Notes on parking lot pet etiquette

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Hi kids, Gripey McGripe here, with a couple of quick notes on traveling animals.

First let me say how much I enjoy seeing the truck pets when we’re on the road. I’m far too lazy to lug our thousand-year-old dogs around, mostly because between the two of them, they generate enough shed fur to completely cover the entire Andes mountain range in a fine blanket of white and red fluff. They also require more medication than most of my former nursing home residents ever did, and neither of them are good travelers, so I miss them when we’re away.

wendy-dogsIt’s always nice to get some doggy love from a well-behaved traveling pet, but there’s an etiquette to doing so, and just running up to an unfamiliar animal without asking the owner/handler first isn’t part of it. Just because someone has a pet on a leash and they’re not barking their face off at you doesn’t mean the animal is friendly or wants anything to do with anyone other than their own human.

I realize this is probably redundant information for most of you, but I like to present both sides of the story as much as possible, and it seemed important to note there is a certain expected behavior when interacting with people and unfamiliar pets, from all parties. That being said, I can’t help but mention a scenario I watched unfold in the parking lot of the J yesterday, because it’s the reason I wrote this post in the first place.

Lady is standing by the driver’s side door of her truck. She takes a medium-sized dog out of the truck, sits it on the ground beside her, no leash, no visible means of restraint. She steps back up into the truck to grab her bag, and in her defense, a leash. As soon as she turns her back, the dog takes off barking at a guy walking across the parking lot, minding his own business. The guy boots the dog, not viciously, but hard enough to let it know he ain’t kidding about being close enough and scared of a barking, unfamiliar dog to instinctively protect himself.

The lady hears her dog yelp, goes running up to the guy, and comes un-freaking-hinged with him. Scoops the (still unrestrained) dog up and proceeds to read the crap out of the guy, barking up a storm as the driver’s stomping back to her truck. She was nine kinds of mad about the other driver kicking her dog, and he was nine kinds of mad about having to kick it. It got tense for a minute, until she got in her truck and left.

Now, as much as I love animals, I’m gonna have to say I probably would have done the same thing the guy did. I’m not keen on anything running toward me – kids, dogs, baby elephants – they all look the same in my instinctual brain, and it generally tells me to avoid incoming objects of any sort, at all costs.

The point is, please keep your animals on a leash if they’re out of the truck. I don’t care how well-behaved they are. That includes goats, ducks, boa constrictors and giant, bitey birds. And please be cautious and respectful enough to ask if you can pet the baby monkey before you run up on the poor thing and put your big human hands all over it. No wonder people get bit. I’d bite you, too, if I was on a chain, couldn’t get away and you tried to pet me.

Just ask George.

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