We had a wonderful day at the beach today. We had fun, the dogs had fun, and we made sure that the dogs didn't stop anyone else having fun. That may sound an odd thing to say, but I love being able to take Buddy and Star with us on a day out. They both adore the beach - having a paddle, enjoying a dig in the sand and so on. I am convinced that if dog owners allow their dogs to spoil the good time others are trying to have we will be banned from more and more places.
There are a couple of main ways that you can let your dog be a pain to others. The obvious one is not scooping the poop. I once saw the most appalling behaviour by a dog owner on the beach. Her dog pooped, and rather than pick it up, bag it and bin it, she kicked sand on top of it and stamped it down. Now imagine the poor child that dug that up while building a sand castle. Behaving in that way is a sure way to have other beach users clamouring to have dogs banned.
Today I witnessed a prime example of the other main way to annoy fellow beach users. We were standing down at the water's edge, paddling with our dogs. Buddy and Star were both on lead, as they are so friendly, and there were lots of people around us, which would have been too tempting to resist. If you're a dog person our dogs are delightfully friendly, but if you are not incredibly into dogs, or if you are a small child, either of ours wet and in full happy, bouncy mode would probably be the last thing you'd want to see.
I posted recently that I don't like people who come to my home disliking my dogs. That is true, and I stand by it. However, I am not arrogant enough to expect everyone I meet to like my dogs. I'm actually not that bother whether strangers like or dislike my dogs as long as they keep their opinions to themselves, and I would never let my dogs bother anyone out and about.
So we were having a lovely paddle, when I noticed a dog at the water's edge. He was a Border Collie and he was barking and running about never quite getting his feet wet. He ran up the beach, along a little and then back down to the water. He didn't seem to be with anybody. He roamed about a bit, sniffing and exploring, and to be fair generally minding his own business.
Then he ran near a family, and started sniffing around near them. I don't know if they had food, but for whatever reason, he approached them. One of the children completely freaked out. He screamed, did that panicky jigging children do, and waved his arms around. The dog leapt backwards and ran off back to the water's edge. The mother of the still panicking child had obviously noticed who owned the dog. Perhaps knowing her child was nervous, she had kept an eye out for such things. The mother now strode towards a group further up the beach - i.e. further away from the dog - in full angry mom mode.
Normally I jump to the defence of dog owners, but in this case I felt the dog owner was very much in the wrong. The dog owner looked surprised at the mother's complaints, but did get up and set out with a lead to collect her dog. The dog was enjoying his freedom, and set off away from his owner, and it took several minutes for him to be caught.
Such a pity, such a bad example, and such an easy situation to avoid. And the surest way to get us all banned from the beach.