I thought I had seen the worst of online abuse – then I posted about my dog

I thought I had already experienced the worst internet abuse – until I posted online about my dog, Hank. I had been wondering if I should take him to the vet, after finding some scary-looking lumps on his chest.

When I got Hank, I thought I was vigorously prepared. I had done all the research, bought all the gear, hired a trainer, forked out for pet insurance and found a great vet. I had every intention of being the best dog owner ever. I was ready.

What I was not prepared for was the pressure from other dog owners to never make mistakes.

Yummy! Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds. Humans have approximately 9,000 and cats have around 473.

On one level, this is a good thing: I want people to have high standards for pet owners. Animals should be treated well. However, if I wanted constantly to be made to feel like I’m not good enough, I would still be living at home.

When Hank shat all over a hotel staircase, the stench wasn’t nearly as bad as the looks that people gave me, glaring as if I had kept him in my room for days, feeding him onions and chocolate, just to make him defecate and ruin everyone’s visit to the breakfast buffet.

I got the same reaction when his retractable dog lead failed at the same time as he spotted a squirrel and he circled a couple holding hands (twice), tying them together. Onlookers might have been less judgmental if I had just told them that I had trained him to kidnap couples. “Those leads are dangerous!” a woman hissed.

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When I posted in a Facebook group, asking for advice about the scary-looking lumps, I was inundated with vile comments. Apparently, I don’t deserve to care for a dog – or even be alive – if I don’t know that boy dogs also have nipples.