In the past few decades, a mini boom of small businesses has sprung up to serve dogs and their dog lover-owners. At least in some major cities.
Bakeries for Dogs
I got whiff of the dog bakery business over 15 years ago, when I cycled past a new shop in Toronto’s Beaches area, a gentrified laid back small commercial and residential area with lovely trees and older homes, along Toronto’s East waterfront. Upon closer inspection, I realized all the goodies were for dogs. And no mixing with delectables for their owners.
There must be a bakery that offers side-by-side doggie dessert snacks alongside with cookies and cakes for people.
Growing Up in a Non-Pet Household
I grew up in a non-pet household in a poor family with 6 children crowded in a 3 bedroom old house that stretched for 8 people. Apparently my father had a dog for short time when he grew up in China. Thereafter it was survival during the Chinese-Japanese war and the Communist takeover that changed everyone lives.
In fact, at the height of the Cultural Revolution during Mao’s time, owning a dog was seen as bourgeois –in face of massive starvation (and it really was) at different times in Communist political fervor and history. This was long after my parents came to Canada. Disapproval of dogs in China during that time, must be viewed against a backdrop of anti-imperialist campaigns, torture and unlawful arrest of innocent people. Dog lives seemed quite pale when family members disappeared or were brainwashed against their will. However now, with China’s growing middle class, the number of dogs as pets, in China is on the rise again.
My mother was remotely uncomfortable with dogs and most likely that fear transferred to some of us. I used to have mini nightmares as a child, involving a dog. Those sweat induced dreams, must have been partially fuelled by a neighbour’s dog. Corky was a fierce, untrained German shepherd that was kept chained in their fenced backyard. We never saw Corky walked around by his owners in the neighbourhood. Same for his house companion, a caramel-coloured, dozy cocker spaniel that got fat since it seemed to lie around on the porch all the time. We would snicker about fat Taffy dragging its butt, but really again, a result of owner neglect.
Admittedly I’m not totally comfortable as an oncoming cyclist to see another cyclist on their bike with a dog running along on leash. It must be a well-trained dog to trot along side for the cyclist to toodle along. Or a better idea for long distances that might tire a dog and if the cyclist is a strong distance rider, to plop the dog in a basket or bike trailer for a bike ride.
Guarding Baby from Danger
As the home guardian, I have heard of two stories from people I personally know, whose dog was a convenient deterrent to home invader and thief. Jack also remembers when his crawling baby brother was protected by the family dog from a snake. By standing directly over the baby, the dog instinctively nudged the baby gently with its four legs and body to stop and redirect the crawling baby away from the snake.
After such heart-stopping incidents, the family protector needs royal treatment –more than just a baked doggie cookie.
I am not sure about other municipalities, especially outside of North America, but Vancouver does have its contingent of vocal dog owners who make sure there are dog leash-free park areas –a great idea to deal with higher density neighbourhoods with many resident dog owners and busy bike-pedestrian paths.
As a cyclist, occasionally I do see the regular dog walker here and there –that is, paid dog walkers. Usually the obvious sign is the dog walker has 4-8 dogs of different breeds and sizes, linked by a master triaging dog leash. One finds them
more often on car-free paths or several times, sharing the elevator going down for some fresh air. It’s a mad, dog tail -scramble to spring outdoors by then!