This was the beginning of a little annoyance with dog owners on my behalf.
Now, I know a lot of people own dogs and many of you are excellent dog owners – you pick up your dog poo every time, you walk your dogs regularly, you make sure they don’t bark incessantly and your dog doesn’t jump on people – but there are some on your team who are letting the side down.
This week, I was walking on the beach in the semi-darkness and could see a person and a dog off the lead coming the other way. Most dogs are fine, and I’m OK with them running free if they are controllable. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t. I found myself watching a large black blur bounding straight for me, the owner yelling, “Ripper, Ripper, come here!” (the name did not help) and then being launched at by the dog, albeit in a friendly way, but in the dark it’s hard not to panic. I was shocked into silence, instead of being able to express myself to the owner – although my tongue was loosened a few minutes later as I swore to the now empty beach.
I have watched countless walkers let their dogs use the beach as a sand toilet and not bother to pick it up – I even had a run-in with one outraged person, when I pointed out their responsibility as the owner. They offered to bury it, but I explained that wasn’t very practical on a beach where lots of people like to make sandcastles. She threw an impressive tantrum.
My plea is – if you are the owner of a beloved pooch, just remember that not everyone loves your dog as much as you do. Some may even be a little fearful of them. Take your social responsibilities seriously, keep it on a lead if you can’t control it and, for goodness sake, take a plastic bag on every walk and use it.
Nicola Philp is a regular contributor.