Monday, 20 January 2014

Barking Blondes: Internet doggy dating

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
dog 300x256 Barking Blondes: Internet doggy datingWe welcomed onto our radio show this week, a dog lover, Sarah who, due to her circumstances, was unable to own a dog. However a new website called Borrow-my-doggy has got round this situation. By matching dog owners with non-owners in an attempt feed their desire to walk a dog, people like Sarah now have dogs in their lives.
All of you dog owners out there…ask yourself; “Would you allow a stranger to walk your dog?”
Borrow my doggy is basically a good idea if we lived in a perfect world without doggy legislation, dog theft, health and safety regulations and irresponsible dog owners. Many of you who employ dog walkers have already made a decision to allow someone else into your dog’s life. When you pick up your puppy from a responsible breeder or adopt your pooch from a rescue centre the advice invariably is to never leave your dog alone at home for more than four hours at a time.
Before dog walking services became big business and way before social media sites promoted dog sitting, dog training, dog sharing or doggy boarding… dog owners had no alternative but to do their own dog walking and organize appropriate care for their dog. Perhaps this why cats being independent souls were the most popular pet in the UK, out-numbering the doggy population by 50 per cent until about seven years ago when dog ownership soared to put it neck and neck with cat ownership at approximately 10 million each.
Back in the day if you worked a 9-5 job and the home was left empty all day, it was simply unacceptable to take on the commitment of a dog. These days it’s considered normal to hire a dog walker to take your mutt out while you’re at work, making it OK for you to own a dog, despite not spending much quality time with your four-legged friend.
Dogs are social animals and they enjoy company and joining in the day’s routine. They like to bond with a special person and take direction. Whilst doggy day care is a great service and need by most dog owners at some point through their dog’s lives, until recently it was the exception rather than the norm. We wonder if these dogs think that their dog walker is their owner? They might even think that their owner is their part-time carer.
All the doggy care services available now can encourage owning dogs as a commodity, proliferated by online puppy sales and Britain’s popularisation of dogs in adverts, on TV, in films.. dogs are everywhere!
Interestingly as dog ownership has risen, so have dogs going into rescue almost at an equal rate. Could this be to do with our throw away society? Or that circumstances changed? Or the fact we never bothered to get to know the dog in the first place?
Finally, would a city, whose transport system allows dogs, be a more sympathetic city? Would it encourage fewer dogs left in cars and prove a metropolis to be more liveable and walkable? Transport for London has always had a “dogs permitted” policy as long as the mutt doesn’t look dangerous. It also insists that the pet is carried on the escalator.
However, many of us dog owners have been left out in the cold at a bus stop because the driver, at his own discretion, has taken again our four-legged friend. So “woof woof” to Councillor Judy Bryant who has appealed to city council to explore allowing dogs on city buses.
The issue came before the London Transit Commission this week and we await the outcome.
Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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