There is some nuisance in the village with people exercising their dogs on land that isn’t public open space. We’ve had a number of complaints, absolutely justified, from people who have come to put flowers on graves in the churchyard and found that they have to start by clearing off dog mess. I’ve not seen it, but people have been seen leaving the churchyard carrying a ball and a thrower, dog virtuously back on lead. And yet, if the PCC put up signs saying that dogs must be kept on a lead, or kept out altogether, I know that they will be judged officious.
There is a small pightle opposite our front field, which is open to the road – and please excuse my use of a word that’s probably unfamiliar to you, (it means a irregular shaped, roughly triangular piece of land) but it’s a small pleasure to use a rare word in its correct context. It’s probably a couple of acres, and it is let to a local farmer. However, with the number of dogs and their owners who use it, there are lines of bare earth across the field. The other day, a sign was put up asking people to keep off, as a forage crop is being grown. I suspect the farmer means grass.
We’ve also had people sending their dogs through our hedge on to our fields, which are used for grazing or cut for hay (as a gift to the farmer, we’re glad to keep it cropped) and surely, if you have a dog, you should take responsibility for exercising it without being too idle to walk an extra quarter of a mile first. It’s not that there is a shortage of places, there’s miles of open land about, both on the marshes (which doesn’t imply that they are marshy, they are the occasional flood plain for the network of waterways around here) and on the Common, a mile and a half away.
Mind you, even there, although there is plenty of space, we were told on the Annual Inspection (oh yes, we took part in that) that the majority of dog-walkers wander along the fairways on the golf course. I can imagine little that is more unpleasant than finding your golf ball has landed in a pile of crap, except possibly having to clear it off your late beloved’s grave. Quite apart from the danger to the walker.
I grew up with dogs, and at one time regularly walked all seven of them. During our marriage, we have had four dogs: Simon, Chester, Tilly and Khan. I’ve let them run across grazing marshes and open spaces (not playgrounds or playing fields, obviously) but I’ve never even considered letting them loose on private land. I don’t understand how anyone can think that it’s all right.