Dogs seem to be all over the place at the moment. I am talking about television programmes and not suggesting that hordes of them are roaming the streets. That only happens in my nightmares. Last night, I watched Nigel Havers and his dog being five-star-pampered in a posh hotel and it made me wince. The dog was served a steak for its dinner! Pets and vets and all sorts of variations seem to be popular - but not with me.
I am not a dog lover. I never have been. And, frankly, I have no inclination to become one. I just don't like them around me. Now, I have nothing against people who find great comfort and joy from their dogs, but it is not for me. I hear of lonely people who would not get through the day if it was not for their canine companions. I understand it all fully. I'm a bit less understanding of people who call their dogs 'my babies'. Each to their own, I suppose.
Two words, (or it may be one word), 'dog-friendly', turn me off when I'm looking to book a hotel. No matter how great the rating, I skip it and continue looking. Dog-friendly pubs and restaurants are a no-no for me too. I was in a pub in Cheshire with friends a few months ago and four people were eating at the next table. Sprawled on the floor were three rather large dogs. One was under the table but the other two were lying in the main pathway that waiting staff used. Staff carrying large trays of food had to step over the dogs to get to their destination. The owners were either oblivious or didn't care. This is not to say, of course, that other dog owners in the pub were careless and irresponsible. (In this day and age, one feels compelled to write a sentence like that for balance.)
In another pub in Derbyshire, we popped in for a summer drink. Within minutes, the door opened and in bounded - the only word - two hounds followed by their owners. One dog jumped onto tables and, after doing a speedy recce of the pub, the other one settled on a cushioned seat in a booth. The owners had that 'aren't they a hoot?' look about them. We walked out. In another place - I can't remember where - we were dining but distracted by a couple eating their meals and handing titbits to their dog. Disgusting.
Pubs and restaurants with 'dog menus' seem to be on the rise. I read that the option of a bowl of water and a nibble are over. I have looked at dog menus that contain things like dishes of beef gravy, tripe, casseroles, marrowbone, sausage rolls, poached fish and ice cream. Sigh. I know a dog's gotta eat, but not next to me while I'm eating, please. I am reminded of another pub where we were enjoying a quiet drink until an old boy came in with his collie. He sat next to us and we had to endure the heavy panting of his dog and the distraction of what looked like a thick slice of slimy cooked ham flopping out of its mouth. Ghastly.
Whatever I think and feel about it, I am on a loser. Dog-friendly places will continue to increase and my options for dog-free hospitality locations will therefore decrease, sadly. For me and others like me who bear no ill-will to dog owners and dogs (balance), 'dog-friendly' will always be a turn-off.
And don't get me started on people who have a sneaky vape in pubs and restaurants!!! The world is going barking mad. I have no sentence for balance on that one.