Home > Choice, Culture > Dogs and babies not allowed

Dogs and babies not allowed

One of the perks of being part of the managing committee in my apartment association is that it gives me fodder for posts like this one. We have a fair number of pets in our complex (mostly dogs), and this led to an Us-vs-Them situation some time ago, which had interesting implications. Almost everyone living in largish apartment complexes would have experienced pet-etiquette issues, a.k.a who-will-clean-the-poop-on-the-jogging-track kind of conflicts. In our case, the trigger point was something unusual – people were disgusted to suddenly find that someone had started using one of the elevators as a piss hole. This started happening regularly with increasing frequency, and naturally led to growing chatter about the menace of pets. No one caught the offending creature in the act, frustration turned to anger, with residents of that particular block (only one specific lift was the target always) justifiably being the most incensed of the lot.

A meeting of all pet-owners was held to enforce guidelines on pet-walking within the premises, dealing with “accidents”, etc. One of the owners though, raised an interesting point in the meeting, which is what the rest of this post is all about. His argument was: if pet owners have to adhere to rules like not walking their dogs in the premises, then parents who had small children should also fall under this rule – babies are prone to “accidents” too – puking, peeing, etc. Neither dog-owners or parents of small children can guarantee that these things will NEVER happen. Calmly, but surely, he also made the point that someone who hasn’t lived with a pet in their house will never be able to empathise that for a dog-owner, the dog was their child and it was unfair to target them exclusively.

Treating dogs and cutie little babies the same way and imposing the same rules for both – stretching things a bit, isn’t it? Here’s the twist in the tale – a camera was installed in that lift, and lo and behold, the peeing stopped. Just like that. And there’s more.. the problem shifted to a lift in another block and the same pattern repeated.. sporadic at first, then almost every day.. until we got in cameras for all the lifts. Since then, we’re all quite relieved (pun wholly intended) that there have been no further incidents..

So then.. if it was a canine with bladder problems, or one who favoured a particular corner of a specific lift, a small camera installed in one corner wouldn’t have caused a behavioural difference when answering calls of nature for an animal, would it? Currently, one theory we have is that one of the drivers or maintenance staff probably held some grouse and decided to express dis-content in a very novel way. But we still don’t know what exactly happened.

I know it’s a funny story overall, but it left me thinking about a couple of things.. first, the way everyone naturally assumed that a four-legged creature was responsible, without ascertaining facts. A mischievous little brat with a perverse sense of humour? No one even considered the possibility. Second, an almost blasphemous reaction to the suggestion that the same rules should be looked at for canines and children.

The larger, related issue here is that as a society we tend to sub-consciously pass judgement on people who do not want much to do with kids, as lacking in emotion, sensitivity and such like. But it’s a fact that the number of people, single or married, who are making a choice to not have children is increasing. My friend D shared this well-argued New Yorker piece on why this idea makes a lot of sense (she also has a favoured expression for babies of all sorts, cute or otherwise – she calls them “ankle-biters”). There’s been recent debate in the US airline industry on running kids-free planes – here’s a NYT article on that one.

So.. signs saying ‘Dogs and Babies not allowed’.. Child-free planes… Are you outraged at the thought, or do you think it’s just a matter of time before the world becomes more inclusive and sensitive to alternate, legitimate life choices?

Whaddya thunk?

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  1. Mr. India
    April 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Now that your kids are big boys your views are biased!! On a more serious note, most apartment complexes face the same issues and its always about who is in the majority. And I think its easier to manage a pet than a kid…

    • April 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      Now thats an interesting angle – my views being influenced by how old my kids are 🙂 . Seriously, I just think individual choices should be respected all the time, however different they are to one’s own. Even half a century ago, being gay/lesbian was thought almost like a disease, right? Btw, who’s this? Mr. India?????

  2. Palu
    April 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    hilarious! I love your post!!!

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