Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Love Dogs, Hate Dogs

Beverly, Follow the Dog Home
I think it's fair to say that the overwhelming majority of people who read our book, our blog and our Facebook page love dogs.  But to think they all do is naive.  My experience in radio, television and published writing reminds me of that.  There will always be those who love to hate you, and what you care about.

Take Rush Limbaugh for instance.  It's commonly known that a good chunk of his radio audience listens to hate him even more than they do already.  It works for him and the ratings. 

We got a note the other day from a reader, who it's fair to say had issues with what we wrote about in Follow the Dog Home.

The angry reader pointed out that my dad's first dog, Dee Dee, who was poisoned by a spiteful neighbor more than 70 years ago, deserved her death for foraging in the man's trashcans.  What's more, the note called us "dog freaks", "inconsiderate self-centered morons" who don't care if our dogs poop and pee in other peoples' yards.  To sum it up, the writer said loose dogs are fair game for being poisoned, run over by cars, etc.  I find that disturbing.

Dee Dee (foreground), poisoned by a neighbor

Much has changed about attitudes toward dogs over the years.  My neighbor in Wellesley, MA, Pasquale, who's in his 70s or 80s, remembers the days "when dogs ran wild."  "There were no leash laws," he said in his Italian accented English.  People just dealt with it--for better, or worse, usually leaning toward tolerance-- much like they did when a neighborhood baseball game led to a broken window.

We've evolved.  Animals are now legally protected from cruelty and people are protected by leash laws.  By and large most dog owners I know strive to be good neighbors, raising obedient dogs and picking up after them if they soil another property.

But there will always be a few in the minority who just don't get the dog life that so many of us love.  A couple of years ago I was walking my German Shepherd, Tiffany,  in Ocean City, NJ.  She tinkled on the edge of the greenest grass I'd ever seen, just inches away from the sidewalk.  The homeowner unleashed a scolding dripping with disdain.  As rough as that was on the ears, it was certainly better than a poisoning.  And naturally, we were more careful the next time we walked by.

Tiffany, yellowed a green lawn

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