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Drive-thru clerks: Don’t forget the canine customers

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It’s a well-known fact most dogs enjoy riding in vehicles along with their owners, almost as much as the owners enjoy having the dogs along with them.

Whether it’s a cute little yapper riding in a driver’s lap, a couple of rambunctious dogs playing around like kids in the backseat of an SUV or a larger breed dog with its ears flapping in the breeze in the back of a pickup truck, the majority of dogs seem to enjoy the vehicle experience.

Dogs are smart animals, much smarter than we usually give them credit for.

Not only do most dogs recognize the sound and meaning of the words “Wanna go for a ride?” they also understand from previous experiences whenever the vehicle in which they are riding approaches a drive-up window, be it a fast-food restaurant, bank, drugstore or to pay the utility bill, the possibility exists for a snack or treat for the dog to also come back, compliments of the clerk through the same window.

Dogs also realize while sitting there patiently waiting for and watching the clerk, the odds for receiving a treat go up exponentially based upon the selling job done by that cute, pitiful, TV ad-quality expression on the dog’s face.

Additionally, to ensure the clerk gets a good look at that sad-looking face, dogs know how to maneuver themselves between the seats, on the armrest or into the owner’s lap in order to be seen easier by the person on the other side of the window who might be controlling the goodies.

Whether these qualities are hereditary or learned at puppy school, all dogs seem to have them.

Despite all the begging and trying to be cute, the dog still may not always get an immediate reward in the form of a treat or dog biscuit.

That may not be all bad, though, as sometimes even better things lie ahead for the dog — a bag containing french fries, fried chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, hush puppies or other such bonuses coming through the window that the dog can enjoy later at home.

Although speaking without the endorsement or sponsorship of any other person or group, I feel I represent the feelings of most dog owners in saying to those with establishments having drive-up windows, that if you and your people are nice to our dogs, chances are better we will likewise be nice to you and be among your most loyal and devoted customers.

Whether being nice means a treat, a pat on the head or just a “hello there, sport,” the chances are much better we will want to continue doing business with you again in the future.

Bonus points might also be awarded if the clerk is able to mention the dog’s name during the visit, although this is certainly not required.

For the majority of dog owners, the simple gesture of having goodies or treats offered to our four-legged companions with us while we are stopped at drive-up windows means a great deal more than the testimony of actors or celebrities on TV, particularly ones we don’t like, trying to convince us in ads their product is better.

As a matter of fact, making our dogs happy with a simple treat that might cost no more than a couple of cents could be among the wisest and most economical forms of advertising out there.

This statement is not intended to be a form of bribery but instead is just an example good business sense with no one getting hurt.

Besides, I think most clerks might even enjoy passing out treats to their canine customers since they might have dogs themselves at home and fully understand what this is all about.

So, from all dog owners and the dogs who ride along with us, we thank you for your consideration, and we will look forward to seeing you soon at your drive-up window.

Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at