Friday, July 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

I N T E R F A C E 

do not ordinarily lose my cool or fly off the handle but it's something about dogs and more about their cagey owners that drives me up the wall. Perhaps, it is the way in which dogs have dogged my life, that I tend to vent out so much of spleen on the canine species.

  • Dog haters are insensitive brutes

"Should I rent to pet owners?"
ESEARCH shows that people who own pets have significantly lower blood pressure, fewer problems with stress and are more responsible individuals. Pets can have a positive impression on our lives by providing companionship, cheering us up and even helping us to meet new people.





Dogged by distrust

I do not ordinarily lose my cool or fly off the handle but it's something about dogs and more about their cagey owners that drives me up the wall. Perhaps, it is the way in which dogs have dogged my life, that I tend to vent out so much of spleen on the canine species.

I was in the kindergarten when the neighbour's dog grabbed my ankle and ripped my socks, the master looked on and comforted the terrier as I bawled my lungs out. My mother too yelled at me for venturing too near the pest. The childhood antipathy was reinforced by an aunt's bulldog, who reduced a favourite T-shirt to tatters. Invariably, sensing my dislike, all members of the species growled, snapped, snarled at me. What I found most insulting was the attitude of the owners. It was always: "Love me, love my dog. If you do not then go take a walk."

Imagine the times I had to simulate and feign interest and listen to tales of heroism, mischief and all the things that Tom, Dick and Harry did and how. What took the cake (rather the bakery) was the way in which dog lovers allowed themselves to be pawed, licked and virtually mauled by the pets. So wrapped up they are in their own world that it does not even occur to them that someone out there is squirming uncomfortably at the sight of this demonstrativeness.

The insensitivity and sheer callousness of the dog owners is underscored by their attitudes to rest of the humanity that does not love dogs in the manner they do. They even become like their pets after a while, that means they start growling and snapping and if they can’t bite, they enjoy their dog doing so vicariously.

My hatred of dogs is not as senseless as it appears. At every stage of my life, dogs have had their day and I have felt like an underdog. During my board exams I could not study because the neighbour’s dog barked non-stop at night and frequently during the day. All my pleas to silence the canine fell on deaf ears and I stuffed cotton wool and crammed as much as I could, not without wanting to poison the animal. The dog seemed to be hell-bent upon chasing me out of my house because it decided to sneak from under the hedge and mess up my new bike. When I whined, the owner smiled and said:"Oh, he is so naughty," as if he was proud of his deed. I could not help wondering if all dog owners and lovers did not relish the pain and misery of the ones who suffered at the hands of their pets. Did it give them a sense of power and authority that would not be normally theirs? Did they actually, in a sadistic sort of fashion, enjoy the prospect of another human being looking terror-stricken and a bundle of nerves? If no, why did they not learn to manage their pets in a manner that did not make them into a social liability and a civic nuisance?

They did not put the pets on a leash or rein in the destructive impulses of the dog. If the dog messed up the streets or the neighbour’s lawn, they would refuse to apologise and clear the mess. In case the animal was uncomfortable and was barking incessantly, they did not take remedial action — merely tolerated it and expecting the neighbours to do the same.

If you are free to keep pets and love them to distraction, you are also as a responsible citizen duty-bound to ensure that your pride is not the others’ agony. It is also a wee bit selfish to expect others to feel the same about the pet.

To come back to my tryst with dogs. When I discovered that my girlfriend was an ardent dog lover, I had a sinking feeling because I knew our friendship could never blossom into love. And how right I was. She cooed and whispered endearments into the ears of her labrador as I stood looking and feeling foolish and redundant. Even when we went out on a date, she petted others’ dogs and was perpetually saying, "so sweet". The labrador, sensing I was not an ally, ignored me and ate, slept and went out with the so-called light of my life. I could not visualise life with a labrador panting down my cheeks and lolling about on my bed. So it was goodluck to her and goodbye as well. At least I would not feel like a dog and have no bone to pick with a girl who clearly preferred canine company. I did not even bother to ask her: Him or me? I knew the dog would win. No wonder I feel I have been hounded throughout my life.

A dog hater

Dog haters are insensitive brutes

I am so sick of dog haters targeting me and venting their frustration and spleen not only on my poor pet but also on hapless me. Perfectly well-mannered and sensible folks see red when it comes to dogs and sound so irrational and intolerant that it is difficult to imagine that you are relating to the same people. One feels so defenceless and so vulnerable. What has the loving and affectionate creature done to evoke such a disproportionate reaction? I feel like a pariah, an outcast, as it were, who has committed a crime by lavishing love on a dog. I just wonder whether other human beings are exempt from a similar treatment. Either you have a kind disposition or you do not. If you do possess it , you are likely to treat all god’s creatures with compassion and love, especially those who are dependent upon us human beings for their needs to be fulfilled. Such people have so much anger and venom inside that their finer sensibilities rarely develop.

