16 March 2006 By LINLEY BONIFACEAfter 40 years of dull suburban respectability, I am delighted to discover I have joined a dangerous minority. Without the trouble and expense of buying drugs, taking up smoking or having "Mongrel Mob" tattooed on my cheek, I have become a social outcast simply by getting a puppy.
And you felt like an outcast especially after the attack of the media spectacle of the auckland girl. We were yelled at when we walked our dog! Man, some vicious people out there...
When I walk the dog, householders who previously were happily gardening or collecting the mail suddenly freeze, clutching their trowels or Warehouse flyers in a white-knuckled hand, and stare accusingly at my dog's bottom. I always have a plastic bag visibly extending from the pocket of my jeans –- which I understand is a sign of being available for gay sex in some countries –- but it doesn't mollify them.Hopefully they don't want ... (oh, I was having funny thoughts but I'll keep them as my "inside thoughts" as Bush described them)...
They are not to know my dog is above crapping in cold hard soil and prefers to save herself for the shagpile in our lounge.My dog prefers (and was trained, so it's not a matter of preference) to crap in the bush... he parks his bum and lets it go out of the public view.
The reaction from other walkers can be so extreme I've found myself looking down to check I have not inadvertently attached a jaguar instead of a dog to my lead.Perhpas you have the cutest puppy around...
Mothers have clutched their children in fright as we stroll past; power walkers have pressed themselves flat against hedges in case the dog suddenly sinks her teeth into their water bottles.Ya, I know what you mean... I get that all the time...
Once, at a bush reserve, a man shouted: "Don't let it attack the ducklings!". As the dog was on a lead and sitting companionably next to me on a park bench at the time, sharing a tomato sandwich, this seemed unlikely.Ya should have yelled back "Would you prefer it to attack you instead?" but of course, that just gives dog owners a bad name. Why is it that total strangers tell you what they think of your dog, but when you see a kid displaying totally unacceptable behaviour, we keep quiet?
I should point out my dog is small, fluffy and resembles a sofa cushion. Admittedly, dogs of any size can be aggressive, but my dog is ridiculously friendly –- to her, life is one long cocktail party. The four-year-old boy who often accompanies us on our walks, however, bites people all the time.Yup... the discrepancies of life and of people's arguments.
It's of an understatement to say dogs have a bad press.How come dogs are allowed on buses, trains, and even in restaurants in France and nobody is giving them a hard time?? Surely they don't all have guide dogs (smile)!
The frequency we hear of attacks is partly because some dogs do bite people, and partly because dog bite stories are an easy, sensational space-filler for media organisations increasingly short of resources to research more complex subjects.yes, yes, and another yes
It should not surprise anyone that there are a lot of foolish people out there. Some drive their cars recklessly. Some get drunk and start fights. Some don't control their dogs. We don't suggest all drivers are dangerous, just because some are; we don't suggest all people who drink are violent, just because some are. But there is a strong implication now that all dog owners are irresponsible simply for having a dog and that all dogs are accidents waiting to happen.Agree!
Local councils bang on about dog control, but do little to support responsible ownership. Dog fees are often more than $100 –- yet little of it seems to be spent on measures that might help dog owners stick to the rules. My nearest off-leash dog exercise area is remote, poorly signposted, unlit and, despite being a 10-minute walk from the road, contains not a single poo bin. Dogs owners are banned from most of the places they might want to walk their pets, such as beaches, because it's easier for councils to assume every owner is potentially guilty rather than targeting those who actually do something wrong.If dogs are banned almost everywhere, do you wonder why we have so many dog attacks (purportedly)? Short leads and high fences are the problem... and environmental conditions like a lack of a dog park near where you live is another. Did you know that it goes against council's ruling? It states in the dog control act that you must provide your dog with adequate food, shelter and EXERCISE. The council must recognise that some dog breeds required A LOT of exercise, and therefore they need to run, and run, and run. If a dog park isn't available and suitable (not much chance for a 30 minutes run in there), then it is reasonable to expect that a dog will run on the beach... legally! Of course, in a controlled fashion (cough)
This is my first dog and my knowledge of dogs came mainly from the TV programmes of my childhood, on which dogs were constantly rescuing people from ravines.
Then you need to read some awsome stuff on doglinks.co.nz
I rarely find myself down ravines, but there are plenty of other situations a dog could rescue me from –- when I'm trapped at a party by a bore attempting to tell me about his software package, for example, or when I am minutes away from a deadline and nothing has been written. However, in these matters my dog has been useless.I bet'cha he's been useful in de-stressing you when you do have that last minute deadline... he's probably saved your sanity a few times!
Similarly, I'm unconvinced by tales of canine intelligence - after decades of admiring the labyrinthine slyness of cats, I've been stunned by the uncomplicated stupidity of dogs.You have the wrong breed!
But while dogs are dumb, they're also furry beacons of pure love. My dog doesn't cramp my style - although this is possibly because I have no style to cramp - and I feel extraordinarily lucky to to forge a reciprocated emotional connection with a member of another species. Despite society's condemnation, I will carry my poo bag with pride. And so you should?!
Linley Boniface is a Wellington-based freelance writer.Thanks Linley for a well written piece on Dog. We need to read good life stories about our best friend.