Not all kids are delightful. There. I’ve said it. We have all been in a situation where other people’s little darlings are being irritating, annoying, loud, smelly, messy (insert your own suitable adjective here). Whereas the children in our company (unless they are truly being little shits) will always be seen through the family microscope and therefore viewed as angelic, charming, well-behaved etc.
Look around you and you will see them everywhere – the smug adult taking a sideways glance with a glimmer of a smile at other people’s tiny terrors while they sit there with their mocha-choca-late and their little cherub quietly sips on a baby-chino. Other’s people children giving perfect little Johnny a bad name.
If this is starting to get your heckles up then take your fury and debate to Mumsnet. This article is about to head in a whole different direction. Dogs. More importantly, other people’s dogs, and if you walk where people walk their dogs, or have dogs of your own, then you will be aware of this phenomenon.
Like other people’s children, other people’s dogs can be bloody irritating, and so can their owners. You’ve met these dogs – often untrained, pampered little gits, treated like a substitute child and probably still craps on the living room carpet. But Barney-Warney didn’t mean to do it and Mumsy-Wumsy will clear it away. Diddums.
You will have dog owning friends who will coo over their Cockapoo while it humps your leg, chews your clothes or jumps all over you. Outwardly you are fixing a smile on your face but inside you are raging. The badly behaved furballs jump at you. They yap. A lot. And all you want to do is shove the little bastard away on the end of your foot, quietly wishing Barbara Woodhouse re-runs were still on TV.
You don’t actually shove Barney-Warney away though, because you know it’s not his fault and he has been let down by Mumsy and Daddykins. You know deep down that if you could take him away for some intensive doggy-boot-camp training sessions, he’d be a delight and you spend the rest of the evening teaching him to sit to make your point.
The real issue with these pampered little prince and princesses comes when they meet other dogs on a walk. Here, you can witness an interesting social dance that involves both dogs and owners. All will approach each other carefully on the walk. The humans will be swinging their bags of poo and the dogs will be pulling at their leads.
You, being a responsible dog owner, will be the smug parent in the coffee shop at this point, because your dog is on a rope slip lead and trotting happily at your side. This was not a happy accident and dogs are not born trained – you have spent hours, weeks, months, maybe even years to get the little toerag to this point. You deserve your smugdom.
The tiny, yappy terror approaching you, however, is dressed in a full harness and connected to one of those damn extending contraptions on full length. The owner is making no attempt to pull their dog back in and shorten the length of the lead. You take a deep inward breath as Fido arrives a full 5 seconds before his humans who are desperately clinging to the other end of the 10m lead, complete with matching poo bag dispenser.
The dance commences and involves you and your dog hopping over Fido and skipping over his 10m lead. You fail miserably as it slowly starts to cut off the circulation to your right leg and then wraps itself around your own dog. Fido’s humans arrive, huffing and puffing and laughing nervously with fake apologies. They fail to notice that this is also annoying your dog and he is not happy that Fido has shoved his wet little nose right into their scrotum. Quite rightly, at this point, your dog does what you wanted to do and tells Fido to piss off.
Fido’s humans will turn on you at this point and say something stupid while accusing your dog of being unpleasant. You can’t reply because you are still trying to unwind yourself from Fido while the feral little bastard covers you in mud and slobber.
This never happens when you meet an owner who has also trained their dog. Instead you can have the ‘top-trump’ conversation where they have to try and outdo every training method you have tried with one of their own. These owners can be hard to get away from once they get on full-chat.
Or we meet the owner like us – the one who nods, smiles, talks about the weather and walks away. No extending leads in sight. Your dog is off lead. Theirs is off lead. The dogs greet each other, have a little bounce around to say hello, sniff each other’s bums then get back on to the important task of searching for a nice fresh dollop of fox poo to roll in.
There are other types of dogs to watch out for – they aren’t all like Fido. There is the tennis ball thief, the picnic bandit, the grumpy old boy/girl, the big dog that still thinks it’s a puppy and the little dog that thinks he is in charge of the whole world.
They all have their funny little ways and like us, their own little personalities. But the true joy of dog ownership is the unconditional love and companionship. Even if other people’s dogs aren’t as well behaved as ours, it’s important to remember, especially just as you are about to trip over that 10m lead, that there is no better start to the day than the sight of a waggy tail. And that’s why they are man’s (or woman’s) best friend.