You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

No, not everyone loves my dogs as I do

By Lorrie Shaw

In today's culture, pets are so much a part of everything. We pet owners have learned to co-exist so seamlessly (or so it seems) with dogs and cats, mainly, and for the most part, we've friends and family who are pet lovers, too.

Especially dogs! The runs that I routinely make to care for various pets illustrates this clearly. There are always a few tongue wagging, furry faces peering out of the windows of passing vehicles. The dried nose-print smears on the rear windows of some vehicles is a sure sign to anyone who sees them that the owner has a dog or two in the family - mine included. I'm a dog person, through and through. I couldn't imagine not having a one in the family. Indeed, the very culture of pet ownership has changed significantly in the past few decades, especially when it comes to dogs. It's permeated our lives, the economy. I think a fair estimation from what I've read is that we in the U.S. spend roughly 40 million per year on our pets.

dog, mixed, mutt, face

Lorrie Shaw / Contributor

But, guess what? Not every individual likes dogs. Different strokes, for different folks. There are obviously varying reasons for their position. Many were raised in a way where pets are strictly outdoor animals. Others, well, they may have had a bad experience with a dog. Some even find cats creepy. A few are just not pet people: no reason needed. Whatever the reason, I respect them. After all, there are people who know me, and don't get me and my love of all kinds of animals. Despite the idea that pets are interwoven in our personal lives so much, I think it's up to me as an animal owner to set the boundaries, respecting the position of a non-owner - and not blurring the line of human life and my pets' life.

Obviously, folks that come to our home know what I do for a living and that our pets are as much a part of day to day life as anything. Granted, both Bruiser and Gretchen are trained, well-mannered and are very likeable - but they are still dogs. Big dogs. Not everyone finds their typical dog behavior endearing. The crotch sniffing, the drooling, the fur shedding, the butt licking, the muddy paws - all the things a pet owner gets used to really turn off some people. And the funny way that they like to steal the football away from the kids when they're trying to play is funny to us, but to our guests' kids (who have no pets), it's far from comical. Some of our guests may not get our way of life - but they expect it.

However, when we're not at home, I'm very aware of one thing. Not everyone loves my pets like I do. And they never will.

Dogs don't belong in some places and situations, period. Case in point: In summer, when it's 85 degrees and we want to attend a festival or fair, we leave them home. It's a horrible environment for a pet; it's typically crowded, hot and nothing to do - and it can be stressful for them. What would make me think either of the dogs would want to be there? What gives me the idea that other people would enjoy sharing their leisure time with the dogs in a public setting? Pets are not humans. I accept that our ways of interpreting the world vastly differ. It's difficult to not anthropomorphize pets, but in their own best interest, I can't expect them to live completely immersed in my human world, to include them in every aspect of my life. It's unfair and goes against their nature. Hopefully keeping that in mind will allow me, my dogs and others to co-exist happily in this very connected society.

Lorrie Shaw resides in Dexter Township with her family that includes three pets and is owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She welcomes your contact by e-mail.


Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

@Captain Wow - Thank you for such a thoughtful and well written response. I get very annoyed with people who think they are entitled to absolute silence from their neighbors while at the same time blowing off any complaints their neighbors might have.

