Department Store or Dog Park

I went to the mall today with my mom and Angry Kid.  Our intention was to go to the new Nordstrom here at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. It had just opened on Friday, and I love me some Nordstrom.

Angry Kid was quite wild but we tamed him with a new belt from Peek Kids and a Build-A-Bear. Don’t judge, my mom bought him off today, not me.  She’s a grandmother, that’s her job.

It was a beautiful day outside in Southern California, and this is an outdoor mall.  We rarely go to this mall, as there is an outdoor mall closer to my house with almost the exact same stores.  Within minutes of arriving at the mall, we immediately noticed something. There was an overabundance of dogs. I get it, it’s an outdoor mall, they allow dogs.

I’ve lived in Orange County since I was eleven. I’m used to the so-called “yuppie purse dogs”.  I have Chihuahuas.  But these were not the cute sweater wearing highly accessorized purse dogs, these were big dogs. When Angry Kid was dancing around the big fountain in the center of the mall, I saw two English Bulldogs, a Chihuahua, a Boxer, and an Australian Shepherd. All of these dogs were on leashes, but there were at least twenty five children in the area.

After feeding Angry Kid, we headed towards Nordstrom.  I immediately noticed patio tables outside the store with families and young children.  I also noticed more dogs.  I’ve been going to Fashion Island for a long time. I have NEVER seen this many dogs there.

Upon entering the store, through the mall entrance, I saw how crowded the store was.  It was the third day since it had been open, and business was good.  The entrance, which was technically the second story, placed us directly in the shoes, handbags, and cosmetics departments.  I’m a huge shoe addict, so I headed toward the shoes, naturally.  There were tons of pretty couches laid out where customers were receiving excellent service from Nordstrom employees (seriously, they have the best service). But I noticed something about the shoe department instantly.  I saw several people had their dogs sitting on the couches in the shoe department.  On one of the couches, I saw two small dogs bouncing around.  The owner was ignoring them and getting fitted for shoes.  I just looked at my mom and rolled my eyes.

I wanted to explore the store more, but I had to push my way through the crowds.  Like I said, it was a beautiful day out, and everyone in Orange County seemed to be at Nordstrom. But seriously, pushing our way through the crowds, meant walking around the people with their VERY BIG dogs within the store.

When then headed downstairs towards the children’s clothing and women’s apparel sections.  Angry Kid immediately ran towards the children’s shoes department, which had an awesome salt water fish tank. As I was heading over there, I heard a woman exclaim very loudly that “her child (a wee small one, probably one-ish) was eye to eye with a larger type dog.  I knew instantly what she was thinking since I also had a small child in the store.

I’m just trying to understand how people think that this is ok? Why does Nordstrom and the rest of the merchants in this mall allow this? I would think that this would be a huge liability.  I’ve seen dogs look at each other wrong before and start fighting.  Sometimes, dog owners are not strong enough to pull their dogs out of these fights and can also get injured along the way.  This is a shopping mall with tons of small children running around.  People also have allergies to dogs.

I have two small dogs, less than 15 pounds each.  I would never think to bring them to the mall. We’ve taken them to dog beach, and to several dog parks.  All of those experiences were not good.  These dogs wouldn’t harm anyone, but got somewhat “bitchy” in these dog meet-ups.  I have nothing against pitbulls, boxers, or other large dogs, I really don’t.  But seriously, not everyone is comfortable around these types of dogs, and does not expect to come into contact with dogs like this at the local mall, in an actual department store.

Apparently Fashion Island has the unofficial title as “Orange County’s Dog Mall”. I guess I did not realize that.  I don’t think that I will be going to Fashion Island unless I’m meeting someone there now.  I used to love going there, as they have beautiful landscaping, and I practically grew up running around there. I’m just too worried, that I might accidentally step in poop while shopping for the new shoes or simple a teddy bear for my son.

I’m not the only one irritated by this.  My friend Suzanne, is also writing a blog post about Nordstrom.  When I came home from the mall earlier today, I sorta vented on Twitter.  I got a reply from LA Stylist Mom about a post that she wrote a month ago, about The Grove in Los Angeles.

My mom was completely freaking out and almost had a panic attack about the entire situation.  She was calling her friends and venting on her cellphone, the entire way home.

Do you think it is odd that they are allowing dogs and/or these big dogs in Department Stores?

