I thought I had already experienced the worst internet abuse – until I posted online about my dog, Hank. I had been wondering if I should take him to the vet, after finding some scary-looking lumps on his chest.
When I got Hank, I thought I was vigorously prepared. I had done all the research, bought all the gear, hired a trainer, forked out for pet insurance and found a great vet. I had every intention of being the best dog owner ever. I was ready.
What I was not prepared for was the pressure from other dog owners to never make mistakes.
On one level, this is a good thing: I want people to have high standards for pet owners. Animals should be treated well. However, if I wanted constantly to be made to feel like I’m not good enough, I would still be living at home.
When Hank shat all over a hotel staircase, the stench wasn’t nearly as bad as the looks that people gave me, glaring as if I had kept him in my room for days, feeding him onions and chocolate, just to make him defecate and ruin everyone’s visit to the breakfast buffet.
I got the same reaction when his retractable dog lead failed at the same time as he spotted a squirrel and he circled a couple holding hands (twice), tying them together. Onlookers might have been less judgmental if I had just told them that I had trained him to kidnap couples. “Those leads are dangerous!” a woman hissed.
When I posted in a Facebook group, asking for advice about the scary-looking lumps, I was inundated with vile comments. Apparently, I don’t deserve to care for a dog – or even be alive – if I don’t know that boy dogs also have nipples.