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Walking the dog: a get-out-of-jail card in lockdown Spain

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Once a twice-daily chore that drew a chorus of complaints, walking the dog has become an enviable get-out-of-jail card in lockdown Spain with some wily punters even offering their hounds out for hire.

Unlike in Italy, where people can go out to stretch their legs despite a national lockdown, Spain has banned all such sorties under its state of emergency.

But they can go out if they have a four-legged friend -- for a brief walk and only to carry out the bare necessities.

"You go out more often but for less time," says Luis Fe, a 49-year-old teacher walking Dara, his border collie, near a church in Madrid.

Have dog  will travel -- a canine companion helps this woman as she rushes out to load her shopping ...
Have dog, will travel -- a canine companion helps this woman as she rushes out to load her shopping trolley in Madrid
Gabriel BOUYS, AFP

Other dog owners are the same, he says: going out "just because they can, or because they are bored at home."

With numbers of cases spiralling, Spain on Saturday introduced a nationwide lockdown to try and curb the spread of the virus that has now infected more than 17,000 people, making it the fourth worst-hit nation in the world.

And barking is one of the few sounds that break the silence of Madrid's eerily-deserted streets.

- Rent-a-dog -

With no scientific evidence that animals pass on the virus to humans, having a dog is now seen as an enviable freedom pass for housebound Spaniards.

Two people walk a dog at a virtually deserted Terminal 1 of Barcelona's El Prat -- while in Mad...
Two people walk a dog at a virtually deserted Terminal 1 of Barcelona's El Prat -- while in Madrid, barking is one of few sounds breaking the silence in the capital's desrted streets
Pau Barrena, AFP/File

"One dog owner told me someone had sent him a message asking if they could rent his dog," Fe says.

And the idea seems to be catching on.

"If anyone wants to get out for a walk, I will rent them my dog," read one advert on Milanuncios, Spain's online classifieds site.

Not everyone thinks it's funny.

"That's a nightmare -- for other people's health and for the dog itself who's going out with a person they don't know," tuts Alicia Barrientos, 39, who is out walking her Australian sheepdog.

And rival classifieds site Wallapop also pooh-pooed the idea, urging users to report any such dodgy dog offers.

But the subject had sparked a flood of humour on social media, from posts of pups punting themselves out at 15 euros a walk, to others collapsing in exhaustion: "But you've already taken me out 38 times today".

Walking the dog used to be a twice-daily chore for owners -- but under the coronavirus lockdown it h...
Walking the dog used to be a twice-daily chore for owners -- but under the coronavirus lockdown it has become a get out of jail card, allowing this owner to nip to the baker's in Madrid
Gabriel BOUYS, AFP

At least one man in northern Spain thought he could get away with faking it -- until police caught him dragging a stuffed toy along by a leash in a hilarious moment caught on camera by sniggering neighbours on a nearby balcony.

And it has caught on online with Facebook and Twitter flooded with similar clips, with one even showing a man getting ready to "walk" his daughter who is disguised as a dalmatian.

It's not only in Spain, with a mayor in Sardinia forced to issue a public clarification that the dogs being walked "have to be alive" while in Rome, some people have even been spotted walking pigs.

Once a twice-daily chore that drew a chorus of complaints, walking the dog has become an enviable get-out-of-jail card in lockdown Spain with some wily punters even offering their hounds out for hire.

Unlike in Italy, where people can go out to stretch their legs despite a national lockdown, Spain has banned all such sorties under its state of emergency.

But they can go out if they have a four-legged friend — for a brief walk and only to carry out the bare necessities.

“You go out more often but for less time,” says Luis Fe, a 49-year-old teacher walking Dara, his border collie, near a church in Madrid.

Have dog  will travel -- a canine companion helps this woman as she rushes out to load her shopping ...

Have dog, will travel — a canine companion helps this woman as she rushes out to load her shopping trolley in Madrid
Gabriel BOUYS, AFP

Other dog owners are the same, he says: going out “just because they can, or because they are bored at home.”

With numbers of cases spiralling, Spain on Saturday introduced a nationwide lockdown to try and curb the spread of the virus that has now infected more than 17,000 people, making it the fourth worst-hit nation in the world.

And barking is one of the few sounds that break the silence of Madrid’s eerily-deserted streets.

– Rent-a-dog –

With no scientific evidence that animals pass on the virus to humans, having a dog is now seen as an enviable freedom pass for housebound Spaniards.

Two people walk a dog at a virtually deserted Terminal 1 of Barcelona's El Prat -- while in Mad...

Two people walk a dog at a virtually deserted Terminal 1 of Barcelona's El Prat — while in Madrid, barking is one of few sounds breaking the silence in the capital's desrted streets
Pau Barrena, AFP/File

“One dog owner told me someone had sent him a message asking if they could rent his dog,” Fe says.

And the idea seems to be catching on.

“If anyone wants to get out for a walk, I will rent them my dog,” read one advert on Milanuncios, Spain’s online classifieds site.

Not everyone thinks it’s funny.

“That’s a nightmare — for other people’s health and for the dog itself who’s going out with a person they don’t know,” tuts Alicia Barrientos, 39, who is out walking her Australian sheepdog.

And rival classifieds site Wallapop also pooh-pooed the idea, urging users to report any such dodgy dog offers.

But the subject had sparked a flood of humour on social media, from posts of pups punting themselves out at 15 euros a walk, to others collapsing in exhaustion: “But you’ve already taken me out 38 times today”.

Walking the dog used to be a twice-daily chore for owners -- but under the coronavirus lockdown it h...

Walking the dog used to be a twice-daily chore for owners — but under the coronavirus lockdown it has become a get out of jail card, allowing this owner to nip to the baker's in Madrid
Gabriel BOUYS, AFP

At least one man in northern Spain thought he could get away with faking it — until police caught him dragging a stuffed toy along by a leash in a hilarious moment caught on camera by sniggering neighbours on a nearby balcony.

And it has caught on online with Facebook and Twitter flooded with similar clips, with one even showing a man getting ready to “walk” his daughter who is disguised as a dalmatian.

It’s not only in Spain, with a mayor in Sardinia forced to issue a public clarification that the dogs being walked “have to be alive” while in Rome, some people have even been spotted walking pigs.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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