Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Some Pup Owners Belong in the Doghouse


Our town is going to the dogs, and you know who is responsible?

Not the developers. They’re leveling historic slums to build luxury slums of the future.

Not the folks in charge of our neglected local infrastructure. They’ve been letting the mold grow in our schools because … well, something has to hold the crumbling bricks together.

It’s the dog owners. You rotten, self-righteous lovers of furry beasts that retrieve old tennis balls, you.

I regularly tool around the internet in search of local tidbits I can't find in my hometown newspaper, such as sports scores of high schools actually located within city limits, and those jaunts have shown me that our residents love, love, LOVE dogs. They just have utter contempt for others who disagree with how they chose to raise Rover.

My local social media feeds are often packed tighter than a peanut butter-filled Kong with pleas for help finding missing dogs. The responses are usually heartwarming: people volunteering for searches, hopeful reports of a spotting of Spot, concerned requests for updates, and – more often than not -- a final happy photo of a smiling owner reunited with the missing canine.

Then comes … the judgment.

In one recent case, a relieved puppy owner thanked everyone for the help in locating Fido. Then he mentioned his next step would be outfitting his yard with an “invisible” underground electric fence to contain his pet.

One person admonished him because the “shock” the dog receives when it gets too near to the fence is painful and cruel -- get a real fence, you horrible human!

Another warned that coyotes can jump many physical fences and hawks can swoop in to snatch up smaller pooches – so make sure to put a roof on it, you sorry so-so! 

Then came the cries against anyone who leaves his best bud alone, unsupervised and outdoors, for even a moment – get a baby carrier and strap that pup to your chest at all times, you neglectful beast!

Then it got weird.

A new discussion started later about people bringing their dogs with them into public buildings like supermarkets, hardware stores and Victoria’s Secret. I guess if you are, as national surveys show, an average American dog owner who shells out some $1,200 to $1,700 annually on your pet, you are going want little Fluffy to try on that bustier before you buy it for her.

But nothing gets owners’ hackles up more than discussing leashes, or more to the point -- dogs without them in parks and on wooded trails. Our town, of course, has leash laws but, as with many on the books, they are rarely enforced because when is a police officer roaming the woods let alone your neighborhood? So, the conversation usually goes like this:

“Dogs need to run and explore and exercise!”

“Obey the flippin’ rules, scofflaw!”

“But my dog is well-behaved and friendly!”

“Well, my child is deathly allergic to dogs!”

“Bring a spray bottle filled with diluted vinegar to fend off a loose canine!”

“My child is deathly allergic to dogs AND vinegar!”

“Go to the public dog park if you want your dog off-leash.”

“It’s on the opposite end of town, and it’s lame! Dogs needs trees to water and water to splash in!”

“Relax! When on those hiking trails, use a long retractable long leash! It gives doggie room to roam and you still control him!”

“YOU’LL LOSE A FINGER USING THOSE RETRACTABLE LEASHES!!”

“THEY ARE MY FINGERS, PAL! I’LL LOSE AS MANY AS I DAMN-WELL PLEASE!!!”

As a dog owner myself, I try to reserve judgment of my fellow Friends of the Flea Bait for worst-case scenarios only. Illegal breeders. Those who practice or allow true physical harm or neglect. And, most regularly, you morons who give the rest of us a bad name by not picking up after your pooch goes potty. Now that’s an online conversation I’ll always step into.


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