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A Doggone Consensus With No Catfights!

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

My last blog post raised the question of how to create harmony and balance between the four-legged and two-legged members of Babble Rock. I asked all those who had suffered their way reading through that entry, only to find it contained no answers whatsoever, to roll on over to our Facebook forum and air their own views. This post will briefly summarise what we came up with as a hive mind, but so as not to completely doggone snore y'all to death I will start by including a pretty cool picture of Moomin leaping up into the air with the Bass Rock perpendicular and framed by a truly excellent bendy stick!

I've subsequently invested in a DSLR camera but ironically this, my best ever pic, was captured with a (comparatively) shitty Samsung Galaxy S5 camera....

So as I said in the title, despite this being an emotive topic, there were no catfights....yaaay! Everyone commented in a constructive way and was respectful of each other’s opinions, however as anticipated there were also no ready solutions which would work for Abraham Lincoln's proverbial "all of the people all of the time"* The range of viewpoints expressed on the Facebook forum, and reproduced here with very broad brushstrokes, encompassed:

  • dog-owners who really didn’t want to leave their 4-legged family-member home while they went on a walk, because their dog would normally really enjoy the runabout with them and their kids

  • folk that didn’t mind dogs on a lead but could just as easily live without them

  • people without dogs themselves but who nevertheless thought that, if handled in a certain way, the controlled presence of a canine might constitute an important life lesson for their kids' future

  • parents whose kiddies really are scared of dogs and who wanted to protect them from that fear so that little legs could focus on the challenge of getting to grips with long hikes

But whilst I may understand and sympathize with all viewpoints, we can’t come up with a consensus that works for everyone, all of the time, especially as many dogs – mine included – won’t walk on a lead (in the sense that they are more excitable, pull like hell and are more likely to be a pain). Of course I realise that we are not the only path users accompanied by four-paws ( or foh-pohs....or faux-pas...your diction and meaning here depending very much on whether you like dogs, or hip hop, or - as I do - both! ) but we do walk together, unlike the passers-by from whom we can run. To have a walk with potentially 15-20 people and 8 or 9 dogs is a lot if there are very small, fearful toddlers. But it’s not a lot on a walk where everyone loves dogs…see the difference??

So the only thing to do, as we ultimately decided, is to have different walks that involve different levels of dog. (This compromise had the added bonus of helping me come up with my rock band name: Levels of Dog, coming to Glasgow's O2-ABC soon; needs lead singer/songwriter and all musicians, as I have zero talent.) In practice this means exactly what it says on the tin: on the walks I plan and host, I will alternate between marking them as being dog-friendly, or leaving my own dog home and requesting that other attendees do the same. Moreover, from here on in this will be clear at the point of sign-up.

Can I take this opportunity to remind you that you don’t need me to make a walk or event: you all have the right and ability to make Babble events using the event function and make your dog stance clear and there is a blog post explaining how to do it …so if someone wants to make a walk where either dogs join and run freely, or where they stay home on a cosy bed, please do so and I’ll bloody join both kinds for sure!

I'd also like to direct your attention to some really excellent advice from our (lovely and) experienced group member George Bream on the subject of "Strange Dog vs Strange Kid Interactions" (the band names are just coming thick and fast here):

Families with good natured family dogs often simplify dog behaviour because of their own positive experiences. (However) dogs can be OK with their (own family's) toddlers as they know their place within their own families, but other toddlers may act differently and could confuse even the best-natured dog. Even a dog you trust can act differently one day. Eye contact with dogs can also be construed as aggressive behaviour from the dog's point of view and unfortunately toddlers are often eye-height and will look dogs straight in the eyes. (Furthermore) although the majority of dogs have become used to being patted on the head, it is not actually the best place to do this. Approaching a dog from the side is behaviourally less threatening and finding its sweet spot somewhere round its tail is more "natural" for the dog. BUT (on the flip-side) this can feel less natural for the human, so could lead to a nervous approach, which in turn can lead to a less than perfect introduction to the dog. So (it is important to understand) the education of children around dogs is not as simple as getting them to stroke a friendly dog.

Finally I'd like to conclude by using this as a ginormous excuse to insert some more pics of Dunbar beach, on the basis that Moomin looks cute (which he still is) and Xani looks tiny (he turned 3 the day before yesterday...*weeps*...)

* Despite being attributed to him, there is no definitive evidence that Lincoln actually said those famous words.

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