Julia Stephenson

Pet hate

How did London become so fanatically anti-dog?

When my mother died last year, her small 13-year-old sheltie, Nutty, came to live with us in our London flat. I knew it would be difficult to keep a dog in town, but it was a terrible shock to discover how anti-dog the city has become.

While taking him out and about on my daily rounds, I am often booted out of shops. In the bank, the chemist, most boutiques, the post office and department stores, it is No to Nutty. Even in our local garden square, dogs are forbidden, even if I have a poop-a-scoop and Nutty’s on a lead.

I was recently refused entry to a bus, which I now know is illegal although I wasn’t sure enough of my ground to complain. It’s ridiculous: Nutty is far smaller and less of an obstacle than a child’s buggy. Next time I shall rechristen him Rosa Parks and refuse to budge.

The only way to have a pet dog in the city guilt-free is to be blind — although a blind friend reports several instances of being refused entry to shops.

Even Peter Jones, once famous for its pro-dog policy, has caved in to cynophobes, and now refuses dogs entry (yes, the mothership, who would have thought it?)

The routine in shops is always the same. When Nutty and I make our apologetic entry, a dead-eyed jobsworth will shuffle up as fast as his flat feet allow him, announcing smugly, ‘No dogs in here!’ ‘Why not?’ I will inquire. ‘Nothing to do with me. It’s the rules,’ is the blank response. My, the pleasure these people get from saying no.

Friends tell me harrowing tales. Bettina, from animal-loving Switzerland, owns an elderly Jack Russell. The Jack Russell doesn’t bark or make a mess, but neighbours in her block of flats secretly signed a petition to insist her dog is removed.

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