Dogs and other hairy creatures
“Let go,” I yelled. “Let go you stupid dog.”
Dogs are stupid; this one, who has its teeth firmly planted in the flesh of my arse, is especially stupid. What other creature would hurdle a fence at the mere sight of me passing, bark insistently as I ran for cover, yet persistently chase me as if I still posed a threat to its well-being, then latch on to my delicate cheeks in spite of it’s already established success at scaring the shit out of me.
I still,bear the mental and physical scars of that brief encounter with the neighbours canine. Although I’m not reminded of the teeth marks on a daily basis since they are beyond my view, I am constantly reminded of the experience each time a dog of any description enters my field of view; or me it’s.
This dispassionate dislike for dogs of all kinds may seem unreasonable for some of you but this is the way of youth inspired trauma. Generalisations about the cause of pain and fear become fixed in our psych. We associate the truth of one event with possibilities. We affiliate an experience with objects, circumstances and experiences that might or might not have any relation to the initial mind changing event.
I now have a disproportionate dislike for all dogs. It’s not that I hate them. It’s more of a self-preservation thing. As someone once wrote: “Once bitten; twice shy”. Except I’ve extended my shyness to infinity in time, place and dogs in general.
Unfortunately, dogs seem to sense this. So do their owners.
I am reminded of Peter Sellers’ famous scene in The Pink Panther when he asks the hotel attendant if his dog bites.
“Non monsieur, “ the hotelier responded.
Following this reassurance, the dog immediately bit Inspector Clouseau on the had as he learnt down to pat the dog.
“I thought your dog didn’t bite,” the inspector questioned.
“It’s not my dog,” replied the hotelier blandly.
My response to this scene was blatant, sweat-inducing fear, while the remainder of the theatre rolled in the aisles in historical laughter.
My life is filled with such unnerving Clouseau moments. I walk the country paths with a heavy stick. I fear dogs more than I fear snakes, spider, falling branches, precipitous cliffs and Gruffalos. I would never dream of entering a yard without skirting the perimeter for evidence of canine activity. Those who know me and my paranoia shepherd their beasts into safe quarters when I visit, along with small children, of which I have an almost equal dislike.
But of late I have noticed a distinct change in attitude regarding dog ownership that has increased my anxiety somewhat. Firstly, dog owners have become less conducive to the understanding that not everyone enjoys the company of their pet. They address their dog in a matter fitting an university undergraduate and proceed to explain that Its me, not the pooch at fault her.
“Oh, poor poochie-whoochie. Is the bad man cross with you? It’s OK. I’ll protect you”.
This gobbled-gook is accompanied with a bitter look from both dog and keeper (a dichotomy I find indistinguishable) that would strip bark from a tree.
“Could you put your dog on its lead, sir?” I request in a polite but quivering voice.
“What are you? Some sort of dog Nazi? You can’t tell,me what to do. My dog doesn’t need a lead; you do, you moron”, all of which reminds me that referring to Nazis is an instant discussion end, unbeknown to me his dog has been excluded form council bylaws, and he considers his poochie-whoochie more intelligent than I. Not a good start to a resolution. I have become accustomed to bidding farewell to dog and owner and finding another path.
Then there’s the European trend of dogs in restaurants and other eating places. I first came across this abominable practise in France. I was sitting next to a woman in a cafe when I noticed she seemed to be storing food off her plate in a basket by her side. At first I thought she might have brought her own doggy bag until a furry head protruded from said basket and scoffed the morsels from the delicate fingers of its owner. To my utter disgust, the woman then patted the dog and let it lick her fingers. At that point I began to gag. Then she licked her fingers seemingly to finish the job the dog had started, then continued with her meal. At that point my eyes began to water and the partly digested meal I had enjoyed to this point began to move up my oesophagus for rumination and projection. I rushed to the door and made it to the pavement in time to expel peas and carrots onto the shoes of innocent passers.
In good faith, I’m across guide dogs. Well trained, obedient and fastened to the end of a hefty harness. I’m also aware of hearing dogs. That also sounds reasonable. Not only are these dogs carrying out a viable service to the owner, it is required that I do not, in any circumstances, disturb the dog at work. On the other hand, there is a fleet of furry misfits that are loosely tagged ‘carer dogs”. Apparently this collection of half-breeds serve the function of providing company, companionship, counselling, therapy and a scratching post for a variety of individuals who have been deemed to need such friendship.
I have no objection to any of this. If a person prefers the company of a dog over a human, all well and good. My great grand daughter prefers the company of a snail over that of her mother. In a solitary moment I’ll watch a goldfish swim in never ending circles. I have a distant cousin who prefers the company of sheep, although his motives are tenuous.
Unfortunately, instead of leaving their devoted psycho-analyst behind when they go shopping, flying, eating, visiting friends, even attending funerals and weddings, they drag the beast along with them, often to the surprise and disgust of the other attendees.
I can understand my grand daughter taking her snail for Show-and -Tell at school every other Tuesday but really!
I could go on. I could mention poop bags, jackets for cold days, panting and dribbling, mobile wash rooms, the smell of pet food, pissing on my lawn, the smell of wet fur, dog fart, bad breath, ticks, fleas, sleeping with the owner, hair deposits, late night barking, early morning walkies, dog getting, leg humping, shoe chewing, worming, and, worst of all, humping in public.
Such a distasteful display of primitive behaviour can only be matched by the dog owner who is not only will to abide by all this but actually shows delight in the observance of it all.
Well, excuse me for living in another world, where ‘mans best friend’ is his worst enemy, where freedom to roam is reserved for humans and invertebrates, and nothing wakes me but the chorus of songbirds and my need to have a piss.