Monday, April 21, 2008

The Trouble With Dogs

My friend Nina posted about the problem of dogs in cities on her blog last week, and since this is a major peeve of mine, I thought I'd post my reply to her here and expand on it, for lack of anything better to post today.

First, there is the problem of taking dogs out to public places, especially crowded places. With the exception of service animals, dogs are supposed to be banned from events on the Capitol Square, as well as other area events like 4th of July, but there are still people who refuse to leave Fido at home where he belongs. This is a safety issue for both the dog and other people. Kids especially don't know not to approach strange dogs, and even dogs that don't usually bite can become easily stressed in noisy, crowded situations. They should be kept at home where they belong.

Second, are the dogs at our apartment complex. When we first moved in here, it was cats only, and all was good. The property was clean and well-kept. There used to be luscious thick grass right up to the stoop of both the south and north side entrances of our building, and you could sit outside on a summer evening and enjoy the quiet.

Since many dog owners are too lazy to take their dogs further than the back door, even in decent weather, this is no longer true. It doesn't take a botany major to figure out what happens when a dozen or more dogs all do their business in one small area! They have almost completely killed the grass outside both side entrances of our building. Try explaining that to management or the loser dog owners, though. We now have no grass until about six feet out from the stoop, and the dirt patch expands every year. VERY annoying! They have tried reseeding it a couple of times, but since you can’t pound sense into the stupid dog owners’’s been a waste of time, effort and money. And even where there is grass you can no longer enjoy it for fear of what you might sit/step in, not to mention the smell.

Living on the edge of the city and quite near to the Arboretum, we also used to see more wildlife--raccoons, fox, hedgehogs, rabbits, wild turkeys--even signs of deer and coyote. Now, only the noisy squirrels remain.

Then, of course, there are those owners who do not pick up after Fido as they are supposed to. You should have seen the disgusting mess uncovered by the melted snows. Yuck! Management sent a nasty warning letter out about that and flat out told dog owners that if they didn't start picking up after their dogs, they would lose the privilege of having them. Now if they could just catch the bad ones in the act! Someone's dog has also gone in the middle of the wheelchair ramp and in the hallway during the past three weeks and, of course, the owner didn't clean it up either time. A few of us told management, but unless you actually see who did it...not much you can do, other than make everyone get rid of their dogs.

Not that that would break my heart, but it certainly wouldn't be fair to the few who actually walk and take care of their dogs as they should. People not picking up after their dogs can be a problem particularly for someone in a wheelchair. Luckily, the mess on the ramp a few weeks ago was right in the middle, so the wheels didn’t track poo into the building, but it isn’t fun trying to push a chair up a ramp and not step in anything at the same time.

There is also the barking issue. It grates on one's nerves listening to someone's dog bark all the freakin' time -- not to mention how much sleep I've lost due to such a beast. I know some people are going to say that's what dogs do: they bark -- however, a properly trained dog will not bark 24/7.

Dogs, like humans, need to exercise their brains and bodies, and obedience training is one way to accomplish that. All too often, though, the owner needs more training than the dog. Dogs need to know that you are the one in charge, not them, and they need consistency in both their lives and their training. They need at least one hour of pant-inducing exercise every day. That means getting your lazy ass up off the couch and taking your pet outside. Proper exercise and training makes for a happy dog, and a happy dog doesn't bark, whine and howl all day. Not only will the dog be happier, but so will your neighbors.

Personally, though, I wish more apartment complexes would start banning dogs, instead of changing policies to allow them. And if they are going to allow them, they should only be allowed on the ground floor so as not to disturb people living under them, and owners should provide proof of obedience training. Just my inconvenienced opinion.

ETA: Just for the record, I don't dislike dogs, I simply don't believe they belong in apartments or at crowded public events.


Nina said...

Very true indeed. A happy dog doesn't feel the need to bark all the time. Personally I've come to believe that the happiest dogs around are working dogs. Sheepdogs, service dogs, police dogs and such. They're being valued more as an equal and a companion more than a pet. And of course, they do a great job and should be valued for this. Many pet dogs are also valuable as company but they shouldn't be kept in tiny apartments all day long. I'm kinda curious if the owners of barking dogs don't go barking mad from all the barking (excuse the bad pun...). I know I would. I love dogs and would never consider keeping a big dog in a tiny apartment or even a moderate sized one. Not all day. But the times are changing. There's a suggestion to change the law so that no dog or cat should be left alone for more than three hours. That's interesting. I wonder if that will pass and if so, how will it be obeyed...

Jana said...

Which is why Me and Libs will never live in an apartment. Well, that and the fact that apartment living would drive me seriously nuts. I'm too claustrophobic to live with people that close to me. Hearing their music tastes, listening to their lovers quarrels or outright yelling matches. I get annoyed enough whenever I have neighbors across the street, much less on top of, beneath an on either side of me! LOL

Heather said...

Jana~ Believe me, if I could afford a house, that's where I'd be. It's amazing how many people think they live in a sound-proof bubble.

Nina~ "There's a suggestion to change the law so that no dog or cat should be left alone for more than three hours."

Seriously?? I wonder how they would inforce such a law?