Barking Blondes: Would you give up your seat for a dog?
How many of you commute by train to work each day? How many times to you dash for the train home only to be confronted by standing room in an overcrowded carriage? How would you feel, therefore, if one of those much cherished and expensive, rush hour seats, was occupied by a dog?
We faced huge criticism this week when it went public that Molly, our miniature Bull Terrier, sat on the seat of a busy commuter train, leaving passengers standing, when she hadn’t even paid for a ticket.
As a nation of animal lovers it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can travel with up to two dogs at a time on trains in the UK. Like children aged under five, dogs are allowed to travel for free. There is a written proviso that the dogs must be under control, quiet and calm. Under no circumstance should they be a nuisance to other passengers. Interestingly no such stipulations are made for toddlers.
It’s socially acceptable for a toddler to have a seat. Nobody would be expected to stuff a small child under the seat on a filthy carpet.
“But these are dogs,” we hear you cry, “ not human beings”
In our lives both our bull breeds are our ‘furkids’ (our substitute toddlers). Scientists reckon that dogs have the mental age of a toddler and it’s feasible we could travel with a toddler. So why shouldn’t Molly, like a toddler, take up a seat ?
Molly has travelled on buses and trains since she was a pup and learned from early on to behave so perfectly that on no occasion could any passenger label her a ‘nuisance’. The seat is covered with a clean blanket, preventing dirt or fur to be left behind.
Dogs are still a rare sight on trains, apart from Assistance Dogs. This is probably due to the acceptance that most would be a nuisance. The risk of over excitement, jumping up, barking and generally causing a commotion is not worth it. Such behaviour would cause even dog-loving commuters to get irate.
However, Molly when travelling out of rush hour, has often turned heads and made a traveller’s day. Even on a long journey ticket collectors praise her as a perfect canine citizen. Molly is now quite blasé to the commuting experience, knowing she will enjoy watching the world go by from a window seat.
Let’s be honest. How many a journeys have been disrupted, even been made intolerable, by a screaming, bored and frustrated toddler? More often than not the poor parent is unable to calm the situation and the carriage is awash with stressed out passengers all trying not to make eye contact. This is what we have grown up with. It’s the social norm on planes as well as trains. Yet a silent, well- behaved dog is open for criticism.
Some dog owners, like parents, want to share experiences and spend time with their ‘furkids’. After all, we have domesticated them to fit in with our life styles. Shouldn’t they then reap some of the benefits? Travel, we are told, broadens the mind. Especially in comfort.
Even a four-legged friend would prefer the view from a window rather than a vista of scuffed commuting shoes! The stimulation and adventures for a well behaved dog, is for life, not just for Christmas.
‘Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99dogs on trains, tube
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