Sandra Dick: Take your dogs and walkies on

Dogs can be a menace on the beach. Picture: Justin Spittle
Dogs can be a menace on the beach. Picture: Justin Spittle
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THERE is, sadly, one major flaw in the proposal to create a half-mile dog-free zone on Portobello beach. And that is, half a mile is really nowhere near big enough.

Actually make that two things. Because rather than just banning dogs from the beach, wouldn’t it be so much better if we just banned them completely?

The members of Portobello community council have risked life and limb and incurred the wrath of dog lovers by daring to suggest a section of beach should become dog-free during summer so the rest of us can relax in peace without the risk of getting a hairy pooch’s butt in our face.

A reasonable enough suggestion to me, but like snarling Staffies fed a veggie diet and craving raw flesh – human, preferably – no doubt the doggy brigade will have none of it.

But isn’t it time dog owners got to grips with the fact that not all of us actually like their smelly, pooping pets enough to be bothered to share any of our space with them?

Let’s look at dogs and what they bring to the wider society. Other than a few mildly amusing YouTube videos of dogs falling off tall buildings, and the rare occasion when a dog actually responds to a burglar by doing anything other than showing his belly and hoping for a tickle, dogs don’t actually do that much.

Instead, their disgusting tendency to snort each other’s bottoms and then try to lick your face means dogs are God’s reminder that animals can both look cute and be immensely revolting at precisely the same time.

They bark excessively and disturb the peace for no other reason than they are stupid with pea-sized brains.

They also drop smelly bombs in the middle of the pavement. My cat might despise me, but at least it has the decency to wander into next door’s flower bed for some toilet time.

Dog faeces come packed with disease, it sticks to every crevice in the soles of your boots and makes cleaning them a vomit-inducing horror. Worse, they eat it.

Must I go on?

Going to the beach, strolling in the park, meandering down the high street may be a lovely outing for devoted owner and pooch, but for those of us who actually really aren’t fussed about your Shnoodlepoodledoodle crossbred half-blood mutt, coming face to face with some slobbering lump of hair and teeth does not a lovely treat make.

Besides, if dogs really are man’s best friend – although the rest of us prefer other humans for that role – why are so many languishing at the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home?

Abandoned and ill-treated waiting to be rehomed with their flawed characters and ill-discipline, they are often little better than vicious pests that would be better humanely exterminated than foisted upon the rest of us because their new owners are too soft or lazy or ignorant to train them properly.

Dogs which are properly trained, with responsible owners, that don’t chew the face off children, jump up on nervous passers-by or try to copulate with your leg . . . those are, albeit reluctantly, welcome to hang around.

The rest? Take this as your warm invitation to go walkies elsewhere.

SECOND CHANCE

While baby Holly Harrison recovers from liver transplant surgery, a huge ‘thank you’ to the grieving family who put personal heartache aside to give a stranger’s child a chance. You’re amazing.

We need more like you, Margo

They broke the mould when they made Margo.

But why out of 129 MSPs was Margo’s the only voice that echoed the thoughts and feelings of the people she proudly served?

So much of modern politics stifles the voices of those elected to serve, gagged by party rules they sit quietly because sticking their head above the parapet may get it shot off. The result is a vast swamp of political greyness: Margo’s shot of colour wasn’t simply down to her bombshell locks.

Politics needs vibrant, vocal folk of independent mind who stick two fingers up and charge on in, honourable and brave with everyone else’s – not their own – interests at heart.

In short, we need another Margo.

Dodgy outfits are off the Marks

Marks & Spencer has trotted out more aspirational women wearing dodgy gear for me to get annoyed about. No disrespect to Emma Thompson, Annie Lennox, Rita Ora et al but everything from the expensive photographer to the jolly “gals together” framing of the latest publicity shots makes my middle-aged mum toes curl. As for the zebra crossing frock, boring old man’s gilet and nursing home drawstring breeks, none are likely to find their way into my wardrobe.

Instead of blinding us with the brilliance of their negotiating team to talk high-profile women into signing up as models, perhaps next time M&S would like to splash the cash on some decent designers.

May the force be with us all

THANKS to former Nato secretary-general Lord Robertson, I suddenly feel very important.

Who knew my little old ‘X’ in September could have “cataclysmic” repercussions on the world, the universe and the price of butter?

Should the “forces of darkness” indeed come calling, do not fear. Thanks to two Star Wars-daft sons, I have a superb collection of plastic lightsabers at the ready.