When I began reading Farhad Manjoo’s “No, I Don’t Want to Pet Your Dog” I was expecting to hate it…but something surprising happened. Despite being an all-around animal-lover and owner of the world’s cutest dog, I realized that I don’t really want to pet your dog either (in the most general of terms). Here’s what Manjoo had to say:
“Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices. Even at the park and other places where dogs belong, they’ve been given free rein. Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs.”
A few weeks ago the obedience class I’d been taking with my dog ended, and we had to take the Canine Good Citizen’s Test. The test demands that dogs sit politely at your side while being approached by strangers, that they can mingle with a crowd without freaking out, that they follow basic commands without being asked multiple times, and can greet a new neutral dog politely (among a few other things). Maybelle passed everything except for the neutral dog test, which I knew would happen. Most dogs can’t handle even the most basic of these tasks — like not jumping all over people when they meet them. This drives me nutty!
The other day I was walking my dog and I noticed that up the street a woman was in her front yard with her dog. I crossed the street. She was gardening, and therefore didn’t see me coming. So, of course, the dog ran across the street and charged at us. I don’t think she even noticed. Neither I, nor Maybelle, have a lot of patience for being approached by unruly dogs. I yelled at it while she snapped and the dog went running back to its yard…but this could have ended very badly.
Maybelle could have bitten the dog’s ear off or something and guess who would not be at fault… Us. If your dog is off-leash and out of control and gets hurt, you are at fault. Even if I had a vicious Rottweiler and you have a tiny Chihuahua, when my dog eats yours it will be your fault if it’s off-leash.
Listen people, if you’re going to bring your dog out into the non-dog world, it better be Lassie-level polite. I take Maybelle a lot of places. This winter I took her to “The Lake House” for a weekend with my friends. I take her to visit my family. Once in a while I pop into a pet store with her. But I don’t bring my dog to the grocery store, and neither should you. I leave her at home when it’s time to eat, and so should you. If I can’t have peanuts on a plane, then you shouldn’t be able to keep your non-service dog on your lap. And if you’re going to bring your dog to someone’s house — even if that person is a dog lover — it better have good house manners, and not jump on the furniture. (For some reason, even though I allow my dog on the furniture it bothers me when someone’s dog comes running into my house and jumps all over the furniture. Maybelle waits for permission and if you tell her “no” she gets it.)
Manjoo goes on to compare dogs to his two-year-old, which is a pretty close comparison. I don’t want to be mauled by a stranger’s dog, and I don’t want to be spit up on by your kid. I don’t want my movie ruined by a crying baby or a yapping dog. And if I’m at the park and either your dog o your kid comes running at me, don’t be surprised when both my dog and I freak out!