The French LOVE dogs (literal dogs not all my figurative dog-talk). Dogs can go on the train, on the tram, in a restaurant…just about anywhere that doesn’t have a sign indicating
otherwise. A dog being out and about in public is so prevalent that at my favorite restaurant they even have a “dog’s menu” underneath the children’s menu.
As a life-long dog lover I embrace this; I like realizing that there is a canine friend at the table next to me in a restaurant or having a large furry beast relaxing under my feet on the train, it’s charming and friendly. In the U.S. we are dog-banners; I’ve seen a dog get kicked out a post office line before…I mean, the POST OFFICE for heaven’s sake…what is the dog going to do that could possibly be more unpleasant than what your postal worker will do? (har har har – I slay me)
Could this difference in policy actually be a difference in behavior? While I have seen no evidence whatsoever to convince me that French children behave better than children of any other nationality (sorry, I’m sure I’ll get skewered for this since it is all the rage…but there it is…kids are kids the world over and I see just as many crying, screaming temper tantrums in public here as I have in any other country I have lived in) I WILL say that their dogs are appear to be more attune to social etiquette.
A friend was recently visiting from the U.S. and commented on the fact that the canines
about town seemed to be much better behaved. They sit patiently if left outside a “magasin” without barking or putting up much of a fuss, while giving imploring looks they do not incessantly beg at restaurant tables, and they typically manage to “do their business” in the “espace chiens”* set up around town for this express purpose.
And so, the question is: Are these better behaved dogs or are they just French? Let me explain by going into dog psyche for a moment.
A French dog is out and about in town with his owner. This is the dog’s internal dialogue.
Pfff…look at that stoopeed bichon on a leash…so degrading. I mean, you know, you should learn how to walk if you want to go out in public.
“Hey Cotton Ball – yeah, you with the leash – it is not hard, you know, just walk with your human. You are embarrassing us all!”
Well, it is hardly a wonder, huh? The owner is wearing tennis shoes and MON DIEU picking up the poop off the sidewalk! If my owner did this I would run away; I would rather live on ze street zen with a human who would disrespect themselves so. It would be too shameful. Picking up poop…it eez disgusting, non? I don’t walk on leashes and I manage to get to a toilet when nature calls, huh? I’m not a barbarian or an American…ha…Americans.
The owner stops in front of a bakery and leaves the dog waiting outside with another one. Our narrator dog stops and looks around for a minute.
A la la la la…what is thees barking fool next to me?
“You know, we are just waiting outside the “marche”; relax Kujo!”
“Hey – Timmy hasn’t falled down a well, Lassie! Have some dignity.”
Pfff…I would never behave in such a way. I don’t need to bark all the time and act like I am having a heart attack of excitement each time my human returns. …Rideeculous. I have standards, you know? I know how to comport myself in public. I-
“OOOH! My human, bonjour, bonjour, salut, salut, salut!!!!!!!!!!”
Last week I was walking back home from the bakery with my baguette in hand. As some bakeries prefer, the baguette wasn’t even fully enclosed in a wrapper but just had a wisp of paper for me to hold it around the middle. As I was walking back to my house the baguette was down by my side…you know, about dog height…and a dog came walking by with his owner. The dog didn’t so much as turn his nose in the direction of my baguette.
It made quite the impression on me that the dog didn’t even make an attempt; there was no tug of war with the owner pulling him back from trying to devour my baguette. I thought to myself what a well-behaved canine he was but then again, the dog was French so maybe my baguette was just from the wrong bakery.
*The Espace Chiens are set up around the city and are little sandy or dirt pits (sort of like sandboxes) with some fencing around them for the dogs to do their business. Yes, that is right, in France dogs have their own public toilets…gotta love it. Furthermore, while these “espaces” are used regularly there is still a prodigious amount of poo on the sidewalks. When you walk around France it is best to keep an eagle eye.