Sunday, June 12, 2011

In the dog house

Is it me or has dog-owning etiquette changed since I were a wee nipper?

Through work, I am fairly often required to visit people in their homes. Many of them own dogs or cats. It is more or less a given that a dog will bark manically on my arrival. Fairly often, a dog will also jump all over me. On more than one occasion, a cat has climbed all over me and put holes in my clothes. On one occasion, a dog persistently jumped on me for about half an hour and eventually knocked my hot tea down my lap.

The final act did result in an apology. But in general, I feel like I'm undergoing some sort of test. I feel as if the houseowner is saying: "Can you cope with this animal being menacing and invading your personal space? No? well, you're not really worth my time."

Now, you could say such unacceptable pet behaviour is a result of territory being invaded by a stranger. But the pattern is repeated in public spaces. How often will a dog owner shout across a field, as the beast races at you teeth bared, 'It's alright he's friendly!' Or, 'You don't mind dogs, do you?' Or else simply look at you with eyebrows raised as if to say: "Can you take it? Huh? Can ya?"

Actually, it's not alright. And if I do mind a dog charging me it's not because I am some sort of narrow-minded, killjoy bigot. And if I do apply a swift kick to the mutt who jumps on me, I would say I am perfectly within my rights.

I'm sure things were not always thus. I'm sure pet-owners used to be ashamed of this sort of behaviour. In the good old days when pets were less pampered and left to poo on the street and all that......