Captain Wow

Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

Macabre: ask most police departments what generates the most calls, and it's barking dogs. Really? Such a generalization would be better served if it was accompanied by some sort of factual information to back it up. Please, cite your source. As I type this I am waiting for a reply from the A2PD regarding a request for statistics on call volume and what percentage pertains to barking dogs. In the interim I asked my best friend, who has worked as a cop in a downriver city for over 10 years, how much of his day is taken up addressing what must be a deluge of complaints regarding barking dogs. His reply, At most, I take less than one a week and I don't hear of that many in the surrounding cities. Maybe hes placating me because Im his friend and certainly he doesnt field every call that comes into his department 24/7/365, but I tend to think his experience trumps your broad brush. As for over-rationalizing by comparing dog noise to the noise of children or lawn equipment, what is so wrong with that? I would much rather be over rational than reactionary and knee-jerk. It at least reflects a tendency toward measured thought rather than blind impulse. Everyone has their own list of criteria for what gets their fur up. For you its dogs barking. For StephinA2 its screaming kids. In either case, there must be some reasonable expectation and acceptance that noise is part of living in a city with others. Hand in hand, there should also be a reasonable expectation that your neighbors will make some effort to be considerate towards you should the problem get out of hand. My parents, who live here in A2, rarely experience a quiet and peaceful summer evening in their backyard thanks to their neighbors pool and the accompanying wall of noise from the handful of kids seemingly competing to see who can scream and splash the loudest. Do they get mad and call the cops? No, because they understand that 30 years ago it was their yard that had the pool full of screaming, splashing kids. If the noise from over the fence ever became an unbearable nuisance they would seek some sort of resolution with the neighbors, just as our neighbors did with us in the past. Until then, its just another sound of summer, like fireworks and the cheers from softball games at Vets Park. I concede that a dog barking endlessly and for no apparent reason can be a major annoyance. Clearly the owner of the animal needs to be more aware of the effect his/her dog may be having on the neighbors, especially if its a daily occurrence. Equally, the parent who lets their child scream for screamings sake while running up and down the street needs to show the same awareness. However, buses, general traffic, lawn mowers, dogs, kids, the bells on an ice cream truck; its all part of the fabric of city life. Anyone living in a city of people knows and accepts this or surely, having some level of self awareness, they would have sought a more pastoral location for setting up housekeeping. I would imagine that a person incapable of finding the strength of will to simply push the sound to the side knowing that eventually (possibly sooner than they expected) it will cease, will soon find themselves resentfully grumbling at the trees for loudly rustling their leaves, and clouds for not being fluffy enough. Of course, maybe I am equally as guilty of making generalizations, and my apologies for the epic rant. "Cheers!" to anyone who made it to the end. I do tend to ramble.

Lorrie Shaw

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 9:40 p.m.

Such great comments, all! In reading them, it really confirms a lot of things that I get vibes on when I'm out on my sitting and walking rounds. My policy with dogs in my care is that they always need to be leashed, and I have a 'no-touch' policy, as I can never guarantee that every dog will be friendly when being approached by a stranger, especially kids. If there is someone walking towards us - I ensure that the dog is well under control, but having a great bond with all of pets that I care for, that's not a stretch. Dogs are naturally curious, though - moreso than humans! :) I don't walk with multiple pets (unless they are from the same family; never been more than 3 dogs). Seeing a pack of dogs, even leashed can be disconcerting for people to see coming toward them. I know that some folks are fussy about a dog "eliminating" in their yard, and I would never think if disposing of a pet waste bag in someone else's trash container. One thing that I find very frustrating are other dog owners who don't extend me the same courtesy that I do them and keeping their dog under control when passing by on the sidewalk. (I'll usually walk myself and my charge in the grass to pass by.) One fella just kind of smirked and brushed it off when his dog exhibited aggression towards me while I was walking a client. :( The incessant barking, that's a problem. Nothing wrong with letting your dog blow off a little steam if you're playing outside and barking a bit. But, leaving a dog outside unattended, barking it's head off is not good for the dog, and makes others terribly unhappy.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

I was in a resort type small city in Minnesotaa few years ago and noted a covered baby stroller. In this stroller were two small what I call "dust mop" dogs being carted around just like a baby. They were even in and out of the many antique stores in the town. Unique and different I thought. Although I would not take a dog to the Art Fair and I always feel sorry for the babies in strollers. How would you like to see nothing but knees in a crowd? But I love my pets!!


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

@ Theresea Taylor, you can cross the local Fireworks Display off your list too;)

Theresa Taylor

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 10:13 a.m.

