Nature's call

Nature's call

Having been a canine lover all my life, I am awed by the Europeans’ love for their dogs. I was surprised to see during a recent visit that in most public transport dogs travel free. They have designated places to sit and there are hooks where their leashes can be tied.

It was amusing to see that when two dogs are travelling in the same bus, they don’t snap or bark at each other. They silently growl and travel peacefully. The dogs don’t even acknowledge the presence of other human beings! In fact in a tram when a small dog, silently sitting on the floor, was about to be trampled by a passenger, only the dog handler gave a warning, not the dog.

While admiring the behaviour of dogs in Europe, I kept thinking how the canines would ease themselves in public. I had read somewhere that even the best behaved dog cannot resist peeing on the wheel of a parked car. The Europeans seemed to have a solution. I saw a circular enclosure in a public park with a pole at its centre. Affixed to the pole was a symbol of a dog peeing. The dog handlers were supposed to lead their dogs to the central pole, where the urine smell of others would induce the dog to pee.

But how to make the dogs clear their bowels in a earmarked place was my next doubt. In the US, I had seen dog handlers carrying a bag and a scoop to take away the excreta of their wards. I had not seen this in Europe. When I saw signs on the footpaths warning dog owners that dog excreta on the footpath would cost 65 euros, I thought that it is impossible to make the dogs pass their stools at an earmarked place.

As a former cop, I kept thinking as to how the authorities could collect the fines from the culprits.  I imagined that even if cameras recorded which dog relieved where, how could the owner be located to pay the fine? I got an answer soon. While on a morning walk in a park, I saw an old lady with two dogs. Just as I approached, both the dogs decided to relieve themselves and despite all her might, the lady could not pull them away and the dogs happily attended the ‘nature’s call.’ The lady gave me an embarrassed look. I muttered that after all dogs are dogs, cameras notwithstanding.

A few days later, after taking photographs of the famous ‘Mannekin Piss’ monument in Brussels, I was walking along. My wife pointed at two lovely Labradors walking ahead.

My trained police eye easily spotted an oddity. Both the dogs were wearing a garment. I had seen dogs wearing woollens to fight the cold, but what I had not seen was a dog wearing underpants. Yes, both the black dogs were wearing black underpants.

 While I could not fathom the reason for the dog owner to make his dogs wear underpants, my son remarked, “probably to avoid paying a fine of 65 euros—aren’t underpants cheaper?’  My wife said, “May be to prevent the dogs from being influenced by the famous monument.” Till date, I haven’t fathomed the reason.

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