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The right to keep dogs


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Dear Doggers,

 

I happened upon a typical Northern Virginia apartment rental adl. The $1000 a month renter can have one (25 pound) dog, must pay between 35 and 200$ extra rent and provide an (unspecified) non-refundable pet deposit.

 

The Dog Fancy and its tool the AKC, was and is devoted to the very rich who have no trouble keeping or transporting their dogs. Since, for generations, the Fancy sucked up all the air in the American dogroom, their indifference to ordinary folk meant that nobody lobbied lawmakers to advocate for sensible dog ownership policies. Nobody.

 

Unlike silly old France, Americans can't take mannerly dogs on trains or buses or into cafes. Unlike most of europe, our dogs are viewed legislatively as public nuisances if not a threat to life and safety.

 

The American lower middle class and working poor must deal with onerous, expensive and trivial restrictions that make it far more difficult for them to keep the dogs they love.

 

A few figures. There are 25 million latino voters 16 million African-American, 5 million financial services employees, 3 million farmers, 1.5 million auto industry workers, 400,000 doctors, and ½ million LGBT.

 

Thirty-nine percent of American households own a dog. Assuming 2 eligible voters per household and 50% participation, that works out to 110 million voters with a dog. Discounting ,say, 30 million who wish they didn't. leaves 80 million Americans who care about their dog and would like to have better access and fewer nonrefundable deposits.

 

Yet, they have no political power – none

 

We dog owners have no NRA, no American Medical Assn, no US Chamber of Commerce, no Farm Bureau, no NAACP, no AARP

 

The only dog organization promising to better the lot of American dogs and American dog owners is the Goddamned American Kennel Club which has done zip shit. Must have been too busy grooming.

 

Did Seamus ride the Romney roof in vain?

 

 

 

Donald McCaig

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Unlike silly old France, Americans can't take mannerly dogs on trains or buses or into cafes. Unlike most of europe, our dogs are viewed legislatively as public nuisances if not a threat to life and safety.

 

The problem is, how do you differentiate between dogs that are a public nuisance to dogs that are just fine?

 

My family works at a variety of farmers markets and I fill in from time to time as needed. I was working one yesterday and saw several dogs come out with their owners. A good third of them should have been nowhere near the market. One person kept pulling her puppy away from little kids (that were all over the place) warning that he may bite. One dog was obviously incredibly uncomfortable and almost jumping out of its skin. One owner kept repeating commands that her dog happily ignored while she was shopping.

 

Personally I really don't want these dogs allowed more public access. Most people love their dogs, but don't understand them, don't train them and ask far more of them then they are capable of sometimes.

 

The American lower middle class and working poor must deal with onerous, expensive and trivial restrictions that make it far more difficult for them to keep the dogs they love.

 

Like what? I am very much fall into the working poor class right now and am a bit puzzled as to how you reached this conclusion. My family has always been on the poor side and always had dogs. Most people who really want their dogs are able to a way to keep them. People who give them up saying things like "moving and can't take the dog along" are often just not committed in the first place.

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There are great cultural differences. In Europe where dogs in public are common, most dogs are manerly and moreover, strangers do NOT feel the need to rush up and pet/hug your dog as I so often see in the States. These actions (the hugging etc) often lead to dog bites.

 

And the vast majority of dogs I see in public are NOT manerly in the States, lunging at ppl, jumping up on everyone, pulling the owners and ignoring commands.

 

I am often getting comments on how well behaved my dogs are when I take them in public (often ppl wishing their kids were as manerly).

 

I'm not sure if it would matter if dogs were more welcomed would they be better behaved? or if they were better behaved would they be more welcomed?

 

I've been to motels where I've walked by rooms where dogs are left loose and are tugging at the curtains (with no owner in sight) and who knows what other damage is being done inside the room.

 

And I've known people whose dogs have done major damage to apartments and they just shrug it off ,not realizing that such behaviour from their dogs may make it impossible for the responsible owner to rent in the future.

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I think Pam has hit on something very important. The trouble with many average American dog owners, is that they are basically CLUELESS. And so are their dogs.

 

I've been to the UK twice, and I saw dogs virtually everywhere. On trains, on buses, in pubs, walking with their owners in town - they also have public foot paths that wander through pastures and grazing land, and dogs are welcome out there, even with livestock at every hand.

 

The difference that I saw, however, was just as Pam noted: the dogs were mannerly, polite and in control and so were their owners. Nor did I see anybody swarming to pet people's dogs - in fact, I was the oddball American when I approached a lady walking her two border collies around the grounds of a historical estate, because I missed my dogs back home. :P Dogs and Brits alike were very pleasant to be around. Unlike what we Americans see if we go to just about any dog park.

 

I agree that America could stand to lighten up about dogs sharing its public spaces. But I also agree there is a very large and difficult-to-ignore segment of the dog owning population who simply canNOT keep Fluffy from pissing on things, digging up things, chasing things or barking at things. I don't know if it's a cultural difference, that dogs are just so embedded in English/Scots life that having or seeing a dog is no big deal, or if many urban Americans are so removed from all things natural that managing or approaching dogs is practically a foreign language that too many people don't learn.

 

Circling back around to what I suspect was Mr. McCaig's real point, however, I honestly have no idea why dog owners do not have a stronger voice. The voices we do hear purporting to speak for animals don't have an ounce of practical common sense about them, (*coughAKCcoughHSUScough*) and meanwhile, the practical, commonsense-ical sides of dog ownership are without a champion, without a national lobby, without the clout we really should have.

 

Where is the canine version of the NRA, anyhow? We need our own Wayne Pierre ...

 

~ Gloria

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Yes, I rent and I've paid $35/month pet rent for the last 6.5 years. Plus aprox. $400 deposit. My rent is about 40% higher than the quote above as well. Not a big deal.

 

Certain countries in Europe are more permissive when it comes to allowing dogs in public transportation and terraces outside restaurants. Not everywhere in Europe is like that.

 

Plus there are not very many dogs you encounter on European city streets - people rarely have more than one dog, many times due to space restrictions in an urban environment. I was shocked to see how many American dog lovers have multiple dogs. I've met a few people who had two dogs when I was growing up in Romania, but those were the exceptions. My husband actually had two dogs when I first met him and it was a bit strange, but I didn't mind it :) Here it's almost the norm to have more than one dog.

 

Oh, and American dog owners are probably a lot more knowledgeable than European ones, I don't agree with Pam's statement saying that Europeans are more educated in dog manners. But it's true that European dogs seem to be less hyper than American ones.

 

Dogs are not raised to have such a high toy/ball drive and are a lot mellower in general.

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As a European, having grown up and lived in the Netherlands till I was 27, since then living in Iceland (turned 43 last saturday) I really enjoy the way this is compared by you US citizens, the US versus "Europe".

 

You don´t seem to have any idea of the cultural diversity between the different European countries, also where pet culture is concerned.

 

Iceland and the Netherlands are both countries in northern Europe, and general culture is very similar, but the pet culture is quite different, the dutch being far more tolerant of dogs in the public space than the Icelanders. Also rules about keeping dogs, especially in rented homes are more restrictive here.

 

A lot of Icelanders like to say "dogs belong in the country side", if I hear that annoying cliche I usually answer; "true if you raise your dog as if you live on a farm"...

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As a European, having grown up and lived in the Netherlands till I was 27, since then living in Iceland (turned 43 last saturday) I really enjoy the way this is compared by you US citizens, the US versus "Europe".

 

You don´t seem to have any idea of the cultural diversity between the different European countries, also where pet culture is concerned.

 

Before you get too high up on your horse there, Anda is Romanian.

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As someone who has actually had to search for housing wtih multiple dogs, I agree with Donald that most, at least around my area, have a no pets, or a weight maximum, clause. However, being someone who is committed to my dogs, I have been able to find rental properties that allowed dogs, either with a higher security deposit, or with a monthly surcharge. It is not impossible, but it can be difficult. I make no judgments; property owners have a right to dictate requirements. However, on a personal level, I certainly appreciate those who do allow pets.

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As part of my job, I often get to go into rental properties post tenant and before new tenants move in. I have seen the before and after so can understand why some property owners would not want to rent to people with pets. The conditions that some people will leave a place when they move out is unbelievable. Most recently I had to go into the basement of a house that had been recently vacated. The stench was unreal. I thought the water heater was leaking as there was a huge puddle about 6 feet across on the floor. It wasn't the water heater, it was all dog urine.

 

It is sad that the responsible pet owners are held hostage by actions of the irresponsible ones but I can understand, having seen the monetary loss some folks have gone through in terms of repair and for the want of protecting a financial investment, the hesitance of landlords to rent to pet owners.

 

And for the record, I have seen children do equal damage in equal time (yes, urine as well)

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I understand the objection to gross generalizations, but I think most of the people here are relating their personal experiences, and when you read their posts, you see that they are talking about a specific country and not all of Europe (it's the same sort of things as someone making a comment about dog ownership in the US, when clearly dog ownership in different regions of this country is a reflection of the local culture and not the country as a whole). I've been to several European countries and the dog culture was different (IMO) in different localities (for me the extremes were probably Denmark vs. Italy, but of course my impressions were colored by the things I did and the places I went).