@ Patti Smith - I am currently a NEW Dog Mom and took my pup to The FestiFools Parade. BAD IDEA, a mistake I will not make again. We're all here to live and learn. :-D LESSON LEARNED!

J. Sorensen

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 3:07 a.m.

While househunting a few yrs. ago, I didn't even look at many houses for the lack of fenced in yard for my 3 rescue pals. That's when I realized I wasn't buying a house for myself, I was buying my dogs a house that I could share with them. They're very happy there and even happier to let me pay their bills. We're a short drive from the dog park so they have an active social life. I don't agree with people taking their dogs to crowded events like the art fair. Great article! All animals, domestic or wild deserve safe homes (we don't need concrete and houses on every green space around). See you at the dog park!


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 8:12 p.m.

The simple point is this, the people responsible for the dog need to be the Alpha, not the dog. Understand the temperment and behavior of your dog and act accordingly. In particular, pure breds were bred for certain traits and have innate tendencies for certain types of behavior. Hounds were bred to run and pursue, as a result they are notrious wanderers. The reason a Rottweiler and Doberman English and American Kennel Club standard to have the tails docked originates from them being the night watchmen in German shops. Their tails were cropped so they would not knock things off the shelves. They protect their turf and their people, there is a reason why Magnum PI had Rotts and not Dachsunds. Too many people pick a dog without understanding what the dog needs and wants to do.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

well written.. and a good point about considering the dogs point of view and comfort level when making a decision about where to take the pup.. I like that way of vetting the decision... Thanks.. That said... folks, avoid the generalities, as in any discussion, they are pointless.

Patti Smith

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 7:05 p.m.

Ooooh, now let's have a discussion about where kids should and shouldn't be :) I get extremely irritated when I see doggies dragged to fairs (esp. Art Fair, grrrr) and parades and such. But I must publicly admit to my own "bad" on that one. I was a new (dog) mom and wanted to take him to a doggie Halloween parade. It was pouring rain and there was me dressed as Winnie the Pooh, my husband dressed as a honey pot (don't ask) and Buddy dressed as a bee. About 1/2 way through I realized that I was totally doing this for me and that Buddy (and my husband) was miserable. I learned my lesson, and I think my dog has forgiven me :)

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 5:21 p.m.

Steph, ask most police departments what generates the most calls, and it's barking dogs. They get very few lawnmower complaints. I think you're over-rationalizing.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

I like OP dogs. Other People's. If I was to get a dog, it would be a BIG one. But I won't because I'd have to pick up after it. It makes me shudder to think of putting my hand in a plastic bag and picking up huge poop that is STILL WARM. No way in h***. On the funny side, my daughter has a Yorkie and when I visit her I always take him for a walk. I walk him around one block. One. He marks every bush and tree and piece of tall grass and pile of leaves (I don't let him into the cemetery)he encounters. When he runs out of pee, he poops. No matter how many bags I carry, I'm always short. And yes, I feel the same about Yorkie poop as I do about big dog poop. Ickypooyuckyugh!


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

Macabre: As long as the kids in the neighborhood can scream, squeal, shout, bang about, and make noise while outside, so can my dog. Same logic extends for folks using lawnmowers and leaf-blowers. All are equally annoying to someone; all balance out. I make a conscious effort to monitor my dog in the early a.m. and late p.m. to make sure she doesn't bark then.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

if you have a sandy back yard there are instructions on the web for making a dog waste composter (you can also buy premade ones) but basically, you dig a hole in your yard, bury a garbage can up to the lid (after you have drilled a bunch of holes in it, see instuctions) fill it with the poop and add the stuff you would add to a septic tank. Thats the gist of it, refer to web instructions for the ins and outs of it. If your yard is more clay though it wouldn't work.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

