Until a recent trip to the states I was disappointed I couldn’t take my dogs places with me but I understood the rules and didn’t question them. What if they pooped in the middle of a store or what if they broke something or bit someone?
I am a self confessed crazy dog lady and I am hopelessly devoted to my two rescue dogs Jordy and Gabby. I love planning my weekends around them and watching them happily run up and down the dog beach or taking them for a ride in the car but I hate those moments where they see me grab my keys and get excited and then I have to see the sad look on their faces when they realise they are not coming (they call them puppy dog eyes for a reason). If only they spoke more fluent english and I could explain the decision was out of my hands.
So in 2015 when I heard that Bunnings was allowing dogs inside I was so excited. Bunnings operations director Michael Schneider said while customers weren’t being encouraged to bring pets inside, “as long as pets are under appropriate control, are not aggressive and do not compromise the safety of our team or customers they are welcome”.
I admit I was a little nervous about it all, my dogs are not exactly lap dogs Jordy is a American Staffie cross Boxer and Gabby is anyones guess (the beauty of a rescue) but lets just say she has some greyhound in her and is 35 kilos.
None the less I knew my dogs. They have amazing temperaments are very social and are completely fine around strangers.
As we walked past the bunnings greeter I let out a sigh of relief I felt like I had managed to get contraband though we didn’t even get half way down an aisle before a lady asked for a pat, Jordy loved it and wagged her tail, she explained she couldn’t have a dog where she lives her face lit up this was a common theme as we walked through the store.
I kept the dogs close and out of peoples way very conscious of the fact that not everyone likes dogs but people were begging me for pats one after the other people were lining up, it was as if I was escorting a celebrity through the store what was also amazing was people were not only stopping to pat the dog but they were also chatting with us it was like the perfect ice breaker.
I will still never forget the little boys face as I walked around the corner and he said mum look its a doggy and then when my boyfriend walked around the corner with my big dog gabby he yelled out and a horsey! It had everyone standing in line laughing.
Soon after things changed after five-year-old Madelyn Hungerford was bitten by a jack russell in store at Bunnings it was then said they must wear a muzzle if you were to bring your dog in store. Since then I have not seen any dogs at Bunnings and have not taken mine back after all the backlash.
Australia continues to have one of the highest household rates of dog ownership in the world with almost two in five households (3.6 million) owning a dog and its on the increase.
So why hasn’t our country embraced this trend? Dog owners come up against it time and time again, when trying to find a rental (thats for another day) and especially when it comes to being able to have your four legged friend by your side.
It seems no-one questions this (myself included) because its just the way it is.
Until now picture this it was the day before christmas and my boyfriend and I are in Los Angeles we decide to go to The Grove one of the most popular and busiest shopping centres in L.A. we stepped into the Nike store first it was at least four stories high so you can imagine my excitement when we get to the second floor and there is a big beautiful german shepherd just chilling with his owners, It took everything in me not to go and give him a big ear scratch but I thought he must be a service dog so I can’t.
So we go up another level then there is a lab just sitting there chilling and in the corner a girl had a little white fluffy tucked under her arm with every floor came more people and more dogs and it was all completely calm I was freaking out more than they were! I seen a little girl go up and pat the lab I thought hey if she can so can I, I asked the owner for a pat they were happy for me to I asked them if they had a special permit to bring the dog into the store they said no. I was amazed I explained to them what it was like in Australia and how dogs couldn’t go anywhere they looked horrified they said their dog has always gone everywhere with them.
According to bringfido.com The Grove is just one of many dog friendly shopping centres across America the trend continued when we went to New York in fact the hotel we stayed at The Hotel Empire (the one from Gossip Girl) allowed dogs to stay of any size it was quite amazing to see and as I mentioned before a total ice breaker. I lost count of the times people let us pat their dogs in shops, hotels and in cafes it gave me a sense of community in the biggest city in the world people loved showing off their dogs.
Every apprehension I had about taking my dogs with me fell away I never once saw a fight or a mishap everyone just got it there weren’t dogs running wild it was all so ordered and calm you would hear the occasional bark but that was it!
In fact the only mishap I had was when a kid in TGI Friday’s poured his coke down my back from the next booth as he screamed at the top of his lungs.
Now I know this will get me some grief but if I can handle that graciously I think its time we get on board with our four legged friends sitting under the table at our local cafe or walking by our sides as we pick out the latest piece from IKEA and at least I know that if mine start acting up I can tell them to sit and bribe them with a treat if only that worked for all children.