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Good dogs allowed at the Naughty Dog Cafe

Pullman’s newest cafe encourages dog owners to bring their canine companions when they visit.

The Naughty Dog Cafe opened its doors Nov. 3 at 317 E. Main St., said owner Andrea Tubens. Tubens said when she set out to start her own business, she wanted to create a space where she would feel welcomed.

“When I was looking to purchase a business I saw a coffee shop in Tacoma, and the feeling I got within that was very relaxing and it felt comfortable,” she said. “So I knew that that was the direction I wanted to go.”

While many cafes don’t expressly prohibit dogs, Tubens said, it never felt totally acceptable when she would visit businesses with her dog.

“I never felt comfortable going into a coffee shop with my dog,” she said. “So that was the other impetus.”

Tubens said the dogs break down barriers and encourage people to interact. This is the atmosphere she’s looking for, she said, a warm inviting place where people can converse and hopefully buy some coffee.

“I want my customers to feel comfortable with dogs. I want my customers with dogs to feel comfortable coming in here,” She said. “I love the fact that when Venus greets people she brings an instant smile to their face.”

Venus, is Tubens’ frumpy but friendly bulldog who is a mainstay at the Naughty Dog. The canine curmudgeon is known for climbing into laps, and napping with strangers.

“I have students that come in specifically for Venus, because she wanders between the students,” Tubens said. “I leave early enough in the day that I miss the students, and they’ve actually been saying (to her staff), ‘Hey, where’s Venus?’ ”

According to Tubens, Wash., regulations strictly prohibit animals in food preparation areas, but rules are a little less stringent in areas where customers congregate. She said if inspectors discover nonservice animals in the cafe, she will lose five points for the year out of a 100 point system. Dogs that qualify as emotional support animals under the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act or as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act are OK, she indicated.

“If they came in every single day for a year and found a dog that was not an ESA or ADA dog, then we lose five points in total, it’s not cumulative,” Tubens said.

She said she’d have to lose around 45 points to actually fail for the year. While food handling regulations are pretty strict in Washington, she said health inspectors typically pay more attention to other kinds of violations.

“I’ll fail automatically if they come in and see me without gloves on while I’m processing food,” she said. “That’s a huge one.”

Tubens said while some people outfit their service animals with vests to identify them, others are more private about their health care needs. Tubens said she’s legally prohibited from asking someone whether their animal is a service animal.

“You can’t ask someone what the status is of their dog — if they’re an ESA or ADA animal — because you’re asking for personal health information,” Tubens said.

“If this becomes as successful as I hope it does, I’d like to go into a larger shop,” she said.

By Scott Jackson, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho

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