Blame the owner, not the dog

Let me be clear: I don’t not like dogs. I mean, I agree with them in principle. Dogs and I do, and enjoy, a lot of the same things: eating until we feel sick, for instance, and car chasing. We also share an inexplicable hatred of mailmen. By all accounts, we should get along, yes?


I don’t take to dogs. At best we enjoy a neutral relationship. At worst I end up on the roof of a Hyundai with a Pit bull circling me until its meth-head owner staggers out, kicks it a couple of times, and then ties it back up to his storm drain.

My stance towards dogs can be summarized into a single hyphenated word: gun-shy. But I don’t necessarily dislike dogs. What annoys me are dog owners who take a cavalier attitude toward canine rearing, and end up making life harder on everyone—human or otherwise.

The kiss of death is the phrase “don’t worry, they’re friendly.” I usually hear these words seconds before the aforementioned friendly dog clamps onto me like a sausage. Or maybe I’m being clawed/gnawed/ generally harassed by several of my aunt’s Brittany Spaniels, which is astoundingly shameful, given how floppy and French they are. Yes, friendly. I’ll keep that in mind while I’m getting a layer of my skin ripped off.

Pit bulls get a really unfair shake in this. There are certainly nice, well-meaning people who own pit bulls and do a great job training their dogs. But then there are the idiots who like them because they look intimidating. They’re the kind of people who just let the dog loose into society, and only wrangle it in after it’s ripped a senior citizen’s head off. One of the problems with this is that the dog usually gets punished more severely than the owner. It would be great if other crimes worked like that; I shoot the dude at 7-11, and the gun gets sent to jail. Even if dogs make me feel nervous, I don’t want to see them euthanized just because they got stuck with some sociopathic Neanderthal who’s probably trying to compensate for his erectile dysfunction by having a scary dog.

But mauling is a really severe example. More often than not, there are innumerable smaller offenses that make me want to take a crowbar to some dog owner’s cranium. Like the lady with the shih-tzu wearing a little powder-freaking-blue parka that lets it take a dump on the sidewalk and just leaves it festering there. I’m not mad at the dog for processing waste, or lacking the opposable thumbs necessary to pick up the aforementioned waste. Even I think that’s crazy. But the lady is a complete jerk. It would actually be less enraging if she was doing it maliciously; somehow, it significantly ratchets up my fury when I know that it is an innate quality of her existence to leave feces everywhere. Birds fly. Truckers drive trucks. She leaves poop in obtrusive places. But I should stop. This is the type of thing where if I fixate on it, I become stranger than the person committing the offense.

I don’t think any of these complaints are excessive; they’re pretty low bars for pet ownership. I’m fine, as long as I haven’t been mauled to death or covered in dog excrement. Or both.