The dog, the puppy and the café owner

First of all I’d like to tell you quite firmly that my dog is not perfect and I have no illusions about that. He is wonderful and considering he has spent three out of his five years in a council pound in Spain he is remarkably well balanced. He has his problems but then all dogs do.

Ogden has personal space issues when he is on a lead and the type of dog (with the exceptions of staffies) isn’t always predictable. If he didn’t have some issues with personal space then I’d be surprised when his background is considered. Occasionally he’ll bark at one of the cats when they’re too near his bed but he doesn’t snarl or raise his hackles with his own animals.

He is great off the lead except for a deafness that happens when he has a squirrel or a pigeon in his sights. He has never seen another dog and ran up to it and attacked when he was off the lead. During morning walks with a group of dogs he actually intervenes if the play tips over into borderline aggression. In the park he largely ignores other dogs once they’ve got over the sniffing bit. He’s good with young dogs and puppies but, as older dogs do, he will put them in his place. He has a very loud bark and uses it with joy – I swear it’s his equivalent of a laugh!

Once a week Ogden goes to a pet sitter for the afternoon. He is almost always in the company of at least two other dogs for the whole time he is there. He goes into their houses, he plays with them, shares a cushion with the youngest and plays with them happily when they’re in the park.

Several times he’s spent time with a friend who has a child. They came round today for a cuppa and a cake. I didn’t hear her knocking on the door but Ogden did and barked like mad like most dogs do. When I opened the door he continued to bark and my friend just walked past him and he stopped. Her little girl walked in too and he was perfectly calm with her as she went around the flat talking to the cats and the rats.

I think we can safely say he’s not a dangerous dog even if he’s not perfectly behaved.

There’s a café (Hennessey’s, North Street in Bedminster) round the corner from me that’s known to be dog friendly. Just a really friendly place really, laid back and I’ve been going there since it opened. When I got Ogden it was one of the places I took him first in order to socialise him and he liked it there. I’ve taken friends there over the years both with and without Ogden. It’s dark inside and when the sun shines in at a certain time of the afternoon it makes the people who come in through the door dark silhouettes without features.

I was with a friend quite close to the door when the owner came through the door and bent door towards Ogden on one of the occasions described above. Ogden thought that a ghost from his past was looming towards him and snapped at him. Mike, the café owner, said loudly, “He didn’t bite me and if he did I’d bar you not him.” Very clearly and spoken loudly.

We have been in there since then and I’ve been in there on my own. On one occasion when I was on my own a French bulldog made an attempt to bite me but this was laughed off because, hey ho, little dogs don’t hurt and their bites feel like gentle tickles from a loving parent don’t they?

The aforementioned friend and her child came round to see me today and I took them round to Hennessey’s because it’s a little walk for Ogden and, up until today, was a friendly place. We ordered drinks and cake and sat down in a window seat which was my choice and mainly because the small room I’d normally go into was full.

Ogden was great until a woman with a spaniel puppy came in and then he began to bark. Bark NOT growl. He held his tail high (which is normal for him as he’s an alpha male and his tail sits naturally high) but he was not unfriendly. This is the way he greets all dogs and it’s the way he greets me – his tail is a high sitting tail. A few minutes later the puppy and it’s owner left and in doing so the puppy stretched towards Ogden who bent down in barked right in its face. This is older dog telling a younger dog to behave and happens every day to puppies. It’s the way they learn to respect older dogs and it’s training that us humans can’t give them. He didn’t touch the dog in an aggressive way.

Mike immediately started shouting about how Ogden had bitten the puppy even though he couldn’t have seen whether he had or not. He then began shouting about how the puppy was bleeding and it most definitely wasn’t. The puppy was whining which is a reaction that all puppies exhibit when older dogs tell them off and the owner quite calmly told me that the puppy was ok and behaved in a way that indicated she accepted that what had happened was normal dog behaviour. Then Mike shouted that Ogden would never be allowed in again as he had bitten a six week old puppy (a puppy at that age wouldn’t have had jabs, shouldn’t have been walking in a public and could be spreading disease all over the place as well as picking illnesses up). Okay.

I tried to explain about dog behaviour; the light in the café, older dogs and young dogs, that it was non-aggressive but I was loudly talked down by Mike who is not a dog owner but obviously an expert. Ogden, during all this shouting, sat calmly and I refused to be shamed into an apology. I told Mike I understood where he was coming from and refused to let my anger show when he announced to the whole café that Ogden had bit him on one occasion, had now bitten a dog and the next time it would probably be a child. He said all this, very loudly, in front of an audience. When I paid for out food and drinks on the way out the carried out the transaction with that high pitched false cheerfulness that people fake when they don’t want to speak to you and didn’t say thank you.

As I said at the beginning of this post Ogden is not perfect. He has personal space issues but he has never attacked a dog, person or child. He spent three of his five years in a pound in Spain and during that time his back was burned with either hot fat or acid leaving a deep tissue burn on his back – quite a sizable scar has been left.

He isn’t perfect but he tries to please and now and then his insecurities take on a life of their own but we’re working on that. I love him and I’m quite sure that he hasn’t become as good as he can be yet. He is settling in more each day, becoming more confident and shows how loving he is to me, other people and the animals he lives with.

Anyway Hennessey’s on North Street in Bedminster has lost me as a customer and I reckon that if I went in again then I’d be asked to leave and I’m not giving a person who embellishes the truth the opportunity to be a snotty git. I wouldn’t recommend the place to anybody ever again and if I’ve recommended it to you in the past then I retract that recommendation. Now, where’s my trip advisor log-in details…