Monday, March 12, 2012

On Dogs (or more specifically) Dog Owners

My parents are victims of ongoing, torturous, covert-operative styled psychological warfare.

Let me provide a little background. My parents have lived on the same corner of their neighborhood for thirty-five years. Their next-door-neighbor has been there even longer. The Neighbors are lovely, elderly, and unfortunately sickly people. Their newly turned adult adopted-from-foster-care son isn't elderly, sickly, nor particularly lovely. He used to be. As a kid, he was full of hope and promise. He just wanted to be loved and accepted. Now, he's quite the uncaring, insensitive, impolite, chip-on-his-shoulder punkhead.

Punkhead is the owner of a dog that he does not exercise responsibility for. He doesn't clean up after it, show it attention, or see to it that it isn't a neighborhood terrorist engaging in psychological warfare operations. Every night, and I do mean every night, the dog barks. And barks. And barks. And barks. Where it barks is on the other side of the "tweener" fence of the property, and a stone's toss from my parents' bedroom window.

So my parents are sleep deprived and at the end of their extremely lenient rope. Fed up with "please" and "thank you" falling on the Punkhead's deaf ears, my dad warned the Neighbors that he was going to report Punkhead to Animal Control: a decision that I guarantee was not made lightly.

Now my parents are animal people (my dad more so than my mom, but animal people nonetheless) and they have always been okay with pets, provided that owners of said pets actually care for their animals. Cats shouldn't be left to wander the outside world so that they "do their business" in my mother's rose beds. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but think about it. Cats are fastidious creatures. When left to their own devices, they don't poo where they eat. They poo in my mother's rose beds. This is not pleasant for my mother, who by the way is legally blind, when she is weeding. It's rude, people. It's like leaving behind your child's used diaper. Keep your cat indoors and off the streets so they don't get hit by cars or get carried off by owls. And for heaven's sake, keep your cats from using the entire world as their litter box. It's not cute. It's rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. Take responsibility for your animal.

The cat rant over. Back to the dogs.

Dogs may be part of the family, and may even be a replacement for children in the lives of some. I get it. I do. We've owned dogs during my entire childhood. Not just one dog, multiple dogs. There are some things I need to point out however. Dogs are not humans. They do not possess human traits or emotions. Treating them like they do is unfair to dogs. They do not belong in grocery stores, department stores, shopping malls, or bookstores while on the family shopping spree. Not only is it illegal (it is at least a misdemeanor violation of the health code that any police officer worth his badge will write a ticket for), it's potentially hazardous for your pocket book. This world is sue-happy. You have no control over the situation and you have no idea how strangers will react to your dog, or how your dog, who has a pack animal instinct, will react to strangers. If your dog bites someone, or causes them any emotional trauma, you are liable. You can be sued and Animal Control and the prosecuting judge can insist that your animal must have a muzzle and must be confined. Your home-owner's or renter's insurance premiums can and will increase if it becomes known that your dog bit someone. Some insurance companies will even drop you altogether. Your dog can stay at home unattended for two hours. Do not bring it shopping with you. I'm not being mean, you're being rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.

If you take a dog for a walk, do not let it poo without cleaning it up. Do not let it whiz on other people's property. I hark back to leaving a dirty diaper behind. My mother is blind, people. She can't see it and she'll step in it. Even urine is disgusting. If one dog does it, all the other dogs have to do it too. Twenty dogs in an afternoon can make a fence post smell like a pound. One afternoon. Let me reiterate, it's not cute, it's disgusting. Take responsibility for your animal.

Now, before I get even further off topic, barking. Incessant barking is a nuisance and more than likely is a gross violation of your city's ordinances and/or your HOA rules and regs, and not to mention, is rude, crude and socially unacceptable. It is also a behavior that has a simple fix. A little training goes a long way to ensure that your animal isn't being a terrorist to your next door neighbors. They make non-lethal bark collars now, which is a good investment for a bark-prone breed. If you check with your local kennel club or even a place like PetSmart, they will help you find an inexpensive CGC (Canine Good Citizens) trainer and tester in your area, which can help keep your animal healthy, happy, and your insurance premiums low. If you're going to have a dog, take and stick to this pledge. If you're going to let your child have a pet, teach him responsibility for his animal. If you don't think you'll be able to follow these rules, don't get a pet!

Come on, we all have to share this planet. Do not think that the rest of us want to deal with your undisciplined creature simply because you think it's furry and cute. I promise you, I will not be as lenient as my parents have been. I will sick my hawk on your dog if my mother steps in poo or whiz.

Okay, that might be harsh. But you've been warned. Ain't no one gonna do my momma that'a'way.

Seriously though, visit the AKC website and investigate the breed of your dog. Find an animal that will be best suited for your situation. A well-informed pet owner will ensure that the pet is healthy and happy and valued. Invest in your pet's life and future and get CGC certification. I guarantee you will be happier for the effort.

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