Before I start with a whole list of New Years resolutions including the obvious one of not neglecting my blog, I am going to indulge myself with a year’s end bitch-fest about being a dog mom in Prague. I know, being a Diplomat’s wife, that I should keep the language clean, and “whine, gripe, groan or even piss & moan (OK – less clean)”, but as “bitch” is actually a synonym for a female dog, I have allowed myself this indiscretion. So please bear with me while I share my “pet peeves”.
I’ll be solicitous (or diplomatic) just for a moment and start by saying that Czech people in general are extremely pet tolerant, which stands to reason as it is said that there are apparently more dog owners in the Czech Republic per household than any other country in the world. There are tons of dogs in Prague. They are EVERYWHERE, which brings me to my number one gripe — Dogs off leash!
Officially, dogs are required to be on a leash in all public places which is the most unenforced, bullshit law of all time. The unofficial understanding is that dogs can be off leash if they are under their owner’s voice control. Here is the thing — Czechs THINK they have their dogs under voice command (or they just don’t give a shit), and since my comprehension of Czech language is less than that of a one year old, I am just not sure. What I am sure of is that I keep Lexi in a harness and on leash at all times when walking her, because admittedly, she does not play well with others in the sand box. Perhaps this stems from her time as a Tijuana street dog where she had to fend for and defend herself, but in any case, she is not cool with dogs running up to her all day and giving her the old sniff test while tethered to me.
It became apparent to me on day two in Prague that this was going to be a monumental problem, so Steve and I quickly tried to learn a Czech phrase to warn others that our dog isn’t social. Steve spent the 1st few weeks basically telling Czech people that his dog wasn’t a Socialist (generating a whole different reaction including laughing), while I learned how to say “Můj pes má strach” Which translates to “My dog is scared”. What I really want to say is “Get your stupid dog away from my dog because she will get aggressive and try to eat your dog”, but there is no way I can remember “Získejte stupidní psa pryč od mého psa, protože ona se stala agresivní a snaží se jíst psa” when teeth are bared and I am getting unceremoniously wound up by the leash. Which happened today. Again. Which caused me to stumble into an intersection and step hard on Lexi’s paw. There was no attempt whatsoever of the owner to call his dog back. In fact, he thought the whole thing was funny thus prompting this rant. I am so tempted to just let Lexi off leash and let her fend for herself. I bet no one will mess with my little princess then!
In addition, these free-for-all dogs seem to have impeccable timing. As in they like to sneak up on Lexi just as she is squatting to do her business. This has resulted in a cheek squeezing reflex with a downright refusal to go. Good thing we currently have a live Christmas tree in our dining room because from my dog’s perspective — we have brought the outside in. No need for her to poop outside amongst others when stressed!
Speaking of pooping, there has been a half-hearted effort by the local municipality to get the citizens of Prague to actually clean up after their dogs. They have installed waste bins and “special bags” for disposal all around the city. Before I get into these special bags, it should be noted that I have NEVER seen one being used. EVER. The fine is 1000 CZK which is about $50 US, but is also oddly not enforced.
The bags speak for themselves, which probably explains why no one uses them. If you can get past the ridiculous graphic, you are left with a small, flimsy brown paper sac with a thin poster board weight piece of paper inside which is supposed to be for the “scooping”. As it is so small, you think they at least would provide you with a plastic glove to protect your hand! If you are lucky enough to successfully scoop the poop, then you have to jiggle it into a bag that couldn’t even contain an order of fish and chips. Much like the grease from fish and chips seeps through the bag – well use your imagination. This, amongst many reasons is why I order Mutt Mitts online by the case from the US!!!! Sadly, cleaning up after my dog pegs me as a foreigner 😦
If you manage to dodge the “doo’ on the sidewalks while walking your dog, you can take your pet almost anywhere in the city except museums, churches or public gardens. Steve doesn’t understand why dogs are not permitted in these institutions if allowed in the mall, but Lexi doesn’t seem the religious sort, nor very cultured for that matter, so who cares. Besides, the nice part about having a pet in Prague is that there is a great amount of green space and interesting streets to explore.
Pets are also allowed on the tram, bus & even the metro system. We have yet to try this because I just haven’t figured how to get my dog down the 3-story escalator stairs yet. AND, while I am grateful that my dog can join me in Sephora or shopping for pastries, I am skeptical that this practice is hygienic in any way.
Graciously, I confess, my dog can join me inside a restaurant on a chilly day, be greeted with a smile and a pat on the head by a lovely Czech waiter, be served a nice bowl of water, and joining me in raising a glass to say, “Šťastný Nový Rok” (Happy New Year)!!!!!