Book the brass band – picking up dog poo should be celebrated - Susan Morrison

We don’t exactly need a brass band prowling the streets but picking up after your dog should be celebratedWe don’t exactly need a brass band prowling the streets but picking up after your dog should be celebrated
We don’t exactly need a brass band prowling the streets but picking up after your dog should be celebrated
​That dog sure picked its moment to have a dump. Right in the middle of the road, at the foot of Newhaven’s Whale Brae. Many owners would have left it, probably by saying that they didn’t want to hold up the traffic, which in this case was only me. But no, he got out a bag and cleaned up.

​Impressive. People sometimes think that if the dog messes on the road then that’s okay.

Passing tyres will clean the bad stuff up, completely missing the fact that kids, buggies and wheelchair users all have to cross those roads, mostly looking right and left, and not down. We can all work out what happens next.

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It was one of those hot days. My window was open. As he passed the car he mumbled an apology for delaying me, I said, “does anyone ever thank you for cleaning up after your dog?”

“No,” he said, looking mildly surprised. So I said, “thank you”. And I’ve decided that from now on I’m going to say thank you to every dog owner I see clearing up.

Picking up after your dog should be celebrated. I mean in a low-key sort of a way. I’m not suggesting we have a brass band prowling the streets waiting to start playing suitable songs to accompany a successful poop-pickup. But a simple “thank you” might be nice.

Those who clean up are the good dog owners, we all know that. It’s a kind of marker. These people know that owning a dog is a commitment. Dogs aren’t a fashion statement, especially the scary looking breeds.

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The ones who look like their faces should have been longer, but they’ve run full-tilt into a wall. We see them occasionally on CCTV footage sinking their teeth into passers-by, sometimes fatally. In 2022 ten people were killed by dogs in England and Wales. Pit Bull lookalikes feature highly. These dogs need a lot of care.

They need good quality food, and that stuff doesn’t come cheap. They need constant exercise. They look like the sort of dog that appreciates a good long run on a beach chasing the Stick of The Day. A quick trot around the block to dump a pile the size of a small rabbit on the pavement is not enough.

They need expert training. They tend to have hair trigger tempers and fast reactions. Control is vital. They might not be my personal choice, but I’ve got no doubt that with the right handling and commitment they can be good dogs. The trouble is, they seem to fall into the hands of people who just don’t or won’t take the time to care for these big, powerful breeds.

The most recent attack in Birmingham was blamed on the dog being dehydrated. It had certainly been driven mad enough to savage an 11-year-old girl and then drag a young man across the ground.

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Do we ban them? Can we? Who’s to say what is a “dangerous” breed? Even tiny dogs can turn nasty, although I guess dragging people about a garage forecourt is probably outside the reach of your average chihuahua.

Perhaps we should try to protect dogs from bad owners. Is it time to bring back the dog licence, but with more teeth, if you’ll excuse the expression? In the meantime, let’s start thanking every dog owner we see cleaning up.

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