I grew up with a black Labrador named Rex. My parents gave him to me as a reward for stringing together eight weeks of good behavior in second grade.
I will never forget, shortly after I graduated college, the day my mom sobbed on the phone that Rex had wandered off to the Great Backyard in the Sky. Someday, when I live in a place suited for dogs, I’ll have another tongue-lolling pal.
For now, I get my immediate canine fix at Alamo Square or Duboce Park, chatting with the dog owners and walkers. As I snag a little ear-ruffling time with Fido, I’m constantly amazed at the level of bad behavior around me – not from the mutts, but from the people. On one side, the owners are oblivious to Fido sniffing around everyone’s business. On the other, the nonowners bellow threats as if Fido were about to detonate a suitcase full of explosives. And that’s all before considering the recent acrimony about whether Fido needs a leash to play in the Bay Area’s national parks.
Rex would roll over in his grave at the way people argue over Fido. San Francisco needs a peace accord between dog owners and nonowners. Let’s set a handful of rules before we have to spray both parties with the garden hose.
Be verbal about not wanting Fido around, but (in Samuel L. Jackson voice): Be cool. To a pooch, a raised voice is often a reason to play harder.
Be cool with people not wanting Fido around, even if you’re deep in a Golden Gate Park thicket. Some have had experiences with bad dogs, but more likely, the public just doesn’t love Fido as much as you do. Be cool with it.
Keep the leash shorter than your wingspan when on the sidewalk. Fido should not be slicing through foot traffic with samurai trip wires.
There is a dog on the sidewalk. Fido doesn’t know about single-file lines. Relax and give him a bit of a berth.
It’s never okay to leave Fido’s crap on the sidewalk. If you forgot a baggie, get your hands dirty and embrace the joys of pet ownership.
If you see curbside poop abandonment, you’re allowed to lose your cool. Let the owner have it.
You may have a little extra Rosamunde’s sausage or leftover crust from Little Star, but without an owner’s nod, don’t feed Fido. Training a dog is like building a house of cards. One bad mistake starts everything over.
Fido must be chill around eateries. Simply saying, “Oh, he’s just hungry” doesn’t make it less obnoxious when he lunges at someone’s tacos.
Always ask before laying your paws on a dog. Fido may have sensitive ears, a skin irritation, or a blind eye that makes him jumpy – and snappy.
If Fido’s a snapper, muzzle that trapper. Or don’t have him around people. It’s that simple.
Know how it’s gross when couples canoodle on Muni? Yeah, it’s way worse with a dog. Keep the heavy petting under control, including rhetorical questions like, “Who’s the cutest doggie in the world?”
If an owner is lavishing affection on Fido, just keep moving. People have the right to love their comfort animals, even if it means a post-crotch cleaning tongue across the face.