35 comments
Hui
Hui

Dude, I was at Nordstrom on Friday too and the mall was PACKED! I have never seen it that busy. And yeah, it was annoying to see all the dogs in Nordstrom in a HUGE crowd like that. I only saw little dogs... bulldogs and smaller, but still. I've seen the Fashion Island people with mops to mop up the dog pee on the tiles... it's sad to see such a beautiful mall be desecrated by 4 legged yuppie "babies". If you complain, Nordstrom will listen. BTW, did you see the old guy in the suit and bow tie greeting everyone at the door? I swear, that might have been Mr. Nordstrom himself... or else why would he dress up and be a door greeter?

Wendy
Wendy

As an insider who worked the Store's opening weekend, I can tell you that the Fashion Island customer is VERY used to getting their way. People at that mall EXPECT to be catered to, fawned upon and never challenged about their social behaviors. I was told that Saturday a full-bore dog fight broke out right next to the escalators. Security was called! The shoe department guy said he'd never seen ANYthing like it. Believe me, the employees are not thinking this is cool. Nordstrom prides itself on catering to the customer, but this is just NONSENSE. I can understand pocket/purse dogs maybe, but a leashed animal roaming the aisles? Crazy. Especially with such careless owners. And who wants to know that some dog's bare ass was just on that cozy shoe sofa they're sitting on? Gross, gross, gross. Stand up and be done with this, Nord! You're principled on nixing early Christmas ornaments, rise up now against mixing fashion and fido feces!!

Trinity
Trinity

What I struggle with here is when it became acceptable to take dogs (other than service animals) into any establishment. I get the pet store thing and I get that people's pets are like their kids but it is still an animal and there shoule still be boundaries. There is a time and a place for these things. Where does it end? Cats? Snakes? Birds? Tarantulas? These are all pets . . . so who draws the line? When is it going to be too much?

Bethany
Bethany

Yep, I think it's crazy! Now, I'm not a dog person at ALL but I understand service dogs. They are for just that- service. Dogs walking around in Nordstrom? Nuh-uh!

Ciaran/Momfluential
Ciaran/Momfluential

poo poo on the jimmy choo choos. Love it. I was also thinking the jimmy choos make tantalizing chews.

mumby
mumby

ah good old California! That is just nuts. Dogs in stores. Dogs poo. They'll change their minds when they find poo poo on the jimmy choo choo's!

L.A. Stylist Mom
L.A. Stylist Mom

Dude - don't you find it odd that we were both in Nordstrom in the freaking shoe department?! WTF? And I have a dog - a huge one! ONE HUNDRED POUNDS. The difference is that I know where (not) to take him. By the way, The Grove Tweeted me an apology and said they are 'looking into it.' Thanks for the shout out!

Diane Prouty
Diane Prouty

First off I just LOVE it that you refer to your child as ANGRY KID in your post. So funny and yet (as a mother of four grown kids) sadly so true too much of the time! But more to the point, I agree with you that the mall owners are really being irresponsible to allow dogs on the premises. And there are always those dog owners who will argue with you their dogs wouldn't hurt anyone as the dog is lunging at someone. I can't imagine how terrifying it must be to a small child to have an animal as big or bigger than you snarling and showing it's sharp teeth to you. You're wise to avoid that mall. The only thing that will persuade the owners it's a more policy is if they begin to lose money because of it.

Shelley
Shelley

Wow, I can't believe it's gotten that crazy! When I go there it's not unusual to see some dogs walking around outside but I had no idea people started bringing their big dogs inside the stores! That's getting a little carried away, in my opinion.

Kristin
Kristin

I have two dogs. And I know that my dogs will behave if I take them to an outdoor mall. But I also know they won't behave inside a store. So I wouldn't take them inside. I'd hope that these other people know their dogs well enough to know whether or not it's safe for them to bring their dogs to an outdoor mall or inside a department store because of the But I don't know about Nordstrom. I see them as a high end department store and I wouldn't want to be trying on clothes with dog hair on them, or worrying about watching for puddles on the floor or sitting in a wet spot on a chair. You are paying more money for clothes there because of the shopping experience which includes a more upscale environment. I guess if someone had their dog in a purse or (gag) stroller, that would be ok because they aren't running around. All in all, I would expect that if dog owners are bringing their dogs out to an outdoor mall, they know that their dog is going to be friendly, and be trained properly to handle being around other dogs and small children. I know that this isn't always the case, unfortunately. And it's those folks who ruin it for the rest of us. But I agree with you about the Nordstrom thing. I know Home Depot lets you bring your dogs inside too. But it's HOME DEPOT. Not a fancy carpeted piano playing upscale environment.

