Firework Season is Already Upon Us

fireworks It is not even October and last night I heard fireworks. I am one of the lucky owners with a bomb-proof dog – I jump more than he does – but I have lived with a gun-shy dog and it is miserable for all concerned.

A petition to the government resulted in the banning of fireworks for sale to the public being debated by the 2010–2015 Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, the conclusion being that a ban was not justified because of current legislative measures. It is obvious that current legislation is not enforced as to location and timing of fireworks let off by members of the public. It is probably not even possible to provide sufficient resources to police displays at expected times, let alone random events such as that which I witnessed last night. In any case, this was within current legislation – no help if I had had a terrified dog at my side.

Is it time to campaign again for a ban?

Post Scriptum: I have just heard from the Sounds Scary team that, sadly, they are no longer in business. However, they have teamed up with the Dogs Trust to offer free downloads of their sound effects. Sound effects should be played at gradually increasing volumes until the toleration level of the actual noise is achieved. An information booklet is also available as a download.

Farewell to Brian Sewell

fine art dogs The sad news that Evening Standard fine art critic Brian Sewell died on Saturday is not only a blow to the art world but to the those who champion dogs. Considered by some to be elitist and reactionary in his taste in art, he certainly could not be accused of either when it came to his approach to his beloved dogs.

He housed a variety of rescue dogs including a stressed Jack Russell rescued from euthanasia at the request of his vet after being inappropriately homed with a baby. When he moved house, his deceased dogs’ remains went with him and were re-buried. After a life devoted to writing and educating people about art, he published Sleeping with Dogs in 2013 where he revealed that he was an adherant to the philosophy that one should control the temperature of the bed by adding another dog.

Love him or loathe him, the world was a more vibrant place for his being and one can at kleast be assured that he will have left plenty of resources for the welfare of the dogs that survived him.

Idiots of the Month No 3

dog and bike A bit early, I know, but the latest Idiot of the Month award is another joint award that goes to two cyclists that I saw in the park this morning, who both represent their kind perfectly.

Quite apart from the nuisance of dodging the cyclists in the park as well as on the pavement on the way to the park, it is distressing to see so many stressed dogs and potential dangers when dogs and cycling are combined. Specially designed cycles for exercising sled dogs (specially designed dogs!) are of course fine.

The first cyclist was belting along followed by a small terrier, straining its lungs whilst running flat out with the cyclist looking over his shoulder and shouting at the dog to keep up.

The second cyclist had the opposite problem: he released a young Weimeraner who promptly disappeared over the horizon followed by a gasping man, pedalling for all he was worth whilst yelling in vain at the dog to come back.

Apart from the fact that neither presented a very edifying spectacle, how on earth did either cyclist think that what they were doing benefitted their dog? Neither had any control as one dog was obviously not trained for a reliable recall and the other was clearly not physically capable of keeping up with a bicycle. Neither could hope to have full control over their dog even with training or be able to react fast enough in the event of an incident.

Dogs that are forced to run are often stressed and cause other dogs to panic because they have no choice but to belt past, appearing aggressive.

No doubt both owners think that they are exercising their dog and themselves. This may well be more of a case of killing the dog or even the cyclist than two birds with one stone. It certainly doesn’t enable any positive interaction with the dog, causes problems for other people and doesn’t enable the dog to take its own time to enjoy its walk.

Chinese City Threatens To Club Pet Dogs to Death

Chinese flag Dayang New District in the city of Jinan has imposed draconion laws in an attempt to rid the area of dogs following alleged complaints. Notices have appeared stating:

“No person is permitted to keep a dog of any kind. Deal with it on your own or else the committee will organise people to enter your home and club the dog to death right there.”

The order cites further the maintenance of environmental hygiene and “everyone’s normal lives” as reasons.

Where does one begin? Cultural differences in eating dogs is one thing; at least there it is possible to campaign for the dogs to be kept in reasonable conditions and slaughtered humanely. This order interferes with something much more fundamental.

Some argue that one of the areas of origin of the domestic dog was China. Proto-dog/human burials have been discovered that are 12,000 years old so what could be more ‘normal’ than living with a dog? It may not be everyones’ choice and, of course irresponsible dog owners mar the environment for dogs and people. Culls may be necessary during rabies outbreaks, something that dog smugglers and puppy farmers are risking here in the UK. However culling pet dogs just for being pet dogs and that in a brutal, inhumane fashion beggars belief and is likely a legacy of Mao’s horrendous Cultural Revoltion.

