Years ago I would meet the odd dog owner escorting a well-behaved pet, but nowadays I pass growing numbers of noisy dog walkers who have no idea how to control their charges. They shriek at their pets, even though the animals clearly have no intention of obeying their strident commands. Instead, the creatures run about wherever they please, sometimes racing over to me to put their muddy paws on my clean clothes. Instead of an apology, all I get is: “He only wants to be friendly.”
Adding to the annoyance are those dog owners who spot an acquaintance across the width of a meadow and proceed to start a shouted conversation clearly audible to anyone on the far side of the next field. To make matters worse, it is also increasingly common to encounter dog-walkers screaming into their mobile phones.
But the biggest change has been the rise of the paid dog walker, who arrives with a vanload of pooches collected from owners who cannot be bothered to exercise their pets themselves. These “professional” walkers all seem to know one another and often meet for a loud chat, which is constantly disrupted as they break off to yell at individuals among the 30 or so dogs rampaging around them.
The increasing canine commotion may well have contributed to the disappearance of wild creatures such as rabbits and partridges from the area in recent years.
Perhaps there should be a law forbidding dog walkers from unleashing their charges unless the animals have been properly trained. Personally I would like to see them all put down. But who would then look after the dogs?