Dogs of London

Before leaving Carleton my friend Alice Welna (who did the London Program in 2015), shared some sage wisdom about London- “There will be a lot of dogs- but they will not care about you…it’s tragic.”

It wasn’t until coming to London myself that I fully understood the magnitude of what she was saying. There are dogs everywhere, not just in the grassy squares of Bloomsbury or in the big parks, but trotting down every alleyway and major road, in pubs and restaurants from the trashiest to the classiest of venues. Every day I wander through a scene that should be heaven absent one detail, these dogs, as predicted, could not care less about my presence. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the dogs of London are, without exception, the most well-behaved dogs I have ever encountered. I don’t know how the British accomplish this, whether there is a government mandated dog training program that all canines must undergo, or whether the dogs are just very receptive to the repressed attitudes of their British owners, and try to emulate it as best as they can.

First Impressive Skill of British Dogs- the ability to treat all other dogs with courtesy and respect. I have never heard a London dog bark, except in joyful play with their canine companions. On any given afternoon in Russell Square, there can be between twenty and thirty dogs, who, I presume, are all strangers to each other. Despite these seemingly perfect conditions for an unending din of barking, with the potential for at least one major dogfight, these British dogs politely smell each others’ butts and then proceed with their own pursuits. Occasionally, these dogs will befriend each other, and romp around the park in silent glee.

Second Impressive Skill of British Dogs- the ability to navigate the dangerous and crowded streets of London off-leash. Imagine my horror as I watched a roughly 10-pound Weiner dog, off leash and apparently alone, trotting happily across the busy junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road, in front of a huge double decker bus. The dog emerged unscathed and unconcerned, even less concerned were its owners, waiting patiently at the other side of the street. I have seen countless dogs walking down various sidewalks seemingly alone, sniffing signposts, and wagging their tails at passersby. Just as my panic reaches its highest level of intensity, and I consider whether I should call some sort of dog-centric social service, the dog owners reveal themselves a few blocks ahead, calling out to their slow-moving dog. Despite the relatively free reign of these dogs, I have never seen any of them poop unattended, and the London sidewalks remain remarkably free from dog waste.

Third Impressive Skill of British Dogs- the ability to enter any restaurant or pub, and sit calmly through a meal. Nothing is more delightful than entering a British pub to find a dog sitting attentively at the foot of a table, or lounged across the floor. Dogs are welcome guests, and“No Dogs Allowed” signs are few and far between.

It is all very civilized. Maybe this ultimately is the secret behind the exceptionally well-behaved dogs of London, if we only treated American dogs with such respect, maybe they too would rise to such a high level of conduct.

-Maggie Goldberger ’19

Author: goldbergerm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *