I heard a sound the other day so unusual here in my Swiss experience that I jumped, suddenly recognizing its relative absence in this land.
What could seem so strange, you ask? Well, a dog barked.
No matter where you live a dog may be man’s best friend, but when that pup belted out that lone yelp on the bus it dawned on me that the Swiss must by and large put a lot of effort into raising polite, respectful pooches.
I’ve seen them lay silently at their owners’ feet in restaurants and on trains. I’ve watched as two pups prepare to pass on the sidewalk - I wait for it, the sniffing and tugging and maybe even snarling - but they rarely bother to even notice the other.
In the next building over from us, there is even a woman who runs a doggy day care from her apartment. She is constantly loading and unloading four and five pups at a time from her big yellow van with “Tageshündi” painted on the side. (To go on doggy crèche field trips, perhaps?)
Those dogs just prance along on their leashes. When I met her neighbour at a party, I had to ask, is it loud?
“No,” she replied, “I’m probably louder, as I play the piano.”
To all this, I say bravo.
I love dogs. I’d love to own one, although right now a child and cat, not to mention a husband, seem like enough. But back in the homeland, I’ve had occasion to know far too many irresponsible dog owners.
I’m afraid. For whatever reason, these folks breed dogs that jump on you the moment you walk in the door, dogs that bark way into the night, or in one particularly awful case, a dog that would every time run up to me and pee on my shoe.
I even come from a place that if you don’t specifically say “no dogs” on a party invite, people will bring them. And then you have a pack of six tearing in circles around your lawn.
My only wish here is that I could say hello once in awhile to one of these dogs, give it a scratch behind the ears. Perhaps the Tageshündi needs dog-walking volunteers.