Who Let The Dogs Out

dog threat letter
Click to enlarge

A bit more than a rant this morn, dear worst-reader. Perhaps this is a plea. A plea for mercy and the life of my dog. To begin, above is a letter that I recently received from the property administrator of our flat regarding my dog. Here is a translation of the red enclosed area:

“Unfortunately, after numerous warnings, you have failed to abide by your rental agreement regarding your pet. Numerous sightings have shown your Pug runs freely around the courtyard without a dog leash. We have sent you numerous letters that state dogs must be on a leash in the courtyard. Other dog owners have been contacted by phone and agree to this rule. During our telephone call today you failed to agree to the rules which means we are issuing you another formal warning. If your dog is seen running free around the courtyard again we will cancel the dog/pet agreement. That will mean that you must get rid of your dog. In our mutual interests we hope that it will not come to that. With friendly greetings, … “

This letter, and the issue it concerns, literally boils my blood. But it also does more than that. What is not in the letter is what was said in a telephone call with the person that wrote it. So let’s start at the top, shall we:

  1. The letter, in its original German, is typically rude. Living in Europe all these years has thickened my skin somewhat to this. That said, I think the English translation even conveys rudeness. Odd (or maybe not) when you consider that this person is communicating with a customer that doesn’t exactly pay bargain rent.
  2. The property administrator failed to read the rental agreement that we signed prior to moving in to this flat. We did not sign a rental agreement where we are required to have our dog on a leash while in the courtyard. (Side note: perhaps, since we don’t have this in our contract, this fact should be noted to those that move in.)
  3. Not only is the administrator rude and incorrect in his assumption regarding our rental contract but he has the gaul to threaten us that if we don’t comply we have to “get rid of our dog”.
  4. What is not included in the letter is another warning given to us indirectly during a telephone conversation. Using innuendo it was stated to us that if we don’t put our dog on a leash in the courtyard we should be prepared that he will be poisoned. (Do I need to repeat that?)

Please note that I live in a fairly posh, restored farm house  or Hofanlage that used to house horses and farming equipment. It has since been rebuilt with multi-level flats of varying sizes and styles. All the flats are connected to a courtyard that is shut off from the main road and the village. Because of the design of the facility, my flat’s terrace and main entrance are side-by-side within the courtyard. Not all flats have this same configuration as most have separate entrances that are outside the courtyard. This seemed very accommodating and appealing to us as dog owners–it’s like we have a little backyard connected to our flat. Obviously we are not alone in how this  appeals to dog owners. The courtyard is shared with a male Frenchie and a blonde female Lab. Needless to say, our dog neighbours dig each other. The only problem is my dog was here first. He and the new male Frenchie are in a constant “marking” contest. Of course, I have told all of my neighbours that I will clean up whatever mess he makes. I also added that this shouldn’t go on forever because the dogs will eventually get used to each other and not have to prove who owns what.

My dog’s name is Beckett. He’s named after Samuel Beckett. I often tell people I wanted to name him Godot but it would be odd yelling that name in public. My dog is spoiled. He’s also loved by the children who play in the courtyard, they often come to our terrace and ask for him by name. They also ask if they can give him snacks because they enjoy commanding him to “sit” before giving him the snack. Children’s faces glow and shine at these moments. But I suppose the shine isn’t for everyone. Over the years this has had a somewhat negative effect on Beckett. He runs around with the children in the courtyard. He’s always in search of  someone’s feet to lick or if anyone has a snack at hand. But I suppose all good things must come to an end. Someone, somewhere must ruin the fun. In Germany this level of negativity is called Kleinbürgertum–and it is a national past-time.


The letter we received has since been retracted and we also have received a formal apology from the property administrator. Yet I feel somewhat inconsolable regarding the threatening nature of the whole situation. This goes beyond facts not being checked, contracts not being read, the potential for legal fees and horrific bureaucracy. Not only were we threatened about the livelihood of our dog but were indirectly threatened by the fact that dogs in Germany are regularly poisoned because of situations just like this. I find that type of dialogue in this situation very, very disturbing!

It’s not easy being a dog owner in Germany. I feel as though I’m constantly being watched and checked. Did I bring enough poop bags to pick up his shit when I take him for walks? Is he peeing in the wrong place? I never let him pee on car tyres for fear that someone will attack me with a sharpened elbow. Sometimes I can see it in the eyes of pedestrians we pass their disgust for my little Pug and his laboured breathing and Rottweiler attitude. Their contempt for me shines as bright as the sun–but not as bright as the joy from the children that played with my dog over the years. Heck, I’ve even been called a Tierquäler (animal cruelty) because I have a Pug–because someone who has never had one thinks s/he knows the pedigree. Worst of all, I stopped letting my dog run free when I reach the open areas outside our village where I take him for long walks. I do that because a few dogs died this year from poisoning. I have since learned why so many owners have their beautiful, playful Labs muzzled when they take them for walks. It’s not to prevent the dog from attacking anyone. It’s to save the dogs life because a dog cannot read the true nature of some people who leave pieces of meet laced with rat poison or they buy dog snacks and put pins and needles in them. Indeed. We were “reminded” of this by a property administrator who is obviously in charge of posh living.

Yes. We have been warned.

Rant on. -t

Links to (German) articles regarding cruelty to animals: