I’m really beginning to question much of today’s ethos when it comes to dog ownership. On the one hand, we have all manner of do-gooders telling us that we have a fat epidemic in Australia ie people are obese and so more exercise etc is required (almost mandated) yet, on the otherhand, many opportunities to maintain one’s health are being curtailed. Dog ownership and especially associated outdoor activities such as walking your dogs has long been stated as being a good thing, but try and find a place to take your dogs for a walk or run (other than around the block) and you’ll be hard pressed to find much available. More and more of our public land is becoming verboten territory when it comes to taking your dog for a run or a walk.
One moment a piece of land is state forest or a general park, the next it’s a national or a restricted park and a list of rules as long as your arm is posted telling you what you can’t do and dogs are invariably banned. So it’s extremely frustrating to go back to places that you’ve visited previously only to find out that everything has changed and, for example, that isolated beach where your dogs had a great run a few years back is no longer dog friendly.
What amazes me about all of this is that Australia developed from a traditional British and European history/culture where, even today, dogs are welcome just about everywhere including pubs, restaurants, trains and whatnot; even California in the US has enacted a law that makes it legal to take your dog to a restaurant. But however you look at it, Australia is moving in completely the opposite direction, with councils and the like banning dogs from outdoor areas where they were previously welcome and with no consultation, or rhyme or reason.
Obviously not all dogs are predisposed to being compatible with other dogs or people in crowded areas (ours aren’t because they are too boisterous and large) , but what’s happening is that dog owners are finding it ever more difficult to take their dogs anywhere with them. Yes, part of the issue is due to owners not always being responsible for their dog’s actions and outputs, but tarring everyone with the same brush because of a few is not always the answer (how often is that said about human related issues?). The problem also arises when councils and the like provide no facilities in public areas for depositing collected deposits; which is why many opt to leave nature’s callings where they lay, along with all manner of other rubbish such as food scraps, wrappers, empty drink bottles etc. But some people will always be pigs.
Dogs have been associated with humans for ten of thousands of years as companions, guards, shepherds, assistants and just about anything else that you can imagine, yet it seems that many in places of authority forget about this and deem dogs as being incompatible with human activities and increasingly impose ever more restrictions, in ever increasing numbers. It’s a trend that I’ve sadly noted happening much more significantly for the last 10 or so years (and in some areas well over 20 years), but where these restrictions have been imposed, the areas haven’t become a haven of nature or anything else, often actually going backwards and looking worse year after year. So clearly dogs haven’t been the problem that they have been made out to be by our environmental guardians.
The sad thing is that the banning of dogs is seemingly becoming institutionalised, so that it’s not just a few areas where they aren’t welcome, but that it’s becoming a case of only a few areas where they are welcome. And dog registration costs seems to simply escalate all the time, with no commensurate return to the dog registrants. I sometimes wonder how many in our councils and government actually own dogs; if they don’t, they should, it would most certainly make them better people, in many ways.
Thankfully, you can still own dogs (for the moment at least), but I sometimes wonder if there’s a deliberate push by some in the community to reduce dog ownership, by making it so difficult to take them anywhere that people will give up. Nothing would surprise me in today’s often mixed up world.
Update: It’s great to see someone of note taking up the challenge to change the negative attitudes to pet ownership, especially by our governments and councils.