Frustrations in Public Pet Parenting

This post is labeled both Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down, along with Sore Thumbs and Twiddling Thumbs.  Why?  Because as I sit writing this, the wind is picking up, and I am thinking about my poor little boys being stuck indoors for the next couple of days while a little bitty (ha!) tropical storm named Isaac makes its way up the gulf.  It’s getting too ugly too quickly to take them to the dog park (plus you would not believe the work that entails for me now that Joe has discovered his absolute adoration for all things muddy).  But, as I was walking Marty for the sixteenth time I had a brilliant idea:  I asked the front desk manager if I could take them into the back fenced area of the hotel where the sport court and grills are to run around off-leash for a few minutes and burn off some energy.  He agreed immediately (who wouldn’t?  My boys are pretty convincing what with their giant eyes and playful demeanor and smiling faces).  He said the only issue would be if another guest wanted to go outside to grill or use the sport court, etc., then I might have to pack them indoors.  These conditions were agreeable to me and, more importantly, to Joe and Marty.

Your Conditions are Accepted.

The boys were playfully running around the area, chasing each other, sniffing the new environment, and having a marvelous time when I accidentally dropped the roll of poop bags I was carrying.  Normally this is not a big deal, but with the wind such as it is, instead of a roll of bags, I had a streamer of bags attached to a plastic tube.  Streamers are very tempting play toys for puppies.  It was a race to see if I could roll up the bags before the boys could catch them in their mouths.  Joe won.  He got a bite of bags and they tore from the rest of the roll.  Of course, he wanted more, so he immediately let go of his hold on the bags and they went blowing through the bars of the fence into the parking lot.  I am not the kind of person who leaves a mess behind (most especially when it pertains to my dogs, because I know how egregiously unforgiving people can be toward pet owners for even the slightest infraction).  I quickly gathered the remaining bags and stuffed them in my pocket (pausing only to wrestle a couple from Marty’s grasp).  I looked around, realized it was unlikely anyone would be coming out on the patio/sport court during the thirty seconds it would take me to dart around the fence line to retrieve the bags before they could blow completely away into the wildlife preserve and choke some baby gator.  I also knew my boys were unlikely to cause any real damage, because as soon as I walk away, they always follow to the gate/fence to watch me intently in case I am about to abandon them forever.  I have never actually abandoned them forever, so I’m not sure where they came up with this idea that I would.  It’s not quite separation anxiety,  but there is definitely concern.

You’re Not Leaving Forever, Are You? Who Will Feed Us Dinner? Who Will Love Us? And What about Dinner?

No sooner was I outside the gate, on the other side of the fence line in hot pursuit of the fugitive plastic bag streamer, with Joe opposite me inside the fence, than another guest came outside carrying a plastic bag full of garbage.  I recognized her as one of the few people in the hotel with an irrational fear of my dogs (I don’t know if it’s rational for other dogs she’s encountered in her life, but knowing the greatest danger she faces from my dogs is either anaphylactic shock from a severe pet allergy [unlikely since she continues to breathe in their presence] or being enthusiastically cuddled, pawed at, and licked, it’s definitely irrational).  She always cowers and waits for a separate elevator, or gives me dirty looks from across the lobby.  I quickly recalled my boys, to make sure I had them under complete control, so she could dispose of her garbage.  Unfortunately, Marty had gotten himself stuck inside the sport court, and couldn’t make his way to the fence line.  I told her to hold on, while I ran around to the gate to come in and collect him so he wouldn’t run up to her looking for love.  Marty’s theme song at a time like that would definitely be “Looking for Love (in All the Wrong Places).”

You Know You Want to Love Me.

She was trying to shout something to me before I came around (which I couldn’t hear, let alone understand over the wind).  I collected my boys and motioned to her that she could come throw her trash away in the bin.  I’m not sure why she hung around, because she refused to come around, even though I had the dogs by the collar in sit-stays where she could see them (inside the sport court which meant another barrier between us and the garbage).  She shook her head when I said she was welcome to come throw her garbage away, and finally ejected something like, “No.  I’ll just go talk [she said talk, but I’m fairly certain she meant complain] to the front desk.”  Okay.  I think she fully expected the front desk personnel to be upset that I was outside with my boys, because as a clearly irresponsible pet owner, there is no possible way I would have asked permission to have my boys outside in the fenced area off leash, nor would any decent hotel staff or manager have had the audacity to approve such behavior.  Except that the staff here do have the audacity to approve such behavior.  They love my boys (and spoil them with unhealthy dog treats) and comment all the time on how well behaved they are (if only they see what I see…).  I did feel sorry that the manager was probably going to be on the receiving end of her tirade against me.

What I imagine she looked like.  Image credit here

She went inside; I leashed the boys (much to their dismay), took them back outside the fence with me, and collected the rogue bag that started this mess in the first place.  I was upset by her reaction to go straight to “tell on me.”  I felt guilty for being outside with them (even though I’d been given permission) and took them back inside.  I wondered for a minute which of us had more right to be upset.  I am happy to be accommodating to anyone when it comes to my boys.  I know not everybody loves them like I do.  That’s why I didn’t hesitate for a second to make sure I had them under complete positive control (even though it meant allowing those stupid bags to blow farther away).  But I also understand that she was probably startled to find them running in the back area, and it probably irritated her to find them “unattended” when I went outside of the fence line (especially not having any idea why).  But going straight to the front desk to file a complaint seems like a passive-aggressive way to resolve conflict.  It’s not like they are going to turn us out.  And I’m not sure what type of resolution she was seeking.  Without knowing, I think I can reasonably expect even more open hostility than I have already received from her when we see each other.  I’m pretty certain she’ll never give me an opportunity to talk it through with her.

It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong… or at least like I should feel like I’m doing something wrong… All for trying to be a responsible pet parent.

Anybody else ever have trouble like this?

For the record, I saw the manager a few minutes ago.  He confirmed she was upset when she came in, but he  informed her that I’d been given permission and was well within my rights as a guest to have my boys outside.  He said she was more understanding once she knew.  I’m not sure if that’s true (given my previous experiences with her), it might be, or maybe he’s just trying to ensure there isn’t a showdown in the lobby one morning.


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One Response to Frustrations in Public Pet Parenting

  1. MRH says:

    When we lived in town, we always went out of our way to introduce our dogs to those skittery children whose parents would actually let them approach danger dogs (which ours weren’t). The kids fed off their parents’ “irrational” fear until we could get them away from the parent ship. Sadly, you just can’t help some people. I’m impressed that you actually buy poop bags. We just used plastic grocery bags! : )

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