This evening, after an afternoon spent watching England loosing miserably against Germany (I won’t mention the humiliating defeat of Italy by Slovakia… I mean… Slovakia?? Who plays football in Slovakia???) I decided to take advantage of the marvellously summer weather London has been experiencing for a week (MIRACLE!!!)
I’m very lucky. I live in one of the greeniest parts of London, Highgate, boasting in one single neighborhood one big park (Waterlow), a real wood (Highgate woods), the heaths of Hampstead and a long path through another little wood, Parkland Walk. Considering I’m on 20 minutes by tube from Leicester Square and the City, it’s a darn good location.
Anyway, it’s 8.30pm, the evening is balmy and quiet, the sun shines among the trees giving them an orange glow: it’s like being in a painting. I buy myself half a pound of cherries and head up the steps leading to Parkland walk.
One little a-side now, yes I’m romantic and I love solitary walks among the trees… BUT I’m also paranoid about meeting a psycho and being hammered to death in the woods. So tonight while I ate my cherries on the way to the Walk I had this idea of spitting their pits along the way, marking my route like Thumbelina with the crumbs of bread… So in case I got attacked and disappeared, the CSI people would find the pits, retrieved my steps and… well… find my body?
I start walking along Parkland, surrounded by beautiful oaks and the smell of flowers in bloom. I feel uplifted and happy. From time to time I bump into people walking in the opposite direction, young mothers with babies, couples, joggers… It’d be paradise, if it wasn’t for the DOGS.
Since when the Brits have been so obsessed with dogs? Since when every other person in London went out and bought a dog? And not one of the little, fluffy, funny dogs no! They all have the big hunting type, or fighting type or… woolfy type! (YES YES dog lovers out there, I CAN’T tell dogs’ races and species and breeds, I have no clue and, I suppose, no interest whatsoever. Fishes interest me more to be honest. I find them much more beautiful and at least I decide if and when I want to have an encounter with them, they don’t jump at me while I’m sitting on a bus).
And when I say Britons, I don’t mean teeangers, the gang members who use nasty dogs to fight their rivals. No, perfectly respectable middle-aged British citizens now come complete with scary dog.
I personally think nobody living in a city should own a dog weighing more than 10 kilos. It’s just anti-social.
It’s like smoking. People who are INTO something just don’t realize how totally unbearable their little obsession is to other people. If there are 20 of us waiting under a little shelter at the bus stop in the rain, squashed against each other, you can bet there’s ALWAYS at least one idiot who starts smoking. Never mind there are babies, old folks, people coughing, they just don’t think about it. They smoke. So a ban HAD to be introduced at least in closed public spaces, because you can’t count on people’s unselfishness.
Same goes for dog owners.
They take for granted the whole world adores their panting, smelly animals. They assume a 5 year old child shouldn’t be terrified to see an enormous golden retriever galloping towards him and licking his face, because “Pippus is so good, he’d never harm anyone! He only wants to play with you!”
WHO CARES??? I don’t care if your dog volunteers with the Samaritans and plays table tennis, I just don’t want to be forced into a close encounter with it! And perhaps that poor 5 years old child doesn’t want to play with your dog either, considering he’s crying! And perhaps the boy’s mother isn’t happy to have her son’s face licked by the same tongue that one minute ago was in close contact with another dog’s pee!
And, besides, how do you know your adored animal will never hurt anyone? It’s a DOG! It’s not a human being and animals follow their instincts. If something suddenly scares them, they might actually react in an aggressive way. They won’t be thinking, “hold on, let’s count to five, my therapist will be disappointed if I lash out…”
They will bite. Full stop.
Dog lovers impose their animals on the rest of the world exactly like smokers used to impose their poison. It doesn’t cross their mind that somebody could be scared, allergic, or simply NOT INTERESTED. Since they trust and love their pet, everyone else MUST feel the same.
Well, you know what? THEY DON’T.
Back to Parkland…
No matter what time of the day it is, the moment you start walking along Parkland, you find yourself surrounded by unleashed, unmuzzled, running canines. They come from all directions, galloping like they crazy. It’s TERRIFYING! And not ONE of their owners seems to care about the rest of the world’s reaction. No, they just expect you to be happy being licked, smelled, pawed…. And if you look scared they give you that patronising smile that says “or come on! You CAN’T possibly be scared of my Fido…”
Guess what? I am. Because he’s an animal, not a child, a subtle distinction that pet people in general very often seem to forget. “Oh, my Fluffy is exactly like a baby!” NO SHE’S NOT. She’ll never learn how to speak or to poo without you having to clean after her.
It’s not that I hate dogs. I don’t want them to be exterminated or anything, I simply wished their owners had more respect for those of us who haven’t CHOSEN to live with an animal. How would they feel if I bought a snake, and put it around their necks every time I bumped into them along Parkland Walk saying “He’s not dangerous, he just wants to play with you!”
I mean, why should dogs be special? I want to see monkeys unleashed on Parkland walks, cows, pigs, rhinos… Would you like to have an ostrich running after you and try to lick your ear? He’s so nice, he just wants to play with you!!!
I totally understand dogs suffer in cities so they have to be taken to parks and allowed to be free. But Parkland walk, like HIghgate Woods, like Hampstead Heath, is NOT a piece of woodland in the middle of the countryside. It’s just a very beautiful green area in the middle of a highly populated London neighborhood. So if you HAVE to own a dog in a city, just keep it muzzled. It’s the very minimum you can do.
Or, even better, move the the countryside. Your dog will be MUCH happier and so would I.