Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Breed Specific Legislation? What An Absolute Crock Of Shit!

Well last week was a bit of a shit week for me if I am honest. Not much really happened in the early part of the week as I readjusted after the weekend’s exploits – the normal cycle of work, walking Roman and watching episodes of The Wire whilst playing Football Manager. Then, on Wednesday, I woke up feeling positively awful – the bloody flu, again! In England I never got ill very often at all but already since I have been here in Germany I have had the flu twice. I think it is probably down to the extreme weather we have been experiencing here of late. In England we might get a week of sub zero temperatures but here it has been like that for about 2 months solid. I guess my body is not quite used to it and, coupled with a little too much drinking and a little too little sleep, I guess something had to give.

As a result I only worked for a short period of time on Wednesday – I had some important work I had to do so knew I had to go in and it also meant I could collect my work laptop so that I could provide support from home if needed. By midday I was on my way back home feeling pretty rotten but at least I could just lounge about on the sofa! The attitudes to illness in Germany seem to be a lot better than in England – in England you have to pretty much be dying for your boss to allow you to have a day off and, even then, if you have more than a few in a short period of time they usually bang on about verbal warnings over attendance. Over here it is totally different; each time I have been ill they have insisted that I go home and have told me not to come in for the rest of the week. I guess it is a more sensible approach really as it protects the rest of the workforce and it certainly helps with staff morale – it’s nice to not have to worry what might happen if you have to take some time off for illness.

I didn’t go to work on Thursday or Friday either and, apart from a telephone conference call and another couple of phone calls, I didn’t really have to do much whilst I was at home. Instead I spent my spare time watching the rest of The Wire and playing Football Manager. I hardly ventured out of the house at all, in fact the only times I went out were when I needed to walk Roman. Roman behaved really well for me too; I think he knew I was ill so he walked right by my side even though I wasn’t walking very quickly and he didn’t pull me or mess me about once. It’s mad how dogs can pick up on things like that and change their behaviour accordingly; dogs are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for!

On Saturday I was expecting my new internet connection to be activated and waited in for a technician to come and activate the line. Well, he didn’t come and I still don’t have a new internet connection. I rang o2 to find out what was happening on Saturday afternoon and they said sometimes they don’t need to come to the house so my connection might come up in the next 24 hours. By Sunday evening it was still not on so I called them back again to enquire as to what was happening but there was nobody available who spoke English. They called me back yesterday morning to arrange a new appointment for next Monday; apparently the technicians don’t attend at weekends so why they booked a weekend slot I have no idea!

It’s a bit of a pain in the arse that I didn’t get connected over the weekend for a couple of reasons. Now I have to take a day’s holiday just to sit in and wait for them to come out next Monday and it’s not like I can actually do anything with the day (unless they turn up at 8am of course but I am sure I am not that lucky!). The thing that bothered me the most, though, was that I was looking forward to being able to call a few people in England for a chat. As part of the deal I got I get a shit hot connection to the internet with unlimited downloads but they also provide the phone line so I managed to get unlimited calls to the UK for 4€ per month (landlines only).

I was looking forward to hearing people’s voices again after so long – MSN and Facebook chat are good but it’s not the same as actually speaking with people. Hopefully the technician will come out though next Monday and I will be all set to spend the next three weeks on the phone with people catching up! It’s funny because when I was in the UK I used to hate phones and rarely had longer conversations than a couple of minutes but I think being so far away from people I grew up with has made me think about things slightly differently. I wouldn’t say I was home sick or anything but I do miss being able to just call people up for a chat. I never thought I would be saying that twelve months ago!

At the weekend I didn’t really get up to much other than walking Roman up to the pub in Kirschhausen to watch the football. I didn’t feel 100% well but I thought it would be nice for him to have a decent walk after the last few days of last week. I can’t wait for the evenings to stay light until late as I will be able to take him to the fields each evening and let him run. I can tell at the moment that he just wants to run – I could walk him 20 miles and I swear he would still be the same. There is nothing quite like running for a big powerful dog like Roman and I can’t wait to be able to let him run. He just seems so restless at the moment and has quite obviously got a lot of excess energy that he needs to burn off.

At home things have taken a little bit of a turn for the worse. The lady who I rent the apartment off also has a dog and I was looking forward to Roman making a new friend when I first arranged to bring him here. It transpires, though, that my landlady’s dog is a bloody psycho intent on winding Roman up. I am really not happy about it at the moment and am actually seriously considering looking for a new place to live. At first I thought it was just a natural reaction for her to be a little defensive with a new dog being introduced into her “territory” and I was convinced that things would improve over time as they saw each other more and more but it has been the exact opposite.

From around 8am until around 6pm my landlady leaves her dog outside and I think she has actually given up on trying to train her. The dog is left there all day free to bark at anyone who walks past and, although a lot of dogs do this, the owner would normally try to correct this type of behaviour. This is not the case where I live and none of the bad behaviour that this dog exhibits is ever corrected and, as a result, the dog thinks that what it is doing is correct. A couple of weeks ago there were some heating workmen who needed access to my apartment whilst I was out at work so I agreed to put Roman in my landlady’s garage for a few hours. As I was walking him through the garden with my landlady her dog was jumping up at Roman trying to bite him, baring her teeth and barking quite aggressively.

It was clear that there was a problem but my landlady’s reaction was merely to sigh and apologise to me. I would much rather she didn’t apologise to me but rather deal with the dog’s behaviour. Luckily for me, and for her and her dog for that matter, Roman is a pretty well behaved chap and he has a very good nature. As a result I have been able to control him whenever these things have happened and he has responded very well to my commands. It actually frightens me, though, that one day he might simply have enough of this rogue dog constantly snapping at his face and behaving aggressively towards him and we all know what the outcome of that would be.

It is a really difficult situation to be in really as I don’t want to complain to her as she might just tell me to sling my hook; after all, it is her property and her dog was there first regardless of how it behaves. At the same time, though, I know I can’t just leave the situation to continue as it will undoubtedly just get worse and worse until the point when something serious happens. I actually feel sorry for her dog as it has quite clearly been let down, and badly. It is really infuriating and unnerving but I try my best not to get annoyed at her dog as I know it is not really her fault but her owner’s. I think the best thing for everyone will be for me to find somewhere else to live but I am sure this is not going to be easy with Roman.

This situation also makes a bit of a mockery of Germany’s laws on owning dogs with regards to character tests, taxation, insurance policies and permits. Roman, who to everyone he has ever met, is quite clearly a very well mannered, albeit very enthusiastic, dog and has a very good character yet he is subjected to ridiculous scrutiny and extortionate taxation. On the other hand you have my landlady’s dog that quite clearly has problems yet never has to be subjected to the same treatment. Breed specific legislation? What an absolute crock of shit! It’s the owners that are the problem and I think that my current situation highlights this quite well.

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