Sunday, 17 August 2008


Ban dogs from Wirral beaches? Councillors are to discuss this proposal, which would see a total ban on paddling pooches between May and September. Too many people, apparently, have complained about poo.

Dogs poo. It’s what they do. You do it, too; it’s part of that whole “being alive” experience. And the majority of dog owners do, in fact, clean up after their four-legged beloveds.

This is far more than can be said for children, whose trail of litter across our beaches and promenades provides ample evidence that the purpose of litter bins is beyond their grasp. They can program i-pods, hold entire conversations in gibberish via IM with the buddy sat right next to them, they can earn Grade A at GCSE even though they think pi is something you eat--but the act of putting their own gargantuan mountain of junk food debris in a bin seems beyond their capabilities.
At least the little darlings are back in school now. Finally I have the chance to keep the torrent of discarded crisp packets, chip papers and drinks cans out of my front garden. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the avalanche of stray footballs.

Actually, I have a method for dealing with kids’ plant-wrecking footballs. It’s called the bin. Why should I return their footballs to them only so they can squash more of my plants? When did any parent last knock on any front door to apologise for the ear-splitting cacophony caused by little Jane or Joe, or to offer payment for replacement plants? Never, hence my good use of a dustbin.

When dogs play out, their owners are with them. The same cannot be said for children or teenagers. If Fido gets up to mischief, the owner puts him back on the lead. When little Jane or Joe misbehave, the parents turn up the TV volume and leave their offspring’s anarchy for someone else to endure.

Hence the recent mini riot outside West Kirby Library, when two scantily-clad young ladies decided to slug it out over some weary boy in vast clothing. Members of Riverside Writers stared in amazement as a gang of howling teens cheered the combatants on, while another of their buddies set fire to a handbag. Yes, it was a horrible bag but surely placing it in a dustbin would have been easier--but I have already remarked on their aversion to such utilities.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have noticed the increasing girth of most children. Clearly they have no wish to take advantage of regular exercise. Dogs, however, thoroughly enjoy daily walks, and any dog-owner can confirm that Rover and Daisy are much happier, better behaved and also healthier for their eager adventures in the outdoors. Is it fair to deprive the main user group of a communal facility which would otherwise remain relatively idle?

Children have designated dog-free play areas, generously equipped at dog-owning Council Tax payers’ expense. Swings, slides, wobbly stuff to stand on and wobble, jungle gyms and even empty litter bins, are provided for free enjoyment. Dogs, however, have no such facilities, despite there being a wealth of irrefutable evidence for the canine fondness for rubber balls, tug toys, tunnels and digging holes.

If a dog no bigger than a matchbox growls, clearly the dog is a rabid wolf in disguise. Many trembling parents would insist pooch be exterminated at once, without further question. If a teenager built like a bulldozer harrasses neighbours, the behaviour is assigned to “a phase they’re going through”.. In a democratic society, this species-ist prejudice should not be tolerated. One need only compare the crime rates for dangerous dogs and dangerous teens to see which group causes the most mayhem.

The Dee Estuary is famous for providing sanctuary for migrating birds. The area is heralded as one of Europe’s premier bird-spotting sites. Birds poo too, and rather frequently, and most certainly more often than do dogs—or horses, for that matter. When did you last see an equestrian enthusiast halt their ride to wield a bucket and shovel?

The arrival of our feathered friends also heralds the manifestation of a particular species of human known as the Twitcher. These binocular-laden creatures, often dressed as if in preparation for a military invasion, aggressively bellow abuse at any local who quietly strolls by. The unsuspecting local is invariably accused of terrifying the precious birds which are apparently unperturbed by operatic venting from indignant Twitchers.

Twitchers are easy to find. Just look for the trail of discarded lunches, cigarette packets and lager cans which snake through the sand dunes. Dogs don’t smoke, and an absence of opposable thumbs means they can’t open cans. Clearly dogs cannot be blamed for this regular sprinkling of grot.

Twitchers share their dietary predilections with a more frequent visitor, the Furtive Bonker. Many a time has the evidence of their activities been left behind in the sand dunes, draped majestically over a convenient frond of sea grass. Too skint to get a room, these eager folk brave sandy couplings regardless of the threats posed by low-flying golf balls and hungry mosquitoes.

Dogs share no such reticence. If Fluffy fancies Fido, she lets him know about it in full view of the world. Their resulting antics might raise a few smirks but litter is not an issue. Puppies might be, but that's a different type of litter.

Besides, who doesn’t love puppies? Puppies don’t leave soiled nappies behind in the sand dunes, either.

To summarise, dogs are clearly not the prime offenders for dirtying our beautiful beaches. To ban dogs from these areas would be both unjust and undemocratic. Give credit where credit is due, and lay the blame at the feet of the true culprits.

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