Illustration: Xia Qing/GT
Last week, I took my dog to a beach in Hebei Province. It was a public beach and had no sign forbidding people from bringing pets. I even asked the park manager there, who said it's okay. So, I put my dog on a leash and brought a mini shovel and a bag with me, in case he needed to poop.
But even with all this preparation, I didn't receive a friendly gesture from anyone. When we walked near children especially, some parents would warn their children, "Stay away. The dog will bite you."
I often meet with this attitude in the city. Many Chinese people have this preconceived notion that dogs reek of danger. They bite, stink, and give rabies.
When walking my dog on the sidewalk, I've encountered many incidents where parents hush their children or the children themselves get scared and duck away. I've also encountered people rushing away. Once, someone even threw a bottle at my dog. Although most of the people we meet are friendly, these extreme cases keep happening.
As China develops, more and more people have taken dogs as pets and even live and travel with them like family. But the society isn't ready for that. Many Chinese people, especially the elderly, have an old-fashioned view of dogs, that they are either food or barbaric animals that don't deserve attention.
Because of this view, it's extremely difficult to take my dog on trips. It's difficult to find accommodations, parks or tourist attractions that allow pets. Whenever I ask a park manager whether I can bring my dog in, the most common response is an icy glare and a firm "no."
I understand that there's a reason for the nonacceptance. There has been a rapid rise in the number of families that own pets, but many owners haven't got a clue how to behave properly. I've seen people let their dogs run wild without a leash on busy streets and have nearly stepped in dog poop in residential compounds and even in elevators multiple times.
I think the government should be held partially responsible as well.
Every year, during the summer months, Beijing's dog owners go through a period of panic. Police squads lurk around every corner, trying to catch dogs that are unlicensed or that violate the regulation.
But the regulation itself is flawed, in my opinion. It states that only dogs under 35 centimeters in height can obtain a license within the Fifth Ring Road, which is absurd. All dog owners know that large dogs such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors are gentle, obedient types. Why must the government limit the size, but overlook the fact that many dog owners let their dogs shit on the street, run wild and hurt people? Why can't there be a license for being a good dog owner?
I hope that in the future, this situation can change. It would be nice to walk on the street with my dog without fear of being glared at.
This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.