They themselves might not love dogs but what kind of self-righteousness is it that denies others the right to care for their pets? Unable to feel, they are truly the cursed ones. They will never know what it is to tenderly relate to a devoted dog.

How the dog helps one to unwind and evokes such deep emotions and a fund of joy as he greets you with exuberance. For us dog lovers our pet is just like a family member. His needs, emotions and feelings have to be respected, honoured and given due importance. Don’t people love their kids and take genuine pride in whatever they do? Well it is the same for a dog lover. It is pointless saying anything because atrophied people will never be able to understand what totally unselfish love and caring can mean. They will never know the sheer joy of coming home to a warm bundle of love, a fiercely possessive being who guards you with all his might and lavishes you with licks, prances around you and wags its tail so joyously. 

— A dog lover




"Should I rent to pet owners?"

RESEARCH shows that people who own pets have significantly lower blood pressure, fewer problems with stress and are more responsible individuals. Pets can have a positive impression on our lives by providing companionship, cheering us up and even helping us to meet new people. So why are pet owners turned away by landlords? If pets are supposed to have such a positive impact on human behavior, why shouldn't a landlord jump at the chance to rent to someone with a dog or cat? The reluctance of landlords is understandable considering the effect moving can have on a pet. The stress of a move can cause a well-trained pet to regress from their good habits. Landlords are concerned about possible damage to the apartment and more importantly, the safety of the others who live in the building. These are very good points; however, landlords do not have to forbid pets completely. The solution may be a time consuming one but the rewards can be very fruitful and well worth the effort.

Those rewards are exactly why you should rent to pet owners. Here is a list of reasons to consider:

First of all, prohibiting pets may limit the number and diversity of people you get applying for rental units.

Secondly, individuals who own pets tend to be more responsible and caring. Every landlord wants responsible tenants.

Third, accepting pet owners will increase the length of occupancy. People with pets seem to stay in one place longer; knowing the stress a move can create for their pet.

Finally, being pet friendly produces a more positive public image.

Along with looking good in the community, allowing pets in your buildings can promote better relations between residents as well as increased health benefits. Not only do the pet owners reap the benefits, but neighbors can decrease stress levels by simply living near a pet. Who knows, you, the landlord, could lower your blood pressure.




Why do dog owners allow their pets to dirty neighbourhood parks? — An incensed resident

Dog lovers respond:

  • The neighbourhood park is the only open space close to my house. Radhika Jain, 18, student

  • They have to dirty some place, so why not the neighbourhood parks. Ranbir Singh, 21, student

  • Because I want to keep my house clean. Jaspreet Kaur, 28, housewife

  • When street dogs can dirty parks then why can’t pet dogs do so as well? Mohan Diwan, 36, executive

  • They throw garbage in front of my house, so I allow my dog to dirty their lawns. Monica Singh, 26, housewife

Fine my neighbour is not fond of my dog, but why is he so intolerant of me? — An aggrieved dog lover

Dog haters respond:

  • Their dog keeps on barking the entire night and growls at visitors visiting our house. Why cannot the owners do something about it? — S Joshi, 35, businessman

  • Intolerant ? The entire family should be locked in a kennel along with the dog so that neither the dog nor the owners can disturb us. — Harbhajan Singh, 56, advocate

  • He stinks, his dog stinks, the entire family stinks. —Sunil Verma, 25, software professional

  • Their dog jumps the fence, dirties our lawn, pulls at the clothes on the line and if we stop it, it growls. — Dharmender Tiwari, 30, teacher

  • The dog has bitten my three-year-old son, my 90-year-old granny and my dad who is a heart patient. Do you still want to know why I hate my neighbour? — Amit Singh, 28, freelance journalist.

Next time’s queries:

  1. Why does my wife assume that her salary is hers and mine is ‘ours’? — A resentful husband

  2. Why is my husband always eyeing my pay packet?— An indignant wife

(Responses are sought from wives and husbands on these questions, respectively. Mention your name, age and address.)

Dear readers, if you are having problems with family, friends or colleagues, send us your grievances and we will include them in this column.

Send your queries and responses (word limit:50) to 
Interface, c/o The Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh.


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