I’d like to continue (and finally conclude) this topic. Ok, right, you can’t conclude this topic fully. But relax, there won’t be another part, there’s a wholly separate topic I’d like to go into next time. Of course, the culture of dog ownership is interconnected with pretty much every dog-related topic. Still, it’s time to slowly move the discussion toward HDR.
I’ve mentioned before that the definition is fairly subjective. Especially when we consider the different eras. Some years ago ¬ not very recently, thankfully ¬ it was considered progressive if someone merely didn’t chain their dog. Times change. So do we.
Yesterday and tomorrow
Whenever someone asks me whether I consider my culture of dog ownership adequate, I’m forced to answer that I don’t think it’s adequate, but it’s evolving. I think one’s culture can never be fully evolved. Nevertheless I do think I’m a lot better with dogs than I used to be. I hope that is actually the case, but you’ll have to ask my dogs for confirmation. Let’s not even mention what I was like 20-30 years ago. I would make different choices today in practically every area. I believe that the companionship between a human and their dog is an evolutionary process. I’m better than I was yesterday, and I’ll be better tomorrow than I am today. What is it that makes me better, though?
Openness is perhaps the most important characteristic. You need to be able to admit that you’ve still got a lot to learn. Moreover, it can’t hurt to apply the skills you already know as part of a routine. If you don’t pay attention to being consistent with practical application of the things you learn, then principles will amount to nothing. If you’re forgetful, you’ll share my fate.
I usually carry plastic bag for picking up dog poop in every pocket of every coat. Usually. That particular morning started out much worse than usual, and ended up in the shit. Literally. Ronin saw to that. Yup, you guessed it. I didn’t carry any bags on that day, and I facepalmed very hard upon realizing it. Of course, as typical for such situations, the whole thing happened in front of a live audience, they all looked at me with disapproval, even contempt. I can’t blame them. It would not have improved things if I had started explaining that sorry, this sort of thing never happens, this was an accident because I was late and forgetful and I’ll just go and get something and fix it blah de blah blah. The court ¬ a retired old lady and a young mother ¬ decreed that I should be drawn and quartered, and my head be put on a spike to deter future wrongdoers. It was no extenuating circumstance that I managed to get a paper bag from a nearby bakery, because the judges did not see that. Of course, one doesn’t clean up after their dog because it’s embarrassing if they’re seen not doing it, but because that’s the right thing to do. Anyway, it was unpleasant. And I had to admit that this happened after the conception of HDR. What a hypocrite, huh.
Picking up these brown piles is only a part of the things that make us a cultured dog owner. That is, it would be if we weren’t so forgetful, if I hadn’t been so forgetful. I was everything but cultured at that moment. ‘But why?’ you may ask. ‘You picked it up at the end!’ I did, but there’s a point we haven’t considered. All the judges saw was that there’s a pile of shit steaming on the sidewalk, and I’m leaving it behind. They didn’t see me get a bag and return to pick it up. Why’s that a problem? Not because I felt ashamed, that’d happened before. I can take it. It’s because of you. ‘Of me? I wasn’t even there!’ No, you weren’t. But people in general are quick to make judgements. I don’t know if these two people were, but if so, all they took away from the situation was not that there was that idiot András with his huge dog who left that pile of shit behind, but that a dog owner had left it there. This stereotype can only get stronger if dog-owners indeed leave these piles on the street.
I keep going on about issues on dogshit, but this is just a starting point. Perhaps it’s because this issue is the most glaringly obvious manifestation of the lack of dog-ownership culture. And this indeed gives a lot of ammunition to those who oppose dog ownership. The stigma of not collecting the crap is as hard to get rid of as it is for the neighbour to get rid of the crap itself once they tread in it. Leaving the droppings can of course be substituted with any activity that bothers our environment. Remember what I wrote in the first part? I wrote about the harmony between the dog owner and their environment. There’s no harmony if your dog ¬ and, by extension, you ¬ cause problems for your environment (family, neighbours or anyone you get into contact with). Obviously there are differences in magnitude between problems, and the tolerance level varies as well. There are issues that are the harbingers of apocalypse for one person but for someone else, an apology is enough.
I’m going to share another one of my stories with you, where I acted like an idiot. Our other dog Chayenne is a 10-year-old ‘I love the world and everyone in it’-type of hovawart lady. Shall I go on? There are people who like this sort of thing and give her a pat without question (great, further reinforcement of her inappropriate behaviour), others are outraged or frightened. Chayenne, who looks like a polar bear cub, has a grin that can be a cause for panic for the casual observer, so that’s something you need to respect as a dog owner. This time, I did pick up the mountain of poop after Chayenne, but 10 minutes later I had to take an old lady’s coat to the dry cleaner’s as well. It again begs the question: to what extent was I a cultured dog-owner? This is what I meant when I said any behaviour that causes conflict can replace the not picking up the poop-scenario. The results are similar.
I would like to write a separate post that details the seemingly ever-present conflict between dog-owners and people without dogs, but this is a good basis: responsibility. That is, as a member of the dog-owners’ community, I need to act in a way that will have a positive effect on how people will judge you. Stereotypes are stupid human customs, but they’re something you should be aware of. Solution? I have to be a cultured dog-owner so that my retarded behaviour does not impact the reputation of the dog community negatively.
So, time to play with the dog and get ready for the Hard Dog Race. But be cultured about it!