Treating your dog like a mascot. | R.L.

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Today in this ‘Frank Talking’ column of mine I know that I will probably upset quite a few readers, but hopefully also make people consider their relationship with their pets and dogs in particular. A study by academics at Liverpool University have concluded that there is now a dog population in the United Kingdom of 12 million and that cases of animals attacking their owners has risen sharply over the past few years. One theory to explain that rise is that we dog lovers have become a bit too cosy with our cute canines and have forgotten that they’re still animals with sharp teeth and a fight-or-flight instinct even the cuddly cockapoos and lazy labradors. Indeed, another recent survey concluded, perhaps unsurprisingly, that we loved our pets more than our other halves! A large part of the problem it seems is that we no longer recognise that dogs are dogs, indeed some of us think of them as small children or objects that we can treat like toys - dressing them up for instance. By doing this, we lose that basic understanding that these lovely animals are dogs - they are not people.

Apparently there has been a surge in injuries inflicted upon dog owners who fail (or refuse) to understand this basic and fundamental fact; which if you think about it is fairly basic stuff isn’t it? Nevertheless, A large part of the problem it seems is that we no longer recognise that dogs are dogs, indeed some of us think of them as small children or objects that we can treat like toys - dressing them up for instance. picking them up and hugging them in human expressions of affections, that are apparently very threatening to a dog. Believe it or not there is a ‘Scareyourdog’ TikTok hashtag, which has had 16.8 million views as people deliberately try to scare and startle their dogs as if the poor creatures actually enjoy it. I have to say that I hate it when people (women in particular) dress their dogs up like dolls and pet them as if they were spoilt four year old children. It’s so….undignified - so crass, so stupid, so cruel. I speak as a person who had a ‘rescue’ dog for 14 years and so I know what it is to love an animal, but there is a difference between that and treating an animal as if it were just some sort of toy.

I suppose the other extreme is the person (usually a man) who struts about his community with a semi-savage dog on a length of rope, hoping against hope that the supposed machismo of his mutt is rubbing off on his single brain-cell personality. Funnily enough - and here’s the rub; I put those who dress their dogs up in something cute in exactly the same league as those morons. Lastly, what has provoked this canine outburst of mine is the fact that last Friday in the walking group we have joined here in The Cotswolds, a fellow walker refused to put a lead/leash on her dog as we crossed a field where sheep and their lambs were grazing.…”She doesn’t like to have a leash on.” Cue mayhem and a very angry farmer - who had he had a gun about him, that dog would have been shot dead. The lady thinks she is a dog lover - happily one or two of us put her right on that score after the mayhem had ended.