Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Postman's Knock

I have just had an extremely sobering experience.

The postman came today with a parcel that needed signing for. Normally when someone knocks on the door I send the dogs to their crate so that I can deal with the person at the door without having to field two inquisitive collies at the same time, but Cybi is in the teen phase at the moment and pushing his boundaries wherever he can. My front door is at the end of a narrow hallway which is quite cluttered with shoes and things that don't live anywhere else (you mean not everyone keeps their car's parcel shelf in the hallway?) and so opening the door fully while on crutches is a challenge at the best of times. It gets exponentially more complicated when you are also trying to fend off a collie who has decided that now is the right time to ignore what he's been taught AND you're trying to get to and open the door quickly because otherwise your parcel is going to get taken back to the depot.

I managed it, vaguely, and the postman took one look at me, and the oncoming collie and took a large step back. I can't blame him - there were 3300 dog attacks on posties last year and I'd imagine he was keen not to add to that statistic as my dog was blithely ignoring my commands to return to his bed - I know he's just being a pain, but the postman definitely doesn't. So balancing crutches and partially open door to prevent the dog getting out I managed to sign for my parcel. As I opened the door more fully to take said parcel, Cybi had another attempt at find out what was going on, and since I didn't have a hand free I just yelled at him. Fortunately he listened enough to back away from the door and return to the inside of the house.

At which point, I apologised to the postman and uttered the immortal words "He's just being friendly" Cybi and Daisy started playing in the kitchen. And as anyone who has bigger dogs will know, playing generally sounds like someone is being murdered.

"He doesn't SOUND friendly," said the postman.

"Er, no," said I. "They are just playing, though I can see how you might not come to that view if you didn't know them."

Awkward silence.

Anyway, it made me think once again about the recent change to the Dangerous Dogs Act. As of May this year, if your dog is "dangerously out of control" anywhere - whether public or private - you leave yourself at risk of prosecution. As with anything involving criminal prosecution, you have to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and a dog being dangerously out of control is a very grey area, but it does mean, more than ever, that responsible dog owners need to have their pets well trained and well behaved both out on walks and in the home. Attending a Good Citizen Dog Scheme class is a great place to start.
It also means (and this was what was really brought home to me this morning) that sometimes you need to think about your pets from a non dog lover's perspective. You know your dogs are just being friendly, but that random person in the park might not.


  1. Glad you were able to get your package, Sarah!
    I have to say, it's really difficult to relate to these kinds of people, in my opinion, the non-dog/non-animal people. Obviously, you have to try and be objective, what with the looming risk of unfair prosecution, but still. People who don't like animals are somehow less human, at least to me. How can anyone with a heart, soul, and compassion NOT like animals?
    Hope you're healing well :)

    1. Hahaha I know. When you see someone begin to look uneasily at you when you talk about your animals, and then you ask if they have pets and they go "I don't really like dogs/cats/animals" and you go "yeah it's been lovely talking to you, but now I have to go find a normal person to speak to. Bye now!"

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I had a friend who drove FedEx and she had a lot of similar experiences. And a few bites too. It's something about that uniform, I swear. The thing is that she ADORES dogs. I don't blame the mailman for being wary. A strange dog is a strange dog. And yes, you do have to look from the other person's perspective. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Interestingly, a solicitor in the UK who specialises in "dog law" reckons the incidence of bites in areas of the US that have unenclosed front lawns is much lower, as the dog doesn't get the same well defined boundary and is hence less territorial. Don't know if people who have to brave loose dogs to deliver packages would agree!