DEAR JOSH: I would like to thank you for your certainly courageous and very much needed article about the dog owners. Like you, I am certainly not a dog-hater. However, there are two issues that prevent me from loving most of them; or rather, from loving their owners. Firstly, the inevitable crotch smelling, which I certainly find repulsive, to say the least. As a woman, I have the right to object to any kind of invasion of my personal (body) space in this country. Why should there be an exception when the perpetrator happens to be a dog? Ought I feel that an uninvited snout between my legs is something less degrading than a member belonging to our human counterparts? Why? And why is this kind of invasion not even noticed, let alone taken into a consideration by the dog owners? Secondly, regardless of the sexual harassment effect of the sniffing dogs, I also happen to have strong allergy to dogs. At times, especially on a rainy day when I venture to our local coffee shop (that happens to be very inviting of the dog owners with their pets), I have to leave almost instantly. I am certainly not engaging the issue of the preference of human rights over the dog rights. Rather, I would appreciate it if the dog (and coffee-shop) owners could understand that there exist physically impairing health conditions that become seriously aggravated by the presence of dogs in spaces primarily (I think, but I am no longer sure) destined for the humans. The presence of the dogs in a coffee shop is physically disabling for me, while I am not sure that the absence of the dogs would generate a similar disabling effect for their owners. While I am not a supporter of the ban on smoking, I do understand that the smoke does bother people. Therefore, I make sure I light a cigarette at places where my smoke does not reach anyone, or I ask the person next to me whether he/she would mind my smoking. I do so not because I am afraid of the law, but because I would feel sorry if I made someone sick. Can one ever expect similar consideration from the dog owners? Or will they continue with their passive-aggressive smirking, waving the problem away, making it seem like one is simply an over-sensitive, complaining bother, or an outright dog-hater? It truly is time a public discussion be opened up. Hopefully, you article will be the first step towards a better understanding between the dog owners and those who do not mind dogs, but have chosen not to live in their proximity.

Elena Deem

JOSH: I am a dog owner and your article just scratches the surface of the bad dog owner epidemic. The fundamental problem is the dog owner whose dog is a surrogate child (I'll wager this is most dog owners in the city). They treat their dogs like a baby, I suppose hoping that someday their dog will learn to speak English and all their problems will be solved. They have no understanding of what a dog is and in their ignorant attempts to humanize their poor mutts are unintentionally cruel to them. Dog owners choose to believe that their dog will not eat them if they die in their house. This is, of course, not true because it is a DOG not a BABY. Dogs aren't a mystery and they, typically, are not stupid. They are extraordinarily intuitive to how humans think. This is what fools owners. Just because a dog has a 10-word vocabulary and knows that pointing means direction, does not mean the dog is exercising free will when it barks at strangers or tries to hump their legs. It means they don't know what else to do. It also means their owner hasn't told them what to do, which is all a dog wants. An owner takes care of all the basic needs of dog, which, like any wild animal, leaves 99 percent of the day open. Dogs need structure or they go crazy. It is not just annoying to others when owners don't control their dogs, it's cruel to the dog. Like feeding ice cream to someone who is lactose intolerant. No dog is truly bad. It's all about their owners. Bastards.

Gavin Cummins

JOSH: As a dog owner, at first I must say that I wanted to also label you a bitchy misanthrope. buuuut, then after I finished reading your article and thought about it: YOU ARE RIGHT. So what kind of dog owner does that make me? Well, I am the dog owner who switches sides of the street when people are coming so that my dog does not sniff or startle them, if that is impossible I shorten his lead and wait until they pass. I usually walk my dog late at night and early in the am so as to avoid other pedestrians. He can be walked without a leash, but for fear of the well-being of others' cats I will not do so. I do not allow him to jump on anyone, if he even thinks about it he will be hit and he knows it. I pick up his poop, but not just when someone’s looking. I do not take him to the bars that allow dogs, I would like to, but that’s not polite. He is licensed, has been since I moved here. My dog and I love dog parks and I thank you for paying your taxes. You are also correct, dog owners are too happy, and easily amused, that doesn’t make us simple minded or oblivious however, and I dislike the insinuation, but yes, most of us do like Ben Harper. I just tell you this because there are responsible pet owners in our city, but just like the good drivers, you don’t notice them because of all the arrogant blind ones cutting you off while their dog is sniffing your food.


JOSH: Thanks for an awesome column on dogs. I like dogs— heck, the wife and I are talking about getting a dog. And I like Ben Harper, too. Having 'fessed up to those egregious misjudgments, however, I am 100 percent in agreement on your column. Our 2-year-old is scared to death of dogs; part of that is 'cause he's, well, 2, but a lot of it is because of incredibly bad dog owner behavior. I'm amazed that even 1/4 of dog owners have bothered to register their dogs - I bet less than 1/4 bother to pick up after their *!&*@( pets when they take them out for a walk. I hope more people take up the suggestion to let the city know when they're harassed by poorly managed dogs. I get a sense from council members and city staff that they're all scared of "the dog owners," and they need to hear from the rest of us to have some balance. Again, thanks.


JOSH: I just wanted to say that I appreciate your article about bad dog owners. After living in Denmark for a year, and traveling throughout Europe, where dog owners are far more responsible, I was shocked to return to the States and see the lack of care owner’s show for their pets. Every dog who bites or jumps up or growls has behind it an owner who is too busy or lazy to properly care for that dog. I have never been a dog owner, and probably never will be, but I have lived with a very well behaved dog and know that it takes a serious investment of time and energy to give one of these animals what it needs. Most dog owners are simply not willing to invest in their animals, and we, the inhabitants of cities, suffer for their lack of care. It is a situation that is unfair to the dogs and unfair to the rest of us. Once again, thank you for your article.

Rebecca Roggli