Barking Blondes: Smuggling your dog into forbidden places
Whether its right or wrong, smuggling your dog into forbidden areas is on the increase. Over the Easter holidays a pair of long ears and snout were spotted peering out of a handbag in London’s Chelsea Old Church and from under a coat in the back pew of St James’s Piccadilly.
A miniature schnauzer quietly enjoyed a late night screening in one of The West End art houses and a we were reliably informed that a Yorkie was privileged enough to be following the recently released Spring Breakers from the warmth of a pocket in a local cinema.
Good luck, we say to anyone who manages to pull this off. We have spent enough time, sharing space with offensive humans, to welcome the smuggling in of a few of our four-legged friends.
What did concern us, however was a call to our radio show from a listener who referred to herself as “a member of an underground society of dog owners”. Apparently, she dog sits other peoples pooches when the site officer visits their block of flats, as dog ownership is forbidden. Many of the elderly residents keep dogs when it’s clearly written into the lease that they are banned.
There is the added problem, she admitted, of avoiding the areas with CCTV as well as certain neighbours. Her call encouraged a number of listeners admitting to keeping a dog where its quite clearly stated, they are illegal. One lady suggested that if you don’t ask and you don’t admit to having a dog when renting or buying a flat, then often you can ‘get away with it’. Is this the correct atmosphere to live with a dog?
The occasional smuggling into a restaurant, church or cinema is one thing… but living with such anxiety has to be questioned. With so many of us believing a house is not a home without a dog, how can we get landlords and letting agents to appreciate the value of the “hound pound” instead of the NO PETS ALLOWED policy?
Molly, our miniature bull terrier was faced with eviction from a leasehold property. Fortunately, with her undeniable charm, she won over the minority and was allowed to stay, providing the flat was immediately put on the market for sale. Nothing can be more heartbreaking for an owner to be forced to rehome a dog in these circumstances. And with the triple dip recession this is becoming more common.
The Dogs Trust is championing a campaign called Lets with Pets. Their famous slogan ‘A dog is for life and not just for Christmas’ has epitomised this initiative. Galvanising landlords and letting agents to become dog-friendly, Lets with Pets is a lifeline for some dogs and owners meaning the difference between staying together for life or not.
Landlords commonly believe that a dog will automatically destroy their property, bark incessantly causing complaints, dig up a garden and generally be a nuisance. We find this ironic when toddlers and babies are welcomed. A toddler wielding a felt-tip pen might wreck the wallpaper in minutes or destroy a carpet with spilt fizzy pop, but that’s acceptable. Young babies crying all night is not considered noise pollution and is also accepted by landlords. But the fate for a barking dog is a likely noise abatement order imposed by the local council.
The Dogs Trust is proactively winning over the letting profession, but for leasehold property owners the fight is still on for any pets except a goldfish to be allowed. And trying to smuggle a dog into the home in these circumstances could end in tears. Some leaseholders will agree to a doggy resident, it’s up to the owner to convince them with outstanding responsibility and prove their dog’s good behaviour. The motto is spend enough time with your dog to ensure it’s a perfect canine citizen – a credit to you. Less cause for smuggling.
The Barking hour Thursdays 3-4pm BBC London 94.9fmLets with Pets, The Dogs Trust
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