My girlfriend, dog, and I just hiked from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide Trail from May 8 to September 21. We fell madly in love with the CDT. Here’s a highlight video of the journey.

I get where you're coming from, but you're saying you want a world with more flexibility rather than "unreasonable strictness", but you're valuing the "flexibility" of the dog owner over the "flexibility" of the other party to decide whether they want their place to have dogs in it and that seems very backwards to me (to allow a visitor to have more convenience than the owner/proprietor of a place).

A ton of dogs are good and well behaved, but some aren't. True service dogs are specifically trained to interact well with environments not made for dogs, such as restaurants or places where a lot of high energy activities are going on. I agree the idea of taking a dog to a wide open, sparsely populated national park doesn't seem intrusive, but those are more rare than the alternative (because a much higher majority of sparse, outdoor areas already allow dogs).

I've seen two cases personally where I thought it was messed up and they were both friends of mine. One was a friend who used to bring her dog everywhere, including restaurants where the dog couldn't sit still and kept greeting everybody who came by the table (friendly and lovable, but nonetheless intrusive in a restaurant setting where other people may not want an animal near them or interacting with them while they prepare to eat). Another was a friend who kept her dog in a "no pets" apartment. Again, it was a friend of mine and both her and the dog were friendly and lovely, but I feel like the property owner should have a say in the types of things that go on in their property. I can say with complete confidence (from the years I spent without a dog), that even the best behaved dog will have an affect on the condition of a home.

Just for fun - one "good middle ground" that you say doesn't exist would be to have a separate "service pet" designation is specifically for animals that should be allowed to follow the owner anywhere. Then you could have the requirement for that designation be the full service animal training that a seeing-eye dog, for example, goes through, so they are actually well equipped to interact in environments not made for animals.

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