Good dog owners are heroes. Their dogs are groomed, exercised and trained at special schools for puppies. Good owners also clean up after them.
Dogs make me smile, whether it's leaping about the beach, or frisbee-catching in the park. I don’t believe there are dangerous breeds, not even the pit bulls or the rottweilers, and yes, I know they were bred to do terrible things.
Pit bulls tore bulls to bits for the Victorian family entertainment of bull baiting. The matinee was reportedly a hoot. Rottweilers, apparently, were bred to harass Gregory Peck out of an Italian cemetery in The Omen.
Owners really do look like their dogs. I know a bloke who owns a spaniel. They both have that hang-dog look that transforms in seconds into deranged, bounding joy when they see an old mate. You can tell a lot about a person by their dog, I think.
So what do we make of people who choose to own a dog that the law considers ‘dangerous’? It looks like it can play fetch with a girder, it’s got a face like a 30-year veteran roadie for a heavy metal band and comes complete with in-bred anger management issues.
Is this some sort of personality projection? Is this you, on a leash? When they are on leash, that is, because too often we see some bloke shambling along the pavement with his hound unbound.
In his head, our canine owner thinks the dog regards him as the pack's alpha male, and walks beside him out of loyalty, not submission. One word and this beast will heed his master’s command. Unless, of course, those commands are ‘sit’, ‘stay’ ‘heel’ or ‘stop leaping all over that screaming child’.
Why do they get these dogs? It’s not for exercise. These poor dogs barely see the outside world. Everything freaks them out and their immediate reaction is blind fury. I once saw a pit bull go berserk at a bus that had tooted its horn. The bus was unscathed. The dog learned the hard way why bus-baiting never caught on.
How much does it cost to feed one of these furry alligators? One of the breeds listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act, currently under review, is the Argentine Dogo. It’s specifically bred to take down wild boar. There aren’t that many boar lurking about Leith Links, so I’m assuming that our Dogo friend will have to cope with the equivalent in dog food tins. Believe me, that is quite a pile.
These big dogs are smart and strong. They should be treated with respect. They need owners who know what they’re doing, not idiots who regard them as fashion accessories. You want that, get a chihuahua.
Perhaps we don’t need to review the Act. Why not bring back the dog licence, only this time, with teeth? No licence, no dog, and no paperwork until the dog’s home environment is checked out and Fido has graduated from puppy school.
We could ringfence the money to pay for improving life for dogs in the city. We could build doggie toilets, or lay on free dog training sessions, because it’s not some dogs that are dangerous, it's some owners.