"Gonny no' dae that?"

Let me say at the outset that I am a dog lover! I have owned dogs, walked them, loved them and grieved for them! If you own a dog, you will always have a friend! Your dog will welcome you home, even when your wife doesn’t! We are very fortunate in the Royal Burgh in that we have a vast army of dog lovers able to walk their pride and joy freely over some of the bonniest landscapes in Scotland.

But I am seriously worried about the mental health of some of them! (The owners that is, not the dogs).  

Not all of them, far from it! Not those who love their dog dearly and have a modicum of respect for their fellow dog-lovers and the local amenities they jointly make use of daily. Those who accept that a dog, however well-trained, remains an animal which is not socially or intellectually equipped with the nous to appreciate and use those fine products of Shanks of Barrhead while engrossed in such literary tomes as “Fifty Shades of Grey”. In addition, very few of the smaller breeds can even reach the chain far less pull it!  So, dogs do naturally what dogs do naturally, and even the EU Commission on Canine Rights acknowledges their right to do it! My problem is with the 5% of dog owners who fall into one of three infuriating categories.

The first of these are the owners convinced their own hairy little treasure has more human than canine DNA! Those who feed their little miniature haystack of yapping nerves and bad attitude with a combination of potpourri and carbolic soap and allow it to drink only Dettol. This way they presume that when their flea-ridden little treasure "assumes the position", it is about to drop a sanitised pile of essential soil nutrients that will rapidly evaporate in the sunshine and waft away in the breeze like, lavender at Lanimers and to the great delight of all and the benefit of all mankind!

The second is that anti-social group who are more animal than the dog they own and nurse a total contempt for society and every other person on the planet!  They invariably own a mongrel, although being very PC and knowing their rights, they will describe it as a “mixed race” pedigree cross (usually half pit-bull and half alligator) all the better to protect their 'manor'. Why do many rant against migrants, when this lot already live among us? (And they get to vote!).

My ire at these pathetic and inconsiderate dog-owners has been raised by one such owner whose Shih Tzu (and I don’t mean his dog!) is regularly left on the road outside my house. I have inadvertently driven over it on occasion and then unknowingly spread a little canine aroma (Eau de Mongrel?) all over the Royal Burgh (and possibly some unmentionable but highly contagious condition). What these incidents have done for me, apart from encouraging a deep desire to have the offender neutered (I still don't mean the dog!) was to encourage me to pay closer attention to the behaviour of our dog-walker legions generally, especially in that beauty spot so beloved of our dog-walkers - Lanark Loch!

What an eye opening and nostril choking experience that turned out to be!  Dog Shih Tzu everywhere!  Call it excrement; manure; dung; iguana or any other euphemism you choose (even "poo" if you went to a good school), but it’s still Shih Tzu!  On one very recent occasion deposited slap bang in the middle of the pathway through the children’s play-park at the Loch! The kid’s play-park! Where the tots go to have fun! What kind of animal does that? (Again, I don't mean the dog!).

There are also several dog poo (OK, so I did go to a good school!) receptacles dotted around the loch, (easily missed perhaps, since they are all carefully camouflaged with bright red paint and glow in the dark!) and ironically, like a minefield lying in wait for anyone daft enough to fail to focus on where they're putting their feet, each is surrounded by a proliferation of dog droppings fermenting quietly and lethally on the ground. (Go figure!) Presumably other dogs can smell the little messages wafting in the wind from the bins and decide to leave their own! This is probably the canine equivalent of Twitter (though more thought seems to go into the canine version!). Or perhaps the doting owners (their IQ probably matches the dog's) think that as long as their Shih Tzu is within leg-lifting distance of the disposal bin that qualifies as responsible parenthood?

Unlike many of our civilised neighbours in Europe (EU as opposed to UK) our local authorities don't provide dedicated toilets for dogs in such places as the loch or the racecourse (if they don't provide them for the ratepayers what chance has little Fido?).

But the council issue you with plastic bags (Shih Tzu for the use of), which brings into focus the third, and most puzzling portion of our 5% of dog-owning clowns. These are the (presumably) half-decent and (definitely) wholly disgusting dog owners who ever so diligently use a council-provided plastic bag to uplift the molten blob and are then either too nauseated to carry it at arm's length to the nearest doggy bin, or are colour blind and can't distinguish between bright SLC crimson and nature’s leaf green! So, they just casually tie the plastic bag of unmentionable to the nearest fence to hang like a trophy or toss it as high as they can to dangle for posterity from the branches of a nearby tree. Dangling in a plastic bag and protected from decomposition, these bags of excrement will last forever and a day, and will demonstrate to future generations just how apathetic and anti-social many of our current generation are! Some of the fences on Lanark Moor are now so adorned with little bags of Shih Tzu that, from a distance, they look like a musical score! (A friend who can read music by the way, tells me that the tune is also pretty much Shih Tzu!).

Off the ground such “Shih Tzu” left behind is appalling, but at least, like the droppings of badgers, foxes, deer, horses and all the rest of God’s creatures, it will decompose to be returned by nature from whence it came. I know that walking away from such steaming piles of dung left by the dogs is not exactly the crime of the century, if indeed it is a ‘crime’ at all?  (Although if not why not, doesn’t this qualify as litter? Or would the polis just give the dog an ASBO and let the owner walk away free?)  

On the establishment’s list of priorities this practice is not up there with murder; rape; benefit fraud: being a banker; or giving people spoiler alerts about Game of Thrones, but it is a very disgusting practice and those who fail to pick up and properly discard their dog’s (put in your own word here, I don’t want to give the real Shih Tsu a bad name) are letting us; themselves; their dogs; and the 95% of decent dog-owners down very badly! 

To each and every one of this unholy trinity who make up this bunch of dog-loving but anti-social plonkers, can I make a simple but heartfelt plea? 

"Gonny no' dae that?"


Frank Gunning shares his views on various local issues in his Let's Be Frank column.