scores of Washingtonians to its canine-welcoming patio every week, says,

"To appreciate food and life is to appreciate animals, too.”

In canine-crazy Carmel, Calif., many restaurants have pup-friendly patios, including Bahama Billy’s Island Steakhouse, where the 16 patio tables are often jam-packed with patrons with pooches.

There are never any outbursts of canine bad behavior, says co-owner Sylvia Sharp. The dogs "seem to view (the patio) as neutral territory, kind of like Switzerland."

At trendy downtown eatery Nosh in Colorado Springs, the massive patio — in the shadow of Pike’s Peak — becomes a veritable playground for dogs and owners every summer Sunday. Plastic kiddie pools are filled with water, tables are arranged to maximize romp-around room, and off-leash dogs frolic dog-park style, sniffing up each other (and the humans), sampling treats from the bags of doggie goodies presented free to each diner accompanied by a dog, and coaxing each other into splash-fests.