IF you’re reading this, congratulations. You’re alive! You survived the end times!

For those who are unaware, it happened on Thursday. You’re forgiven if you didn’t know about it; there weren’t any horsemen or plagues or anything like that to herald the occasion.

Only Bunnings, announcing that from now on it’s going to allow dogs into its stores.

I know it doesn’t sound like much of an apocalypse, but going by the reaction on advertiser.com.au that’s how people were greeting the news.

“OMG, this is the most stupid idea that I’ve ever heard of,” wrote Dave, who possibly needs to get out more.

“Bunnings is no longer a safe shopping environment!” wailed Mia.

“We will never go to Bunnings again!” gasped David.

“Can I bring my pet elephant, gorilla and lion with me next time I shop at Bunnings?” wrote someone called “Dragon”, in what I think was meant to be an attempt at comedy. (Although frankly, it’s possible that someone with the name “Dragon” might actually own a gorilla, so maybe it was a genuine question).

Then there were the scores of commenters all pledging a new allegiance to Mitre 10. (Poor old Masters, its main rival introduces a dog policy and they still can’t pick up the overflow).

Most of the angry comments seemed to focus on hypothetical negatives:

“Dogs running up and down the aisles, just what we need!”

“What about the loud barking?”

“Who is going to pick up the mess?”

Which is funny, because you know what you do see regularly tearing up the aisles at Bunnings, being loud and making a mess? Children. And I haven’t seen any outcry about them being allowed to wander free among the potting mixes.

When I lived in New York a few years ago, I was amazed at the places people would bring their dogs — into supermarkets, cafes, pubs, the post office. Not just amazed at the fact that they were doing it, but that no one else ever minded.

Having grown up in Australia, the land of “we’re heaps laid back — except don’t do that mate, or that, and you can’t do that unless you’ve got a permit”, this felt like some sort of thrilling social anarchism.

People acting sensibly with their well-behaved dogs, and other people just being totally cool with it. It’s as if everyone was being treated like ... I dunno, responsible adults. WHAT STRANGE SYSTEM OF LIVING IS THIS?

Because here’s the thing about allowing dogs into shops like Bunnings: it’s actually not that big a deal. It doesn’t mean that dog owners are all going to rush to bring their pets there.

It’s not like we all heard Thursday’s news and thought: “Finally, now we can fulfil our desires by taking our dogs to Bunnings to let them poo freely in the hooks and hinges aisle and maul small children!”

What it does mean is that people who, for whatever reason, need to buy hardware while in possession of a dog can now do so without worrying about them frying in a locked car, or barking at people while tied up alone outside.

And, as per what is often referred to as “common sense”, such people will need to have their dog on a leash and under effective control in order to bring them inside.

In my experience, people with untrained, uncontrollable dogs tend not to take them out to crowded public places; I can’t imagine it would be much fun trying to get an unruly Fido to heel while measuring out lengths of two-by-four.

So I say good on Bunnings, and I hope other businesses follow their lead. Pun fully intended.


First published in The Advertiser, November 7, 2015. CLICK HERE to read the original article