 

For example, in Europe, in general dogs do seem to be tolerated in places where dogs simply aren't allowed here (like public transportation, service dogs excepted). I think that's a fair statement.

 

J.

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I understand the objection to gross generalizations, but I think most of the people here are relating their personal experiences, and when you read their posts, you see that they are talking about a specific country and not all of Europe (it's the same sort of things as someone making a comment about dog ownership in the US, when clearly dog ownership in different regions of this country is a reflection of the local culture and not the country as a whole). I've been to several European countries and the dog culture was different (IMO) in different localities (for me the extremes were probably Denmark vs. Italy, but of course my impressions were colored by the things I did and the places I went).

 

For example, in Europe, in general dogs do seem to be tolerated in places where dogs simply aren't allowed here (like public transportation, service dogs excepted). I think that's a fair statement.

 

J.

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Back to Donald's point: I think there are a lot of dog/pet advocacy groups in this country, most united by one specific issue (breed-specific legislation, no kill, rescue, etc.). The question is how to create an umbrella group that could advocate for all the diverse needs of those smaller groups to make some real national-level changes, but I don't know how difficult it would be to do that.

 

Gun owners, for example, have some very basic requirements. They want to be able to own guns.

 

Dog owners have diverse needs based on what they perceive as most important to them, their breed, their specific dogs, etc. Not quite as cohesive a group.

 

Would creating a national organization and attempting to advocate for some very basic things work? Or would it be akin to herding cats?

 

J.

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For example, in Europe, in general dogs do seem to be tolerated in places where dogs simply aren't allowed here (like public transportation, service dogs excepted). I think that's a fair statement.

 

J.

I can live with that ;) , though Iceland is an exception , some rules here are pretty draconian. A good exemple is that when you have lived a couple of years in an apartment building with your dog, not causing any trouble, a newcomer in the building has the right to demand you get rid of the dog ... :blink:

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Several things that pop to mind.

First the Europe thing. Growing up in Germany dogs are everywhere. And yes, for the most part they are well behaved. But Germans are used to rules. There are dog schools on every corner. Actually less schools than clubs. Many are offering BH classes (similar to the CGC). Because we live so close together consideration of the other is a huge thing (not saying all are good at it but we are raised with the idea anyway) and it spills over to the dogs. Part of the temperament test in the SchH dogs (protection sport) is actually a traffic portion if the judge calls for it. Including bikes. Something my dog had never seen before. Buying, adopting, owning dogs is very regulated. Simply because it is allowed to take dogs so many places it requires much better ob. Plus, I am venturing out on a limb to say that Germans are sort of competitive. I am even going to say everyone wants to own the best behaved dog. Talk about generalizations right? :lol:

However, I also know of a big split between folks that live in the country vs folks that live in the city. Again, due to lifestyle and pure "use" of a dog, people certainly seem to exhibit different habits? Maybe the dogs living in the city have owners that feel more guilty about having to walk their dogs because they don't spend time with them living as much as some of the working farm dogs do? Not sure. All I know, it seems there is a law or regulation that REQUIRES an hour a day of walking your dog? Maybe someone that still lives there can weigh in on that. But my latest student that spend some time with me (and yes, he knows all the laws.... B) ) mentioned that.

And by what I observe, have heard, seen, big cities seem to be full of dogs that seem to live in perfect harmony with their folks and could probably be just as great in public here.

 

One thing that always strikes me as funny is the big split between what we seem to learn more and more about human animal relations and what it should mean to overall living with an animal. To clarify this, we know how many people choose to stay with an animal during catastrophic events like hurricanes. We know how valuable dogs are to people with a wide variety of issues (and in my personal opinion we don't know the half of it yet). We know how many jobs dogs can assist us with on the streets with police, military, search and rescue and the list goes on. We know the connections between animal abuse and serial killers. Or the relationship between animal abuse and human abuse. So why, why are these not the things that break down the barriers between the dog owning and non dog owning population?

And yes, I know too many dog owners that are anything but responsible and those are I suppose the ones that will always shed a bad light on the ones that try to do their best for their animals as well as the people that live in the world around them.

 

PS: the comment about the icelandic ponies just cracked me up! thanks for the chuckle!

