Barking Blondes: Would you give up your seat for a dog?

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

Molly on th etrain 225x300 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, £12.99

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  • marcbletchley

    good morning jo and anna
    Very interesting reading i dont often see dogs on the trains im so use to standing myself from bletchley to euston.
    To be quite honest me personally wouldn’t give up my seat for my dog mind you i dont have one.
    cheers and woof woof from bletchley towers xxx

  • srbauhaus

    If people are so meek that they are prepared to stand and let a dog have a seat rather than ask you to move the mutt then that’s their problem. Myself, I would have no qualms about asking you. I see it so often… people standing yet spare seats occupied by bags, or seats left empty at tables because someone is using half or the whole of a table. The meek may inherit the earth, but they’ll need to toughen up if they don’t wish to stand on public transport.

  • Heathbar

    If small enough, the dog should sit on the owner’s lap, Molly seems to do that a lot anyway.

  • Karen Smith

    Sorry, but if I saw you with a dog on a seat while I was standing I would ask you to move it, just as I regularly ask people to move bags off seats so that I can sit during my daily commute. I see many many dogs on trains and none have ever been on the seats. They either lie on the ground or are on their owner’s laps.

    Any before you dismiss me as a dog hater I have 4 myself but they have different needs to humans and think nothing of lying in places that humans wouldn’t, drinking water from puddles and ponds, or sniffing each others bums. However, if you truly don’t want your dog to lie on the train carpet why not put something on the floor for it to lie on and wash it afterwards?

    And your rationale re toddlers doesn’t quite stack up either because kids who travel for free are expected to sit on an adult’s lap if a fare paying adult needs the seat. Just as on planes as it happens.

  • Jobrag

    Let me get this straight, you are so massively self centred that you consider your dog more important than other human beings?

  • A bus driver

    Dogs are not permitted on bus seats and I’m very surprised if they are allowed on Train seats.

  • 5brian5

    Hi Ladies; On many occasions people have told me to jump a cue when I had fewer items than them. People hold doors open for me more often than not. People smile at me and are usually very polite. I reciprocate the courtesy with the next person. What goes around comes around full circle. If I’m in a rush, and someone is trying to get into my lane on the motorway, and no one will let them in, I do, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. Society has set certain norms, and I try to do what is perceived as appropriate, to a point. As I have said in past blogs, I love my cat and my sons dog. My cat sleeps with me, and I don’t mind. Someone else would be horrified at the thought. People with handicaps are not always assertive, and their disability may not be obvious. (people with leg problems, vertigo, ect.) Its one thing if a service dog is on a seat, or if the bus or train is half empty, but otherwise, I would never make someone stand, whilst my pet sat comfortably. That doesn’t make me a mean person, just more in line with “mainstream” norms and values. Take Care! Brian (Detroit Area)

  • kleintje

    It’s attitudes like this that lead otherwise normal people to hate dogs and dog owners. Seriously, I can’t believe what you were thinking when you publicly admitted your behaviour. Dog owners up and down the country must have been tearing out their hair.

    I have a dog and he was taught from puppyhood to ride in the basket of my bike, in the foot-well of my scooter (sitting securely in a box), and accompany me on trains and trams and to bars and cafes (since I live in a country where it’s acceptable to take a well behaved dog with you for lunch).

    Not once would I even CONSIDER letting him sit on a train seat or any kind of public seat for that matter, ESPECIALLY if the train was crowded. Not everyone likes dogs and people who don’t should not have to be confronted with them like this. If I had been on that train and had paid for a seat, I’d have physically picked up your dog and put it on the floor to free up the seat.

    I love my dog as if he was my child but he belongs on the floor of any bus, train, bar or cafe, preferably under the seat, if he fits, out of everyone’s way.

    Do what you want at home but this story is totally disrespectful to your fellow passengers; you’re an embarrassment to the (sane) dog owning population.

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