The saying ‘it’s a dog’s life’ has never been more applicable today, not only for our canine companions but also their owners.
You see, dogs just can’t do anything right. They bark too much, they are spirited as puppies and won’t often heel, they are biologically wired to seek out food not understanding it may belong to others and, in my boy Iggy’s case, he’s a horny little bugger who is prone to a bit of human leg seduction.
But here’s the thing, I love my dog as others would a child. I am not ashamed to admit this – in fact I am beyond proud because what I am referring to is perhaps the purest form of love I have ever experienced. To say I am fond of my dog is ridiculous. I rarely, if ever, want to leave his side.
Living in Melbourne, I don’t have to. This city caters to dog owners well. There are several accessible off lead dog beaches year round (unlike Sydney where, despite living in Bondi, Iggy never got to touch sand). As such, twice a day you will often find the boy and I on the shoreline, me mingling with other pet owners, Ig smelling butts. These visits usually constitute my happiest hours.
Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss the fact that dogs are up there with humans in the pecking order. Is that problematic? Post continues after audio.
My friend and fellow journalist Neil McMahon is also dog mad. I sobbed for hours when I read his moving tribute to his late best mate Scout and was delighted when he adopted a new sweetheart called Maudie, a minxy now seven-month-old English Staffy.
Neil and I have been meaning to meet up with our respective pooch persons for weeks now. I was about to head to his local off leash beach last Sunday and in retrospect am glad I didn’t. Because what Neil and Maudie experienced would have set me off on a tirade I may never have come back from.
I love Iggy just like a child.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened. A woman placed her baby on a blanket on the sand. Maudie wandered over to said baby and licked it on the chest. Soon after, the police arrived. The woman had called to complain that a dog had attacked her child and Neil was read his rights. A stern warning and a $238 fine followed.
As Neil wrote in The Age, “My crime (Maudie's crime to be more precise about it, but we take it on the chin for our dogs): failing to maintain what they call "effective control" of my dog in an off-leash area.
"Effective control" is defined as follows. It means your dog will return to you upon command (fair enough, though I don't know a dog owner who has a 100 per cent success rate on that front). It means that you "retain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog" in the off-leash area at all times (fair enough, and usually not a problem unless the whirling dervish of romping dogs gets too big or they head off into the shrubbery in pursuit of a tennis ball).
“But here's the kicker that got me in trouble: "effective control" means your dog "does not bother, attack, worry or interfere with other people or animals".