In Austria, dogs and children can ride the tram for half price. In Austria, dogs are welcome in cafes, restaurants and supermarkets. In Austria, people take their dogs along for all kinds of outings and activities.
So obviously, I loved being in a society where it was acceptable to bring dogs everywhere. I am already glad that so much of Brisbane’s cafe etiquette permits pets. So many Australians have pets; I think it’s time we started broadening our horizons when it comes to where dogs are allowed. After all, we’re the ones that brought them into these urban environments; we’re the ones who should face the consequences and find a way for us to co-exist.
Pets can enrich our home lives, but sharing aspects of our live outside the home with our pets can also give us new perspectives and new joys. It means thinking less selfishly – about our pet and their needs as well as our own. It means being more aware of how some environments might be distressing, not just for pets but for other people as well. Involving animals in a wider range of our daily activities helps us be responsible, empathetic and caring.
I saw this in Austria – restaurants were accommodating, bringing fresh water to their canine customers. Dog owners were thoughtful of their impact on their surroundings, keeping their dogs on a lead when appropriate, and cleaning up after their dog when needed. The dogs out in public were also well trained – and even if you disagree that dogs have a place in our public life, surely you can see that better trained dogs are safer dogs, for everyone involved? On that note, I saw children much more comfortable with dogs in Austria than in Australia, and with much better habits when approaching a dog – asking permission to pat it, not coming up from behind, and being gentle and kind with their new four legged friends.
Most of Europe have developed laws and guidelines to allow pets in public places and on public transport without harm to the animals or people involved. Yes, it would be a cultural shift for a lot of Australians, but I think we’re already starting to shift that way already. I think that including animals in more spheres of society will only make society richer and more empathetic, will make public spaces more appealing and dog ownership more attractive. It’s better for pets and people. So while I miss all the many dogs I patted in Austria, I’m hopeful that in the future I’ll see more dogs out and about in Brisbane as well.