The newsgroups were not the only forum to have a go at the Seeing Eye Dog. The notorious "Indiana List", a famously contentious listserv discussing Eastern Orthodoxy, had its chance to try the issue out. Again, there was much the same pattern.
In Eastern Orthodox forums, the issue almost immediately divides the participants into two groups: those who focus on the charity of allowing the person the use of their dog, and those who focus on the supposed rule. Elsewhere in Christianity, it isn't even an issue: Protestants and Roman Catholics can scarcely understand why the question would even be raised.
To me, the most striking part is how the supposed rule gets rationalized by those who insist on it. Now, the canon itself doesn't address dogs, but rather refers to cattle. Nonetheless, one of the arguments that always arose was that there was something intrinsically polluting about dogs per se, though the canon doesn't address that point. Then there's the starry-eyed theory about how much more loving it is to substitute congregants for the dog. Now, I know a blind man who uses a dog, and another woman who is confined to a motorized wheelchair and who has a dog for picking up dropped items and the like. I also know a blind boy who prefers to use a cane. They use these contrivances precisely because (a) relying on the inconstant grace of strangers is both degrading and unreliable, and (b) because those that do want to help often don't know how to.
The most disturbing argument I encountered was one that said that the dog "represented the lie that the blind person could see." I could go on at length about how wrong-headed this is, but I'll limit myself to the observation that this is a rationalization that is pretty far afield of the "no dogs" issue, and one which attacks the notion of guide dogs in general. In essence, to defend a specific taboo, the arguer creates a totally wrongheaded moral obligation forbidding the use of guide dogs.
More to come.....