This city is going to the dogs

City Diary

March 27, 2002|By PATRICK D. HAHN

AM I THE only one who has noticed an epidemic of rudeness among Baltimore City's dog owners?

I spend a lot of time walking city streets, and I see piles of dog droppings everywhere I look. Apparently, this city's dog owners believe that the outdoors belongs to dogs (and by extension, their owners), and the rest of us are just supposed to sit at home in front of our TVs where we belong.

This arrogance is evidenced by the behavior of dogs (and their owners) in the parks. I might be willing to overlook their fouling the parks with their waste and frightening off wildlife, but I can't walk through the park without being aggressively confronted by dogs snapping at me, barking at me, growling at me or simply blocking my path and staring silently at me with menace.

And yes, my use of the plural there was intentional, because on a typical outing this happens to me more than once. And the most disgusting part is, the owners seem genuinely surprised to learn that anybody might object to this sort of behavior.

They feel no compunction to call their animal to heel and allow you to pass unmolested. Indeed, they seem to think that so long as their animal doesn't actually sink its teeth into your flesh, you have no cause for complaint.

It certainly never crosses their minds that even if their dog is not overtly hostile, maybe you just don't want some animal that very possibly was rolling in feces 10 minutes ago to be sniffing you all over. Or that you just don't care for the owner's spectacularly arrogant assumption that you're supposed to drop whatever you're doing and let his animal inspect you and decide if he's going to deign to let you pass.

At this point, I know I have set myself up to be accused of the ultimate crime, that of not being a dog lover. Well, I plead guilty to that; I don't love dogs. But then neither do most of Baltimore's dog owners.

Dogs are large, active, highly intelligent animals that evolved to run free out of doors.

If a dog is allowed an hour outdoors a day (which is probably far more than most dog owners can be bothered with), that means it's probably spending the other 23 chained up in a tiny yard or imprisoned in a tiny apartment, lonely and miserable (not to mention annoying the heck out of the neighbors with its incessant barking).

If you love dogs and you choose to live in the city, you should not own a dog.

Today's writer

Patrick D. Hahn teaches biology at several Baltimore area community colleges. He lives in Charles Village.

City Diary provides a forum for examining issues and events in Baltimore's neighborhoods and welcomes contributions from readers.

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