Should You Become a Dog Owner?
Amy Chavez, a columnist for the Japan Times, takes an international spin on responsible (and irresponsible) dog ownership that makes Mac and Maynard glad they live in the country, where there are no sidewalks! She's also put together an all-in-fun quiz to help you determine if you have what it takes to be a dog owner.
by Amy Chavez
Paris, the city famous for dog poop, is finally cracking down on irresponsible dog owners who don't clean up after their dogs defecate on the sidewalks. Word has it that "canine counselors" will now stroll the streets and approach wrong doers. I wonder though, wouldn't it be better to counsel the owners rather than the canines?
Canine counselor: Excuse me Monsieur Doggie, but is that your dog log on the sidewalk?
Indeed, it would be more effective to hit the dog's owner with the newspaper.
The Parisians could learn a few things from the Japanese who are meticulous about cleaning up after their dogs. Japanese people call dog poop foon, a word which is highlighted in pink letters on signs which read, "Please clean up your dog's foon." A cute little dog dropping foon is pictured.
It seems that dog owners actually enjoy cleaning up foon. Many of them can be seen following close behind their dogs, bags open and ready, and at the proper moment the dog foons directly into the bag. No messy cleanups, no stains on the sidewalk.
But the Parisians leave it up to the authorities to clean up after their dogs. The authorities come around in special vehicles that vacuum up doggie doo-doo. The problem is that these vehicles cannot keep up with Paris' 20,000 dogs, all doing their duty at different times.
Therefore, I propose that the Parisians learn another thing from the Japanese: timing. In my neighborhood, every morning at 6:30 am radio taiso is broadcasted over the loudspeakers. People gather in the park and other open spaces to do the stretching exercises that are accompanied by the radio taiso song. If the Parisians could synchronize their dogs in this way, getting them to foon at the same time in the same general area, the foon vehicles would be able to do their job more efficiently. Fooning times could be set at 6:30 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm. There could be a fooning song too and doggie exercises. In fashion- conscious Paris, Designer Doggie Duds for exercising could be a real hit.
Perhaps I should give Hisanori Isomura a call. He's the director of the new ¥8.4 billion Japanese Culture House in Paris. Since this is the Year of Japan in France, Mr. Isomura must be looking for some cultural events. I propose that introductory fooning lessons be held in the Culture House. Canine counselors should be admitted free of charge.
I guess what it amounts to is that Japanese dog owners understand something that the Parisians don't: dogs are dog. Dogs will foon on sidewalks and dog owners will always have to clean up after their dogs. I believe that it is this "dogs are dogs" attitude that makes Japanese people good dog owners.
Take this quiz to find out if you have what it takes to be a dog owner.
Answer either yes or no to the following statements:
- When my dog comes traipsing through the house with the latest road kill, I will chuckle and understand that dogs are dogs.
- When my dog helps himself to the leftovers on the dinner table, gets indigestion, throws up, then eats it all over again, I will be able to throw my hands up into the air and admit that dogs are dogs.
- When my dog has ripped open the neighbor's garbage bag and is tearing around the neighborhood with a pair of the obaasan's tattered panties, I will cheerfully chase after him while rehearsing to myself that dogs are dogs.
- When my dog has humped every other female dog in the neighborhood and kids continually come to my door with free puppies who look remarkably like my dog, I will be able to say "no thank you" because dogs are dogs.
- When my dog perks up his ears, cocks his head and puts on his cutest cute puppy face, which he will inevitably do because dogs are dogs, I will share my ham sandwich and beer with him.
- When my dog is afraid of the thunder and jumps into my bed to sleep, I will move over and make room for him because dogs are dogs, and dogs can be people too.
If you answered yes to all of the above statements, then you have what it takes to be a dog owner. Only then should you consider having children.
Amy Chavez is a humor columnist for The Japan Times. She lives on an island in the Seto Inland Sea with her husband, Fred, the Boulder, The Slab, and Frank the flying cat. Her childhood dog, a big, mischievous black lab named Dammit, recently passed away. You can find her eulogy for Dammit and her other recent columns at Japan Lite.
Copyright © 1998 by Amy Chavez. This article originally appeared in the Japan Times. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Two Dog Note: We'd like to add that you get 25 bonus points if you decided to get your dog neutered or spayed before number 4 became a problem--because dogs will be dogs. And another 25 points if you've taught your dog not to rummage through other people's garbage or compost heaps--in spite of the fact that dogs will be dogs. If you've done that, who needs children?
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