I quite agree with this article especially taking dogs into crowded human situations or in hot weather. My dogs live in my house and are outside for limited time always secured. I have three and walking that number isn't too practical so it is a dog park (NOT the City-County Swift Run one). I will say this; my invited guests are dog people or they are "stop by & don't stay" folks and we will eat elsewhere. Like most humans I socialize with those who have my interests including dogs. I also live around a significant number of Moslems who really dislike dogs or from foreign countries who are very afraid of dogs because in their homeland, dogs were dangerous and often unvaccinated & did carry Rabies. I respect their needs and try never to impose my pets upon them. About Pet waste; OK here it is. We have lost our collective minds about dog poop. This is a 100% biodegradable material, it rarely smells (unlike human or pig waste!) and three rains and it's gone. Yet we insist on incasing it in plastic and putting it into other plastic containers and putting it into landfills where it will NEVER degrade for 1000 years! Alright I know most will be up in arms about that but it's true anyway.

Theresa Taylor

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

This is a WONDERFUL article! I LOVE my German Shepherd, but I certainly understand that her big dopey smile is not welcome by everyone. Different Strokes for different folks is right! :)


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

I love dogs also Engineeringmom, and I look forward to getting to a place in my life where I can own a dog. However, treetowncartel is correct in saying there are bad owners. I was running on the sidewalk, when an unattended full-grown chocolate lab (I am a very small petite Asian woman), came up from behind me and jumped onto my back. The surprise and fear I felt when I realized no one was around has resulted in me carrying pepper spray, just for stray animals. I love dogs, but owners need to be responsible.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

I thought we were all supposed to be going green. Dogs are bad for the environment... Dog owners generally think everyone else should love their dog, and that their dogs are the cats meow. Just go to Burns park in the morning and watch the families come and let the animals run around. Never mind the leash law. My favorite, though, is the dog owner who takes the doggy bag used on the walk and puts it in someone elses trash can. Nice.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

bell, the reason your dog always chooses that guys lawn is that dogs generally are a good sense of charactor. He's saying what he thinks of the guy.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

What I don't understand is how a dog owner can sit cheerfully in his living room, enjoying television or a game with his kids, while Bowser is out in the back yard, bored to death, barking at anything and everything. If my car alarm went off, I'd attend to it immediately. I wouldn't leave it on to annoy the neighbors. It seems dog owners have a blind spot when it comes to disturbing neighborhood peace and quiet. Just as cigarette smokers don't think throwing their trash on the sidewalks and streets is littering.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

The pet industry was worth $50 billion a year in the US alone, not mere tens of millions. Pets are big business.

Atticus F.

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:25 p.m.

Great article. I love dogs personally. But I really hate it when people try to bring their dogs into a public market... Or decide that their dog would really love to walk around at the art fair.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

iceman, totally agree, my dog is well trained but a squirrel is such a strong temptation! therefore he is always on leash


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:11 p.m.

There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 12:02 p.m.

My dog is well trained.I can walk her without a leash past another dog,if I had to.No problems until,SQUIRREL!!!


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 11:57 a.m.

When out walking with my dog I can usually tell by a persons body language if they are a dog person or not, some make an arch around us by 10 ft, which is silly when my dog is walking at a heel, but to each their own. Others make eye contact with the dog and come up to him with arms out ready to give hugs.


Wed, Apr 28, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

Lorrie, thanks for your point. I absolutely love dogs, but I had a recent encounter with two dog owners that left me absolutely speechless. I was walking in the area of Wildwood Park in Ann Arbor, when two people walking bull mastiffs were coming from the oposite direction on the sidewalk. First I was suprised that they didn't give me right of way, but just kept walking toward me. Then the woman allowed her dog to come right up to me - and make physical contact. When I put my hands down to ward the dog off it snapped at me!! Fortunately it was a warning snap or it could have taken my hand off - this dog was big. I was astounded!! And then - the lady didn't even have the sense to apologize and ask if I was OK, but just continued walking. I was too stunned at the time to say anything, but now I wish I had.