Kirsten W
Kirsten W

There are 3 different issues here. The first, should dogs be allowed at an outdoor mall. The simple answer is yes. Dogs should be allowed anywhere OUTside that they want - there is nothing wrong with that. With one contingency, CLEAN up after your dog...taking your dog to an outdoor mall where it is around lots of people and dogs is really good for the dog, it allows it to get used to people and become more social. The second issue is whether they should be allowed in stores. In this case, I think that this is a tough one. There are so many stores that allow small dogs in carriers to be allowed in, but then the people with big dogs claim "unfair" so the stores then allow big dogs. I say no dogs in any stores would just be easier, but this is a pipe dream in the OC where sooo many people have purse dogs. Then there is the final issue, that is honestly the biggest problem: how people with kids handle dogs. I know so many parents who have never talked with their kids about how to approach a dog, how to ask the owner if they can pet them and then the appropriate way to actually pet the dog. We have a 85 lb greyhound who is by far, the most docile dog I have ever met, but I would 100% NEVER let a child pet my dog without extreme parental supervision. While he would never mean to do anything, if he simply stepped forward, and stepped on a toe, it would scare the bejezers out of a kid, hurt like hell and the kid would probably freak out and then scare the dog. Simply put, I would never ask to pet your child, so why in the heck would you think it is okay to approach me and ask to pet my dog??

EmmieJ
EmmieJ

I had almost the same exact experience at Stanford Shopping Center this weekend! (Which, to answer your earlier commenters' questions about whether it has to do with the demographics, I'm going to say none tied to that geography.) We were walking to Macy's Men's store...saw one dog in the parking lot (a golden retriever) and another on the freakin' escalator (a black poodle/terrier looking mutt about the same size). I looked hard for any indication that they were service dogs but saw none. WTF? I, too, am a dog person. I love to bring my dogs (safely) with me on trips when I can and the weather allows. But I would never consider bringing them into a store. Never. As for the big v. small, I really think it's strange either way but (even though I'm a large dog owner) I find it less annoying when smaller dog owners do things like bring their dogs in a bag somewhere. There's no chance for a stray bite, potty accident, etc if they're contained. If they bring them out on a leash, I find it as problematic as if they were big dogs.

BusyDad
BusyDad

I'm a dog lover myself. I have one 90 lb boxer mix and a little 15 lb yapper. But I also understand that not everyone is comfortable around dogs - especially within a confined area. This isn't a matter of equal rights. Dogs are not equal to humans no matter how much we love them. The only retail establishment they should be allowed in is Petco/Petsmart and stores FOR ANIMALS. People that bring dogs indoors are inconsiderate. Period. When I was a kid I was deathly afraid of dogs. True, you can say it was MY problem, but hey, I'm the human. I win.

Jess
Jess

Personally, I'm terrified of dogs have been bit by one when I was a wee one myself. When they are out at stores and the like, it terrifies me with flashbacks and my dander allergy that comes and goes depending on the breed. Scratchy throat, anxiety, and sweaty palms make for difficult shopping conditions. Outdoor mall or not, unless you're going to a dog boutique or something, leave the dog at home. It doesn't have to go with you everywhere.

Megan
Megan

I have always had dogs. BIG dogs (one at a time). and I would NEVER take them in public like that! Not one of them. Not even the best behaved dog I have ever owned. That is obnoxious. Too many dog owners are crap owners (oh! kinda like some of the parents I see at the park... but thats a whole different post) anyway- I would be angry also. And I wouldn't go there any more. Unless I had to... like for Nordies or something...

NotJustAnotherJen
NotJustAnotherJen

Hell no there shouldn't be any dogs large or small inside a store. I'm perplexed when I see a little dog in a store...isn't there some kind of city code or health code for that? Little dogs people can get away with because they're cute or hiding in a bag or something. But big dogs are obnoxious in a store and I agree,with children around, potentially dangerous or objects of slobber (ewww!). I hope you all contact Nordstroms and let them know about your posts. Maybe you'll get a gift card apology! Wouldn't that be divine!

