5 Tips for Dog Owners: How to make friends in the neighborhood
As I promised in my good neighbor article, I have a bit of an addendum to add when it comes to that dog across the fence. The simple fact is, not everyone is as adoring of canines as are those who choose to bring one into their homes. Those of us not a fan of fleas and hair upon our clothes frequently hold dogs in considerably lower esteem than those who lavish them with love. However, these differences aside, there are ways that the non-dog-people and the dog-people can live together in perfect harmony. For dog-people, what they demand is easy enough to understand. You want us non-dog-people to live and let live and all that rot. You want us to be sympathetic and forgiving when your dog destroys our gardens and annihilates our lawn. You don't want us to call the pound every time we get woken up. We get it, and we really, really try. But, I think you may not realize how much effort we put into making room in our lives for that large animal that you own. So, out of mutual understanding, I think it's important that the desires on non-dog-owners be made perfectly clear so that dog-owners can put as much effort into our neighborly relationship as we non-doggie-people do. So, to follow are some ideas that you might consider for awhile:
1. Join Reality.
That's right, the first tip for dog owners is to join reality. Your dog is NOT a person no matter how many times you let him lick you on the mouth. You may think it's sweet, but he was licking his butt only two minutes ago. I am reasonably certain that were I nimble enough to do the latter part, my wife would, without question, be unwilling to let me do the former no matter what I said or how many flowers I had bought. I suspect she's not alone. That's just not what non-dog-people do. So, just because you are willing to French kiss that hound of yours does not imbue him with humanity. It's gross, I'll give you that, but not enough to anthropomorphize his personhood into reality. It's a dog. Sorry to be the one to point it out, but, well, it's true. I realize this is not popular to point out, but if we are to go any further down this list, this particular reality has to be clearly understood.
2. Your Pit Bulls and Rottweiler’s aren’t “Really Sweet.”
If I had a dollar for every time a Pit Bull or Rottweiler owner told me how their dog was the sweetest animal in the world I'd be rich. Well, ok, that's a lie, but I'd have like twenty bucks and could buy myself a pizza or something at least. The point is, no, they are not sweet. Maybe it's sweet to you because you feed it every day, but it's not sweet to any of the rest of us. I see news stories all the time about Pit Bull attacks. All the time, like at least every other month, probably more. And those are just the ones that make the news in my medium-sized town. The L.A SPCA website had Pit Bulls listed as the perpetrators in 21% of all dog attacks total, and if you do the math on Dogbitelaw.com you'll see that they have Pits and Rotts responsible for 83.3% of deaths; DBRF they call them (dog bite related fatalities). So you can swear up and down that your Pit Bull and Rotties are sweet if you would like; you can even point out that all dogs can bite you if they want, but the truth is I never see golden retriever attacks, beagle bites or Labrador related deaths on TV. Just Pit Bulls and the occasional nasty Rott. Sorry to offend you with the facts, but, again, please at least accept the reality.
3. Bring Rover Inside at Night
Ok, I touched on this in my Top 10 Ways to be a Good Neighbor article, so I won't beat this one to death. However, I do want to point it out briefly once again. People tell me they don't hear their dogs when they bark at night. I get that. Totally. You are used to your beloved dog and don't hear him barking anymore. I completely understand. The thing is: I STILL HEAR THAT F-ING THING. So, to repeat what I said in that other blog, bring your sweet angel puppy inside. Hopefully you have thick walls and I won't hear him barking from beside your bed. Then we'll both be happy. You can sleep, since you don't hear him, and I can sleep because his noise will be filtered out by your house. Now everyone is happy. Hurray!
4. Do Something with All That Poo
This particular issue seemed best address in verse:
Dog Poo Poetry - by Shadesbreath
I know that poop is natural
Dropping from your dog's behind
But I think it's rather rude of you
To assume that I don't mind.
You take your dog out for a walk
Each morning when I'm gone
He sniffs about my yard a bit
Then drops a steamer on my lawn.
I'll see this thing tomorrow
Lying frosted in the dew,
I'll see it out my window
And think hateful thoughts at you.
And the stench that blows from your back yard,
The one that burns my nose,
Why don't you clean your dog run out
With some water and a hose.
Just once I'd like to barbeque
Without the scent of your dog's ass,
And I'd like get my paper
When it's safe to walk upon the grass.
I know you love your doggy,
You even let him lick your face
But I'm really getting sick of him
Stinking up my place.
I realize I'm a horrible poet, but I think my point is made. Moving on.
5. The Sidewalk Belongs to the Person WITHOUT a Pet
This is the simplest of them all. In the name of getting along, old Thomas Jefferson wrote about these things called our "unalienable rights." Essentially, he defined how all men (ultimately taken to mean humans) were created equal. I totally agree with this. However, when we were all created, none of us were created tethered to a dog. It was just us that popped out of our mother's womb. That's it. No animals at all. Just us.
So, given that equality and mutual respect, when I am walking down the street from one direction, and you are coming from the other end with your dog, You step off the sidewalk instead of making me.
Oh, I totally realize that you know your dog is sweet as pie and has never bitten anyone, but I don't know that at all. The odds are we are strangers and I don't know you in the least. If I don't know you, then I clearly won't know your dog. Nor will it know me. Now, since you are the one who has chosen to excercise your right to bring a carnivorous animal, decendent of wolves, into your daily excercise routine, then it should be you who steps aside.
You may feel that I could step aside just as easily as you, and you are right, I could. But remember, you are the one who changed the balance of our equality. We were born, you and I, exactly the same. Now you have added a toothy predator on a string into the mix. Since you changed the balance of equality that we used to have, you should be the one to move.
So there you have it. Five things dog owners should know if they want to put some effort into keeping peace around the neighborhood like we non-dog-people do. I suppose for many pet lovers this list probably just puts them off. They'd rather cluster, tribe-like with other dog owners and point out how uncompassionate non-dog people are. But that's not really true. Non-dog owners are just too polite to say this stuff out loud. They see dog-people oogling and Frenching their dogs and recognize the genuine love that those people have for that animal of theirs. Many non-dog-owners even respect that relationship. But enough's enough. Someone has to speak out for the silent intimidated ones (dog owners can be more vicious than their mutts). Non-pet people have rights too. People who don't like being bitten or barked at have feelings that deserve respect beyond a passing nod. People who don't like being slobbered on, jumped on, humped on, shed on or shat upon are still good people down at heart. I admit we might be picky when it comes to those kinds of things, but we are still nice if you give us half a chance. Remember, people are people first. In fact, according to my science class back in high school, people were actually people before dogs were. Maybe dog owners can cut us old school people some slack and rein old Rover in. Thanks.
(In the name of fairness, I have a cat hub brewing too.)
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