It certainly puts recent council restrictions on access and attempts to criminalise dog owners for minor misdemeanours in the shade and it should make the World Dog Show have a re-think about locating in China in 2019.

It’s a Boy – Well 5 Actually

Heaven's whelps After 22 hours in labour (!) Heaven, our adopted Labrador bitch, has produced five black pups in a dramatic, in-transit birth. Breeder and bitch were on their way to the vet, but all five were delivered in the car.

Breeder Aidens Labradors report that mother and whelps are doing fine.

We will be reporting on their progress from now on – watch this space for updates.

Dover Council Imposes Criminal Sanctions on Dog Walkers

Dover District Council imposed a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) affective from July 27th, 2015 to be in place for three years requiring that dogs be kept on leads under threat of criminal prosecution. They state that it will “replace a number of out of date by-laws and create a more comprehensive and consistent approach when dealing with issues such as dog fouling, keeping dogs on leads and excluding dogs from specified areas.”

Having a dog off the lead on a designated highway is already illegal under the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 27, but it is certainly not enforced in London or many other places that I have visited. This however is far more Draconian and I believe contradicts the requirements of the Anuimal Welfare Act 2006 which imposes a duty of care on dog owners to enable their dogs to exhibit “normal” behaviours – surely including having adequate, off-lead exercise?

The order:

  • Excludes dogs from:
    • enclosed children’s play areas
    • specific beaches at certain times of year
    • specific sporting or recreational facilities
    • Requires dogs to be kept on leads:
    • within specific churchyards and cemeteries
    • specific seafront promenades and seafront gardens
    • specific memorial sites and nature reserves
    • Requires dog owners to remove dog faeces
    • This applies to any land to which is open to air and to which the public have access
    • Requires dog owners to put their dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer
    • This will apply to any public land where a dog is considered to be out of control or causing alarm and distress.

Breaches of the order are liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £1,000. Fixed penalty notices of £75.00 can also be applied.

PSPOs may be enforced by police officers, police community safety officers and any officers designated by Dover District Council.
Full details are available here .

This is insidious legislation that imposes huge restrictions on dog walkers, has the potential to criminalise responsible dog owners for making minor mistakes such as missing a doig defecating and does nothing to tackle irresponsible owners including the serious problem of untrained, out fo control dogs.

How much of it is about pandering to an anti-dog lobby, hysteria about protecting children from supposed disease and, of course, raising revue for cash-strapped councils?

Living with a Dog Is Good for Your Immune System

microbes Like many people, I half listen to Radio 4’s Today programme as I rush around changing from dog walking to office wear and eating on the run.

Every so often I am arrested by something that stops the frantic race against the clock and such was the case when Professor Dunn spoke about the effect of living with a dog on the human immune system.

I had read a brief paper about this but it was gratifying to hear it promoted on this flagship radio broadcast as a counter to the ban on dogs in so many public places.

Professor Dunn blogs on the Your Wild Life website and states there:

“Having a dog influences the microbes in our homes and in doing so potentially reduces our risk of having children with asthma and other autoimmune disorders.”

Phew, we can stop beating ourselves up about housework! Read more on the Your Wildlife site.

Idiot of the Month Award No2

punishing dog Alas, people doing idiotic things with dogs are a daily sight in our streets, parks and countryside. Dogs off lead on main roads, coastal paths and a host of other dangerous places are a common sight.

Sometimes, though, it is insidious things that are upsetting, the sort where dogs suffer and their owners are oblivious.

It was just such an incident that inspired me to highlight this month’s “Idiot”.

I was walking along the high street with my dog (on a lead of course). It is a wide street and was not very busy that particular morning. We passed a woman with a small, young terrier. As she saw us, she jerked the dog’s lead, pulling it up by it’s throat. Startled, the dog barked, whereupon she shouted at it for barking.

In her mind, she needed to be worried because a bigger dog was passing. It didn’t matter that the bigger dog is well socialised, actually paid no attention to her dog whatsoever and she was far too far away for the dogs to make contact in any case.

She of course was teaching her dog to be afraid and then punishing it for reacting in the way that she had prompted.

Poor little, confused dog. Just the sort to be kept in for being unable to cope with other dogs, medicated for being neurotic or re-homed.