Why do dog owners refuse to consider the possibility that the rest of the world is not in love with their canine friend?
- Credit: PA
One day I'm going to bound up to a stranger and make loud, threatening noises. I might even smear them with mud and try to knock them over.
When they recoil in horror I'll say: 'I was only being friendly…'
Well, it's what many dog owners do.
I grew up with dogs and like them. Many people didn't and don't. Why don't more dog owners realise this?
I don't mean the bad dog owners, who don't train their dogs properly or give them enough exercise or who keep big fierce dogs locked up all day in a small space and then wonder why they get even fiercer…
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But many quite reasonable, responsible dog owners – nice people – refuse even to consider the possibility that the rest of the world is not in love with their dog.
My friend Liz was badly bitten by a dog when she was a child. Understandably, she's still nervous, but at least half the dog owners we meet on our walks fail to appreciate this possibility as their dogs come bounding towards us. They make only a token effort at control and clearly think Liz a bit strange not to be enraptured.
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Apart from anything else, not even I want to be covered in muddy pawprints.
We're used to dogs in the village pub. Most of them lie there, well-behaved and unobtrusive, occasionally having to be stepped over. Fair enough. What's not fair is when someone brings in a young dog that leaps on and off the seats or runs around as people are manoeuvring their way through with a tray full of drinks.
(Same goes for unruly toddlers, of course, but let's not get side-tracked.)
Then there are dogs the size of small ponies that go lumbering past, swishing gigantic tails perilously near your lunch. Or when they start barking…
In a farm shop café recently which, unusually, allowed in dogs, I managed to avoid a bouncy young labrador but tripped over a slobbery rubber ring he'd dropped on the floor.
'He likes to bring his toys in with him,' beamed the indulgent owner without a word of apology as I almost went flying.
Of course you love your dog. It would just be nice if you remembered occasionally that not everyone else does.