No pooches while percolating

There is a time to interact with others’ pets – and it’s not while meeting someone for a coffee

I don’t want to brag, but I do consider myself ‘gutsy’. Gutsy as in brave, not as in flabby in the region of the stomach. I have dangerously little fear of conflict, and I’m not generally concerned about the reaction to an article, statement or social media post.

And yet, this column has me worried. So much so that I’m tempted to write under a pseudonym. And whereas I mostly feel that my family can handle what negative attention I invite into their world, I’m concerned about the impact this might have on them. But needs must. Because what we need is for dog owners to accept that not everyone loves their ‘furry friends’ like they do. What I need is for pet owners to consider that not everyone wants to have a coffee with their pooch when out, and that some of us meet friends at coffee shops to get away from domestic squabbles. They need to know that competing hounds reminds us of children squabbling. Which, if we wanted it in the background, we could have stayed home for.

It’s worth remembering that we aren’t Capetonian. Well, the ones of us who live in Johannesburg aren’t. The same applies to pets. And so, where pets being sandy, wet and enthusiastic after a walk or game of fetch on the beach is perfectly appropriate in Sea Point or Bantry Bay, the same doesn’t apply in the City of Gold. Johannesburg dogs don’t have the live and let live, free-spirited, chilled vibe of Capetonian dogs, who prefer to make love, not war. No. Johannesburg dogs are the sour, rough, tattooed, potential mugger types who would rather be home nursing their hangovers on a Sunday morning than sipping a flat white with other irritable hounds.

The bottom line is that having other people’s dogs at a coffee shop isn’t nearly as much fun as pet owners might think it is. Patrons might coo and smile and even ask you what the animal’s name is and how old it is. They might even ask what breed it is. But they mean none of it. Deep down, they are resentful and angry and see no good reason why anyone should be licking the table on which they’ve just placed their cortado.

I was complaining to a friend about the dog situation one Sunday morning when he told me that he had just experienced the same thing, saying, “We had coffee at a great place just after our run. But there was a dog fight and the one owner refused to put her dog on a leash. Insane!”

I’m not suggesting that we leave our pets in the car with the windows up or tied to a pole with a metal chain just long enough to taunt them. I’m not suggesting that we rely on the kindness of strangers to hydrate them. I’m just floating the idea that dogs are best left on Instagram.

Text | Howard Feldman
Photography | Jaromir Chalabala
Follow Howard Feldman on X: @HowardFeldman

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