Saturday, 24 July 2010

Dog Owners

Dog Owners is another of those categories that get maligned for the anti-social behaviour a small minority of its members. But knowing that, I still cannot help retain an underlying prejudice against the whole group.  Much like overtly patriotic England fans.  And religious zealots.

Today we were enjoying a quiet picnic with a couple of friends in a rare dog-free grassy enclosure.  There aren't many places to let my 11 month old crawl and walk freely without being terrorised by a beast twice his size, so I'm very fortunate to live so close to this one.

Just as one of my friends sits down, we each notice a fragrance.  An unpleasant fragrance.  Now because we are in company and have two toddlers present, nobody says anything initially.  I think it might be a passing "natural" smell and leave it to my wife to check our son's nappy if she sees fit (she is currently "in possession" so has full responsibility).  Our friends without children suspect each other of passing wind and look hopefully towards the two babies to subtly lay blame.  The other mum present checks her baby's nappy, which is spotless.  A mystery!

Not so.  The mum continues her search with her shoes and see the blatant imprint of dog poo browning the soles of her shoes.  Her shoes with improbably complex tread which, in all likelihood, will now contain dog poo hereafter.

Worse still.  As she rises she shows the imprint of her sole on the back of her thigh - cream trousers with a clear dog dirt tattoo almost certainly imprinting through onto flesh.  I am almost physically sick as I calmly pass her wet-wipes and nappy sacks to attempt a clean-up operation.

We've all done it, made that mysterious mis-step.  The worst are usually those you don't notice until spotted by a "friend" in a noisy way in a very public place - my favourite was always in a school classroom for ultimate humiliation.  But getting it on your legs as well - it just makes me hate.

Yes, hate.  A strong word.  And as I began, largely mis-directed at most dog-owners.  But I can't help it and I won't apologise for it.  Dog mess ruins people's day, it is potentially dangerous to the many children who are most likely to get smeared in it, and it is just plain anti-social!

Fines aren't a bad start for offenders, but does anyone actually get fined?  Who knows.  I'd love to see a "name and shame" section in local papers for such people who refuse to clean up their dog's poo.  For that matter, such a section really should be in evidence for many other so-called "petty" crimes.

Maybe then groups such as dog-owners won't be wrongly branded alongside the worst of their creed.  Not that I see that as a priority, but at least it would be justice.

I'm cutting off the dog-hating now but will assuredly resurrect it next time I step in something unfortunate...

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