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One thing that always strikes me as funny is the big split between what we seem to learn more and more about human animal relations and what it should mean to overall living with an animal. To clarify this, we know how many people choose to stay with an animal during catastrophic events like hurricanes. We know how valuable dogs are to people with a wide variety of issues (and in my personal opinion we don't know the half of it yet). We know how many jobs dogs can assist us with on the streets with police, military, search and rescue and the list goes on. We know the connections between animal abuse and serial killers. Or the relationship between animal abuse and human abuse. So why, why are these not the things that break down the barriers between the dog owning and non dog owning population?

And yes, I know too many dog owners that are anything but responsible and those are I suppose the ones that will always shed a bad light on the ones that try to do their best for their animals as well as the people that live in the world around them.

 

Like this:

German Shepherd Left On Mt. Bierstadt By Owner On Aug. 5; Rescued Aug. 13

I'm just horrified that this guy took his dog up a 14er for a hike and then, when he had trouble getting down, just left her there to die and told no one. Hell no, he shouldn't get his dog back. Talk about shedding a bad light on dog owners :angry: :angry: :angry:

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I've often wondered why no real estate developer, at least any I've heard about, hasn't set about making a dog person specific subdivision or two. It could be built around a meadow or two and advertise itself as a place for responsible dog owners to be able to live in harmony with other like minded folks. There are horse subdivisions, and communities built around private plane landing strips and growing prairie landscapes. A neighborhood just for dog folks sounds like it might have possibilities.

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I've never been to Europe or England, so I can't say how well-behaved the pet dogs are there. It does seem that in several of the countries in that area allow dogs in places that American cities don't.

 

Personally, I think that America is a ME society - If I want it, it's OK. For many people, Nike branded (or Gucci or LL Bean or whatever) shoes and clothing are "all that", they feel entitled to buy those instead of something less glamorous instead of paying the rent. And those people are "all about me" with their dogs, too.

 

They think that when the Jack Russell Terrier on "Fraser" whizzes on someone's leg it's funny. "So why are you so annoyed about little Ripper here whizzing on your bicycle?"

 

If they leave little Ripper tied in front of a cafe on a 20 foot flexi-lead, they don't care if he tries to eat you because he's never seen a skate board, hand-truck loaded with boxes or whatever. Obviously it was your fault because you scared my darling baby. Tie him so he's not a safety hazard? "Oh, NO! He feels so left out!" Leave him at home? "Oh NO! He might get lonely! Besides, he looks so cute in my Miata."

 

There seems to be that sense of entitlement that is blown way out of proportion. And then, Americans tend to see dogs as "little people in fur coats." I don't want a subservient dog! It's so demeaning!" Dog forbid they should ever say "no" to their precious pearl! Never mind that if you took the liberties with them that their dog takes with you, your kids, your dog, or your property - they would come unglued and start screaming for a cop.

 

If they can't get their dog to acquire the most rudimentary manners by stuffing it with treats, then it's my fault if I don't understand and "Accept him for what he is." Sorry, I don't buy it. If a dog intrudes on the personal space of either me of my dog, and can't show basic civilized behavior, then he's gonna have to take whatever I need to do to get him to stop. Doesn't fit with your training regime? Too bad. You should have thought of that before you allowed him to climb up the front of me.

 

No wonder American buses, restaurants, post offices don't allow dogs. I wouldn't want to be in one of those places with the majority of American dogs I meet in public either.

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In a thread a couple of years ago, I expressed surprise that people on the Boards, who are fairly dog-centered, seemed so anxious to think the worst of others' dogs and so unwilling to cut other dogs and owners any slack. Somebody (I think it was geonni -- correct me if I'm wrong, geonni) posted that she really didn't particularly like dogs in general, only her own dogs. That set me back on my heels. It was a possibility I had never really thought of, being someone who does like dogs in general. Since then, I've come to think it's probably true of a fair number of dog owners.

 

I don't think it's possible to have an effective umbrella advocacy organization for dog ownership because I just don't think there's enough of a sense of solidarity among dog owners to make it feasible.

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In a thread a couple of years ago, I expressed surprise that people on the Boards, who are fairly dog-centered, seemed so anxious to think the worst of others' dogs and so unwilling to cut other dogs and owners any slack. Somebody (I think it was geonni -- correct me if I'm wrong, geonni) posted that she really didn't particularly like dogs in general, only her own dogs. That set me back on my heels. It was a possibility I had never really thought of, being someone who does like dogs in general. Since then, I've come to think it's probably true of a fair number of dog owners.

 

I don't think it's possible to have an effective umbrella advocacy organization for dog ownership because I just don't think there's enough of a sense of solidarity among dog owners to make it feasible.

