Don't get me wrong here. I have nothing against dogs. I have owned dogs in my time, two in fact and while they both drove me crazy from time to time I was heartbroken when we eventually had to have Trudy put to sleep and when Scamp disappeared never to be seen again.
|Trudy with Mum, Coatbridge circa 1973|
Trudi was our family dog when I was a teenager all those years ago, she was a tiny little mongrel a right bundle of joy and energy and you could not take her for a walk unless she was on a LEASH. No matter how much training you tried to give her, let her off the leash and she was away, like a whippet out of the starting gate, she just had so much energy that she had to be able to run it off .
When Ishbel and I rejoined my regiment in Inverness in late 77, from a two year posting in Germany, we took Trudy from Mum's in Coatbridge as Mum wasn't able to look after her as well as she could and for other reasons that will remain unsaid here.
|Trudy refusing to move off the rug to prevent the new baby being placed here,1978|
We didn't have another dog for a few years after that, in fact it wasn't until the mid eighties when we had again returned from Germany and settled again in Inverness. We were gifted Scamp, from Ishbels parents as I recall and again a mongrel with the same colouring as Trudy but much larger.
|Scamp and friend on visit to Rosemarkie on the Black Isle|
Sadly, in the mid nineties (see my Mr Fat blogs) when I started to become fat and lazy instead of taking Scamp for a walk I got used to opening the door and letting him go out on his own. Not very commendable I know, but when you are fat and unfit, it doesn't just affect your body mass it affects your personality as well, so I am not making excuses, just telling you how it was. One day I let him out and he never came back, days and weeks were spent looking, to no avail and we have never seen him since, my fault and one I will regret forever!
Now back in those days there was no requirement anywhere in the country, that I recall, requiring dog owners to clean up after their bundles of joy. I also freely admit that I did not give it a thought back then, nor did I until it became an issue and councils started to place signs and waste boxes around parks, with the threat of fines to any who do not clean up after their pets.
So, I went from being a responsible dog owner, allowing for the fact that I did not clean up after them as no one did back then, but, who and when appropriate, always kept my dog on a LEASH, to a bad dog owner who lost his dog through his own fault. So what have I got the hump about now that I am no longer a dog owner and why are other owners Idiots and Anti Social.
We now know and I accept the fact that if I were to become a dog owner again, that I would have to carry a plastic bag and scooper with me every time I took my dog for a walk. It is the accepted norm and the LAW. We know the reasons for this they are quite simple; and with that wonderful hindsight that we all wish we had from time to time, we can all, well almost all, say that it should always have been the case that dog owners cleaned up after their pets. 1. because of the infections that can be picked up by their faeces and 2. because of the general mess that other people, including dog walkers can get into by the thoughtlessness of those who STILL DO NOT pick up after their dogs.
It is still a problem. If you read my blogs you will know that I have taken to walking and I do this almost every day without exception. I have a great little walk right outside my front door through a wooded area with well defined foot paths, if you walk round the whole circumference it is only about 2.1/2 miles so I tend to do that and then head off into the village and walk for about an hour and a half.
My problem and issue is with dog owners who allow their pets to do their business on the footpath in particular and do not clear up after them, secondly with dogs that are let of the LEASH and are uncontrollable; both groups are completely Anti Social and don't seem to give a fig about anyone else.
As a woodland walk, some of the paths, as I say, are well defined but they do have encroaching plants and fauna and in particular a lot of stinging nettles protruding out into them. One might think that the local council would visit regularly and cut back the offending plants, or indeed that the walker should phone them to complain, but I don't see that as a big issue and one learns to take care whether wearing shorts or jeans or long or short sleeves. You just have to learn to zig and zag a little to avoid being stung but this slight encumbrance to what is otherwise an enjoyable walk is completely and utterly overshadowed by the amount of dog faeces also on the narrow paths.
Now I don't care whether the dog has been let of the LEASH and runs ahead of you (well I do, but we will get to that in a moment) or whether the dog is on the LEASH and does it while you are in 'control' of it, YOU SHOULD STILL PICK IT UP AND TAKE IT WITH YOU, it is not nice either for us adults who step in it or, as in my case, my small grand children, who have stepped in it.
And it not just the woodland walk, as I leave the wooded area returning to the tarmac village streets, they too are littered with faeces and I see people regularly allowing their dogs to do their business and then walk off leaving it there steaming on the pavement. I do challenge them and normally end up being abused for my troubles, but from now I intend to photograph them and send the photos to the local council with the location.
No doubt they will respond stating that unless I can provide the name and address of the dog owner there will be little they can do, and I may even end up following them to their homes and noting their address details to send this to the council. It may be I am taking this too seriously but until you have stepped, or your grand children have stepped in one of these steaming mounds, you will understand how I feel!
