Fiona Duff: Leaves lovely but mind your step

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There’s not really a delicate way of putting this, so do turn away if you are in the slightest bit squeamish. Let me tell you – autumn is not a good time for dog owners.

Personally, I love it as a season. I like the crisp weather, generally drier than the spring, and the chance to become reunited with my beloved hot water bottle.

The colours of leaves as they change from green through orange and russet to brown is one of nature’s real wonders, and kicking one’s way through a pile of them should not be an activity only for children.

But therein lies the rub, so to speak. Out in the park with our beloved pooches, the abundance of these coloured leaves on the ground can make it somewhat difficult to find the reason that we take our waggy friends to grassy areas. Go to any park in the morning and you are bound to see some perplexed person, nappy sack-type bag in hand, peering about to find their pet’s deposit.

Being the owner of two dogs is more than doubly difficult because you can bet your last poo bag that as soon as one of them crouches in one corner, over in another the second dog will be mimicking that position. The only way to do it, I find, is when bending down to pick up one, you have to stare fixedly at the other. Taking one’s eye off the ball (to put it politely) is disaster.

However, what there is to take heart in is that I remember when picking up dog poo was not something that owners bothered too much about. Pavements would be littered with excrement and parks were not always a particularly hygienic place to go for a picnic.

Something changed – I remember when Janet Street-Porter was editor of a national Sunday paper, she was derided for making clearing up dog mess its campaign, but it has certainly made most towns a lot more pleasant places in which to walk around.

So bring on winter – it’s all so much easier to find in the snow.