Amanda
Amanda

I don't mind dogs when they're where they should be. I grew up with German Shepherds and Huskies in our family. I would however be HIGHLY annoyed by the potential dog fur on any clothing I might be buying in a store. Both my older son and I are allergic to not only dog dander but also the saliva, so when a dog licks itself, double whammy. I DO NOT want dog hair in my house by way of things I purchase in a store. To me, it's just plain inconsiderate.

Shauna
Shauna

Maybe it's just me- but I would prefer no random dog hair or other particles near any potential clothing that I might be purchasing ;-)

Twenty Four At Heart
Twenty Four At Heart

The size of the dogs doesn't matter. I've never been bitten by a big dog but I HAVE been bitten by a little one. Dogs don't belong in department stores - period.

liz
liz

Yes! Truly, I'm surprised they do it, just out of liability alone!

Melissa
Melissa

I have a huge dog and would never dream of taking her into a store just because I don't know how she would react. I won't even take her into Petsmart or an actual pet store because of that. That being said, I also noticed a huge problem with people taking dogs everwhere when we lived in the Palm Desert/La Quinta area. I'd see people with dogs in places like Home Depot. It drove me crazy and made me feel like it wasn't a safe situation for the dog or the people near by.

Gigi
Gigi

I know Fashion Island well...I lived in Ladera Ranch for a year awhile back. I am pretty shocked by this story - especially in Nordstrom (which I agree has the most amazing service) - and I am a dog person. As you said, there are a host of reasons to not allow dogs inside stores unless they are well-trained service dogs. Do you think this is being driven by the demographic in Newport?

Stephanie Rutledge
Stephanie Rutledge

That's absolutely nuts. Its a shopping place, despite the fact that it is just that- do they want their place smelling like dog? I bet not. I am sure they allow it because they would rather put up with it than turn a customer away. As a mother that makes me SO mad. I probably would I have left- I dont like big animals around my kids, both animals and kids are unpredictable and it can be a really bad situation FAST!

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

I'm glad that I'm not crazy then. I will never go to the Nordstrom again.

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

That is exactly. Pets are people's kids. There is a time and place. I don't think pets should be everywhere.

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

Your comment made me totally laugh out loud. I love that Ciaran commented after you, about your comment. :)

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

Yes, it's pretty ironic that we were both in the shoe department. You mean that you aren't going to take your 100 lb. dog to shop for shoes at Nordstrom?

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

I totally forgot to buy you that dog stroller for your birthday...Maybe next year, or even Christmas....

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

The mall has way too much concrete. There is really no where for the dogs to go to the bathroom, which leads to messes. Really, where are they going to go potty? But on the floor of a store, of course. I worked in retail for years. I would be pissed if I worked in retail and had to clean up dog pee. Remember, this is Fashion Island. Many of these people think that everyone is their servant and that they should be waited on. I agree that no dogs should be allowed in stores. This isn't about training your children to be around dogs. This is about the individual right to shop at a very upscale retail store, without having to walk around 100 lb. dogs. How does a mother with an infant in a stroller teach her 6 month old, to be around dogs. It is simply ridiculous. I didn't see anyone ask about petting dogs. Mostly, I saw non-dog walkers annoyed by the whole thing. There is a time and place to bring your dog. This was not it.

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

LOL, maybe we can trade in our yappers for big dogs. I kinda love the word, yapper. Ohh Jim, you are so my people.

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

I heart you, and I think it's pretty funny that we both wrote about this today.

Angry Julie
Angry Julie

I think it is because they are losing customers to The Irvine Spectrum. They had to do something. I think my mom is going to talk to some of the people at Nordstrom today. She is beyond pissed.

Jayme
Jayme

That is bizarre! I thought stores were only supposed to allow service animals. It annoys me when I'm somewhere like the grocery store and see someone with their dog in their purse.

Wendy
Wendy

Why so AngryJulie? : ) Hee. You know that "one bad apple" phrase..? Believe me, they've heard an earful from many sources on the same subject and I'm sure they're formulating a way to politely enforce the rules and better express dog policy. Nordstrom is so about EVERYone having a great experience, not just poodle peeps...