It was me. The fact that I do not suffer human fools gladly extends to the canine race. I have dog friends and people friends, but I offer and expect respect from both. My life at one time could be described as dog-centric, but it isn't any longer. My own dog is very important to me. We have a good relationship. I need her as much as she needs me. Just as the stock dog and the stock person need each other, rely on each other, and understand one another, my pet - who is really and unofficial assistance dog - and I have a satisfying symbiotic relationship.

 

I come to the Boards to keep learning about how to be a better dog owner and to gain insight into the wondrous creature that shares my home. And, I think that the "core members" of the Boards are a cut above the average dog owner. Having worked with dog owners of all kinds as a vet tech, trainer, groomer and rescue person, I've seen too many of the "other" kind of dog-owner. I learned a high contempt for the touchy-feely types who have no real understanding of their own dogs - let alone dogs in general. So I got "out of dogs" because I didn't think my work was what it should be when I could not respect my clients. The "dog centric world" has gotten on fine without me, and I without it.

 

If my disabilities and income level would allow me to enter the world of stock-work, I would leap at the chance. But then, the couple of years I have spent reading (and writing, no doubt, too much,) have already given me a respect and admiration for the good stockman/woman and his/her dogs. They are truly people that understand the dog. Their partnerships are a model for such as me.

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I love well behaved dogs, but poorly behaved dogs (and rude people) drive me absolutely crazy.

 

About 10 years ago, I lived in an apartment complex that was pet friendly and situated next to a large (100 acre?) plot of open land. It was great. After I got home my dogs played in the fields with my neighbor's dogs. I loved the experience and felt like I was part of a like minded community.

 

Fast forward a few years and I was renting in another dog friendly complex. Problem, my upstairs neighbor worked the night shift and had 5 dogs; 2 hounds and 3 chihuahuas. They must have had separation anxiety, because the second she locked the door a non stop chorus of baying, howling and yipping started. I didn't even know dogs could bark for that long without resting. The dogs ran from one end of the apartment to the next until she got home 10 to 12 hours later. Asking her politely to do something to keep them quiet, asking her more firmly and complaining to the management company did nothing to stop the noise. Do you know what it is like to not be able to sleep for a year? I hated those dogs and their owner with a passion.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Cesar Milan thinks we should understand all dogs>breed>specific dog in that order. Most dog folk do the opposite. Under the handlers’ tent, one listens to stories of how unutterably wonderful another's dog is because they, in turn, don’t run off as I describe how my dog rescued the child from the burning barn during his 20 point outrun. When we fought AKC recognition, we made alliances with other breeds but if the AKC had said, "we'll go away if you shut up and forget about these other breeds," I'm ashamed to say I, at least, would have done so. My dog>my breed>dogs. A while ago a Rottweiller person asked me which breed I’d have if I couldn’t have Border Collies. I don't know if I’d keep dogs anymore.

 

My own dog circumstances are near-ideal. My near neighbor is a mile away, I need my dog's skills and have easy access to his work. I make my living at home. I'm not poor. That said: I could use an umbrella dog organization advocating for my and my dogs' rights. I can't put my dogs on Amtrak which means I must drive 7 hours to New York. I can't (legally) walk my dog off leash in many places where they would be no danger to themselves nor annoy others. I can't bring him into my agent's New York office building. Yes, I can and do make other arrangements. Others, poorer and lacking my resources, have a very much harder time keeping a dog in dog-hostile America.

 

They and I need a dog owner’s version of the AARP.

 

Some side with those who would restrict dog access (and ownership) because so many dog owners are sentimental/ill-informed/rude/dangerous to others . . . "wicked" in a word; "Not-like-us" in three words.

Recently I've been studying Denmark Vesey's revolt (charleston 1822). In this thriving city full of enslaved blacks, some free-coloreds (who survived on grudging sufferance) formed the” Brown Society" to distinguish themselves from the ignorant, vicious, immoral darker skinned negroes. Not the first time nor first place that happened.

 

A couple years ago my dogs and I stayed with a friend I hadn't seen in 30 years. His wife had two little fluffy dogs: untrained, unmannerly, unreliable and much loved. When bedtime came round she asked me how many pee pads I wanted. I'd never heard of these conveniences and said my dogs would go out before I retired and again in the morning. When I went in my bedroom, she'd set out pee pads for my dogs' nighttime convenience. She couldn't imagine a housetrained dog.

 

My dogs are better trained. We have a better informed, more sophisticated relationship. But the core of her relationship with her dogs, that interspeciel connection is no different than mine.

 

For, as Vicki Hearne once told me, “Mankind is a lonely species. Dogs were our first friends.”

 

Donald McCaig

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