GREG RAY: Wag-tailed nightmare

I LIKE our dog, Skip.

I like him a lot. He’s fun company, loves the family, does good watchdog work and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. (Apart from that expensive blood transfusion after he ate rat poison.)

But, if I was trying to rent a house, I know he’d be a serious liability.

That’s why I felt sorry for Dave Barker, who wrote to the Newcastle Herald this week complaining that he couldn’t find a house to rent because landlords didn’t want dog owners.

‘‘My dog is friendly, well-behaved, groomed weekly and is rarely left at home alone,’’ Dave wrote.

‘‘Having put together a pet resume for rental applications, I find she even has better references than I do.’’

But Dave has to move house by February 22 and, up until the time of his letter, he hadn’t been able to find a landlord willing to take a dog owner as a tenant.

It’s a curly problem, for dog-owning tenants and for landlords alike.

Part of the problem is that, if you ask them, no dog owner admits to being irresponsible. 

Yet many of us are.

And for property owners, dogs can be bad news.

I have seen one instance where short-term tenants swore blind that they always cleaned up after their mutts, that they never let them inside and the dear little things would never pester anybody.

And then watched as the house in question filled up with dog hair and the dog was allowed to lie on a bed with expensive linen, upon which it bled. Profusely.

The response of the dog owners, when asked to pay for a clean-up, was unprintable.

Dogs can be wonderful companions, and the temptation to succumb to their pleading brown eyes and let them inside on rainy nights can be powerful.

But on the few occasions when we’ve let Skip into our laundry, it took weeks for the smell to subside.

If he spends an hour in my car, it takes another hour to vacuum his hair out of the carpet and the seats. 

We love our dogs, despite their faults, like we love our children. And, just as we are often intolerant of other people’s children, the same goes for other people’s dogs.

Actually, I was recently tempted to suggest a business idea to anybody who might be interested.

My idea was to get potential house-buyers to hire you to scout the neighbourhood where they were thinking of buying, to see if there were any horror stories they should avoid. 

You know, like those awful neighbours from hell that some streets are cursed with. 

The ones who make everybody else think about moving away.

And teenagers with drum kits. 

And unremitting barking dogs.

I know a couple who have lived happily in their street for more than 50 years but are now seriously talking about shifting house because of a pair of yappy dogs next-door. 

‘‘The dogs’ owners are really nice people,’’ they said.

‘‘But they just don’t seem to care that their dogs bark like mad all day every day. 

‘‘It is sending us completely around the twist.’’

And I know another elderly lady who has both a relentlessly barking dog and a death-metal teen next door.

‘‘Every time the boy’s parents go out, he blasts his music so loud my whole house shakes,’’ she told me.

And the dog?  The only time she can’t hear it yapping is when the death-metal drowns it out.

It would be worth paying a few dollars to an advance scout to find out about horrors like that before you bought a house, wouldn’t it?

And this, I suppose, is why so many landlords aren’t keen on tenants with dogs.

Most dog owners are responsible, but the irresponsible ones make a big impact.


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