Thursday, 7 August 2014

But dogs are so 'tying'...

Since I can remember, I've known that I wanted to own a dog.  When you tell this to people they have one of a limited number of reactions.  Here are the most common:

1.  I love dogs!
2.  I don't like dogs...
3. "But they can be so 'tying'"

For those who don't know what I mean when I say 'tying'.  These people simply believe that although having a dog might be nice it means a limited amount of:

1.  Day trips
2.  Mini breaks
3.  Holiday's (abroad or otherwise)

'Tying? Me? Never!  Now...please don't move, I'm comfy!'

There are several reasons for the above.  Firstly, not all places allow you to take dogs.  You may find a perfect place to take a mini-break with your dogs but then find that you cannot eat anywhere for lack of 'pet friendly' eateries.  And you certainly can't take them to the spa with you!  In addition, if you fancy a summer holiday with your canine companions, then that's fine but your holiday rental will have rules.  Mostly these include:

1.  Not leaving your pets unattended in the cottage/lodge/room.  This means that you are often forced to take your dogs with you to the supermarket.  And we all know the advert that says 'don't leave dogs in hot cars - ever - even with the windows down - ever ever ever!'  So that leaves you a) shopping alone or b) sprinting around the supermarket like an Olympic athlete.

Caesar, please let me back in the drivers seat!!

2.  Not allowing your dogs within certain areas.  We recently visited a wonderful dog friendly set of lodges that had the following noticed nailed to every door 'no dogs in the bedrooms'.  Fine.  Except for if your dog usually sleeps in the bedroom and, finding himself in a strange place, decides to howl all night.  I can understand that owners may not want a dog on the beds, however having a crated dog in a bedroom shouldn't present too much of a problem.

No more morning lie ins then!

3.  The unwritten rule - keeping your dog quiet, particularly at night time.  Which, now they are sitting in an icy lounge alone in a crate instead of tucked up in bed with you, isn't quite so simple any more.  And, while it's unfortunate that neighbours may hear the pathetic, lonely howl of your beloved pet, you are within the confines of the same small space and looking at the ceiling deciding; do I break all rules and go to him simply to stop the dreadful noise.  Or will that make it worse and, in fact, the best thing to do is to lie here wincing every time a howl starts.  

Caesar is an excitable dog at the best of times.  And, when on a recent camping excursion, he decided to show everyone just how excited he was by 'talking' to them and the rest of the campsite.  Our closest neighbours, a few metres away, had the kind of dog that probably no longer has a lead and pottered around their tent all day looking like it had no desire to go anywhere else.  The type of dog you see sitting outside a shop with no lead on waiting patiently for its owner to return - looking past everyone it sees.  Do you know what would happen if I even accidentally dropped my lead?  All hell would break loose!  Caesar would be speeding around the campsite stealing food and charging clumsily into everyone's dogs.  However, Mr and Mrs Perfect Dog did not see this.  They saw that their mini-break was being spoiled by howling and I spent the two days trying not to accidentally make eye contact with them.

The question, then, is why do it?  'They're tying though aren't they?' someone commented to me recently after complimenting Caesar on his good looks.  I nodded, mainly out of politeness.  You see, I don't think they are.  OK, so you have to be a little more organised with your schedule and, occasionally ask for a hand with letting them out.  But, actually, dogs are rewarding.  And, I think for every one of the handful of things I can no longer do because of Caesar, there is a new opportunity available to me; walking with friends, training sessions, agility, crufts and other dog shows (even when we're not competing!) and simply chatting with other dog owners in the park.  These are just a few of the windows opened since I have owned Caesar.  And, perhaps for a while I will miss my holidays abroad but, if truth be told, a holiday in England isn't so bad when the weather is good and at least then I know where he is at every second.  And don't spend my holiday hoping he's OK!

Right, I'm ready to go!

So, with all this in mind, I recently booked a holiday cottage and the owner contacted me to give me the arrival drill I was mortified to hear that they 'pop round' to check you've settled in!  I can only imagine what might happen - it's enough to give me sleepless nights!  

The question is, with a dog like Caesar, do you make apologies before he inevitably starts squealing and knocking things over and you can't speak loud enough to be heard over the din.  Do you make apologies for him before he even arrives?  In which case, you risk the owners saying 'not in our lovely rural cottage thanks very much!'  It's a conundrum.  But recently I was proven wrong when I took Caesar swimming.  I decided that the fairest option was to do the latter and make my apologies before I even brought Caesar.  I explained that Caesar was a rescue dog who was 'noisy, excitable and not great with other dogs'.  Thankfully, this seemed acceptable in this forum and all other dogs were moved back but still within a closer proximity than would be ideal (in the same room!).  I waited until the last second to introduce Caesar to the room, explaining that if everyone valued their ear drums, it would be best to leave him outside.  I also feared that he may jump straight out of the pool and onto another dog as would be 'Caesarish' behaviour.  You can imagine my surprise when, on entering the room, Caesar walked through the door in silence, stood by the pool in silence and swam around in silence.  He was then taken from the pool, placed within a couple of metres of dogs who were running around an enclosure playing and blow dried with a hair dryer-type device (something he runs away from at home).  And, the whole time, he never batted an eyelid!

So I've concluded that I will not tell the owners of Caesar's ....Caesarishness.... and, knowing they have their own dogs, hope they're not the type that sit outside supermarkets without their leads on!