My second issue is where the dog is let of the LEASH. Now remember I did say at the beginning of this I have owned two dogs. One that I could not let of the leash and the second where I could as he was completely obedient to the spoken command. However if we were out and about and in an open area, park or visiting the shop, where other people were about we tended to keep Scamp on the leash during these periods as well.
Regardless of the size, maturity or training of a dog and of course the maturity of the owner/keeper of the animal when out and about some people are wary of any dog and will walk across the street to avoid them whether it is on a LEASH or not. And some owners fail to recognise this fact and even if they do they do not give a damn.
What is particularly annoying is when you are in the park or on the beach and dogs are running about wild chasing a bird or some object thrown by their keeper and are barking and generally being a nuisance and their keepers are also 'barking' at the animal trying to get it to return, but because they have not trained the animal to obey them, they are ignored!
A point in case was the 9th May 2009. I had taken Charlie and Holly to a local park. They were 3 at the time so quite small. The walk from the Belhus Wood Country Park car park to the Pond area is very pleasant and we spent an enjoyable 20 minutes meandering through the woods with our bag of food as we knew we would find the Canada geese that are always present in the park. As we exited the woods into the landscaped area we were immediately confronted by an adult group of 4, a couple who appeared to be in their late 20's early thirties and a couple of elderly ladies, who after angry words had been exchanged, turned out to be Americans. They had a dog with them, medium sized and very excitable. He was throwing sticks for it to chase, in the directions of the geese (!) and the dog was chasing after it and the geese (very responsible) as we appeared in the dogs view it changed direction and headed straight for us and the grand children. Well as you can imagine choice words were exchanged as the dog ignored his screaming shouts to 'heel' and I had two terrified children clinging to me.
Were they concerned about the distress caused to my grand children, not one jot and I freely admit that if Ishbel had been with me, she would have been left to look after the kids while I decked the guy. His response to me informing him that there were signs all around this particular park warning that dogs MUST be kept on a LEAD at all times was, "so what, the dogs have got to be let off sometime"!
A similar incident happened this week. I was out walking and became aware of people behind me as I was leaving the wooded area and entering the grass field area to walk towards the gate at Gatehope Drive, I became aware of a small white dog barking and yapping behind me. On looking behind I saw a white male and a young girl.
The Man who looked to be in his mid to late thirties was of slim build, white and wearing glasses and the girl who looked about 13 -14 was skinny and wearing shorts. The dog was not on a leash although the man was carrying one in his hand and a plastic bag in the other, which I assumed to be dog faeces that he had cleaned up after the dog. As the dog kept running and barking at me, I advised them that they should have the dog on a leash and that it was my belief that there was in fact an Essex Council Byelaw stipulating that all dogs must be kept on a leash in public places. Although having since checked I now understand that it is allowed to let your dog ‘off the lead but:
6. Keep dogs under close control - It is required by law that you keep your dog under control to prevent any disturbance to wildlife and farm animals. You may let your dog off its lead but it must still be under close control. If you are unable to keep control of your dog, a lead MUST be used.
The above is an excerpt from http://www.visitparks.co.uk/countrycode/ which is the Essex County Council website.
They chose to ignore my requests and continued to allow the dog to harass me and as it got close to my feet and in danger of tripping me I lashed out with my right foot and caught the dog a glancing blow. At this point the daughter was closest to me on my right side with her father on her right. As my foot connected with the dog he came round behind his daughter and raised his hand as if to strike me. I advised him not to as I would respond in kind.
He appeared to take this warning to heart and lowered his hand but said something along the lines of ‘fucking bastard’. My response to that was that he should not be swearing in front of his daughter to which she responded. “He’s my father, he can say or do what he wants, sir, I respect him but I do not respect you sir”! It was not my intention to cause distress to either the man or the girl, however I did realise that my actions would in fact do this,but I do feel, as seems typical of a lot of dog owners, that they feel they have a right to allow their animal to run around regardless of the ‘distress’ that it might cause to other walkers and in this particular instance because of the animals small size they clearly were of the opinion that size matters and it is only being playful.
The same thing happened last night again. A couple walking with their spaniel and throwing a ball, that they then chose to throw towards me thereby ensuring that the dog would run directly at me. Are people that stupid, clearly they are!
I do know other responsible dog owners and I also see many who are out walking them who keep them on a LEASH but sadly they are the few amongst the many idiots who seem to think that their pets and them have a right to ride roughshod over the rest of us who are not (currently) dog owners or who are out and about having left the pet at home.
This blog is longer than I intended it to be, but, if you are a dog owner and you fall into the category of being and IDIOT and Anti Social as described you can do something about it. Stop being dumb, keep your animal on the LEASH if you cannot control it. By all means let it off the LEASH if no one is about but as soon as you see others, PUT it BACK on the LEASH. If you are a dog owner PLEASE ALWAYS CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PET POOPS!